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S/V Earendil
Exploring by Foot and Dinghy
02/06/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island

This morning we got a call from Carol and Rick on Rhapsody. They were planning to leave for a short hop around noon, but before they went they were going to walk back to the beach on the Atlantic side they had told me about and wondered if I wanted to come. Of course I did! We took Fuzzy ashore and I got ready and ended up being late. We tried to raise them on the radio, no answer, so I told Bud I'd like him to take me to the dock near Fox Auto where we were going to meet. Happily, they were still there.

I took Fuzzy in the front pack. I thought he'd enjoy the walk on the beach, but was pretty sure he wouldn't enjoy the walk to the beach. So Rick and Carol and I walked and Fuzzy rode. It was only about a mile, I think it was a shorter walk than the one Bud and I took. It's another beautiful beach. I'll post a picture I took of Rick and Carol on the beach tomorrow and add another one I took of just the beach to the gallery. Fuzzy did enjoy the walk on the beach, in fact he was willing to keep walking and was only persuaded to get in the pack when I climbed up the little ridge from the beach to the road in. He didn't want to be left behind. Once we were back at the dock I called Bud on the radio to come and get me and we were back on the boat by 10:30.

Then this afternoon Bud said he wanted to take the dinghy down to the south end of the bay again to try to find the blue holes and either snorkel or fish. I decided I'd come along and take Fuzzy and have him drop me off at one of the little islands in the bay there. Since I was going to get off the boat, Bud decided to just anchor and fish. He dropped Fuzzy and I in the shallows near Eva's Cay, which is the biggest of the islands in the bay and is roughly triangular in shape. I thought from the chart there were beaches on two sides, but they weren't really beaches, there was iron shore just under the sand. That's why Fuzzy and I waded ashore. I took a picture of Bud going back out in the dinghy.

After foraging one direction and the other and picking about in the sand and iron shore, Fuzzy and I finally started walking along an edge of sand behind the iron shore and just in front of the thick vegetation. I broke off a dead palmetto frond which I used as a spider web broom for the places where I had to walk between the bushes. It actually ended up being pretty easy walking and we walked all the way around the perimeter of the island. I took a few more pictures that I'll add to the gallery. There is a smaller island just to the east of Eva's Cay that has a house on it. I got a picture of the island, you can almost see the house. On the west side is a wrecked mail boat with a hawk's nest on the top of the old crane. I got pictures of the boat and nest and of the hawk, which kept circling us and calling out. I'm not sure if it was protesting us being around it's nest or sizing up Fuzzy as a possible meal.

Not too long after we finished our walk, Bud finished fishing and I waded back out with Fuzzy in the pack to get picked up. Bud hadn't had any luck. We stopped for a couple of minutes on the way back near the Long Island Petroleum dock and Bud put a few casts out. He had a mullet head on the hook and something was chewing on it but he got no strikes. It was probably crabs going after his bait.

Bud's out fishing again, just off the boat. Fuzzy is sleeping on the settee. I think Fuzzy will sleep well tonight!

Super Bowl Party
02/05/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island

This entry is for February 5, Super Bowl Sunday. I'll have to correct the date when I add the pictures. I don't know if I can change the date on these remote posts and I didn't write this until the sixth, so that's the date that will post.

Anyway, since we didn't leave Long Island we decided to go to the Super Bowl Party being held at the Long Island Breeze restaurant. Fuzzy had seemed really anxious to get off the boat again during the day yesterday, so we decided to take him and his bed and set him up in the breeze-way area on the ground floor while we went up into the restaurant on the second floor for the festivities. While we were getting ready a call came over the radio for any boat in the Thompson Bay area. Gideon answered, the boat furthest to the north and west. The caller said the couple on Margareta had just called them on their cell phone from their dinghy and they'd lost their engine. Fairhaven, the caller, asked if Gideon could see them, if they were getting back to their boat OK. Gideon couldn't, but we are anchored right behind Margareta, so I stuck my head out and saw them, just about 50 yards from their boat. I got on the radio and let Fairhaven know that they were OK. It was too late for us to go assist them. They made it back to their boat before we could have gotten in our dinghy. At Bud's suggestion, I called them to see if they wanted to ride with us over to the Super Bowl Party. They were very grateful for the offer, and if we didn't mind, they would love to come with us. We finished getting our stuff together and went and picked them up. With four of us and Fuzzy in the dinghy (Fuzzy was in his front pack) we couldn't get the boat up on plane, so it was a slow ride and we all got a little splashed, but we didn't mind at all. It was nice to get to talk to them, we've been anchored right near them for a couple of weeks, and hadn't really met them. It turns out that Fairhaven isn't a boat, it's a house! It's a couple from Cleveland that has a house here on Long Island for the winters and an RV back home in Cleveland for the summers. They've gotten to know a lot of the cruisers over the years, so they ended up getting a VHF radio to talk to them. They were very happy that we'd given Bill and Margaret, from Margareta, a ride, since they'd made plans to meet them at the Long Island Breeze, but they have no boat and no way to help them get there.

The couple on Camelot that had organized the Monday night get together also added some extras for the cruisers get together last evening. They set up a conch horn blowing contest and a football pool. I took my trusty conch horn in and came in dead last on the horn blowing contest. I'm not sure if mine is difficult to blow, if I don't have the technique down, or if I just don't have any lung capacity, but the best I could do was a 9 second blow. I'll have to practice. I think by was of a consolation prize they gave me a certificate for best looking conch horn. Mine tied with another really gorgeous horn that was made from a different king of shell, the man thought it was a Trident. He'd bought the shell locally and made it into a horn. My shell isn't that pretty, but being made from a conch just harvested and since it's never been in the sun, it's not bleached so the colors are very nice, especially the pearly pink inside the shell.

