06/14/2012, Little San Salvador
Note: I've put more photos in.
New Bight had less "stuff" ashore than we'd hoped or expected. Specifically, only one store (someone else had a bakery in her house, but when we came by there was a baby screaming who obviously was going to need attention -- also it was very, very hot and the wind had died, and it was going to rain soon, so we couldn't dawdle) and a lot of ruined or semi-ruined buildings that sometimes people were living in and sometimes no one was.
The store/gas station is in a beautiful building with stone walls and high wooden roof, like the inside of a ship. Pretty. We stood under the fan part of the time to try to dry some of the sweat, and got sugar and flour and eggs and so forth. The lady running the store was very nice, it's just that in general at New Bight there was not much: no other boats, no local boats, no bar or restaurant near the water; it was like the town was turning its back on the beautiful water, lifting its eyes unto the hills where Father Jerome built his Hermitage.
It was too late to hike up the mountain/hill when we got to New Bight and too wet to do it the next morning, so rather than stay another day, we headed to Little San Salvador, which was purchased by the Holland America cruise line in December, 1996, and which is for the exclusive use of cruise ship passengers whenever a cruise ship is in port (they anchor out and use tenders to get to the theme-park-looking shore buildings and beaches).
The Carnival Destiny was there when we arrived, but pulled out at 6 pm, and we anchored away from the cruise ship end of the bay -- yes, that building is made to look like an old pirate ship.
Derek was fishing on the way over. First he got a good strike, and was reeling the fish in, looked like about a 3' jack, jumped a bit, then suddenly about 30' from the boat it went deep with a hard pull... and then the reeling in got easier, although it was obvious that there was still something on the line... and then Derek pulled in his fish:
06/13/2012, New Bight anchorage, Cat Island, Bahamas
Left Hawk's Nest marina for New Bight, we are in an anchorage at the base of the "highest mountain in the Bahamas" which is not all that high, but it has a nice little monastery called The Hermitage atop it. The anchorage and settlement are very peaceful and very empty...
Grant dipping his feet in the water at the end of the New Bight government dock. Parallax in distance.
The settlement at New Bight has a fuel station and a grocery store (all in one), so we replenished sugar and flour and eggs and the enormous local onions.
seriously large onions
Heading to Little San Salvador island tomorrow, which is off the coast of Cat and plays host to cruise ships.
More pictures on this and prior posts when I can.
06/11/2012, Hawk's Nest Marina, Cat Island, Bahamas
We left Gro with a blast from the conch horn as we motored from Rum Cay on Saturday morning. Rum Cay's power station had gone down for a couple of hours for maintenance, without telling anyone, leaving us without internet very suddenly -- otherwise, you'd have heard from us sooner!
Bobby Little would like to sell his marina on Rum Cay -- he'd like to spend more time with his sculpture, which is doing well, by the way Bobby Little's Coral Stone Art Site, with sculptures such as this adorable fellow:
...and less time repairing the excavator so that he can spend hours in a metal box in the tropical sun digging the shifting sands out of the channel. It's a GLORIOUS location, if anyone is in the mood to run a marina in a fishing paradise.
We had a motoring run to Conception Island, which is a Bahamian park and therefore off-limits to fishing. We anchored at the West Bay anchorage, near the north end of the island:
West Bay anchorage, Conception Island
There we snorkeled on Saturday and Sunday, seeing some fish types we had not previously encountered on this trip, and swimming with a reef shark. Pictures when I can get the bandwidth to put them up! 12 Days Later... OK, some pics are up.
Saturday, we snorkeled around the coral heads just south of the little cay with its own pristine beach at the north end of the anchorage. There I saw my first pair of Midnight Parrot Fish -- how lovely!
Sunday, we visited the coral at the southern end of this anchorage, pulling our dinghy up on the beach and swimming outward and south from there. There were a lot of fish, schools of jacks hanging out with chubs and such...
Are they following the chub, or chasing it off?
Guess it was a chase, since they moved off without him...
Then we encountered a small blacktip reef shark, only about 3 feet long. Derek had encountered a blacktip at Rum that was 7' long, so none of us were too worried about Junior, we just gave him a little space while he cruised:
Junior, the smaller blacktip reef shark
He had company from some smaller fish...
Guess they weren't worried about being eaten
We stayed at Conception two days (Sat, Sun). It is no internet, no phone, no services, no one ashore except the tropic birds and the brown noddies. We were joined by three large power yachts for Saturday night -- with crews, of course. More about the snorkeling (where to go) when I can upload images. OK, the images are uploaded... go to the south end of the anchorage. The north end does have some fish at the coral, but the coral health is not very good there. Much better, and more fish, and more depth variety, heading south from the beach just north of the coral patch and swimming outward in a semicircle along the edge of the coral toward the dropoff to south. Go when it's sunny, it's kind of spooky when overcast.
