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C'est la Vie
C'est la Vie
Port: Everglades City, FL
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Carins
Jeff
Thursday August 7th 2008, Great Guana Cay

To assist others in finding the cave we built cairns along the trail back to the beachhead. Building cairns brought me back to days spent wandering around Cochise Stronghold in southern Arizona. The maze of climbers trails in the Cochise area are marked with cairns many of them quite elaborate. We build the large cairn pictured at the head of the trail along the beach

Great Guana Caves
Jeff
Thursday August 7th 2008, Great Guana Cay

From our anchorage off Oven Rock we went ashore in search of a large cave mentioned in the Exumas' Cruising Guide. After wandering about on numerous small trails, it seems others have combed the area looking for the cave, our efforts were rewarded. We stumbled upon the cool, shady abyss hidden by a thick growth of hardwood trees. Once our eyes adjusted to the limited light, the large cave opening provided enough illumination to explore most of the cave. The bucket pictured above holds a prominent place centered in the cave. Over what must be decades of dripping water, limestone deposits have cemented the bucket to the cave floor. This must have been a settler's method of acquiring fresh drinking water. Even in the current drought, numerous drips from the cave ceiling above feed forming stalagmites along with the bucket. The deepest portions of the cave are filled with freshwater. In the background Anne can be seen wading into the cool water. The guidebook states that cave divers have explore the depths of the cave reaching 70 feet down and 700 feet westward.
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Black Point Settlement
Jeff
Wednesday August 6th 2008, Great Guana Cay

We arrived at Black Point Settlement on Great Guana Cay late in the afternoon on the 5th. We were drawn to Black Point by the guide book's promise of free trash disposal, free drinking water, laundry, and stocked grocery stores. We found the government dock and walked around the community in the early evening. We did found the cleanest, most functional coin laundry in the Bahamas and the free public trash bins (Staniel was charging $2.50 per small bag of trash). The water taps were dry and the groceries were limited. Hmm, so far we were batting .500 Black Point. We ordered some bread from the local baker and returned to C'est la Vie for the evening.
On the 6th we awoke and returned to the laundry with three weeks of dirty clothes and linens in tow. Anne took up the role of laundry queen while I foraged the town for groceries. By midday, our chores completed, we enjoyed a few slices off a fresh loaf of Mrs. Rolles' coconut bread back aboard C'est la Vie.
After lunch we took the dinghy northward to explore some reefs and mangrove creeks. During our exploration, Anne discovered her favorite way to snorkel - see image included. I drive the dinghy looking for coral heads and Anne drags along behind holding onto a line. Anne spent over 90 minutes behind the dinghy and covered over 3NM. She loved it! I guess we better get a bimini made for the Origami.
Back on board C'est la Vie we decided to make a late afternoon run south along the banks to the opposite end of Great Guana Cay. Great Guana, 12 NM from north to south, is the second longest cay in the Exumas. Black Point, located on the northern end of Great Guana, is the only settlement on the island. The southern two thirds of the island is roadless, undeveloped, and beautiful. Two hours of motor sailing south delivered us to an anchorage along the western shore near Oven Rock. Within sight of Little Farmer's Cay, Oven Rock is an outcropping that resembles a traditional outdoor Bahamian oven.
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Sound Side
Jeff
Tuesday August 5th 2008, Bitter Guana Cay

Cresting the hill on Bitter Guana Cay provided us a view of the Exuma Sound. The image included is looking southeast from Bitter Guana Cay toward Dotham Cut

up and over
Jeff
Tuesday August 5th 2008, Bitter Guana Cay

We found a faint trail the lead up the hill along the cliffs. We were eager to look across the sound side of Bitter Guana. The image included is looking westward, across the banks.

Face to Face II
Jeff
Tuesday August 5th 2008, Bitter Guana Cay

We were also greeted by this sign.

