Friday, March 30, 2007

Black Point - Little Farmers

New Rules: Always clean out the sink drain after dishes and never say “In the good old days.”

We just couldn’t sit still anymore so we left Staniel Cay on Monday, March 26th heading south to Black Point Settlement.

Anchorage at Black Point Settlement

We wanted to get fuel and fill our water tanks at the yacht club before leaving but there were 2 huge luxury yachts on the face of the dock with a small space between them where the fuel tanks were. And the wind and current weren’t playing nice. The dock-master said there was plenty of room but we didn’t want to chance it and let’s face it, it’s never a pretty site when we dock this boat especially in tight places. So we left mid-morning with about 20 gallons of water and 40 gallons of fuel - plenty really since we could get more water along the way and fuel at Little Farmers and of course in George Town, so the guidebook says.

We were only going 5 miles once we cleared the Harvey Cay shallows but we were ready for a change in scenery. What we didn’t realize is just how really windy it still was. We got the anchor up with no problem but when heading out the rather narrow channel we drifted off course because of the wind (you’re not necessarily going the way you’re pointing - Chapter 4). We did the serpentine dance to find the deeper water and get back on course. Once in wide open spaces we turned into the wind and put the main up - reefed of course. It’s been reefed for the month of March it seems. Steering back to course we let out the boom - more! more! MOre! and had a short fun ride downhill until we turned southeast.

We don’t have a working windometer so don’t know how windy it really is unless some-one stands on deck with the hand-held. No one did this day. We were sailing pretty hard to the wind, had to pull the boom to center, and trim the sheet using the winch. Arggggggg. Enee settled in okay and the seas weren’t all that big - probably 3 feet or so. But as waves would come crashing over the bow the wind would pick them up and spray the helmsman. Luckily it was Scott’s turn to steer. Uh oh here comes another one - we would both duck. Even though I was tucked behind the dodger I felt I had to turn my head so I wouldn’t get wet - kind of like when a semi truck splashes a puddle on your windshield.

We finally made it to the point to get in the lee of the shore. This is where I realized that the white building I thought I was seeing appear and disappear was really the crashing waves on the east side of the island near the cut into the sound. Glad we’re still able to sail the banks. We anchored among the few boats somewhat near shore and wondered why we were so anxious to leave Staniel. It was so windy we weren’t able to launch the dingy to go ashore so stayed on the boat until the next day.

Monday 3/26/07 - In Black Point Settlement 24 06.00N 76 24.00W
“Get to the Point, Stick to the Point”

This quote is engraved in the wall near the dingy dock. We find out that this is their town motto. I thought it was sailing directions to the next key! Maybe it should be the guiding motto for this blog...but I digress.

The Black Point Settlement consists of a few houses, one room post office, grocery store, a restaurant that we didn’t visit, a bar that was closed and the prize...Lorraine’s Cafe. Lorraine herself runs the cafe and cooks. Unless she has to go pick up her daughter in which case she says, “keep an eye...I’ll be is in the cooler”. Yes, self serve beer and you keep track yourself. There is this trusting air all over the little town. The water and garbage disposal is ‘free’ but they’d appreciate a little donation to the town kitty. Just a little wooden box with a slot in it.

These ladies are weaving palms to make baskets to sell in Nassau.

On this day, to shop at the grocery store we had to get the lady at the post office to close up and come back with us (by golf cart) to the store so we could shop. The lady who usually runs the store was away in Nassau for her daughter’s wedding we find out. This store like all the little stores on these islands has only a few things and anything ‘fresh’ depends on when the mailboat last delivered stuff. Since the store lady has been away, no order was put in for fresh vegetables. Still, Sue found some pork chops (turned out to be pork gristle on a bone), a can of pringles and an onion.

We decide to stay another night in Black Point hoping the wind would FINALLY settle down a little which it began to do that night. A relief to not hear the whistling sound of 20+ knot wind in the rigging.

While at Lorraines we noticed these guys building a boat. It's a class (A or C) race boat that is very popular in the Bahamas. Apparently most every island enters a boat in the Family Regatta held in George Town in April. We may be there to see this! This boat is being built for yet another race held in August somewhere in the Bahamas. I walked over and asked if I could take a picture. "No problem," was the reply. I wanted to ask a few questions like what kind of wood they use and such but they were so intense on building that I didn't.
Next day we went for a hike to see the sound. Spectacular just watching the waves crashing from the Atlantic. How different the two sides of these islands are. Back to Lorraine’s for lunch and to meet up with our new best friends, Jay and Jennifer. They are out of Charleston on a 47 foot Beneteau. Twin wheels. Nice boat. We met them in Staniel when everyone was more or less pinned down from the wind. Lorraine was also nice enough to cash a check for me. Everything around here is cash only and I’m about out. Like a lot of people I am used to not worrying how much folding money I have as you can use your debit/credit card for everything. Not out here. We won’t find a cash machine until Georgetown.

