Biking Jekyll Island, GA

Sandwiched between Cumberland Island to the south and St Simon’s Island to the north, sits Jekyll Island. Former winter cottage site of the wealthy who may have also owned a summer cottage in Newport, Jekyll is a lovely place to explore with over 20miles of fantastic bike paths where the steepest hill might be a 10” climb over a ¼ mile. Flat and perfect for this non-biker chick.

Jekyll has been on our list for years and this year with extra time available we made it happen. From arrival day, Monday 4/21 to the end of Tuesday we biked as much of the 3-mile-long island as we could. The southern section was closed off due to the recent monsoons; flat terrain equals flooding and the south part sits lower than the rest.

The paths take you through marshes, golf courses, along beaches, through and near the Jekyll Island Club, into the historic district, past cemeteries and the only island fast food joint, DQ Grill and Ice Cream.

Jekyll Harbor Marina has a long face dock laying parallel to the ICW; easy docking with competent dockhands even with current and wind. The marina provides free bikes- imagine that! Their wi-fi was excellent; this is becoming a trend at marinas lately as they upgrade their systems.

So let’s tour the island. We’ll begin at the marina, head along the west (ICW/Jekyll Creek) side, around the northern tip, along the east (ocean) side and then we’ll finish up with a few interior stops.

First we get out our trusty map which shows the bike paths, roads, places of interest and dining options.

The marina is to the right of the 3-circle cluster, at the white road where the bridge crosses the creek; we’ll be heading to the left to begin. Bike paths are blue.

A sailboat heads up Jekyll Creek-probably at mid tide or better

A sailboat heads up Jekyll Creek-probably at mid tide or better. Brunswick bridge in background.

 

Jekyll Island Club- no longer members-only exclusive. Inn, resort and fabulous dining. Pool too

Jekyll Island Club- no longer members-only exclusive. Inn, resort and fabulous dining. Pool too

Croquet on the lawn of the Jekyll Island Club

Croquet on the lawn of the Jekyll Island Club

 

Latitude 31 and their outdoor Rah Bar situated next to the creek

Latitude 31 and their outdoor Rah Bar situated next to the creek

The weather was so lovely, warm but not too, and the ambience so perfect that we ate lunch here both days. Monday’s special was one pound of Georgia peel-‘n-eat shrimp with your drink choice. The shrimp was melt-in-your-mouth heavenly; so fresh and cooked to “just done” perfection. Our usual island libation choice is the rum punch and the Rah Bar’s Rum Smash was excellent.

At first glance we thought "swan?", but no, just white pelicans acting like swans

At first glance we thought “swan?”, but no, just white pelicans acting like swans

While all the bike route is clean, wide and well-kept, the sections through the historic district are especially neat and tidy. This photo below is a great example of what we found along the route. Covered trash cans, water fountain, bench and an informational sign. Signs explaining the marshes, birds, small animals, historic sites and such were well placed (and well spaced so you could rest frequently if you wanted).

The perfect spot to rest, read and quench your thirst.

The perfect spot to rest, read and quench your thirst.

 

Red Bug electric carts are available to rent at the Jekyll Island Airport

Red Bug electric carts are available to rent at the Jekyll Island Airport

 

Horton House. Constructed of tabby and the only one of its era remaining

Horton House. Constructed of tabby and the only one of its era remaining

By one of its two fireplaces- can see the exposed tabby

By one of its two fireplaces- can see the exposed tabby

Major William Horton, an officer under General James Oglethorpe, was the first Englishman to purchase land on Jekyll Island. He eventually purchased nearly 500 acres and built the Horton House to serve as a British Empire outpost and his personal residence. Photos showed it with porches and an upper deck.

If I recall correctly, from our museum tour (no photos allowed) this was the second home. His first was burnt by the Spanish (?) about a year after he built it. Think we’re in the 1700’s here.

Driftwood Beach- an extreme and haunting example of serious land erosion

Driftwood Beach- an extreme and haunting example of serious land erosion

Each week the human crew of m/v Acapella, otherwise known as ActiveCaptain, sends out an email that deals with a technical topic, new feature of, or future plans for the best interactive cruising guide we’ve found, ActiveCaptain. The second part of their email is the Defender First deal of the week and the last but not least section is where they mention where they have been and a link to their blog, Talking Paws.

