Long Island & Exuma Sound
08 May 2009
0600: After two days on Long Island, we raised anchor this morning at 0600 and began to sail north along Long Island, towards Exuma Sound, where we will cross towards the Exuma Cays & Little Farmers Cay. The anchorage at Simms is pretty sketchy at best. It took quite a few tried to get our anchor to hook-up ... and even then, I would certainly not have had any faith in it holding in any more than a faint breath of a breeze.
The first day here, we rented a van and drove with Lori, south from Salt Pond to Gordons (the farthest settlement at the south end of Long Island). Along the way, we were able to snorkel at Dean's Blue Hole. Dean's is the deepest Blue Hole in the world, at 669 feet deep. At the bottom, it opens into a 4000 foot cavern. This blue hole is in a little cove, around the corner from the open ocean and surrounded on three sides by limestone cliffs. I must admit, it's a little freaky, snorkeling out over what is an underwater precipice and out over a blue/black abyss. Yep, freaky indeed.
The culture on Long Island seems different than many other Bahamian islands. A really friendly atmosphere here.
We found a very old catholic church in Clarence Town that we were able to climb the inside stairwells to the top of one of two turrets to a tiny look-out. It is VERY high. The view of the turquoise/blue waters and green island and spectacular.
To Jacquie's delight, we bumped over miles of gravel road to Little Harbour and a beach with lots and lots of rock in the surf. For some reason, this beach collects tons of garbage from the sea. Not sure where all the garbage comes from, but one of the pieces we found was a sign in French ... hmmm. The other thing we found was an inordinate number of shoes that has washed up on the shores. Now, before it sounds too weird, that Jacquie was excited about finding garbage, I'll explain. It seems that among the garbage, were glass bottles. The bottles are smashed on the rocks by the waves and the pieces ground into the sand by the constant waves, smoothing their sides and edges into beautiful pieces of 'sea-glass', prized by many for jewelery. We were able to pick up quite a quantity of sea glass on this beach; Jacquie didn't want to leave.
I don't remember all else we did, but we did drive to the beach near Gordon's; intending to walk to the southern tip of the island to see if the flamingos were there. Apparently flamingos tend to congregate there in huge numbers some times of the year; though this seems somewhat unpredictable. Sue and Lori were too sore to walk that far (no roads go that far south), so we settled for a swim in the fabulously clear, waist-deep water, over white sand. Not so bad to have to settle for. It was fun throwing hands full of goopy sand at each other.
On the way back north, we ate at Max's Conch Bar (wow; recommended) and took pictures if the ruins of a four-hundred year old Roman Catholic Church.
0650: Okay, so today is turning out a little difficult. We now have both heads plugged and have resorted to using a five-gallon bucket on the stern (i.e. where did you think the term 'poop deck' came from?). Can you say 'bucket and chuck-it'? The galley sinks are also plugged ... woke up to almost dead batteries and a navigation computer that wasn't 'seeing' the GPS ... all that with NO weather date for a deep-water passage (though we will get forecast from Bahamas radio at 1540AM after the 0800 newscast).
1800: Picked up mooring ball at Little Farmers Cay, belonging to Ocean's Cabin. Three men in a small boat saw us entering the harbour and met us to help get us on the mooring. Entering the cut at Farmers Cay in anything but dead slack tide, means dealing with wicked current as enormous volumes of water are either rushing onto or off of the vast shallow banks through a very few cuts.
Though long and very HOT, today was a good passage. The weather was very hot and humid, with a light breeze. As we were motor-sailing in the same direction as the breeze, it did little to cool us off.
We trolled three lines most of the day, even one with ballyhoo, but not even one bite ... bummer. Later a friend on the island told me that the Mahi Mahi were running and that we trolled through what should have been great fishing grounds ... and not one bite.
Playing with it, I found that or Raymarine autopilot and found that by adjusting the rudder gain to a level of four (down from the standard setting of 5) maintained a much straighter course.
Tonight, though it was wet and messy, I was able to unclog the galley sinks. I had much less progress with the aft head though. I am planning to disassemble the vanity to access the tank connections in the morning.