Provisioning on the Exuma islands is not like at home where, if you need to shop, you just go to the mall. Here, people rely on boats and, to a lesser extent, planes. Several islands have runways used by commercial services, charter planes, and small personal planes. But mostly, they use their own small boats, or local ships. The mail boat comes weekly to many of the islands, delivering mail and fresh food and supplies and picking things up to go elsewhere. Here are pictures of the mail boat at Little Farmers Cay, and the boat that came out from the island to meet it. On the small boat were adults, children, dogs, and a refrigerator to go onto the mail boat. It was a little choppy that day, but the transfers were made and the ship got under way. Another day, a barge (see below) carrying building supplies came in. There’s no dock large enough for a ship, so it pulled right up to shore and lowered a ramp to offload its goods. We have it waaay too easy at home.
Friday, December 25, 2009
What a terrific place with terrific people. It’s a small island, which we walked all around in about an hour, and it’s beautiful, with unparalleled views of the ocean and surrounding shallows. One of the highlights was an afternoon spent at the Ocean Cabin Restaurant and Bar, run by Terry Bain, pictured here with Chris (the blue drink on the right is the O.C. special, very tasty). Terry is the consummate host, and a font of knowledge about the
We haven’t had good internet access lately, so I haven’t been able to post blogs. But we have been busy. From Big Majors Spot we sailed south through Exuma Sound to the Black Point settlement to deliver twelve boxes of school supplies, shown here in our cockpit, that we brought over from Florida as part of a Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) project. Then back to Staniel Cay to pick up parts for our 12-volt refrigeration system. Thankfully, we were able to resolve the issue of importing boat parts into the
See in the picture here, how you can see things so clearly? (OK, looking at it here it doesn't really look clear, but trust me, it is.) We took it while we were sailing in Exuma Sound, and we could see every rock and coral head on the bottom, even some fish. And yes, the water was 65 feet deep. Incredible!
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Do you recognize that as James Bond music? If so, perhaps you remember the scenes filmed in Thunderball Grotto in the Thunderball movie. The grotto is just off of Staniel Cay. It’s just a small island to look at from the outside, but if you go at low tide, you can swim or snorkel inside. Fantastic! It’s like the whole island is hollowed out into a chamber with holes at the top (see picture at right). Inside, the water is about ten feet deep, and there’s plenty of head room to take out your snorkel and look around (see picture at left). There are also fish galore, mostly sergeant majors looking to be fed (see previous blog as a warning), so they swarm all around you. I made the mistake of telling another woman snorkeling in the grotto that I had been bitten by a sergeant major, and she immediately freaked out, saying that they were looking her in the eye. Oops! And yes, we have a license to kill—fishing license, that is. But not here, as the grotto is a no-fishing zone.
During our walk on Waderick Wells, we came upon a cairn built by previous cruisers, who have carved, written, or painted the names of their boats on stones, driftwood, and other materials. One that immediately caught my attention was this one for Rising Tide out of
We stayed at the mooring field at Waderick Wells for several days. The first day, as I mentioned in the previous blog, was Thanksgiving, and we partook of a great potluck feast hosted by the park. As thanks, we volunteered the next day at the park. Our task was to clean up and fix various maladies on one of the park’s boats, as you can see Chris doing here. So we scrubbed and bolted and gel coated, and had a great time doing it – at least we felt useful. The park is a terrific place to stay a few days. On the beach they’ve got the skeleton of a 52-foot sperm whale that died nearby; when you look down from the park headquarters building, it’s rather startling, kind of like
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
I know it’s a little late, but here’s our update on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving morning, we sailed down to Waderick Wells, which is where the headquarters for the
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Traveling south, we anchored amidst several small, uninhabited cays that are known for their native iguanas (see this handsome fellow in the tree above); this particular species is only found here. Unfortunately, they are a great tourist attraction, and at risk of becoming dependent on man, or sickened by man. Fast boats from
On nearby Ship Channel Cay, we spotted this funky little bar on the water, which we thought was an abandoned resort, but which turns out to be a place for the fast boats from Nassau to bring the tourists for lunch after they sight-see around some of the other cays.
