Saturday, April 2, 2016

It is spring time in Tennessee and you probably have your grape hyacinths in bloom.  I can’t find these purple things in my books, but they do look like a grape hyacinth to me.

The sand flats within Shroud Cay were dotted with these mounds that some worm-like creatures built.

An Exuma Sound beach is just beyond this creek inlet.  We got lost in our dinghy trying to find the beach and got lost again coming back.  The story is below.

Bill is telling tales of past Family Island Regatta sailboat races over drinks at Scorpio’s.  Fishy is listening and smiling.  He races in George Town every year.

The parade at the Black Point Easter Festival featured local girls in costumes.

After the parade there were fire dancers.

Hello!  I hope you all had a Happy Easter.

We finally left Norman’s Cay after being there over a week.  The wind settled down, the waves dropped down, and we were at last able to move farther south.  We traveled all of five miles to Shroud Cay.  Our anchor was down before noon on March 12.  It was nice to have new scenery.

Shroud Cay has several creeks that pass from the west side of the island through the interior to the east side beaches on the Exuma Sound.  The mangrove lined creeks are beautiful and fun to explore.  The creeks are shallow and winding, forming a water filled network in the island interior.  At dead low tide we took the dinghy into the mouth of one of the three southern creeks and walked around on the exposed mangrove beds and sand flats.  It seemed like it had been weeks since we had left footprints on land.

Early the next morning, with a higher tide, we set off in the dinghy down the southernmost creek.  Several years ago Bill had made a hand drawn map of the many intersecting creeks from satellite photographs; this time he forgot to bring it along.  We missed a turn, but we still ended up at a sound side beach.  Since we came in a different way, we were not really sure we were at the right beach.  We walked around a little taking in the gorgeous water and white sand views.  When we left the beach, we took still another wrong turn and found ourselves at the very south end of Shroud Cay.  We were not too worried; like Daniel Boone “we weren’t lost, just a mite bewildered”.  We started on our now quite long dinghy ride back to Irish Eyes.  As we motored past the mouth of the southernmost creek where we started off, we decided to prove that we knew what we were doing...  that we could get to the sound side beach without getting lost.  We did, and we also proved our two beaches were one and the same.  The tide was falling by this time, so we hurried back to Irish Eyes before the creeks dried out.  We had a nice cold drink to celebrate our adventure.

Shroud Cay has a natural fresh water well that descends deep into the solid rock at the top of a hill.  Bill went over in the dinghy, filled five jugs, and brought us back twenty-five gallons of water.  He added Clorox to the water and put it in our tanks filling them to the brim.  We had used twenty-five gallons of fresh water in nine days.  At home we use about 1000 gallons in nine days.  We can all do quite well with less.

It was time to move south again.  We sailed the three miles to the north mooring field at Hawksbill Cay.  Bill and I walked the island’s beaches and explored the sand flats taking in the scenery and seeing what the sea had thrown up on the shore.  We met several other cruisers during our stay including a woman originally from Burlington NC whose sister lives in our hometown of Salisbury NC.  It’s a small world.

On our last afternoon at Hawksbill Cay, Bill decided it was time to brew up his first batch of beer using the homebrew kit we had bought in Miami.  The process was long and smelly.  Just making a third of the recipe used both of our biggest pots and both burners on the stove.  It was an all afternoon affair -- boiling two kinds of malt and adding four kinds of hops then cooling everything down before putting it in the fermenter for the yeast to do its thing.  In the middle of the brewing, the park warden and two armed Bahamas Defense Officers came by to collect the daily fee for the mooring ball.  Although we literally “smelled like a brewery”, they did not say anything.

We continued south, spending one night at Warderick Wells.  On St Patrick’s Day morning, Bill did his usual HF radio position report on the Waterway Radio and Cruising Club net.  (They are a ham radio thing.) He said Irish Eyes was anchored at Emerald Rock on Warderick Wells 3,619 miles southwest of County Monaghan Ireland.  (County Monaghan is where Bill’s several greats grandfather was buried.  Bill and one of his cousins went there while we were living in England.)  The Waterway Radio guys suggested that he have a one-person parade.  Instead we had a beer.

Still moving south, we sailed down to Big Major’s Spot, home of the famous swimming pigs, near Staniel Cay.  The weather once again turned ugly.  We had several days of high winds, cloudy skies, and rain. It rained 1.9 inches one night.  Both of us got up to catch the rainwater that landed on our decks.  Water is a precious thing here in the Exumas. If we do not get it from rainfall or from the well at Shroud Cay, we have to buy it.  We caught enough rain to fill our tanks to the top plus twenty-five gallons extra.  That was plenty.  The rest we let go into the sea.  I filled the kitchen sink with water and did some laundry.  It was a very small load since it was 3:30am, but when I finished I had more clean underwear than Bill.

Finally, on March 23rd the weather settled down to its normal nice self. We sailed the seven miles from Big Major’s Spot to Black Point Settlement.  Black Point is the home of Ida’s wonderful Rockside Laundry with its gorgeous tropical view.  It was time to do big loads of laundry. The last time we had done laundry was in Vero Beach, Florida.  It took all morning to get the laundry done, but we visited with some friends from New Bern and some other cruisers we met.  We learned that the 500 inhabitants of Black Point were going to have a weekend long Easter celebration mostly as a fund raiser for the island’s little school.

