Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What's a gal suppose to do with no internet

Sorry for the delay in post, but we have now reached an area of the Bahamas that has little to no internet. I am trying to cover a long span in time so forgive the long post. I believe I last left you all in Hatchet Bay

We decided to stay one additional day at Hatchet bay due to the winds and seas. Dawn, Harvey, Dirk and I decided to do some poking around town. We found an internet café/ lunch spot right on the sound and had some wonderful hamburgers and home fries for lunch. Afterwards we decided to take the hike across the island to visit the Atlantic side to check out the beach. Dawn and I both love beach combing, hunting for sea glass, sea beans, and new pretty shells. It was quiet a hike and on the way we came across two baby goats that I guess got separated from the group.

They run wild on the island and we felt so bad leaving them but we had to. Once we were off the main road we followed a rocky road up and around till we could see the vivid blue of the Atlantic. We made it, and when we hit the other side we knew it was worth the hike. The beach itself was not very pretty as with most beaches I find here in the Bahamas, unfortunately they are not maintained and have so much garbage that has swept up from the ocean on them. It was a rocky shoreline and I guess not too many people visit because there was so much sea glass that Dawn and I knew we would be a while. It’s still a trick to find a really nice piece large enough and tumbled enough to be worthy of jewelry but there were too many pretty pieces not to take them. Greens, amber, clear, and browns were found all over but we also found blues, pinks, turquoise, and even red. Dirk found the prized piece for the day which was a perfect piece of this beautiful turquoise or cyan colored one.

Here is what we collected for the day

These are my best pieces of the day

He also combed the beach for sea beans which we have had no luck with but on this day he found 4 of the hamburger beans and one heart. Wow, I was so excited, what a find.

Some beans actually float all the way from Africa to find their way here. After we were loaded down we hiked back to the harbor and stopped in at the Front Porch for an ice cold beer and to show off our prize finds with the other cruisers. Early the next morning I decided to do laundry before we were to head out and found a little Laundromat right next to Da Spott that we had gone to a few days back. I guess it was a Laundromat; there was a kitchen on one side and a room with a few working washers and dryers on the other. You tell the lady in the kitchen cooking how many washers you need and she reaches inside the washer to start them as the coin slots don’t work and don’t look like they have worked in years. If the washer filled you were lucky, one of mine did not and a bucket was filled from a spigot and used to fill the washer. All the while you smell these wonderful aromas coming from the kitchen in the next room, women coming in a visiting, me hearing the latest gossip, or at least what I can make of it. Guess this is doing laundry in the islands….When the clothes were done she would direct you to the working dryers and once again reach her hand inside to start the cycle. It took me about twice as long for washing and drying but it was only 13.50 for 3 loads and I’m not complaining because now I have clean clothes and hey, aren’t we now on island time? No hurry mon…..The clean clothes were stowed and the boat was readied to make the couple hour trip down to Governors Harbour. We dropped away from the mooring ball and I took her out of the cut which was very iffy coming in through as it was rough and the cut is very narrow. Today thank goodness it was calm but it is still nerve racking having to thread your boat through two cliffs on either side of you.
Here I was just exiting the cut

It was a nice uneventful motor sail down to Governors Harbour. We anchored as we heard the free government mooring balls were not to be trusted so we didn’t want to take the chance. One must look for a sandy spot in all the grass in which to drop anchor so it took us a bit but finally got the boat settled. Us, Sovereign Swan and Mary Helen and Harvey from s/v Gone Away all decided to head out for dinner and found a nice place that had a great club sandwich. Why is it food always taste so good when you are starving? Back to the boat for an early night and the next morning we decided to once again check out the town before heading to our next destination. Governors Harbour seems different then the other places we have visited here. It was the first capital of the Bahamas so it has these very pretty colonial homes in colorful hues of blues, pinks, and greens.

The view of Tybee Time in Governors Harbour as we were climbing up the steep 142 foot hill

