02/04/2011, Great Harbour Cay Marina, Berry Islands
We didn't do much today. Bud worked on one of the hatch frames, sanding it down to re-varnish it. I repaired our US Flag. Once we get back to the US to a place we can have things easily shipped I'm going to order a new one, as the end of ours is frayed. I'm not sure this is proper flag etiquette, but I folded it over a couple of times and re-stitched it. It looks OK.
We didn't go anywhere this afternoon because we were waiting for food we ordered. One of the churches here was having a "cook-out" and the woman dockmaster asked us if we wanted to order any food. We ordered conch stew, which came with Johnnycake and sweet potato bread for dessert. She wasn't real sure when it was coming. Sometime between 2 and 4 seemed likely. We finally got it just before 6. Sam, the dockmaster, gave us an order of souse to try with it. It was made with chicken wings cut up, chicken gizzards, potatoes, celery and spices. All the food was great. I can't believe how tender the conch was. It had very subtle spicing, but was pretty hot. The souse had almost a pickled flavor, not hot but tangy, and very good. The Johnnycake wasn't like any I've ever had. It was very sweet and melted in your mouth. Altogether, it was worth waiting for.
I didn't take any more pictures today, so I'll just post this. I've been having trouble with the Internet, so if you don't see a post, I couldn't get on. Word is, the anchor is on its way!
02/03/2011, Great Harbour Cay Marina, Berry Islands
While we were here waiting for our anchor we decided to pull our dinghy out on shore and paint the registration numbers on it. We'd put the stick on numbers on it in St. Augustine and they immediately started coming off. By the time we got here, we had about one letter and two numbers left. I'd bought spray paint for plastic (including PVC) and stencils in Stuart, but we hadn't had the time and place to do the work. Yesterday the numbers were stenciled on. It isn't terribly pretty, but it's legal. So today, we put the dinghy back in the water and put the engine on it. And it was warm enough that we took it out.
We only went a short ways. We went back out the cut and headed southeast. Tyrone, one of the dock guys, said we could snorkel near the beaches there along the rocks at the edge of the island. You can see how the limestone island is eroded on the edge in the photo. That's Bud snorkeling along. I stayed in the dinghy with Fuzzy while he snorkeled, then we switched places. We didn't see too much, there were some starfish in the shallows and some other little fishes in the grassy areas. It was just nice to be in the water. We also learned that it's a lot easier to get back in the dinghy if you leave your fins on. Then you can kick with enough force to lift yourself over the side. We also tried out the little Danforth-type anchor Gary had given us. That dug right into the sand and worked great.
After we snorkeled we drifted around for a bit while Bud dangled a lure in the water. We sort of trolled and then we just motored around. All in all it was nice. Fuzzy is doing quite well in the dinghy, he was lying on a towel on the bottom and stayed there even when Bud opened up the outboard and had the dinghy up on plane. He also liked sitting on my lap in the front of the dinghy getting the wind in his face. I put a couple of more photos from today in the gallery.
It's so nice to be just taking it easy and enjoying the warmth and the sun and the water. This is much more what we had in mind when we started out. Our condolences to all of our family and friends back in the ice and snow. Hope you made it through the storm all right, and remember, we can empty out that forward cabin; it's intended for guests.
02/02/2011, Great Harbour Cay Marina, Berry Islands
After last evening's attempted walk to town we all agreed that we needed to do something else to get groceries. Jim and Judy made inquiries, and found that the marina no longer rented golf carts for just half a day, but the place just down the lane did. So we split the cost with them and we all took the golf cart into town to the grocery store. This is not the grocery Bud and I had been told about, but one we had passed without ever realizing it was a grocery store. That's the store in the photo with Bud and Fuzzy in the golf cart. There's no sign; and although the other end of the building looks like a public place with people on the porch, the grocery store end looks no different than a house. We noticed it in the evening because it was light inside and we could see the shelves.
