10/02/2011/10:21 am, Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera
We have been packing in the fun from dawn to dark in the last few days! Actually, the folks on shore start before dawn with the cock-a-doodle-doo's of the roosters that call Cupid's Cay home - and I don't quite think they call that part fun.
I'm afraid laughter more than sympathy was our first response as Donna relayed the tales of one memorable night. She and Chris were awoken by the barks and howls of a dog fight and then a goat baaaing, followed by some noisy excitement as the dogs chased the goat. I think there might have been a cat or two, and as dawn approached, the scrabbling of a crab as it clawed its way up the window screen added another layer of sound. Of course as all that died down, the ever present roosters started their announcements.
We had a delightful evening with Theresa and Andrew Burrows and their daughter Gem on Tuesday. These folks invited all five of us over for dinner and an evening of at-home Bahamian hospitality. Theresa cooked up some fresh and delicious conch fritters that we devoured as fast as she lifted them from the pot, and then laid out platters of fall-off-the-bone tender chicken, peas'n'rice, fresh green salad, and zesty and tender conch salad. I had taken along a pan of spicy gingerbread, and Chris and Donna provided beverages. It was a perfectly wonderful evening of good food, good friends and a conversation filled with questions and discoveries about both Bahamas and Canada. We have many things in common as members of the British Commonwealth, and of course many differences as countries with different temperatures, economies and geography. It seemed especially sweet that Gem's older sister, Elizabeth, attended Acadia University in Nova Scotia (also my school!), and Theresa has been there to visit!
Theresa's photography is stunning, (www.theresaburrowsphotography.com) and she is involved with Elizabeth in publishing both the local newspaper, the Eleutheran, and a beautiful glossy magazine, the Eleutheras. If you'd like to rent her sweet little house on Cupid's Cay, check out www.vacationseleuthera.com/suncresthouse/html.
Chris arranged for a 2-day rental of a van that would carry the five of us and all our gear, so on Wednesday morning we headed north for a day of exploring, using the book "The Elusive beaches of Eleuthera" as our guide. First stop was the Glass Window where a narrow bridge is all that separates the Calm turquoise waters of the Sound from the deep blue Atlantic. Once upon a time, this was a natural bridge. It was washed away in a hurricane and replaced by a concrete bridge. When we were here in 2008, that bridge had gaps and cracks and certainly didn't inspire any confidence. This year it is in fine shape - solid and firm - no gaps - and new wooden guard rails. It is still an impressive spot to visit.
Just south of the Glass Window, we made our fist beach stop at the Twin Sister's Beach, on the Sound side. We laughed as we looked for the Cow and Bull Boulders on the Atlantic side of the highway and then the parking spot " just north of a telephone pole". We had wonderful swims in the clear calm water but found few shells and few fish as we snorkled. In fact, at all the beaches we visited, we had to content ourselves with small shells and a few fish. After checking out the restaurant at Hidden Bay Beach (not open) we stopped at the Laughing Lizard Cafe for creative and tasty paninis and wraps. Next stop was Smuggler's Beach on the Atlantic side where we beachcombed but didn't swim since the undertow was much too strong, and then we were off to the Sound side again at Rainbow Beach. We found some fish here and a ray, but practically no shells - no surprise since this beach is right off a paved road and parking lot in an area of houses - pretty easy to get to!
On Thusday, we pointed south first and despite several tries to find Ten Bay Beach, we kept driving down rocky, overgrown tracks that ended at coral cliffs. We gave up and went to Tarpum Bay where we drove in the lane by Ingraham's Beach Inn. Despite being well kept and in prime location, there was not a soul around. We swam and walked here for an hour or so and then moved up to another beach access road that supposedly led to a more northern part of the same two mile long beach where there would be more shells and opportunities for snorkelling. We must not have been far enough north because it was much the same as the last stop. It was a good place for a picnic though and we munched on goodies from the Governor's Harbour Bakery. As we drove north again, we spied a road we had missed the first time and finally found Ten Bay Beach! It was lovely and we swam and played, but weren't able to find any sand dollars.
