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S/V Earendil
A Day Off the Boat
02/03/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island

It's 9:30 PM and we just got back on board and got things straightened out for the night. We left the boat at about 11:15 this morning with our dirty laundry and garbage in tow. We took the dinghy over to the beach where we unloaded the laundry, the garbage and our supplies for the day, which included Fuzzy's bed, his food, his little piece of cheese and his pill. I toted out stuff up the path and piled it all in the bushes on some rocks not far from the little road that heads back along the beach. Then I went back to the dinghy and Bud took me over to the dock near Fox Auto. I climbed up the ladder and Bud turned and took the dinghy back to the beach. He had Fuzzy. I walked up and picked up the car we'd reserved for the day, a Toyota Corolla. I drove it (on the LEFT side of the road) the little ways to the side road behind the beach and parked near the path. Just as I got all our stuff loaded, Bud and Fuzzy appeared. Bud had pulled the dinghy up on the beach and secured it with the anchor for the day. We didn't lock it, the engine is locked to the transom and Bud took the emergency stop cord. Not a really serious deterrent to theft, but on an island that's 80 miles long and at most 4 miles wide, there is pretty much no theft.

Our first stop was the Laundromat that we heard would do your wash for about what it costs other places to do it yourself. True enough, it was $8.75 a load vs. the $8.00 a load it costs at Long Island Breeze. However, I think I could have done the wash we had in three loads in the washers at Long Island Breeze, and they made it into 4 loads. Definitely worth it though to not spend our precious day with the car doing laundry. However, our plan had been to pick up the laundry about 3:30 and take the laundry and Fuzzy back to the boat after Fuzzy had an early dinner because we had dinner reservations for a 5 o'clock buffet at the Thompson Bay Club, known locally as Tryphenia's place. The laundry wasn't going to be ready until 5, so we were going to have to modify our plans.

This Laundromat was right across the street from the Stella Maris Marina. We also wanted to check out the marina, both as a possible place to stay and because they might have the pump for our forward holding tank. The marina was actually pretty small. There was plenty of depth inside and they said we could definitely navigate their channel at high tide as their big dive boat draws 4' 10" and can go in or out at low tide. One big drawback is that the hurricane took out most of the posts they had marking their channel. The channel is pretty straight, but it is almost 4 miles long. From shore we could see one post and one buoy. A challenge for sure. We'd need a good reason to go in there. Oh, and they didn't have the pump.

The marina is associated with a resort that is a few miles further north and on the eastern (Atlantic) side of the island. We went there for lunch. They had outdoor seating so Fuzzy could sit with us. We had a light lunch because of the early dinner reservations. It was a beautiful view. It's very windy right now and the Atlantic was full of white caps. We were pretty surprised to see a sailboat come into view. They were really sailing fast. We think it must have been a catamaran because it went at least 4 miles in about 20 minutes, and that's faster than we think a monohull could go.

After lunch we continued north. We were using our chart book as a road map as there are no good maps of the island. At the very northern tip of the island the chart showed the Columbus Monument with a small road leading to it. Bud had heard this wasn't a very good road but we decided to try it. Not only was it a not very good road, in places it really wasn't a road at all! It was a couple of tracks over rocks and through brush. We almost turned back, but the weeds and brush didn't seem to be hurting the Toyota so we kept going. It was only a bit over 2 miles but took forever. I'm glad we went there, though. It was beautiful. The monument was up on a cape made of white rock. The cape is Cape Santa Maria and is reputed to have been named that because Columbus lost his flagship, the Santa Maria, on a reef off the cape. There is a vicious looking reef just east of the cape. The monument didn't mention that, though, it just noted the date Columbus came there and was actually dedicated to the aboriginal Lucayan people, who were wiped out by the Spanish in a few short years. To the north was open water. To the west was the banks, but to the east was a gorgeous shallow bay. I took a picture of the bay looking down from the cape. We were 40 or 50 feet above it and you could look down and see the rocks and sand of the bay. That is the picture I'll post with this entry when I get internet again. (There are several others from the day I'll add to the gallery.) We saw 6 huge rays swimming together into the bay. When they got to a narrow part in the sand channel they swam side by side so they covered the whole channel. Any fish in that channel would find a wall of rays! I timed our trip back out, we made better time because Bud knew what to expect but we still averaged 7.5 mph. Such speed.

Since we were that far we drove to the end of the main road. It ended at the north end on the Atlantic side. There was a narrow old cement bridge across a small channel to another small island, Newton Cay. It looked like that had started to be developed years ago and was abandoned.