Sunday included some "interesting" weather, a waterspout that ran iout of power only when it hit the island to windward of us, but also a lot of sunshine later in the day, and great snorkeling.
waterspout recently formed... see the little jag downward to the left?
This morning we left, after a boisterous night with many rain showers, running the two engines and flying the jib, at about 7 kts, on a broad reach for Cat Island.
Hawk's Nest Marina is not large. They have limited availability for 30 Amp power (the kind we use), so we actually had to beg a splitter from one of the larger power yachts that uses 30A on their tender -- wow! M/V Huey's Island, you saved our day when the marina did not care to!
Hawk's Nest Marina and Resort
Dinner tonight at the clubhouse by the airstrip -- cheeseburgers in paradise... more later.
TUESDAY update: staying an extra day while the wind blows itself out a bit. Then Wednesday on to New Bight, where we hope to be able to get better internet connectivity.
06/05/2012, Rum Cay, Bahamas
Bobby Little, sculptor and marina owner/excavator/pilot/surfer/fisherman/chef
Arrived Rum Cay, Sumner Point Marina, yesterday, glad to see this beautiful place again and see Bobby Little again, and JJ (who was just a young boy last time we were here!), and catch up on the doings at Rum Cay. Bobby today looks pretty much as he does in this 2007 photo (from his website, cropped so you know which one he is!).
More on all of that later... we have been to a potluck dinner, snorkeling on the reefs twice, and I got to make contact with my two summer-semester classes both yesterday and today because the marina has Wifi. That's a Good Thing.
Today's snorkeling trip was so much fun because we saw one of the giant Rum Cay lobsters, about 3' long and thick. They have gorgeous designs on their carapaces. I'll post pictures tomorrow if I can get enough bandwidth to upload them. 12 Days Later!!! Augh, I have the lobster pics uploaded, but in none of them did I include Derek or Grant for scale. The silly thing could have been 6" long from what you can tell, but Rum Cay really has large lobsters. It was about 3' long, with a thickness similar to your thigh, and about 15' below me when I shot this picture:
However, you can see for yourself that the lobsters around here are large from this shot taken by the owners of the marina of an in-season "lobster night" in preparation at the marina's restaurant:
When we went up to the potluck, we heard splashing in the water at the end of the dock where the sport fishermen clean their catch upon returning. It was shark fins breaking the water. Although the light was starting to fail, I was able to get this picture of the sharks milling about beside the dock:
Fins to the left! Fins to the right!!!"
06/03/2012, Calabash Bay,Cape Sta. Maria, Long Is.,Bahamas
Arrived and anchored in Calabash Bay on Long Island, splitting the trip to Rum Cay over two days to avoid arriving at dusk. We'd planned on being out this morning at 6AM but rain was pouring at that time, so we left after it stopped, at eight. Very glad to have a little non-rainy breeze to cool us off now! Derek swam the anchor and we'll all swim and go ashore later. Ham sandwiches for lunch... too hot to cook.
Evening: Had another Happy Hour at the Caper Santa Maria Resort bar, with pina coladas on sale and complementary conch fritters (yummy ones). Grant had a VPC while Derek and I just had the PCs. Great to see the people again, too: Benazir and her fiance are making a trip into Nassau to get materials for their house construction very soon now!
Next morning: left for Rum Cay.
06/02/2012, Kidd's Cove, Elizabeth Harbour, George Town, Exumas, Bahamas
Hot, hot hot today as we left the blessed coolness of the Emerald Bay Marina's clubhouse and (air-conditioned) laundry for 90F/80% humidity/little wind, down to George Town riding two engines and the jib.
At least the sun is back, which is awfully nice after all the overcast days! The beaches at the northern end of Elizabeth Harbour, especially the ones on Stocking Island, are very alluring when it's sunny...
Wanted to jump into the water to cool off!
We did provisioning and banking and filled the phone card and got fuel and water, all of the things we had to do in preparation for a less-traveled island next. Our marina-neighbors on Ouf, a lovely French couple heading back to Paris, donated the last of their dinghy fuel to our endeavor, as their boat will be stored at the marina for hurricane season, with a reliable man to maintain it.
We took Grant over to the Grande Isle Resort for lunch one of the days we were at Emerald Bay.
Our table at "Pallappa" bar and grill at Grande Isle Resort
On the walk back, I noticed that his legs are getting longer again... it's like he grows in one area at a time, or the limbs stretch out first and then the torso catches up later...
