23/04/2010/2:38 pm, Spanish Wells
We moved over to Spanish Wells on Thursday afternoon, anchoring just outside the harbour. We stayed here last trip for a day or two and it makes a good stop in calm weather. There was hardly any wind last night and we didn't even feel a thing when we turned with the current.
I had forgotten that everything is different up here: the numbers of white Bahamians - far more than further south, the accent - like an old English one - a bit gutteral with a distinct twist to the vowels. I remember from last trip that I thought it sounded like the accent used by the fellow who made the audio recording of Rockbound - the book that won Canada Reads Competition a few years back.
Spanish Wells is a busy little town - bustling waterfront, the largest grocery store we've seen since we left the US. I've come to enjoy the little ones with 2 or 3 aisles where you shop based on what happens to be there, rather than on your list, but it is fun to see more selection again. We were out of crackers and tortilla chips and we found them both.
We chatted with Ernie near the government dock as he tossed broccoli leaves to the resident manatee. She is a local attraction - everytime we go by, someone is there watching and feeding her. She is fat one - with moss growing on her back, and they say she's pregnant too! We overheard one woman say that someone has done an ultrasound on her.
The little seafood restaurant down the way from the golf cart rental/wifi stop was closed by the time we got around to looking for lunch today. We wandered up the hill to the takeout, and met up with Judy and Bill (Jubilee) and Sue and Bruce (Andiamo) so even though the food was crappy, the company was fine indeed.
Now we are back at the wifi table amid the golf carts - we feel like we've taken up permanent residence here - for a few more minutes before heading back out to the boat. Jim is working hard at organizing and filing our income tax returns. Thank goodness for electronic filing - and for daughters who scan and send the documents. (Thanks MB!)
Last night we heard Bob (Cygnus) call out on VHF 16, "Look at the sky in front of your boat! It's a rocket!" We raced out and sure enough - we saw the launch of a US Airforce Atlas Rocket. We've never seen a night launch of a shuttle so I don't know how it compares, but this was a pretty cool event. We could see the vapour trail going up, the separation of the rocket and then a few scattered lights as the residue fell back to the ground and the rocket continued. After the initial excitement, I went back below to grab my camera and this is what was left in the sky by then.
We'll move back to Royal Island this afternoon and head out at dawn for the Abacos. The weather forecast indicates that we'll be able to sail, and we'll see when we get there how much we can dawdle before going to Marsh Harbour. Apparently there is some weather coming the first of the week. We've got some buddies in Marsh Harbour and it will be good fun to meet up with them.
Nothing more has broken in the last couple of days. We picked up a Davis light to use as an anchor light. We have grouper for dinner tonight. Life is good!
Next report will be in a few days from somewhere in the Abacos.
21/04/2010/4:14 pm, Royal Island
It was another one of those days - a 7:30 departure from Shroud Cay, a 9 hour engine-on-all-the-way trip to Royal Island and a 2-try anchoring job. Storm clouds were hovering, our ears were ringing, and we were still feeling lingering effects of just plain tiredness. Then we looked around to see who else was here and discovered Cygnus! Our hearts lifted immediately. Just after we "hung up the phone" from talking with Bob, we got a call from Passages (NH) and discovered that Karin and Ed were anchored just around the corner at Egg Island and are headed for the Abacos. And then Judy called from Jubilee (with whom we shared a bumpy day or two in Warderick Wells). They arrived here in Royal Island and will spend a few days at Spanish Wells. It never fails to lift our spirits when we spot old friends in an anchorage.
After the clouds dumped a rain shower, we happily accepted an invitation to dinner aboard Cygnus and spent a thoroughly lovely evening with Mary Lou and Bob, and their 2 Yorkies, Jib and Spinnaker. Mary Lou made one of those wonderful sausage, potato, pepper and onion mixtures that both Jim and I love, and served it with a huge caesar salad. Absolutely delicious. She also shared recipes for English Muffins and her special fudge. Bob gave us a contact for an electronics guy in Marsh Harbour - maybe we can get the SSB going again.
We laughed at the antics of the dogs, talked about our cruising seasons, and learned to our delight that Bob will be crewing on a boat out of Maine, headed to Newfoundland during the summer. We sure hope they plan a stop in Halifax!
It is at times like these that we realize how energizing it is to see familiar faces.
We'll go over to Spanish Wells on Thursday morning to get on the internet, get groceries, visit the bank and download all the things Jim needs to do our taxes! It sounds like there won't be a wind to take us north till Saturday, and then we may have to hustle before the next front!
20/04/2010/3:57 pm, Allens Cay, Exumas
The weather reports have been so confusing lately. West wind/east wind/light wind/possible gales. We hardly knew what to do, but when the wind came up enough from the west to make our mooring at Shroud uncomfortable, and our plan to dinghy up to the north end of the cay to the mangrove creek unrealistic, we decided to take advantage of it and move on. It was a good decision.
We sailed a good part of the way up to Allen's Cay and arrived here to find only one other boat! Last time we stopped here, the little bay was chock-a-block with boats. Jim was pleased to have the Explorer chart on the handheld Garmin GPS so he could tell in an instant whether I should steer to port or to starboard as we rounded the corner and headed up along the shoreline. It has much better detail than the Navionics charts on our Raymarine chartplotter. (Thanks Stephen!)
By the time the sun set, 3 more boats had come in, and we all had a calm night.
On Tuesday, we stayed put, reading our books, dinghying ashore to visit the prehistoric looking iguanas. They are fascinating creatures - all knobbly skinned and webbed toes and beady eyes. A few of them have numbers painted on their backs this year - somebody must be doing a study. We laughed at one big guy who was either a senior statesman or a plain old bully. I tossed scraps of lettuce to them and he did his best to keep the others away, chasing after them on his awkward legs and even swatting at them with his right front foot. Do you suppose they are all right-footed or are there some lefties?
We searched the grassy shoals for conch. Unfortunately, the only live ones we found were too small. Gotta let them live for another year or two. Instead of fishing, we snorkeled around, checking out the bottles and shells on the bottom, admiring our well and truly buried anchor, and getting a surprise from an incoming motor yacht. Jim was swimming the short distance between the shore and the boat when I rounded the end of Madcap to see the yacht heading straight for him. I let out a mighty yell - to alert both Jim and the boat. Fortunately both of them heard me - Jim went into power mode immediately, and the woman on the bow of the boat said, "Don't worry, I see him." That was nice, and it was going very slowly, but it still made both our hearts beat faster to know that it was straight on course for him.
Several more boats came in, including a giant yacht that anchored, opened its "garage door" and slid a fancy dinghy and a seadoo into the water. They roared around for a couple of hours, then slid back into the "garage", the boat weighed anchor and headed off. There is something a little head-shaking about a middle aged guy in skimpy bathing suit and pot belly zooming in and out among anchored sail boats on his seadoo that got spit out the back of his multi million dollar yacht. It takes all kinds, I guess.
Dinner was BBQ steak, potatoes, cole slaw, washed down with a bottle of pinot noir freshly unearthed from beneath the berth in the aft cabin, and topped off with a handful of chocolate chips. We really need to replenish our sweet supply!