Travelling by Car and Dinghy
05 March 2011 | Thompson Bay, Long Island
Beth / thoroughly windblown, but warm
This is a long one! Pic comes later!
We had a flat calm trip across from Georgetown to Thompson Bay on Wednesday. It was a shame to use fuel, but still a pleasant passage - we took turns on the foredeck relaxing in the sun, had solar showers and arrived clean!
The wind picked up just as we rounded Indian Hole Point (Jim lost a big fish off his line - boo hoo) and we pulled in to find somewhere around 25 boats here - some new to us and some familiar ... I was going to say, "faces" but perhaps "sterns" would be more accurate!
We rented a car from Alton Fox (so close - we just dinghy to the dock near his garage, walk up the road 100 yards or so and there we are) and drove up to Stella Maris to pick up Mary Jean (Jim's sister) on Thursday. She is feeling climate (and culture) shock I think but she is a trooper and has leapt right into it! Life is different here - warmer, wetter, windier. We moved right into explorer mode as soon as we left the airport, walking down to the Atlantic beach at Stella Maris to view the breakers rolling in, and the lovely little tide fed pool that offers guests a protected salt water swimming area - even when the surf is too strong to be on the beach.
Next stop was the gorgeous Cape Santa Maria resort on the other side of Long Island. We heard that it is rated as one of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world and it could very likely be true. It is a stunning crescent of white sand, and as we stood with our backs to the charming villas, we looked out over the clear, many shades of aqua waters of the bay. As we strolled the beach, we met Claire and Doug, newly arrived guests, out for their first toe-dip in the water. Mary Jean had enjoyed conversation with them on the flight over from Nassau and we all continued it there. What a fine introduction to the "small, small world" we inhabit here.
It was time then to head back down island, but instead of stopping in Thompson Bay to return to the boat, we just had to take MJ down to Max's Conch bar in Deadman's Cay. We were a hungry crowd when we got there so we tucked into big bowls of conch salad, grouper fingers, plantain, crab'n'rice, Kaliks and cider. A piece of heaven! We have been eating VERY well lately as you'll see as you read on :-) Max's is special - it's a thatched hut - open air with T-shirts, license plates, photos on the walls and in albums on the counters. We sit on stools, (well, they have tables but why would anyone sit there when we can be at the counter watching Max do his "chopchop" thing?) watch the chef at work with knife and bowl, keep an eye on the other patrons, share the jokes, check e-mail on the free wifi, and admire the beauties from the sea - shells, coral, flotsam and jetsom. My exchange with Max went like this, (me)"This conch salad is perfect!" (Max)"Absolutely perfect?" (me)"Yes, absolutely perfect!" (Max)" The best word would be Awesome!" (me)"Then Awesome it is!"
With tummies full and feeling sated with fresh air and sunshine, we headed "home". I had taken garbage bags to cover Mary Jean's luggage so it didn't get wet on the windy ride back, but we got a few splashes ourselves. Mike and Cathy (Sapphire) came over for Happy Hour - a reunion happy hour because we haven't seen them since a brief connection last year - and oh it was so good to connect again - to talk books and anchorages and fishing and getting "knocked down". It was when Mike talked about removing his eyebrows that Mary Jean burst out, "This is such a weird conversation!" Amid gales of laughter he explained that eyebrows are the strips of wood that run along the edges of the cabin roof on our Bayfields, and that knockdowns are not common.
Dinner was a light but healthy chicken and broccoli stir fry, and despite curling up with our books for a short time after dinner, all three of us were in our berths with lights out by 9.
Friday started off with Chris Parker's weather broadcast on SSB at 6:30 - and we are very glad to have Chris back on line in person - followed by Cruisehimers, and a call to Jerry (Poco Loco) to get added to the list of cruisers going to Tryphena's for dinner that night. By 9 we were back on the road again - headed south.
First stop was the Blue Hole in Dean's. For some strange reason we didn't get here when we explored Long Island in 2008, and we were excited to see it, and hoping to meet up with some divers as our friends on Star of the Sea did a week or so ago. No such luck with the divers, and the water was too rough for us to swim and snorkel around the edges, but it was still an awesome sight. To think that just a few feet offshore as we waded along at low tide, the sandy bottom drops off to 633 feet! The colour is distinctive too - a big circle of dark blue water sitting in a sea of aqua green. A couple of divers were on the platform in the middle of it, but they left without much conversation about the diving. We've heard that experienced free divers can stay down for 5 minutes at a time! How is that possible? After wandering the beach for a bit, we tucked ourselves back into the car and pointed south again.
