03/01/2011, Black Point, Great Guana Cay
We needed water. We needed to pump out our holding tanks. We need to do laundry. So we moved on. First we stopped at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, this time with the big boat, and filled up our water tanks at $0.40 per gallon. Then we went out onto the Exuma Banks again and moved on down to Black Point on Great Guana Cay.
This time it wasn't a good sail. We had 10 knots of wind or so right on the nose. There were some residual waves, more than we expected, so we put out the staysail for stability and motored on down. The whole trip was only about 12 nautical miles, including going in to SCYC, so it wasn't too bad. The cove here is similar to Big Major's Spot, a big sandy area protected pretty well from anything that's not west. A front is moving through tonight, but the clocking wind is almost nothing. After the front goes by the wind is supposed to build up over 25 knots by Thursday, but that wind will be ENE changing to E and then to ESE. Another similar but weaker front is expected. Nothing in the forecast from the west, so we figure we can stay here until the winds moderate again.
The nice thing about this place is that we can get to town without crossing any open areas or cuts, so even when the wind is strong from the east we should still be able to dinghy in to get what we need.
After we made sure the anchor was set (4 for 4 for the Rocna), we took the dinghy in to check things out. There is a beach where we could land the dinghy, but there's also a dinghy dock, so that's what we used. Black Point is the largest town in the central Exumas, and it is a Bahamian town. There is no marina or resort owned or run by off-islanders. It does cater to cruisers, though. We walked down to check out the Laundromat, and if you can read the sign, you'll see that it boasts a dinghy dock (we'll be going there tomorrow). The two restaurants offer WiFi (we'll be using that tomorrow, too). There is a small grocery store, I saw people coming out of that with ice cream bars (I'll be checking that out, too, but might hold off longer than tomorrow).
So this is home for the next few days.
02/28/2011, Big Major's Spot, Exumas, Bahamas
Fuzzy the Wonder Dog
Sunday was a quiet day. We hung around the boat and went in to the beach a few times. I was thinking of taking my shampoo and soap to the beach and cleaning up there, but when we went to leave there were people at both beaches, so I didn't. As it turned out, the folks left one beach before we got there, so we again had the beach to ourselves. I decided not to wash in the water at the boat. There are so many boats here it just feels strange. Yesterday afternoon there were 33 sailboats and 10 powerboats anchored here.
Today started quietly. We decided to run the generator, heat some water, vacuum the boat and charge up the batteries. The wind had picked up again, so the batteries didn't actually need to be charged. But we're going in to get water in the tanks tomorrow, so we decided to heat the water and splurge by taking freshwater showers.
We had invited some other folks we met over for dinner, Gord and Marilyn from s/v Madison. Gord is from St. Catherines, and Marilyn is from Boston, NY. They came a bit after 3 and we were sitting in the cockpit talking. I went below to get Marilyn some wine. Fuzzy was sitting on the cockpit seat in front of the open companionway. All of a sudden I heard a thump and looked over and Fuzzy was on the floor in the salon. They said he just suddenly jumped down the companionway steps. He hit on the rug at the bottom of the steps and then kind of rolled down the next little step to the rug in the salon. That's about 8 feet! I was sure he had broken legs, broken ribs or internal injuries. He didn't make a sound. I felt him all over; I couldn't find anything wrong. I gave him a baby aspirin, figuring he was going to be sore somewhere. We all sat up in the cockpit for another half hour or so, I kept an eye on Fuzzy and came down to check him again several times, but he seemed fine. By the time we were ready to eat, I fixed him his supper and he was acting just as always.
After a really nice supper and a nice visit, Gord and Marilyn took off and Bud and I took Fuzzy in for his evening beach visit. He sat on my lap as he now does on dingy rides, perfectly at ease as we zipped over to the beach up on plane. We still don't know what possessed him to launch himself into the companionway or how he managed to fall 8 feet with apparently no injuries, especially since he's just 2 months shy of 15 years old! We just hope he won't try it again.
02/26/2011, Big Major's Spot, Exumas, Bahamas
There are 75 permanent residents (more or less) on Staniel Cay. It's a mix of native Bahamians and more or less permanent immigrants. The island has a little library in the oldest building in the settlement. Today they were having a fundraiser so we came over for it.
