A Berry Fine Couple of Days
16 January 2009
So, first of all, I have to redirect you to our last blog entry, Wind, Waves and Water. When I created it, I forgot to include a half page or so which talks about our getting settled in to this fine anchorage. Also, I have to acknowledge a couple of suggestions for our blog. It has been suggested that we include either our track or our Lat and Long. I will try to do these. I know there's a way to show the track, but believe it or not, we're real busy on board and don't really have much time for posting to the blog let alone improving.
Finally, we've been remiss in publishing pictures. Judy's always after me to add more pics. It's a combination of the time it takes to peel them off the camera but also the usually slow and unreliable internet connections we have. I've heard comments about cruisers who start blogs with great vigour and bit by bit let them lapse. I am encouraged by the comments of our readership to the extent that I take this responsibility seriously.
Anyway, let me catch up on our few but precious days in the Berry Islands. The Bahamas covers a huge expanse of territory with a number of distinct areas. Check it out yourself but here's a perspective; there are more than 700 islands/cays spread out over 90,000 square miles. There are various "groups" of islands; which include: The Abacos, Berrys, Exumas, Eleuthra, San Andros, Turks and Caicos, etc. The Berrys, the subject of this blog edition, extend about 60 miles. They are sort of half way between Freeport on Grand Bahama and Nassau on New Providence. They are generally not used as primary cruising grounds as cruisers like us usually favour the Abacos and/or Exumas. But, they are delightful (to the extent to which we viewed them). Our cruising coach, Mike Macdonald has recommended them and once again, his experience is spot on.
Anyway, after a quiet night anchored off Great Stirrup, we up anchor and head down the east side (the west side is primarily sand banks and not navigable) in pleasant conditions with a couple of options open to us. We go by various small islands, most of which are uninhabited. However, some are owned by the ultra rich with great "cottages" on them. We finally select a place called White Cay (25 36.5N 77 44.0 W). And what a small bit of heaven this turns out to be. We wend our way in through various islands and work up where the cruising guide tells us to anchor. Our boat buddies run aground, we turn around and anchor in reasonable depth. We spend some time trying all of the traditional approaches to get our buddies off the sand bottom but in the end, we let Mother Nature take her own time and let the tide rise enough to float them off.
We're the only two boats and are wedged between several islands with powdery soft sand beaches. We dinghy ashore and spend a superb afternoon swimming, exploring, talking, etc. There is a bit of a swell (for you land lubbers, this is the effect of ocean waves lifting and dropping the water level. It is not violent usually but can be annoying and incessant). But after such a great day we drop off to sleep and the swells become our cradle, rocking us to a deep, satisfying sleep.
Our destination today is to the south of the Berry's. Another year, we'll spend more time in the Berry's but we want to get to Nassau in advance of what may be some tumultuous weather in a few days. So we again head along the east side of the chain of islands past more owned by the uber-rich. One island is caled Bond Island and apparently is where one of the James Bond films was shot. Anyway we aim for the south western most island series called Chub Cay/Frazer's Hog cay. As we approach this area, we pass an absolutely huge private motor vessel called "ICE". Check it out on the internet. It is something like 300 feet long and six stories high. It is owned by that Russian billionaire guy who got into trouble with the government. Anyway, it's an amazing craft. I'll update this posting with a picture and website for particulars.
We opt out of Chub Cay and favour a place called Berry Island Club up a very ill-defined channel along the east side of Frazer's Hog Island (25 25.5N 77 50.2 W). We enter this long channel with a two knot current against us, which is good, 'cause we only want to crawl into here given the unmarked channel and skinny water depths. Finally we make our way to this "Club" and opt for moorings. We and our friends take two of the three moorings. There are two other boats anchored and no boats at the docks,. It is an interesting but somewhat forlorn place.
Anyway, we pick up the moorings and dinghy ashore to meet the manager/dockmaster, Herbie. He is a congenial fellow, a university graduate from a university in the US in computer technology. There is no community here, only the two or so buildings of this modest complex. Monday is supposedly his day off but when we land ashore as well as the several other anchored and now docked boats, he opens the bar and agrees to cook for us. We have a grand time. He has WiFi so picture this amalgam of cruisers, meeting each other, checking emails, chatting on Skype, checking weather. It's a strange testimonial to both the benefits as well as the shackles of modern communications technology. Anyway, once again we meet interesting and engaging people and have a great feed of Herbie's conch fritters.
Back to Sea Sharp, sated and tired......