Hope Town

 

Hope Town puts a smile on Ginnie’s face because she loves it here.  She says it’s like being on vacation at a luxurious resort. OK, sailing all winter is like being on vacation for me however I understand her feeling.  As beautiful as the rest of the Bahamas are, Hope Town is very special. When we were headed here this year from Little Harbor we were in the company of lots of other cruisers also moving north.  Cold fronts moving through an area tend to bunch cruisers up in safe places to be in the lee of strong winds.  Adding to that the fact that we can only enter Hope Town at high tide meant we were worried about getting a mooring which are on a first come-first serve basis.  So we contacted the Hope Town Inn & Marina to secure a slip for a few nights.  No problem, space was available and Ginnie’s smile was getting bigger.  This was a good choice on our part because there were no moorings to be had when we arrived.  As members of the Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club we received generous discounts for our dockage. 

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Hope Town Inn & Marina

After spending two nights at the dock we noticed a few boats leaving the moorings.  With our dinghy we scouted out the double blue Hope Town Inn & Marina mooring buoys, secured our “Reserved – Firecracker” float and went back to the dock to move Firecracker to our mooring. 

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Our “Hi Tech” reservation buoy.

Wait, won’t we have to turn in our keys to the showers when we move out to the mooring?  Have you ever seen “Ginnie the Negotiator” in action?  We are on the mooring and still have our shower keys.  Yeah Ginnie!  We still get to use the pool and are able to dump our trash there as well.  Being able to take long, hot showers and not steam up the boat is a plus.  It’s surprising how little water we use when we shower ashore.

Hope Town is a small settlement here on Elbow Cay.  The grocery store is small but adequate.  The bank is open one day a week from 10 AM till 2 PM and there are numerous boutique shops.  Restaurants are plentiful and range from lunch spots to elegant dining.  We went to dinner with George and Pat from Theodore at Firefly, which is a fabulous restaurant overlooking the Sea of Abaco. It was a night of good food and wonderful company.  If you are interested in diving, either scuba or snorkel, there are a number of companies located nearby.  Hope Town may not be large but the boat traffic in and out of here is impressive.  Seeing cruisers we have met both earlier this year and last year has been terrific.  It seems that most cruisers pass through Hope Town each year.

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An in town house across the road from Wine Down-Sip Sip, see the next blog post.

Speaking of cruisers that we met this year I have to mention Stewart and Penny who are on board Stravaign II, a beautiful Bristol Channel Cutter.  Stravaign if you were wondering is a Scottish word for roaming; wandering about.  Bristol Channel Cutters were designed by the late Lyle Hess, and built primarily by the Sam L. Morse company in Costa Mesa, California.  Stravaign is a 28’ cutter rigged beauty that hails from St John’s New Foundland. 

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Penny and Stewart have been wonderful hosts having Ginnie and me aboard for dinner.  And when Ginnie went home to see Reese and Graham they were kind enough to invite me again for a great meal.  Well today was quite special, Stewart invited Frank on board Morning Watch also from St John’s and myself to go sailing.  Three old salts having a great sail, and wait, the best has yet to come.  We sailed into Hope Town harbor, through the narrow channel, and up to the mooring without turning on the engine.  The moorings here are so close together there is very limited room to maneuver, never mind sailing to the mooring.  Great job Stewart!

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Stewart and Frank, notice no one is at the helm…

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The self steering vane is mounted to the taft rail and is connected to a trim tab behind the rudder.  Look Ma, no hands!

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Heading back into Hope Town after a sail to Man-O-War

Being aboard Stravaigan got me to thinking.  Here we were five of us on board for dinner last night and there was plenty of room for Penny and Stewart to dance to a favorite song.  28’ of well designed boat is all you really need to sail to the Bahamas, or around the world. 

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Penny, Stewart and Karen from Morning Watch on board Stravaigan after dinner.

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Plenty of room for some dancing.

The World According to Capt. Ted – Thoughts on Cruising & the Perfect Boat

While sitting here on a mooring in Hope Town, Abacos and chatting with other cruisers we were reflecting on our decision to purchase Firecracker.  Here are some of our thoughts.

Let’s start by saying there is no perfect boat.  I know, you spend an inordinate amount of time browsing the internet.  You’ve found all the tricks to narrowing your search on YachtWorld.  You slink around boatyards asking boat owners about their perfect boats every spare moment you have.  Been there – done that.   Then one day voila, the perfect boat is found.  You couldn’t be happier, everything you could have hoped for.  Let’s go sailing, let’s go cruising, what the heck, let’s go around the world!  Maybe some Wednesday night yacht club around the buoy racing would be nice.

