03/04/2010/10:00 pm, Hog Cay, Jumentos
With our brand new motor on our raggedy old dinghy (see the posting on Phantastic Phil for details of that), we zoomed back from the Captain C to Madcap, picked up the computer and headed for town to do email and make blog postings. Before we left, we checked the chart for the route, but somehow missed the first marker past Pass Cay (also known as Pigeon Cay) and ended up in water that was too shallow for even a dinghy! Fortunately, Louis was cleaning conch in his pretty long green and orange boat, and pointed out the way. Even more fortunately, when we were still casting about trying to find the channel (the tide was so low the markers were lying on their sides and we had missed the first one) he fired up his motor and led the way to where the dredged channel starts winding in through the mangroves. Now that's Ragged Island helpfulness!
We tied up at the little dock, being careful to stay out of the way of the small boats unloading goods from the mailboat, and trudged up the hill to the gazebo to spend time on the internet. But alas!! It was down. It was such a disappointment because we were so filled with excitement and we wanted to share it with all our family and friends. At least we got to meet Pete and Louise (Mei Wente) who were also there, and picked up some pasta, oranges and lettuce at Maxine's store. We discovered the shelves don't look a whole lot different even after the mailboat has reached. She had ordered 3 bags of lettuce and only two came. The only other produce was grapefruit and oranges. But - she had flour and eggs and butter, and pasta and canned milk and cheese, and rice and peas - all the things needed to make the staples of Bahamian cuisine. No one will starve because of the lack of fresh produce.
Things got really interesting on our way home. The wind was blowing 20 knots in through the cut and as we crossed it - even at a vastly improved speed - we got totally soaked. Great waves were pouring in over the side and at one point, I was reaching back to hold the tiller as Jim pumped water out of the dinghy! We could not have been wetter if we'd gone swimming, and once we unloaded the groceries, it became clear that dinner would be mac'n'cheese, because the box had gotten wet and came unglued and the macaroni was damp and all over the bottom of the bag!
We took advantage of our new mobility by dinghying over to Lobster Hole and walking the beaches on both west and east sides on Sunday morning. We swam, picked palm fronds for weaving, and got soaked again on our way home. We sure do appreciate this new motor though. It is a blessing that the part wasn't available to fix the old one. This gives us so much more flexibility in the distances we can travel.
A bit of family news - yesterday was my Aunt Ursula's 95th birthday and she had a big party back in Truro, Nova Scotia. We wish we could have been there, but such things are part of the trade off for this cruising life. We can't be present for all the things we wish we could. I sure do hope I inherit those genes though! My sailing days could go on for a few more decades!!
03/04/2010/4:55 pm, Hog Cay, Jumentos
It is time to properly introduce you to Phicol (Phil) Wallace. This kind and gracious man has been our Guardian Angel here in Ragged Island. Phil and his buddies were in the boat that stopped by in Racoon Cay, to welcome us to the area, collect garbage, and probably to see who we were! It was Phil who said he'd do some checking on finding a new bearing for our Mercury 5 hp outboard motor.
It was Phil who made numerous calls to suppliers in Nassau and Long Island and back to us to report that the part couldn't be located. It was Phil who then made calls to get prices on a new Yamaha 15 to which we had decided to upgrade. It was Phil who put Jim in touch with Shane from Harbourside Marine in Nassau and who came out to Hog Cay on Thursday with the faxed order for Jim to sign, and who then faxed it back to Harbourside Marine in time for the motor to get loaded on the boat that afternoon.
I had wanted so badly to move around to Ragged Island Harbour on Saturday so we could see the mailboat "reach" and take pictures of the event, but the wind direction made that a poor idea. We remained anchored in Hog Cay while I grumbled around Madcap all morning - all my journalistic inclinations thwarted - taking only distant pictures of the Captain C as it came across the banks and passed out of sight behind Hog Cay Point. And then Phil came to the rescue again!
He and Jerard - a mailboat worker - came by ("passed by" in island lingo) to chat while the rest of the crew started unloading. He said he'd go back to pick up our motor when some space had been cleared on the deck of the Captain C. When I asked him if he needed Jim to go with him, he said, "You can both come if you want" and it didn't take two minutes before we were both aboard his boat with "Little Loonie" (our dinghy) tied on behind.
Once at the mailboat, we tied up alongside, (I hopped aboard to take pictures of the crane, the hold, the pallets of goods bound for Ragged Island) and it wasn't long before Phil came across the deck holding a Yamaha 15 outboard motor. He mounted it on the dinghy, hailed Melvin - a crewmwmber - to get some more gas so that we had the right mix of gas and oil in the tank, and then Melvin and Jim took it out for a spin. When Jim kept insisting that we would pay him for his time, his steely-eyed response was, "You don't owe me a thing." Well - we sure owe him plenty of thanks and appreciation!