Maybe this is a good time to explain our ‘new rule’ at the top of the blog. Firstly, let me say that the people in the cruising community are about the nicest and most helpful people you’ll ever find. The down side is that most of them are our age or older and have been cruising for several years. That in itself isn’t bad but so often we hear sen-tences that begin like this: “ Well, you should have seen it 10 years ago. . . “ or “Back in the old days. . . “ or “It used to be that. . . “ ARggggg! How can it possibly matter to me what anything used to be like. I have a sailboat, NOT a time machine. Is anyone really shocked anymore that the one constant is the rate of change! EVERYTHING always has. The rate may be a little greater than it used to be but how could you even know that since you only live in your own time.’s not like anything around here has been ruined or trashed. The water is still beautiful and perfectly clear. The sailing is great. The little settlements like Black Point are fun and interesting. There’s tons of fish to see when you go snorkeling. So, what possesses people to try to insinuate that somehow we missed it. Is that it? Somehow they want to make it that they were there back in the day before you and they didn’t miss it but now you’re just getting left overs. And...THAT’S NOT EVEN TRUE. Everyone has there own trip. Our trip and everyone’s trip has nothing to do with how anything USED to be. How could it? Anyway, it makes us approach other cruisers a little slowly and with some trepidation. Probably makes us look a little stand-off-ish but I don’t care.

Our friends Jay and Jen are getting this but with both barrels. They are really violating a cruising rule by being about half the age of everybody else. They are around 30 and made all their money early apparently and decided to sail away. They get a lot of not that friendly grief for cruising at so young an age. Haven’t paid their dues? Making peo-ple angry because now they wish that they’d sailed away when they were 30 instead of 60? Like us they stay a little away from the rest of the community because they are just tired of all the same snotty comments.

Well, we plan to keep moving forward so that everyplace we go will be the first time for us. We won’t be able to say, “Back in the day....” to anyone since we’ll never have been anywhere before!

That and we’ve decided to stop getting older.

Thursday, 3/29/07 - In Little Farmer’s Cay 23 57.50N 76 19.50W
“There are 365 cays in the Exumas. Pick one.”

The residents of Little Farmer’s Cay and the guidebooks say to pick this one. We’re go-ing to stay a few days and try to find out why.

We had a great sail down from Black Point hard to the wind and heeled over 150 going over 6 knots reefed. Once we reached the island we navigated around the southern tip finding the deep water (mostly) and headed for the yacht club marina for fuel and water (last place to get both before George Town). Scott hailed the marina on the radio when we were about a mile out only to find out that they did not have fuel! Really!! Back we went around the southern tip to the protected anchorage off the western shore. what?

Once the anchor was set we launched dingy and went ashore to get more info and some lunch. We took the computer of course since the guidebook and charts said to bring your computer to Ocean Cabin - THE place on the island. We walked the island following the paved round completely around back to our anchorage without finding the place. We did find a boarded up grocery store, an open grocery store with liquor store attached, and lots of trash stuck in the bushes and mangroves along the way. On our next pass we looked a little closer by the open store and sure enough there it was - Ocean Cabin on a very big sign. Not sure how we missed it!

The inside of the restaurant is a striking contradiction to the outside neighborhood. We had yet another cheeseburger in paradise along with a couple of Kalik. Their book ex-change library (bring two - take one) is well stocked and we need to finish a couple of books before we return. There is no wifi available but there is one computer to check your email. One guy (cruiser) hogged it the whole time we were there so decided to try again the next day.
The interior of Ocean Cabin

We stopped at the open grocery store on our way back to the boat but the mailboat hadn’t stopped here yet so there was no fresh anything. The owner suggested we stop by tomorrow about the same time when the boat will have delivered some meat and produce.

Well today is ‘tomorrow’ and we think we saw the mailboat last night on it’s way to the dock. After dinner we were sitting in the cockpit reading and suddenly noticed running lights (tall and wide) heading our way. I mean heading right at us. When you can clearly see both the red and green it’s not a comfortable feeling. We had our little solar anchor light flying and the cockpit light burning but needed more wattage so also put the spreader lights on. (We recently discovered that our mast anchor light is out!) The ship kept on getting closer and since it was about 21:30 with the moon mostly behind the scattered clouds we were starting to worry. He does really see us, right? And the sail-boat next to us - although they didn’t have any lights on. We shone our beam light on the boat next to us and watched as the ship slowed down and set his anchor. Whew! This morning they weighed anchor and headed around the point to the government dock. Maybe the groceries will be waiting for us today.

