06/02/2011/1:54 pm, Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera
We were hoping for a secure little anchoring spot in Governor's Harbour, and luck, wind, and sea conditions have been with us!
We had another perfectly wonderful sail up here on Friday - leaving Rock Sound at 7:30 and dropping the hook here at 12:15, covering 27.54 nautical miles in under 5 hours. This is sailing! Gentle swells, no chop, close reach all the way. China Doll was anchored here when we arrived and Acme Cat pulled in shortly after, and it has been the three of us ever since. On advice from friends, we chose a spot in the SE corner, pulled in as close to the shallows as we could and dropped all the chain we carry in 16 feet of water. The weight of the chain, plus the very light SE winds ever since we arrived have allowed us to be secure and comfortable here despite the reportedly poor holding in Governor's Harbour.
We took a walk about town on Friday afternoon, finding the 2 grocery stores - both along the Queen's Highway, the tourist office where we picked up a map of Eleuthera, and Haynes Library where wifi is available for a fee of $5. (per hour) I appreciated the way the librarian smiled and said, "We don't pay close attention to timing. If you have your own computer, you can sit inside or outside. Once you pay your $5 and get the code, feel free to use it. I change the code every now and then."
Donnie, a local fellow who was sweeping up the Fish Fry area in the afternoon, told us that this is the place to be on Friday evening to enjoy music, beer, and fish, chicken or pork chops hot off the BBQ. The meals are $10 for a styrofoam (unfortunately) container of meat or fish, and your choice of peas'n rice, mac'n cheese, cole slaw. Starts at 7ish and goes late into the evening.
Jay and Nicole (China Doll) came over for a visit late afternoon and we loved hearing the spirit of adventure in the voices of these two young people. Both in their 20's, they bought this little boat in November and sailed her down here from New Jersey. They were keen, smart, and enthusiastic and we'll enjoy meeting up with them again when our son, Liam, gets here.
As the action started over on the government wharf, we dinghied ashore (no good dinghy dock here - we beach it and depending on whether the tide is rising or falling, anchor out or pull it high. We did it the wrong way around the first time and had to drag it a good long way over sand bars when we returned from our walk!) The G&G freighter arrived just before 7, and as it was positioning itself along the cement dock, the fast ferry, the "Bo Hengy" came around the breakwater. It was so much fun to be among the crowd of locals there to pick up goods and friends from the ferry.
The messenger line flew off the ferry, and the muscular young fellows on the dock pulled it and the heavy dock lines in and wrapped them around the bollards. A metal ramp scraped along the dock, the gates swung open and Donna and Chris arrived! We followed them to the sweet little house they are renting, gave them a couple of minutes to catch their breaths, and headed over to the fish fry. Sitting there amidst the throngs of locals and visitors, with the water rolling in behind us and stars filling the sky, we nodded knowingly when Donna commented, "All this feels a little surreal!"
Saturday was chock full of exploring, swimming and enjoying the wonderful island flavour. Jim and I took a walk up the hill past gorgeous homes with porches and gables, and brightly coloured flowers tumbling over gates and climbing walls. We met Chris and Donna for lunch at the Buccaneer Club where we downed conch, grouper, and cheese burgers. That's a pleasant stop with a shady patio, good food and cold beer (not as inexpensive as some spots but still good value.) From there we wandered our way along shady streets to the bakery. If you visit, you'll have to ask a local for directions because there is no way I can describe the twists and turns. All I can say is it's worth the walk because the breads and goodies are terrific! We met up with Doug and Susan (Acme Cat) on the way home and discovered they are from Montague, PEI - almost neighbours.
After collecting our towels and suits, we headed up the hill, and down the hill and along a track to the right and through the French Leave resort property (once a Club Med, and sadly abandoned after extensive hurricane damage several years ago) to the beach. And oh what a beach! Pink sand, high palm topped dunes, gently rolling waves of crystal clear, aqua blue water and fewer people than fingers on one hand. We played in the waves, walked the beach, visited a tapas restaurant/bar that I can't remember the name of and started our hike back to town. Just as we started up the long hill, a pick up truck slowed beside us and Christopher called out, "Hop in the back!". We happily clambered over the sides, and enjoyed the scenery instead of huffing and puffing our way along. We had chatted with Christopher, his wife Jonita and their almost 2 year old daughter Kiasha on the beach where they were enjoying the sunny afternoon.
