09/02/2010/6:00 pm, Morgan's Bluff, Andros
This morning, Tuesday, was an example of all the bits of sage boating advice and experience coming together in a few hours of angst.
Although we had a lovely quiet night at anchor out in the bay, we knew there was a norther coming through and the next night would not be nearly so quiet if we stayed out there. We also knew there was one spot between the boats that were moored Mediterranean style inside the bay, and another spot on the wall (where Ramha decided to go after meeting with little encouragement about tying up at the end of the line of boats.)
We dinghied in first thing in the morning to assess the situation, and after a great deal of discussion with the fellow on Triumph, the end boat in the group - who had been there for a couple of months, we determined that we could "do it".
"Doing it" meant getting into the little basin (easy) stopping Madcap in front of the empty space (fairly easy) dropping the anchor (easy) and backing into the slot (not easy) and then tying lines to rocks and trees on shore to keep her from sliding every which way, and getting enough pull from the anchor to keep her off the rocks at the stern (also not easy). It seemed to work for those six other boats so ....
At play in our decision making were two things: the adventurous part - pushing the edges, learning how to do new things - Mediterranean mooring is common in many parts of the world, feeling able to test our skills and feeling confidence in our abilities. And the other part - the caution one - "If it doesn't feel right don't do it." Well, the first part won.
We up anchored, plotted out our strategy and went in through the breakwater - and that was all fine. I was at the wheel and Jim handled the anchoring part - that's our usual pattern. We crept in, got Madcap positioned, dropped the anchor and backed up. We really did it! I was so proud to be able to maneuver her slowly and carefully - back up - go forward to straighten her - back again - idle - forward and straighten - back right into the space with a metre or so on each side. Alain and Judi in their dinghy grabbed lines from Jim and ran them back to land and to the boats on each side of us. This is when it got dicey. While we got centred fairly well, we just couldn't get enough forward pull to keep us off the rocks that were a metre behind us. (Thank goodness the water was deep to the shoreline). I don't know yet how those other boats managed it, but I know they each had several anchors down. After trying and trying to tighten it up and still having the chain lying on the bottom so the mailboat and fuel boat wouldn't hit it when they came in, we were just not comfortable with the situation and decided to go raft off Ramha - tied to the rough wall opposite us.
Off came the lines, I motored forward while Jim gathered up the anchor chain. (Oh, I forgot to mention that our windlass is working only sporadically and he was having to pull it by hand.) But it wouldn't all come up, and then a shout came from behind - "You've snagged the catamaran!" I guess they could see its anchor rode being jerked around. At that point we dumped all the chain and 50 feet or so of nylon rode back out so I could snug us up beside Ramha and get lines secured to her.
Jim hired Nelson, a diver, to go down and sort out the anchor line - to the tune of $120. While he was there, he also put a new zinc anode on our prop shaft - a plus since we needed that done sometime soon. One of the boaters called out that he was worried we might have dislodged his anchor so Nelson checked all the anchors around us - and there were many! Each boat had at least 2 anchors down - and some were stretched right across the basin - and one boat had 4! Several of these boats have been here for months and even years.
One interesting thing about all this was that although everyone had advice, none of those boaters offered to help, or said, "This is how we did it." Having said we could go in if we wanted, they were content to watch. If Judi and Alain weren't there, we'd never have managed any of it.
In hindsight, we would probably go with the easier alternative next time instead of pushing the envelope. But we were also glad to know that in fairly calm waters with time and patience, we can back up this boat! We were glad that we didn't bash into any other boats or grind the keel on rocks. We were glad to have the zinc on, and we were glad to have the $120 available in the cash drawer. No charge to tie up on the wall by the way!
Pic is of Nelson the diver, and his support crew. In the background you can see the space into which we fit ourselves!
