06/23/2012, Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera, Bahamas
Raised anchor after 10 am for the relatively short day to Governor's Harbour. Called La'Tisha and Pascal to say we were heading out (we had also told them yesterday at the Fish Fry, more about that yummy event later :-) We are going to miss them, and their wonderful kids JMia, Cirena, PJ, Brent and Kailen (sorry if I am spelling any of these badly!) They truly made Rock Sound the greatest place to visit! Here are a few more pictures of Pascal's and the Fish Fry last Friday:
Pascal's dining area - "outdoors" but covered
TJ's one man band plays music for the Fish Fry at Pascal's
Pascal and his very fresh conch for salad
This moth was bigger than some of the hummingbirds we've seen here!
Once it got dark, a lot more local people showed up to the Fish Fry, as well as another party of tourists having dinner, so I think it went OK, even though it kept LaTisha and Pascal working pretty late! The conch salad was as delicious as could be, the grilled/smoked whole red snapper delectable, the roasted potatoes simple and very yummy. Truly, we were sorry to have to move on from Rock Sound...
Governor's Harbour (GH) has restaurants, stores, a big library (2nd largest in the Bahamas) and is next to the Governor's Harbour (GHB) international airport -- which is the point. We need to get mail from our mail drop in the States. BahamasAir is the local FedEx representative, and they are based at GHB. They also have a newish breakwater that really makes the southern half of the anchorage much better protected than it used to be. Just look at this cool jetty:
jetty breakwater at Governor's Harbour mouth
As you can see, from where we are moored, it cuts out about 33% of the possible exposure angles (SW-W), so only NW would be uncomfortable in this location:
harbor opening from our location - jetty doing a lot of protecting!
So we called up BahamasAir at GHB to make sure that was OK. They said yes, they would hold our package and we'd have to pick it up at GHB at the BahamasAir desk.
Aerial view of Governor's Harbour, Eleuthera
You can see three little dots in the harbor that are boats in this picture. We are in the same position as the westernmost of the three dots, in the cradle of the curved cay, on a mooring, right beside the AnTiki raft that Anthony Smith, 86, sailed from the Canary Islands to Eleuthera by way of St Maarten. It's a fun-looking craft, basically a metal garden shed affixed to large sealed gas pipes made into a raft, with crossed telephone poles to act as mast and yard (square rigged). Lovely painted eyes on the bows. Pictures to follow, as usual, but here's one:
An-Tiki, the gas pipe raft that Anthony sailed across the Atlantic
Anthony himself seems to be somewhere else. But despite the exotic neighbor, we are just hanging out here, waiting for our mail. Tracking the package, it was shipped on the 20th and arrived in Nassau the same day. It cleared customs and was released for delivery on the 21st. You'd think it would be here by now.
Some of our mail package is a power supply replacement for Grant's computer, some is a replacement for Grant's Kindle. That has a monetary value, so we have to pay import duty. No problem, right?
Um, well... the Nassau FedEx office tried to call us and didn't connect on the first try, so they marked the package as "not scheduled for delivery." I called them back Friday morning when I noticed the missed call, but the number automatically goes to the call center 1000 miles away in in El Salvador. They tried (via in-system message) to get the Nassau office to release the hold and deliver the package, but instead this morning on tracking it was marked "hold for pickup in Nassau." So I called again this morning. The lady sent another message. And she said nobody will see the messages from the call center until Monday.
We should have used DHL! It's an option for international package express, while in the US, DHL is only allowed to do business deliveries and international, not domestic (protectionism for UPS and FedEx).
FedEx charged us over $150 to ship that 5-pound package to us, but they did not ship it to us, they shipped it to an island 50 miles away from the one we are on, and now it looks like they are going to make us travel 50 nautical miles or more -- across a bank full of coral heads (we were not planning on going in that direction) to New Providence Island (that's Nassau's island) -- to pick the silly thing up. When their "agent," BahamasAir, runs two flights a day into an airport just 8 miles from us.
