Click on the pictures for a bigger view.
February 26th, 2010
We are at Thompson Bay, Long Island in the Far Bahamas. This is the furthest south we will go this year. We had planned on going south a little more but it would be to remote islands that don't have the best anchorages. The weather here has copied the weather in the states. This is the worst year we have had in the Bahamas with all the cold front passages. Normally we would get a cold front every 5-10 days or so, now we get 3 cold fronts in 5 days. This morning the temperature is 64 degrees when it should be at least 75 degrees. The cooler air is just in the mornings and the temperature rapidly climbs to about 75 to 80, making a very pleasant day. The harbor anchorages in the islands are all open to the sea and mostly to the southwest so when the cold front comes the southwest winds bring in 3 foot waves that make most people uncomfortable. It does not bother Nancy or I as long as we know that our anchor is secure and we have plenty of room for the boat to swing as the winds clock around. We just sleep through it until the wind goes west and north and the seas calm. We then go ashore and visit the islands. We find it interesting that a lot of boats use the good day to travel to another anchorage only to have another front come in. We use the good days to visit and explore. We end up staying in one place a little longer than most - but we don't really have anywhere we have to be, so it doesn't matter. We hiked over a ridge line to the other side of Long Island and saw the Atlantic Ocean from the hilltop. Wonderful view. We went to the ocean beach below and found some sea beans that we added to our collection. Another day, we went on a road trip with Mike and Kathy (S/V Sapphire) and Bob and Bev (S/V Savage Son) and explored the south end of Long Island. We stopped at the produce warehouse in Clarence Town for fresh vegetables. Nancy stocked up on locally grown peppers, sugar bananas, tomatoes, and sour oranges. Total bill was $2.04. We drove to an area where salt ponds were once worked but have long since been abandoned. The beach has been storm blown but Nancy did find another sea bean.
The old harbor has been filled in by sand and an old tug now sits high and dry. The buildings and everything were just left behind. Papers from filling cabinets littered the area. Just seemed strange to just walk away the way they did. Guess big corporations can do that.
Along the way we did find a place for refreshments. Along with a very nice beach area on the most southern tip of the island. Left to right, me, Bob, Mike and Kathy. Nancy is checking out the beach.
We will go to shore today to visit and have lunch then it looks like we might be boat bound for about 5 days while a couple of fronts come in and give us southwest to west winds for an extended period of time.
Tomorrow, weather permitting, we will head out to Long Island. It has been two years since we were there last, so this will be fun. Several boaters that we know are headed down there or up there, depending on if they are north or south of the island.
Yesterday we rented a car and took a tour of Great Exuma Island. We had driven the island before but it was for business and not sight seeing. This trip was for business and sight seeing. When we checked into the country, Immigrations only gave us 90 days here so we had to extend. Nancy had already extended her stay when she came back from the states. Sooo, I was the one who had to go to Immigrations this time. I got a 120 day extension. That will be good enough for getting back to Florida. Immigrations has made a few boaters really mad this year. Some are not extending and are headed back to the states. This is bad for the country because it relies on tourism so much for their annual incomes.
We drove down to the southern tip of Great Exuma and across a little one lane bridge to Little Exuma Island. This in one area that we had not visited before. We came across an area on the beach that showed us that we had crossed the Tropic of Cancer. We will be crossing it again tomorrow as we go to Long Island. We found some Tombs from the late 1700s. What a sad story they told. The 26 year old mother had died with her young baby and the husband build these monuments for them. He later died and is buried in the second largest tomb with his wife in the largest and the baby in the smallest. What a sad sight and tale from over 200 years ago. Its also strange that we still think about them from that long ago. We visited the salt ponds where slaves and poor whites would rake and sell the salt to waiting boats. The boats would sail along the Island until they saw a large sea marker that would tell them where the salt was. It is still standing today and offers a wonderful view of the ocean.
We continued driving north along the island, taking all side roads and pulling off at every "Beach Access" sign we saw. Explored just about everything. We continued past our marina to a local hangout called "Big D's" and guess what ???? There were a few boaters there. The girls started drinking shots. That brought a smile to their faces.. A mixed drink cost $8.00 but a shot only cost $3.00. So their story is they were saving money. OK Gwen.
The rates for dockage at the marina at Emerald Bay have changed. Instead of being 50 cents a foot, it is now $1.50 per foot. That's for the Non service slip rates (no electrical available). For the rest of the slips the cost has gone from $2.00/ft to $3.75/ft. Electricity is $.85/kwh and water is $.35/gal.. It is not a cheap place any longer...
It will be a few days before we get internet again. Its not that available on Long Island but we will update the web site when we can.
On the move. We have left Little Farmers Cay and moved southward to Great Exuma Island. This is the largest island of the Exumas chain. A lot of cruisers anchor at the largest settlement on the Island, Georgetown. I refuse to go there by boat. It is a permanent anchorage for 200 to 300 or more boats. Some don't even use anchors, they have sand screws that they moor their boats to. Think of a trailer park from South Carolina. Other cruisers call Georgetown "Chicken Harbor" because of the boats that are afraid to go any further south. We are in a marina called "The Marina at Emerald Bay". What a name. It is probably the nicest marina in the Bahamas. It is a Five Star Resort Marina owned by Sandals Resort. It offers floating cement docks, RO water, electricity and pump out at each slip, free laundry, free WiFi, lounge, pool table, large screen TV, free transportation to stores, etc.. A wonderful place. Nancy and I played some pool in the private lounge today. Nancy didn't win but she is a good player. In all these years of marriage we have never played pool together until now. Today we went shopping, did some more laundry and relaxed.