Conditions in many areas in the
A sure-fire way to lose a good night’s sleep is to suspect that your anchor is dragging. To avoid this, we try to set the anchor in good substrate (sand) and make sure that we’re solid in place, usually by taking fixes on several reference points, such as overlapping lights on shore or near and far markers or trees. That way, if their orientation relative to each other changes, we know we’re dragging. But when anchoring away from shore, and definitely away from any lights or man-made objects, we need another way. That’s where our GPS (Global Positioning System) comes in. As you can see in the picture here, this particular display is very simple; it shows a line where we have been. The single line represents our approach to the anchorage. The pendulum (no pit here, for you Edgar Allan Poe fans) represents the boat swinging on its (firmly stuck) anchor. This is a quick and easy way to see if the boat has been dragging, or merely swinging, a blessing when you’re stumbling to the cockpit at 2 am to check your position. If you see this display smiling back at you, you can go back to bed with an easy mind.
We’re playing catch-up again because we have had no internet access for over a week. So here goes.
Our first stop out from
TECHNICAL DIFFICULTY: The image I tried to upload wouldn't load, so I'll try it again later.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
We tend to prefer quiet, low-key anchorages, with lots of nature and not lots of development. Well, that’s not
Despite the density of cruise-ship tourists in town, we managed to avoid the Hard Rock Café and fast-food places in favor of this little hut, which we found down an alley byfollowing the delicious curry aroma. We had a great lunch of conch fritters, curried mutton, rice, cole slaw, and corn, along with a couple of beers, for less than $20, which around here is quite a feat, given the expensive prices in Nassau.
Friday, November 13, 2009
We had great conditions for crossing the bank: sunny, warm, and a nice breeze out of the south. We sailed at least half of the day, and reached six knots of speed under sails only! We had 4-18 feet of water under the keel all day, mostly deeper, but since the breeze was kicking up, the water was not as clear as it has been. The most interesting part was that we saw only four boats all day – there was NOTHING out there. You can’t see land, you can’t see other boats, and no one is talking on the radio – kind of like a little sailing purgatory. We reached the east side of the bank at dusk and continued on to Frazer’s Hog Cay, about another 15 miles. We entered the anchorage in the dark, and thanked goodness once again for our radar. It was so dark you couldn’t see the point that lead into the anchorage, but between the radar and Anne on the bow with a Q-beam (spot light), we had no problem. It was rather daunting to see the point the next day (picture at left), as it is rocky and not very forgiving. But we exercise extreme caution when we have conditions like this (and at all other times, too), so MOM, DON’T WORRY! All in all, it was a nice little anchorage (as long as you can find a sand hole to drop your anchor in, see Chris readying to haul anchor below) and it held us safe so we could sleep, which we appreciated. NOTE: We saw no hogs on Frazer's Hog Cay.
We’ve now stayed at this anchorage twice, and I realized that I hadn’t posted a picture of it, and it really deserves recognition. This is a small anchorage at the base of a long U-shaped area bordered by small rocky islets on the east and west, and Gun Cay on the south. In fact, this was where Chris caught his spiny lobster (his first self-caught lobster), so it holds a special place in his heart (and stomach). Here are a couple of pictures that I hope do it justice.
Saturday, November 7, 2009
Winds from the northeast and east were predicted, so we made our way a few more miles south to South Cat Cay. We had to poke around for a while, but we eventually found a big sand hole to plant our anchors in. The winds started the day after we got here (Friday), and are expected to continue through the weekend. We’ve haven’t been able to get out in the dinghy to explore, but we’ve found plenty to do aboard: reading, writing, editing, getting the SSB to work, baking bread and trying out new recipes. We’re certainly not bored, but it will be good to be able to get out and about again once this system blows over.
After leaving North Bimini, we sailed south just a few miles to a tiny little anchorage called