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Curlew's Log
Marsh Harbour - 3
Mary
03/06/2009, Marsh Harbour

This day was pretty low-key. I had been having some trouble with a muscle near the 4th rib, and thought it best to see a doctor. We walked into the doc's office and while we were waiting for our turn noticed a sign on the doorway leading to the exam area. It said "Kindly turn off all CELL PHONES and VHF's before entering". We got a big chuckle out of that.

Later that day, we went to Mangoes, another popular spot, for happy hour and to hear the music that was wafting across the harbor. It was quite comical. The music is played by, in essence, a DJ, who, along with an accomplice, plays the maracas and saw (yes, as in a cutting instrument). They really get into it! There was some dancing and people doing somersaults, and a very interesting lady dressed in a leopard print leotard (neck to ankles) who wore a very large-buckled belt around her very tiny, tiny waste; when I say tiny, I mean abnormally so. I said to Thierry, she must have had her ribs broken. She was rather large breasted, and had a pear shaped bottom; it was quite a sight. We later learned that she did indeed had her ribs broken to attain the "small" waste-line. Rumor has it that she is in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Bahamas 2008/2009
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Marsh Harbour - 2
Mary and Thierry
03/05/2009, Marsh Harbour

Frank invited us to join him and his friend Mary Lou at the Boat Harbour Marina for dinner. We had drinks at Curly Tails first and watched a beautiful sunset from their upstairs bar. Thursday was open-mike night, and several staff members (including the chef) got up to sing. To my surprise, Frank, who at one time played in a band, got up and did a terrific rendition of Kansas City - had the whole place clapping and singing along. The food was excellent and we had a wonderful time.

Bahamas 2008/2009
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Marsh Harbour - 1
Mary
03/04/2009, Marsh Harbour

We did some exploring, and found the Boat Harbour Marina, home of the Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club, and our friend Frank when he is here. It is a very nice place, along side a resort area and near a beautiful beach (which we did not visit). They have a restaurant on the property, where Frank invited us to dinner the following evening. As a member of the Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club, you are able to take advantage of reduced marina rates and they hold many events and parties for very reasonable prices. The club also helps maintain the public dinghy landing and one of the channel markers. We had a very good and reasonably priced lunch at Curly Tails, a restaurant which has a wonderful view of the harbor, and decided we would come back here for happy hour.

Bahamas 2008/2009
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From Treasure Cay to Marsh Harbour
Mary
03/03/2009, Marsh Harbour

We left Treasure Cay when the weather cleared and had a nice (albeit brief) sail to Marsh Harbour, further down the coast of Great Abaco. I had heard much about Marsh Harbor as a friend of ours, Frank Gavin who keeps his boat in our marina in Baltimore, has been wintering there for the second year.

One guidebook refers to MH as the "Mecca of Abaco cruising". It has pretty much everything here for the cruiser. There are several hardware stores, marine service shops, a mega-grocer, several liquor stores, gift shops and boutiques, marinas and restaurants. Needless to say we made several trips to the grocery store - paid $5.00 for asparagus (not even organic), but it was such a treat and worth it! We were told that Marsh Harbor is the third largest "town" of the Bahamas, with some 4,000 residents.

Bahamas 2008/2009
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From Green Turtle Cay to Treasure Cay
Mary and Thierry
02/28/2009, Treasure Cay

We arrived at Treasure Cay just before the cold front moved in to the Northeast, and then found its way to the Bahamas. However, we had rain - not snow - which was welcomed as the boat had a nice coating of salt and was in desperate need of cleaning. And we had a beautiful sunset.

Treasure Cay is not really a "cay" - it is a peninsula on Great Abaco Island. Apparently it is known for its beautiful beach front, which we really didn't get to enjoy because of the wind (and cold, in the low 60's while we were there). TC has a decent grocery and a few small shops and a laundry, where we left our clothes to be cleaned and folded - one of the few niceties we find while cruising every now and then - having your wash done for you!

There is a well-protected anchorage here, and there were many boats waiting out the cold front along with us. There is a lot of new construction going on, with simple houses selling for $800k-over$1m. I am amazed that they are asking these prices. Needless to say there is a LOT for sale!

