Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sand Dollar Beach

Last night Myron cooked plantains for the first time. He cut them in thick slices, fried them in butter with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and brown sugar sprinkled on top. They were seriously yummy, I am sure calorie free, and just like we get at the restaurants. We want more, but it requires patience to let the plantains get to just the right ripe, which is black on the outside and soft to the touch. We have two in the queue, almost there!

Today it rained for about 80% of our fishing trip. The boat and sails had a nice fresh water rinsing. We fished out deep then returned to the drop offs and fished them all the way back to Great Exuma, but no joy on catching. We put the lures away and motor sailed into the southern cut and up Elizabeth Harbor to Sand Dollar Beach.

Our plans, which are written in sand at low tide, did not include being in Georgetown during the Cruiser's Regatta, but here we are. We often find God has plans for us we do not know about yet. The boats are really packed in here. We have Nordhaven's on either side of us, assorted power boats and all makes and models of sailboats. The regatta begins tomorrow and ends March 3rd. As I recall from last year, more than 100 boats will leave after the regatta.

We launched the dinghy and took a nice walk on the eastern shore. Myron found our first 'Hamburger Bean' on our walk. That is one of the beans that makes its way out of Central America and over to these eastern shores. It really does look like a hamburger.

We will probably stay in the Georgetown area for a couple of weeks. At least until we get more plantains!

Love to all,

Posted via 3G.

Hog Cay, Long Island

In hopes that the forecast holds true, we left Salt Pond yesterday to position at Hog Cay for a sailing/fishing day today. Yesterday's journey was plagued with rain showers, but still we hope for a sunny day today. Hog Cay is a little more lively than when we visited here with Paul and Shari, hence the 5 am rise time. I think we still managed to squeeze in some sleep.
There is a 176 foot yacht, Chantal Ma Vie, anchored outside of Hog Cay - clearly they cannot get in here. I am most certain it is the same large yacht that anchored next to us last year at Conception Island. No jet skis, though, just a tender, a center console fishing boat and two kayaks.
Yesterday we tanked up on water. Lord willing, today we will tank up on fish. We are not sure where we will end up. If the fishing takes us toward Georgetown, that is where we will drop anchor.
We will let you know when it happens, in the meantime, we will be fishing the waters between the northwest side of Long Island and Georgetown.
Love to all,

Posted via Ham Radio.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Long Island Update

We are glad to have such a well protected bay, and beautiful at that.  So far we have ridden out two blows here…well almost, we are now in the midst of the second one.  Right before this second blow came upon us, we managed to rent a car and sight see with Bruce and Gina on Dream Catcher.  We had not expected to see them again, as they were off to Central America.  We are sorry about their water maker problems, but thrilled they went to Clarence Town on the east side of Long Island.  We rented a car here in Salt Pond and drove over to pick them up.  We all had a few errands to run, including a BTC office visit to renew our SIM card.

We drove as far south on the island as possible, partly to locate Mr. Pratt, the propane man, but also to see Gordon’s Beach.   From that vantage point we could see our former anchorage at South Point.  Still exposed and with a swell, glad to view it by land.

As we headed north, our next stop was Dean’s Blue Hole.  It is 663 feet deep with the claim of the deepest blue hole in the world.

A few days prior, we took the opportunity to attend a seminar by Ashley and Ren at Long Island Breeze.  They are free dive instructors and Ashley is a world record holder.  Many of the free divers come to Dean’s Blue Hole for training and also for competition.  I can understand why, the water is fairly undisturbed, allowing for practice or competition on almost any day.  Once we parked the car, we donned our swimsuits and masks. 

As I hesitated in the shallow sand with sudden indecision, I could feel the current trying to pull me off the shallows and toward the deep. 

Myron and Bruce were already out at the dive platform.  Myron sent some encouraging words my way which set me swimming over the deep.  It is difficult to describe the sensation of snorkeling from three feet of bright white sand to over six hundred feet of unrevealing darkness.  Ashley says the key to the competition is a mental game in controlling heart rate and fear.  As I looked down into that inky abyss, I gained new respect for that young woman free diving over 180 feet into that darkness.  My mental game was to relax snorkeling on the surface!

Myron and Dena playing near the competition platform.