We’ll go ashore to post this blog and check out the yacht club. Still looking for why this cay is “one of those priceless little communities” as the guidebook says. Maybe some-thing happened in the last 3 years that wasn’t kind to the area. To be continued........

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Still in Staniel

Hello to all...yes we're still in Staniel Cay. The wind has been 20-25 knots every day with squalls. We can sail this ok but we wonder what the anchorage is like at Black Point where we are headed next. The real danger, I think, in high winds is the boat up wind from you pulling. We are more or less isolated where we are now, off the marina at Staniel Cay and holding well. So we wait for a little moderation in the winds. Also, after Black Point we'll need to go on the 'outside' into Exuma Sound to go to Little Farmers and Georgetown. In these winds the seas are running about 10 feet in the sound. So we stay awhile.

In the meantime, Sue has begun repairing some of the teak that is getting chippy looking while Scott may have actually finished the book. Publisher has 99% of it now except for a few diagrams and some text.

Sleeping is in fits and gasps as even though you KNOW the anchor is fine a big gust will come up and wake you and then you just gotta get up and look. Well, I do!

Of course nothing stops Sue from taking pictures and that's a good thing. Here's some of her latest...

Although Sue has yet to get a bad sunburn, her teak is really a'peeling!!! Time to lightly sand off the 'skin' and paint on some more cetol. It's a sweaty job but someone has to do it. I'll get right on it. Today......tomorrow. For sure this week. It's just so hard to plan with all these squalls!

Scott is still puzzled with the outboard. It will run fine for weeks and then it starts flooding itself while it is running. This of course is because the float is stuck down and has the carb. asking for fuel when the bowl is already full. Eventully, gas comes spewing out the top of the carb and the engine dies. I have a solution but like a lot of what I ain't pretty. I always take the hammer with me in the dingy. When this event happens I open the engine and lightly (well...sort of) tap on the carb to loosen the float. Sometimes this works. Back in Marathon Fl. the guys at Inflatable boats said this was cronic with Nissan motors and the 'fix' was to buy a new carb. I said why would I buy a new carb when I have a perfectly operational hammer? Funny, until I went on a 1.5 mile run by myself to retreive our mail and had to stop 3 times, put the anchor down and do the hammer thing in heavy seas. Really though, I'm not buying an entire carb. to fix the float. I've had it apart a lot and can't make the float stick. In the picture I'm trying to put a little pressure head on the valve that the float works to see if it leaks and the float is fine. It doesn't but I doubt that I'm at the pressure of the fuel pump. As long as I had it apart I sprayed everything with corresion block (my new deoderant) and for the last 4-5 days the motor is working fine (and the chicks are all over me!). Any insight would be appreciated...('s not a bad ground!).
So what do you do when Scott is busy at the computer with the internet? For hours? Not a problem. There is always something of interest around. Besides watching the huge mega-yachts trying to moor with a heavy current at the marina, there is always the sea-life to contemplate. This nurse shark (for a long time I thought people were saying'nurff)' came swimming by for me to take it's photo in the shallows. Just don't think about it when you're dingying up to the dock and they are right underneath you. No one would fall in, right? They only want the remains of fish being cleaned above anyway. Right????

Ah....tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

A Very Special Week in Paradise

But why? Because we got to spend it with my daughter and her husband! What a great week! Our idea to pre-explore the northern Exumas and then take them back through where we had been turned out to be the rare good idea. Very low pressure that way. We arranged it so that our longish sails were early on. First day we did the 30 mile run from Nassau to Allen’s Cay. Then about 20 to Hawksbill. The rest of the sails were all less than 15 miles. We laid over a day in Warderick Wells where Leah and Jason took advantage of the many hiking trails. As marathon runners they find the boat just a bit confining! We had good snorkeling every day except the first when the seas were too rough for snorkeling but great for drinking sea water through a tube. (nice dad!) Especially nice snorkeling back at Chicken Cay where we got to see a very large ray. They are so beautiful the way they swim. Jumping off of the boat in Warderick Wells, Leah jumped right back on as there was a school of large yellow tail under the boat. I guess being curious they all turned and came toward her (Jaws music playing in the background right here). Best line of the vacation was
Leah: “Jason, jump in the water and see if they bite”.
Jason: “’Kay”.

Sue cooked wonderful dinners every night and we played cards and looked at stars. Everyone knocked off at least one book I think. Only bad night was the next to the last one. On Friday night a front came through about 0200 (don’t they always?) with winds around 40 knots. Probably the most wind I’ve been in on the boat. Amazingly our anchor did not drag even though the holding around here (Staniel Cay) is not so great. Still, we sat up for several hours on ‘anchor watch’ to make sure. Not much sleep that night but we made up for it with naps later.

