05/07/2011, Baker's Bay, Great Guana Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
We left Man-O-War Cay this morning. This is definitely a place we would be happy to see again. The winds are predicted to be light and variable for today and the next 4 days so we didn't try to go very far. We were going to anchor off the north end of Man-O-War, but found out that is a private area, so although we could take Fuzzy to the beach (ALL beaches in the Bahamas are public) we wouldn't be able to get from there back into town. So we decided to make a little progress. We came almost 11 nm to Baker's Bay on Great Guana Cay. This isn't a very well protected anchorage, but it's on a beautiful beach and we can see the entrance to the Whale Cay Passage, which is the last unprotected area until we make the crossing back to the United States.
It wasn't much of a sail. We put the jib out, but we were close hauled into a very light wind. When the boat speed dropped under 3 knots we put the engine back on. We could see rain up ahead, and sure enough, just as we arrived in the anchorage, the rain did. There was a bit of wind with the rain, just enough to make it easier to set the anchor. If there's no wind, you have to slowly back the boat so you don't dump the anchor chain all in a pile. With wind, you can let it push the boat as it draws out the chain. This is a large, shallow bay. It's shallow in that it doesn't indent into the island too far, and it's not deep. We came in as far as we thought we could, we were in 8 feet of water when we dropped the anchor at about mid-tide.
Bud snorkeled over to check the anchor and it was set. I let out a bit more chain and put on the snubber. As soon as we had the anchor all set the rain passed by and the wind stopped. The boat started to move the other direction, so the bow was facing away from shore. It didn't move far, there wasn't enough wind to pull the chain around. That's just as well because the tide was still falling. The lowest the water got was 6 and-a-half feet, not that it would be a big deal, it's all sand here. I would worry most about crushing a starfish. There were four big ones right around the boat. I took a picture of one of them.
We took Fuzzy ashore and he's pretty happy to have this big beach. He never goes in the water, but he loves to run in the sand. There's supposed to be some good snorkeling on the Atlantic side, so we will probably stay here tomorrow and check it out. Our next destination is Green Turtle Cay, but they are having their annual Island Roots Heritage Festival this weekend, so we are afraid it will be crowded and want to wait until Monday to go there. It's only another 15 miles or so, but it is on the other side of the Whale Passage, so we need to go on a calm day. Meanwhile, we will wait here on this beautiful beach; that's not hard to take.
05/06/2011, Man-O-War Cay, Bahamas
I finished the laundry in the morning and we worked around the boat. We had been concerned that the vent on the holding tank for the forward head wasn't working properly. Bud had tried to clean it, but today, while we had water and power, Bud decided to take it apart. Both the vent fixture and the vent hose were plugged. Bud got them cleaned out and I helped him put the fixture back on.
Meanwhile, Ed and Karin had been working on their boat. Karin came over to the marina around noon to do a load of laundry and we decided to get together for dinner and before that for a dinghy ride. They came with their dinghy and Bud, Fuzzy and I joined them. Their dinghy is 10 feet long, but has bigger tubes and a higher carrying capacity than ours. I was holding Fuzzy, so Bud took the pictures, so today you get a picture of me riding in the dinghy with Fuzzy on my lap. We don't put a life jacket on him for these dinghy rides because we're in harbors where things are pretty calm and he never tries to jump away from me.
We took the dinghy to the south end of the harbor. That's not where the business district of the settlement is, but there are pretty houses and interesting boats. Transients like us anchor there, or rent one of the moorings, and there are quite a few boats being stored there. You can tell the boats being stored because the sails are completely off of them. We came back and went all the way to the north end of the anchorage, too. There's a bigger opening there, but it's quite shallow. We saw many houses that we all agreed we would probably be quite content to live in once our sailing days are over. I put the other pictures Bud took in the gallery.
Later we had Karin and Ed over for supper. Bud grilled the second half of the snapper he caught at Rock Sound. The flavor was excellent, but the first time Bud grilled the snapper it was so thick he had undercooked it. This time he cooked it longer and he felt it was overcooked. We also had "baked" potatoes (done in the microwave, since we have shore power) and Karin brought some cucumber salad. After supper we walked up to the little ice cream stand on the corner and got ice cream for dessert. This was probably our farewell supper with Passages, as Karin and Ed have decided to move pretty quickly back to the US. They are having trouble with their windlass (device that brings the anchor in) and today their WiFi antenna broke, so they've decided to just head home. Home for them is St. Mary's, Georgia. We had a good time with them these last few days and we will stay in touch.