This is just a broken way of doing business.
UPDATE Tuesday: We called back Monday afternoon, finally got someone in Nassau, were able to pay the duty by credit card, and they shipped it to us on BahamasAir's Tuesday morning flight to GHB.
06/21/2012, Rock Sound, Eleuthera, Bahamas
"Well, at least it's not raining," quoth Derek, who has been alternately working his way through a physics book so thick it has its own gravitational field and a thin, elegant Latin primer.
Over the last few days, the rain has been on and off -- Tuesday mostly on, Wednesday mostly off but still cloudy and breezy, today on again. It's that trough I mentioned, it's stalled over our section of the Bahamas and we're doing the usual boater-ly thing and waiting it out.
On the way over here to Rock Sound, I finally finished that little fruit basket I've been weaving out of silvertop palm fronds:
silvertop palm small basket, Heather's first
Otherwise, despite the "frass" (small bits of palm frond that get all over when you do basketry), it would have been a good rainy-day project.
Our new friends at Pascal's were very welcoming, and we have been trying to come up with ways to be helpful to them, as they have been so helpful to us!
I got out my Sailrite sewing machine and brought it over there on Tuesday (after the rain ended), and used some of the moons-and-stars material I had brought along to make a little sundress for La'Tisha's youngest daughter, the precocious and charming Cirena, and a "wrap-style" skirt for her oldest daughter, the quiet and lovely Ja'Maya (any misspellings are due to my faulty memory and/or not having seen the name spelled out). Those were both finished Tuesday (except for final hemming, we just left the selvage edge at the bottom of both pieces, as it was identical to the fabric and provides a bottom edge that will not ravel no matter whether it's hemmed high or let out all the way). La'Tisha will finish the hemming herself as needed.
I left the machine at the restaurant and came back yesterday to work on a bar apron for La'Tisha. I had bought some wildly tropical print remnant with parrots and toucans and jungly bits and sunsets, intending to use it to make one of those cylinders you hang up to take rolled-up grocery plastic bags, in order to recycle them as small trash bags. Hadn't done that yet, and can always do it some other time -- and there was just enough to make a full-sized apron for La'Tisha, once she provided, for the waist tie, a black stretchy neoprene belt she had that had stretched out from its original use. We had only a very small scrap of material left over, sufficient to use for perhaps one pocket, but with the designer name and pattern number on the selvage edge! Convenient if a'Tisha wants to expand on coordinating items. Here's the finished apron, modeled by the lovely Derek:
Derek modeling the Tropical Bar Apron since LaTisha was busy with customers at the time -- Grant suggested Derek needed a hibiscus blossom behind the ear for best accesorizing!
I darted the apron since LaTisha is definitely a girl, and managed to get enough material left over from the bib top to make self-ties for the neck (the waist, as previously noted, is black stretch fabric with neoprene backing and velcro closure, from a previous belt of LaTisha's). The coolest part was seeing that I could match the toucan body on the bottom with a toucan head that continues the bottom panel's theme (the cloth was side-by-side rather than lengthwise), and use the remainder of the trimmed-off section of that second panel for the ties, matching the color-theme of the design on the bib at right and left shoulders with the bottom end of the respective tie (even though the design on the tie is sideways to the design on the bib). So, molten orange is with molten orange and grassy fronds are with grassy fronds. I liked the way that worked out!
No sooner had I finished that apron than -- zing! Pascal tagged us back with a wonderful supper of pan-fried whole red snapper (marinated since the night before in lemon juice, salt and pepper by La'Tisha), roasted potatoes in a light, creamy sauce, and fresh (dressed) salad with all kinds of wonderful crunchy veg added in -- and small black olive pieces that provided little flavor focal points throughout the salad! The five of us had sat down to dinner at about 6:30, before the restaurant was officially closed, but no one had been in for some time, when -- zap! Customers showed up wanting dinner (probably having scented the red snapper delights within). When this picture was taken, Pascal was finishing up his dinner while La'Tisha had gone off to take drink orders and distribute menus. Once the orders were in, Pascal went off to the kitchen and La'Tisha returned to finish her meal :-)
Pascal's Snapper Supper -- come Friday for the Fish Fry!
