The short story is that Long Island is a worthy place to spend some R&R time and in settled weather you’ve got many coves and bays to call your own or share with only a handful of like-minded folk. You can just pop over from George Town or make it a stop on your way down to the Raggeds or Jumentos. If you’ve ventured out to Conception or Rum Cay and the ocean begins to act up, you can tuck into Thompson Bay in a short day’s travel time.
The long version- ok don’t cringe this might be interesting- happens when you not only hop around in your boat but you also rent a car and tour the island. More than once we’d heard about cruisers doing that because so many of the towns, ruins, blue holes and historic sites are not reachable any other way. We kinda raised our eyebrows at that thought; however, it quickly landed on our must do list.
First though, we spent three days sightseeing by boat then came back to Thompson Bay to ride out the stalled/quasi stationary front that would push 15-25kt winds- 30kt tops, down to the lower central Bahamas (George Town area, Long Island).
Days 1 & 2: turned out to be a perfect sailing day with low winds but just enough to move us along at 5kts. We’d read and been told about Joe’s Sound, described this way in the Explorer Charts; “beautiful creek, protected in any weather with no swell. Tricky entrance, very narrow. Best to check entrance by dinghy first.” We knew the mangrove-lined creek with oodles of “dry at LW” areas was a great spot but the rock lined entrance looked very skinny on the chart and we are 23ft wide. Why not anchor behind Hog Cay, a private island ½ mile south. First, let me ask; if you owned that island wouldn’t you want to change the name? Especially since it is quite lovely.
That afternoon on a rising tide we explored the creek, which lies along the east side of Galliot Cay, in Ms Bunting who as usual proved to be adept at not going aground in a foot of water. Saw a smaller ray that, like the other small ones we’ve seen, swims away very fast, in contrast to the larger guys who don’t give a hoot you are near.
Our tour took us about seven miles: up the creek- almost needed those paddles, under the just-wide-enough-for-a-dinghy bridge,
through Hoosie Harbor (who comes up with these names?), past Cape Santa Maria Club, down through Calabash Bay where we surfed the large swells/surge that come in from the Atlantic, around Rocky Point (a very clever name!) and then we approached the creek entrance from the outside. Boy was it rocky, and while deep right in the middle, you had to make a quick turn left up the creek.
Would the mothership fit? Maybe. Would we ever try? Nope, not when we had a beautiful spot off the white sandy beach with awesome sunset views.
Not to mention the most crystal clear water ever, silky white sandy bottom and a beach we could walk that, don’t tell anyone, is loaded with sunrise tellins. In two trips in we picked up at least 50 full sets, plus on the first trip in when I lifted the dinghy anchor up, a tellin was wedged in between the flukes.
We liked the spot so much that we spent day 2 here since the wind would be low- like 5kts. Russ did his best imitation of The Lobster Hunter, but it’s hard to hunt them when they aren’t there!! Rain threatened from afar; the colors of water and sky made for an irresistible photo op.
Day 3: we began the 23 mile trip back to Thompson Bay, stopping for 2 hours at Simms and anchoring for the night in Millers Bay. Good thing Simms wasn’t our night stop; the bottom was either very hard or just a skim coat of sand over rock and Mr. Rocna did not dig in at all. Just wait ‘til we get him home and sharpen that tip! We water-taxied in (yes, just a fancy term for the dinghy) and walked down the Queen’s Highway to check things out. I notice people are friendlier on Long Island, waving, tooting the horn, saying hello and even offering a ride.
The ruins of a wooden church made for a good photo op; then we looked at each other and said, “wood?” All we generally see south of New Providence is cement, rarely wood. Figure that the church was so old that trees were plentiful then and would make a lovely church.
A couple of other small structures (houses?) along the road, were also built from wood. Met Mr. Simms, owner of the Blue Chip Restaurant, with several goats just hangin’ out nearby.
The freight boat was in- shiny and red it looked like a newer model of the kind the improved gov’t docks were built to accommodate. Anchor up and off we went motor-sailing with the jib for a bit, past Morris with its beautiful crescent sandy beach to drop the hook in Millers Bay. Why here you ask? Millers Bay is a smaller version of Morris and even cats can’t get too close in. But it has the one thing those others places do not: Chez Pierre. That’s right, an award-winning French-Italian restaurant with a Caribbean flair right on the beach. The six rental bungalows keep Chef Pierre and his sous-chef busy in the kitchen and help ensure patrons for meals. Knowing you have business is a good thing here, where most restaurants don’t know for certain how many meals they will serve: maybe 10 maybe only 2.
After getting the anchor set (somewhat better than at Simms) we went in to check out the place and put our name in for dinner. A quick beach walk turned up precious few trinkets and the beach around the point didn’t hold much more. By luck, or perhaps design, today was our day to take a shower- what? You take one every day? For shame. Hey at least we have a shower stall, many boats do not. The evening was calm and about 75 degrees; the perfect night to dine out, via dinghy and traipse along the beach to the restaurant.
Our meals were delicious and the portions just right so you could finish your meal and not feel like a stuffed pig. We took so many pictures that Chef Pierre became convinced we were going to steal all his ideas, ambiance and menus.
Tomorrow: back to Thompson Bay to wait out the next round of mega winds.