Bud and I are heading back to the US, too, but having never been to the Abacos before, we will take a bit longer and make a few more stops.
05/05/2011, Man-O-War Cay, Bahamas
We left Marsh Harbour at about 8:30 this morning. There is a front that is supposed to be coming here later today bringing winds up to 20 knots so we thought it would be best to leave early. We also wanted to time our arrival at Man-O-War Harbour for close to high tide, as it's pretty shallow here. There was no wind at all when we left, so it was a pretty easy trip. We followed Passages again, so that made it even easier. The whole trip was just under 5 and-a-half nautical miles. We arrived around 10 AM.
As we came in the entrance to the harbor we were glad for high tide and we were glad we were following Ed. The entrance had hard rock bars on either side and was only about 40 feet across between the bars. The water was 9 feet at high tide. Low tide is not as low as normal right now, so at low tide now we would still have had about almost 7 feet. Come the full moon later this month that would be closer to 6 feet. We had no trouble. We had made reservations at the marina, so I called them. They let me know on which side to set up the dock lines, and then as we entered the harbor gave us directions to the slip. The dockmaster was waiting to help so we got into the slip and got tied up with no problems. Ed and Karin had more trouble with the mooring. The moorings are really tight here. They'd gone on one but were told they might be aground at low tide there. There was another one just outside of that they were told they could take. Unfortunately, another boat had anchored right there, despite being asked by the dockmaster not to anchor so close to the moorings. He was leaving, but in leaving he almost hit Passages and may have hit a trawler. Eventually they were set with their mooring, also.
After Ed and Bud both bought diesel ($6.15/gallon - cash, $6.35 credit) we all walked over to the new Heritage Museum they opened in town. Now I understand the narrow concrete streets we'd seen in Cherokee. They have them here, too, and everyone drives golf carts. We saw one tiny car and a couple of tiny trucks.
Loyalists settled this island after the American Revolution. It's the first Bahamian community I've been in where almost everyone is white. There seem to be about three family names on the island, and they still build boats here, something they've been known for 200 years. I took a picture of a traditional wooden boat under construction, but they also build fiberglass run-abouts at the Albury Boat Works.
The town is very neat; most of the houses have stone, cement or wooden fences around them. The streets are all about 15 feet wide; there are flowering bushes all over. They don't sell liquor here, so it is very quiet. The Atlantic side is lined with beaches, then a line of reefs. It's altogether beautiful and the most unique place we have been. And I have Internet on the boat!
It's 6:30 PM now, some dark clouds came over, but the wind is not over 10 knots. I don't know if this is the front or not. I guess we didn't have to hurry, but I'm glad we got here in time to spend the day. I added more pictures to the gallery. Oh, and Jon and Arline, Ed and Karin do remember you and Kasidah.
05/04/2011, Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco, Bahamas
I got to be a tourist today. We rented a car and went off to see the island. In particular, I wanted to see Little Harbour, the place we didn't go in. Karin had loaned us a book about it. Randolph Johnston, an artist, along with his wife and 4 children homesteaded in Little Harbour in the early 1950's. After years of trying to scrape out a home and a living from fishing, farming and running sailboat charters, they finally got to the place where they could set up studios and start producing art again. Randolph was a sculptor and he got enough commissions in terra cotta to afford to build a foundry and start working in bronze. Today his son and grandson still create and sell works of art at their studios, foundry and gallery. They also run Pete's Pub, which is where we went for lunch and where this picture was taken.
In the morning we drove down to Sandy Point, on the southern end of Great Abaco. There is a cruisers' net on VHF here and I had heard a restaurant advertised so we thought we could get a snack there and then have a late lunch at Little Harbour. We couldn't find a restaurant that we wanted to try. I took one photo looking back from the public dock. It's a pretty setting, but it is one of the saddest little towns we've seen. It's very isolated (about 55 miles from Marsh Harbour) and there's nothing around. Looking on the charts, shallow draft boats could get in there, but there were only two boats in the harbor. One was a strange catamaran that looked like a down on the heels charter party boat. The other was a small fishing boat. There were no other cruisers and no other visitors in the town.
