Exuma IS Sweet Like This!

Around Islands Race the day we left GT- as we head out the northern cut- Conch Cay Cut

Sunday, March 11 dawned one hour later than the prior day! And we almost missed the weather on the 8am Net, but our own sources still promised low winds out of the south with a reduced chance of thunderstorms; only 10%. The Regatta “Around the Islands” (Stocking and Elizabeth) sail boat race began at 9am so we waited until all the classes had started, since they were first heading north past us and out Conch Cay Cut too.

Good thing we waited because very soon after entering Exuma Sound, thunder rumbled far north and the sky was not clear blue and pretty. I looked at the satellite picture on Storm app and wow, just wow. Maybe we should have checked the weather forecast for Staniel Cay too. A massive rain/squall blob (blob is a technical term you know) was up thata way moving from west to east with a smaller tail-piece hanging down that could affect us.

Fishing lines out and moving slower than usual, we slowed down more and figured it might completely pass through by the time we got near Rudder Cay or Cave. Well, the fish still weren’t biting, not even a lousy barracuda and once we neared the darker clouds, Russ brought the lines in. We managed to avoid all but some light showers but the squall had brought strong winds and confused waves, making for a very lumpy, bumpy, hobby-horse ride. I’d skipped lunch but Russ had eaten while the waves were still behaved (uh oh- bad decision).

We decided to leave the Sound using Rudder Cay Cut rather than further up at Galliot and the relief was immediate; the cut was calm and flat especially since the current, the wind/waves and Twins were all heading in the same direction.

A slew of boats were anchored by Rudder Cay and snorkeling the Mermaid Piano placed by Musha Cay owner illusionist David Copperfield. We did it once in Ortolan; think that was my last time snorkeling. Our destination was Big Farmers Cay but then we’d backtrack a bit to Cave Cay the next morning to hide out for a day and a half.

From Big Farmers anchorage.

Strong-ish winds were due in for a couple of days and with enough of a westerly component that we needed more protection than “next to nothing”. Cave Cay Marina, aka Safe Harbor Marina is another one of those never completed Bahamas development stories. The only phase that appears complete, is the marina and quite honestly that’s all we care about. 🙂

Floating docks, fuel only sold to slip customers, a laundry room and several paths to guest-only beaches. I’d heard the shelling was very good on one of the ocean facing beaches, so I was rather pleased about a couple of marina nights.

Cave Cay Marina entrance- a very protected basin, but anchoring in it is not allowed

Plane arrives to Cave Cay- another bonus- watching for planes

Back to Big Farmers-this time to go ashore and walk the beaches –maybe see some goats and the baby rays that enjoy the protection of the tiny creek at one end of the beach.

The goats at Big Farmers didn’t disappoint

Goats made one appearance that I detected with my excellent hearing. But not a single ray of any size in the tidal creek. Hardly any young conch either.

Ty’s was on our must-stop list this time and we had one possible afternoon calm enough for a lunch stop, then move up to more protected anchorage for the night. Mission completed!

We have it all!! Ty’s, the beach, our dinghy and Twin Sisters!

Tys- we really like Ty’s Sunset Bar & Grille: the view, the great food and we always meet new peeps and the occasional Potcake.

Delicious lunch at Ty’s on Little Farmers: Coach’s rum punch, cracked conch, slaw, peas & rice and a Cheeseburger in Paradise for me

Potcake at Ty’s. “You lookin’ at me?”

Little Bay, aka Castle Bay has become more well-known over the past six years since we first discovered it. Small but still able to hold more than 25 boats easily, the two small beaches are lovely to look at and fun to explore at low tide. For beachcomber me though, the best part is the easily accessible ocean-facing beach loaded with shells, coral pieces, sea fans and sea glass.

The days of very rough ocean while we were still in George Town really did a number on sea fans. Many more than usual are washed up on the beaches and it took a few beach walks to realize the likely cause.

Others have discovered this gem of a beach and I worked harder than usual to collect sea glass but I did pick up a larger, older piece, which is something I always find on this particular beach. While sea glass is always washed up on the beach, at low tide large amounts of glass would collect in a shallow shelf at the water’s edge; just reach in and grab it. Not this time- not a single piece. Again, I’m sure that those large ocean swells had a hand in making it disappear.

Crooked sunset at night, means?

