02/05/2008, Allen's Cay
[s] [d] 1/31/08 [t] Iguana Beach [l] Allen' Cay [a] Mike [b] Although I was up five or six time during the night checking things, I got caught up on sleep lost the night before. It is cloudy today and the wind is forecast to blow at about 20 knots, so we'll stay here and hopefully do some exploring.
.Maybe I should elaborate on the weather here. Since there are no radio or TV stations, all weather forecasts come from HF radio either BASRA.(Bahamas Air Search and Rescue) or from one of about three private forecasters. We listen to a guy by the name of Chris Parker who broadcasts on various frequencies each morning at different times. Due to our distance, (he's in central Florida) we dial in at 6:30 am on 4045 USB. His forecasts are primarily aimed at pleasure sailors and focus on wind directions and sea state in the area.
After his weather synopsis each morning, subscribers call in with specific questions about their location and sailing plans. He speaks with 20 to 30 boats in the hour that he has allotted for that frequency. He also has a printed report that you can subscribe to that is sent daily via email at around 10 am.
Since we are not subscribers at this point, we just listen and get very accurate information for our area. Although weather here is easier to forecast than in Michigan, the Bahamas cover an huge area which is usually divided into northern, central and southern sections for forecasting purposes. We have just crossed this imaginary boundary from the northern to the central section.
Interestingly, there is no mention on any forecast here about cloud cover or temperature, rather, the discussion centers on ridges, troughs, fronts and their accompanying high and low pressure systems. (the probability of squalls is mentioned) It is expected that we understand enough about weather to fill in the gaps for ourselves.
If you are planning this trip or something similar, don't leave without some knowledge about how weather works. Call Ellie if need be, her students would be fine here. Or take the class like Carol did a couple of years ago..
By the way, the assumption here is that it is going to be sunny and warm unless the weather screws it up.
Enough about weather. in about 30 minutes, (I'm writing this entry prior to the day as opposed to after, ) we will listen to The Cruiseheimers Net on the SSB. Cruiseheimers is a very loosely knit grope of sailors who bounce around on the east coast and the Bahamas. The Net begins at 8:30 each day with a call for medical or emergency traffic; then announcements and information and finally check-in. The only real importance of this net is to figure out where people happen to be at any given time. In our travels this year we have met about half to three quarters of the folks who make up this group. So for instance, we know from Cruiseheimers that a friend of ours on Valkyrie has been in Miami but today we heard him talk to Chris Parker about crossing to Nassau on Saturday. From that we can conclude that he is about three or four days behind us, and that if we stall he'll probably catch up. Anyway, it is a convenient way to keep track of some of the people that we've met.
Later....Allen's Cay is one of the few remaining places in the Bahamas where there are iguanas on the beach. We watched them from our boat and in the afternoon dinghied over for closer inspection. There were about 12 on the sand when we pulled ashore. A couple of the smaller ones (1.5 feet) came over to see if we had any handouts and the larger ones just watched us approach. We took a few photos and were off for another beach. where there was one that appeared to be almost 4 feet in length. There were three dinghies pulled up there so we didn't bother stopping. Back at the boat I picked up my diving gear and went around to the leeward side of the island to try to find a lobster. I tied the painter to my waist and dragged the inflatable as I snorkeled. Lots of fish and coral, but there we no lobsters in sight.
Egg Island to Allen's Cay
02/05/2008, Allen's Cay
[s] [d] 1/30/08 [t] Egg Island to Allen's Cay [l] Allen's Cay [a] Mike [b] We motored out to Egg Island just before dark to stage for our trip south today. The forecast was for winds out of the south at 5 but we rolled around all night with winds at 15. Neither of us got much sleep.maybe a couple of hours. At 6:30 we listened to the weather and then set out for the Exumas.
We started out with quite a bit of wind and put up a sail, but after passing through Fleeming Channel into the Bahama Banks, our wind died out and we drove on the flat, blue-green clear water. Today was our first experience of having one of us on the bow most of the time looking for coral heads (large patches of coral under the surface of the water). We arrived and got anchored safely. Allen's Cay is actually a group of cays that are home to lots of iguanas. Fast power boats from Nassau make this a destination for tourists. They show up about twice a day for 20 minutes or so.
