05/05/2010/2:07 pm, Green Turtle Cay
After short stays in Marsh Harbour, Fisher's Bay and Baker's Bay (Great Guana Cay) we arrived back here in Green Turtle Cay - the place our Bahamas visit started in 2007.
Things are going well!! We're seeing lots of boats heading south, as the rest of us make our way north and west. I'll write a more interesting posting later - with luck, before we leave here - but this is to let you know that we are within a week of being back in the USA. It looks like we have a weather window starting Monday that will take us to Fernandina Beach, Florida - our planned landfall. We'll head north along the Abaco cays to the edge of the banks and then away we go.
Wish us luck!
And some more about our stay here...
We really like the village of New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay. It was home base for us for a month or so back on our first trip to the Bahamas, and it felt good to be here again. The houses are tucked in along the edges of narrow streets, with a jumble of flowering trees and shrubs overhanging fences and gates. These homes are mostly all occupied by locals who take pride in them so they are well kept and tidy. Sapphire, Solitaire and Savage Son were here too and we all gathered at Miss Emily's Blue Bee bar for the requisite Goombay Smash (mostly rum with a splash of fruit juice!) After a wander through town to check out the shops, we gathered again at Pineapples - the pretty little bar beside the pool at the other Shore Club in Black Sound.
The others headed back to their boats, but Jim and I took a stroll over to the dock in Black Sound to see if we could find Kevin MacIntosh - the dockmaster who was so kind to us on our last trip. Sure enough, he was there cleaning conch. He said the conch are not so plentiful in this area now - and we found that to be true ourselves up in the Manjack area. There are so many of them further south - we hope they don't get scarce everywhere.
On Wednesday, we joined Sapphire and Savage Son aboard Solitaire to celebrate Nancy's birthday with a Mexican brunch - stuffed jalapeno peppers, ouevos rancheros, tortillas, fruit, cinnamon rolls. The others left for Manjack, while we lingered here for a few more hours. We picked up a few groceries at Sid's - the family owned and so friendly little store close to the wharf. When we were here before, the matriarch of the family sat on the settee just inside the front door, chatting with all comers. I was worried when she wasn't there, but we discovered she is over in Marsh harbour for a visit with her other daughter. At 88 she still sits in the store when she is here. We bought some engine oil at Robert's Marine - chatting with Mrs Roberts who is still behind the counter.
Over at Pineapples, we checked email, munched on the best conch fritters ever (excepting maybe Marilyn's!) while we chatted with Bruce and Adam (Skimmer).
My heart had a little twinge as we walked past the public phone on the verandah by the post office where I spent so much time talking to the hospital and my Dad last trip when my Mum was ill. The same feelings welled up as we looked down the harbour in Black Sound where we left Madcap to fly home when Mum passed on, and when we sat again on the little rock wall where we begged the airlines to get us on flights to go home.
Green Turtle Cay will always be close to our hearts and we were glad to have even this little time here to soak up its warmth once more.
04/05/2010/5:37 am, Baker's Bay
What a perfectly lovely time we've been having!
We left the Tahiti Beach area and, after a quick stop in Marsh Harbour, headed for Fisher Bay on Great Guana Cay. Our sail over on Saturday was slow and beautiful. We used the wind well - crossing over the Sea of Abaco on a nice tack, running up the coast of Great Guana with our sails butterflied (main out to port and yankee to starboard and the wind directly behind us) and then angling off on a starboard tack to clear the rocks off Fisher Bay before taking the sails all down and motoring into the bay. I do love to play with those sails - and Jim humours me! When we have time, it doesn't matter if we go 3 kn or 6 kn. It is quiet and all we hear is the water and the wind.
We dinghied to the dock at Grabbers and walked through the village, visiting the bakery (yummy cookies), purchasing 3 plump and tasty (but expensive - $1 each) tomatoes at Milo's roadside stand, and watching the sandpipers skitter along the exposed sand flats in the bay. Grabbers was jam packed with Saturday partiers and we decided to give it a pass. Our evening on Madcap was pretty tame - books, a glass of wine and the sunset.
On Sunday, we were drawn like magnets to Nippers for the famous pig roast. At $20 per plate it is a really good meal. We loaded up our plates at the serve-yourself buffet, and sat down with Bill, Carol and Leslie (Sea Que II) to enjoy it. Only one meal is needed for the day when it's one like that! Nippers is the place to be on Sundays, and as we downed our Frozen Nippers (slushy type drinks but not so innocent little things) we feasted our eyes on all the people and action. There are all kinds here!! Young bodies and old bodies; T-shirts over baggy shorts and skimpy bikinis; good dancers, making-out-on-the-dancefloor-dancers; folks who are comfortable and folks who are trying to be somebody else. The ocean beach below Nippers is spectacular and Nancy, Jim and I had a fine stroll along it before we headed back to our boats.
