18 July 2007
Nassau was a quick over night stop to pick up a card reader for the camera, a few groceries and marine suppies. Wil had hopes of having a regular service done on the outboard however, we have come to the conclusion normal routine maintenance is not something the locals want to provide for the transients as it's always a two plus week wait. Starbucks with internet to check email and phone messages were welcome commodities. We were off the dock after fueling by 11:00AM leaving out the east end of the harbor heading to Spanish Wells, Eleuthera approximately a four hour run across very deep water. Stay tuned, I update again as soon as I can, this is an incredible trip.
17 July 2007
July 17 - 18th
We fueled after the tanker left Sampson and journeyed north up the bank side to Compass; it was a short easy trip but a bit of a challenging entrance to the marina. The marina is very small; the island is a fair size and quite interesting yet uninhabited. We walked up a steep hill and whined our way back down a thickly vegetated path that opened at the base onto the Atlantic and a very large crescent shaped beach with such soft pink sand. With Tucker's help, the Marina's proprietor and island conservationist, I made a swim ladder for the dinghy. This ladder was an issue that needed to be resolved, my beached whale look as I drug myself up out of the water to the top of the rubber tubes was one that had not only worn me out, but was most unflattering. We met "Scallywag" with their two boats from Ft. Myers and snorkeled with the sharks and many other beautiful fish species. Two very large barracudas arrived at the edge of the marina, it was mating season and concern of their aggressiveness sent all anglers to their poles (something not normally allowed in the marina). Dinner that evening was pasta and meatballs on the deck with Citronella candles and Mosquito coils burning. Upon docking at the Marina, Wil had gone to hook up the water hose to learn the water maker had gone out the day before therefore the restrooms, showers and water were not available. We decided to depart the next morning continuing north back to Nassau for a night before heading off to the east.
16 July 2007
July 14 - 16th
The trip down to Sampson across the bank on Saturday was "unremarkable", as Wil would call it. Upon arrival we had planned to fuel up, however, no fuel, the tanker should arrive on Monday, hopefully.
Wil was quite thrilled returning to the benefits of a MARINA, running water, electric, bar and restaurant. Without a doubt, Wil's preferred style of boating is not anchoring out. The salt water here is much stronger than the Gulf of Mexico, leaving actual salt particles on your body after swimming. Wil does not enjoy the crustation feel or water rationing! He informed me the next boat will definitely have a water maker. Meeting and chatting with other cruisers is also far easier in a marina. Had dinner that even in the marina's restaurant and took a short walk around the resort setting grounds, abbreviated by the mosquitoes!
We took the dinghy over to Staniel Cay, approximately 5 miles south, to see if we wanted to make that our next stop, decision was no as there was nothing there we saw it all. Assessing Thunderball Cave next for snorkeling, it was a new moon and the tide was running incredibly fast and strong. We found a gal clinging to the rocky side wall of Thunderball, her dinghy on a mooring ball approximately 25 yards away, the current was so strong she was unable to make it back to her dinghy; we threw her a life ring and towed her back across with our dinghy. I'm glad we found her and were able to help, seeing the panic and her struggle was enough to terminate Wils and my desire to attempt it.
Little Major Island, was on the way home, inhabited with wild pigs that run out into the water to greet your boat as they see you approach. One must bring food scraps to feed them and don't forget they're drink of choice, bottled beer. Rumor has it those that arrive empty handed do not receive a friendly welcome! At the end of season, the fattest pig will be featured on the spit on the beach for an island wide hog roast.
Returning to Bella Laguna, we heard a call on the VHF from another marina guest confirming the pick up time for their dinner reservations at nearby, Fowl Cay Restaurant, intrigued by the water taxi concept we made reservations. Pick up was at 6:30 on the fuel dock, the same one that did not have fuel. We had seen Joel and Jackie from NJ earlier in the trip, at the Exuma Land and Sea Park. BJ was our water taxi driver that whisked us off to Fowl Cay in a 28' center console boat for an 8-minute full speed ride for what would turn out to be one of the unexpected highlights of the trip! Upon arrival, we walked up a steep, beautifully landscaped hill to arrive at an exquisite private home surrounded by terraces and a 360-degree vista. The island style of the home, and attention to detail was what you would see in Architectural Digest complete with the circular stone fireplace separating the foyer from the dining room. The ambiance was incredible, come to find out this gem had been privately owned and operated for years, however, it had just been purchased by the owner of "Sandals Resorts". Fowl Cay is way to small for a Sandals Resort, more than likely it will be a personal retreat for him. Stuart, the new manager, had just arrived that week from Australia. Wil enjoyed chatting with him discussing the Australian built Maritimo, very possibly Wil's next boat. Stuart gave both the boat and the builder, whom he knew personally, an excellent review to Wil's delight. The dining room sat 24 guests with whom we had the opportunity to meet over cocktails in the bar and share stories and laughs throughout the course of the evening. A table of ten friends had planned their trip gathering from Italy, Portugal, Cuba and the States. A dining experience, long remembered. Make sure Wil tells you the "Bird Joke" which was shared with us that evening, coming all the way from Italy! BJ returned us to Sampson Marina at 10:30 pm, very little light from the new moon and full speed. Something, only a native with their local knowledge of the shallows and hidden rocks could attempt.
Our last day in Sampson was one of relaxation and charting where we would go next. Diving off the dock, floating in the clear water and observing all its sea life was fun. We could swim across the channel to the beach at low tide, as the current was barely moving. I conquered my fear of nurse sharks swimming beneath me, all though I kept a close eye on them at all times. So far, I would rate the frozen Pina Coladas at Sampson's Marina Bar's the best. One must always continue to sample as we go for accuracy purposes.
The trip plan was to continue south to Georgetown but after the fuel shortage, stories about the tankers coming less frequently as hurricane season heightened combined with the dirtiness and crime we were told about we determined this would be as far south as we would attempt. So we decided to make our next stop at Compass Cay a short 8 miles north.