Our search for the “Perfect” boat led us to Annapolis where we found a Saga 43 designed by Robert Perry.  He designed her as a performance cruising boat and that she is. We have found Firecracker to be perfect for both our coastal and offshore cruising needs.  We have sailed her from Down East Maine to the Bahamas, all offshore except for short stints in the ICW (Intra Coastal Waterway).  She has proven to be a fast, spirited yet safe boat. 

Wait, did I say we had the perfect boat?  Well yes for us it has been, for the most part.  Every boat is a compromise in some way.  Firecracker’s draft is 6’4”.  Cruising in the Bahamas would be easier with a shallow draft boat, but actually sailing that shallow draft boat would be less than exciting.  Shallow draft boats just don’t sail as well.  We have found that there a very few places we cannot go to in the Bahamas because of our draft though we may have to wait for high tide in some places. Getting into Hope Town is an example, but most boats need high tide as well here.  In areas where the water is just too thin, we simply anchor out and dinghy in.  (See my thoughts below concerning dinghies and outboards). While sailing in New England our deeper draft is an advantage as we seldom have a problem there in the naturally deeper waters.

Boat Equipment

When looking for the perfect boat I thought that the boat with the most goodies had to be a better buy.  After cruising Firecracker I’ve come to the conclusion that less may be better.  The more mechanical equipment you have the more maintenance and chance of mechanical failure you will certainly have.  The spares needed to maintain those systems and the man-hours needed whether yours or those of a boat yard will be more.  When in the tropics you need to be self sufficient since many times competent help is simply not available.

On Firecracker we have what we believe to be an ideal selection for the coastal and offshore cruising we do.  Your systems on board should reflect your cruising itinerary; if you are not circumnavigating the world you don’t need or want the equipment to do so.

On the subject of maintenance we have no wood components to maintain on deck since we have no wood toe or spray rails, handrails or anything else.  This is a major benefit to us.  We see folks sanding and varnishing while we are reading or enjoying a sundowner.  However I still do enjoy the smell of varnish, someone else’s is the best though.

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Our mooring neighbors trying to get some varnish on their absolutely beautiful Bristol Chanel Cutter before the rain starts.

Fuel and water supplies are another concern.  Having enough to make your planned passages is quite important.  When we purchased Firecracker the fuel tanks were reported to hold 75 gallons.  In reality, due to the placement of the fuel pick up tubes, only about 65 gallons were useable.  I designed two new tanks and had them built.  I then installed them giving us 90 gallons of usable diesel fuel. 

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New tanks, fuel lines and vent hose installed in 2012.

At 2000 RPM that would give us about a 600 nautical mile range without sailing.  With an additional 10 gallons carried on deck while cruising we have an additional 65 miles.  Our water tanks hold about 125 gallons and we carry an additional 20 gallons on deck while cruising.  We use about 4.5 to 5 gallons per day, giving us almost a month’s supply of water.  OK, would a water maker on board be a good investment, well we are thinking about that.  We need to consider the cost of equipment plus maintenance verses the burden of lugging water on board.

Boat Handling

One of the best features of a fin keel, balanced spade rudder designed boat is the way it handles.  We have talked to so many cruisers that tell us they cannot back their boats out of a slip easily.  They say they never know which way they will turn when backing up.  Not so with Firecracker. We have a little prop walk to port initially, then when water is flowing past the rudder steering in reverse is a piece of cake.  That word “perfect” just keeps coming to mind.  We had a fellow cruiser stop by today to ask about our boat.  He asked if we had a bow thruster and I told him that we didn’t.  This question took me by surprise since I had never considered having to need a bow thruster.  He said that he could not dock his boat without one. In my way of thinking this is just one more reason why I am happy with our Saga.

Anchors

Up until this Fall we had always anchored using a 44 lb. Bruce anchor.  It worked flawlessly in the US and throughout the Bahamas, in winds up to 40 knots in George Town.  Moving up into the Abacos where there is more grass on the bottom, the Bruce was sometimes difficult to set.  We researched buying a new anchor and settled on a 55 lb. Rocna.  This anchor is awesome.  We had to modify the anchor roller system at the bow to accommodate the Rocna which was a small price to pay for a truly great anchor.

