Sunset at Lynyard Cay Endangered Bahamas Parrot Strategies For Maintaining Connectivity In the Bahamas
This past Tuesday morning, February 14th, we left our slip in Marsh Harbor headed for Lynyard Cay. Lynyard is located directly across from Little Harbor and is a popular staging ground for boats going further south. We arrived around 2 p.m. and found the anchorage full of boats.
Our friends from Kinvara and Badjaw were already there having spent the previous week or so in Little Harbor. It was wonderful to see Hans and Gail again as we'd thought we said our "Final" goodbye the week before in Marsh Harbor. We also met some new friends, Lisa and Craig, from Second Spree.
After we dropped anchor, Hans and Gail came by in their dinghy to fill us on the plans for the rest of the day. Bill asked Hans if he'd take out to check on the anchor with the 'Lookie Bucket,' and, of course, Hans agreed. Quickly the word came back that the Manson was well set and we were good to go.
The plan for the evening was a potluck cookout on the beach. We'd thought we'd go snorkeling when we arrived but it turned out that we didn't have enough time as the fire was being lit at 4:30 sharp! I had to come up with something to bring and I decided on potato salad. Rather than cook up potatoes, I opened 3 cans of Delmonte canned potatoes and cut them up and the rest was my usual ingredients. Amazingly, it tasted just like the salad I make from fresh potatoes and took only half the time. Thank you, Cindy, from S/V Síocháin, for cluing us into the value of having a large supply of canned potatoes on board!
When we arrived ashore, the fire was burning well and circled by chairs, in various states of disrepair, found around the beach. There's nothing like sitting on a beach with a beer, good friends and food cooked over an open fire. It was a great time and beautiful evening...when we got back to Céilí, I sat out in the cockpit for a while just enjoying the starry sky and the peace of the anchorage.
On Wednesday, we said good-bye to Hans and Gail for the last time as they headed to the cut between Lynyard Cay and Great Abaco which would take them out into the Atlantic and on towards Eleuthera. A little later, Bill and I went ashore and walked to the Atlantic side of Lynyard Cay. It's a very short walk, along a narrow trail through tough, scrubby vegetation that reminded me somewhat of sage brush. We passed what once had been a small house, now in ruins and abandoned. We walked up a short rise and we greeted by a spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean. The shore line was a combination of sandy beach and rugged coral outcroppings. Sadly, the beach was strewn with litter...much of it plastic. The abundance of trash may be the result of hurricane Irene, and not representative of the usual amount of debris but it was disheartening to see nonetheless.
On our return to the boat we got a call from Jane telling us that she and Peter were beach combing on the shore across from us and that it was a great place to pick up shells. Not ones to pass up the chance to add to our shell collection, we hopped back in the dinghy and went over. The beach was awash with myriad shells, sea weed and assorted trash, again possibly remnants of Hurricane Irene. We encountered what looked like a former campsite; a metal shelter frame, a line hung with tattered clothes, and other items suggested that someone had lived there at some point. By the time we arrived, Peter and Jane had already found lots of shells, sea urchins, sand dollars, etc. but there were plenty left for us, including some nice conchs. Among the debris Bill found a small, grubby, formerly white, fender. He'd apparently had wanted one for years but couldn't bring himself to spring for the price...about $40. After some soap, water and elbow grease it looks as good as new and is currently in service. A treasure for him. I came back with a bucket of shells which now needs to be sorted...I mean, how many shells does anyone need?!
After a few hours of shelling, it was time to go snorkeling. We'd been told that there was a pretty fascinating reef just off the beach. The "reef" was formed by a large truck tire, covered with coral and now home to a community of small reef fish. It was pretty amazing...it almost looked like a carousel as the fish swam in and out and round and round. As I was approaching the reef, I passed a barracuda. They always look ferocious but he had no interest in the 'mini reef' or me and slowly swam out of sight.