06/20/2012, Rock Sound, Eleuthera, Bahamas
Raised anchor at Little San Salvador (Half Moon Cay if you live on a cruise ship) on Sat Jun 16, headed for Eleuthera (which is NW). Weather was wind NE 5-8 Kts, so we were able to fly the jib but also needed the engines to make it before dusk (because 5 kts of breeze is not a lot, even in a catamaran).
As we left, we passed again a beautiful white sand beach point with waves crashing in from two sides. It looks like something from Hawaii, even in settled weather, and it's absolutely gorgeous! Wish this picture showed it more clearly, the white sand has waves curling as they crash upon it and the surrounding water is crystalline turquoise shading into deep azure as the depth goes from 3' over white sand down to 20', until it rises again in fish'filled coral ledges to the north, and the shallows on the eastern side extend for a couple of miles along the island, where fringing coral reefs protect the white sands and scattered heads:
The snorkeling in the ledges just north of this beach is excellent!
Derek could have spent hours chasing the beautiful fish there, he saw large Nassau groupers, hogfish and triggerfish of admirable size, who use the ledges to shelter from the current that rips through that area, called 'The Bridge" on the charts because it's more or less a bridge of shallower water between Little San Salvador and Eleuthera to the northwest. There is some deep water there, however, as the Carnival Destiny headed out that way when it left the anchorage last Thursday.
There were specific rainclouds of varying size all around. One of the largest formed up ahead of us as we traveled and and started to move SW, had a lot of lightning in it and extended a long way to the west, and fortunately we skirted just at the E edge of it -- got rained on, but the big lightning strikes into the ocean were a mile to the west at the closest and receded as we continued, which was a relief to us.
The southern end of Eleuthera has another cruise ship stop, at Bannerman Town, and we passed a red-roofed complex there in somewhat better taste than the "fake pirate ship" building at Little San Salvador. The beaches looked lovely, even in the alternating sun and rain clouds. The interesting thing about this was that we were going halfway up the island before we could stop -- we were heading for the anchorage at Rock Sound. South of that on Eleuthera there are a couple of marinas of varying degrees of exclusivity and smallness, but not really cruiser stops, and definitely not anchorages. Rock Sound has groceries (including one that everyone on the island -- a big island -- goes to, called The Market. We met people who drove there from the far northern end of Eleuthera once a month or so for special provisions), gas, wireless access, and a cruiser-friendly restaurant and bar called Pascal's, with the best-located dinghy dock for accessing The Market and the Scotia Bank and the Shell station (which is right in front of The Market).
We anchored out near a large church at the southern end of town, near where the guidebook told us Dingle's (one of their advertisers) had a dinghy dock. When we pulled up to the dock, it was a very tall wooden dock with side ladders, that was being used to clean and sell fish. We tied and and walked slightly north to Dingle's, which is a gas station and hardware store that tries to provide many services cruising sailors would want, such as laundry and internet access ($10/day or $24 for 3 days). But although it has good prices on butter (below The Market's), it's not really a hangout. We bought butter and internet access, and IIRC we had to pay cash.
Next, we took the dinghy to the north end of town, to something that looks like a gazebo from the water (it's actually an elevated tiki bar in the round), which identifies Pascal's Caribbean Restaurant and Bar dinghy dock. We stopped there and were met by Pascal, who was fishing off the dock, and we told him we were planning on going to The Market (which closes late, at 7 pm, on Saturdays), but would stop by afterward for drinks. Pascal had his lady, La'Tisha, drop us off there on her way home with the kids, and we provisioned with gusto, again paying cash. The Market people were so nice, they too offered us a ride back to Pascal's!