This time, we went all the way to the end of the road - where the STOP sign and the "Gordons" community sign are side-by-side, and the road just simply ends. We took the lane to the right over to the beach where we took a short stroll under the accumulating dark clouds, started our picnic lunch and then ran for the shelter of the car as the drops started to fall. Because the sky stayed dark, we abandoned this beach and drove north to Ford's - another gorgeous beach on the western side. The clouds had moved on so we spent a couple of hours swimming and shelling - just the three of us in this beautiful place. Next stop was the Atlantic beach at Morrisville - and oh what a breathtaking place! We drove to the end of the gravelly lane, stopped the car just before the rise of sandy and scrubby dune, and walked over the top to oooh and aaah at the roaring and white-capped sea breaking over the rocks and reefs off shore. A wrecked and rusty boat was canted on its side to the left; the huge seas breaking over grey rocks to the right showed just how it might have gotten there.
Three or four people played in the water further down the beach but we didn't feel quite like getting in there. Instead, we strolled along, letting the wind air-dry our bathing suits and hair, looking for sea glass and sea beans. (no glass but a couple of hamburger beans and a really nice heart)
Well and truly windblown, we journeyed on again. A sign at the museum told us we had arrived too late (it closes at 4 M-F) and we needed to be at Happy Hour/dinner by 6 so we came on home. We had debated just taking the car but it was getting colder and we needed jackets - and after all, part of the fun of going there is the walk through the woods so we lugged our things back out to the boat, changed our clothes (because of course we got wet) and headed back to the beach (with jackets zipped up and garbage bags over our knees). We pulled our dinghy up to join the others along the shoreline, followed the path, and joined the crowd at Club Thompson Bay.
Tryphena's place is a must do and has long been a Long Island institution. We were here with a crowd three years ago, and it was fun, but this visit was even better. Folks from a dozen boats mingled in the large room - that was considerably spruced up from before. Rum punches, kaliks, or sodas were in every hand; laughter and stories came from every corner. By 7 o'clock, Tryphena herself appeared by the fully loaded buffet table to "explain" and suggest that if the gentlemen were gentlemen, they would let the women go first - a nice idea since those men all looked huuuuungry! After hearing what was on each platter, we heaped our plates (leaving some morsels for the fellows) with snapper and conch and crawfish (spiny lobster tails), all lightly battered and fried, squares of mac'n'cheese, cole slaw, potato salad, peas'n'rice, plantains, curried chicken, meaty spareribs. What a feast - Bahamian food at its finest - heavy on the protein -yes; greasy - no, and all for $18. per person. We ate with Bill and Bette (Sea Mist) and Jan and Karl (White Pepper) and enjoyed the conversation as much as the food.
As we walked down the road and through the woods by the light of our flashlights, as we climbed into the dinghies and pointed them out into the sea, trying to pick out which anchor light was ours and dodging waves and boats, I thought again how much I love this lifestyle - and how much fun it was to be introducing Mary Jean to it.
Saturday has been another sociable day. Mike popped over for a visit after breakfast and we pored over charts for good fishing spots. We dinghied over to Sea Mist for another cup of coffee and a tour of their lovely Allied Princess 36. It is the same length as Madcap but is a ketch and has a slightly different interior layout. We always love seeing other boats. Then it was time to come ashore for lunch at Island Breeze and some wifi time. Amid more conversations we enjoyed yummy grouper fingers with home made french fries, tuna salad, tuna sandwiches and more plantains. This was top quality food again!
I exchanged a bag of books (and traded a few more with Kathy and Mike). We connected again with Angie and Clark (Seabattical I) whom we had met in the anchorage for just a few minutes last year and chatted back and forth amongst the tables of people balancing food and computers. I have finally gotten us up to date on the blog I think, and we will shortly head off to the beach for a party!
I'm so sorry that I forgot to bring my camera and cable to upload pics - they will have to come later. It has been windy windy windy - but it is supposed to calm down soon. Tomorrow, we'll move to the north part of Long Island and off we go to Conception Island on Monday for a new adventure.