The Elusive Green Flash

We’ve been hearing about the green flash that is sometimes seen here in the Bahamas, just as the sun sets.  Until last night, Friday the 29th, we thought it simply didn’t exist.  Well I know you have guessed, we actually saw the “Green Flash”.  It wasn’t exactly a flash, more like a blip of green just as the top of the sun dropped below the horizon.  Pretty cool!  To see the flash there has to be a clear sky at the horizon, and don’t blink, you could miss it.

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Before the green flash, the sun appears to be melting into the water.

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This is Bella Vita, a Selene 58′ Ocean Trawler.  We met Ray & Cynthia in Little Farmers, then they went on to Staniel Cay when we went to Black Point.  We decided to meet at Cat Island and they arrived yesterday in time for dinner aboard Firecracker.  We were able to see the green flash with them.  Tonight we are dining aboard Bella Vita.

 

On to New Bight in Cat Island

On Thursday the 28th we left Black Point and crossed Exuma Sound to go to New Bight in Cat Island which is 56 nautical miles and took eight hours, averaging 7 knots.   We anchored in 8.6 feet of water with four other boats.  Not bad for a harbor that is about 5 ½  miles wide.

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This is about as good as it gets, a beautiful large harbor and four other boats.

Today, Good Friday was a special day to walk up Comer Hill, the highest spot on Cat Island.  This is the location of the Hermitage, a one-man sized monastery built by Father Jerome as his retirement home.  Father Jerome, built or restored churches on Long Island in the Bahamas and built the Benedictine monastery in Nassau, as well as the Hermitage and a Catholic church on Cat Island.  As you climb up the steep section near the top of the hill you pass his Stations of the Cross.

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The Hermitage as seen from the road to the top.

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Some of the Stations of the Cross on the steep path.

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Looking out to the west, He had 360 degree views from the top of this hill.

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Father Jerome’s chapel.

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You can get an idea of the small size of this place, “Chapel of the Holy Spirit”, for those of you that have forgotten your Latin.

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Not a Rolex, but this photo was taken at 11:28, not bad!

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Father Jerome’s bedroom, this is a man that lived a very humble life.

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Firecracker as viewed  from the Hermitage, photo taken with a 300 mm lens.

Black Point Settlement

Everywhere we go cruisers tell us that the laundry at Black Point on Great Guana Cay is the absolute best.  Well it really was.  Ida Patton, the owner, has quite a business. Besides the laundry there is a small store and she also cuts hair. I had my hair cut, sitting in a plastic chair, in the store looking out over Black Point harbor while Ginnie was waiting for the laundry.  The haircut was long overdue since Ginnie thought I was starting to look like Albert Einstein. The settlement of Black Point has a wonderful harbor with room for many boats in 8 to 10’ of water. But the best thing about Black Point is the people.  They are very friendly, helpful and happy to have the cruisers stopping in their settlement. We didn’t stop here on our way south, it is just a few miles south of Staniel Cay where we did stay. But next year we will certainly spend a little more time here.

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Some houses near where we were anchored.

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Rockside Laundry, check out the dinghy dock.

Exploring Little Farmers Cay and Great Guana Cay

Ginnie and I took our new bikes for a tour of Little Farmers Cay, we left the “Yacht Club” and headed to the airport, the road ended and we pedaled our way down the runway.  I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure a plane wasn’t trying to land.  At the end of the runway was the continuation of the road.  We continued on to see the rest of the island.  Oh we feel so mobile now.

We dinghied across the harbor to Great Guana Cay to see a fishing vessel that ran aground 11 years ago.  I couldn’t help thinking that this would make a great restoration project  Let’s see, if the Triton restoration took me three years then this one should take about 50 years.  Ginnie thinks I should forget about it, no kidding!  We found some beautiful shells that Ginnie will incorporate into her next baskets.

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Wreck on Great Guana Cay

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Anchor look a little small?

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And it has Loran and radar.

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Very old conch shells washed up on the beach behind the wreck look like a conch graveyard.

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Some of the shells Ginnie found on the beach on Great Guana Cay

We met some great folks from Atlanta and Block Island that both have power boats.  Walter & Debbie on Champion, a 53’ trawler that is to die for, are from Block Island, if we were to go over to the “Dark Side” and buy a power boat something like that would be great.

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Ginnie took this photo to show the George Town method of staying dry in the dinghy.  Sitting on the side tubes will most always get you wet.  This was taken just off the stern of Firecracker in Little Farmers Cay.  It was pretty calm here compared to George Town.

Little Farmers Cay and Teddy Roosevelt

OK I have to explain that heading!  We arrived here at Farmers Cay Yacht Club in Little Farmers Cay Saturday afternoon on the 23rd.  The gentleman that owns this establishment is Roosevelt Nixon, no kidding.