We had lunch at the Coco Beach Bar, did some grocery shopping and explored by foot and dinghy through one of the many canals that meander through the area. All in all, it was a fine place to anchor while waiting out a cold front, but really little to see of interest and not really very attractive. They did offer free internet access, but we had to pay $10.00 a day to anchor there. I don't think this anchorage fee is enforced (we paid for only two days - but stayed three).

We met a couple on a Cabo Rico 40, Pajarito, a near sister ship of Curlew.

Bahamas 2008/2009
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Green Turtle Cay - 2
Mary
02/27/2009, Green Turtle Cay

All in all we've spent a week in Green Turtle Cay. We explored the beaches at Coco Bay, and on the ocean-side, and walked the broken streets and through the lovely residential areas of White Sound - the northern part of GTC. We explored via dinghy Black Sound (on the southern end - next to New Plymouth) and noticed the vast difference in lifestyles. The homes on the northern end of the island are very pretty vacation homes and many owned by retirees who live there year round. Although the majority of these homes sell in the $1m price-range, they are not of the size and grandeur of those on the Jersey/Miami/Newport coasts. They are really lovely small island homes, brightly painted with full porches surrounded by lovely tropical plants and flowers. Most people on GTC drive golf carts to get around, so you almost always see one or two parked in a driveway - some of the more sophisticated carts have heavy - all terrain wheels! Despite the fact that the carts and few cars you see here drive on the left side of the road - the steering wheels are on the left as in the US. The southern part of the island, Black Sound (which is a working harbor) and New Plymouth is populated by the working class, with many small houses closely constructed (and many that look like shacks); a stark contrast from its neighbor to the north.

We dined at Miss Emily's Blue Bee Bar. We were served by Violet, who inherited the bar (and expanded its dining room) from her mother, who took it over when her father died. It has been in the family for 50+ years, and as of yet, none of her three daughters appear interested in taking it over. Miss Emily's is known for its Goombay Smash, a drink made with lots of rum, coconut and pineapple; however, the recipe is a secret and we could not get her to divulge it. Yes, I had two and managed to make it to the dinghy without incident.

I was able to do some shopping on Friday - the supply boat comes in on Thursday - and found fresh strawberries ($6.95 for a quart), bagged spinach, broccoli and mushrooms! I am learning that items like mushrooms and spinach are rarities.

We also dined one night at the Green Turtle Club - on pizza night, but did not stay for the Comedy open mike event. We returned this evening to have a drink and leave a dollar in memory of our visit. The place was infested by a large group of obnoxious, old, people who came from Treasure Cay to have dinner. The walls and part of the ceiling in the Club Bar are covered with dollar bills, notated with the names of their former owners. We were able to find a spot in a netted drape hanging just above the bar (left of middle - just in case you find yourselves there!).

Bahamas 2008/2009
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What we have been reading, and work on the boat
Mary and Thierry
02/26/2009, Green Turtle Cay

Work, work, work

Thierry re-routed the vent for the forward water tank. Ever since he installed a hot-water bypass (that prevents water loss when taking a shower, and diverts cold water back into the tank, until hot water reaches the shower-head) the tank did not vent properly. The way the builder installed this vent created a downwards loop, that filled with water every time we used the by-pass, and the tank would no longer vent


What we've been reading

I was finally able to finish "Lush Life" by Richard Price which I had started in Philadelphia. I found it difficult to get through the first chapter, but as I ventured into the second chapter I became hooked Richard Price was involved in the HBO series, "The Wire." He has written many books, one of his most popular (which may have been a movie) was "Clockers." The book reads like a TV script, with quippy, fast moving dialogue. It is a book you men will enjoy, but ladies, I think will also find it exciting. It is about a murder of a young man that takes place in New York and how the perpetrator is found. It captures the feel of the city and provides insight into the lives of its characters through their actions. A truly good read, I am anxious to try another of his books.