Anyway, we went and Jim and Judy got some general provisions while Bud and I got some very expensive produce and a few other things. We took that back to the boats so we could get the refrigerated stuff out of the heat (yes, heat) and came back again for the rest of our errands. We stopped at the local boatyard where Bud was able to buy a piece of Plexiglas to make our 5-gallon bucket into a viewing bucket, great for seeing underwater. Then we went back to Coolie Mae's restaurant for the bread we ordered last night. When we got there we met her daughter and granddaughter. The daughter gave us a loaf of bread and four small rolls; she said they couldn't charge us because her mother said the bread didn't rise properly. It looked fine to me and I tried to pay, but she insisted I just take them. When Jim heard we got the bread for free he said he wished he'd ordered some. While I was getting the bread, Bud took a couple of pictures of the area behind the restaurant. One shows some outdoor tables with lawn and a low wall made of coral and conch shells. The other is the ocean view there. Our last stop in town was Pinder's Liquors. I took a photo of the storefront; it was the best-marked store in town. I added these photos to the gallery.
After we got back and the golf cart was returned we decided to eat supper with Jim and Judy and Bud was going to make Jim some cabbage, potatoes and ham. We had half a head of cabbage, but when Bud got it out he thought it was too small. I took my bike and went back to the store and bought another nice head of cabbage. It was $3.25/lb, so the head came to $4.88. That and 6 plums was a bit over $9. (US dollars and Bahamian dollars are accepted at par and used interchangeably here.)
We had a nice dinner and then Jim showed us on the chart exactly where they are anchored behind Little Harbour Cay, so we are going to join them for a bit after we get our anchor. They are going back in the morning. It's been nice to get to know them, and reassuring to be with someone who's done all this before
02/02/2011, Great Harbour Cay Marina, Berry Islands
We hadn't done much at all today. We rode our bikes to the little town again only to find out that the mail boat comes tomorrow so the store had no produce left. Just before we left I heard the marina owner on the radio with a boat coming in. We saw the boat coming in as we headed out; it was another sailboat. When we got back from our unproductive grocery trip we met the couple, Jim and Judy Weaver, from Dream Weaver.
They had been staying further down the Berry Islands where they had stayed 14 years ago. They were helping out the man who lives there, the son of the woman who ran the restaurant there when they were there before. They needed provisions and he told them to come in here to shop on Wednesday, when the mail boat comes. It pays to have local knowledge.
We decided to go out to dinner. The restaurant right at the marina seemed pricey, so Jim and Judy asked and were told about another restaurant in town. The folks at the marina said it was about a 15-minute walk. Now Bud and I had biked to town twice, and it seemed further than that, but we were game. So off we started, after we had a round of cocktails and visited each other's boats.
A word about their boat - Jim had built it 25 years ago from plans. It was beautiful! The photo is of a newly painted Dream Weaver at dock near us. Jim re-painter her this summer up in Ohio. The fiberglass, the woodwork, the fittings all looked professional. Jim had even made all 21 of their sails (they didn't bring all 21 with them this time).
It was starting to get dark as we started off. The roads here are very narrow. We were walking on the wrong side of the road because there was no shoulder at all on the side facing traffic. In any case, traffic is very casual and one truckload of folks stopped to see where we were headed. They were headed in a different direction but kind of laughed at the 15-minute estimate. We'd been walking over 15 minutes already and hadn't made it to the first turn. We were almost half way when a nice Bahamian in a pick-up stopped and let us all climb in the back of his pick-up. He took us right up to the restaurant!
We walked in the restaurant and there were maybe 5 people at the bar. We asked about a chicken dinner (the recommended entrée) to be greeted with consternation by the waitress. "But you have no reservations!" It seems they don't prepare the food if they don't have a reservation. After our apologies and some negotiation with the owner it was decided that she could make a fried snapper dinner for us. No menus, no prices. We sat down and had some great homemade bread and drinks and before too long at all got our salads followed by the fish with rice and beans. It was excellent! Bud and I are going back Wednesday to buy a loaf of the wheat bread; she didn't have anymore left then, but would bake a loaf for us for Wednesday,
After dinner we were faced with that long walk home in the dark. However, on the way out Jim and Judy ran into Chester, the guy they'd been helping on Little Harbour Cay. Chester had just fixed a conch dinner (carrying on his mother's business) for the crowd we met earlier in the truck. That whole crowd had come to the restaurant we were in for drinks, as had Chester. Chester had come up in his skiff, but hearing of our impending walk, he called his sister who came over and drove us all back to the marina. Such nice people!
