22/03/2008/11:40 am, Thompson Bay, Long Island
Just as we were preparing to go ashore to see what was what in the area, a couple of dinghies pulled up at Reflection, next door. We'd been looking only at each other for several days at this point and were feeling like some broader social interaction so we headed in that direction too! There we met Marilyn and Bruce (Reflection), Tony and Pat (Sara), Mary Ellen and Joe (Dallycally?) and joined them for a few hours of exploration.
We dinghied to a fishing dock, tied up, hoisted ourselves up over the edge of the dock and started walking. First stop - Hillside Groceries - an incredibly wellstocked store - more like what we found in Marsh Harbour. Then Fox gifts - with all sorts of "department store" items - toys, linens, cosmetics, gift items and a room full of a good assortment of tools.
We turned off the main road onto the loop and stopped by Atlantic fish store where we found lobster tails for $16. a pound and a variety of kinds of snapper. Nobody was buying on this "look and see" trip because we had walking on our minds but we know where to find the place now. A long dirt track took us out to a Sound side beach - glorious colours of reef and water. On a calm day, there would be good snorkeling here but we opted to go looking for shells and seabeans. No finds to our disappointment.
Back on the main road, we stopped by the Island Breeze Resort - newly opened and serving lunch. A pretty little pool had a number of children splashing around in it, the BBQ chef was cooking up hamburgers, and the barman was handing out cold beer. My conch salad was delicious but Jim's hamburger was pretty average. The conversation was lively though and we had a good time with these new cruising friends.
We stopped at the grocery store for a few supplies, struck up a conversation with another couple at the cash register, and had just started out on the road back to the dinghy dock, when that same very kind couple stopped and offered us a lift. Life is good. How did we allow ourselves get so far away from such friendliness and helpfulness?
Back at the boat, it was a quiet evening with books and grilled chicken, yams, salad for dinner.
More following when I get my battery recharged... Easter was lovely here and we'll stay in the area for several days.
21/03/2008/11:28 am, Thompson Bay, Long Island
As you may note from the location of this posting, we didn't do what I said we were going to do a couple of postings ago. On the other hand, we kept to our larger game plan - following "wind, weather and inclination".
The wind stayed up longer than was expected, and the swells were high enough on the Sound that heading south into them was not desirable. (Five boats came in through Galliot Cut while we were there - heading north with the wind behind them but that's a different matter from pounding into the waves and wind heading south.)
So the choices were: stay put another day or two until the swells died down, go back to Little Farmers or some point north - because we were tired of staying here, go just a bit further and anchor off Cave Cay (our deeper draft does not allow us to continue down the channel past Cave and Musha Cays), or set an entirely different course to follow the Banks route all the way to Long Island. (Once again, because of our nearly 6 ft draft we didn't have many choices about going back out to the sound from the Banks)
We opted to travel on the Banks to Long Island - bypassing Lee Stocking, and Great Exuma Cays, including Georgetown. We'll pick them up later - on the way back up north or as we do some back and forth travel.
The wind was gentle on the Banks and we were pretty much alone out there. We met one catamaran coming into Galliot as we left about 10am, another as we neared Rocky point at 5pm, and another one came by while we were anchored there. We had our staysail out for most of the way and it boosted us by about half a knot, meaning that we made roughly 5 - 6 kn for most of the trip. It was pretty much like the old days of just making time - plowing our way through the water (except this was a beautiful greenish, milky water about 8 ft deep), with land barely visible on the horizon. Rocky Point - west of Barraterre on Great Exuma Cay - made a fine first night stop. The holding was good in the sand and the moon was almost full. This was one of the few places where we didn't go ashore; we just left the dinghy up and read our books in the evening. At first light on Friday morning we powered up and headed out again - on the magenta lines between Explorer Chartbook waypoints. By the time we reached areas where coral heads might lurk, the sun was high enough to see them, but we needn't have worried. Our course avoided them all.