The trip was capped off with a snorkel in Thunderball Cavern by Staniel Cay which is always impressive. We gave Sue a break and went out to dinner on the last night at the Staniel Cay yacht club. You order your dinner when you make your reservation. At 1600 they ring a bell and everyone sits down at their assigned table. Then amazing food happened...Carrot soup (never had it...really good), chopped salad, then the main course. We had: Sue- Lobster, Jason - catch of the day, Leah - pork chop and Scott - short ribs. Finally for desert, my favorite, Carrot Cake! We sipped our wine and just sat back and enjoyed the Bahamian atmosphere. A perfect last night.

We all walked to the ‘airport’ on Sunday morning where the kids were flying Flamingo Air back to Nassau. Flamingo Air turns out to be a plane with 4 passenger seats. Very tiny. I imagine it was quite a view of the islands though and I can’t wait to hear Leah’s take on the flight.

I miss my daughter and she misses me but boy will these get togethers be something to look forward to. I look forward to the day when she brings us little crew members too!
And to all...there’s always a way to get to us. There’s little airfields on lots of islands so come on down Mon!

Finally - How we get our mail. We have a mail service in Florida where all our mail goes now. Occasionally we have them send our mail to us. When we were in Nassau the first time we arranged for the mail to be sent to the marina where we knew we were picking up Leah and Jason. Good plan except that when we shipped out on that Sunday our mail still had not arrived. What to do? Well, I had met the very nice South African man next to us in the marina - Nick. He wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon so we exchanged e-mail and I asked him to look out for my mail. Upon arriving in Staniel Cay about a week later I get an e-mail from Nick. Our mail had come in! Knowing that we planned to stay in Staniel Cay for several days he gave our mail to a Canadian couple aboard "Sea Escapade" who were coming to Staniel from Nassau. We are watching for that incoming boat now. How old fashion is this? Old sailing vessels used to exchange mail when they would be on opposite courses. I hope I don’t receive anything that says, “respond immediately for your 1 million dollars”!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Back to Nassau!

Dear reader...below is a day by day report of our trip back to Nassau from Staniel Cay. Hope you enjoy text and pics and comment or write to us.... Remember if you click on a picture you get the big version. Then the back arrow (it points left at the top of the screen) brings you back to the blog. Got that Dad?

Friday 3/2/07 From Staniel Cay (24 10.3 N 76 26.7 W)
To Chicken Cay (24 16.5 N 76 32 .2 W)

We really enjoyed Staniel Cay. This will be the end of the trip for Leah and Jason so now it’s time for us to head back north and go to some of the places we skipped over on the way south. This will give us lots of information to be able to plan a nice vacation for them with lots of options depending on weather. (We would explore like this for any guests...just need some lead time!)

There’s supposed to be some good snorking around a little place called Chicken Cay. It is a U shaped cay opening to the north-east with room in the U for maybe 2-3 boats. We hope there is room for us. No problem. We work our way in easily seeing the shallow places and avoiding them. The water is so clear that ‘reading the bottom’ is easy in good lighting. Hurray! Nobody here but us chickens! We set the hook with no problem and, as is our way, sit for an hour or so and just make sure that we are not drifting. This anchorage would be untenable in any north-east wind as we are open to the sound that direction and you’d get a nasty swell/surge here. But our wind is supposed to be from the south and light so our U should protect us well.

While we wait we read a little of the history and facts about this place. At one time they excavated old conk shells to date them. Apparently this whole bank was dry land 15,000 years ago when more of the Earth’s water was tied up in ice. The only water was a thin channel running north of Cuba. Anyway, after excavating the shells they just left them in a big pile! Weird to see.

The snorking inside the U on the northwest tip was very nice. Widely spaced coral with lots of fish. We then took the dingy over to the southern rock of Rocky Dundas only a quarter mile away. This is actually the southern border of the Exumas Parks so no fishing here or taking anything. This rock has a cavern in its eastern side not unlike Thunderball cavern at Staniel. The tide is so low when we get there though that the cavern is dry and waves rolling up would make it tough to get inside. Oh well, the coral here is VERY colorful as are the fish. There is a big stand of Elkhorn coral which apparently there is not much left of around.

Another beautiful night ensues. No one joins us. There’s no noise. The water is crystal clear. Doesn’t seem fair.

Saturday 3/3/07
From Chicken Cay (24 16.4 N 76 32.3 W)
To Hawksbill Cay (24 28.0 N 76 46.0 W)
One of those Days...

Hawksbill Cay is supposed to be a very beautiful place but compared to what? Everything here seems beautiful to us but maybe there is a fine scale that we are not hip to yet.

