03/20/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
I had a great day today. First off, Bud invited Jeri and Ingo from Ladyhawke, the other Norseman 447 in the rally, over for breakfast. He had them come at 7:45, so before that we both needed to get up and dressed, I needed to straighten things up and make the bed and Bud needed to get breakfast started. We needed to listen to the weather report and get Fuzzy ashore. We got all that done and had a great time with them. Bud made biscuits and had sausage, eggs, a little ham and grapefruit. Geri brought some V-8 juice, which was a real treat for us. Skip, Ingo took one look at the photo of us crossing the finish line and said we needed a hydraulic backstay tightener so we could get the slack out of the forestay. Well, we'll put it on the list.
They rented an SUV for three days and invited us to tour the island with them. Another cruiser, Joe from Onward who single-hands, was also going. Bud declined, but I went along. Both Joe and I have toured Long Island, but neither of us had ever been all the way to the southern end. Since Geri and Ingo hadn't seen any of it at all, they elected to head south today. We stopped and did a few errands along the way and drove all the way until the road ended at the south end of the island. There was a small sand road off to the west that cut over to a beautiful beach. There are anchorages marked on the chart along the beaches. These would be a good jumping off point if you were going further south. The water was very shallow a long ways out, so these weren't the best of anchorages. There was one catamaran anchored where we could see it.
From there we headed back north and decided to try to find Little Harbour. It's on the charts as a possible anchorage along the east coast of Long Island (there are only two anchorages along this 80 mile coast, Little Harbour and Clarence Town). The chart showed a road going back off the main road over to Little Harbour, which has no town or settlement near it. We followed a road east. At one point the "main" road appeared to go left, but a smaller road continued straight. Since the chart indicated that we should go straight until we had to make a left, we continued on the smaller road. It got very small indeed. It was just two tracks through the weeds. Finally we came over a hill and down to the ocean. There was a narrow area in front of us fringed by reefs. It was pretty windy today, and we couldn't see any good place to enter the "harbor". It didn't look much like a harbor, either. We walked along the beach and I found a half-dozen more heart beans and one more, nearly perfect, hamburger bean. When we left the area I looked at the chart again and said I thought we'd come past Little Harbor to the next area of reefs and beaches. We took the left back where the smaller road started, and sure enough, we found Little Harbour. This was a very nicely sheltered area. When we walked far enough along to get at least an oblique look at the entrance we could see why the area was undeveloped. There were breaking waves all across the entrance in today's brisk winds. Since the prevailing winds are from the east, like today, the harbor entrance isn't tenable if the prevailing winds pipe up at all. We saw at least four wrecked boats in there, one of which was about a 30-foot sailboat. That boat was just the hull; every piece of metal on it had been stripped, including the through-hull fittings. You could still read that it was from Boston, MA, although the boat name was gone. Jeri and I agreed that seeing wrecks like that was sad and scary.
When we finally got back to the main road we headed up to Clarence Town in search of lunch. We ended up at Rowdy Boys Bar and Grill, which is housed in a pink building with lions and dolphins decorating the parapet. Not exactly a Rowdy Boy image. They had good food, and a great view of the Atlantic and the entrance to the Clarence Town harbor. After we ate we went outside and talked to a couple of men about two Bahamian sailboats they were working on. The two boats had been damaged in the hurricane and were now being readied for the Family Regattas to be held in April. As we walked back to the car we saw a sport-fishing boat out past the entrance to the harbor. It was really rough out there. He came up along the point and then turned and headed into the channel. He was going flat out to handle the waves and as he approached the channel we could see him surfing down the waves. It looked like quite a ride! He made it in without any problems that we could see.
After lunch we went back to see Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Clarence Town that the famous Father Jerome designed. We talked to the priest, who is from Rhode Island. He's the only priest for the 5 operating Catholic churches on Long Island. He told us it was okay to go in the church and to climb up the towers. The inside of the tower we climbed was quite narrow. There were winding stairs to the first floor and then three more ladders to the top of the tower. It was so narrow at the top that Ingo could not fit his shoulders through the opening. The other three of us did manage to climb out on the parapet. What a great view. The church sits on a hill and from the tower you could see all of Clarence Town (not that there is all that much to Clarence Town).