 

The well-known castle along the anchorage south of Black Point ( Little Bay)

Emerald Sunset View Restaurant, Black Point-why no working on Friday 11am?

We’d heard about a new restaurant in Black Point and Ida gave us directions any navigationally-challenged person could follow: up the road, past Regatta Park. The tour boats bring in loads of tourists for an authentic Bahamian lunch every day. Apparently business is so good that three places aren’t enough, so this will be a fourth. Located too far up the road for most cruisers to even wander by and find it, I’m guessing it’s more for the boat loads of untanned/sunburned tourists who visit the Bahamas for a vacation getaway.

Palm weaving to make baskets.  I wonder how much she gets paid per foot.

In a perfect world, or maybe if this was May, we could plan our days and keep to that plan which contained only one requirement, Russ birthday lunch or dinner at Staniel Cay. We accomplished this in past years, but wasn’t looking promising this time so we planned to settle for an early birthday lunch on Sat March 17, St Paddy’s Day. Festive at least and live music too!

So spiffy- the yacht-y attire matches the tender- of course dahling

Staniel- the small, dinghy tie-up beach at the YC that is a PIA at low tide.

The Captain gets into the Irish spirit- one strand we kept, the other two went to two very blonde youngsters 🙂

Anchorage number one was off the YC and an easy dinghy trip in to shore.

Russ gets artsy with a sunset shot at Staniel Cay

Remember back in St Augustine I wrote about m/v Bumfuzzle? We’d been following their blog back before blogs were born, probably for 12 years we figure. News of them being in the Exumas heading south (past Bahamas south) was met with eager anticipation that’d they’d surely get to George Town during our long stay. Sure enough they did but the stars didn’t align well enough and we never came closer than seeing the boat at anchor or Ali and the kids heading the other way in the dinghy- felt just like the experience we had back at St Augustine’s Camachee Cove Marina.

Luck and patience happened to be our friends during our earlier than hoped for stay here – see?

The Bums in paradise- we didn’t want to anchor too close- that’s not a polite thing to do

We’d learned about transmission trouble on board Bumfuzzle which while not good at all, is at least not as bad when you have two engines vs. one. Russ offered assistance in getting the rebuilt tranny (yes, another techie term) placed back where it belongs since our revised itinerary would place us near them when help would be needed. How great would that be?- meet these famous folk and help them! I dared not even begin to count on it happening, but Russ did need a birthday gift of some sort, right?

After the early birthday lunch at the Yacht Club, we left our “swing with the tide” anchorage and anchored behind Big Major; a first for us, but for many it’s a long-term winter hang out place. From mega yachts to the smallest of cruising boats, you’ll find them around here. Pig Beach is nestled in one corner, we chose the other hoping to be out of the tour boat lanes but there’s no such thing.

Sunset from Big Major anchorage

The wind has shifted to SW and laid down to 2 kts. Russ heads over to help drop and slide the transmission into place- back in 3 hrs

The morning would be transmission time! I have to say I hope it’s never our turn. While Russ was away I held down the fort, fending off large delivery barges and speed boats! I also got us on the next day list for a Warderick Wells mooring.

M/V Legend II slides right by us on its way to Fowl Cay

m/v Legend II slides up to the dock at Fowl Cay- Isn’t Bumfuzzle anchored in a great spot?

After the longest “I’ll be back in an hour’s time”, Russ returned with proof that it takes three guys, a woman and 2 kids to get a transmission back into place! Pat still had plenty of work ahead of him but at least the darn thing was back in.

Nick, Pat and Russ- relax after the transmission ordeal. Photo credit to Ali who emailed us 🙂

Now to dinghy around and see the sights!  Nick had heard that by one of the small cays behind Fowl Cay could be found many large rays, so that was our first stop. A little bummed to not see a single ray, but the exquisite watercolors with an underlay of beautiful sand more than made up for it.

The Birdcage on Fowl Cay- private residence of founders Libby and Stewart Brown before they sold the Fowl Cay Resort

Just past those tiny cays straight ahead is Exuma Sound- very calm in barely a breath of wind

Somewhere behind Fowl Cay as we search for the promised huge rays

We dinghied past Pig Beach just so I could show you what it looks like. The pigs are cute little pink piglets when they are babies but as they grow they become more feral; hairy, small tusks and snouts that are very upturned. Pig beaches can now be found throughout the Bahamas- a tourist attraction that we hope fades some day.