So back we went to Little Harbour. That, at least was interesting. The road in is still dirt. Until 2000 the only way to get there was by boat. The harbor IS little and the entrance is too shallow for our boat, but it is very secure. There were probably 15 or 20 boats there. If we had come in the cut, we would have anchored either behind Lynyard Cay or just behind the inside point, Tom Currey Point. Pete's Pub was a series of tables and platforms in the sand with roofs and umbrellas for shade. You ordered your food at the bar. They told us we'd have a bit of a wait so we took the time to walk through the gallery. Sculptures by Pete Johnston sold for several hundred to several thousand dollars. There were a few sculptures by Randolph Johnston; one was priced at $120,000. We didn't by it. We saw a beautiful lamp by Pete Johnston with a ray (the fish kind) incorporated into the base. But as Bud said, we could buy the lamp, or we could get a watermaker.
The food was good and reasonable and we had a nice lunch. I saw people from a boat we were next to back at Rock Sound, Eleuthera. It was Carl and Jan from White Pepper, a C & C 41. They were eating with another couple, but after we ate we sat and talked with them for a while. It's fun to bump into people miles later. We'd sailed 134 miles since we'd last seen them. I could be 134 miles from home back in the states and never see anyone I knew.
The harbor is protected from the Atlantic by a narrow peninsula. There is a boardwalk from Pete's Pub to the Atlantic side. We walked up there and we could see the cut from the Atlantic to the Sea of Abaco. This is not a cut I'd like to take except on a very calm day. I took a photo and you can see the point of land, and beyond that you can see the breakers on the line of reefs you have to miss. I'm glad we came through at North Bar Channel.
After lunch we drove a bit further south in the area of Little Harbour to Cherokee Point. I wanted to see the area where we saw the huge breakers on our way into the Abacos. The road only took us to the Cherokee Sound side. The town was tiny and had neat little cottages with cement streets mostly too small to fit a big car through. There was a parking lot on the back side of town. I guess if your car was too big you left it there. The sound was really shallow there, but there were a lot of boats. It advertised itself as a bonefishing center. We didn't stop in Cherokee; instead we came back to Marsh Harbour and used the car to finish our grocery shopping. Bud stocked up on cheap liquor to bring home. He took the food and drinks back to the boat and fed Fuzzy while I returned the rental car. The whole drive (of about 10 blocks) I kept reciting "Drive in the gutter" to remind myself that I had to drive our American made Buick rental car so the driver's side was at the side of the road, to keep on the left and correct side of the road here. This is the first time I've tried driving where you drive on the left. I was glad to get the car back and walk back to the dock. I got a nice shot of Bud and Fuzzy coming in the dinghy to get me (and take Fuzzy for his evening stroll).
We are not going to a dock here. A marina at Man-O-War Cay is having a "buy one night, get one free" sale. Since we were going to go there and pay for a mooring ball, we decided to just go to that marina and get water and finish the laundry. Karin and Ed of Passages are going, too, but they are getting a mooring ball (they have a watermaker, so can fill their tanks at anchor). The marina also has Internet at the slips. My reception here on the boat hasn't been great, so if I don't manage to get these last entries posted tonight, I know I'll be able to do it tomorrow. I'll also post the rest of the pictures I have for the gallery.
05/03/2011, Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco, Bahamas
The wind was supposed to be blowing about 18 knots this morning, but decrease to about 12 or 13 knots by evening. Or, if you believed the other weather report, it was supposed to blow at about 18 knots all day. In any case, it was around 14 knots this morning, so Passages and we decided to go to Marsh Harbor. They said they were pulling up anchor at 11:00 AM, so we decided we should pull up ours at about 10:50, since we had just under a mile to go to get back to where they were.
We pulled up the anchor on schedule. This was a short sail so we decided not to put the main up. Once we were headed out I started to pull the jib out, but it wouldn't come. We looked for something it might be fouled on and couldn't see anything. Then Bud noticed that we hadn't moved the spinnaker halyards from the bow pulpit. When we stop for more than a day, we usually hook the spinnaker halyards (we have two) to the bow pulpit so the wind doesn't make the halyards slap on the mast and make noise. One of our setting out rituals is to move those back to the mast. We usually do that as we are unzipping the main cover, but since we didn't unzip the main, we forgot about the halyards.