We left Lynyard Cay on Thursday morning with a nice breeze from the southeast, affording us a lovely sail back to Marsh Harbor. Friday morning we made a bike ride to Maxwell's for a few essentials and decided that a trip to Mermaid Reef for an afternoon of snorkeling was in order. It was an almost perfect day for it...mostly sunny and the water was reasonably clear. Unlike the last time we'd been there, we found fish galore. I never tiring looking at them...their colors and endless variety are simply amazing. After a couple of hours on the reef we went back and enjoyed cocktails and a bite to eat at the newly renovated and recently reopened Mangoes Marina restaurant. We've been there several times now and have been very impressed with the food and the ambiance and have great hopes for its success.
Saturday was a ferry trip over to Man O War Cay for the annual school fundraiser flea market. The market was packed with people shopping for bargains, betting on the hermit crab races, enjoying great food and just basking in the beautiful day. I didn't find any treasures but Bill came home with conch shell horn which, I'm sure, will get a lot of use. Dinner was steak night at the Jib Room across the harbor...delicious as always.
Sunday morning finds me being somewhat lazy and Bill servicing the Espar heater in anticipation of our upcoming trip back to New England. While we may encounter some cool temps along the way I am hopeful that it will be more comfortable than the trip down here.
Time to sort through the shells!
02/03/2012, Marsh Harbour
It's been quite a while since we've posted an update and that's mostly due to the fact that we've been docked in Marsh Harbor for the past several weeks. We are staying at the Mangoes Marina and it's been very enjoyable. Mangoes is one of three or four marinas in Marsh Harbor and, as it's on the west side of the harbor, it's very convenient to shopping of all kinds. There are several grocery stores, including Maxwell's, a true supermarket, two marine stores, two hardware stores, bakeries, gift shops, at least two dive shops and four or five liquor stores. We've been able to get just about everything we need here, including a "lookie bucket", an item very useful here...but something we've never seen at home. The ferry to Guana Cay ties up at the next dock...an easy way to get to Nippers for the Sunday pig roast and the ferry docks to the other cays are only a short distance from here.
After all the 'get up and go' of our early trip, it's been nice to be in one place for a while. We pulled the bikes out of the 'garage' (aka the aft stateroom) and have put a quite a few miles on them. We've found a number of restaurants that we enjoy and a big surprise was Matilda's...a small take out place which served one of the best burgers I've ever had. We've really enjoyed the Wednesday 'rib night' at the Jib Room across the harbor, at the Marsh Harbor Marina, and have been several times. We've also met lots of very nice people here in Marsh Harbor. On Saturday nights, our full-time, live-aboard neighbors, Mars and Melanie, organize 'movie night' which is always fun and interesting. We've been snorkeling at Mermaid Reef, just around the corner from the harbor entrance. So, all in all, we've had lots to keep us busy and entertained here in Marsh Harbor.
On the 15th of January, we hopped in the dinghy, all set to cross the harbor and visit with our friends Gail and Hans on Badjaw. The only problem was that engine wouldn't start. After trying all the suggested trouble-shooting fixes, it became clear that a professional was required. On the recommendation of Hans, we contacted James at the Abaco Suzuki shop. Mars and Melanie graciously offered us the use of their Boston Whaler to tow our dink to the new public dinghy dock, where we took our engine off and brought it to the shop, just across the street. In the 45 or so minutes it took us tow our dinghy back, return the Whaler and walk back to the Suzuki shop, James had our engine apart and diagnosed: the ignition coil had failed and it needed to be replaced. While we waited for the part to arrive from the states, James was kind enough to loan us a small, 2 hp, outboard for use while our engine was in the shop which was wonderful as we had plans to head off for a bit. We now have our engine back and it's running like a top.