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Sleeping at night knowing that we are secure is a wonderful feeling.  We moved the 44 lb. Bruce anchor to the port anchor roller as our secondary anchor.  In addition to the Rocna and Bruce anchors we carry a Fortress and an old fashion Fisherman anchor in case of storms.  Both the Fortress and Fisherman break down for easy storage.

Power Management

Boat electrical systems are primarily 12 volt batteries supplying power to the installed equipment on board.  The batteries as you can imagine need to be charged to continue to operate the systems we depend on.  Our main battery bank consists of six Lifeline 6 volt, 220 amp hour AGM batteries that when wired in series/parallel give us 660 amp hours at 12 volts. In addition we have a 12 volt Lifeline AGM battery for engine starting.  On board Firecracker we can charge the batteries in a number of ways.  When running the engine a 100 ampere alternator will do the job.  With sufficient wind, about 10 knots or more, our Air Breeze wind generator will help the charging process.  With 20 plus knots of wind the Air Breeze will supply all our electrical needs.  We also have two solar panels that are supplying a charge whenever sunlight is being absorbed by the panels.   In the event we have little wind or sunlight and we don’t feel like running the engine, we have a 2000 watt Honda generator that will charge the batteries and supply us with 120 volt electricity when needed.  Plugging into shore power when at a dock will of course keep the batteries charged.  When cruising we seldom connect to shore power as we pick up moorings or anchor most of the time.  This leaves us “off the grid” so we rely on wind and solar for the majority of our charging needs. 

Navigation

Knowing where you are is a big deal, a really big deal.  Years ago we relied on dead reckoning, celestial navigation, radio directional finders and loran.  Some people feel that paper charts have become outdated, we do not.  We carry paper charts for every area we cruise.  Today GPS navigation is so accurate you can pin point your location on the planet within 10 feet.  Just think about the accuracy of the GPS unit in your car, prompting you to turn at intersections, that blows my mind.  Well we have the same technology on board Firecracker.  This year we added a second chart plotter with its own antenna as a back up to our Raymarine E-Series chart plotter.  This new unit accepts the Explorer Chart info on the Bahamas giving us exceptionally accurate detailed navigation information. 

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Our new chart plotter on top and the Raymarine E-80 below.  The chart plotter soundings are in feet, not meters.

In the US we have buoys and markers to help guide us into channels and around obstructions, landmasses etc. Here in the Bahamas there are virtually no aids to navigation.  We use waypoints, set into our chart plotters, using Latitude and Longitude to find channels and avoid obstructions. Using the Explorer paper charts I have entered about 350 waypoints into the chart plotter. We can then build routes to follow between our destinations. 

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Here is a sample of the paper Explorer Chart for the Marsh Harbour – Hope Town area. The magenta circles you see are the waypoints, the straight magenta lines are safe routes between the waypoints.  No buoys or markers of any kind.  Even if there is one on the chart the marker is most likely missing of the light not operational.  The depths shown are in meters, not feet.

VPR (Visual Piloting Rules) are used here in the Bahamas.  Not so much rules, but visual piloting, the reading of the water color to determine depth, is quite important. Deep blue is deeper water, lighter green or blue indicates shallower water and if it looks a sand color, you guessed it, almost no water.  Learning to read water color is a skill you will appreciate if you ever lose your chart plotter or depth sounder. When we head north our new chart plotter will provide info as far north as Canada.  Having two dedicated marine chart plotters gives us a warm and fuzzy feeling.  In addition we also have radar that can be overlaid on our Raymarine chart plotter.  We also have two Garmin handheld GPS units with nautical charts that cover our cruising areas.  These units are good backups as they use AA alkaline batteries and do not depend on the boats battery power.  FYI, on Firecracker we carry lots and lots of spare batteries to be safe.

Sail Plan

The Saga 43 was designed with a Solent rig.  It is neither a cutter nor a sloop in the usual sense. The Solent rig has tandem roller furling units for the headsails. The rig is proportioned so that it does not require overlapping headsails for power when sailing close-hauled. On Firecracker we carry four sails on board.  A full battened main with two reef points (465 SF), a self tending jib on the inner head stay (456 SF), a 135% genoa on the forward head stay (737 SF), and an asymmetrical spinnaker (1698 SF).   