They also, of course, enter reviews in AC about places they’ve stopped at and a recent one was right here at Jekyll Island. A place Karen said not to miss was Driftwood Beach. Not really driftwood, but uprooted trees strewn along the north tip of the island. Another planet for the look and feel of those snarled tree trunks and massive root systems. Some rocky sections and little pools contained shell pieces and a few pieces of sea glass.

driftwood beach

Signpost near Jekyll Island Market and the only photo by the ocean beach

Signpost near Jekyll Island Market and the only photo by the ocean beach

The GA sea turtle center located a short distance from the Pier Rd shops

The GA sea turtle center located a short distance from the Pier Rd shops

The doc was in!  We got to see shell repairs in action up close and personal behind plexiglass. The center was beautiful; well designed and fun to explore.

Two gopher turtles require shell repair after being hit by cars

Two gopher turtles require shell repair after being hit by cars

Baby turtle, Glory has a decent chance of survival

Baby turtle, Glory has a decent chance of survival

The Glory Boardwalk mentioned in the “Meet Glory!” write-up was built specifically to film several Civil War battle scenes in the movie, Glory, filmed on Jekyll Island in 1989. And yes, we’ve added it to our movie list. Because it’s in the southern part of the island we missed it.

Capn' Crunch as seen from the tilted observation mirror above the tank

Capn’ Crunch as seen from the tilted observation mirror above the tank

Did you ever wonder why?.....

Did you ever wonder why?…..

Could not resist a photo of these, but I did resist the urge to buy one

Could not resist a photo of these, but I did resist the urge to buy one

Crossing the island was more rustic- watch for gators here

Crossing the island was more rustic- watch for gators here

Our tour ends back at the marina where this tug and barge come through in daylight. Because the ICW in Jekyll Creek is so narrow, they usually do this at night. Not only is the creek narrow, but in a couple of places,  if you don’t know the “secret path” you could easily run aground.

Tug and barge consume much of the creek as they go past

Tug and barge consume much of the creek as they go past

 

 

Advertisements

Drunkard’s Dream: Triple Cays

sitting prettyDrunk on beach combing that is. Happy to have several days after leaving Green Turtle just perfect for island hopping and exploring. The three cays lie in a line heading NW of Green Turtle and since we were heading west toward the banks (Little Bahama Bank) before crossing, these cays were along the way. Although a mere 22 nm separated the first and third, each was distinctive in formation, beach quality and treasures. Best described as a blend of Berry Island Cays and Exuma Cays sitting out-of-the-way enough for some privacy with few neighbors.

Manjack Cay (aka Nunjack): anchorage large enough for two dozen boats or more with Crab Cay nestled near the eastern end. Some years ago when (believe it or not) bringing building supplies, equipment and provisions was easier than now, several homes were built overlooking the harbor. A wide, well-kept trail was blazed that leads from off the harbor’s tiny beach, around the mangroves until you get to low dunes and voila, the ocean beach. The owners created artistic signs to lead the way.

This way!  The path is long enough for a healthy leg stretch

This way! The path is long enough for a healthy leg stretch

The trail is a solid and flat ¾ mile and we spotted tiny birds, air plants and butterflies along the way.air plant

A long stretch of sandy beach with virtually no shells at all, but I gathered 3 hamburger beans and that made the trek worthwhile.

A common sight- Lori searching for sea beans

A common sight- Lori searching for sea beans

The chickens are an English breed (I forget the name) and love coconut! Near the Tiki hut just off the beach sits a tree stump with a device on top to help you remove coconut husks and crack open the coconut. How great is that?

Chicken came over to Mama for a hug

Chicken came over to Mama for a hug

Beach chicks. Very domestic and sooo big!

Beach chicks. Very domestic and sooo big!

The beach on the inside (harbor) of Crab gave up a cleaned and sun-bleached sea urchin and a handful of small shells. Met a man who was house-sitting for a friend on Manjack and Russ talked with him while I hunted. He explained that supplies and large freight items got to the island by a local man who ferried them out from Green Turtle (5nm away) after the freight boat delivered. As of about five years ago, the freight boat no longer stops at Green Turtle, leaving only the mail boat to bring food, mail, and small freight items.