Once again it was a day of motoring and we were straight into the wind so we didn't have a sail up at all. The plus side was that the wind died to almost nothing until midafternoon so we made pretty good time - a good thing because we needed to cover 60 some nautical miles to Indian Hole at Thompson Bay on Long Island. The alternative was to just drop the anchor along the way - probably at Comer West - overnight and take the channel in the next morning. We passed one little fishing boat, but saw not one single cruising boat over those 60 nm.
Jim and I felt quite pleased with ourselves for going off the beaten track this way. The banks are shallow anyway, and the route we took to get into Thompson Bay from Comer West to Comer Channel to Comer East carried just about our draft at low tide. Because of timing we couldn't avoid, we happened to be there at just about low tide and decided we'd give it a whirl. The worst that could happen was that we'd have to drop an anchor and sit on the sand till the tide came up.
Well - I'm happy to report a successful passage and calm nerves! We covered about 10.5 miles with anywhere from 0.5 to 1.5 ft under our keel - mostly in the 0.5 to 0.9 range - that's like - 3 or 4 inches! But no worries because it was just sand.
We dropped our anchor among about 20 others spread out over the northern part of the Bay, turned off the motor and listened to the blissful silence as we watched the sun drop over Indian Hole Point. Those sapodillas are ripening and Denzel was right - they are sweet like honey! The texture is pearlike and the taste - ambrosia. I had a chunk of gorgonzola cheese in the fridge and with some crackers - mmmmagnificent sunset feast to celebrate a long and successful day.
There is wind picking up tonight (Friday) and a good blow forecast for next week, and we will be nicely established in Thompson Bay, Long Island. Yee-haw!
19/03/2008/11:22 am, Big Galliot Cay
The wind kept blowing so we opted not to head out into the 12-foot swells in the Sound, and stayed mostly in one place these last couple of days. On Wednesday we shifted a few hundred meters northeast over to the nook between Big Farmers Cay and Little Galliot Cay in order to escape the stronger wind and bigger waves that arrived as the wind shifted further south.
We've done some odds and sods of boat jobs over the last couple of days. Jim installed the frame around the chimney (from our little baby fireplace) that will prevent our sheets (lines for the foresails) from getting caught in it, and replaced the caulking around one chainplate (place where part of the rigging attaches to the deck) that will end the leak in our nice big locker (cupboard) in the head (bathroom).
I tidied up the chaos that has taken over our salon (living/diningroom), forward cabin (bedroom) and aft cabin (spare room aka garage) of late, washed down the floors and walls to rid them of salt, scoured the fish-frying grease from the galley (3 x 6 ft kitchen) and tackled the stainless on the deck. Our stainless is holding up pretty well but it still needs regular attention to remove the rust spots that crop up.
We took regular runs ashore to walk the small beaches, pick our way across the coral on the east side and swim in the clear water. As we walked around a corner on Big Farmer's Cay late one afternoon, we spotted a herd of goats on the rocks. They were pretty shy and took off into the woods while we were still a long way down the beach. The temperature has dropped to about 24 C at night and when the sun goes behind a cloud and we're in the wind, it even feels chilly. No, no, no...I'm not complaining, honest!
Jeffrey and Nick came by in their fishing boat and asked if we wanted anything from Cave Cay where they were headed for fuel. Perfect timing as that was on our to-do list. Jim tossed them a couple of jerry cans and away they went. By the time they returned, I had a chocolate cake fresh out of the oven so they came onboard and visited. Nick filleted a grouper and left that for us in exchange for the cake, and they roared off to get the rest of their catch on a plane to Nassau.
We have appreciated getting to know these folks. Hallan Rolle (aka Little Jeff - his call sign) took Blair, Mary, Jim and me to Barraterre, and Jeffery (his son) has become our regular fish supplier. He would also be happy to take us (or anyone) out fishing. We have Jeffery's phone number, Little Jeff is easily found on VHF 16, and we would recommend them both.
I wasn't feeling all that well for a day or so - headache, general soreness and swollen lymph glands - the first bit of illness in months and months, and I was happy to take it easy. Jim had the same thing the next day so we figure we picked up a bug of some kind. We are both on the mend now.