As we hopped out of the truck near the boat ramp, a couple of fishermen were still selling their catch and we bought some lovely fresh mackerel to enjoy for dinner. Next on the agenda was a visit to Donna and Chris' house for showers. Clean and salt free, we all headed back to Madcap for dark and stormies and dinner. Donna had spent a couple of days on board several years ago but Chris had never been on board so it was fun to introduce him to our home on the water.
Jim BBQ'd chicken, I baked the mackerel, cooked up a pot of peas 'n rice and tossed together a broccoli and cranberry salad. The delectable little chocolate and hazelnut maple leaves that Donna brought from Canada topped off the meal perfectly. It was just the best way to end a day. Fresh and healthy food in the fresh air under the stars, shared with good friends. What can be better? We were even able to enjoy Junkanoo drumming from somewhere on shore. The tastes and sounds of the islands - they are all here!
And now it is Sunday morning. Still calm and quiet. Charles Enright, the voice of CBC's Sunday Edition comes through the cockpit speakers. Although Jim scoffs at the story on angels, I'm pretty sure our guardian angels are with us :-) We'll go swimming at Anchor Beach just off Cupid's Cay this afternoon, and then check out Ronnie's sports bar for the Superbowl game. Another busy day!
03/02/2011/8:50 pm, Rock Sound, Eleuthera
This we know. Alton Knowles, mechanic, shows up when he says he will, thoroughly and efficiently does the job that needs doing and charges a fair rate. His number is 334-2627 and he welcomes calls from cruisers. We love him! He's also fixing our Honda generator that didn't quite get fixed in Marsh Harbour. It didn't work before that repair; now it works but spews out gasoline - not good. We'll pick it up when we come back here next week and it will work for sure.
As for the other participants in this fixit situation, Harborside Marine in Nassau, DHL, and Dingle Motors all have slightly different stories about why it took from Monday afternoon until Thursday morning for the cable to arrive in Rock Sound. In the end, the delay doesn't really matter all that much. Everyone was polite, helpful and the whole job (part, shipping and labour) came to just around $150. Not bad for a boat fix!
We've been swimming, checked out the ocean holes, bought groceries, topped up fuel and water, got laundry washed, reorganized the aft cabin (aka garage), reorganized the cockpit lockers and met some other cruisers.
Mr. Cates drove Jim and a couple of water jugs ($5 for a 5 gal jug) from the store to the dinghy dock in the heat of the afternoon. As Mrs Cates smilingly said, "That's the island way."
We are now 5 boats in the harbour, and we enjoyed chatting with Charlie and Cathy (Cher) and John and Connie (Riverdance) on the dock this afternoon. Another couple of young boys came out in their sunfish to say hello. I didn't get their names but I laughed as they downed ginger ale and pretzyls and cheese with the gusto I remember from my own two boys when they were that age. We gave them some extra line and a roll of sail tape to repair the slits in the sail. John (Riverdance) had some extra sailcloth that he donated to the cause as well. It feels good to contribute to these kids who are out here on the water every afternoon, sharing the 3 sunfish, practicing their sailing skills and having fun.
We will be off in the morning to go up to Governors Harbour. With luck, we'll find a little spot to anchor securely. All we need is one little spot! Then we'll spend the next week exploring the west coast of Eleuthera by sail, and the east side ocean beaches on foot and by car.
As we listen to the news, we are feeling mixed emotions. We feel for the folks up north who are being deluged with snow .... truly we do! Aaaand, we feel pretty happy that even though we are fixing things, we are doing it in the sunny south!!
02/02/2011/8:39 pm, Rock Sound, Eleuthera
We've had days and days of beautiful sunshine here. Any groundhog would be sure to run back inside, but I think perhaps that folklore has no place in the Bahamas!
I may have spoken too soon about the wonderful wifi connection. It wasn't working from about 6 Monday evening till Tuesday morning after Dingle Motors opened. Like wifi seems to be most everywhere here - it is spotty. Makes me grateful for the lightning quick connections we have at home.
I picked up groceries on Monday at the well stocked market north of "downtown" Rock Sound. It is a healthy walk from the dingy dock near the Anglican church, but one could also land a dinghy at the bar closer to the market and walk a shorter distance. The Napa store, hardware store and liquor store also make up this complex.
Jim ordered his new gear shift cable from Harborside Marine in Nassau, Chris Cates at Dingle Motors arranged pick up by DHL on Tuesday and it will come in by plane on Wednesday morning. ( I laugh as I re-read this sentence that I wrote on Tuesday! It is now Wednesday evening and no part. It didn't get picked up by DHL until late this afternoon and they promise it will be on the Bahamas Air flight that gets to Rock Sound on Thursday morning.)