Powell Cay: shaped like letter Z with a short middle piece that angles more right than left, the Cay offers good protection from north through south. Its best features are numerous accessible beaches and the white-tailed tropicbirds that entertained us in the morning. Several were curious about the dinghy as she floated behind the boat, even landing in it briefly. They breed in Bermuda and can be spotted here and there in Florida and Bahamas.

White-tailed tropicbird

White-tailed tropicbird

The trip from Manjack was 9nm and we arrived at 10:30. Except for a lunch break the entire day was devoted to beach combing, trail walking and dinghy exploration.

Russ finds the trail that leads to the ocean beach

Russ finds the trail that leads to the ocean beach

Along the trail that led to the ocean beach we came upon the largest granddaddy hermit crab ever- at least 5″ long, he looked ready for a larger shell.

The godfather of all hermit crabs

The godfather of all hermit crabs

He stopped and kept an eye or two on us as we watched and photographed him for posterity. The ocean beach was long wide and not entirely flat. It gave up a handful of sea beans and small shells.

The four non-ocean beaches were each quite different. Between them we saw huge sea biscuits, several legal queen conch, milk conch shells, live sea biscuits in the shallows at low tide and a type of conch that we have yet to ID. The large sea biscuits are so heavy that instead of floating up past the sand to the wrack line they get lodged in the sand, their distinctive sea star-shaped tops barely visible. They are typically discolored and have some marine growth; all discouraging to the collector.

Turtles, fish and rays showed themselves if you happened to be looking.

Allan’s-Pensacola Cay: within living memory they were once two, now one. A hurricane closed in the narrow channel between them and now you can’t tell where as it looks much like the rest of the cays’ terrain; bush, grass and skinny-trunked trees. This joining up formed a small harbor where 10-12 boats can easily fit. The trick is to find a sandy spot to drop the hook for good holding. Our sandy spot gobbled up the Rocna so well that when we tried to find it with the viewer, we only knew it was there because sections of chain were visible.

The 13 nm trip took two hours motoring in light wind, running the watermaker to fill the port tanks. Turtle sightings along the way; none surfaced long enough for a portrait.

Don't follow this sailboat!

Don’t follow this sailboat!

 

The A-P Hilton- new carpeting, free Wi-Fi, A/C and all the fresh air you want

The A-P Hilton- new carpeting, free Wi-Fi, A/C and all the fresh air you want

 

Hanging out waiting for you-know-who to do her thing

Hanging out waiting for you-know-who to do her thing

Hard to miss the path leading from the harbor across to the ocean

Hard to miss the path leading from the harbor across to the ocean

A path leads over to guess where? – yes the ocean beach and the signing tree. The tree got so filled up that now 4 or 5 trees have “sign” hanging from them Kinda like Boo Boo Hill plaques only you make them from any possible material (recycled beach junk is best) and hang it from a tree.

Signing trees at Allan's Cay

Signing trees at Allan’s Cay

We came partially prepared with a black permanent marker. While I checked out the beach (hey, this would be our last beach stop in the Bahamas) Russ found a red and white-striped float and was adding the finishing touches as I returned with some blue nylon line I’d picked up.

Ortolan sign for the signing tree.  Nice work Captain!

Ortolan sign for the signing tree. Nice work Captain!

 

Treasured Tranquil Turtles

Sand Bank Cays with Treasure Cay in distance

Sand Bank Cays with Treasure Cay in distance

So here we are, having decided to extend our stay into April; wondering which way to turn from Guana Cay. How about we let the wind and weather help with that; gee wouldn’t that be a novel idea? Another front was arriving with the west wind part of it relatively benign; however, the 1, 2, 3, front punch after that was downright troubling. I know that you all know that winter hasn’t received the “time for Spring” memo, and the same goes here in the too close to Florida Abacos.

For now, we’d let the wind fill our sails and set a course for Treasure Cay with its long stretch of gorgeous white sand beach that cozies up to turquoise blue water, or is it azure blue? Doesn’t matter really when it’s that beautiful.