I could hear the Good Friday service from our cockpit anchored in the harbor a quarter of a mile away.  When it ended we went to the town’s Regatta Point park.  There the school moms sold food and drink while a DJ played Bahamian music with an amplifier so big that would have caused the lights to dim had it been dark.  We hung out with the cruisers and whiled away the afternoon with beer and conversation.  At suppertime we wandered over to Scorpio’s Restaurant for a rum punch or two.  Scorpio makes a great Rum Punch.  He says the rum is cheaper than the mixers or ice.  Along with several other cruisers we filled a big table.  Bill and I had a plate of grouper fingers and fries.  We talked a lot.  Bill does love to tell his tales.  The evening’s music and dancing were just getting started at the Regatta Point.  Some folks went there to dance.  We went back to the boat and to bed.  For us, it was a late night.

Saturday was the highlight of the weekend.  The school ladies were back at Regatta Point.  Bill and I passed on the chicken and fish dinners they had on offer.  Instead we had their Bahamian mac and cheese for lunch. It was nothing like the Kraft stuff.  Theirs was a casserole, thick and creamy, with peppers and spices; a meal by itself.  In the evening we returned to town for the championship men’s basketball game between Black Point and the nearby Staniel Cay.  Black Point takes basketball seriously.  The school has a lighted court that everyone uses.  The court has a light which is on a timer.  On weeknights the light goes off at 9pm. When the light goes off, the kids scream, “Bedtime, Good Night”, and they all run home.

The championship game was being played by two teams of young men.  They did not have uniforms, but generally the Black Point team wore white shirts and the Staniel Cay team wore red, but there were exceptions.  It was very confusing to watch the game at first, but I eventually figured out who was on which team.  It was a scrappy game. Black Point won by one point.  After the trophies were awarded, there was a parade.  The sound system that had been used for the Regatta Point music and for the basketball commentary was placed in the back of a pickup truck.  The truck drove to the eastern end of the main street, turned around and drove back playing junkenoo music.  It was followed by several young ladies in feathered costumes followed by all the town’s kids who were dancing, playing cowbells, and blowing police whistles in time with the recorded music.  A fire dancing group from Nassau was the finale.  Four young women danced, first with lighted torches, then with twirling open lanterns, and finally with two of the girls breathing fire. What a sight.  The music and dancing continued till early in the morning when the roosters took over.  We listened from our bunk with our eyes closed.

Easter Sunday was fairly quiet.  In the morning the Bahamas Defense Force boarded and inspected several boats anchored in the harbor.  We were one of them.  The officers were very polite.  They checked our passports and our customs and immigrations forms, they examined the boat’s papers, and they looked in all our storage lockers.  As his assistant filled out the paperwork, the officer in charge told us he wanted to try and make wine from sea grapes.  I had not thought about doing that.  To me it would not seem too promising.  A sea grape plant is not anything like a grape vine.  It is a woody shrub with big leaves that grows near the shore.  After they left, Bill and I had a walk on the beach.  It was a very nice Easter Day.

After the social scene in Black Point, we decided it was time for a little rest.  Monday morning, we sailed the six miles from Black Point to White Point.  There is not a thing at White Point except two long sandy beaches and blue water.  After we dropped our anchor, Bill decided to go for a swim to make sure the anchor was properly dug in.  When he got back onboard, he said we had a remora attached to Irish Eyes.  These fish have a suction cup on top of their head that looks like a tennis shoe sole.  They attach to larger fish and eat any scraps left over from the big fish’s meals.  On occasion they will attach to a boat.  We have had them before.  I wanted to swim, and I hopped into the water.  The Remora attacked me.  I guess “attacked” is too strong a word.  It swam over three times and tried to attach itself to me.  I did not stay in the water long.  Later, I read in one of my books that this was common.  All one had to do to remove the fish is to slide it forward and pop it off.  Yuck!. Not me.  Bill got one of his fishing spears and shot at it several times. He did not hit the fish, but he did manage to chase it away.

After two days of peace and quiet at White Point, we came back to Black Point because its harbor would offer better protection from the expected south winds.  Bill took our trash ashore and filled two water jugs.  He ran into Dorothy and Glen of “Dot’s Way” and agreed to meet them for drinks at Scorpio’s.  They traveled down the ICW with us nine years ago on our first trip to the Bahamas, and we have frequently seen them in the Bahamas.  Dorothy writes a daily email that we sometimes use as a cruising guide.  It was fun catching up with them in person again.

We have now moved the boat to Staniel Cay.  Julia, Josh, Isabella, and Olivia are due here this afternoon.  We have done some shopping and have cleaned the boat.  Bill has bottled his beer and carbonated it with his CO2 cylinder.  It is not bad at all, sort of dark and hoppy.  Bill made beer once while he was in college at his parents’ house.  He left the bottles of beer in his mother’s kitchen window.  One by one they exploded spewing beer everywhere.  I sincerely hope his six one liter bottles of beer do not explode in my little galley kitchen.  With company coming the mess would make me cry.

I hope this note finds you well and happy.

1 comment:

Linda said...

Great post and lovely photos. Thank you so much for sharing.