By then it was getting on time to get the laundry. Fuzzy was enjoying the car so much we decide we could stop and feed him, pick up the laundry and then let Fuzzy stay in the car while we had dinner. We pulled into a siding on the way back which was supposed to be the Adderly Plantation ruins. We didn't find any ruins, but we did find a nice little beach and got Fuzzy to take his pill (embedded in a piece of cheese) and eat some of his dinner. Just before we got to the ruins, we passed Adderly's store. The people who ran the store were most likely direct descendants of the slaves on the Adderly Plantation. The freed slaves took the name of the plantation owner. The English plantation owners left the Bahamas, for the most part, but their freed slaves formed the majority of the population going forward.

We got back to the Laundromat at 4:55, but our wash wasn't done. The man who ran the laundry said he had to deliver some other laundry in the Salt Pond area, so he would stop by the restaurant and bring us ours! We got back to the restaurant at about 5:20. We were in plenty of time. We had a drink and talked to some other boaters and about an hour later were served the buffet. There was cole slaw, potato salad, bar-be-qued ribs, fish fingers, chicken wings (she called them chicken fingers) macaroni and cheese, cracked conch and cracked lobster. It was all very well made and very typically Bahamian. We were just beginning to worry about the laundry when the man showed up. Fuzzy slept in the back seat of the car and never even noticed when I loaded the laundry in the truck. Everything worked out nicely, and the boaters we'd been talking to helped us from the car to the beach with their flashlights (we hadn't brought any lights thinking we'd be back to the boat before dark). Altogether a fine day, and it was good to get off the boat!

Out and Back Again
02/02/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island

We're still here in Thompson Bay. No laundry was available at the Long Island Breeze so Bud took me ashore at what we thought was a beach and turned out to be gravel. I let Fuzzy pee and then sent Bud and Fuzzy back to the boat and I walked up to the car rental place, Fox Auto. Not only was the beach not a beach, but the lane turned out to be someone's driveway. It was directly behind Fox Auto, may have been theirs, but if so it was for their house. Anyway, I walked out to the road and in to the car rental place and made arrangements for a car for noon tomorrow until noon on Saturday. We heard rumors that the Thompson Bay Inn might be having a buffet dinner tomorrow evening, and Bud wanted to go but didn't want to walk. So we decided to do our touring and laundry earlier in the day and have the car to go to the buffet if it happens.

After I reserved the car "Sure we'll have one for you; what's the name of your boat?" I walked up a bit to the other grocery store in the area. I didn't get a whole lot because we want to go to Mr. Pinder's for vegetables. I looked for fruit, but there really wasn't much there. And biggest disappointment of all, they didn't have any local bread. I ended up getting a loaf of rye bread made in Pennsylvania. After I was done at the grocery store I walked back down the road to the marine store. Someone told us since they serve the local fishing fleet they might have a replacement for our forward head tank overboard pump. They did not. Then I called Bud on our hand- held VHF radio and had him pick me up at the dock we'd been told was private, but available for cruisers to use. At least it was at the end of a little street and not down someone's driveway.

In the afternoon we decided since it was a mild day, and since Friday and Saturday are supposed to blow like stink, it was a good day to go out and empty our rear holding tank. That's the only one we're using now and it looked like it was getting full again. A lot of people just pump their tanks out at night, or don't use a holding tank at all, but since this is a wide, shallow bay we were reluctant to pump out at night if we didn't need to. Anyway, we pulled up the anchor again and headed out. This time we didn't even bother with sails. There isn't any deep water within 30 miles of here, so we just went a couple of miles out onto the banks, emptied the tank and came back. Again we anchored just about where we were.

We did see an odd boat approaching the island on our way back in. I took a picture of it which I'll put in the gallery when I have Internet again. Bud saw it later when he took the dinghy past the government dock fishing. He said it was from Islamarada, Florida, appeared to have a load of building materials and was basically a motorized barge. Nothing he'd like to ride out any bad weather in.

We also may have disappointed another boat in the harbor. As we made our way back to our old spot we saw another boat with its anchor up, also heading further towards shore. They may have thought we left and been moving to take our spot, but we beat them back to it. There's actually plenty of room here, and they did anchor quite a bit closer to shore than they had been, perhaps in anticipation of the predicted winds (20 knots steady with gusts to 25 knots, tomorrow night). We should be all safe and secure, Bud backed off on the anchor with the engine up to 2400 RPM in reverse and the boat didn't move. We couldn't check the anchor visually, yet because the prop kicks up so much silt in this harbor that you can't see the bottom. Hopefully we can check it tomorrow morning before the wind kicks up too much and that stirs the bottom. It would be nice to check it before we go off and leave the boat in a rising wind, although the holding is very good here, and I'm sure we're fine.