I have been trailing Thierry in some of his reading selections, first by reading "Lush Life" and now "The Historian" written by Elizabeth Kostova. This book came out in 2005 - the paperback version is 642 pages! The subject here is Vlad III (Tepes) of Wallachia - better known as Dracula! The book chronicles a father's search for Dracula and is told through a series of narratives and letters that he shared with his daughter. It is an interesting journey and is packed full of history about the 15th Century, discusses the wars between the Carpathians and Ottomans and gives vivid descriptions of old monasteries and places such as Vienna, Budapest and Romania. A bit wordy at times, the book is packed full of quotes and references that are not listed in a Bibliography, so it makes one wonder what is truly fact or fiction. A good read, albeit long - and not really scary at all!

Thierry read George Millar's "A White Boat from England," a cruising adventure from England to the Mediterranean in 1950 on a sailboat by an English couple. I love his style, both when he writes about sailing, as well as his observations of the local people. George Millar was in the British military during WWII and was captured in France, escaped, then lived and fought with the French resistance for a while. The writing style is so much better than modern cruising stories. With typical English understatement he writes about how the two of them manage to sail this large boat, "Serica" a 1930 racing design by Robert Clark, known for his sleek and narrow designs. Anything but what you would consider a "cruising vessel" nowadays (think Island Packet with full cockpit enclosure and RIB dinghy on davits). One thing struck me, though: They keep referring to their temperamental "charging engine" - a predecessor of our Honda generator. Nothing new. I read two of his other books. One, "Isabel and the Sea", is about a cruise in the late 1940s through the French rivers and canals to the Med. This was on a previous vessel, "Truant", a motor-sailor-ketch; the exact opposite of Serica.

Thierry and I both read, "The White Tiger" by Aravind Adiga

Thierry says: A fictional story about life in India about a low-class servant to the higher classes. Won the 2008 Booker Price. Seems that Indian novels are in fashion, compare the success of Slumdog Millionaire, which was also based on an Indian novel. The story is written as a letter to the Chinese prime minister, who is about to visit India. The author writes about the flaws in the democratic system, rampant corruption, the cultural reasons why Indian lower classes accept their situation ("Chicken Coop").

Mary says: The "White Tiger" was another book whose first chapter left me wondering if I'd get through it - and once again, I was pleasantly swept up in this tale of life in the slums of India and the murder that helped the narrator achieve success and position in Bangalore. No, this is not another "Slumdog Millionaire", but is told with as much energy and provides an unsettling view of life in India. It is a very good read.

Thierry also read "The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld. This crime novel, featuring Siegmund Freund and Carl Jung, takes place during their visit to NYC in 1909. Murder, detective, American commentator. Easy read. Mary bought this in Amsterdam a year ago.

Bahamas 2008/2009
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Exploring Green Turtle Cay - 1
Mary and Thierry
02/21/2009, Green Turtle Cay

We took our dinghy into town to briefly explore New Plymouth and get the lay of the land. The town boasts three grocery stores (not counting Robertha's Faith Market), a liquor store, a bank (that is open 2 days a week), a hardware store and a post office. Just as we've read, the paper products are very expensive, $4.50 for a roll of paper towels. Produce isn't too much higher than home, however it all looks a little "old" and supplies are limited. So far I have seen broccoli, cabbage, romain hearts, iceberg lettuce, potatoes and onions, oh and apples and lemons/limes.

There are several local restaurants that serve a variety of conch dishes as well as seafood, chicken, etc. We are anchored in a harbor called White Sound at the northern end of the island. There are two very popular marina/beach resorts on either side of us. While exploring the anchorage upon our arrival, we saw a C-Dory (named Tonka), sister-ship to C-Minor (our little power boat). We met the owners, who are traveling the Bahamas in this little 22'er. Mind you, this boat has a porta-potty on board and carries 20 gallons of water with a little sink powered by a foot pump. There is no refrigeration, insulation or oven. Thierry is going to use this story now every time I wish for two more feet of storage space!

Check on the link "Current Position (map)" to see our location on Google Earth. We have also added pictures to our photo gallery.