I bought some books at the library (cheap) and a few cookies at the bake sale (not so cheap). We met another couple and went to the fundraiser lunch with them. More conch stew and Johnnycake. Very good, though maybe not quite as good as the church cook out at Great Harbour. It was held at a shelter across the road from the public beach. The fundraiser, like everything else here, was a nice mix of native and imported Bahamians with a generous dose of cruisers and other vacationers.
Since it was a mild day we brought along the computer so I'm going to try to post the blog entries I've accumulated. Tomorrow is supposed to be windy again, so we may not be back across until Tuesday.
We're still trying to figure out when we're going to leave. There's a famous snorkel here into Thunderball Cave, which was the setting for the 007 movie. That snorkel is best at slack tide around midday, so we are kind of waiting for those things to coincide on a reasonably calm day, so we can dinghy over for it. Seems a shame not to try it since we're here. That probably won't happen until the middle of next week. So we'll see...
02/25/2011, Big Major's Spot, Exumas, Bahamas
We took the computer in to Staniel on Thursday, but I was unable to upload the blog. I don't know when these will get published, as we aren't going in today. We went yesterday in the morning because it was supposed to get windy in the afternoon. After we went to Staniel Cay Yacht Club to use the Internet we packed up and took the dinghy over to the Isles General Store to get our propane tank filled. We had been warned by another cruiser that we'd have to leave the tank and pick it up later, as they use a gravity fill system, and it takes hours to fill one tank.
Bud bought a few groceries while we were there. He skipped the milk; at almost $9 half- gallon, milk is not going to be a staple going forward. With the groceries loaded and the tank left behind, we returned to the boat. As we passed the government dock on the way out, we saw the Police boat had pulled in. That may be the only police vehicle on the island. The photo shows the Police boat and the local church. The ride back was still pretty smooth. The wind had picked up a bit, but it was behind us so we were going with the waves, and that made it easier.
The wind did start to blow during the night and it was fairly windy this morning (Friday). We don't plan to leave the anchorage today. I went out in the late morning and washed the hull of the boat. We don't have any official hull cleaner, so I used Simple Green. It didn't get all the dirt off, but it does look quite a bit better. Bud has been working on the new windows. Water had gotten trapped between the screens and the windows and without oxygen the stainless had started to rust. So he's taking the screens off, cleaning off the rust and putting a corrosion inhibitor on them. I've been washing the screens, wiping the rubber gasket with a rubber protectant and putting petroleum jelly on the sealing surface before reinstalling them. I'm hoping the petroleum jelly will keep the water from sitting between the outside rubber gasket and the window.
I'm going to take a saltwater bath again this afternoon. We're running the generator now because the wind has stopped again. Since we have the generator on we always turn on the water heater (the generator should be run with a load on it, and that helps). I would rinse with cool water, but now I'll have hot water to rinse with - an added bonus. I'm also writing this while the generator is on. I take every opportunity to try to keep the computer battery charged.
That's just about our agenda for today. It is really nice not to have to go anywhere!
Addendum: We met some people on a kayaking/camping vacation when we walked Fuzzy the other evening. When we went back this evening they were still there. We had talked to them a bit before and they said (especially the woman!) that this would be their last paddling vacation. We talked to them about sailing as an alternative. This evening we were going to invite them on board for dinner, but they'd just gotten back from treating themselves to dinner at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. We did invite them aboard for sundown drinks and had a very nice visit until long after sundown. They are Kim and Mike from Calgary. The high in Calgary when they'd called home was minus ten Celsius. Their dog sitter wasn't sympathetic when they complained of the relentless sun, since there are no woods tall enough to cast much shade. It's chance encounters that really add the spice to cruising.
02/23/2011, Big Major's Spot, Exumas, Bahamas
It was another day with no wind. Without the little waves on the bay you could really see everything on the bottom. I took this photo of a starfish at about 7:30 AM in probably 10 feet of water. That starfish is a good foot across.
As soon as we got back from taking Fuzzy ashore we worked on the generator. Last night when we ran it water began to seep out onto the floor from under it. We emptied all the things stored in the space under it but couldn't find any wet area. I lifted the floor of that storage space and found a lot of water that seemed to be coming from the wet locker that sits just forward of the generator. So we took everything out of the wet locker, too. The tray in the bottom of the wet locker that's supposed to accumulate all the dripping water from the wet gear you put in it was standing full of water and had obviously overflowed, causing the water we'd seen on the floor. We bailed out the tray and lifted it. We found that we'd kinked the hose that drains that tray into the bilge, probably when we did electrical work last year. We fixed the hose. We still needed to find out where the water was coming into the locker. There is a drain hose from the generator to that tray. We checked around the generator and could find no water. We traced the little drain hose back and found it was connected to the intake for the raw water part of the generator cooling. Bud thought it was an anti-siphon hose. We started the generator back up and a tiny but steady stream of water comes out of that hose when the generator runs. We're not sure why, but at least now it's draining into the bilge. Seems a strange design, though.