Sunday, our next stop would require a mooring in Hope Town or a dock to sit out the next 3 fronts with that nasty clocking around activity. Hey, how about doing the Whale? Low, SW winds would allow nearly any vessel to get past Whale Cay and with high tide around mid-day we could easily take the “Don’t Rock” passage. This meant we’d be looking for a slip at Bluff House Beach Resort and Marina in Green Turtle Cay’s White Sound; possibly for six nights. Darn. Imagine, a restaurant, beach bar, pool, wi-fi, water, power and all the interesting people you meet at a marina- this wasn’t too hard to take. But first, one needs to contact the marina.

Your experience may be different, but here’s ours: 🙂

  • Hail Bluff House on CH16 before coming past the Whale. Eight miles away. No response. Do that 3 times
  • Call them on the phone: result busy. Try that 5 times
  • Listen to announcement on CH16 that phones are down on Green Turtle. Wi-fi too. Sigh
  • Roll dice. Continue past the Whale via Don’t Rock passage over shifting sand bars that look much more shallow than 6 feet

    The rock in the Don't Rock passage- the shallow draft route inside Whale Cay

    The rock in the Don’t Rock passage- the shallow draft route inside Whale Cay

  • Hail Bluff House on CH16 at six miles. Success! They have space. We’re coming in hot!
  • Continue making water that started at 9am and anchor at Joyless Pt, outside of White Sound- Ok so we’re not coming in tonight
  • Launch dinghy and go in to check out the slip ( I mean we haven’t docked in 5 mos) and reserve it for Monday. This process took Russ 45 mins and the dinghy ride was only 5
  • Talk through docking process twice to be sure we each know our job (me that is). Test headsets-OK
  • Process is we go stern-in to the dock, wedging our 23ft between the two pilings, port and starboard. There’s no side dock, just a ladder on the dock at our stern where we’d climb up. I’d have to get lines on the pilings before we backed all the way in
  • Use bad language when headset dies before we get to the dock. Russ executed a perfect back-in, stopping half-way. I needed six tries to get the line around the piling, but the applause felt good. (does it take six people to watch us dock?) Yes, some helped too.
  • Spend 30 mins attaching and adjusting bow, spring, stern lines so that we could get off the boat and still have it snug enough to stay in place for the eventual 33kts.
  • Get into the marina groove and enjoy! 2-4-1 Tranquil Turtles every day at Happy Hour

    Bird in a web- no flight for this lady

    Bird in a web- no flight for this lady

Many boats bouncing around the Sea of Abaco are charter boats; Moorings, Dream Yacht Charters, Cruise Abaco, to name a few. Once in a while the owner may be enjoying his boat, but generally you will see a bareboat charter or a captained one. Not that cruisers are anywhere near perfect boat handlers, but when you are operating an unfamiliar vessel, trying to squeeze 10 days-worth of fun into 7 or less, you may become the center of attention, especially at the dock.

Someone messed up and the dinghy tumbled

Someone messed up and the dinghy tumbled

This charter power cat, Sea Song stayed a few nights, three spaces (can’t really call them slips) down from us. During the docking process which included more wind than we had, it seemed like the owner and friends were aboard as well as a hired captain.  The dinghy gets hoisted on davits. When departing, the captain gunned it to get past the docks in front of him, the dinghy tumbled into the water, its contents taking the plunge. The onlookers yelled, the crew hustled and the captain left the helm to see for himself. Not sure leaving the helm is a good idea, but this way everyone got into my photo- which- sorry- was taken through the Strataglass panel.

Cruiser runs aground leaving at low tide

Cruiser runs aground leaving at low tide

A few days later this small Grand Banks backs out of his space 30 mins before a low tide which is lower than usual. The tender to yacht Koala was ahead of him and when Loon decided to go around the tender, bam! Aground. Naturally, people were watching because well, you get bored and a boat coming or going is worth watching.  Pulling was futile and around 3:30, after the tide rose enough, Loon floated off and after a test drive for damage, nosed back into her space for one more night.

