Mike and Kathy
Thompson's Bay, Long Island
After breakfast Kathy spent most of the morning cleaning while I transferred water to our main tank. "Fine Lion" could see what I was doing and called over to have me get free water from them as opposed to pay for and then hauling water from the fuel dock. Watermakers are wonderful.
After dealing water, I headed to town for 5 gallons of diesel that will top off our tank. I picked up a couple of items at the grocery before heading back to the boat.
Around noon we packed up our snorkel equipment and went to shore with Steve, Kim, Susan and Barry. We hiked up the road to pole number 108 where we found a trail leading off through the scrub to the ocean.
Once there the ladies waked the beach while Steve and Barry looked for lobsters. The water looked a little surgy, and I had strained some muscles during the morning so I stayed ashore and watched for sharks. After an hour or so the swimmers returned without seeing anything to shoot.
We hiked back across the Island and returned to our boats around 2:30.
There are around 70 cruising boats here at this time which is a record for Thompson's Bay. With lots of room, protection from NW to SW, and good holding, it's a popular anchorage. There were about 30 boats here before the Georgetown racers arrived with about 40 more. It gives the business here a much needed shot in the arm.
We had "Fine Lion", "Night Hawk", and "Brilliant" over for snacks at 5:00 and then headed to shore about 7:00 to catch a ride to the Island Breeze. Because of all the boats there is a constant shuttle from Thompson's Bay to Salt Pond which is a distance of about 3 miles. For 5 dollars round trip, James will pick us up at the beach and haul us to the Island Breeze. There was a dance this evening featuring a local band which turned out to be great. We left about 11 when the locals were just beginning to arrive-they seem to be able to stay up later than we can.
The weather shows no sign of change. We're under the influence of a high pressure system which is keeping things cool and windy. The temperature actually dropped below 70 last night which is rare. We will probably stay here a few more days before heading back over to George Town.
Driving the Island
Mike and Kathy
Thompson's Bay, Long Island
After coffee Steve and I went ashore to return the car. I had dropped off our alternator bracket at the same place and needed to pick that up as well. The welding job looked to be excellent. Steve picked up some groceries and then one of the girls gave us a ride back to our dinghy path.
A little later I took the dinghy over to visit Craig and Kris from "Tilt" who had raced over yesterday from George Town. Craig loaned me a set of "Easy-outs" so I went back to work trying to remove the broken bolt from our engine block. After a few hours I quit after breaking the end of one of Craig's easy-outs. The diameter that I really needed already was broken.
So I removed the alternator from the system and put it away. Hopefully Abby and Jake can bring me the necessary items when they come to visit in a couple of weeks.
After getting cleaned up a little and eating a late lunch, we settled in for some reading in the cockpit. At some point a little later the manager at "Parrots" broadcast on the VHF their daily specials which included two Kaliks for $5. We got a call from "Fine Lion" a few minutes later and headed over. Steve and Kim picked up Berry and Susan and shortly after Tom and Susan from "Brilliant" and Craig and Kris showed up. Before too long four other couples motored in and the place was full. We had met everyone at some point in the past . and had a great time wasting time.
We cooked up some hamburgers for dinner and watched an episode of "House" before calling it a day.
Thompson's Bay, Long Island 2/4/09
We were up and gone this morning at 7:30 to pick up our rental van. Barry and Steve started walking to Fox's Auto but were picked up almost immediately. They were back in a few minutes and we loaded up our all of our stuff and took off.
Long Island is about 80 miles long and we had decided to focus our exploration on the southern half. There is one paved road that runs roughly north and south. Along this road every three or four miles are small settlements. Every few miles there is a dirt and rock road running either to the Ocean side or the Bank side of the Island.
Our first stop was a Blue Hole on the Atlantic side. Our directions were to turn left at a white fence with blue trim, go over the hill and turn right, and continue to bear right. It was rough and eventually ended up as a two track for about a mile, but we came out on a protected beach. In the corner of the cove surrounded by cliffs was the blue hole.