Bahamas 2008/2009
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From Spanish Cay to Green Turtle Cay
Mary & Thierry
02/20/2009, Green Turtle Cay

We left Spanish Cay when the winds calmed and we had a lovely sail over to Green Turtle Cay (GTC) about 16 miles away. The entrance channel to the anchorage is very shallow, and the charts indicate only 5' at low tide. We need at least 5'10" so we anchored for a short while for the tide to rise sufficiently so we would not run aground. We never saw less than 8' coming in.

Green Turtle is a tiny island about four miles long and is 2 miles from the mainland (Great Abaco Island). The Abacos (as the northern group of the Bahama Islands are called), were colonized in the late 1700's by American Loyalists (faithful to England), who left from New York to settle here. In 1783, twenty whites and 80 "free blacks" sailed on the "Nautilus" and the "William" from New York and settled on Great Abaco. The settlement was soon abandoned due to lack of resources and bad storms including a hurricane. The colonists separated and established new settlements. There is evidence that the Abacos were inhabited by Indians, visited by Spaniards, French and pirates, gun-runners during the Civil War and rum-runners during prohibition. The settlement of New Plymouth, on Green Turtle Cay, was established in 1784. The name and the names of the streets (New Plymouth, York, Parliament Street), reflect its New England roots. The early settlers were boat buildings and skilled seamen.

Bahamas 2008/2009
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A Little Something About Spanish Cay
Mary
02/15/2009, Spanish Cay

Spanish Cay was owned by a Texas oilman. He built an airstrip on the island which was deserted at the time, and imported 1,000 palm trees. Supposedly he was a friend of J. Edgar Hoover as well as some alleged Mafiosos including Santos Trafficante, Carlos Marcello and Sam Giancana (this is all taken from "A Cruising Guide to the Northern Bahamas").

Apparently Spanish Cay suffered a lot of damage in Hurricane Floyd in 1999. The marina, restaurant, bar and pool were all rebuilt after the hurricane, and then suffered a fire when construction was completed. The place has again been rebuilt; however, the island remains fairly desolate with few inhabitants and little to do and see other than a few lovely island houses. We understand that people rent cottages here in the spring and summer, and it appears they are trying to make some improvements to the land along the ocean-side.

For boaters, the marina claims to have internet access, but it was not working during our stay. Also, there are no public phones that work here either. The dock master very kindly offered us the use of the office phone to call home upon our arrival. Speaking of which; as we checked in, the dock master (Richard) mentioned that he had lived in Philadelphia for a year (old INA Building on the Parkway), while he worked for Astra Zeneca (where Lauren worked for a time). He then noted Thierry's accent, and next thing I know they are both prattling in Dutch! Richard was born and raised in Holland and lived for a time in the Hague and Amsterdam. When we visited the office this afternoon, he shared some Drop (strong Dutch licorice) with Thierry - I asked where the Genever (Dutch gin) was, but unfortunately, he had none.

Bahamas 2008/2009
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From Mangrove Cay to Spanish Cay
Mary and Thierry
02/15/2009, Spanish Key

Our second night we spent anchored at Crab Cay, another beautiful quiet night. But as they say, all good things must come to an end. Sunday's forecast called for strong winds from the North West, and as there are no anchorages with protection from this direction, we decided to tie up in Spanish Cay at a marina. Here we could clear customs and do some laundry. Upon arrival in a foreign country every ship or boat flies a yellow flag in the mast ("Q" flag), indicating that there are no infectious diseases on board and that the master and crew requests "pratique". Once cleared by customs and imigration, you take down the Q flag and raise the flag of the country you are visiting. Some countries have a different maritime flag from their national flag. The Bahamas are one of them. So we fly a little Bahamas courtesy ensign from the starboard spreader.

Bahamas 2008/2009
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The Little Bahama Bank
Mary and Thierry
02/13/2009, Mangrove Key

When you reach the Little Bahama Bank, the depths rise abruptly to 20' and the water turns a bright aquamarine. We anchored our first night near the uninhabited Mangrove Cay (pronounced Key). On our way to the anchorage we did not see any other boats - just miles of water - with depths varying from 20-12'. This was the first time in years I have seen a sky so dark and dotted with so many stars with a few bright planets thrown in; absolutely no lights coming from the shore. In the picture you can see the shadow of the mainsail on the bottom.

Bahamas 2008/2009
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