Monday promises to be a busy day of departures. Many boats are looking to cross to FL or GA asap and while we’ll be going the same way, our plan is to spend 4-5 days exploring a few of the cays that lie northwest of Green Turtle. Described with words that also would describe the Jumentos or Warderick Wells, we are very eager to check them out. And for the weather to settle.

Laying Low in Abaco

This large sea star was easy to spot in shallow, clear water close to the beach

This large sea star was easy to spot in shallow, clear water close to the beach

The protected Sea of Abaco strives, at times, to compete with the big ocean by churning up waves and choppiness that worsen as you pass close to an ocean cut. We allowed enough time (about a month) to move around in favorable winds and a sea state that suited us. Therefore, strong north winds kept us tucked in on a Pete’s Pub mooring in Little Harbor at the southern end of the Sea of Abaco, and so began an eight-day fun and frolic with new boat friends.

This hermit crab chose a different shell than the usual West Indian Top Shells. He hangs around the pub at night

This hermit crab chose a different shell than the usual West Indian Top Shells. He hangs around the pub at night

Darn good thing we aren’t depending on our fish-catching luck to feed ourselves. The Mahi that liked our hook was a fighter and with rod and reel we might have kept him, but he got off just as Russ was about to pull him up. Fortunately our neighbors on s/v Dolphin Leap scored a big one and when s/v Mardi Gras arrived on Wed we feasted on delicious Mahi and coleslaw prepared by Masha, appetizers a la Mardi Gras with fresh-baked focaccia made famous by Chef Russ.

Tuesday was “anything you wish to do” perfect and the sea glass on Lynyard Cay called out to me. Gotta love Google Earth that showed us a tiny spot where we could land Bunting then walk around at the southern end. At first I wasn’t sure about the terrain but closer inspection revealed it ideal for trapping glass that washed up over the rocks set at just the right angle. Footwear a must; a screwdriver would come in handy for prying pieces firmly wedged and a large bag to hold your treasures. Besides the sea glass I found a perfect Reticulated Cowrie Helmet specimen- very exciting and by far my best shell find ever. (it’s only 3″long)

A rocky, other-world type beach with scattered sand spots is ideal for sea glass

A rocky, other-world type beach with scattered sand spots is ideal for sea glass

A low-tide walk along the rocky side of the mooring field always results in new finds. This time we spotted live West Indian Top snails- you know- before the hermit crabs call them “home”.  Another first and many were quite large; some day the perfect hermit mansion.

Grandpa Top Shell and chitons on the rocks visible at low tide

Grandpa Top Shell and chitons on the rocks visible at low tide

Sat, March 15: we headed north to provision at the excellent Maxwell’s in Marsh Harbor, make water along the way, and backtrack a bit to anchor near Baker’s Rock/Tahiti Beach across from Cracker P’s on Lubbers Quarters. Tonight the three boats would make tracks for Cracker P’s full moon party and beach bonfire; our first ever. Dolphin Leap and Mardi Gras regaled us with their adventures which included (I won’t say who did what) one being towed out of Little Harbor by the other, a handheld VHF taking a swim, handheld rescued but then the rescuer needed rescuing, going aground, repairs to the original problem and well, you get the idea. Despite all that, both boats arrived on time for the party; hearty cruisers are like that.

Keith, Russ, Moi, Linda and Masha -ready for buffet and bonfire at Cracker P's

Keith, Russ, Moi, Linda and Masha -ready for buffet and bonfire at Cracker P’s

Masha snapped a good one of me by the bonfire

Masha snapped a good one of me by the bonfire

Bonfire- what shape do you see?

Bonfire- what shape do you see?

Next stop: the lovely Hope Town harbor where we used our Maine Cat connections to procure a mooring for three nights. The fronts have been steady and every other one is weak; still keeps us happy to be doing that clocking around action on a mooring. Sunday we participated in our first dinghy drift; one of the largest they’ve had. More than 50 dinghies tied up together while 120 happy floaters passed around finger foods to share. The flotilla moved slowly through the mooring field and toward the harbor’s entrance. The ferry snuck by just in time but the three-man crew of a large center console got a big surprise as they rounded the corner- and there we sat, a joyful jelly fish blob waving and cheering.