Little Farmers was settled by a woman named Chrisanna, a freed slave from Great Exuma.  She moved to Farmers Cay with her two sons and daughter, Michael Joseph Nixon and Adam and Eve Brown, who bought the island from the English Crown and willed it to their descendants as generation property. They farmed and fished.  Michael married Susan from Cat Island while Adam wed Mary from Moss Town, Exuma.  (This info was from the Explorers Chart Book – Exuma and Ragged Island edition)

Roosevelt’s great-great grandfather was Adam.   So I just had to have my picture taken with him, together we are Teddy Roosevelt, I thought this was just a hoot.

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Ted (OK, Teddy for this picture only) and Roosevelt Nixon = Teddy Roosevelt

Waypoints

Entering waypoints into the GPS chart plotter for the trip down was so much fun.  Each waypoint was bringing us closer to our destinations.  Before leaving George Town I had to enter all the waypoints to take us back to the US.  It was sad to be entering latitudes and longitudes that were increasing, taking us further north and west.  We are already looking forward and planning our trip next year that will take us further south and east.   As I write this post our location is 23°57.871’ N, and 76°19.394’ W, that is at the dock at Farmers Yacht Club.

Leaving George Town

When we planned this trip we knew we would make our way to George Town but we thought we would stay a few weeks, well two months later, March 23rd, we finally weighed anchor and sadly started our trip up to higher latitudes.   What we experienced in George Town was a wonderful sense of community.   The friendships we made with other cruisers will, we hope, last a lifetime.

I mentioned previously that Volleyball Beach was the epicenter of activity.  Throughout our stay there were numerous presentations/seminars made by cruisers.  Keith from Camelot, another Saga 43, gave a talk on electrical systems, solar panels, battery charging and more.  He had about 75 people attend and the Q&A session just didn’t seem to stop.  I learned a lot about the proper way to charge batteries when you use solar power and a wind generator.   Another cruiser spoke on outboard repair, about 50 people attended and it was so popular that he had to do it again.  Every Wednesday at noon Bob from Cygnet had a VHF/SSB (Single Sideband)/ Ham radio meeting on the beach, at the end of the sessions he administered ham radio exams.

On Sundays, after Beach Church, Cordell Thompson, a local historian gave lectures on the history of the Exumas.  The crowd became larger every week.  He was charming, humorous, an excellent speaker.  Cruisers heading out to different destinations would meet on the beach, exchange experiences, and help those that were going for the first time.
Herman on White Wings volunteers to be the cruisers net moderator each morning at 8 AM on VHF channel 72.  He starts with weather, with reports from Chris Parker, Marine Weather Center Services and NOAA.  (We listen to Chris Parker every morning at 0630 hrs on SSB, and also get his emailed reports each afternoon.)  We also use other sources like Passage Weather to get a handle on the weather so that we can make decisions on when and where we should go when we are on the move.  After the weather local businesses come on to let us know what specials or services they have to offer, then the net opens for the activities that are scheduled for that day and in the future. Boaters General follows where people ask for help with problems they may have, ask for items they may need or items they want to sell.  When there were 300 plus boats here this segment could be long.  Just before we left Walter & Meryl on Flying Cloud notified the net that they had two seven speed folding bikes with storage bags available.  I jumped on the radio and we now have those two, like new, bikes on board Firecracker.  After boaters general Herman asks for the new arrivals and departing boats to announce themselves.  Most departing boats will say how sad they are to depart George Town, and most look forward to returning next year.

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Our first ride on our new bikes, touring Little Farmers Cay.
Every year the cruisers Regatta Committee  organizes an amazing number of events including a race around Stocking Island, another race in Elizabeth Harbor, dinghy races, small boat sailing race, opening night celebration/dance, kids model boat races where the kids build their boats from boat parts and stuff found on the beach.  This was one of my favorite events.  We had a great time playing in the beach golf tournament.  Linda and Dan on Spice made up our 4 some.  Nine holes on the beach, (see previous posts).  There were also a number of volleyball tournaments, a dinghy poker run, a dinghy raft up in the middle of Elizabeth Harbor and a scavenger hunt to name a few events.

Ted, a Temporary SOB

There’s a group of about 20 or 25 single handed sailors here in George Town.  The gather for lunch once a week in town and have named their group “Singles On Board”.  Well Ginnie has gone home again to see Reese and the family, leaving me to become a SOB.  When she returns we will be heading north.  The route we’ll take depends on the direction and velocity of the wind.  One route would be to go to Little Farmers Cay, Cat Island, Little San Salvador, Eleuthera, Spanish Wells, Royal Island and on to the Abacos.  In the Abacos we would like to see Hope Town, Marsh Harbor, Treasure Cay, Green Turtle Cay, Crab Cay, Great Sale Cay then on to Florida.  All this is weather dependent and our plans may change.

The Neighborhoods of George Town

When we say we are here in George Town we are actually anchored off the western shore of Stocking Island, across Elizabeth Harbor from Georgetown.  The winds during the winter are mostly from the east or north east.  Being anchored here gives us the most shelter except when a cold front brings clocking winds that go south east to south to west and then to the north, rather quickly.  Of the 320 boats that were here for regatta week, almost 300 were anchored in the lee of Stocking Island.

