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........


floridaglades said...

That's strange. . . time was, people didn't brag about the old days so much. THOSE were the days!

Bahamas Mary said...

What an adventure! I'm having so much fun peeking at the blog...Thanks for sharing your travel stories and letting the rest of us live vicariously through your trip...more! more!