To stay cool in the hot and windless weather, we have been working in the clubhouse, which has free ice water and coffee, tea, cocoa, etc. Here's my workspace for that duration:
And here's Grant's workspace for schoolwork (he gets the corner office):
Notice the milk crate with all the school materials? There are so many books that it gets heavy. So Grant wheeled the crate back and forth from the boat using a dock cart. Which was OK until the last day...
those finger piers are a little narrow for the dock carts
Derek and Grant rescued the books from the clear waters of Emerald Bay as quickly as they could, but the books got wet on their outer edges (and one book of poetry, very absorbent literature, was utterly ruined). We folded paper towels between the pages and left them all in the clubhouse (lower humidity and cooler) the first night, then yesterday we spread them out in the sun on the foredeck to dry:
We will spread them out again when we get to Rum Cay, assuming it's as sunny as it was today. They really need to be well-dried or they could mold.
We are planning on visiting Rum Cay, which is somewhat isolated as Bahamian islands go. It's normally the jumping-off place for the trip to the Turks & Caicos. For us, it will be a revisiting and a jumping-off place for the trip to Conception Island and Cat Island and Eleuthera (the trip back slowly north). The marina there is one we stayed at when it was still very new and under development, and the same husband and wife are still owner/managers there; it will be wonderful to see them again, and to see Rum Cay again, we remember the astonishing beauty of this island from last time.
05/31/2012, Emerald Bay Marina, Great Exuma, Bahamas
The marina at Emerald Bay
We came up from George Town to Emerald Bay on Sunday to get access to free laundry and free wifi and good showers because of my continued bad reaction to the noseeum bites from Long Island -- the hot and swollen perimeter of the outbreak (delayed-type hypersensitivity) was still spreading, even with the steroid cream they had given me for it at the George Town clinic (on Thursday they gave me the cream and an intramuscular cortisone shot, and the injection site then developed its own hot, red, puffy appearance -- ugh!), so on Tuesday I finally saw a doctor at the Steventon clinic (near Emerald Bay). We went to oral prednisone: that was two days ago, and the rash has (finally!) stopped spreading, and seems to be starting to heal. The daily showers and cool air in the clubhouse are helping to keep the inflammation/itching down, and help the cream to work, and I have been able to prepare my next online class (class starts Monday, June 4th) so thoroughly that I was assigned a second section! Weirdly, the second section is supposed to be "duped" from my first section but it may not actually be done until Saturday -- which doesn't give me much time to get it operating before the students get access at midnight on Sunday night.
One of the staff here, Glenroy by name, is amazingly efficient -- we have been trying to get a propane fill since we arrived (four days), we had actually run out of propane and were going to have to leave the marina in search of a fill, and no one else on the staff had been able to secure the cooperation of the propane fill guy who normally drives his truck out here for fills -- Glenroy got him on the phone this morning and managed to convince him to come within 20 minutes. Glenroy is a great asset to the marina at Emerald Bay!
05/26/2012, Elizabeth Harbour, George Town, Exumas, Bahamas
Just got this dandy emailed photo of sunnier days in Calabash Bay, taken by Gina as she and Bruce headed to Conception Island Park on S/V Dreamcatcher (remember the photo in the Calabash Bay post? That was Gina, who had just taken this shot of us! :-). I have placed Dreamcatcher's blog link in the right-side favorites bar on this page...
It's been alternating rain and periods of dead calm for the last two days -- and when it's dead calm it's also hot and humid, and then the noseeums make the long flight out to the boats to feast on the flesh of the living... not sure what they eat the rest of the time. I am supposed to avoid getting bitten by them any more, since my arm has a dreadful rash from the last noseeum attack (Stella Maris, two weeks ago).
Today we left the sheltered area between the St. Francis and Volleyball Beach and headed across to Kidd's Cove anchorage to provision; we have a lot of laundry to do, and the holiday weekend coming means there will be no laundry available here until Tuesday. That and it's very expensive doing larger loads here, so it makes more sense to take the whole show up to Emerald Bay, where there's free laundry, excellent showers, free wifi (here in George Town we generally have to pay if we want reliable wifi service on the boat), and a nice clubhouse with endless coffee/tea/cocoa. There's also SE 15 predicted for tomorrow, which will mean we can sail it, a nice plus. All those features at Emerald Bay add up, so it's more than worth the dockage of $1/ft/nt on the "no-service" dock. Stocked up on water and food at Exuma Market, sucked the bank account down a bit because after Emerald Bay we are headed to Cat Island, and many of the islands are short on banks but operate on a cash basis, so it's best to have some.
OK, that's the update for now. You don't need more pictures of George Town, do you? :-)