Winds are to be light southerly and we’re heading north. We decide to just roll out the genny and see if we can coast downhill. We can but still need a little push from the engine. So for the next 4 hours we motor sailed our way to Hawksbill. Only one other boat when we look in the anchorage - a huge pleasure yacht. We have good light to work our way in between the few scattered coral heads and past the yacht which has anchored pretty far out. Sue expertly pilots the boat into about 4 meters of water which leaves about a meter and a half under our keel. It is nearly low tide so we can be brave with how shallow the water is when we anchor.

It IS beautiful here. Long sandy beaches and a high hill to the south with a cairn on top. Looks like a rocky patch to the south of our anchorage that might be good for snorking. We launch the dingy and go ashore, only about 200 yards. The beach is pristine. Perfectly smooth from the falling tide and not one foot print and not one stone. Looks like it was formed in a mold. There’s a path leading up the hill probably leading out to the cairn. There’s also something sticking up about halfway up the path. What the...? It’s a mailbox! I climb up to investigate. Inside the mailbox is a ziplock bag with a spiral notebook inside. Opening it all up I find that people have been using this as a guest book, signing their names, leaving dates and boat names. I have no pen and I’m not returning to the boat for one. Next time. At the top of this climb you have to turn right and work your way along the path to the cairn. Beautiful view from up here. The path is a little nasty in that it is pretty rugged and it is straight down on my right.

As I approach the cairn it looks like there is something on top. What is that? As I get closer I realize it is a lizard! A live one! He has won the lottery for great places for lizards to sun themselves! He didn’t seemed to concerned with me and allowed several pictures.

The tide here floods a little stream that you can explore by dingy at high tide. This is not high tide and the stream is nearly completely dry. Still an interesting area. I scattered a group of long skinny fish when I walked into the shallows. They looked like the young of the pointy snout nosed fish I see on the reefs sometimes. I really have to learn a couple of fish names.

That's Enee on the anchor right outside what will become a stream at high tide.

We return to the dingy and motor down one beach from which we can swim and snork. I don’t know what’s better, millions of fish like we had at Thunderball Grotto or just a few like we have here. With just a few you are nicely surprised when you see them and can actually look at them for a bit without your attention being snapped away by the OTHER amazing fish. Very nice.

We can’t believe there is no one here. No weather is coming in for another day or so. Seas are calm. Maybe everyone is already down in Georgetown. Maybe we’re the only ones who really go for the solitude.

Back at Enee I decide to finish scraping barnacles off the prop. I bought some gloves for this kind of work in Nassau and have just been too lazy to use them. As I don my snorking gear Sue says, “You might want to wait. I think I saw something in the water”. What? Well, I don’t see it now...probably a rock. I laugh and say, “Don’t worry. If there’s something in the water you’ll know right away. I jump in. Oh yeah, I’d say there is something in the water. How about a 7 foot barracuda laying right under and parallel to our keel!

You know how in the cartoons when a character gets suddenly scared they just rocket straight up in the air defying all laws of physics? I wanted to do that. It doesn’t happen. What I did is flail about and try to climb the swim ladder with my fins on. That doesn’t work. I got my knees on the first rung and got my fins off and got back on board. I was laughing so hard because that big fish was really there just laying there and looking at me (making yummy sounds I think). I imagine the fish thinking, “God I love this part...I’m so bad”!

We laughed some more and watched the sun go down. The big boat had already left so we had the whole horizon to ourselves. Once green flash.

Full moon tonight and as it rises Sue says,”Oh the full moon is coming up but I guess it is cloudy...wait that’s not clouds. Come look”. Oh wow! Who knew. A rare treat. A penumbral lunar eclipse! This is when the moon goes through our shadow but the sun shinning through our little bit of atmosphere makes the darkened face of the moon appear reddish. Only the very tiny bottom left edge of the moon is fully lit. As it rose the eclipse receded leaving the good old full moon.

This day was already pretty amazing and now topped of with a lunar eclipse. We can’t wait to show this place to Leah and Jason...without Bob the Barracuda.

Sunday 3/4/07
From Hawksbill Cay
to Highbourne Cay

Weather is predicting another front to come through later today and into Monday with heavy north winds. We’d like to be comfortably anchored before that. We make a little run to Highbourne Cay where we think we can get some decent protection from north to east winds. Weird day for us now...NO wind. I mean flat like Lake Michigan gets in July. We motor all the way to Highbourne. Highbourne is a weird island. It is ‘private’. That means if you don’t pay for a slip you are not allowed to, as they put it, freely wander about the island. Why are rich people so weird sometimes? There are a half a dozen mega-yachts in the marina and maybe a dozen houses scattered over this pretty big island. I guess I can see how we would ruin their vacation if we went ‘wandering about’. We anchor south of the marina and flush our holding tank. Take that!