After Dean’s and a BTC visit, we stopped for a conch burger lunch at Forest’s:

We also stopped at about every grocery store we saw in search of ice cream.  We found one, but as can happen in the Bahamas, the ice cream had been melted and refrozen many times prior to our consumption.

We went as far north as Stella Maris and viewed both the marina, which claims 18 slips but I could only find six, and the resort.  It was a calm day on the ocean side of the resort:

Myron, Dena, Bruce & Gina at Stella Maris resort:

We took Bruce and Gina back to Clarence Town and watched the sunset.  It was interesting to drive back to Salt Pond on that road in the night.  There was more oncoming traffic than I expected.  Each car slowed down considerably to make sure there was enough room for both vehicles on that narrow, unlined road.  God be praised we were soon back safe and sound on Hold Fast, ready for a shower and a sleep.  Another great adventure in the Bahamas!

Love to all,

Friday, February 8, 2013

Thompson Bay, Long Island

We are tucked in close to shore in Thompson Bay, aka Salt Pond, Long Island, in preparation for the forecasted frontal passage that will give us about four days of strong winds. Tonight is the calm before the storm, without a breath of wind. The anchor lights of the 20 or so other boats in the anchorage are mirrored in the water. It is a rare sight.

We need to take care of some administrative items in the U.S. and selected this bay to use as a base camp until those items are resolved. So far we have good data coverage. As you can see from the map, we are protected from all directions except south and west. There are a few little cays to hide behind in the event of those winds. If we move we will let you know.

We made over 150 gallons of water today and still managed to fit in some sailing. 'Shari sailing' on the banks in seriously light winds, making only about 4 knots under a sunny sky surrounded by bright turquoise water. A much different day than yesterday. Our late lunch consisted of fresh grilled fish with a side of red beans and rice. Then the ballots were cast and counted and it was unanimously decided that today was a nap day. We were still sailing last night 1 1/2 hours past the 'cruiser midnight' (9 pm) and I felt low on sleep.

Tomorrow we plan to launch the dinghy, get to a little store for a few items, and maybe even hunt down an ice cream. The fish is taken care of for the next few days, thank you Lord!

Love to all,

Posted via 3G.

Hog Cay Cut

We left Fish Cay, Acklins, yesterday morning around 7 am. Once we rounded Windsor Point, the southern end of Long Cay in the Crooked/Acklins island chain, we set the main to port and poled out the jib to starboard. It stayed in that configuration until well after dark, when we were a few miles on the bank past Nuevitas Rocks, then we removed the pole and put the jib to port. We kept going because the winds were favorable and we did not expect such favorable winds to continue. We dropped anchor a little distance from the Hog Cay Cut waypoint at around 10:30 pm, showered and slept. Today should be a leisurely trip into Thompson Bay on the Comer Channel. A water making day.

I am also casting my vote to make it a nap day as well.

Yesterday God blessed us with a wahoo. We are having fish today!

Love to all,

Posted via Ham Radio.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sharing Photos

Just a quick post to share a few photos.  For more photos, please go to our Picasa link on the right.
Supply Boat near Spring Point, Acklins:

Church ruins at Pompay Bay Settlement, Acklins:
Hold Fast as seen from beach on Fish Cay, Acklins.

A portion of the long beach at Fish Cay, Acklins:

Love to all,

Fish Cay

The people of Acklins have been really great and we created fond memories of time spent there with 'Straight From the Heart' and 'Dream Catcher.' I feel compelled to mention though that this time of year, with cold fronts passing through every three to four days - and some cold fronts regressing back over us - it has been hard to find anchorages with protection for a vessel with a draft of five foot or more. During northerly blows we paid our dues at anchor, hanging on to walk around inside Hold Fast and pressing her ground tackle into hard service. We also found more marl than we ever want to drop anchor in again.
But...the forecast called for a few days of relative calm (15 knots or under), inspiring us to venture out to Fish Cay on the western edge of the Bight. There are numerous sand banks around us and the beach of soft yellow sand stretches for close to a mile. Yesterday, we wore ourselves out walking the beach, and Myron even helped me comb for treasures. Tracks of small iguanas covered the beach, they must be shy because we never saw one. In the dinghy, we searched for food but found no conch. I thought our previous anchorages were remote, this is incredible. The view demands my attention and I spend long periods staring in stunned silence at the beauty of God's creation. I wish my pictures could do it justice.
A shocking discovery was that our data card showed a solid blue light, indicating we could get 3G service. Granted, it comes and goes, but how fantastic is that?! It really helps us stay on top of the weather forecast. If the forecast holds, we have today and tomorrow to continue our exploring. We will let you know otherwise. For now I must go and gaze at the scenery again.
Love to all,