Before we left Hog Cay on Wednesday, Phil passed by once again, this time to visit with us and to collect our old outboard motor that we wanted to leave with him. We enjoyed a couple of hours of quality time over coffee and scones. We learned that Phil was born here, spent some of his boyhood on Little Farmer's Cay where his mother was the school principal for many years, went to high school and college in Nassau and then decided to move back "home". He is the Chief Councillor of the 5 person Ragged Island Council and at 36, the youngest of them too. He is passionate about encouraging and helping his fellow islanders to manage the changes that are occurring with the financial boost that is providing the enlarged airport, improved streets and the new dock and breakwater. Phil's attitude toward the increased cruising traffic is telling. He wants Duncan Town to provide services - affordable food and drink, a laundry - and he is most emphatic that the relationship between cruisers and locals be one based on friendship and fair dealing rather than just money making.
Phil is the local manager of Bahama Electric Corporation, and also owns and operates Silvertail Fishing Lodge (with its rooms all rented at the moment to the construction crew on the island) and is one of the core group of young entrepreneurs here.
When we come back here - as we surely will - I want to meet his grandma who lives across the street and taught him as a young boy to be careful how his tongue wags, "That little red rag will make you or destroy you!" and who knows Everything about Ragged Island. Phil's wife, Erica, (from Staniel Cay) and his two (and almost three) children were away in Nassau for Easter break so we'll have to wait till next time to meet them too.
By next year, we'll be able to chow down on cheeseburgers and Kaliks at the Silvertail Lodge while we connect with the internet. With luck, this thoughtful and enterprising man will have time to visit with us again and fill us in on what's been happening on Ragged Island. If he is successful in moving vision to reality, things will be happening.
When any of you readers come here, be sure to look up our new friend and Guardian Angel!
02/04/2010/4:51 pm, Hog Cay
Asylum III departed in the wee hours of Thursday morning for the 60 mile trip to Cuba where they'll spend the next couple of weeks. (Oh - we are so close and, being Canadians we can go - but it isn't in our plans for this year so we just had to wish them well and listen to all their tips on travelling there for when we do make it.) Those two intrepid sailors have had some wonderful cruising experiences all through these waters.
Madcap and Reflection set off to Hog Cay and its enticing beaches, and we'd have had a delightful sail except that just as we left South Side Bay, Phil called to say that he hadn't been able to get our motor part anywhere in Nassau or Long Island. Jim and I had decided that if that happened, we'd just accelerate our planned purchase of a new motor - if we could find a good price. As we sailed along, Phil checked prices and called back. We could get a Yamaha 15 - the motor found on the transoms of many dinghies down here - for less than what we'd pay in the states. A flurry of phone calls followed with the result that we had to hurry along to Hog Cay. These arrangements were being made late morning and the Captain C would be leaving Nassau about 5:30pm! We motor-sailed as fast as we could go. The dealer faxed Phil the paperwork; Phil roared out to Hog Cay in his fast boat with the form for Jim to sign; with papers in hand, he roared back to Duncan Town and sent off the order. More phone calls came from Shane - the Yamaha dealer. The fax had been received, the order was being processed, and finally - the box was on the boat!
With that all taken care of, we went ashore with Marilyn and Bruce to go exploring. Other cruisers have cut trails through to the windward shore and we spent a wonderful couple of hours wandering along a beach there. We found a couple of hamburger beans within the first few minutes and a few pretty, small shells, but there wasn't quite the wealth of shelling and beaning we had hoped to see. (Now if we were looking for shoes or plastic containers, it was bonanza time.) The sound of waves rolling ashore and the sight of layers of blue water and white foam was fabulous, however. Once back at the boat, we went for a swim, checking out the little coral head near us where we saw the first lionfish this year. That's the pretty but invasive fish that takes over the reefs and that they are trying hard to get rid of. No sharks, thank goodness!
Friday brought more walks - again thanks to the water- taxi service offered by Reflection. We took a different trail to the other side, made no interesting beach finds at all, and made our way back to the leeward side of the cay by following the trail of shoes that had been stuck on tree branches. (Not quite enough of them because we had to do some real searching out of the trail in a few places!) A well preserved rock wall wandered along among the buttonwood trees for a good way. As far as we know, it was a pasture wall. Pavlidis tells us that Hog Cay was used for raising cattle, primarily Brahma bulls in the 1970's and 80's. This wall looks older but hasn't fallen into ruin like the foundations of Loyalist houses. Perhaps it dates from back then but continued to be used in more recent times. I wonder whether it held livestock in or out? We spotted a few small goats as we got to the beach but they were very skittish and departed quickly once they spotted us.
In the evening, the boats in this anchorage and at Lobster Hole got together at the pretty gathering spot on Middle Pen Beach for Happy Hour. Carol and Michael (Kanaloa), Marilyn and Bruce (Reflection), Dorothy and Glen (Dot's Way), Bill, Mike and Brendan (m/v Caribbean Explorer) and Jim and I (Madcap) had a very fine time swapping stories and munching on the food we had each contributed. It was funny to see those of us who have been here a while reaching for the potato chips brought by Caribbean Explorer. Our potato chip supply ran out weeks ago and the sight of those salty crispy things was a delight. They reached for dips and spreads because their galley doesn't run to those sorts of things this trip! It's proof that all offerings are welcomed at happy hour!