Took about three tries to get the anchor to hold. That’s not what you want when preparing for wind at night so I took the other anchor out in the dingy with me to set a second anchor. This time I also took my compass. I knew that the wind was going to come from the north so I wanted to set the second anchor directly to the west of the first so I would be making a V with the two anchor rodes. It’s nice that you can see your anchor from the dingy! When I got on top of it I used the compass to shoot an east /west line and then looked at landmarks that would define that line. Now I know I want to drop the other anchor when I’m on that line and to the west of the first anchor.

The water is crystal clear and I look over the side of the dingy with my mask and snorkel looking for a sandy patch (and for baraccuda) to drop the anchor on. What an amazing array of junk down here! This is rare. I saw old anchors, a rudder, part of a wind vane steering system and an entire boiler! Don’t want to snag any of that stuff! Good luck. Finally found a place and dropped the anchor and returned the anchor rode to the mother ship. Sue and I snugged this rode up as best we could hoping that the anchor had set. To help it hold I sent down a kellet. This is a weight on the anchor rode that forces the rode to pull more horizontally on the anchor than would happen with chain and rope alone. We use a mushroom anchor with a snap shackle attached so that we can snap it onto the anchor rode and then send it down on its own line. What fun...and MORE fun when I get to haul all of this up tomorrow!

The wind does build as expected. I’m not comfortable with all of this ‘anchorage’ so decide to sleep in the cockpit and keep and eye on things. No problem though and I actually slept ok at times.

Monday 3/5/07

From Highbourne Cay
To Allen’s Cay

It was actually a quite rolly night as Sue will attest from the aft cabin. This anchorage, while protected from the north is still letting rolling waves in from the west and slapping Enee’s rump. Tough to sleep with that.

After listening to the weather we first decide to make a run for it back to Nassau. Wind is supposed to be around 20 knots from about 20 degrees. After thinking about it more that is going to be a pretty hard, close hauled sail for us and then we have to hang out in Nassau until Saturday with no really good anchorage. Instead we opt to just go the few miles up to Allen’s Cay (the one with the Iguanas) where we think the water will be flatter. Yeah...only a few miles.

It doesn’t matter how far you intend to go. If you’re ‘going go sea’ you better be really ready. We weren't. The wind was howling out of the north and the sea was heavy with sharp chop. No sail up because we really are only going about 5 miles. We’re making about 2 knots into the slop. At one point the jib unfurled itself because nobody had thought to cleat the furling line...only going 5 miles, right? Also, I had left the anchor locker lid it is flailing about and catching some wind but I’m reluctant to go forward in these seas. It will be fine. Finally, our wind generator, which we know will cut out and free wheel in heavy air does just that. I’m not climbing up to lash this either so it is buzzing like a turbine all the way there.

The moral of the story is that you have to pretend you are going to sea even if that is not your main intention. You should put up some canvas so it can be a sailboat and not a really lousy motorboat. In our case we could have steered off the wind with a reefed main up and made double the speed in more comfort. I KNOW all of these things but we just got sloppy today. Glad we didn’t have to go any farther than we did.

At Allen’s things were quieter and we got the hook down with no problem. We’ll hang here for a couple of days, clean up the boat, fix a couple of things, and then head to Nassau on Thursday when the weather has settled back down.

Tuesday 3/6/07 Staying in Allen’s Cay

Just a day rocking and rolling while we wait for this wind to tame itself a little. In the meantime we busied ourselves with preparing the boat for guests! That means turning the forward storage shed back into a comfy v-berth. We found places for everything and ‘threw out’ some stuff which means stacking it behind the companionway ladder with the rest of the garbage. Amazing how much garbage two people generate in a couple of weeks. Luckily the marina we are going to on Saturday will allow you to throw out your garbage for no additional charge. They’re not all like that.

In the afternoon the parade of boats started coming in. This water is fairly well protected so with the wind still building boats were looking for a place to hide out for the night. Still not too crowded and almost all the boats are upwind from us so if they pull THEY have the problem!

Wendnesday 3/7/07 Allen’s Cay back to Nassau!

We listened to Chris Parker in the morning and heard the good news that we’d have a good wind to sail back to Nassau with. 15-20 knots east-northeast and we’re sailing a course north west. Perfect wind for Enee! And a grand sail it was! We went out with the main reefed as we usually do. Once out there the wind was probably more toward 20 knots and gusty. Seas were a little rolly too so we only unrolled about 3/4 of the genny. We sailed pretty flat that way although we were busy at the helm with the waves coming abeam. We went 7+ knots all the way to Nassau! Sweet.

In Nassau harbor we anchored near the eastern harbor entrance. Took us about 3 trys to get the anchor to hook but then it hooked very solidly. Our exploration of the northern Exumas is complete and we’ve claimed in the name of King Daley and the beautiful town of Chicago. Everyone in Chicago is welcome to come down as soon as the parking meters are installed.