Of course we wanted to check out the beach but in order to do that one must make the hike up the 142 foot hill. They claim you hardly notice the walk as you have so much to see on your way up. Believe me, we noticed, but we were determined to get to those pink sand beaches on the other side. After what felt like an eternity we finally made it. It was a beautiful beach, not the pink hues we were expecting and not even one shell was to be found, let alone any sea glass. Just very fine sand which made for a nice stroll. Once again, back on board we readied for the short trip down to Rock Sound Harbour which would be our staging spot for getting to the Exumas. Rock Sound is a pretty anchorage but I found that if you were to be stuck here for a while due to weather it’s not very cruiser friendly. The guide book states there is good free water at the docks which we found not to be true. I asked about it and the guy told me that the faucet I guess was removed because the water is so salty the towns people won’t even drink it. We would have to buy water out of 5 gallon bottles or pack it from further into town. Gee, I wish I had known that as I would have stocked up in Governors Harbour where there was free good water to be had from the library spigot. From here on out it would be 30 to 50 cents a gallon. The one good thing we found was internet finally. Although not cheap, $10.00 for 24 hours but it was internet. Something we had not had for a while and something we needed so we could take care of some business. We ended up taking a tour through town but was really not impressed as many homes were either in very bad disrepair or looked as though they had been through one hurricane too many and needed to be torn down. We did find a blue hole on the interior of the island which had quite a few sea turtles and fish. Lots of gray snapper and grouper hanging out waiting on food to be dropped over the side. There is a park there and I guess a lot of the locals come by and feed them on a regular basis so they sit and wait. We took some old bread and they seem happy to take it. Walking back to the boat we were gonna stop at a market and deli we saw on the way in to pick up a few items but of course they were closed when we got there. Must be that island time again… There is a fairly decent sized grocery that our buddy boat went to but they said they were very expensive. You had to walk to it but the store would give you a ride back to the dock. I opted just to wait as the guide book said there was a decent grocery on Highborne Cay and that’s where we were headed next. So it was back to the boat for some more internet, early to bed as we had a long trip ahead of us the next morning.

Rock Sound Harbour sunset

EXUMAS Finally
We awoke to a beautiful morning and readied the boat for a 7-8 hour passage across to Highborne Cay Exumas. We were predicted to have a tail wind pushing us along so Dirk readied the spinnaker pole so we could do the wing on wing configuration with the sails. Basically pushing the main sail all the way off one side of the boat while pushing the jib out on the other side. This in effect gives you a lot of sail area to be pushed along from behind. As we were leaving Rock Sound that is what we had so we sailed along till we got to our next waypoint, we then had to turn a bit south to maneuver through some shallows and corals, so we pulled in the pole. Once we were about to round the island we expected the wind to be the same as it was so Dirk was setting up the pole once again so we could settle into our crossing of the Exuma Sound to Highborne Cay. I won’t go into the ugly details but we ended up snapping off the bracket that holds the pole to the mast and had a bit of a battle getting it back onboard and the boat stopped without having to do the man over board drill at the same time. Time for a time out….Well the winds ended up giving us a beam reach just about the whole way rather than the tail wind we were predicted. It was a bit of a rolly ride at times but the cat did very well not getting sick once. Being in such deep water for a change we and Sovereign Swan decided to test out the fishing. Harvey from Sovereign Swan landed a 20lb Mahi Mahi so Dirk was now in a race to get one. Finally Fish on…..and as Dirk was reeling it in the Mahi jumped into the air and right off the line. Dirk was indeed not a “happy camper” as the day just wasn’t meant to be a good one all around. The best part of the day was that we were now in the Exumas. We entered the Highborne Cut, found the anchorage, and dropped the hook. We were whipped and frustrated so even before the sun hit the horizon we were in bed. Tomorrow had to be a better day, we were in the Exumas….Monday we got up with a new outlook and faced the day head on looking for adventure. We took the dinghies up to Allens Cay and Leaf Cay to find the iguanas that inhabit the islands. We beached the dinghies and headed ashore.
Here are the beached dinghies at Allens Cay

Right away you could see evidence of them as there were footprints and tail prints yet no iguana was to be found. We followed the path across the island and came to a cove on the other side. Pretty soon they were coming out of everywhere coming very near as they don’t seem at all scared of people. Actually they come looking for handouts from those that didn’t forget the veggies on the boat. Dangit…