Jim and I came back ashore in the evening to check e-mail at the tree. Yes - that's right - at the tree. The service didn't work at Grabbers and a fellow told us to go to the tree with the bench around it along the main road by the docks. Sure enough, the signal was good, although there is no plug there (gee - no plug at the tree!) so one has to have enough battery power. It makes a good spot to connect with the rest of the world - which mostly meant our kids! A man stopped in his golf cart to tell us that there is a free phone at Nippers too - but you'd have to use it when its not busy there or you'd never hear anything.
We set off on Monday morning for Baker's Bay - a run of about 3 miles. There was quite a bit of swell during the day, but we went ashore to walk the gorgeous beach and dinghy in around the huge marina, and by the time we got back to the boat, it had calmed down. Last time we were here, people from anchored boats weren't allowed ashore, but Passages (NH) told us they had gone in so we did too! We've been playing leapfrog with Karin and Ed ever since we left Big Major's Spot in early March and although we've talked several times on the VHF, we haven't yet managed to see them again. As we walked along the beach, we could hear and get glimpses of heavy equipment moving around, and were startled to see a palm tree moving swiftly along behind another row of trees. Eventually we could see the truck beneath it, but it sure gave us a laugh at first. There must be visitors at the lodge because a float plane came in behind us and taxied up to the beach. As we looked over our shoulders, we could see golf carts come down the path and luggage being loaded.
On Tuesday morning, we moved Madcap over near the spoil island and went shelling (no spectacular finds) before heading out through the Whale Cut and around to Green Turtle Cay. Once again we managed to sail most of it, and cruised gently around the corner to anchor off the mailboat dock at New Plymouth.
30/04/2010/9:48 am, Tahiti Beach
Despite all my reports of Troubles lately, the good times still far outweigh the bad and we continue to marvel at some of the experiences we've had.
We left Marsh Harbour on Wednesday to go over to Tahiti Beach for a couple of days. Because the tide was low, we couldn't get over the shallow banks to Hope Town and go down that way. Instead, we hoisted our sails and made use of the wind to take us down to Tavern Cay and around the end of Lubbers Quarters to a new-to-us anchorage. We just cruised along slowly, letting the wind blow away our fretfulness. With clear minds and happy hearts, the crews of Madcap and Solitaire joined Tessa and Jeff on Inamorata for Happy Hour. We enjoy the company of these new friends, and discovered that Jeff once worked at CFDR in Halifax/Dartmouth back in the early 80's. Now based in Annapolis, MD, they spend their non-sailing time as entertainers - mentalists - and we are begging them to do an Eastern Canada tour!
The six of us visited Cracker P's for lunch and discovered that Patrick, the owner, lives part of the year in Charlottetown, PEI - just across the Northumberland Strait from Nova Scotia. He has a good thing going here in Lubbers Quarters. We had one of the best Bahamian meals ever. The conch from their kitchen is stewed rather than deep fried and is served in a sweetish sauce. It was delicious and came with peas'n'rice, creamy coleslaw and grilled vegetables on the side.
We all met up with Mike and Kathy (Sapphire) over at Tahiti beach and spent a few hours wading through the shallow water, scooping up pretty, small shells and generally enjoying the sun, sand and some good laughs. Inamorata and Sapphire found some conch - once again we found only under-sized ones. This is a lovely curve of sand that juts out into some pretty shallow water - as discovered by the two boats that went aground there that morning. (Both floated off again as the tide rose several hours later)
On our way back to the boat, we stopped by our neighbours, m/v Sea Que II to say hello, and that was our best small world experience in a long time. On discovering that they are from Mobile, Alabama, we said, "Oh, we have a friend from Mobile. His last name is Echols", expecting maybe a "Yes, I think that's a name from there" or some other vague comment. Can you imagine our surprise and delight when Leslie replied, "Oh - you mean Uncle Mister from Vancouver?" It turns out that one of her best friends is our friend Frank's sister's daughter, Jessica. How about that??!! Of course we accepted Carol, Bill and Leslie's invitation to come aboard. Of course we had a fantastic time visiting them till the sun went down and it was time to go home.
It is just that kind of encounter that makes us so happy to be out here, exploring and discovering and being excited by what we find.
We topped off the evening with more good times aboard Solitaire as we engaged in fierce domino playing with Nancy, Jim, Tessa and Jeff.
We're flying our Nova Scotia flag most of the time now (along with our big red maple leaf of course) and we've been pleased to get waves and visits from passers by: Kim (Gaia II) from Jeddore and a fellow from Ship Harbour, and Bill (Acushla) headed back to Halifax. Small world - with lots of exploring to be done in it!
After a quick run back to Marsh Harbour, our next stop is Fisher's Bay on Great Guana Cay. The weather is supposed to be fabulous for the next week so we'll enjoy it as much as we can before heading back across the deep water. I wonder who we'll meet next?