On Da BeachEarlier that day killing a few birds seemed to be the way to go: lunch, a walk and checking out a new beach bar. We don’t usually eat at the bar but that was the only spot, so we took it. Those who do this know you can meet more people this way, get drinks spilled on you and get to know your bartender better. 🙂 We met Bill and Betsy, a few years our senior, who sadly were enjoying their last day in Hope Town. After lunch we joined them and shared stories. The resort van took us all back into town and we were invited to check out the villa. Of course, we pointed out our floating home along the way. The view from the roof top lounge area couldn’t have been better. We noticed Bill out on the dock when the dinghy drift came by later and we shared a big wave.

Entrance channel into Hope Town Harbor

Entrance channel into Hope Town Harbor

Monday afternoon we rented a golf cart with Masha and Keith of Dolphin Leap to see the mid and southern sights of Elbow Cay/Hope Town that are not within walking distance of town. Beautiful beaches, some with sea glass, great beach bars and colorful villas with creative names and pretty landscaping.

Firefly Resort -our first stop

Firefly Resort -our first stop

Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka and fresh lemonade- so summer, so southern!

Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka and fresh lemonade- so summer, so southern!

A photo-stop by the beach near The Abaco Inn

A photo-stop by the beach near The Abaco Inn

Tahiti Beach at high tide. I work my way around in search of sea glass; first climbing through a jungle gym in the trees

Tahiti Beach at high tide. I work my way around in search of sea glass; first climbing through a jungle gym in the trees

One evening we gathered aboard Mardi Gras for Barry’s delicious Sangria. So delicious and not sweet at all; just right. No one spilled and that was extra nice.

Moonrise over Harbor's Edge - an easy dinghy row from our mooring

Moonrise over Harbor’s Edge – an easy dinghy row from our mooring

Wed arrived and by the time we got up our friends had departed; headed for Green Turtle and the dreaded Whale Cay passage. Laundry was long overdue for us so we took are of that at Light House Marina. Our destination today: Fisher’s Bay at Great Guana Cay, where we’d call home for a few days and the Barefoot Man concert at Nippers.

The Hope Town Sailing Club sponsors many races throughout the year and today was a point-to-point race. In this photo you can see that no other boat is ahead of us:-)

race float

Alabaster Bay- A one day hangout

How silly- a cell tower dressed in a palm tree costume

How silly- a cell tower dressed in a palm tree costume

Alabaster Bay would shorten our Monday trip to Spanish Wells, which wasn’t going to be all that long, but we couldn’t be sure of enough wind to sail most of it. Those diesel tanks were running on empty at only 20 gals vs 116 gals full, but they haven’t seen much more than half full in months. We tucked into the north corner for maximum comfort.

Seemed we couldn’t quite leave Governor’s Harbor behind us; the busy Governor’s Harbor airport sits just behind the tree line off Alabaster Bay.

Morning, noonish and early evening = busy times

Morning, noonish and early evening = busy times

A mostly sunny day gave enough solar power to run the water maker for seven hours; the advantage of a low power using unit that only makes approx. 7 gals/hr. I baked Drunk Monkey Muffins, a family favorite and so island-appropriate with bananas, coconut and rum. Ah… the aroma lingered for hours.

We walked the entire beach and around the north corner. Unbroken shells were scarce but small milk conch lay scattered in abundance in the shallow waters at low tide. These conch are full-grown at only 3 to 4 inches long. The shells are thick and white but many have a brown discoloration that I think they acquire from being in sand and the brownish grass that grows in the shallows. Found alive, they’d be white.

We tossed around the idea of extending our time in the Bahamas by a couple of weeks. Rather than cross back to FL very early April, get the freezer repaired and get to the Chesapeake by mid-May, we’d cross back mid-April and only get to the Myrtle Beach area by mid-May. We could get Turbo Tax while in the Abacos and take care of that nonsense in time. Renting a car in Myrtle Beach would be easy. The drive to VT for Benj’s GMC graduation would be longer than from Crisfield, MD but if we had time to sight see it would be fun. How pleasant then to do the ICW trip north from SC in warmer weather than we have ever done before! We’ve always been back in CT by May 5; this new and improved schedule would find us back by mid-June and in time for our nephew’s high school graduation. Not sure why we hadn’t thought of this before, but it’s sounding better with each passing day.