Pig Beach- a very popular attraction for the tourists who come by small rental boat or via the plethora of tour boats from Nassau and Great Exuma- many miles away

And then we needed to depart to our next anchorage off Pipe Cay- one of our favorite spots. We are often the only ones there.  Lovin’ our Exuma Life!  If you missed the Exuma song in the prior post, you just gotta hear it- go back and click on the link. I’m hoping the blog that has the song, never goes away.

Yep, taking the shallow draft route again

 

 

 

Advertisements

Dis and Dat

Feb Point- choppers always checking- they know when you are sleeping, they know when you are … oh they know too much!

Ever since we bid farewell to Slacker, our musical selections are limited to our iTunes songs (extensive but not enough) and whatever local Bahamian FM radio stations we can pick up. Slacker doubled the price of using and updating offline stations shortly after we left Florida, plus the required station updating used a bit of data, so we decided to dump it and figure something out when we got back in April.

Picking up a Bahamian station is fairly easy here in George Town or when we were around Marsh Harbour, and probably near Nassau, but not exactly everywhere.

So early on in GT, while tucked in behind Crab Cay we had on 98.3 KISS FM.  A happy beat song caught my ear when I heard the words, “…come from U.S. and Canada”, followed by “SE winds blowin’ down Elizabeth Harbour”.  I mean it’s about Exumas with an obvious focus on George Town area. Using Shazam and then YouTube we figured out the name and artist (Basil Smith, “Exuma Sweet Like Dat” ) but it wasn’t until the day before leaving Elizabeth Harbour that we learned of a possible place in town that sold CDs. Ah, another challenge to acquire music. Click HERE to listen to my new fave. The recorded via iPhones ones on Youtube were awful, but Russ found a website that used the song in a slideshow. You will enjoy the photos too. 🙂

Reading gets a great deal of attention and is Russ’s favorite downtime interest. Paddle boarding might win out but it’s limited to ideal conditions, and day time!

Heading for a dead end behind Crab Cay

So now I’ll tell you how we came to read an excellent book written by Libby Brown; don’t know who she is do you? Hang on then.  Hint: it’s more likely to interest those who have visited the Bahamas.

We are regulars at the George Town library which is staffed by volunteers, most of them cruisers. The rectangular building sits next to the school and across from the straw market; a short walk down from Exuma Market.

A fellow cruiser was there looking for a certain recommended non-fiction book. Not being familiar with the layout, she needed help but she knew it was on the shelf. Turns out the book, “Making Waves” by Libby Brown was one I’d heard of from our friends at TOTW last year but never stuck in my memory to find it.  Nancy said that after she read it, she’d make sure I got it next. Well, not much time passed before I heard from her (always nice to make a new friend in George Town), with a rave review; both she and her husband loved it. Russ called first dibs because I’d just started another book and as of this writing I am 2/3 through it. When done I’ll end the suspense, but for now, just know that I plan to buy our own copy (this one is falling apart and we must return it next winter).

Avocados- I’m not (nor is Russ) an adventurous new/unknown/exotic foods person. But a different type of avocado isn’t all that daring, so I went for it. Staring at empty bins in Exuma Market one day, a local chef (he wore his chef outfit) suggested I try the local, grown on Andros, avocado. I did, it was very good although not quite the full flavor of a Hass.

Hass on left, Green Skinned from Andros on Right

Conch Chowder- back in Ortolan days after we’d had our conch cleaning lesson on the rocky ledge standing in shallow water (remember that?) and took home several conch all sliced and pounded thin, I found a good recipe in a cookbook given as a farewell gift when I left work. Goombay Conch Chowder- with an ingredient list to scare even a landlubber. Most are items you’d have on hand though, so in addition to the conch, I only had to buy a couple of ingredients. I prepared it a few times, then stopped.

As you may recall, in George Town if you want to buy fish, lobster tails or

Conch Chowder with sausage, bacon, celery, pots,carrots…

conch, you go to Tranee’s Salon. Conch is almost always available (frozen) but weather conditions need to be right for lobster or fish and with so many windy days (see, it’s not just me) conch held court day after day. So what’s a galley-slave to do? Buy the darn conch and make the chowder! I like it because it allows me to use celery; that food item I always have either too much of and it goes bad, or I simply don’t have.