Bud did catch a fish on his expedition. He caught a three and-a-half foot shark, too bid to eat, but it made him happy. He said he was able to release it with the hook releaser Gary gave him without ever having to touch the fish, so that was nice. Now we're just about to eat, so I'm going to try to get this posted.

Getting Business Done
02/01/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island

We came back to Long Island Breeze. I am doing the banking I needed to do on the first of the month, Bud got water again. I took a picture this time of Bud under the dock in the dinghy getting water. At the end of the dock is the Bahama Raider, a fishing boat that was taking on 1000 gallons of non-potable water that they use on the boat during fishing trips. An older man was on shore near the dock and I said hello. He was Harry Harding, and it was his boat, though his sons now operate it. He's been fishing here for 34 years in that boat. It's a fiberglass boat and still looks pretty good. They go out on the banks for lobsters. They have 6 small boats they tow and 12 divers. They free-dive, it's against the law to use SCUBA gear to take fish in the Bahamas. I understand they often go down over 20 feet for them. Mr. Harding said they wash the lobsters with salt water and freeze them right on the boat.

We were going to do the laundry, but during the cruiser's net this morning they announced that the laundry list was full for the day. We didn't realize there was a laundry list. When we came in we asked about getting on the list, but they are not sure when they will open the laundry again because right now there are no water deliveries.

While we're here I'm updating the blog. Our plans to go to the Jumentoes are on hold for a bit. It turns out that we missed our window to catch the tide right to make it through the Comer Passage. The next opportunity will be around February 10, 11 or 12. So we are now planning to leave Sunday and go north to Cat Island for a day or so and then come back down to get ready for the Jumentoes. Another boat heard us asking Chris Parker (the weather guru) about the sea state for a passage up to Cat. They called us on the VHF and asked about sailing up there with us. We're delighted to have another boat along, so will firm up the plans with them.

It works out because we do need to do the wash before we go. We may rent a car and take our laundry to another laundromat we've heard about.

Also while we were here the mail boat came to Salt Pond. It's a pretty big deal. Bud took some pictures which I'll add to the gallery. Keep in mind when you look at them that the channel here is about 6 feet deep at low tide!

Monday Night Social
01/30/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island

I didn't write an entry yesterday. We had a very quiet day. We ran the generator and vacuumed the boat. I read; a lot. In the afternoon a couple in a dinghy came by to say that they were organizing a social for this afternoon at 4 PM; bring drinks and some kind of food to share. They said there really hadn't been any get together except the football play-off party, which was too many people to meet everyone. Now that there were fewer boats in the harbor they thought it would be nice to get folks together again.

There are fewer boats now, there were only four boats at this end of the harbor that morning, then one boat left and two more came in. Another couple of boats came in this morning, including the folks on the other Norseman. I called them on the radio this afternoon to tell them about the social, then Anne, on Camelot, who organized the social put out a general announcement.

In the end I think there were about 16 people who came. There is a complex of buildings just south of the Long Island Breeze Resort and the government dock that is used for the island regatta and cultural days. It's sort of the Bahamian version of a county fairgrounds. In any case, on one end is a covered deck with benches around it and a big table in the middle and that's where we met. Another boater was taking a picture of the gathering, which reminded me to take a picture, so when I get back to the Internet again I'll post it.

We had our usual nice time. I talked for a while to Francie, on Barefootin', the other Norseman. They have been cruising for 10 years. At first they thought they would circumnavigate, but at the time they started people were having trouble with pirates, even around some of the northern Caribbean Islands. Then they met cruisers who had been all around the Caribbean, and even into the Pacific and said the Bahamas were the best place to cruise they had been. We met someone who said that last year, they had come from Europe. So Bob and Francie have been cruising the Bahamas for the 10 years they've been aboard. I don't know what we'll do long term, but I know there are tons of places we have yet to see in the Bahamas and it is nice to be in a place that can be both very remote, and yet still close to the States.

Poor Fuzzy is still having trouble. He was up again a good part of the night last night. We gave him extra Prozac again and may even need to add Valium (again the vet said it was safe to do that). We hate to over medicate him, but it's so pathetic when he just stands and stares at things and you try to hold and comfort him and you can't, he just trembles in your arms and tries to get away. Then he goes and stands and stares again. I think at the very least we will consistently give him one tablet of Prozac a day, instead of the half tablet he's been on.