Monday’s destination is St George’s Cay and the well-known Spanish Wells settlement. Check out www.bahamalobsterpirates.com.

Ashore at Governor’s Harbor

The steep road ends at the NE corner of the harbor

The steep road ends at the NE corner of the harbor

As the first capital of the Bahamas, Governor’s Harbor ran the country for a time. The settlement reminds one more of Hope Town than say, Rock Sound. Colonial houses and businesses sit colorfully placed on the roads and steep hill around the harbor’s gentle arc. Architecturally charming, with Bougainvillea cascading over garden walls, the community is pleasing to view and walk around. Cupid’s Cay forms the SW portion of the harbor, connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway. The antique remains of buildings sit in stark contrast to a very new and well stocked Bristol liquor store.

Our plan for Saturday included a breakfast-time visit to the bakery (very good per ActiveCaptain reviews), a walk up and over to the ocean, lunch in town, boutique visits, grocery stop and a visit to the Haynes Library, built in 1897 and the largest one outside of Nassau.

Launching Bunting and getting in her at 8:30am in the still swell-filled harbor was an exercise in caution and creativity; one we executed well. The beach is wide and shallow all the way to shore and when the tide is out you have a long ways until the outboard can be used. High tide was around 10am so we anchored on the beach, bow out and dragged her up a bit.

The bakery sat on a residential side street and we found it easily. Their donuts (glazed and sugar/cinnamon) tasted as delicious as my faves at home. We ate those and brought back some coconut danish for another day.

I didn't notice this when I took the photo- can you spot what I mean?

I didn’t notice this when I took the photo- can you spot what I mean?

The road up the hill led toward the ocean beach. The houses were so pretty and well-kept. ?????????????????When we got to the end of the paved road, the options were to turn left or right; both ways had unpaved roads and neither was beach-obvious.  I noticed a narrow, worn path in the grass and bushes ahead of us; pointed toward the beach. We tried it but it definitely was not the way.

Through the bushes and past a wire fence; ok, not the way

Through the bushes and past a wire fence; ok, not the way

We finally made the right choice and found the beautiful pink sand beach, devoid of any beach treasures sadly. Did a dinghy check as we walked past on our way to Cupid’s Cay which is where the govt docks are. Each time we walked by, we pulled Bunting down closer to the water as the tide went down.

068 (800x600)

This boutique was closed for lunch which probably saved us a bundle.

This boutique was closed for lunch which probably saved us a bundle.

Several like this one were for sale on Cupid's Cay- maybe worth it for the land

Several like this one were for sale on Cupid’s Cay- maybe worth it for the land

Across from this antique structure we came upon the nearly new Bristol liquor store. Russ was surprised to find Goslings which is rare to come across in the Bahamas. Bring on the Dark ‘n Stormies!

A happy Captain finds more Goslings rum

A happy Captain finds more Goslings rum

Chicken for lunch? Dining on the deck at the Buccaneer Club

Chicken for lunch? Dining on the deck at the Buccaneer Club

The Buccaneer Club looked like a good place for an outdoor lunch; we’d walked past it earlier on our way to the beach. The inside was inviting and comfortable, with a colorful mural behind the bar, but the action was outside.  The instant our meals came out (conch fried rice and fish sandwich) a thousand flies swarmed us, the food and ugh! I immediately covered my fried rice with my paper napkin and swatted furiously while the waitress brought out a lit Sterno can. Within two minutes only a few brave flies remained; it was amazing.

Creative spelling

Creative spelling

I had a good chuckle when I looked at their sign tacked up on the wall. Those who know me well know I can’t help but notice these things. Spelling, especially on signage, seems to be a bit problematic throughout the Bahamas (but it’s not exclusive to here for sure!)

Check (hopefully you can see the photo well enough) how Wed and Sat are spelled out. 🙂

So, did you notice the problem with the bakery sign?

Coffee and other tasty beverages, plus other 'tings! Cute place on the harbor road.

Coffee and other tasty beverages, plus other ‘tings! Cute place on the harbor road.