01/31/2011, Great Harbour Cay Marina, Berry Islands
No one in the Bahamas seems to have heard of a Rocna anchor, but on reading the reviews, that's the one Bud and I decided we wanted. We also had talked to another boater with an Albin 40 trawler who had a Manson, which is similar to a Rocna. He liked his Manson, but said if he had it to do again he would get a Rocna. The owner of this marina told us we could get the anchor flown in from Ft. Lauderdale for a dollar a pound. At that rate it's cheaper than us going back over to the states and then coming back here again. So I called our mail forwarding service. They have a marine equipment purchasing service and get items delivered to them with no shipping charges. The anchor will come to them in Green Cove Springs and they will ship it ground to Ft. Lauderdale and from there it will come here. So, we are here for about a week.
Which is not so bad. We biked across the island (a couple of miles) to the beach in the picture. Miles of sand, crystal blue sea and no one around. We walked up the beach for about a mile and a half and on the way back saw two people, that's it.
This morning there were two manatees here. They come for fresh water. There's a picture in the gallery of one of them drinking from a hose! Just after the manatees left Bud also got a picture of the Casuarina leaving. It turns out that is not the name of the boat, but the brand. Jamie found it on line, and if anyone is interested you can charter one for $65,000/week plus expenses. It's 124' long and has 4 cabins for 8 guests, so you can split the fee.
01/30/2011, Great Harbour Cay Marina, Berry Islands
Great Harbour Cay is not very big, none of the Berry Islands are. Bud and I rode our bikes over to what passes for a town here, across the causeway to Bullocks Harbour Cay. We passed two churches, a police station, a small park and a couple of dozen houses until we came to the small grocery (hours 8 - 8 M - Sat.; 7:30 - 11:30 Sun.). It was just after noon, so no groceries today. Anyway, this marina has nice docks, but as I described yesterday, it's a long way in across shallow flats. The island does get a mail boat once a week and something AIS identified as a cargo vessel (draft 6.5 feet) came in while we were still at the other anchorage. There is also a small airport here. Most of the boats in the marina are sport-fishing boats, and the condos that surround the marina seem to belong to sport fishermen.
So Bud and I were surprised this morning when a US Navy boat came in. It's a small boat, about 45 feet and is from the US Navy AUTEC Base on Andros Island. None of the crew were in uniform. Bud asked what AUTEC meant and was told it was American Underwater Testing "something, something". His theory, seeing the crew in civvies is that it's a CIA thing. My theory is that it's a group on a weekend pass, and this is the only place they could get. Still, it looks like they would have had to come about 80 miles to get here, and like I said, there's not much here to get to. So the navy boat remains a mystery to us.
Then, this afternoon at about 4:30 another boat pulled in. This is a huge power yacht. I had taken a picture of the marina earlier, and I went back and took a second picture from almost the same perspective after Casuarina arrived. She completely fills the one long dock. Check it out in the gallery. She is flying a yellow quarantine flag, so this is her first stop in the Bahamas. I don't recognize the national flag on the back. It's amazing to us that such a huge boat could and would cross those flats to get here. It would be less unexpected if the weather was bad, as this is one of the most protected harbors in the Bahamas, but we're not sure what else is the draw. Casuarina is 80 to 100 feet long. I'm not sure what her draft is, but she did come in at close to high tide. Everyone is staying on the boat, as is required until they've cleared customs, but I have a feeling that everyone may still stay on the boat, as it has far more luxuries than this little place.
We talked to a couple of the sport fishermen. They asked us how long we were staying. We explained our anchor dilemma and that we were staying until we figured out how to get a bigger, better anchor. They told us about a couple that anchored around here and came in for lunch. They stayed at anchor overnight and the boat ended up on the beach. They said it completely broke up and they thought the hull was still out there. That makes me feel less like a wimp in deciding that we need a better anchor to go on. I wonder if that couple was on their boat when it drifted aground, and if so, why they didn't start the engine, pull up the anchor and leave when it started to drift. That's what we were prepared to do the other night. We had everything laid out so that if the boat started to move we could head back out to open water. I'm just glad we didn't have to.
Meanwhile, we're finally having our surf and turf. I hooked up our grill and Bud is inaugurating it by grilling a steak, the four little lobster tails and some bread. That along with baked potatoes and freshly made coleslaw will make for a very nice dinner.
P.S. We ended up eating only the surf part. Turns out the four little lobster tails were quite sufficient for two people; and very good, too. The steak will make a nice stir-fry for another day.