Chris Parker said that we are going to have stronger winds staying with an easterly component for the next while. That's not so good for our friends who are trying to make their way south and east, but it works just fine for us in Eleuthera. We plan to hang out on the west side of the cay for a couple of weeks and will not need to do too much of a shuffle around looking for protection from other directions.
Isabella and Andy and their little white dog, Max, (Southern Cross IV) arrived on Monday, building our numbers here to 3. The four of us have enjoyed a couple of hours each evening at 4 Points, the attractive bar on the waterfront. The tide is low in the evenings and dinghy tie up is limited, but we have managed. Besides downing the usual Kaliks, we sampled both the conch fritters and grouper fingers the other night. I do love conch fritters and these were good, but the grouper fingers were wonderful - moist and tender and just lightly battered. Yummy! We ate lunch today at Sammy's Place - also delicious food and good value.
Two different freighters came in on Tuesday to the dock further down the bay. I was at the grocery store just after the bread truck arrived and admired the package of rolls the cashier was tucking under her counter. When I asked if anyone in town made homemade bread, she said, "No, but if you hurry you can catch the bread truck across the street at the gas station." In addition to Wonderbread and hamburger rolls that come in on the freighter, he carries the rolls his wife makes! ($3.50 for a 10 pack of lovely white fluffy rolls.)
In the process of doing laundry and looking for a sail slider to replace the one that broke at the top of our sail, I've been having a totally delightful time getting to know the folks of Rock Sound. Willa May Cooper opened the laundry in November. It is spotless and costs $3 per load. (Walk up the street just across from the BTC office and turn right at the T for the easiest way to find it the first time.) She is a lovely person - a retired teacher and I have so enjoyed getting to know her. It turns out that Ali, our mechanic is her brother! We have had lots of time for chatting, because the water pressure was down to a trickle all day Tuesday (due to a broken pipe out by the airport) and I kept going back to see if it had been fixed. We finally got 2 loads through, and I finished on Wednesday. This morning, she had cabbages, peppers and tomatoes for sale on the counter - fresh from her garden. So good!
I chatted with Solomon Gibson and his father at Gibson's Upholstery. He doesn't carry those sliders, but will do sail repairs enough to take a boat home, and would love to have helped if he could. When I was in, he was covering a chair in a beautiful crisp blue and white Ralph Lauren stripe. He gets a fair bit of work from folks who have second homes in the area. His father does most of the tailoring and told me to come to him if I need anything altered or made from scratch. Both of them are fine folks.
Mr and Mrs Cates, at Dingle Motors were in NS and NB a few years ago and we were able to marvel at the height of the Bay of Fundy tides with them. Tonight at the 4 Points bar, Brendan came by to solicit donations for his Track and Field team trip to North Andros later this month. It will be his first competition and he is keen. We were all happy to contribute to the cause. Deirdre, our waiter, is involved with Track too, and is hoping for a scholarship to study in the US net year. Track and softball are the serious sports here, although basketball also has a place in the leisure activities of the kids.
A couple of grade 9 students, Lothario and Lamond and friends have been out sailing each evening in their little Sunfish boats - one with a very raggedy sail. These two charming boys sailed up to Madcap and initiated a lively conversation one evening. They got a great kick out of trying out our binoculars. Jim rescued one of the boats as it floated out from the beach later in the evening - that is the pic above.
The weather has remained calm and we sleep soundly in a bed that doesn't rock and roll at night. Today seemed much warmer - in the 80's and we each had a good swim around the boat. We haven't been back out to the ocean beach but will plan to do that next week when Donna and Chris are here. On the last few evenings, it has been cool enough for us to want to eat inside, but tonight we dined in the cockpit on stirfried chicken and rice accompanied by broccoli salad.
I met William and his father, Robert, at the dock this morning where they were cleaning conch bits to use as bait. William says he'll be back tomorrow morning with fish for us so you can bet what will be on the menu tomorrow night!
So - although we are staying here longer than we had planned, we are happy. It takes a few days to get to know a village. We are grateful for the opportunity, and richer because of it. Funny how we seem to have to be forced into it sometimes. I hope, as always, that we can manage to take that same spirit of time and value of relationships back home with us.
ps You should be able to find us on google earth again.