Huge swells roll in from the bad nor’easter- all that way! No beach showed at high tide!

By now (end of March) I’ve lost track of all the Nor’easters but there was one whopper that pushed large waves/swells down into the Bahamas. For 4-5 days the waves were significant enough to make entering and exiting even the best of cuts, more than a bit dicey and not for the faint of heart. The relatively gentle breezes were a shame to waste. And those brave souls who were “out there” had more than the usual swell to contend with, more unpleasant at anchor than underway.

My first Boho leather wrap bead bracelet

Jewelry making days were in ample supply and I had hours to practice new techniques and research designs. In mid-Feb the (almost) annual Boaters Booty Beach Benefit took place on …. Yes! Chat n Chill Beach, aka Volleyball Beach. 🙂  On, again you may have already guessed, a too windy day for us to go across the harbour. The proceeds would benefit a local organization that helped disadvantaged young children in various ways. Cruisers made and donated items for a Chinese raffle, arts and crafts and baked goods sale. Used clothing, books and DVDs had a sale table too, resulting in nearly $2,000- the cruiser who organized the BBBB (which could also stand for Best Blue Boat Buddy but doesn’t) reported on the next morning’s Net and you could hear the joy in her voice. We did good.

In the process I learned of a woman who turned out to be an amazingly talented beader/craftsperson and she agreed to meet up and help me with a bracelet that I couldn’t finish thanks to lousy instructions. You can bet I’d be picking her brain plenty. As of today we are still working on meeting up; but that’s the cruising life. Weather, plans, timing all serve to bring us together as well as keep us apart. Fingers crossed for next season; by then I may even be a tiny bit more proficient.

Some define cruising as doing boat repairs in exotic places. I’d like to expand on that to include basic boat maintenance, bottom cleaning, oh and how about cooking, cleaning, laundry ! ,paddling (kayak, SUP) and ever-changing scenery with the possibility of new neighbors every night. Thought I’d end with this so you don’t conclude that we just lounge about staring at the beautiful waters filled with turtles, rays, pretty fish, or walk the pretty white beaches every day….. I wish.

Low tide bottom cleaning at Rolle Cay. Russ stands in 4.5ft of water- much easier this way

The task pictured below must be done in perfectly calm waters. If the space above the waterline gets wet, the acid wash won’t work, so you need dry, dry. Sometimes he does this at a floating dock, or using the dinghy, but the SUP was an excellent platform for the job.

Everything must do double duty – Russ uses SUP to acid wash clean our waterline

Get-togethers and Visits

About to exit Lake Victoria- Max wasted no time in devouring the pizza we saved for him

Our first opportunity to reconnect with George Town friends was Melanie’s birthday. Does two years in a row constitute a tradition? Yes, if you are a cruiser me thinks. Cort likes Grand Isle (Palapa Grill) and we all like it too. So off we went in his “new” car, getting the low down about the car on the way up. Five squeezed into the gray Impreza with right hand side steering wheel. Max had to fend for himself but we brought him leftover pizza!

 

The Queen’s Dock at Cort’s Place and the SUP Dude

By some miracle we were able to move over to anchor off Cort’s Place at Monument Beach and Max had caught fish with some local Bahamian friends he fishes with on occasion. I baked brownies (always a crowd pleaser, especially when Cort’s Place has no oven!). If you haven’t gotten word yet- Ghiradelli Triple Fudge Brownie Mix is the one to buy! and we enjoyed a great evening of stories (you should have seen the shocked faces when we told our Bristol Liquor Store tale), Q&A (Cort loves to ask us about our plans, etc) and catching up on life since last March.

 

The Before photo of Max’s grilled fresh catch of TODAY

Fresh caught that day and prepared entirely by the fisherman himself; does it get any better?

The chef with his masterpiece. Sliced, seasoned and grilled potatoes are wrapped up on the white tiles

 

Now you know why we are all happy!

Since most days were too windy to dinghy down to TOTW we accepted an invite to bring the big boat in for the night. Thoroughly enjoyed getting re-acquainted with the walking trails, lovely beaches and since the tide was low, we walked one section in the shallows, looking for sand dollars to place in the rock crevices.

