10/03/2008/10:31 pm, Staniel Cay
We watched the giant ship, Mystique, pull out of Sampson's Cay as we drank our morning coffee. Despite its huge superstructure, it apparently draws only 4 feet, and with its powerful engines and thrusters, it turned on a dime. We spotted the owner down on the lower deck and a female passenger watching from an upper deck, and at least 7 crewmembers releasing lines and scurrying about. The captain was high above at the controls. Yesterday the crew wore white golf shirts and navy shorts and spent a lot of time polishing stainless and cleaning windows. Today, under grey skies, they sported navy shirts and khaki pants as they attended to the business of departure. This is the shakedown voyage for the ship - according to the gossip we collected on the dock; the owner has had it for only a few weeks and is taking a little trip around (480 gallons of fuel an hour - no sails) before it goes back to the states to be totally renovated inside.
Now Jim and I try quite hard really to be non judgmental, but it seems almost incomprehensible that this giant ship - 164 feet long - is for the use of two people and needs to be gutted and redecorated. Does it "need" that overhaul, or will hundreds of thousands of dollars be spent just to reflect the tastes of new owners? We had a few other words come to mind as we contemplated the dollars and materials and the size of the footprint, but suffice it to say ... it is hard for us to understand how so much money could be spent on a boat.
We have met cruisers who are out here exploring the Bahamas with very little money and on boats without all the bells and whistles - some of them only 27 - 30 feet in length. Our suspicion is that they are just as happy and having just as good a time.
After lovely eight minute showers (token - $4.00) we pulled up our anchor and headed back to Staniel Cay. The parts Jim ordered to fix our head (toilet) were delivered to the Yacht Club by Watermakers Air so he has his next little job lined up. The problem seems to be that the hand pump has lost its prime. Maybe a leak in the seal? We hope it is a straightforward fix.
It felt almost like coming home as we pulled into our customary anchorage just in front of the yacht club. We dinghied ashore to make a couple of phone calls and met up with several cruisers we've seen in other places. I took a walk down the road past "our" cottage - Atlantica - and up to Brenda's house where I bought a loaf of cinnamon-raisin bread. Her hand lettered sign, "Bread" rests on a lawn chair outside her door whenever she has been baking, and we have enjoyed many loaves from her oven. I stopped to chat a bit with her and with Rhonda, the woman who was so kind to us all, and particularly to Margaret when she visited here with Pat and Sean. Rhonda was a great connection for Marg when the rest of us went off on the boat to the park for a couple of days.
I strolled on up the hill to the Pink Pearl Store to visit with Miss Flo and to pick out one of her baskets to bring back to the boat. She and her daughters plait the local fronds of grass into mats and baskets. Most of them are flat but I like the round coils, done with a needle. Some are made from sisal, some from silver top. Last week, I watched some women in Black Point sit in the shade, plaiting (pronounced platting) the long ribbons of grass that are then sent off to Nassau and made into baskets, placemats, floor mats, and lots of other creations
There was something very satisfying about being able to walk from dock to house to store, saying a farewell to people we've gotten to know, however briefly, in the time we have been visiting in this area. A few roosters wandered around yards; people waved from porches; laughter rolled along the dock from the fellows who work at the yacht club. It seemed a far cry from the conspicuous consumption we had seen earlier in the day. I know which I like better. As I left, Flo told me I have a good husband, and when I reported that comment back to Jim, he thought she was very perceptive!
There aren't very many boats here tonight - just three of us in our usual spot at the edge of the channel, and another 3 or 4 in closer to the shoreline. We spotted some masts over near Club Thunderball, and counted about 20 boats in Big Majors Spot as we came by.
It is amazingly still tonight - no wind to speak of at all - a marked difference from the last 2 or 3 days when the wind has hardly dropped below 15 knots, and although it's been overcast much of the day, there have been only a few sprinkles of rain.
The darned old generator is working away on the foredeck and I'm trying to stop resenting it and be grateful that it does some good for our sluggish batteries. That problem is still hanging over our heads - how is it that they lose their charge so rapidly? We have no freezer, no water maker, no air-conditioning, the fridge is on the lowest possible setting, we are using LED battery powered lanterns now instead of our mast top anchor light at night and we plug in the computers only when the engine is on or the generator is running. How can energy be such a huge issue???
We'll meet up with Strathspey here in the morning before going to Black Point for a day or so.
09/03/2008/5:15 pm, Sampson's Cay
Oh what a difference a few degrees of latitude makes. Our friends were supposed to fly out of Ottawa on Saturday and join us in Staniel Cay on Sunday. Because of the huge storm (bringing Ottawa's total up to well over 300 cm this winter) they are still there and we are in Sampson's Cay. We're keeping our fingers crossed that they can get here in a day or two.