15 Miles to Nowhere
01/28/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island

I was pretty excited for a while today because I thought I was going to be able to enter a new position for the blog. That didn't happen, and I'll get to that later, but we ended up having a pretty full day, for us.

It started out with a bad night for Fuzzy. he ended up sleeping out in the salon and spent a part of the night pacing. By 6 AM he was pretty agitated again. We gave him another half pill, then Bud took him to shore. It wasn't even full daylight yet. Fuzzy did need to go to the bathroom rather badly. When Bud got him back he started to settle down. We're not sure if it was the extra half pill or just that he was exhausted from his night of pacing, but he was more than calm.

The weather predicted fairly light wind for today and tomorrow. Bud thought we should take advantage of the light wind and lay in some more water. While we were at it we decided to get a load of wash done and buy some produce. The mail boat was in at Clarence Town late Thursday, so stores here got their supplies yesterday. After the cruiser's net here (where I did make an announcement about Mr. Pinder's vegetables) we got things together and went to Long Island Breeze. Most of the boats in the harbor had left and we were the only ones at the resort when we got there. Bud got two loads of water from Long Island Petroleum while I did the wash. Getting the water was a trip in itself. We took our 50 foot collapsible hose so we could hook up to their spigot inside their fence and fill the jugs outside the fence and save a lot of walking around. However, they now have the water working on the dock. Their dock was damaged in Hurricane Irene. The water works, the only problem is, most of the deck of the dock is still missing. If Bud couldn't manage to fill the jugs from the dinghy I'd have to balance on the side frame to walk out past the missing sections of dock. Bud brought the dinghy right under the dock. He could stand up and reach through the missing deck and hook our hose tot he spigot and operate the lever. 50 feet of collapsible, fabric hose was a bit hard to manage in the dinghy. Once he laid it out in circles around the dinghy so it wouldn't kink he managed to use it.

While the clothes were drying I tried calling our daughter on Skype. Happily, I got her, and with no one else using the Internet, Skype was working great. I finally had a nice long talk. How I've missed it! Bud came back and had a chance to talk to her, too. We ordered a pizza from Long Island Breeze for lunch and while that was getting ready I called my brother. Bud and I both got to talk to him, too. After lunch Bud went across the street for groceries and I called my Mom. What a treat. Bud came back because he'd left his wallet with me, so I went back to pay for the groceries and he called his Mom. For some reason he wasn't able to talk to her. Either other people (who had come in by then) were on the Internet, or her phone wasn't working or something. Anyway, it was after 1 PM by then, so we took our stuff and went back to the boat.

On the way back Bud suggested we weigh anchor and move 5 miles or so south to an area called Grey's Bight. There was supposed to be an OK anchorage there, and there is a blue hole that's about 35 feet deep in an area or water less than a meter deep. We wanted to take the dinghy and snorkel there. So we woke up Fuzzy (who was sleeping), took him ashore, got everything ready and took off. By then it was going on 2:30. Since it wasn't that far we put out the jib and sailed down. The wind was light but we were doing about 5.5 knots with just the jib. The last leg was due east, almost directly into the wind, so we took in the sail and motored in. The Chartbook advised "holding varies, look for patch of sand". So I had the anchor hanging off the bow roller ready to drop as we headed into the area. There was one trawler (we think it was Saranade, the boat belonging to the authors of the Explorer Chartbooks). There were also a few fishing boats up there. We didn't want to get too close to them, for one thing, it was likely to be too shallow for us up there. We looked for sand, but everywhere seemed to be the same, sand with rocks here and there. We tried a likely looking place and the anchor wouldn't set, so we hauled it up and tried again. We went a bit to port, I thought the sand looked better there, but again, once you got near it all looked the same, and again, the best looking spot we saw didn't have enough sand to hold. Bud wanted to try over towards a sand beach to starboard. I was concerned because I knew it got shallow there (actually, it got shallow a long ways from shore in every direction, the whole trip down we hadn't been in more than 12 feet of water). Anyway, we decided to give it one last try and if that didn't work we'd go back. We tried, Bud backed off and the anchor held, but he only pushed it to 2000 RPM in reverse, and he usually does more. Before we set the snubber we quickly got in the dinghy with the viewing bucket and went to check the anchor. The Rocna had tried. The tip was dug in about a foot, but it wasn't what I would call set. Bud asked if I just wanted to lay out a bunch more chain and call it good, since there wasn't supposed to be much wind tonight. I did not. I think we're a bit obsessive, but after going through a 50 knot storm last year when the forecast said there was "no energy" in the atmosphere, my policy is to be prepared for the worst. So we hauled the anchor back up and motored as fast as we could right back to where we were. We went 14.87 nautical miles and we think we're about 50 feet north of the spot we left.