Since it's still calm we went back to Staniel Cay today. We bought 10 gallons of drinking water for $0.40/gallon from the Yacht Club. We also paid $2.50 to dispose of our bag of trash. I was ready to hike up to the free dump, but with no wind, Bud thought it was too hot. (I'm sure all our friends and family up north are feeling sympathetic.) I also got on the Internet again.
This afternoon we went snorkeling off a little island on the north side of the bay. There were a few little coral heads there. It was pretty, but some of the water currents were chilly (again, I can feel the sympathy from the northerners).
Folks we met at White Cay and again at Warderick Wells invited us for dinner, Susan, Leigh and JP on Raconteur. They also invited Fuzzy along. We had a really nice time, starting with watching the sun set from their cockpit. They have a conch horn and a tradition is to blow the horn at sunset. JP blew theirs and several other boats also blew conch horns. They said this is the first harbor where anyone else has done it. Then we went below and had a great stir-fry and chocolate cake and coconut ice cream! Unfortunately, they have to leave the Bahamas for a month, so are leaving tomorrow on their way down to Georgetown. Hopefully we'll run across them again in our travels.
We are only one long day, or several leisurely days away from Georgetown. I think that is a good place to fly into, so if anyone wants to join us, we could meet you there. Now's your chance, and I know you've had enough of winter!
You could always fly to Nassau and take the mailboat to Georgetown for $30. Now that would be an adventure! A cruise ship it ain't.
02/22/2011, Big Major's Spot, Exumas, Bahamas
The wind was down today so we set off to visit Staniel Cay. We were going twice, first to buy 15 gallons of diesel and check out the place. Then we wanted to come back and buy another 15 gallons (we have three 5-gallon jerry cans) and use the Internet. Bud emptied the diesel we had in the three cans into one of our tanks.
The first trip went fine. It's a bit over a mile to the gas dock at Staniel Cay Yacht Club where they took our diesel cans to fill. We beached the dinghy at a little enclosed beach right at the club that's set up for dinghies. We had read that the clinic on the island could use donations of bandages, so we gathered what we thought we could spare from our first aid kit. We walked over to the clinic, but no one was there.
We kept walking to see how far it was to Isles General Store and to make sure they could fill propane tanks. After cooking pretty much every day since last October, one of our 20 lb. propane tanks finally ran out about two days ago. We also wanted to see if you could get there by dinghy, or if we should walk from the yacht club. We found out they could fill the tank, when they had gas, but right now they didn't have any. They expected to get more on the next mail boat which they thought would be there tomorrow, but we should call (on the VHF radio) first. We also saw that we could get our dingy up the creek to the store and they had a pretty decent dock, so that's the way to go.
We walked back to the yacht club (really a marina) and stopped back at the clinic. Again, no one was there. So we left our bag of bandages and tape hanging on the front doorknob. Hopefully they'll be found and will be useful. The picture is of us entering the Staniel Cay Yacht Club from the roadside, with beautiful bougainvillea bushes lining the way. Notice all the golf carts. Most of the vehicles on the island are golf carts. We saw a few pick-up trucks and one van.
We took the dinghy back out to the fuel dock and they handed our jerry cans down to us. It was a bit of a rough trip back, with all the extra weight, but we made it. Bud put that fuel into one of our tanks.
We debated making a second trip, but they did have Internet and I really wanted to get online. At noon, when we thought the breeze had died down, we loaded the now empty jerry cans back up, packed the computer in it's case and then in a rubber lined canvas bag and took off. We put the computer bag upright, under the seat in the center of the boat. We went quite slowly the whole mile over, trying not to get it wet. Fuzzy and I got pretty wet, but the computer stayed dry. We stayed quite a while, I was online, Bud filled the jerry cans and loaded them back in the dinghy. By the time we were ready to head back to the boat the breeze had completely died and the water was smooth, so we had a quick and easy trip back to the boat.