Out of nowhere they came looking for handouts

Here Dirk is trying to make friends with a big one

After many photo opps with the iguanas we headed to the beach to see what we could see. It’s a pretty beach but if you want to beach comb there is nothing to be found. Oh well….We then headed out to a cluster of coral heads, jumped overboard for a swim and a snorkel, than Dawn and myself laid out in the dinghies catching some rays as the men went into hunt and gather mode. Coming up empty handed we headed back to the boats and cleaned up and headed into the marina on the island as s/v Gone Away was there and we wanted to check out the grocery store that the guide books says is a good place for fruits, veggies, and frozen meats. I know I said before that if you need it buy it, but if you are leaving the Abacos or Eleuthera to get here, buy it before you come here. Needless to say I didn’t buy any of the veggies I needed as I didn’t want to pay $6.00 for one head of broccoli, $2.40 for 1, yes 1 apple or lettuce for $8.95 and a dozen eggs for $6.50. Chicken was 7.95 a pound, milk 8.95 for a half gallon and a can of artichoke hearts could be had for 10.95. Wow, I understand having to ship everything in but these people have a monopoly and I guess they can charge what they like. Well I just will have to do without for a while and get creative with the spices onboard. After sticker shock we headed to the end of the docks where the fishermen were cleaning their catches which was piles of Mahi Mahi. Off the docks waiting for the scraps were several large nurse sharks and rays along with some other fish all hoping to get a bite before the seagulls swooped in and took it. After a bit we headed over to S/V Long Gone and had a nice cold drink and some welcomed snacks Mary Helen and Harvey put out. Dirk and I took off after a bit as we knew our kitty was tapping his toes waiting to be fed himself and I was cooking dinner tonight for the four of us. Harvey had given us some Mahi that he had caught the day before and Dirk grilled that up while I whipped up some rice and some sautéed summer squash with garlic and onions. Again it was an early evening but this night was because it was a full day of sun and activity. Tuesday was a bit calmer on the winds and waves so we decided to take the dinghies back up to Allens and Leaf Cays to do some snorkeling on the reefs that were too rough the day before. Dirk and Harvey of course hit the water in hunt and gather mode and I just try to stay out of their way while looking at the pretty corals and fishes all the while keeping a look out for any large critters that might send me scurrying back to the dinghy. A couple snapper and one trigger fish were speared and we were wiped out from the sun and snorkeling so we headed back to the boats to clean up. Dirk cleaned the fish while I tidied up hanging up and laying out the wet stuff to dry. We have been having several large remoras hanging out under the boat and as Dirk would throw in scraps they would dart around barely catching it before the seagulls came in for a pick up. For those that don’t know, a Remora is one of those fish you see stuck to sharks, rays, and other large fish catching a free ride and free morsels of food when they can. These were about 2 feet long so I can’t imagine what fish they stick to. I looked up and saw a very big nurse shark gently gliding our direction and was guessing he wanted his share of the fish scraps. He was almost the length of our dinghy which is a little over 10 feet. Although I am not worried about nurse sharks as I don’t think they can eat a person, huuuuummmmm, can they? I still wouldn’t jump over board to swim with it and if one that size is right under our boat in 8 feet of water how many other types of sharks are also close by. Dinner this evening consisted of grilled fish, over rice with a red curry sauce served with a carrot salad Dawn put together. After dinner we watched a movie we borrowed and headed to bed tired from the day’s events. Wednesday we got up, listened to the weather and checked out the tide table so we could see when we could get to the marina for fuel and a water fill up. There is a narrow cut and if you catch it at the wrong time it can be quiet rough and dangerous for a sailboat as you need the power to keep from being pushed onto the rocks. Everything looked good so we pulled anchor and headed in topping off our diesel and gas cans and taking on 80 gallons of water at .50 cents a gallon. Not too bad, we filled up last in Marsh Harbor 18 days ago so we figured we are using about 4 gallons a day. Try doing that at home…..with two people, dishes, and basic hygiene. We pulled out of the marina as 2 spotted eagle rays were gliding in and traveled about a mile south to anchor in another spot that perhaps was not as bouncy as the last couple nights have been. We tucked in between a couple cays that are not named on the charts but there were plenty of coral heads close by ready for inspection and inspect Dirk & Harvey did. We came back with several yellow tail snapper, gray snapper, and grunt cooked some up for a quick dinner and headed to bed early.

Normans Cay, Fish On
This morning we decided to head on down to Normans Cay which the guide book says was once under the unfriendly control of drug lord Carlos Lehder and is suppose to be a beautiful place with lots of snorkeling opportunities. A couple of errands were done and about 12pm we decided to make the trip down. Our buddy boat elected to travel on the banks taking the inside route and at the last minute we decided to go on the outside with hopes of catching that elusive Mahi. I was on the helm and Dirk was busy setting up lines and poles so that we could troll the drop off where the fisherman have been racking up with them lately. Right as we passed the drop off one of the lines started screaming so I took Tybee to idle so Dirk could get his fishing on….All the while I am praying for the fish to please stay on the line. Dirk was reeling and reeling then the line went slack and he thought he lost it. As were looking we see the fish is indeed on the line but there is a shark after the fish now. Poor thing, it was getting it from both ends. Dirk still reeling trying to keep the fish from becoming the shark’s meal, he finally gets it alongside the boat and with the shark on its tail; Dirk gaffs him and gets it aboard. Indeed it was a Mahi and indeed the shark did get a piece of it. The slack Dirk felt was when the shark bit the Mahi’s tail off so he had no fighting power.He didn’t get much, just fin and bone. It measured 45 inches tail less and weighed in at 25 pounds, not too shabby. Dirk with his Mahi Mahi lacking the tail that the shark took

