12/02/2010/11:00 pm, Fresh Creek, Andros, Bahamas
Once again, we managed to sail most of our journey down the coast to Fresh Creek. The wind was behind us so it required some tacking, but we were in no rush - wanting to time our arrival here at mid tide or higher so we could get over the bar at the entrance.
We had read reports from other cruisers about going aground here, as well as stories in the guidebooks of mailboats coming to grief so we were a little worried. In the end, we had no difficulty although we kept a sharp lookout for reefs and shoals and channels. It is a bit unnerving to come along and see the waves crashing on the world famous reef, pick out which marker is which among the AUTEC posts and line up on mid channel to hit the deepest route over the bar.
Once in the harbour, we called the Lighthouse Yacht Club and Marina but when there was no answer, Jan and Dave (Arctic Cat) radioed back to say, "Just pull in against the dock and we'll take your lines!" Jim made a couple of narrow circles (the water is lots deep near the docks but it shallows out quickly on the north side) while I readied our lines. He then pulled us neatly up along side, we got lines attached to the pilings and hopped off. One guidebook had warned of fierce currents and difficulty getting docked. We found that, while strong, the current didn't present any problem, particularly as we motored into both wind and tide to tie up. We do agree that anchoring in the harbour would be foolhardy. The ferry comes in and turns right where one might be tempted to drop anchor, and besides, there is reported to be very poor holding. It might be possible outside the harbour entrance if the seas were very calm, but it didn't look that way to us.
We have yet another front coming through so we decided to bite the bullet and tie up until Monday. There is a good wifi connection here, and on Feb 14th it is important for us to reach and be reached by our family!
The marina building is lovely - airy and pretty. The docks (although not floating) are in good condition. The charge is $1.30 per foot per day with water, power and cable available at an extra cost. (We aren't using them.) Donna made us feel welcome.
We took a walk to the tourist office down the road and around the corner, and got a warm greeting from Shanise who told us that Donna - at the marina - makes and sells bread, gave us a map of the area and told us where the good eating places are. From there, we took a stroll around the town of Fresh Creek, picking up some frozen chicken wings for about $4 at Gaitors Store, spotting Hank's Place - reportedly great food, and generally taking in the area. This is not a beautiful place, but it is, like almost everyplace we've been, friendly. If we don't wave or call out a greeting first, we are sure to be responding to one in short order.
We had lunch at Kristina's cafe on Friday - delicious stew fish (snapper - with onions and a spicy sauce) and then took a walk to the Androsia factory and outlet store. There was no one around to show us anything and the shop door was locked with a sign in the door to come over to the factory. I wandered around a bit. asked the women working there if I could take pictures of the wax plates and the rinsing and dying process and received an OK. Eventually a lady came along and opened up the shop for us, but she wasn't very conversational so I didn't really find out anything about the operations. I may have to go back! We bought some placemats and a length of fabric. The colours are so vibrant and the fabric so soft that I'd love to have yards and yards of it in a rainbow of colours. It is hard to believe it all starts as plain white voile.
The AUTEC (Atlantic Undersea Testing and Evaluating Center) base just a bit further down the coast is a big American presence, and we've seen a bus with US Navy marked on it rattling along the road.
Many of our neighbours on the docks seem to be regular visitors, or else have been here for months. Bill and Anne Marie (Shunda) came for a couple of nights and have been here over a week. Now doesn't that sound familiar? The folks on the big fishing boat next to us are divers and brought back the most beautiful triton shell today. It has made me itch to go out snorkeling, but having spent today writing, and with the waves whipped up by tonight's wind, I think we will have to wait till Sunday.
I think I am finally up to date so if you have just picked up this entry, scroll back, and back, and back to see the last 5 or 6 new ones ... all the way back to a final Frazer's Hog Cay posting ... if you want to of course!
12/02/2010/11:30 am, Fresh Creek, Andros, Bahamas
Oh my goodness - I have so many stories to tell you but Jim and I have been out experiencing them and I have not sat myself down to write.
I will say briefly that we are here in another pretty little Andros spot - a perfectly protected harbour - and are tied to a dock in anticipation of the strong winds coming tonight. We will stay here till Monday and will have wifi I do believe. Those of you who know us and our habits must be just shaking your heads at all the tying up we've been doing. I think its a combination of more "weather", fewer secure places to anchor along here, and a more cautious approach.
Oops - gotta run - lunch time at the cafe up the road and then a visit to the Androsia fabric place. Baskets, and batik and grapefruit and fresh veggies and plentiful free water. That's what Andros is about!
11/02/2010/8:05 am, Morgan's Bluff, Andros
After a day of beach combing (for me) anchor chain storage and windlass switch cleaning (for Jim) and a final gourmet dinner aboard Ramha (for both of us) we decided it was time to move on.
Before I get to that part though, I want to introduce Lee Shalom. We discovered that he is the harbourmaster and the man to see for any questions or needs about Morgan's Bluff. He is mentioned in the Yachtsman's Guide to the Bahamas (name is spelled differently and I don't know which is right, but it is pronounced Shalom so that's how I spelled it!) What a lovely man. He is well travelled, having been with the merchant navy for many years - has been to Vancouver and Montreal and Halifax among many other places. We kept supplying him with our last few cans of Keith's India Pale Ale in return for his kindness.
He brought over a box of delicious grapefruit for Ramha and Madcap to share, and when we raved about the flavour so much, he gave us another box! He hooked up a half mile of water hose so we could fill our tanks directly from the tap instead of lugging it by cans - and at no charge. Along with our water, he gave us information. Andros has a plentiful supply of fresh water and the tankers come to the big wharf in the bay every day to fill up. They carry 3 million gallons of water every day to Nassau. When I asked about paying for it, he said, "No! Water is free. We have it and it is for giving!" Not even Nassau pays for it. I don't know enough about the Bahamian government to know whether there is some other compensation for what the other islands take from here.
We enjoyed a delicious Greek dinner on Ramha with kabobs, roasted potatoes, Greek salad and flat bread with tzatziki. The smell was mouthwatering as we came aboard, and the flavour was just as good. We took a peek at some of Judi's beautiful paintings and look forward to seeing more by the next time we meet.
As we stepped back across to Madcap, we saw the lights of the mailboat coming in. It turned on a dime in the tiny basin, but had quite a bit of difficulty backing up to the ramp. We had wondered how such a long boat could turn in there, but that wasn't the problem. The problem was that it has no thrusters and only a single prop so it kept getting caught by current and had to go back and foward several times and then just creep back to avoid the fishing boats tied up over there. It was something like backing up Madcap - only much longer!
Morning brought a quick photo trip around to see the pallets of goods with recipients' names on them lined up along the roadway, and the piles of boxes filled with grapefruit and cabbage and other produce ready to be loaded. If we'd been here a couple of weeks ago, we'd have seen bales of sponges here too.
Then we were off - out through the entrance to the basin, out through the channel into the bay, around the corner and off on a course to Fresh Creek. We had been told the fuel boat would be in around 8 am so both of us moved off the dock and out of the way early. Ramha planned to go back in later in the day, but we were ready for new sights. (We never did see that fuel boat - I guess we needn't have made such an early start.) Sails went up, engine went off and away we went, looking for the next adventure.