St Patrick's church with the parsonage to the right

St Patrick’s church with the parsonage to the right

The road that runs along the beach gets a salt water washing at high tide and during the times when westerly winds send large waves crashing to shore going up and over the short cement sea wall.  Many times, especially near dark, we’d look toward shore and the water looked to be as high as the cement wall.

This is fairly calm conditions near high tide. Note how the boats are still feeling the effects of the swells

This is fairly calm conditions near high tide. Note how the boats are still feeling the effects of the swells

Multi-story Haynes Library sits at the harbor's edge

Multi-story Haynes Library sits at the harbor’s edge

Attractive interior, Upstairs offered a lovely harbor view, reading nooks and a table with computers

Attractive interior, upstairs offered a lovely harbor view, reading nooks and a table with computers

Last year the word we’d gotten was that Gov’s Harbor wasn’t really worth a stop. In spite of our memorable first two days, we have to disagree. We found it charming, active, friendly and filled with most things a cruiser would want within easy walking distance.

The grocery was good and even had one item we’ve never seen in any market here before and can’t understand why: coconuts. I mean they are plentiful here, so why not remove the husks and sell them?  A bottle of purple nail polish caught my eye and at $3 I thought it was a steal.

Later in the afternoon-oh around 3pm we left for Alabaster Bay, about 7 nm north.

Bitter Guana’s Iguanas

Ortolan at anchor with Staniel Cay in the distance

Ortolan at anchor with Staniel Cay in the distance

We are happy that time and weather have allowed us to visit new places as well as many favorites. Sunday the 16th was a gorgeous, barely a breath of wind day. After Staniel we needed to backtrack south to Black Point for laundry and a loaf of – bet you can guess- Mom’s coconut bread. We still had most of the batch we’d backed, but no one on Ortolan complains about eating coconut bread French toast instead of cereal. Although cruisers might not do well at knowing the date or day of the week, we do need to know “Come Sunday.” Most shops, etc are closed either all day or may only open for a few hours in the morning.  No point in rushing the seven miles to Black Point on a perfectly wonderful day; ideal for exploring a new place (with a beach of course), Bitter Guana Cay which lies in between Staniel and Black Point.

When heading south on the banks (west) side from Staniel, you have two choices; either go the long way out and around Harvey Cay, or if your draft allows you can take the shorter, direct route closer to shore.

The spot to anchor off the beach is very pretty with a sparkling view of the white limestone cliff at the southern end of the beach.

White underside of cliff as we dinghy down to South Gaulin Cay

White underside of cliff as we dinghy down to South Gaulin Cay

Bitter Guana Cay and her neighbor, South Gaulin Cay are home to the endangered Rock Iguanas. They greet everyone who lands on the beach, hoping for a tasty fruit or veggie morsel, even though people are requested not to feed them.boat and beach

We climbed up the cliff for an expansive 360 degree view and agreed that today was a Bahamas picture-perfect day; water shades from clear to deep blue surrounded by blue sky.

Refusing to be left behind, I climbed up too- wasn't too hard

Refusing to be left behind, I climbed up too- wasn’t too hard

We dinghied a short ways to South Gaulin Cay for more iguana viewing and along the way noticed a huge osprey nest on the very point of a “high” cliff. No one chased us away, although the iguanas act like they are doing just that; they are curious and looking for a handout.

This guy is ready to be served at the table

This guy is ready to be served at the table

Our afternoon dinghy trip took us north toward South Staniel and we even stuck our nose out into the Sound to check on a small beach, but a small reef close created too much swell at the beach. The area at South Staniel includes the airport; a busy place with private planes, commercial flights and Watermaker’s Air making several stops every day.

Plane approaches the airstrip at Staniel

Plane approaches the airstrip at Staniel

Some planes run into trouble and become a curiosity and home to sea life in shallow water.

This one didn't quite leave the island

This one didn’t quite leave the island

As usual we spotted rays and needlefish and we did see something new.  Back aboard around 5pm we watched an osprey indulge in a lengthy bathing routine at the water’s edge.

Bath time

Bath time

We wondered why he/she chose a spot at least a mile from the nest. Perhaps this was a weary female in need of a spa visit 🙂