09/02/2010/11:37 am, Morgan's Bluff, Andros
We weathered all the wind successfully at Frazer's Hog Cay, and then moved down to Morgan's Bluff on Monday. We anchored out in the bay last night - the lat and long above, and moved into the little tiny harbour today for the front that is coming through tonight. Rafted to Ramha which is tied up on the wall. A whole lot to tell you about all that next time! Another front is coming through on the weekend - so we'll be somewhere else safe for that.
Thank you so much for all your notes and comments!!
07/02/2010/10:00 pm, Frazer's Hog Cay, Berry Islands
We have had a nice time meeting locals and crusiers in and around the Berry Islands Club.
At the request of Rick (Sea Language) we tracked down Estelle and Don - former cruisers who live near here now. Estelle had hurt her foot, but after a trip to Nassau, is back home and healing nicely. As we took our leave after a very pleasant meeting, Don asked if we wanted some lemons and bitter oranges. I never turn down gifts like that so we followed him into his garden as he picked both Ponderosa lemons and the bitter oranges (used in conch salads) from the trees. The lemons are big and rough textured with a slightly sweeter taste. The oranges are - well - bitter! Both of them are excellent for marinating fish or pork or chicken.
Back at the boat, a local fisherman, Neville, came along and we bought some conch and lobster from him. We had to make that conch salad! As Neville sat in his lime green boat, cleaning the conch, he told us that although he came from Andros, he lives now on a little island up the way - one that he used to fly over and think, "I want to own one of those one day" and now he does! Neville has been around a bit I think. He talked of escorting Eisinger's children around when they come to visit Chub Cay, and of Mrs Bush (Sr) collecting shells in the area ... and also of his many children and "sugars" scattered through the islands! He gave us samples of his bush tonic - 21 gun salute. He promised Jim that the milky drink with 21 local herbs would do wonders for everything that might need a pick-up, but he decided to take a pass on that one!
The next day, Neville arrived back with a lovely conch shell and a tulip shell for me - gifts from his heart because he didn't have change for the $10 we gave him for the conch (he asked $8).
Lincoln, at the clubhouse, acts as chef along with being dockmaster and we made reservations for the four crews of boats in the mooring field to go in for lunch. Lys and Michael (m/v Lys), tony and Cat (s/v Cheyenne) Judi and Alain (Ramha) and Jim and I (Madcap) all trooped ashore for chicken or cracked conch served with peas'n'rice, corn, and potato salad. It was good basic Bahamian food - not highly seasoned or unusual or exciting, but a nice chance to support the business and get to know our neighbours a little better. We're all headed for the Bahamas (and Cheyenne is going on to Central America) so we'll probably meet again in some harbour.
Jim and I dinghied up along the Cay and took a walk on another beach. We found the most interesting creature - a Spotted Seahare - that looks kind of like a shell-less snail crossed with snakeskin! Very curious - but Jim looked it up in our guide to Reef Creatures - and there it was! I picked up an old grey coloured, grass-encrusted conch shell and turned it over to see the most glorious deep rose colour on the inside - like a sunrise in a shell. It was a reminder to look beyond the surface of things, and I brought it back to remind me of that as well as to admire it. (Now that's an essay waiting to happen!)
We had a good stay at the Berry Island Club. It is a good place to wait out weather - and the moorings are strong - especially since Alain and Jim have now tightened the shackles on most of the balls! Lincoln kept saying he'd take care of it, but we never saw him do it. He also said he'd get a diver to come and put a zinc anode on our prop shaft, but although we talked with a guy at the bar who was willing to do it, Lincoln never seemed to find time to go get him. Friends tried to come over from Chub Cay for lunch one day, but the staff here didn't seem interested in having that happen - ("No, we can't arrange transportation" and when they found their own, "No we're not serving lunch today!") It's too bad because it is a nice spot with excellent protection, and with a little more spirit and promotion, could be more enticing to cruisers.
We recommend it anyway as a good stopover for a day or a few! Just don't expect too much from the folks at the Club. Now the visiting locals are another story entirely and we'd urge you to look for Neville!