When we left White Point, the plan was to go straight to Staniel Cay, but we were getting low on both diesel and gas and the Marina announced on VHF radio that they were out and wouldn't have more until sometime next week. So - we decided to go a bit further north to Sampson's Cay where they still had a supply. The rumour we heard was that the fuel boat ran aground - don't know if that is the truth or not. When we got here, there were 3 huge boats tied up and the gas was pouring into one of them. Jim was worried that there might not be enough left for our little jerry cans but they had a good supply.
Sampson's Cay has a stunning little marina. Great long fuel dock and room for boats well over one hundred feet in the first bay, and then more docks are through a little channel and around the corner. The store is small but well stocked and the restaurant serves economically priced breakfast and lunch, and elegant and pricey dinners at night. We anchored in the bay - 3 times in 3 places (because of tide and swinging with wind shifts) and have been happy to be here.
The marina charges $2.25 per foot per night. The anchorage is free. A mega ship is tied up at the dock - 164 feet long, 3 stories high, staff of 7 or 8. We heard that it burns about 480 gallons of fuel per hour. We burn half a gallon - if the engine is on. We are both here in the same bay with the same view; same services available to us. Pretty nice!!
We ate a company dinner without the company - curried lobster over rice with one of our new bottles of white wine. Absolutely delicious! See the book, "Embarrassment of Mangos" for the recipe. (I have tried many of Ann Vanderhoof's recipes from that book and have liked them all - good narrative too!)
About the multiple anchorings: the tidal drop in the corner we chose was more than we figured so at low tide we started to bounce off the sand. We moved. During the evening, the wind clocked around exactly as had been predicted and we swung in a wide arc. We had dropped the hook quite far off the shoreline to keep our stern clear of the rocks, which meant that with 90 feet of chain out, we ended up more than180 feet across the bay and with the stern facing the docks, after the wind shifted from S to N. In order to clear the channel we up anchored and moved again just after dawn. Good thing we were the only boat here! The wind is supposed to stay NNE tonight so we shouldn't have any trouble with the 2 boats that have joined us today.
Jim and I took a lovely walk this morning - in and out through beautifully groomed paths and along the shoreline. We chatted with Sue and Ole (Southern Toy) - and that man is a born storyteller! and Ann (Aurora) and enjoyed Eggs Benedict in the restaurant. The afternoon was for working - Jim installed the new starting battery and hallelujah! It worked. Now we'll see if it holds the charge any better than the old one. I sat myself down to do some serious updating of the website.
A note about that website - I'll try to get information up more often. Jim's computer has a little malfunction and he can't connect with winlink to update our position reports. Neither can he receive any e-mails at the winlink address. If you've been wondering why he has not replied to any you've sent there and if you've been wondering why it doesn't look like we've moved, that's the explanation.
Marg Stubington in Ottawa took the pic above. Thanks, Marg U. for sending it! We picked a good year to be away.
We decided to stay here again tonight since the wind is still strong and we really like this little bay. We're off to Staniel Cay in the morning to pick up the replacement parts for our head (aka toilet) that were flown in by Watermakers Air. With any luck we'll also pick up our guests soon too! Fingers crossed!! More lobster waiting!
08/03/2008/5:12 pm, White Point, Great Guana Cay
After a "see you soon" farewell to Strathspey as they left for points north, and to Little Farmers Cay, we headed north ourselves on Friday. We had spotted some sweet anchorages on the way down along Great Guana Cay and decided to pull into the little bay just north of White Point. The wind was blowing at close to 20 from the S and we wondered if it might provide a bit of protection. Not so!
Madcap was the only boat there till just before dark, and we had a fine time picnicking and walking, swimming and snorkeling the little coral head near the boat. It was a gorgeous beach, and by climbing over the big dune we could walk the south side of the point too. A huge osprey's nest occupies an outcropping of rock and one of the birds kept up a steady stream of whistling at us whenever we ventured anywhere near that direction. Palm trees, flat rocks, a gently sloping beach made it a perfect place to wile away some hours.
Finding the little coral head was interesting; here it was - all by itself - about 12 feet in diameter - surrounded by sand - and teeming with life: Nassau groupers (a big one and some small ones), grunts, huge angelfish, squirrelfish and a host of others.
It was a remarkable experience to have these long, beautiful beaches completely to ourselves. Palm trees dotted the horizon, iguana tracks traced through the sand, the ospreys called ...and that was all.
On land and in the water, the setting was absolutely perfect. On the boat it was a different matter. We each spilled anything that we weren't hanging onto even with nonskid placemats. Neither of us had enough hands to hold plate and glass and knife and fork all at the same time! The gimbaled stove flew back and forth as I tried to make dinner and hang onto knives and bowls at the same time.
Sleep was scarce but at least we didn't drag anywhere, and there was enough light to see our way when we left the next morning. We'll pick a calmer night next time.