Most of our sailing is with the main and genoa as we try not to sail to windward (going where the wind is coming from).  Waiting a day or two can make a world of difference in having the wind abeam or behind us.  This is called reaching or running off the wind which is much more comfortable and much faster getting to that same destination that yesterday would have upwind.  When we do decide to sail upwind or close hauled we then use our smaller self-tending jib.  The boat was designed to sail upwind without the need of an overlapping jib/genoa and still have terrific performance.  When the wind picks up and Ginnie feels like we are heeling too much we simply take a reef in the mainsail.  All reefing is done from the cockpit and I am able, single handed, to take a reef in less than one minute.  Once reefed, the boat doesn’t heel as much and we typically lose no speed.

Having an electric self tailing winch on the port cabin top was a huge selling point for us.  We raise the main with this winch as well as sheeting in the mainsail and use it to raise the dinghy in the davit.  It could also be used to furl the headsails as well.

Dinghy and Outboard

Having started with an 8’ soft bottom inflatable with a 5 HP outboard we were thrilled to purchase a 9’6” AB hard bottom inflatable with a 15 HP two-stroke Yamaha outboard.  Our dinghy is our car when cruising.  It is our transportation from Firecracker to the rest of the world.  We visit friends, go for groceries, make a trip to the beach, visit that island that should have good shells, or go to that great restaurant in town.  It’s how we get around, so why go slow when we could be a mile or more from where we want to be.  The davit system with the electric winch is so easy to operate we never leave the dinghy in the water at night. 

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In this photo the dinghy is more of a pick-up truck than a car, 25 gallons of water, 10 of diesel and 5 of gasoline.

So if this post hasn’t turned your brain to mush and you are still awake go to the link below.  It is the builders, Bruckman Yachts, overview and design philosophy of our “Perfect” boat.

SAGA 43 Overview

Remember … SAIL FAST – LIVE SLOW

Ginnie’s Thoughts on the 6 Degrees of Separation

We are constantly amazed at the connections we find among cruisers.  In the last post Ted mentioned Barbara from First Light.  While talking to her Ted discovered that they grew up about two streets apart in Swansea, Mass and went to the same Catholic elementary school.  A few days ago while speaking to a couple who came over to see Firecracker because they love Sagas, we discovered another unique connection. While sailing up and down the East coast and working on a master’s online program, this couple needed to volunteer in a school with an ESL, a bi-lingual program.  They could not imagine being able to meet this goal.  However they were in Block Island, googled schools and discovered that they could get to a marina in New London within walking distance to a school that would meet this need.  The school was the first magnet school that I helped create while working at LEARN!!  Today we went over to talk to the owners of a boat that Ted loved.  They are from Bristol Rhode Island, owned Jamestown Distributors and we once looked at their condo when we wanted to purchase property in RI. Ted has mentioned our friends from RI on Sol Mate.  After meeting them, Ted and Karen figured out that she may have flown in Ted’s hot air balloon.  Both are checking records and pictures. Their guests mentioned that they are having a custom mahogany interior made for the pilot house on their Northern Bay down east powerboat. The boat yard they are working with in Maine is Johansen Boatworks and Max, the general manager, is the person they are working with. Max is living with my son in law’s sister!!!  I met a teacher from East Haddam who had attended numerous sessions at LEARN, a family from PA who thought I would never know New Tripoli where they lived, only to tell them that I had worked in the central office in their  school district.  Last year we met a couple from Stonington who lived a few miles from us. This happens over and over again.

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Sail Fast – Live Slow

Having anchored at Meeks Patch we were about 3 ½ miles east of Royal Island so making our run to Little Harbour in the Abacos was about about 59 nautical miles.  We weighed anchor at 0700 hours and counted about 10 boats ahead of us. Some were just leaving Royal Island and some were about 5 plus nautical miles ahead of us.

The sailing conditions were perfect and we had a full main and genoa flying.  If you have been following our blog you know that Firecracker is a fast boat.  During the Long Island Rally we only had one boat beat us on actual time, and that was Double Trouble, a 58’ Catana catamaran.  On corrected time she only beat us by 6 minutes and 4 seconds.  We were the fastest mono hull in the race on actual time.  Well we were not to be disappointed on our sail to Little Harbor.  One by one we sailed past every boat ahead of us except one.  Mono hulls and catamarans, it made no difference.  But that one boat ahead, who was that and what kind of boat could it be?