Seriously, it was really fun exploring so that we could show Leah and Jason a really good time while they are with us. We would do the same for anyone who wanted to ever join us on part of this trip. Give us a little lead time and we will explore a region for you so that we can show you a very nice vacation (weather permitting). All you need is air fare . . . oh, and bring beer! ($40/case in Nassau!)

While on the hook in Nassau we (Sue) cleaned the entire boat, sorted laundry, fixed a couple of nagging little things. We decided to go to the marina a day early on Friday so we have two days with the convenience of being hooked to shore to take care of laundry, grocery, internet, and party supplies (beer). We are so excited to go back to the Exumas with our favorite guests! A full report on sailing with Leah and Jason when we get back to Staniel Cay next Saturday. They’re flying out of there and we will press south to Georgetown.

Thanks for all comments! C’mon...say hi!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Staniel Cay


When people told us that there wouldn’t be much between Nassau and Georgetown they weren’t kidding and we are ok with that. Staniel Cay looks to be one of the more happening places in the Exumas and there’s the Staniel Cay Yacht Club and Bar and there’s the air strip and then there’s...well...that’s about it. We walked by the school at lunch time and saw the 8 students come out of the one room school house so it is a bit of a community. There are two other eateries - Club Thunderball and Happy People Marina (really!) but they are open for dinner only or maybe only on weekends. Hard to tell.

Not crowded though and GREAT snorking in the very same cavern where James Bond came swimming out at the end of Thunderball. You can snork into the cavern at low tide (plenty of air above you) and it is just beautiful. It is lit through holes in the ceiling with bright shafts of light coming down to illuminate the coral and the fish. Oh yeah the fish...there’s about a kabillion of them and when you jump off your dingy to go snork they race out to greet you and to see if you have any food for them. I took a zip lock with peas in it and they were all over me like tropical fish on a snorker! A little intimidating actually, especially with the BIG ones (6”). I just emptied the bag and swam on.
We’ll go back to the cave tomorrow maybe. I have an old underwater camera and I may try to take some film pictures then. Remember film?
Looks like we may stay another couple of days while I work on the book (nearly sort of done!) and then head back north to hit some places we missed on the way down. We want to stop at Hawksbill Cay, Highborne Cay and Cambridge Cay. If we have good weather I think we can guarantee Leah and Jason a great vacation. . . and anyone else who’d like to come visit. We should be in the Georgetown area for the next month or so.

Shopping in Staniel Cay

Well I was on a mission to find some cheese. I know it’s not like me to run out of cheese but we did. Scott sat himself down at the side-bar at the yacht club with his computer and research plan and I headed out to do some shopping. Actually grocery shopping is the only shopping I enjoy because the result is food - favorite food if you’re lucky. So I took the map that the Staniel Cay Yacht Club gives you and my trusty Marathon Cruisers Net canvas bag and walked the few streets of the island. There is suppose to be a store called the Pink Pearl just around the corner and to the left of the Happy People’s Restaurant. But there’s no road here just a driveway. Hmmmm. Well, might as well try it.

I walk up the gravel driveway and sure enough there’s another sign pointing the way to the store. It’s a pink building next to the other pink building (someone’s house) but this pink building has a sign above the door which says: Grocery. Found it! I walked into a dark room with rows of can goods and a few fresh vegetables. Nobody tending the store but I do hear voices coming from the pink house. I look around the rows (maybe 3) of food and decide to try the other store in town--- the Blue Wing Grocery which is #2 on the map. Pink Pearl is #1. I see an actual road off the gravel driveway and head west a few steps where I see a sign saying: Grocery store at top of hill. Indeed the sign, the house at the bottom of the hill, the building at the top of the hill and the motor-scooter along the path are all blue. Again - found it! This time there are people around. An elderly gentleman enters the store as I do and welcomes me by saying - fresh pineapple today.

I look around and see can goods, one dozen of eggs, the pineapple, tomatoes, onions, potatoes. I ask, ‘Do you have any cheese?’ In the refrigerator I’m told. I look in the fridge and only see american cheese slices. Ummmm. Bummer. Another shopper in the store says that there is cheese in this refrigerator - a short box that I thought might be a freezer. Oh ---- hit the jack pot. Cheddar cheese and only $4.25 for (it looks like) a pound and a half. Bingo! Okay what else do I want to buy here? Bread, limes, onions, a tomato, and the dozen eggs.