Dinner was delicious: I provided the pork tenderloin that Melanie marinated and Paul grilled. She made homemade bread and the yummiest mashed sweet potatoes ever; and then Melanie outdid herself with lemon squares baked using lemons from the tree in their grove.

Those who know me well, know that I am not a fan of baked fruit desserts. This dessert could lay claim to perfection; the lemon not tart nor cloying sweet and the crumb crust (not graham, not pastry) paired with the lemon filling like a parrot on a peg-leg pirate’s shoulder. I reluctantly declined a second piece (cuz everyone else did).

Top of the World visit

And then there was an ARG meeting. Silly cruisers want to be clever: Alcohol Research Group. In other words, a beach party: bring what you want to drink and an appetizer to share. We finally got to meet a new sister PDQ34, Float Her. Just John this time as his wife Janice had flown back home to Canada for a few weeks.  We got to know John better over lunch a few days later at Lumina Point where the service, food and drinks rated an A.

I saw another cruiser’s posting on FB, calling the party an ART meeting- Team instead of Group- but hey that works too, only ARG sounds better doesn’t it?

 

ARG on Honeymoon Beach

Then, the moment we’d been waiting for… our BBB, Traveling Soul arrived. Yes, they were two days behind their intended day thanks to a very rough “we need to turn back” Exuma Sound, but their very brief stay miraculously coincided with days of hardly any wind. Such days being in very short supply this winter. And days of low humidity too, so that was a blessing.

TS as captured by TS, with Lumina Pt in background

Hugs all around and sniffy kisses with Spot. Hospitality is always abundant with Mike and Ann and this time included a surprise beverage designed to make Russ happy; and he was!–surprised and happy with Ann’s homemade ginger beer to which we added Gosling’s Bermuda Black Rum that I had to sneak over, as we always have it in stock. She and I enjoyed vodka and tonics made with her homemade tonic. The homemade tonic and ginger beer are far less sick-y sweet and to me, while fizzy, not as burpy. Yummy libations!

Sadly, TS was off to Cat Island which sits east about 50 miles and is famous for The Hermitage (click to see photos from our visit there). If only TS was a power cat and not a Jefferson 52, then you’d have a cat with a cat on Cat. 🙂

We missed Apollo II, Barefeet and Soulstice. One didn’t cruise this winter (but they will next season we hope!), another didn’t cross over (too windy?) and another didn’t come down to George Town.

Around March 7 we looked ahead to see a window for leaving the harbor we’d called home for six weeks. Happily we’d also be able to anchor with the big boats and have a farewell get together with Cort and Max. The day we moved over to the Monument Beach anchorage was the Regatta in-harbor race which we managed not to interfere with. 🙂

Some pre-race fun maneuvers- Endangered Species, Triad and ? Committee Boat on the right

Our dinner invite to Cort turned into a counter invite to the house as Walt and Lee (Cort’s friends and former co-owners of sail cat Celise/Spirit) were in the harbor on m/v Linda Lee. Wow and what a feast!  New friends of Linda Lee, s/v MoJo (Molly and Joe) who are also huge fisher people and a youthful under 30 years old!, came along and we feasted as never before. Russ eating Tuna Poke- gasp! -only like this.

M/V Linda Lee with Walt & Lee aboard anchoring- several dinghies remain that belong to racing boats- hard to judge proper position

And yes, those two new Adirondack chairs came in handy.

Caught, prepared and sauteed by Max

Feast of Friends at Cort’s Place- Fresh Conch Salad (by Walt) and fresh caught grouper fingers (Joe)

One day while anchored in The Litter Box (just before we headed over to Monument for the last time), we had several special visitors, namely larger turtles than the ones we’d seen only ½ mile away behind Rolle Cay. The older and wiser one came up by our stern enough times so I was able to get a good shot. In case you are keeping track, I’m making good on that promise.

Looking for nibbles on the hull, or directions to the East Australian Current. At February Point

We think he/she was looking for nibbles just below the waterline, as they often do on the sides of docks where the fuzzy stuff grows. Don’t you love this photo? Lacking an underwater camera and the desire of one of us to even be IN the water, a great shot like this is a rare event.

Around GTown

Goats! BTC tower with accoutrements

In years past, I’ve posted photos of George Town- all the hot spots. Haha.  You can look back but here’s some from this year. We seldom bring the phone/photo device into town; why risk anything awful happening?  On calm trips in when we might be expecting a call or whatever, I try to remember it.