Back at Pascal's, we had wonderful Bahama Mamas (well, Grant had a Coke) and such good conversation from La'Tisha (who is the bartender, and who had returned), that we resolved to come back for a meal: Father's Day was the next day.
Derek and La'Tisha at the bar at Pascal's
The entertainment stage and elevated Tiki bar at Pascal's, sunset
Grant found a stick! He can find sticks anywhere...
catamaran in sunset from Pascal's restaurant beach
We also discovered that after sunset, there are voracious mosquitos at the dock and in the anchorage if the wind isn't brisk, and it was glassy calm -- they ambushed us in the cockpit and swarmed about as we put the screens up -- thanks goodness we'd left most of the ports closed for fear of rain!
We ate at Pascal's on Sunday (Father's Day): fresh grouper curry over jasmine rice for Derek, perfectly (i.e., lightly) cooked shrimp curry over jasmine rice for me, and a club sandwich for Grant that he described as having "three kinds of very tasty meats" -- which is high praise from him!
I make Thai style curries for the guys all the time, but this was educational: light, with the vegetables beautifully sliced and colorful, perfectly cooked al dente, and with the sauce adding zest and zing without drowning any of the ingredients. I'll admit, I like a lot of sauce on mine, and since the recipe uses an entire can of coconut milk, there's usually a lot of sauce. I will change my ways after this! Even the jasmine rice was perfect; I began to get the impression that Pascal is a perfectionist. When you're a chef, that is often a Very Good Thing.
It was a sunny Sunday, but the breeze from the east blows through Pascal's and along the back deck where most of the tables are... great design. The view weas even more spectacular in daylight:
Pascal's view by day
The following is an excerpt from the TripAdvisor entry I posted about this restaurant (I call it Pascal's CFBR because that's how Pascal set up his gmail address for the restaurant): We found out a little more about the restaurant since the people are so friendly: Pascal's CFBR is run by Pascal, a five-star chef who has finally opened his own place in this quiet tropical paradise location, and his lady La'Tisha, who mixes wonderful mojitos and splendid Bahama Mamas, and who often doubles on table service. These are friendly, helpful, interested and interesting people who give their visitors a real feeling of what it means to be in Eleuthera. Pascal is a second-generation chef who grew up on this island, and the fare is pleasantly varied -- NOT just the usual cracked conch and burgers. Whether you eat in or order a take-away lunch, Pascal is a perfectionist chef who will make sure the food is exemplary. We saw several local people ordering takeaway each time we were in.
Pascal's pizzas have already been singled out for praise by other reviewers. Pascal acquired his pizza recipe in Sicily, although he uses a thin crust rather than the New York "Sicilian"-style thick square crust. He insists on fresh ingredients and that was reflected in the Father's Day lunch we enjoyed on Sunday.
The setting is gorgeous: tropical palms waving over a white beach by the sheltered turquoise waters of Rock Sound, everything painted in beautiful tropical fashion, open-air dining with shelter from the rain if it ever rains, even a small stage for entertainment and a tiki bar and dinghy dock.
Speaking of the dinghy dock, these are very cruiser-friendly people, they love the sailors and sport fishermen who visit their island to drop by, do their marketing and banking (the shortest walk in town to The Market, the gas station, and Scotia Bank), and maybe stop in for a drink or a snack. They ever provide water at the dock for those who need it enough to jerry jug it back to the boat in their dinghies.
The fun part about posting reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor is that you can help some wonderful, deserving business owners, not just by word of mouth to your friends and fellow cruisers you meet, but by word of internet to fellow journeyers you have never met! :-) In some ways, this blog might serve a similar purpose, but we generally assume that here we're writing for friends and family: hi, friends and family!
It got really rainy on Tuesday, and there is a trough coming through. We will be staying here and waiting it out.
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.