Our last stop of the day was Dean's Blue Hole. After climbing up to get a birds-eye view of the deepest blue hole in the world, Jeri continued along a trail that curved in a natural indentation in the wall that surrounds the back of the blue hole. I followed her and got this photo of the cliffs. You can just see Jeri ahead on the path. I put the other pictures I took today in the gallery.
We finally got back around 7 PM. Jeri and Ingo invited Bud and I over to see their Norseman and have a drink, but Bud had already started cooking supper, so we decided to go over for coffee tomorrow at the more civilized hour of 9 AM. When we got back to the Island Breeze, Joe got a copy of the race results from Saturday. We were pretty happy to see that in actual, uncorrected time Ladyhawke and Earendil were numbers 2 and 3 of all the monohulls (about 25 boats) and were just 4 and 5 and-a-half minutes respectively behind the fifty-foot Beneteau, French Kiss. Ingo isn't too happy that he only beat us by a minute and-a-half as he's been racing for over 30 years and we're novices. I told him it's just because the Norseman is such a well-designed boat it will sail well even if you can't tighten your forestay and don't run the traveler up and ease the main properly.
03/19/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
Tonight we went to the Island Breeze for the awards dinner for the George Town to Long Island Rally. The folks who were on the big power catamaran that was one side of the finish line were there and brought their computer. They had taken pictures of everyone as they approached the end of the race. They had them all on their computer and if you brought a memory stick or some other way to get the images you could get your pictures. This is Bud and my favorite of the seven pictures they took of us. There were 30 boats in the rally, so taking all those pictures and making them available was a very nice thing to do.
The dinner was another buffet. Bud and I both had fish, and there were the usual Bahamian side dishes, macaroni and cheese, rice and peas, cole slaw, potato salad, pickled beets and corn bread. It was a nice meal. The buffet was set up outside on the deck, which is a great place for parties, I put a picture of it in the gallery. The food at Tryphena's is better, though. Bud took a picture of all the dinghies at their dinghy dock. It's a pretty impressive array. I put that in the gallery, too.
After dinner they gave out the awards. There were three categories of monohull boats and one for the catamarans. They gave first through fifth place for each category, so there were a lot of awards. Everyone except first place got a flag, the first place winners in each category got a flag, a hat, and a bottle of rum. Earendil took 3rd place in our category, which made us feel pretty good, as it was our first rally. There was another Norseman 447, Ladyhawke; she took 2nd place. An Island Packet 44 took 1st place. This is all on corrected time; the boats are given handicaps based on their length, whether they have a fixed or folding prop, and whether they have a furling main and a lot of other things.
Bud and I had a good time and we're glad we did this rally. We met a lot of nice folks and got a great picture of the boat!
03/18/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
Today was another get-together for those of the rally fleet (and anyone else) who wanted to participate. We had a one o'clock lunch buffet at Tryphena's. The north beach was lined with dinghies, hauled up on shore and secured with anchors set in the sand. The crowd straggled in along the path to the dirt road, then to the right to the main road and then left along the main road the few hundred yards to Club Thompson Bay. We and another couple didn't walk, though. We got to the dirt road just as a van was approaching, and in typical Long Island fashion, the driver stopped and insisted on taking us all to the club. He was going there himself.
I took the iPad with the pictures I'd taken yesterday, determined to identify the boats. I had great success. The big Beneteau I knew was French Kiss. The woman who owns her doesn't have boat cards yet, but I gave her ours and she will email me so I can send her a copy. The Gozzard is Manatee; they joined the rally en-route. I have their card and will send them the image. The boat with the grey stripe around the main is Expatriate, and they were with Manatee, but didn't join the rally. It took me the longest to find out their name. I'll have to hail them on the radio, as they weren't at the luncheon. And that heeling ketch is Moxie, a Reliant 43. The owners of Moxie were pretty thrilled with the picture. They are going to email me, too, as they didn't have boat cards with them. I'll probably also see them tomorrow. (I'll add the other boat pictures to the gallery.)
The buffet was abundant and typically Bahamian. There were crab legs, ribs, fish fingers, chicken fingers, chicken wings, some sort of stew over rice, and of course macaroni and cheese, pigeon peas and rice and cole slaw. I tried a little of everything and had a plate so heaping I could hardly carry it. There were a lot of people there. I finally remembered to take a picture after folks were filtering out, but all these tables were full and several tables off to the side. Tryphena does all the cooking herself. She thanked us all for coming and we signed a guest book she had there. Bahamians really go out of their way to make the cruisers feel welcome.
