Friends and other visitors
07 February 2012 | Various
EVS: Sunny, Stormy and In Between
We were not able to go lobster hunting while in Pipe Creek because the day we planned the hunt, the winds were too high to go outside. Those lucky lobsters!
On January 30, we headed from Pipe Creek to Staniel Cay Yacht Club, where we took to the dock for a night so we could replenish water (so-called R-O water because it is desalinated by reverse osmosis – and costs variously 40¢ to 50¢ a gallon, depending on the marina). We also take the opportunity while at a dock to plug into shore power to replenish our batteries. (The typical charge is 85¢ per kWh, about 6-7 times the cost at home, but cheaper – and quieter – than running the generator.) The next morning, we walked to the airport to collect our dear, old friends, Joe and Niki, who flew in from the hinterlands of waaay northern Maine for a week of sunshine. (Although the weather was not bad, we did not have a week of sunshine – this is the cloudiest and squalliest season we have seen in the Bahamas, which is not all bad as the islands depend on rain for most fresh water. The natives do not buy RO water.) It is not every day that one walks to and from an airport, and we thought Joe and Niki would enjoy seeing the town, the three little grocery stores, and how things run on island time. Having lived in Puerto Rico, they are pretty aware of island living.
On the 31st, we sailed (jib only) to Cambridge Cay, which is one of the islands in the Exuma Land and Sea Park. We approached it from the west, which took us around Bell Island, said to be owned by a Sheik, and saw the massive construction ongoing. For one thing, a whole section of the island has been quarried out to make a marina or service depot to receive supplies, several huge tanks have been placed in the area (likely to receive and store fuel oil), and the material removed has been carted across the island and deposited in a huge, white pile. If it were not for the lovely beaches and palm trees, one would think it might be a ski slope. We arrived in Cambridge just fine, but the wind was blowing hard from the east and the approach takes one across the opening to Exuma Sound. In making the turn, the boat is broadside to the Sound and the waves crashing into the opening. Rather rolly! We picked up a mooring and hunkered down for the night. In the morning, we ventured ashore and walked the sound beach, looking for shells we could not take, and exploring. We had hoped to do some snorkeling along the reef at the southern end of Cambridge, but it was too rough. Another alternative was to visit Rachael’s Bubble Bath on the north end of Compass Cay to the south, but the anchorage there was too rough and the tide was not right, so we skipped that too and instead, headed to Warderick Wells for the north mooring field. We had made reservations that morning, picked up a mooring, and settled in for dinner and the evening. The next morning, we went ashore, signed in, renewed our membership in the Support Fleet (for the Park), and hiked up to Boo Boo Hill to leave our offering of driftwood. (We had collected the piece last year and Van used a router to carve Gratitude’s name and the years of our visits to the Bahamas.)
We stayed several days in Warderick to hike, snorkel the reef, and enjoy the beauty and privilege of being in such a place. Among other “pleasures”, we had that of being visited – regularly and consistently – by a pair of Bananaquits. They are small birds, with black, white, and yellow feathers. One of the birds flew in and out of the cabin, up and out of hatches, and all around the enclosure. He had no trouble finding his way in or out, nor of pecking holes in three plums and leaving his offerings in return. It became rather tiresome and we were pleased to see that other boats shooed them away too. We also sat out another stormy day and got to visit and reacquaint with folks we had met elsewhere, including Moe and Polly (who traded from their 33’ Nauticat motorsailer, Serenity, and “went to the Dark Side” to a 49’ DeFever trawler, Motivator. They live on the boat full time and decided they wanted more creature comforts, including laundry facilities on board. They said they had gotten tired of marina showers and shoreside Laundromats, which (with some exceptions) surprisingly are not very nice).
On February 4, we sailed and then motored (because the wind was on our nose) to Big Major’s Spot so Joe and Niki could see the pigs on the beach. Mom and Dad came down to be fed and we watched them swim around a bit, but the ~12 (we lost count) piglets stayed on shore and ran in and out of the palms and scrub plants. That got us to thinking about the number of pigs that have been born on the island, where they all are, and when the next pig roast may be held.
From Big Major’s, we moved around the corner and anchored near Thunderball Grotto (of James Bond fame) and swam through that at slack tide. The little fish are not at all bashful, bumping into your hands to pry the peas, corn, or bread loose for their feeding pleasure. The day was overcast, so the colors were not as bright as we had hoped, but it was pretty nonetheless. That afternoon (2/5) we returned to Staniel Cay Yacht Club, topped off the fuel tanks, and took dock space again. We went to dinner at the Club and watched the first half of the Superbowl and half-time and then turned in so we could get up in time to escort Joe and Niki back to the airport. At the airport, we got to talking to the folks on the boat next to us, a 70’ Marlowe named Golden Daze, and found out they are related by marriage to friend in Rutland. Small world indeed.
After waving farewell to Joe and Niki, we did some minor reprovisioning – it all is minor if the mail boat has not come in – and returned to Gratitude. We squared away with the Yacht Club and enjoyed a lovely sail toward Black Point. We finally doused the sails and motored in because the winds were in the wrong place again. We were greeted by Baxter and Mollie, from Stella Blue, and joined them for sundowners. They had gone to Georgetown and are headed back north now. Their computer failed so Baxter cannot work remotely very well and they have to get back to Utah. Interestingly, they have decided to leave Stella Blue at the same yard where we keep Gratitude, so we no doubt will see them again.
We were surprised to see the number of boats at Black Point. Although Baxter and Mollie told us half the boats had left the morning of the day we arrived, there were twice as many as we saw here last year. The place is popular because it is a big anchorage, well protected from the prevailing winds, with Lorraine’s Café, and (no kidding) the best Laundromat in the Exumas. (As Moe and Polly exemplify, nice laundry facilities are pretty important!) We followed the routine and did four loads of our own wash, followed by lunch – delicious cracked conch and onion rings – at Miss Lorraine’s, followed by some internet time and catching up. We had joined Steve and Mary Ann from Living Well and Brian and Lynn from Midori for lunch – yes, they did make it across the bank and down to the Exumas and plan to head south from here – and caught up on their cruise to date.
Tomorrow, we intend to plot our own course south to try out some anchorages that were recommended but that we missed last year. Our goal is to be in Georgetown by or over the weekend. The distance is not very great, but we do have to “go outside” to get there, because the inside approach is too shallow. So, we need to pick our weather days for the final leg into “Chicken Harbor”, which is the colloquial name for Georgetown because most cruisers who go there do not venture farther.