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A photo of Firecracker taken by Cindy on Dark Star.

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Dark Star, such a pretty boat.

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Dark Star in the trough of the ocean swells on the way to Little Harbour.

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A ship crossing our bow in the Northeast Providence Channel, our CPA (Closest Point of Approach) was 0.468 Nautical Miles.

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Another photo from Cindy

Eight hours later we were anchored in the lee of Lynyard Cay.  The next day while having lunch at Pete’s Pub we met Jon and Barbara from First Light, a Gulfstar 44.  This was the boat we did not catch. Barbara told us that Jon was not going to be passed by Firecracker so he had his engine on the entire trip.  It’s hard to compete with that.  Jon and Barbara were great fun and it was a pleasure meeting them.Be sure to read Ginnie’s post on the 6 Degrees of Separation related to them.

When we first heard Josh Turner’s song “Firecracker”  we knew it had to be our theme song.  Firecracker is such a fun and lively boat to sail it was hard to believe the song wasn’t written about her.  When Firecracker is charging along at 8 or 9 knots its great fun to listen to this song.

A link to the song is below.  Copy and paste the link in the address bar of your browser.

http://sailfirecracker.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/02-Firecracker.m4a

While in Little Harbor we once again dinghied to the shallows in the north to collect more shells and sea biscuits. 

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A second trip to the Gallery resulted in a second piece of cast bronze artwork. Last year we purchased a dolphin and this year a beautiful turtle.  We actually see more turtles here than dolphins.

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A view of Little Harbor from the Foundry.  This is where the workers at the foundry sit and have lunch.  I think I should fill out an employment application.

 

 

 

Meeks Patch and the Beautiful Settlement of Spanish Wells

We left Hatchet Bay in the company of about 10 other boats.  The cold front had moved south giving us a good weather window to move north.  Last year we could not go through Current Cut due to bad timing with the tides.  Current Cut is too shallow for our 6’4” draft except at high tide. We had to go south through Fleeming Cut, adding about 20 miles to our trip to Royal Island.   This year the timing of the tide and current change at Current Cut was perfect.  Because of the mild weather, instead of going to Royal Island we decided to anchor in the lee of Meeks Patch, just south of Russell Island and St Georges Island, the home of the Spanish Wells settlement.  

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Current Cut, an aerial view.

Again we had lucked out with a great sailing day, many more than last year.  Cold fronts do make for better sailing when the winds settle down.

Spanish Wells is on a mile-and-a-half-long island situated off the northern tip of Eleuthera, Bahamas.  Discovered by Christopher Columbus and later settled by the Eleutheran Adventurers and the Loyalists, the island is a fishing and farming community of 1,800 friendly people. It was from the fresh-water reserves of this island that Spanish sailors renewed their water supply after the long Atlantic crossing, among them the legendary explorer who sought the Fountain of Youth, Ponce de Leon.

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The beach at the north side of Spanish Wells.

The inhabitants of Spanish Wells are intensely proud of their past, and the islanders are known for their seamanship and fishing ability.  The well built and meticulously maintained homes are one sign of this being a prosperous fishing community.

Spanish Wells is the home of the R&B Boatyard.  With so many fishing boats and recreational yachts this is a very busy place.  They have a 120 ton marine railway and a lift to service catamarans up to 50’ long.

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The roadway passes over the top of the marine railway – no problem, they simply lift of the section of road with the blue and white crane when hauling a boat.

George and Pat on Theodore offered to take us ashore on their Rendova 12’ inflatable with a 50 HP outboard.  What a great tender. By contrast our AB dinghy is 9’6” with a 15 HP Yamaha. You can’t believe the difference in the ride in choppy water.  We went into Spanish Wells to do some provisioning and a stop at the local bakery for some homemade carrot cake and banana bread which didn’t last long.

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Ginnie on Theodore’s tender while zipping along at 25 knots.

At the entrance to the harbor there was a sailboat that had gone aground.  It looks like he missed the channel by just a few feet.  With help he was off and floating with the rising tide by 7PM that evening.  No damage except to his pride.

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Hatchet Bay and the Bat Cave, Glass Window and Harbour Island

Governors’ Harbour is not a well protected harbor and with the weather forecast calling for another frontal passage we decided to sail up to Hatchet Bay where it is very protected from all winds.  We were there with Dark Star, Barefoot’n, Ptarmargin, SolMate, Theodore, Windward and about 10 more boats.  All of us were hiding from the high winds.