Posted via 3G.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Acklins Update

We have had an interesting couple of days. Tuesday four of us (me, Myron, Don and Bruce) hiked out to the Airport Inn, the only place within walking distance - about three miles away - that has car rental, at least according to the Explorer Charts. No vehicles were available, but she would consider renting out her son's car - we just needed to call her back. There is no phone service for this area right now, the microwave is down, so calling her back was not an option. We went into the airport terminal, a very small building with space for a security line that might fit two people and their luggage. The police station is part of the same building and the officer on duty was helpful with information about the Convair aircraft in disrepair off the edge of the tarmac. It was a drug running plane that had been forced to land by the DEA back in the 1980's. We were allowed to go investigate it to our heart's content, 'just stay off the runway' was our only instruction. I wish I could share pictures. The outline of AIR FORCE was barely visible on the fuselage. Much of the aluminum had been harvested from the relic, as evident by the saw marks on the remaining stubs of the propellers.
After we left the airport, Myron and I headed back to our dinghy landing and Don and Bruce went north to the Spring Point settlement. Right away they were picked up by a man in a van. He was the school bus driver and the van was the 'bus.' His wife was currently in Nassau and he was more than happy to rent her car to us for a day.
On Wednesday we toured the north part of Acklins by Stafford's wife's car. It took some creative arrangements to get all six of us in the car, but we managed. One of the roads ended at Lovely Bay. It was indeed lovely. It was made even more beautiful by the cell phone coverage. On a dock overlooking Lovely Bay, at an empty night club, we unfolded from the car, dug out laptops, cell phones and Kindles and had an internet hoe down. As Myron was handling our internet needs, I went to get my Bible from the trunk. An off-duty police officer pulled up to make sure nothing was wrong. I told him we were out touring his island and that our sailboats - but I never got the rest out. He said he knew we were anchored off Camel Point. This is a small island. Word gets around that six Americans are hanging about, walking around and asking to rent a car. He asked how many of us were in the car. When I said six, he twisted up his face and said we should not have that many people in a car. Myron says leave it to me to confess our overloaded car to an off-duty cop. I changed the subject as quickly as possible, inquiring as to where we can drop our clothing donations. Two or three times he gave me instructions to find the little house of Liza Taylor, she appears to be their Red Cross contact.
Somehow, we managed to use up most of the day driving north 36 miles. With time to stop, walk, stretch, take pictures and chat with locals, but no joy on finding ice cream. After a cracked conch lunch at 'Club Rollex,' we headed back and miraculously found Liza's shack. She was most appreciative of the donations. Paul and Shari your donations made it all the way out to Mason's Bay settlement on Acklins Island!
Yesterday we had chores to attend, but my big agenda item was to observe the supply boat. Each local had a different opinion as to time of arrival. It varied from 4 am to 2 pm. Myron assumed it would broadcast on AIS. Sure enough, just before noon I saw an AIS target on the chart plotter, a cargo ship at Long Cay. We alerted our little group to be on the lookout. It finally arrived at Spring Point around 2:30 pm. It is a landing craft, 165 feet long with a depth of 9 feet. She pushed up to the old pier and dropped her bow for the trucks to drive off. The forklift was busy for hours. The steel i-beams arranged in an "L," previously a mystery to us, came to life as a barrier behind which the offloaded goods were organized on pallets for pickup. By 5 pm, the lady with fruits and veggies had offloaded and was ready to sell. We waited until it appeared all the locals were done shopping before we purchased two onions and three oranges. I wanted garlic and tomatoes, but you get what you get, and we can manage without. It was interesting to observe and interact with the locals, but we were losing daylight and needed to get back to our boats.
Gina asked, but there was no ice cream on the supply boat either!
Love to all,