I went up and took a look. One of the halyards had gotten caught in the jib furler and was wound around the jib. At first I thought I would have to go up the mast to release it. It wasn't too windy and I was able to unclip the halyard and walk it outside the jib and unwind it once. That still didn't free it, so I did that again. It was still caught right at the top. Bud tried to use the furling line to wind the bit of the jib that had come out back up, but it wouldn't come. However, when he did that it released the halyard and I was able to pull it free and get it properly stowed at the mast.
After that it was a pretty nice sail. Most of the way we were going down wind, so it wasn't very fast, but we were keeping up with Passages, it was a nice day and we didn't have that far to go, so we were content. Actually, Earendil sails faster than Passages under the same conditions, so we were slowing down to stay behind them. It was very nice to be able to follow them in to this harbor, as it's shallow and they've been here many times. It was also nice that the wind dropped to about 10 knots by the time we got here. I took this picture as we approached the anchorage. Not long after this was taken I was busy with the anchor. We got it wet with no problems, and although Bud was a little worried that we were too close to the boats on either side, when he got away from our boat in the dinghy, when we went to check the anchor, he could see that there was really plenty of room.
Once the anchor was set we went in to town. I did two loads of wash and Bud did some grocery shopping. We have to do more of both, but figured to wait until we went in to a marina to finish. Tomorrow we're going to rent a car and go see this island. We decided it made no sense to pay for a dock and spend the day away from the boat. Thursday we'll go into the dock and finish our errands and get water (and probably top off the fuel, though we've only used about 15 gallons of fuel since Emerald Bay where we last filled the tanks).
05/02/2011, Tilloo Pond, Abacos, Bahamas
It was just as windy today as yesterday so we decided to stay put one more day. It's not that we couldn't sail on a day like this; it's fine for sailing. But we're only going 14 miles and in the end we have to maneuver around a crowded harbor and either dock or anchor. There's just no sense in adding to our stress by trying that in 18-knot winds. Tomorrow the wind is supposed to start to diminish by midday, so if it looks like it will, we'll head on over.
Meanwhile, Bud suggested we see if Ed and Karin had any plans and if not suggest a cookout on the beach we visited with them two days ago. They thought that was a good idea. We set it up for mid-afternoon, and they asked us to call on the radio about a half hour before we wanted to go.
Bud wanted to make a Chinese salad, with cabbage and Ramon noodles, but a pretty main ingredient is slivered almonds, and we don't have any of those. So he settled on macaroni salad. We had a couple of burgers and a piece of smoked sausage; we still had some hamburger buns. Both Karin and I got rashes that look like they might be from poisonwood. That made Bud worry about collecting wood to do the grilling (poisonwood smoked sausage is scary) so we took the grill off our aft rail to use.
We called them at 2:30 and at 3:00 they came by in their dinghy and we quickly loaded up and took off for the beach. When we were there the other day some folks in small boats had been having a party in an area that had a kind of beachcombers picnic ground. We went there. At first we thought we were going to have company, as some people in a small powerboat seemed to be coming right to the beach. It's really shallow here though and their engine hit the bottom when they were still a hundred yards from shore, so they pushed the boat out a bit and then took off. We were just as happy for the seclusion.
There were a couple of counters made from plywood on frames attached to trees, a few plastic lawn chairs and a frame with a tarp for shade. There were two grills there, but our little cans of propane wouldn't fit on them, so we set up out boat grill on some cement blocks, and that worked well enough. Karin brought placemats that we put on the wooden counters where we laid out the food. Karin and Ed brought Kielbasa and macaroni salad! They also still had some snacks aboard and brought some trail mix and some Pringles. Ed and Bud ate the two burgers. I had two kinds of sausage and two kinds of macaroni salad. It was good, though. Fuzzy had a great time as Karin and Ed brought him Pupperoni. He also had his supper while we ate.
I almost forgot to take a picture, so this shot isn't great. That's Karin and Ed picking up after the meal. Bud is bending over our grill, taking it back apart. You can see the shelter and what a nice spot it is. I was walking Fuzzy. When everything was packed up and we were ready to leave, Fuzzy was determined to go with Ed and Karin. I hope it was just that he was still looking for some Pupperoni.