Before we left Little Farmers we went to the cave and beach with Graham and Valerie from the S/V Bonnie Lass. Fun Fun Fun. After swimming in the cave we went beach combing on the Atlantic Ocean side of Great Guana Cay. It was Valentines Day a nd I found a Heart Bean on the beach. So on Valentines Day, I gave my Heart to Nancy. She found another one later and kept it.
We will be here for the week and on Friday (weather permitting), we will go further south below the Tropic Of Cancer to Long Island.
Another strange thing happened. The first thing that gave us a hint that something was happening was a radio call on VHF from a Police Boat to the Bahamian Defense Force. They did not get an answer but the Park answered. The Park does have a permanent Defense Force based there so apparently they got in contact. About a hour later we noticed a sail boat a few blocks away from us surrounded by a high speed police boat and a Defense Boat. The sail boat was carrying 62 Haitian Refugees. The passengers included 13 women and 49 men. They had been sailing for four days from Haiti without a lot of food or water. As we watched, the Haitian passengers were off-loaded from their sailboat onto the Police and Defense Force boats. We had about 17 cruising boats anchored around Little Farmers Cay and we all started a rescue operation. One boat put out a radio call for food, water and clothes. The boaters went into action. We put together two garbage bags on Solitaire. One bag was filled with clothes, a blanket, poncho, etc. The other bag was filled with hot food (microwaved meals) dry food, milk, food bars etc.. One cruiser had sent out their dinghy to start picking up things from other boats. They were getting busy and their dinghy was overloaded with donated food and clothing, so we got into our dinghy and delivered our things directly to the back of the Defense Force boat. After that, we went back to Solitaire and Nancy started cooking up a big pot of spaghetti. Once that was done the dinghy from the other boat picked it up and delivered it. We found some more food and because of the pickup dinghy being busy we delivered it to the refugees who were on the Police boat. The pickup dinghy and the dinghy from the organizing boat were tied to a drifting police boat handing out the food dished in cups to the people on board. Since they were busy feeding everyone we ended up being the pickup dinghy and started going to all the boats calling for pickup of donated items. We delivered everything to the food preparation dinghies. The Police boat and Defense Force boat stayed in the area until we had food and drink for everyone. We found out later that a Defense Force boat had taken them back to Haiti. At least they had full stomachs. The sails on their boat were torn and they still made a good sail from Haiti in four days. My hat goes off to the Captain of that boat. He did a tremendous job. A little side light. One of the passengers did not have any pants. So one of the guys on a dinghy took his off and gave it to him. Later he realized that he had $80.00 in his pocket. What a gift..
We had a cold front pass us this morning. Winds were probably 25 to 30 max. I hate to call it a cold front, the temp outside is 78 degrees. Another cold front is due this Saturday so we will stay at Little Farmers Cay until it passes. It is supposed to have winds up to 50 knots in squalls so we will just hang tight on our mooring until it passes and we will then head south to Emerald Bay on Great Exuma for a few days. Then it will be on to Long Island.
February 6th, 2010
When we headed into the dock the day before yesterday, we where waved away from the dock. Suddenly someone on the dock pulled a black rope really hard and the water in front of us started this turbulent thrashing. A shark had just been caught. It had been swimming where we normally park our dinghy. We tie up next to the fish cleaning station and apparently this boy wanted some of the scraps. Barry (in the photo) had been cleaning some fish and saw him go by so he grabbed some fish cleanings and put them on a large hook that was tied to a rope and threw it in. The shark made one circle and hit the bait. After about a half an hour the shark had tired out and was pulled along side the dock and two shotgun blasts finished him off. This shark had come into the harbor about two days before so a lot of locals were glad to see that it had been caught. We swim from our boat and a lot of people dive the local reefs, so it was not just the locals who were glad to see that he had been caught.
Yesterday we sold hand painted sand dollars, cookies, cup cakes and brownies. We made about $120.00 for the local ball field and hope to end up with about $200.00 with the sales today..
Next week we will head down to Emerald Bay for a few days and next weather window head to Long Island.
February 1st, 2010
This coming weekend with be the Little Farmers Cay Festival. Nancy and the kids had a great time getting ready for the event. Nancy supplied suckers and pencils. With about 4 other cruisers helping the kids with the paints and directions, they hand painted about 85 Sand Dollars to sell at the Festival. The money raised will help build a ball park in the settlement park area next to the beach. On the back of each sand dollar is a message that says that they were hand painted by the children of Little Farmers Cay.
While Nancy was doing that I was pulling weeds, trimming grass, tending bar and greeting quests. The owner of Ocean Cabin (Terry) was cleaning snapper fish most of the day so they would be ready to serve the Bahamian Breakfast of Stew Fish for all the crowds that will be coming. His wife Earnestine, was busy in the kitchen preparing other things. Busy time of the year. More work to come...
We are on a mooring ball next to the Island so it is a easy dinghy ride into the settlement when it is time to work. The mooring balls cost $10.00 per day (a lot less than the $60.00 we paid in Newport RI.) Even being that cheap we had a Defever 50 leave this morning without paying the fee for one night. The bad thing is its name was "Solitude". Too close to our name. Earnestine called on the radio from Ocean Cabin to stop them but they would not answer. We called them on our radio and they would not answer. Terry finally came out in his boat and ran them down to get payment. Some cruisers really give the rest of us a black eye to the locals. With a boat that big and too cheap to pay for a mooring on a little island. I will let everyone I know what bad boaters they are. The only good thing that happened and made me smile is they ran aground on a completely visible sand bar so fast and so hard, the stern of the boat was turned 180 degrees and plopped on the sand bar also. It took them about 15 minutes of gyrations to get off and I would hate to see their engines with all that sand sucked in..