On our way back from the buffet we stopped by to visit with Bill and Margaret on Margarita. They had been at the last day of the Long Island Agro Exposition, also known as Mutton Fest, when we arrived yesterday. They said they saw the red stripe on our boat as they dinghied back to theirs at about 10:30 at night. Bill shone his flashlight on our bow and determined that it was, indeed, Earendil, back in her old spot. They were happy to see us again as when we left for George Town we did not expect to be coming back to Thompson Bay again this season. But here we are, for one last visit. We'll definitely miss this place when we've finally gone.
03/17/2012, Thompson Bay, Long Island
We made it back to Thompson Bay, Long Island in record time, Bud said it was 6 hours from when we raised anchor until it was set again. We came with the cruisers rally. They announced they had 33 boats signed up and they said there were 40 boats already here at Thompson Bay. That made Bud and I pretty worried about getting a good spot to anchor, so we were ready to go as soon as they announced that the fleet was taking off. The way the rally worked, you all leave the harbor at about the same time and make your way towards the destination. The actual timed part was from White Cay Bank waypoint, around the Indian Point waypoint, and up into the entrance to the harbor. But since you're all traveling together, the whole thing sort of feels like a race.
Anyway, we had the main raised and the anchor up within three minutes of when they said boats should get going. And then Bud had me pull out the jib still in the harbor. We had about three miles to sail in the harbor and we were among the first boats to the cut out of the harbor. We had to lay off the wind to take the jib in, because we had to motor almost directly into the wind to get out the cut. It was pretty bumpy because the tide was still going out and the wind was blowing in. Once we made it through the cut we put the sails back out and went along quite nicely.
We thought we'd have to motor the second leg, as we had to turn pretty close to windward. But the wind went a bit further north and we only used the engine for a little while. We reached the waypoint and let the race coordinator know and they recorded our time. We had all the sails out and this was a better point of sail and we were making good time. We may have had too much sail out, we took the staysail in because that's the only one I can handle without either turning downwind (jib) or up into the wind (main). It didn't help our speed, but it didn't hurt. We were making between 7 and 8 knots most of the time. We were passed on the way to the mark by two boats, a 50-foot Beneteau and a catamaran. We passed the three boats that had been ahead of us coming out of the harbor during the timed part. The last boat we passed was the ketch in this photo. I never did get their name, but am trying to find them to share this picture.
When we got past the last waypoint we had to come as close to the wind as we could, but we still couldn't lay the finish line. We sailed on to the point where Bud thought we could make it through with the wind on the other side and then we tacked. Bud judged correctly and we came between the two boats that were anchored as the finish line. They were a half-mile apart, but with the wind like it was, everyone was cutting very close to the boat on the port (left) side of the line. The nice folks on that boat took a picture of us as we crossed. We ended up being the third boat across, and we were able to come up and anchor in our old spot.
This evening we had a get together on the beach and met some of the other people in the rally. The lady on the Beneteau said they got a nice picture of us as they blew by us. (I also got a nice one of them.) So eventually I might have two more pictures of Earendil under sail. Parts of the day were pretty stressful to me, but in the end I did have fun.
03/16/2012, Elizabeth Harbour, George Town
This morning Bud surprised me by suggesting we join the George Town to Long Island Rally that's going tomorrow morning. We decided the weather was too iffy to try to get back down from the Exumas if we headed northwest from here for a few days. If we go southeast to Long Island again and the southeast trades set in, we can always get back northwest. We have to return next week because on the 26th our daughter and grandson are flying in to George Town. So Long Island is a logical destination, but we don't usually join a group of boats like that, but Bud said we should so we can meet some people. Okay by me.
That meant some chores had to get done today. So Bud took the dinghy back to town and made one run for water and a second to take in garbage and buy some beer and some groceries. He was done just before noon, but then we waited to here from our daughter because today is the day she learned where she will be doing her family practice residency. And since we've volunteered to help out the first year with childcare, it's where we will be spending the next boating season. She called about 1:30 to let us know she got her first choice, and we'll all be going to Texarkana (on the Texas-Arkansas boarder) in June. Not much cruising there, but there is good bass fishing.