From there, we drove straight back to Twin Cove Beach just north of Governor's harbour and absolutely loved the place. It's a beautiful Atlantic side beach, with the two coves separated by a spit of land. Jim and Liam went snorkelling out along the point and made their best finds of the two days. I found some bits and pieces of sea glass, Chris found some small shells and Donna perfected her snorkelling skills. We were a happy bunch!
This was our final evening together so we cleaned ourselves up and drove to the Buccaneer Club for dinner. I think I'd recommend it more for lunch than dinner - but we enjoyed our food and had a good finale to our week with Donna and Chris. Liam will stay on with us for another few days, and we'll move on from Governor's Harbour to do some more exploring.
08/02/2011/5:25 pm, Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera
Today I offer you a good news story tinged with some embarrassment.
Liam is here! He was scheduled to arrive at Governor's Harbour Airport at 1:20, and since Alabaster Bay is right beside the airport, we decided that Donna, Chris, Jim and I would sail up there (just over 5 miles), drop the anchor, walk up the road and meet him. And that we did ... sort of.
It was a beautiful day for a sail, and although we weren't making very good time, we were enjoying the sun and breeze and sound of the water. Donna spent the trip up on the foredeck where all those things are at their very best, and to top off the experience, we had the pleasure of a dolphin's company as we pulled into the bay and looked for a good anchoring spot.
Liam had texted his father that the plane was a bit late leaving, and although we saw one fly overhead just as we were pulling in to Alabaster Bay - too early to be his, we hadn't seen another one after that. We had been chatting the day before with a group of women who told us that if there aren't a lot of people going to a particular airport, the airline will sometimes drop everybody off at another one and then deliver them by cab to their final destination.
With that thought in mind, Donna, Chris and I ducked through the short stretch of underbrush and started up the road to the airport. (Captain Jim stayed with the boat because it was rolly and we hadn't been there long enough to be sure we'd stay put). I was worried that he wouldn't arrive there. Donna was convinced he would. Pretty soon a van came toward us, slowed and the driver said, "Are you looking for the young man for the boat?" My heart sank as we all nodded and exclaimed, "Yes!" "Well, you just look straight ahead and you'll see him coming over that rise."
Sure enough, not 2 minutes later we spotted the poor young man with his pack on his back trudging along the dusty road, head down and sweat pouring off his brow. After hugs all round, and profuse apologies from me, we soon got him back to the boat, and with a beer in hand, shoes and socks and long sleeved shirt doffed, he was soon into the mood of sunshine and family and welcome. We were all together and happy, but I could not believe that for the second time in as many Bahamian visits, we had failed to meet his flight. I guess we'll have some amends to make!!
We sailed back to Governor's Harbour, and had a much harder time anchoring. We were prime entertainment for the other 3 boats as we tried FOUR times to get settled. The wind was supposed to shift as a mild front passed so we thought we'd move closer to the wharf. Dragged. We moved farther out. Dragged. Moved closer to where we had been before but not as close to shore so that if we swung, we wouldn't go aground. Dug in but the guy on the next boat came out waving his arms that we were too close to him. Moved again. Finally moved further along the shoal area, out of everybody's way and tried it one last time. Dug in. As it turned out, the wind shifted with the passing of the front today (Tuesday) but it was still so minimal that we were fine. Once settled, we went to the Sunset Restaurant for a delicious dinner.
Tuesday was a beach day as we spent the afternoon on French Leave Beach. We took a picnic lunch and thoroughly enjoyed walking, swimming, relaxing. The waves weren't as rolly as the last time so it wasn't quite as much fun to play in, but the water was still crystal clear and warm. We found it much more crowded though - there must have been a dozen people scattered over the long crescent of beautiful pinkish sand. :-)
Tonight we are all invited to the home of Chris and Donna's landlady, Theresa Burrows for a Bahamian family dinner. How about that for hospitality?
And by the way, Superbowl Sunday at Ronnie's sports bar was a blast! A tiny little bar with a mix of enthusiastic locals and tourists. We left at half time because we needed food with our beer. We'll definitely go there again though - these are good people on Cupid's Cay!
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!