Our 90 days would expire March 8 so on a calm day we went to the Immigration office to request 60 more days.  Thirty would be sufficient, but in case not, we didn’t want to worry. Peace and Plenty still wasn’t serving lunch when we walked in with hopeful faces on March 6, so now where? Precious few choices in town. Driftwood Café is cute but the menu too limited for Russ so BLU came to mind. It overlooks Kidd Cove and is on the Exuma Docking/ Exuma Yacht Club/EYC property. Last year we called it EYC BLU but this year it’s just BLU. Hard to keep up.

 

Lunch time at BLU overlooking Kidd Cove

Immigration is a short walk west from the dinghy dock. Extensions are considered Monday to Friday from 9:30 to noon only, so we made sure to arrive shortly after 9:30. A woman (not the stern guy with sidearm) behind the walled-in counter and an empty waiting space got me thinking good thoughts. You must bring your passport and your entry paperwork, then you must each fill out a new immigration form (that narrow long piece you may know from plane or any trip abroad). Russ planned ahead and got two immigration forms last year so we had those filled out already. But still one more form; you each need to fill out a single sheet and tell, among other basics, why you want an extension, why you are in the Bahamas (vacation is the closest choice) and how much time you are requesting. Politeness is essential try not to allow any pirate traits to surface. 🙂

Fortunately the powers that be were in a good mood that day and Russ made sure to wear a collared shirt, so our 60-day extension got approved very quickly in Bahamian time. Ah, life is good.

Time to request an extension to our 90 days

A short time later after lunch at BLU, Russ got a much-needed haircut at Vanria’s Salon which is located (Bahamians pronounce it with the accent on cated) in the same building as the Immigration Office, tucked in the corner. You’d miss it if you weren’t in the know, but she does advertise which helps too.

Our time in George Town would be far shorter and not as fun without Cort’s Place. One time we got to tag along on a short road trip that lasted three hours! Cort’s boat (a Twin Vee center console cat) needed pampering at the boat place so we agreed to meet at 8:30 at Minns where the car is kept. Early, yes, and the perfect opportunity to drop off laundry at where else? The Corner Laundry! I’d been hand washing and hanging dry everything but towels, so we gathered up every towel – and between bath, hand, kitchen, seating and rag we have plenty-for pampering (WDF) at the Corner Laundry. “Done by noon”- really?  Perfect- we might not need to dinghy back in if they were done while we’d still be in town. 🙂 We can hope.

We met Cort and grandson Max (age 27 and a West Coast salmon fisherman with his Dad) at Minns and headed out for places known and who knows!

In the photo below you can see Peace and Plenty hotel. The “Doctor of Libations”, Lermon Rolle was promoted from part-time bartender to Greeter/Maitre’d/Bell Hop and we were happy to reconnect with him during the Regatta Variety Show lunch, bringing greetings from Ida Patton at Black Point. The guests checking in that day must have really been wondering what the heck they’d gotten into.

Lotsa boat rentals happening at Minns- Cort’s in-town dock

Prime Island Meats was our first stop and with the size increase, we like it more than ever. Cort seldom shops at Exuma Market anymore as the meat market offers a wide selection of meats, both fresh and frozen as well as lots of frozen seafood. We snagged 4 lobster tails, 4 fresh sliced (from a huge roll) burgers and boneless chicken breasts.

Prime Island Meats- the new section- doubled the store’s size

Garden Center next stop!  Not far from the meat market, but set back from the road so you can’t see it.   So many carefully tended, lovely plants greet you once you step out back.

Colorful Bougainvillea at the garden center

Garden center owner starts almost all his plants from cuttings at his home. Formerly from New Providence, he’s owned and operated the garden center for nearly 20 years. Today, Cort was looking for 2 porch chairs. Success meant stuffing them into the trunk already full of groceries, but Russ and Max were up to the challenge.

The lid closed mostly and with some tie down twine provided by the Center’s owner, we were good to go.

The road through town is one-way so our return trip took us by the Corner Laundry. We all agreed it was chancy but why not try? Wowza- all done and folded for only $12! To put that cost into perspective, the average cost in the Bahamas to do your own wash and dry is $8, plus your detergent.

 Max knows just how to use those new chairs!