I tell the gentleman that I’m ready. He’s already packing some of the produce into a plastic bag. He says, ‘You use the machine.’ There’s an adding machine on the counter. ‘It’s ready to go,’ he says. ‘You push the numbers and I’ll tell you how much.’ Okay. I start with the cheese which is the only item marked. He then proceeds to call out numbers connected to food items: loaf of bread - $4, 2 onions - $1.25, 2 limes - $1.50, etc. I punch in the numbers as he calls them out. Total: $15.30. I give him the $50 dollar bill I brought with and he looks into his drawer. ‘Oh, I need to get change.’ I only see ‘change’ as in coins in the drawer. He walks out for a few minutes and returns with several bills in his hand. Okay, we’re ready to make change. I receive 70 cents (one quarter is a Bahamian coin with a sailboat on it), 3 american dollars and 1 bahamian dollar, an american 20 dollar bill. ‘That’s 40 right?’ he asks. Yes. Then he gives me 2 five dollar bahamian bills. We’re square.

Thanks, I say. You’re welcome, he says. Okay, now what do we have next? he asks. The other woman in the store has her purchases ready. I explain that she needs to do the adding on the machine. She gives me a look as if really?ˆ and I clear the balance and say, ‘You’re ready to go. Have fun.’

I decide to look for the post office on my way back to the yacht club where Scott is waiting. I’m sure I continued on the correct road but only found Nataja’s Beauty Salon which is suppose to be next door. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be brave enough to walk up someone’s else's’ driveway to find the post office.

Tomorrow is another day.

Fav Pics, A book review, and a chart

Hello all-
We're still in Staniel Cay as the wifi is fast and free and Scott as a little more research to do for the last three chapters of the book (buy the book, buy the book, buy the book.....). As we like to do once in a while we offer some of our recent favorite pictures with little text for a change. Also, here is a link to a map of the Exumas. Nassau is not shown but would be nearly due west of the top of the Exumas about 30 miles. Finally, if you scroll down you'll find a book review by Scott - just for fun! We'll probably be internet-less after today until 3/9 or 10 when we return to Nassau to pick up Leah and Jason. We'll be back on line when we get back to Staniel Cay with them and report on their vacation. So, with no further adieux (ado? adeau? . . . ???)

How about a few sky pics? Sunsets at: Boot Key, Channel 5, and Waderick Wells (Bahamas), and a sliver of moon.

Animals? There's kids feeding finches on Waderick Wells, a lizard from Ship Channel Cay, a Manatee from Boot Key, and whale bones from Waderick Wells. The whale (55') died from ingesting plastic. Floating plastic looks like jelly fish. Sad.

Finally, rare pictures of SUE! She usually hogs the camera. That's sue gettin flowers on her birthday, enjoying the Staniel Cay Yacht Club (tavern) and happy at Allen's Cay.

And finally, book report:

A book review...about time!
I was turned on to this book by my sister in law who really digs my taste in page turners (serial killer or end of the world) and as luck would have it, just after she told me about it I saw the guy on the boat next to me reading this very book which he then gave to me! An end of the world one. This must be a sign! The book in question is “Dies the Fire” by Stirling. The premise is my favorite...a white light is sweeping across the planet after which NOTHING works. No cars. No guns. No engines. No electricity. It’s back to the 10th century. Oh boy this will be great...

A book like this needs real bad guys and this one has it. They are into raping, stealing, torture, and cannibalism and after about 100 pages I was rooting for them! “Oh my by the Lord and Lady above...” Yeah, the main female character is a Wiccan ...a witch and one more weird gaelic witticism and I wanted to wipe out her and her whole lame-ass clan. Get this . . . In a matter of weeks her and her counter part (a former pilot) do the following....
Gather a herd of horses, build a fort, defeat several bad guys with swords, make chain mail armor, plant several square miles of food by hand, have babies, sing lame songs, say lame things, wish they had better food, laugh good naturedly about that, all get along (yeah, that would happen) and so forth. Of course they are able to do all this because they just happen to find a horse whisperer, a vet, a doctor, a blacksmith, a bow maker, an engineer, and farmers. Everything but a millionaire and his wife! So much for conflict! The crowning moment of this 20th century thrown back to the 10th century slug fest is when they defeat the really, really bad guys by. . . ready?... using HANG GLIDERS (where’d those come from?) which they just happen to have 5 people who are experts at! OH, in the meantime they have all become experts at riding horses, making bows and arrows and shooting them from the moving horses. This is all within a few months of the ‘change’.

Oh and remember nothing works, right? Except they do have fire but gunpowder doesn’t work. They don’t have electricity but the electrical impulses in their heads seem to work but only the lame circuits. They do have fire and they can cook but they can’t make the steam engine work! But all it needs is steam which they can make!

I suppose much of this is explained in the sequel entitled, “More Lame Sayings and Long Winded Descriptions of Food”.

I kept reading out of stubbornness as is my way. Skip this book and buy some posters with kids with big eyes. Less time and less money wasted.

Sorry Andrea!