Blue holes are rather common in the Bahamas. Some of them are found on land and some on the shallow banks. Usually they are connected to the Ocean underground and have lots of fish. Dean's Blue Hole, where we were today is famous because the free-diving world record holder practices there every day. Today while the others were checking out the beach for sea-beans, Steve and I met the guy. He was leading a group of divers from Italy this morning. The hole is about 200 feet across at the top and narrows a little in the first forty feet. Then is widens and continues down for 600 feet. The temperatures are constant at 75 degrees all the way to the bottom. The better divers today were diving to the 80 - 100 meter range. The current record is something like 441 feet.
We left the Blue hole and made our way back the Queens Hwy. where we headed south looking for a road west to the remains of the Diamond Crystal Salt Company. It is a huge area just inland from the Banks where there is a 10 x 3 mile area of salt flats. Each individual area is wall off with rock to make a rectangle of about 30 acres that can flooded with salt water and then left to evaporate. The place closed down in the seventies and it looks like they just walked away. There is a tug boat now sitting high and dry next to the loading harbor that is rapidly filling in. There are also about 20 buildings.
The channels where salt water enters are crossed by precarious wooden plank bridges and all the roads are either sand or somewhat smoothed off rock. Our directions were a little vague.."take the second road across the flats to the east and find the runway." "Then on one end of the runway, find the two track that angles away."
The area is really quite isolated and we were lost by time we found the landing strip. After a few miles we were back on the Queens Hwy. looking for a place to have lunch.
During lunch we met three ladies who were really quite fun. Long Island was initially settled by Greek spongers. Most of the natives here have Greek features and these ladies looked like they could have just walked off the boat although it been something like five generations.
We spent the afternoon driving north on the Queens Hwy. and then taking side roads for a mile or two to the Ocean to check out the beaches. We picked up some supplies along the way stopping at a bakery for some bread just out of the oven, and at a Conch Salad stand along the road. We pulled into the Long Island Breeze resort to use the computer before heading back to the dirt road where we will leave the van for the night.
We walked from the road through the scrub on a rock path that led to the beach where we had left our dinghies for the day. When we got to the beach there was a party in progress. A group of about 30 boats had raced over to Thompson's Bay during the day and had filled up the anchorage. Many of them we knew so we hung around until the race leader told them to get into a circle to introduce themselves. which certainly excluded us. so we loaded the dinghies and took off.
We doctored up our conch salads a little and had them for dinner and then read for a while and listened to the Spartans finally win a game at home before bed.
Thompson's Bay, Long Island
The front that passed us today did little but cause a wind shift. It did cloud up in the afternoon and the bay got choppy as the wind shifted and left us exposed, but all in all, it was a non event.
I spent the morning working on our alternator bracket. "Sapphire" has two alternators. One provides electricity to the engine battery. The second sends electricity to our house bank of batteries. I think that I mentioned a few weeks ago that the bracket that holds the house bank alternator was loose. I wired it in place and it worked, but it was a short term fix at best.
After removing the alternator this morning, the bracket fell out. It was supposed to be bolted to the engine block with two bolts. What I found was that one of the bolts had broken off which created enough tension that the portion of the bracket with the other bolt had broken off and that a small corner of the bracket was all that was bolted to the engine. Getting that off was no problem. The issue was the broken bolt in the engine block.
Steve had a right-angle drill that would work and I had a small easy out so I went to work drilling a hole in bolt. I sprayed it with penetrating oil and got the esay-out started but as I added some pressure it broke. I drilled another hole and attempted to use the broken off easy-out but couldn't make it budge.
At this point I got cleaned up a little and took the dinghy to shore. (Which was an adventure in itself because the dinghy dock area was like a washing machine with waves coming from the west rebounding off the rocks behind) Anyway I got tied up and walked to Fox Auto where I dropped off the bracket to be welded. I also asked where I might be able to find and easy-out big enough to do the job and was told that my best bet was the only car parts store on the island 12 miles away. Since we're renting a car tomorrow, we'll make that a stop.
By the time I got back to the boat it was well passed lunch time so we had some leftovers and spent most of the afternoon reading. At about four we to took the dinghy over to a small Tiki Bar called Parrots of the Caribbean with Kim and Steve for a beer. The place wasn't actually open on Tuesdays, but the owner's brother was there talking to a Canadian family whom he'd met on his flight down. He was very pleasant and we spent a couple of hours talking with them before heading back to make some supper.