Face to Face
Jeff
Tuesday August 5th 2008, Bitter Guana Cay

A greeting party of iguanas met us as we made landfall on Bitter Guana Cay.

on the banks side
Jeff
Tuesday August 5th 2008, Bitter Guana Cay

PROLOGUE: Mid morning we departed Staniel Cay on the banks side of the cays. The banks side of the Exumas refers to the western think, towards Cuba, side of the cays. The waters in this area, referred to as the Great Bahamas Bank, cover a vast plateau of limestone. The Great Bahamas Bank is the world largest deposit of limestone. Surrounding the plateau are staggeringly deep ocean waters. Much like the high desert plateaus in US western states the submarine plateaus of the Bahamas have deep, vast canyons that extend unseen. The characteristics of weather, wave action, & tidal currents vary greatly between the shallow banks and the deep water sounds and channels. When I say deep we are not talking hundreds of feet we are measuring depths in miles. We would be able to drop a penny overboard in the Providence Channel and be snug in our anchorage off Egg Island before the penny reached the sea bed.
I digress. Along the Exumas we have a choice of banks side or sound side travel. Banks travel is west of the cays in shallow waters that require us to be ever vigilant for random coral heads and often take indirect routes to avoid sandbars, coral reefs, and groups of cays. Traveling on the eastern side of the cays in the Exuma Sound is affords more direct routes since NM offshore can place us in over 1000 feet of water, but traveling in the sound can be rough and egress requires transiting cuts in the island chain. Changes in tides and winds can quickly make the cuts impassable. Well if you have read this far along (thanks), I now get back to our travels.
PLOT: 18 knot southeast winds convinced us to take the long route along the banks side to Black Point settlement. We were motor sailing windward under the mainsail and taking quite a bit of spray in the steep chop building on the banks. We tacked eastward to take advantage of a bit of lee off the cays. Our shoreward tack took us along Bitter Guana Cay. The west facing white and black cliffs along the northern end of Bitter Guana created a calm anchorage. Awed by the beauty of the calm blue waters meeting the white cliff faces, we dropped the hook off a small beach and went ashore to explore.
The image included is of Anne shelling along the base of the cliffs on the western shore of Bitter Guana Cay.

Island time at Staniel Cay
Jeff
Monday August 4th 2008, Staniel Cay, Exumas

The islands have the ability to consume or perhaps warp time. The last couple of days have simply melted away. Where did they go? We have used the free wifi at Staniel Cay Yacht Club to catch up with friends and family. We have visited the grotto a second time and explored the reefs north of Little Majors Cay. We caught a lobster that Anne prepared for dinner. We have enjoyed a couple sunsets. See image included of a rather unusual sunset that highlighted mamatus clouds associated with a passing thunderstorm. The island hosted an Emancipation Day Picnic that included a free island fare dinner and Kalik.
Island fare dinners are ubiquitous throughout the islands. They consist of a meat (usually local fish or chicken), peas & rice, macaroni & cheese, and coleslaw. The style of mac & cheese or the use of pork in the peas & rice vary from the Abacos to the Exumas, but this seems to be the typical festive dinner. We have developed a system for consuming these dinners. Anne takes my mac & cheese. Mac & cheese is one of her favorites. Since the beans & rice often are prepared with pork, I take all her peas & rice. What a deal!
Maralga remains in the anchorage off Staniel Cay, but I believe we both plan on moving south tomorrow.

Regatta Day II
Jeff
Saturday August 2nd 2008, Staniel Cay

Mid morning Anne and I took the dinghy over to the government dock to check out the scene. Regatta Boats appeared from all directions. Some boats were towed by power vessels others came in under sail their canvas visible on the horizon would announce their approach. A legion of skiffs and various motor vessels added to the confusion on the water. Music, heavy on the bass, was felt more than heard as it pulsated through the PA system. A small tent set up beside one of the pounding speakers served breakfast. Unsure what was on the menu and unable to communicate over the thumping bass, we bypassed the tent and proceed up the hill. Finding the local grocery, we purchased a loaf of local bread and some guava jam for breakfast. We then found a vacant spot and the dock and enjoyed our breakfast among the craziness of the scene. The crowd ranged from sand covered children playing in the surf to weathered old men bust'n a move to the beat. Prowling women dressed to the nines with sculpted hair, three inch fake nails, and impossibly tight jeans trolled the docks. To the chagrin of the prarading women, most men focused on their morning beers and talk of the regatta. Some of the captains searched for crew while others were already providing excuses, "I told them to bring the large sail, but they brought the medium sail." One by one the boats rigged and cast off the dock. They made a few warm up tacks past the dock and then continued offshore to the starting line.
In the afternoon we moved C'est la Vie a couple miles north to share an anchorage with Maralga and her crew Marta and Albert. We saw Maralga off Norman's Pond. We met Marta & Albert at SCYC. They built Maralga, a fiberglass Bruce Roberts design similar to Joshua Solcum's Spray, in the 1980's. They have spent 29 years living aboard and circumnavigating the globe. We were welcomed aboard and receive the full tour along with dinner and many stories of their travels.


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