Fuzzy was sleeping again, so we woke him up and fed him supper. By the time we took him to shore it was getting dark. We've been seeing crabs swimming in this water, some as large as about 6 inches across the body. We also saw a shark in about 2 feet of water swimming along the shore. It was probably a harmless nurse shark and it was under 3 feet, but it was still a shark. So it was with some care that I waded out pulling the dinghy to get to water deep enough to use the engine. I was up to about my knees when suddenly something bumped against my leg. I let out a yelp and did a little dance only to turn and see the paddle that Bud had prodded me with that he'd dropped in the water. Ha, ha, Bud. I guess it was an appropriate ending to a weird day.

I added photos to the other entries this morning. I know I took at least one picture today, but I can't remember what it was. Anyway, Long Island Breeze is closed tomorrow and Monday, so no photos until Tuesday. I just added this photo of the store with its Christmas decorations still up along the top of the overhang.

Why I Like the Bahamas
01/27/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island

It was windy again today and Bud's heel is still sore so we were staying aboard this morning. We decided we'd better tackle trimming Fuzzy. Bud started while I was doing the dishes. Then I came over and helped to hold him. We got his top poof trimmed, his feet his ears, and some of his legs. That was about it. He does look better, though Bud didn't shave his face, so his ears are short but his face is still a bit shaggy and that looks a bit odd.

I wanted to take a walk this afternoon, but Bud didn't want to do three dinghy trips because the water was getting so rough. In the end, Fuzzy started to show some signs of distress, so about 3:30 we decided we had to take him in. Bud agreed to come back to the boat with Fuzzy and let me stay on shore. I would then call on the hand-held VHF when I was ready to come back, by then Fuzzy would have eaten and would be ready for his evening visit ashore. I decided to see what was up the little road that led around the north side of Thompson Bay and out towards Indian Hole Point. It isn't much of a road, just a dirt lane. I will put a couple of photos in the gallery, one of the larger part of the lane, where there are some houses and one bar/restaurant, and one of the end of the road, past the houses, where it is literally just two tracks through the sand and rock. It was about a mile and a half to the end where the road curved down to the edge of the bay. I took a couple of photos there, including this self portrait using the timer on the camera.

The entire time I was walking out there I didn't see anyone. As I turned to leave I saw another woman quite a ways down the shore picking her way along the rocks. I waved to her as I left by the road. Not long after I reached the "busy" part of the road a car passed me headed out, like I was. I was surprised because I thought I'd only come by one house so far. It was a Bahama Electric Company car and the man waved as he passed. About a half mile later another car passed, also headed out. This was a couple in an SUV and they stopped, put down their window and said hello.

Finally, as I got close to the path over to the beach, an older black man in a van drove in. He also stopped. I went a few steps back to where he stopped and he introduced himself. "Hi, I am Mr. Stanley Pinder and I sell vegetables." He pronounced all four syllables, ve-ge-ta-bles. He told me he figured I was a cruiser and just wanted to let the cruisers know that he had vegetables. He said he was the only one around here who grew vegetables and he sold to the Hillside Store and to Stella Maris Resort. He had some in his truck, which he showed me. He had a beautiful bunch of bok choy, which I admired. He said he was taking it to a friend. He tried to describe where he was located. I told hem we'd definitely come by. He offered me the other bunch of bok choy he had, even though I had no money with me. He said it was $2.00 for the bunch. I told him I'd bring the money over when we came to look at the rest of his produce (finding local produce is a big deal). I then tried to clarify where he was. I asked him if I needed to go left or right at the main road if I was to walk there from where we were. "Oh, you can't walk there, it's too far." Said he. I told him I didn't have a car, so I'd better not take his bok choy because I probably couldn't get to his place to pay him. But he insisted that I take it. "Just eat it and enjoy it and let the other people on the boats know about me." So I will.

And that is what the people are like here. I was walking along in a place that looked desolate and felt perfectly safe and in fact, everyone I met was friendly and in the case of Mr. Pinder, beyond friendly, kind and generous. That's the Bahamas and aside from the weather, the gorgeous water and the beautiful beaches, it's full of beautiful people.

01/28/2012 | jon and arline
Well said.................

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