After that we decided to try to do a bit of fishing/hiking today. We only had a bit over an hour because we'd decided to attend a happy hour on the beach at 5 and we needed to get back and feed Fuzzy and get our stuff ready for that. Since I wasn't going that far I took Fuzzy along. I walked a nature trail set up by folks from the Peace and Plenty Hotel who also run a Bar-B-Que place on Hamburger Beach (it's only open part of the time and I haven't seen it open yet). Anyway, I thought Fuzzy would walk these trails, but he soon tired and I put him in the front pack. Then I tripped over a small tree whose trunk was curved along the ground over the path. I fell headlong with Fuzzy in the pack. I fell onto my forearms, so Fuzzy wasn't hurt; I was just a bit sore and dusty. Not long after that I let Fuzzy walk on his own and he was happy to do it. The bench in the photo was one of several built along the trail. Bud picked us up at the dock again. He'd had one great bite, a large something took his hook, leader and sinker. So no fish today.
We had a nice visit with folks at the Happy Hour. We met folks who were former members of two yacht clubs we used to visit on Lake Ontario, Ash Bridges Bay and Port Credit. We also met the couple from New Passages, Cheryl and Bob. We'd met them way back in Vero Beach, so it was nice to see them here.
03/15/2012, Elizabeth Harbour, George Town
Bud wanted to try fishing again today, so I thought I'd do some hiking again. Stocking Island, which forms the eastern boundary of Elizabeth Harbour has quite a few very nice hiking trails. I hadn't been on the ones taking you to the north end of the island, so I thought I'd do that. We closed the boat up some, but the chance of squalls was slim today, so we didn't close it up tight. Fuzzy was staying aboard.
We still have only one hand held radio (since we seem to do these solo activities we really should have two) so we just set a time limit. We left the boat at about 10:15 and agreed to meet back on the beach at 1:30. I told Bud if I got back early I'd try to walk up to the beach closest to the boat, otherwise he'd find me at the beach with the dock as that had the trailheads for the northern trails.
I took a really nice trail over to the Atlantic side of the island (I guess technically this is the southern end of Exuma Sound, but since we're south of both Eleuthera and Cat Islands, there's really not much out there between us and the Atlantic). When I got there, this is the weather I saw. Since the wind was more or less in my face, that was the weather that was coming. It might go north or south of us a bit, or it might dissipate before it reached us. I kept walking. It was very comfortable and I had the whole beach to myself. I put two more pictures of the beaches in the album. By the way, there is no plastic trash on these beaches. There are so many cruisers that use Elizabeth Harbour that they police the beaches. You'll find some piles of bottles at the edges of the beaches, but periodically it all gets carted off.
It was a lovely walk. Just as I was getting nicely into the northern part, the weather hit. I was wearing my swimsuit with a shirt over it. That was probably good because I was soon soaked to my skin. I decided that Bud was probably not fishing in this, so I turned back. I took a different trail back to the harbor side of the island and then started down the beaches on that side. The rain let up as I approached the beach with the docks. I didn't see our dinghy anywhere, and thought perhaps Bud had decided to go back out. I was just debating taking off again on another trail when I saw Bud in the dinghy heading my way.
He'd been back to the boat. In the worst of the rain he couldn't see as far as the beach with the dock, so he put out a call on the radio to see if anyone in the anchorage saw me walking. They did, so he came out to get me. Unfortunately, as we were cruising back to the boat, the outboard quit. Bud restarted it a couple of times and each time it quit again. We were only about 100 yards from the boat, so we started paddling. Unfortunately, although the rain had quit, the wind hadn't, and it was pushing us behind the boat. We were paddling like mad and making very little progress. Bud kept yelling at me to paddle harder, but it was very tough going. A man in a dinghy came by and offered us a tow and Bud turned him down! We were very close to the boat by then, but the wind seemed to be getting stronger and our progress was slowing. Fortunately the man hung around a bit and when he saw our poor progress came back. This time we took the tow for the last 50 feet or so.
Once we were back aboard the sun came out and the wind dropped down. After lunch Bud went out to check the outboard engine. After a couple of starts and stops it started and ran fine. We put some gas treatment in it and Bud took it for a few circles upwind of the boat. It seems okay again so it must have been a piece of dirt or bit of water that got in the gas tank when Bud filled it.
Later in the day Bud thought about going back out fishing. I was considering hiking again, too, but the camera was wet, so I was trying to let that dry out. While we were thinking about it another huge row of clouds came up. We decided not to chance it. It rained a bit, not much. I told Bud if we'd gone out again it would surely have poured again.