Two Turtles sits across from Regatta Park and was the perfect spot to relax after our busy morning. :-). Yes, I asked for an iced tea or lemonade. No, they had none. A weak G&T then? The bars around tend to make strong drinks, so I figured weak would be just fine but I would have liked the piece of lime left in the drink!

Enjoying an early beverage at Two Turtles

With two very productive days under our belts we felt good and although departure day loomed ahead we still had hopes of seeing our friends again. We also hoped to cross paths with a certain Grand Banks up the road a bit.

Regatta Time- Cruiser Craziness

Jump in and paddle out to collect as many floating coconuts as possible. Two golden coconuts give you an extra 10 pts for each one

For the 38th year, the annual George Town Cruising Regatta took place in and around Elizabeth Harbour.  Although the number of boats anchored were much less than the last few years, the weather cooperated quite well for the 13 days of fun, frolic, sailing and games galore; both for kids and adults.

We managed to watch some of the fun, which gets a big kickoff at the Variety Show usually held in Regatta Park but this year due to the John Bull Cup races, Peace and Plenty did the honors and the buffet lunch.

 

Good variety at this year’s show!

 

You can see the Bahamian sloops at anchor to the left

 

And finally near the end, the Junior Junkanoo parade

 

Racers getting ferried back to shore

Part 2 of coconut challenge

March 9th was the in-harbour sailboat race and we just so happened to be moving from Rolle Cay over to Monument, near Cort’s Place. We did our best to keep out-of-the-way during the floppy hanky warm-up time.

Some pre-race fun maneuvers- Endangered Species, Triad and a third sailboat. The Committee Boat on the right

Whisper is over taken by “didn’t get boat name”, with s/v Compromise catching up

My favorite part of the sailboat racing, other than pretending to participate, is the commentary. When boats register they complete a sheet that lists background and current info about the owner and crew members. Other tidbits of interest such as “about your boat name” or number of years coming to George Town (27 for s/v Whisper!) are encouraged. The stories help fill dead air and we always enjoy them.

Even when we cruised here in Ortolan, we didn’t seriously consider racing her, which was good because we always needed to begin the trip north before Regatta began. My latest light bulb idea is to convince Ortolan’s current owners to race her in-harbour with us as crew.  They are racers with many years of sailing experience, now on a fast Maine Cat. What a great story for the commentators to tell, especially when you add in that their former sail cat was a PDQ and we now own a PDQ power cat.  Maybe we could call it a belated “big” birthday gift for me. 🙂   Ok, call me crazy now.

 

 

 

 

Harbour Views

Anchored behind Rolle Cay- the dark shade rolling over us

As I mentioned in the prior post, Elizabeth Harbour contains oodles of anchoring space; however our view is often from the more protected (read “out of the way”) spots but at least we move around unlike some boats whose anchor has become one with the sandy bottom.

Years ago, as in 20 or more, before the Chat ‘n Chill arrived on the part of Stocking Island now called Volleyball Beach, boats didn’t anchor in the harbor as we do now. They anchored in the more protected areas such as behind Crab Cay and the Red Shanks Cays. The Red Shanks Yacht and Tennis Club was the thing, with regular beach parties and the placing of conch shells up on the rocks.

–But ever since Chat ‘n Chill opened- I mean who doesn’t love a beach bar with T-shirts dangling from the rafters, warm beer and lousy food that you order yelling over someone’s shoulder because the TV is blaring music vids- oh and house music too. Trust me, it’s vacationers who keep the place going, not the cruisers.

When we arrived on Jan 24th the boat count was roughly 170; pretty empty for end of January. By mid- Feb the count had swelled to 230; less than average. By March 4 the count was 256; 40 less than the recent average. Hard to say why. Could be due to Regatta a week later, or not a single miserable cold front the entire month of February. Much of the time it seemed like boats were leaving for points south faster than ones arrived to take their place.

Anchored at Monument near Cort’s Place- looking toward Great Exuma and George Town

During all of February, not a single cold front got pushed down here so the Easterlies- no, not Easter Lilies!-  reigned supreme. That meant the wind would blow 10-20 most days out of the East with some days northeast- ish and some southeast- ish.  On one hand consistency is good and on the other, variety would be preferred. With no L&V winds that often precede a front, sometimes lingering for days, we had precious few days calm enough to anchor in the main anchorages, let alone dinghy anywhere we wished.