The anchorages along Stocking Island span about 5 miles, mostly beautiful beaches.  Each of these beaches is like neighborhood, starting at the north with Hamburger/Monument Beach, where we are.  Then there is Honeymoon Beach and then Volleyball Beach, the epicenter of most activities, I guess you would call this “Downtown”.  Further south is Sand Dollar Beach.  Those anchored in Volleyball say that Monument and Sand dollar are the” Burbs”.   Across the harbor at the entrance to Lake Victoria is Kidd’s Cove.  This area can get uncomfortable in a strong east or south east wind and is a limited anchorage for most people.  When you meet people on the beach, Volleyball Beach of course, we exchange our names, always just first names, your boat name, maybe what kind of boat you are on and what “neighborhood” you are anchored in.

When you own a house on the dry stuff you may call land, what surrounds you will affect the value of your home.  Someone builds a nice new home next door, your home’s value will probably rise somewhat.  We could only dream of that happening in our neighborhoods here.  The other day a most magnificent 78’ catamaran anchored next to us, this boat has a 35’ beam and the top of the mast is 105’ off the water.  Can’t even imagine what that would cost.  However his moving to our neighborhood didn’t do a thing to the value of our boat, oh well.

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Cats Meow, a most magnificent 78′ catamaran.

 

 

 

George Town Cruising Regatta and the International Space Station

Rick and Cindy aboard Dark Star invited us to join them for pot luck at Flip Flop Beach, a small beach just north and west of where we are anchored.  This place is amazing!  It looks like it could have been the set for a Survivor series on TV.  The story goes that a cruiser started building this place away from the more populated areas, he didn’t like wearing clothes when on the beach.  Others joined him to help with the building.  I wonder what they were wearing?  They built a bar, benches hanging skull and a fire pit, just like Survivor.  The next night we went back with Rick & Cindy, Dan & Linda on Spice and another couple for yet another pot luck.  We didn’t follow the clothing tradition as you can see from the photos, or was that touched up with Photoshop…

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Ginnie & Cindy at Flip Flop Beach.

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The dynamic duo fixin’ drinks.

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Looks like an Opti converted into a catamaran.

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Another sunset, another round of Sundowners.

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The fire pit, just like on Survivor.

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Moon rise, it was a dark and not-so-stormy night.

The longer we are here the more fun we have.  This week is the 33rd George Town Cruising Regatta.  Sailboat races both for the older “kids” and younger kids under 16.

Monday the 25th there was a dinghy parade that was a hoot.  The cruisers decorated their dinghies and themselves, check out the pics.

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Dinghies getting ready for the parade.

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The winning crews, Popeye & Olive Oil from Popeye, and the crew from Outlandish,they won the Cruisers Gone Wild category.

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The crew of Outlandish.

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These guys were flapping their flippers and noodles, I thought they should have won some prize.

Tuesday the 26th was Opening Night.  The theme was “Cruisers Gone Wild”, a party that started with a “No Talent – Talent Show”.  I know you probably had to be here to appreciate the craziness but the Synchronized Swimming Team was so funny it had people peeing in their pants.  The photo does this skit no justice but here it is anyway.

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Cool Karen and the opening act, they were pretty good.

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This was part of the Synchronized Swimming Team’s act, I guess you really had to be there, it was very, very funny.

Rockin’ Ron and Cool Karen from Sea Dancer provide the music and coordination for the opening night festivities and dance.  There was a raffle and Firecracker won the first bottle of wine.

Today, the 28th there was Beach Golf.  We dinghied down to Sand Dollar Beach, picked up our clubs, tees, golf balls and score cards and hiked over to the ocean side of the island where a 9 hole “course” had been set up on the beach.  The entire course was a sand trap with the ocean surf on the right and gnarly growth on the left side. A few, OK maybe more than a few, balls were lost.  Also, there to make life exiting, were coral outcroppings to make balls take sharp 90 degree turns.  It may look like we were at Pebble Beach, believe me we were not, but we had great fun.  Dan & Linda helped made up our foursome.

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Ginnie going for par, that’s a seaweed ring marking the “green”.

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Linda, Dan, Ginnie and myself made up this awesome fore-some.

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How’s that for form!  Kinda looks like Pebble Beach.

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Ted waiting for the surf to recede, trying not to have to take a penalty stroke.

Tonight, thanks to one of the cruisers, we were told that the International Space Station was going to be visible in the north west sky at 1903 hours ( that’s 7:03 PM).  It was the brightest and fastest moving thing in the sky.  The space station orbits at between 205 and 255 miles above the earth and travels at an average speed of 17,239.2 MPH.  Tonight we saw the 81,842th orbit since it’s launch.  It circles the earth 15.7 times each day.