As we traveled the rest of the way Dirk cleaned the fish and got some very nice steaks out of it. Now he was a happy camper…..We found our way into the Normans Channel and was a bit uncertain of how it would go due to it being a very narrow channel and you can see the sand bars left and right. At one point we weren’t sure of the direction and ended up coming to an abrupt stop. Good thing we were going very slowly and it was a sand bottom as we were able to back right off of it and turn back till we could get our bearings. Dirk radioed any boat in the anchorage for some info and was told the best route to take and before we knew it we had gotten through. Whew, that was fun….As we turned north to the anchorage we were heading for we saw s/v Sovereign Swan already anchored with their hammock hung taking it easy. We dropped anchor and first thing we did was to dinghy over to a reef we spotted on the way in. Finally the water has gotten comfortable enough not to have to wear a wetsuit at a comfortable 82 degrees. Dawn and Harvey had invited us for dinner and as we sat in the cockpit eating and watching the sun set we were busy discussing the next day’s plans. Friday we awoke to yet another gorgeous day and Dirk prepared himself some breakfast of seared Mahi with wasabi. I on the other hand elected to fry up some day old rice with sesame oil and a little Thai seasoning. I know it’s an odd breakfast but it sounded much better then grits again this morning. After breakfast we spent some time cleaning up the boat from yesterday’s trip and then we all headed into MacDuffs grill for lunch. .
Harvey, Dawn, Dirk, and I at MacDuffs toasting another day in paradise

It’s the only thing really on the island besides a small airfield that sits directly behind the restaurant. The food was good but a bit pricey. But then again its the only thing on the island...The restroom we were told was under the umbrella, okay….go out and sure enough there is a crude open air type bathroom with an umbrella as a roof, walls that are made of lattice to allow the vines and plants access and a door that is nothing but the bamboo type beads hanging down. It surprised me that it had an actual flushing toilet and a sink with running water and a vase of pretty flowers sitting on the counter.
Had to show the toilet
To let someone know you were in it as you passed the tree branch there was a sign that you flipped to occupied. Dawn refused to use it but I thought it was charming. We then set out in the dinghies and headed over to the plane that had crashed in the days when the island was being used as a drug haven. Guess the pilot didn’t quite make the airstrip. The plane lies in about 10 to 15 feet and some of it is visible above the water. It is full of life and the fish must be use to being fed as they would follow you around and almost let you touch them.
The plane that we snorkeled. Its a lot bigger than it looks and sits in about 12 to 15 feet of water
A small island across from the plane, if you look real close I am under the palm tree

We spent about 30 minutes snorkeling there and then took off in the direction of what appeared like a good beach. We landed the dinghies and walked across a small sand dune. We were in paradise; this is the Bahamas we have been looking for. What met us was a crescent shaped cove of white sand and water so clear that if you tried to describe it you wouldn’t be able to find the right words to do it justice.
Dirk snorkering the cove

It was incredible and we couldn’t stop saying how beautiful it was. A bit of beachcombing and another dip in the water then we were off to the next beckoning beach. We ended up on Boot Cay with its big stretch of beach with meets with a rocky ledge that in turns leads to a cliff of scattered palm trees. Tons of sand dollars were found and hopefully I can manage to not break them all before we get back. Of course they were the dead ones as we do not take anything that is living just to have. It was really odd as they all ended up in this one spot, must be the way the waves and tides wash them onto the island. After a full day of fun and sun we decided to call it a day, and as the sun set Dirk munched on more seared Mahi and I sat writing the blog wondering when I would once again get internet in order to post it. Saturday we were going to scoot on down to Shroud Cay but instead decided to stay one more day here exploring. Dirk dug out the underwater housing for the video camera as we have hardly videoed anything, we thought it about time. We decided to head back to the plane as we thought it would be pretty to video. I was going to throw out some old cooked rice from the fridge but decided to take it with me in a zip lock to see if the fish would go for that. I have heard of people feeding them cat food and frozen peas before but never cooked rice. We hopped over the side and headed to the plane where I was met by a few curious sergeant major fish just checking me out and once they saw the bag of rice they called all their buddies. I was instantly surrounded as I released some rice and they knew no fear after that. So now I know a good cheap food the fish seem to love. About a half hour was spent feeding and videotaping all the inhabitants then it was off to explore the beaches we missed yesterday. By 3pm we were all tired, hungry and sunburned so we called it a day. Of course on the way back we had to stop in some grass patches so Dirk could check out some conch. Sure enough he collected five and then headed home where an easy dinner of hotdogs on the grill were eaten, showers taken and sunburns soothed. So I will continue to write and save till the day when we have internet once again.

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