 

Looking at Stocking Island from Rolle Cay. We did this a lot!

 

Disappearing land as rain and dark clouds arrive- Stocking Island

 

Underway from Monument to Rolle Cay. Higgins Landing light-colored bldgs- (For Sale), Lumina Point taller one and brown ones to the right

First Exuma rainbow this winter

 

Bouncy trip down Elizabeth Harbour heading to Elizabeth Island (sits next to and south of Stocking Island)

 

Today, so calm, even a houseboat can do it

The anchoring hole behind Chat N Chill is called the Fruit Bowl; all the house boats (rented/owned by French Canadians) have names such as Mango and Papaya but you need to say them with the proper accent like- Pa Pie Ya, Man Go 🙂  On calm days they venture out; kin folk.

Moon rise over Crab Cay from the Litter Box (get it? cats go there) at Feb Point, George Town

The Litter Box isn’t as glamorously named as The Fruit Bowl, but then again, we didn’t name it.

Bahamian small boat racing off Feb Pt during John Bull racing weekend

 

The calm before the windy in the Litter Box- a few fruits tossed in for fun

 

Looking at Chat n Chill and the popular sign totem. Behind the trees are the beach volley ball courts

 

Honeymoon Beach- lies in between Monument Beach and VolleyBall Beach- are you lost yet?

Meanwhile, back in the Litter Box…

Feb Point- choppers always checking- they know when you are sleeping, they know when you are … oh they know too much!

Crab Cay and Walker Ruins

Behind Crab Cay- ruins on the highest hill in center of photo

Crab Cay faces the southern part of Stocking Island and Elizabeth Island,with the harbour in between. At the southern end of Crab Cay are the teeny Red Shanks Cays that line the entrance into the Red Shanks anchorages which are basically behind (in the lee of) Crab Cay.  Very close behind Crab Cay is Great Exuma. When the wind blows out of the south or south-west boats often seek shelter in the more shallow, protected anchorages behind Crab Cay.

Elizabeth Harbour- here’s the lay of the land. Elizabeth Island is next in line to the south (right) of Stocking Island- only a tiny piece shows on this chart view

Basics: Big bucks ECO development on Crab Cay- now connected to Great Exuma by a lovely bridge that keeps boats like us from going there via the short route.  $800 Million project budget. Several corporations involved- to be built to the highest standards.

Phase 1- stopped 2009. A marina for yachts to 300 ft and a Harbor Village with Resort and Spa was in process.. and that’s as far as it went. The marina basin dredged and pilings stacked on shore ready to use.

Sir William Walker Ruins: very little info on-line, but here’s what we found. S/v Little Sister had told us about the ruins years ago, but we never walked up.

So in one easy trip ashore we toured ruins- old and recent. The developers of Crab Cay planned to destroy the Walker Ruins- no surprise there but the one good thing the Bahamian govt did was to demand that the ruins be preserved, and access allowed to anyone. We saw obvious signs of shoring up walls and windows and of clearing the land of the main house area, as well as the short rocky path from the development’s road to the ruins.

Walker was a Loyalist who came here in the late 1700s and built a stone house and botanical garden atop Crab Cay. The trees and exotic plants were started from cuttings brought back to this area by Her Majesty’s Ships that traveled throughout the Atlantic and Pacific- think HMS Bounty. The house was impressive, considering the effort involved in building a stone structure on an island off an island in the 1700s!  The site contained high stone walls, peaked entrance pillars surrounding a botanical garden, and circular platforms held cannons used to ward off……. Guess…. Pirates… of the Caribbean- right?

 

Abandoned Crab Cay Marina & Resort- guess they wanted visible proof of proper workmanship

 

Cement plant on Crab Cay. Put to good use for a short time…

Motor yachts anchored in dredged marina basin which opens to Elizabeth Harbour. Dredge pipe still in place

 

Kitchen room of Walker ruins on Crab Cay. Overlooks the backside of Crab (facing west- not the harbour)

 

Oven lined with bricks

 

Walker ruins- another structure across from the kitchen area

 

A separate dwelling from the main house- looking out toward Elizabeth Harbor

I think you might agree, after reading this and looking at the photos, that Sir William was far more successful than the ambitious developers of Crab Cay.