Trip to Harbour Island
02/03/2008, Spanish Wells, Bahamas
[s] [d] 1/29/08 [t] Trip to Harbour Island [a] Mike [b] Jan. 29 Harbour Island
We arrived at Pinders taxi at 9:20 for our boat ride to Harbour Island and its famous pink sand beaches. The six of us.Cygnus, Sapphire, and Madcap were joined by an elderly couple who were on their way home to Philadelphia. We left the dock and were a little surprised when Calvin headed to shore on Eleuthera, which was about a mile away. We docked there and were ask to wait until the van could be brought around. The eight of us boarded the van and headed across the northern end of Eleuthera. As we drove along (on the wrong side of the road) through the island . I was shocked. There was nothing there. except what is called "scrub", wall to wall vegetation about 10 feet tall. After about five miles we were dropped off at dock on the east side of Eluethera for another boat ride of about 2 miles to Harbour Island. [s] [d] 1/29/08 [t] Trip to Harbout Island [a] Mike [b]Jan. 29 Harbour Island
We arrived at Pinders taxi at 9:20 for our boat ride to Harbour Island and its famous pink sand beaches. The six of us.Cygnus, Sapphire, and Madcap were joined by an elderly couple who were on their way home to Philadelphia. We left the dock and were a little surprised when Calvin headed to shore on Eleuthera, which was about a mile away. We docked there and were ask to wait until the van could be brought around. The eight of us boarded the van and headed across the northern end of Eleuthera. As we drove along (on the wrong side of the road) through the island . I was shocked. There was nothing there. except what is called "scrub", wall to wall vegetation about 10 feet tall. After about five miles we were dropped off at dock on the east side of Eluethera for another boat ride of about 2 miles to Harbour Island.
Finally, we were there.
There were golf cart hawkers on the dock but walking is important to sedentary boaters. Beth and Kathy went into the first store and picked up a map of the island. It was only five blocks wide . west to east , so we took off for the famous pink beaches.
Traffic was brisk. again golf carts reign, but there was a good showing of cars and trucks.. the most interesting was a 1950's vintage Morris. I had never seen one but they look a lot like a VW Beetle. On our way to the beach we passed the school which was winding up an assembly in the court yard area. Some students stood on the porches outside their classrooms to watch and some had carried their chairs out and put them in neat, orderly rows. The young ones (kindergarten) marched back to their classrooms with their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. The older kids were admonished by their teachers to carry their chairs back to the classroom. he setting was wrong, but the scene was not.
Over the hill, and by the way there are chickens running around everywhere here, we found the beach. Three miles of absolutely amazing sand and water. We walked south until we ran out of sand and turned around to check out the other end. Having had our exercise for the day we headed into town to find lunch and do a little shopping.
We went off searching for Wally's Pub, only to find it had been turned into a private home. We finally landed at the Harbour Lounge and sat on the porch overlooking the water. Mike had conch salad and I had a Caribbean salad that was fantastic. Mixed greens with fresh papaya, apple, and pear covered with chopped pecans and passion fruit dressing. Yummm. After lunch Mike and Jim went off to make some phone calls-one to Pinder's to tell them when we'd be heading back. The rest of us checked out the straw markets and some of the shops. We saw some nice dresses for a few hundred dollars, which we passed up. I bought a Snorkeling Guide to Marine Life. Then it was back to the taxis-water, land, water. This time we were picked up by Gurny Pinder who gave us quite a history about farming in the area. Some of the "scrub" we were driving through used to be mango groves until a hurricane (Andrew? Floyd?) flooded the islands and killed all the trees. It is too expensive to replace them, so the farms are let go.
We got back to the boat and got ready to head for Egg Island where we planned to spend the night and be ready to leave for the Exumas, the next chain of islands south, tomorrow morning.