During the week of Jan. 16 - 22, we left Marsh Harbor and returned to Hope Town and Great Guana. While in Hope Town we did some of the things we hadn't been able to do on earlier visits. We climbed the light house and took the obligatory picture of Ceili in the harbor and we rented a golf cart and drove out to Tahiti Beach, a very beautiful spot. On our way there, near the Abaco Inn, we passed earth movers pushing sand up from the beach in an attempt to shore up the road, damaged in a recent storm. The road at that point is a little scary as it's narrow and there's quite a drop off, with only wooden pallets strung out along the edge
Yesterday, we rented a van with our friends Gail, Hans, Jane and Peter and drove down to Abaco National Park hoping to catch a glimpse of the Abaco parrot (A. leucocephala bahamensis). The Bahama Amazon once lived in Abaco, New Providence, San Salvador, Long Island, Crooked Island, Acklins and Great Inagua but today are rare and only found in Abaco and Great Inagua. Because they build their nests in the ground, the birds are vulnerable to predation by feral cats and dogs, snakes, crabs and other animals and heavy rains can flood the nests,drowning the birds. Habitat loss and capture for pets and for sale have also been a large factors in the decline of their population. Since 1952, these beautiful birds have been protected by the By the Wild Bird Protection Act and, in 1994, the Bahamian government set aside 20,000 acres in South Abaco to create Abaco National Park to help preserve the Bahama Amazon. Their primary habitat is in the Abaco National Park which is in Abaco's south east quarter and along the unpaved road to Abaco's other Lighthouse at Hole in the Wall. We were thrilled to see at least 8 of them snoozing in a palm tree.
In Cherokee Sound, we met some conch fishermen waiting for the mail boat from Nassau to arrive. Their catch of conch was sitting was sitting on the dock in a big pile; shells pierced and tied together by nylon rope. We learned that conch can live 2 days out of water as long as they are drenched in salt water periodically. A rain storm would kill them all quickly.
On the way home we grabbed dinner at Pete's Pub in Little Harbor.
All in all, this has been a lovely few weeks!
Another Album has been added "Hopertown and Great Guana"
01/01/2012, Marsh Harbour, Abacos
When in the US, we primarily relied upon Verizon cellular and wireless (Verizon MiFi) to stay connected. However, Verizon coverage does not extend to the Bahamas. Once across the Gulf Stream, we lost our phone and internet service. We have discovered that there are several options available for cruisers to remain connected while in the Bahamas.
CELL PHONE: BaTelCo offers a prepaid phone service that provides a local phone number, and the ability to receive and make calls within the Bahamas and to/from the US. We purchased a phone for $30, a Sim Card for $17, and can now make local calls for .33/min, and calls to the US for around $1.00/min. Because of the cost, we use this phone mostly as an emergency phone where we can be reached directly if needed. For routine calls, we prefer SKYPE when internet service is available.
SKYPE: When we are connected to the internet, SKYPE is a less costly option to call the US at around .02/min. It works both with the computer as well as the Iphone, and call quality is nearly equal to cellular.
INTERNET: Most marinas have WiFi, but the signals tend to be weak even at the dock. A high-powered antenna, such as the Bullet HP-2, is mandatory for connecting to these sites. There are very few unsecured hotspots. However, Bahamas wide wireless internet is available through Bahamas WiMax or OutIsland Wireless, and is the only reliable option when away from a dock. Typical costs for this service is around $150/2months, and is less expensive with longer contracts. Subscription to one of these services will provide service to most anchorages, again with the help of a a signal booster.
RADIO: A SSB receiver is essential for receiving detailed weather broadcasts and monitoring the cruiser nets. A SSB transmitter is useful for keeping in touch with other boats at longer distances, and for backup emergency communications when outside VHF/cell range. VHF cruiser nets in places like Marsh Harbor are the primary means for communicating local weather, events, and messages.
OTHER: We have a NAVTEX receiver (Furuno NX-300), which is a good backup for weather information, and basically duplicates what is available on SSB and the internet. Since it constantly receives and stores individual reports, the data is always available if we miss a scheduled SSB broadcast.
Endangered Bahamas Parrot
Strategies For Maintaining Connectivity In the Bahamas