The football game was fun to watch. Most of the folks seemed to be Giants fans, so they were happy. Bud bought two squares for the football pool and we would have won $10 if the Patriots had made a field goal in the last seconds of the second quarter instead of the touchdown they got. Oh well, we don't often win anything like that. I met the couple from Fairhaven and talked to Penny, the wife, for a while. We talked to some of the other friends we've made here at Long Island and actually stayed for the whole game. I think the folks from Fairhaven left after the third quarter and Bill and Margaret said they would leave anytime we wanted to, but we ended up staying for the whole thing. Bob and Francie from Barefootin' gave Bill a ride home, so there were only 3 in each dinghy.

After the conch horn blowing contest Fuzzy finally gave up and laid down in his bed and slept through the whole game. I walked him a bit just before we left and he rode back to the boat in the front pack. It was amazing how well you could see. There were thin clouds over about a three-quarter moon and you could see the bottom in the six or seven foot deep water we ran through. One of the things that amazes me here is that the water still looks blue, even at night. Deep water looks black unless there's a lot of moonlight, but the shallow water looks blue, even by starlight.

I missed another beautiful picture. We had rain come through in the morning. We took Fuzzy ashore fairly early, it was just misting here and was raining to the southwest. There was probably the brightest rainbow I've ever seen. One end of it was right at the edge of the bay, it had a faint double rainbow and there was a third rainbow outside those two. The brightest rainbow was reflected in the water. I mentioned to some of the folks at the party how nice it is to be somewhere where rain is a treat!

Still Here
02/04/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island

We listened to Chris Parker this morning. Winds are going to be somewhat variable on Monday and the sea state should be fine to go to Cat Island. There are three other problems, though. First there is an increased chance of an occasional squall and the further north we go (we'd end up about 60 miles further north) the greater the chance of hitting a squall. Second, Rick and Carol on Rhapsody aren't going, they are worried about the squalls and Carol isn't feeling well. And the deal breaker, Bud's planar faceitis (if that's what it is) got worse after the walking we did yesterday so he definitely should stay off his foot. He'd be using it a lot to sail up there, then when we got there I'd have no one to hike up to the Hermitage with, and that's the main draw of New Bight, Cat Island. So we've decided we should stay here and try to get Bud's foot on the mend.

We hadn't made that decision this morning, because Rhapsody hadn't decided yet. We just went about our business. We loaded up the computer and the water jugs and took the dinghy to the beach. Fuzzy and I walked to the car after greeting Jennifer and Mark and their two dogs from Starlet. Actually, I had to carry Fuzzy once we left the beach because he doesn't like walking on the rough stone of the path. He does like riding in the car, though. I loaded the computer and Fuzzy in the car and drove the mile or two to Long Island Petroleum where I paid for 20 more gallons of water. Fuzzy happily waited in the car while I walked down to tell Bud the water was on and chatted a minute with two other folks (Norma and Jay on Priority) who had just gotten back from a few days in the Jumentoes. They really enjoyed it and gave us more encouragement to go. When I paid for the water I asked about Mr. Pinder's place because Bud and I hadn't found it yesterday. He gave me good directions, and I thought to ask if there was a sign out front. No sign; that's why we'd missed it. So while Bud was filling and ferrying water jugs Fuzzy and I drove the five miles or so up to find Mr. Stanley Pinders. He was just coming out of his house and was in a hurry because he had to deliver a car to someone who called (he also rents cars). He solved his dilemma by selling me a bag of vegetables he'd put together for someone else (he'd get them more later) and having me follow him to his garden so he could cut me some more bok choy. That was where I missed my first photo opportunity. Mr. Pinder's had about two acres under cultivation, and I think by Bahamian standards he had good soil, but any of my gardening friends in the States would have deemed the patch untillable. I don't think the soil was more than six inches deep anywhere in his garden. He did have a well and irrigation set up and he had a good looking garden. The arrangement wasn't precise by our standards, since plants were put where the soil would support them, which meant no rows and an odd arrangement of species. It seemed to be working. We got some nice tomatoes, peppers, a solid head of cabbage and more bok choy. I wish I had taken a picture to post but I never thought of it until about an hour later.

Once we had the vegetables Fuzzy and I dropped the garbage off at the government dock and waited for Bud to come. He picked up some groceries and then took Fuzzy and the groceries back to the boat. I put the computer and some books I wanted to exchange in a corner up in the restaurant at Long Island Breeze and filled the car with gas (we'd used well under a quarter of a tank and it still cost $19 to fill it) and took the car back to Fox Auto. I'm sure most of the people who are reading this blog have returned a car to a rental agency in the US. Someone comes and checks the car over, makes sure the tank is full, has you sign another sheaf of papers and your done. You usually leave the keys in the car. Not so at Fox's. The woman at the counter asked for the keys and said, "That's it." We chatted a minute about the day we'd had using the car (I didn't mention driving it down the track to the Columbus Monument) and I walked out.

I went down to the dock to wait for Bud to come back from putting the groceries and Fuzzy aboard. That's when I missed my second photo opportunity of the day. This time I did try. I was sitting and looking into the water that was about five or six feet deep in the area of the dock when suddenly I saw a very pretty little sea turtle. When I say little, I mean only a couple of feet long, not like the big ones that are three, four or more feet long. Of course by the time I dug my camera out of my purse h was underwater. He surfaced again, but so briefly I had no chance to get the shot. When Bud got back we went to Long Island Breeze, we had lunch and I used the Internet. I got to post the pictures from the last two days, but alas, no photo from today.

That's also when I learned about Carol on Rhapsody and we decided not to go to Cat Island. We'll attend the Super Bowl party at Long Island Breeze instead. Hopefully Bud's foot will get some better and we'll get to go to the Jumentoes next week.

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!

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