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Theodore entering the cut at Hatchet Bay

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Dark Star, on the right, with another fantastic Bahamian sunset.

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The Hatchet Bay Gang at Da Spot, a genuine Bahamian bar & grill.

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Cocktails on board Firecracker with the crews of Dark Star, Ptarmagin and Barefoot’n. Eight of us and there’s room for more.

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Next night, more cocktails with Theodore and SolMate.

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Cindy and Ginnie: Partners in crime.

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Rick & Cindy from Dark Star.

Last year Ginnie and I decided to go to the cave a few miles north of the settlement.  As you may remember she was OK until we had to descend a steel ladder to the main section of the cave.  That was the end for Ginnie, no way, nada, not going there.  I ventured as far as I could while still having Ginnie hear me yell that I was OK.  Well fast forward to 2014 and I had Steve & Karen from SolMate as partners in crime and we spelunked our way through the entire cave.  We even found the high dome with the bats. 

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Karen & Steve, Karen won the award for “Best Dressed Spelunker”

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When entering the cave you see graffiti and think, what a shame, people shouldn’t be doing that.  Further in we found markings (old graffiti) from the 1800’s and thought, wow how cool is that.  Old graffiti is cool and new is not?   I guess that in another 100 years or so the new stuff may be cool as well.

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George and & Pat from Theodore joined us and we rented a car to tour the northern part of Eluethra and Harbor Island.  On our way we stopped at Glass Window.  The original stone arch bridge was replaced with a man made bridge after a hurricane.  This famous bridge links North Eleuthera to the mainland of Eleuthera. It is notable because you can see the dark Atlantic meeting the aquamarine Caribbean at the thinnest part of the island.

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Below is a link to my youtube video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgY3hcwkVqk

Just past the North Eleuthera Airport we took the ferry to Harbour Island.  Known simply as Briland to its residents, Harbour Island, Bahamas, is often is called the Nantucket of the Caribbean. The colorfully painted New England-style architecture on the island beautifully compliments the lush palms trees, flower-lined streets and pink sand beaches. This tiny world famous (and world class) island is a vacation magnet for the rich and famous, savvy travelers and beach vacation seekers alike.

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Ginnie and I with George and Pat from Theodore on the pink sand beach.

We stopped at a coffee house for three iced coffees, one muffin and two cookies and left $30 lighter-a little too world class for us.

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Harbour Island is also the home of Valentines Marina, here are a few photos.

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What size yacht needs a fender large enough that you could live in?

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This one!

On our tour of the island we happened to stop at a beach on the side of the road and found it to be some of the best shelling this year.  Ginnie has a pile of new shells for the baskets she is making and for a wreath based on the one we saw at the museum in Long Island.

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Pat and the Bahamian ladies on the ferry back from Harbour Island.

Moving North & West – As Slowly As Possible

 We have been having way too fun and I have not been good about keeping up with the blog.  We left Cat Island and made our way north and west to Little San Salvador.  This is the island owned by the Holland America cruise line, a day stop for their passengers.  The island manager told us that about 3600, yes 3600! passengers from the ships come to the island each day to enjoy the facilities there.  The ship’s personnel bring all the food and beverages ashore each day and by 4:00 PM in the afternoon you would never know anyone had been on the island.  All the beach cats, paddle boards, horses, beach chairs and lounges, etc, etc are put away and every bit of food and beverage brought back to the ship.  I don’t know what happens to the trash but there was NONE to be found.  Even the sand on the beaches was raked clean.

The island manager was gracious in letting cruisers explore the island after the ships leave for the day.  Our blog from last year has some photos of this island.

The next morning we left for Rock Sound at the southern end of Eleuthera.    Steve and Karen on SolMate and George and Pat on board Theodore were with us there.  We dinghied to shore to get groceries and water and the next morning we sailed to Governors’ Harbour .  Since we had seen Rock Sound last year we didn’t feel we needed to stay more than one night.

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The houses look a lot like New England.

Cat Island

On Saturday March 15th we left George Town and had an incredible sail to Cat Island.  Winds were on the beam blowing 12 to 18 knots.  At one point we were making 8.9 knots over the ground.  Due to the wind direction we decided to anchor off Old Bight, a few miles south of New Bight where we anchored last year.  In that location, there would be less wind and wave action.

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The mega yacht “air”.  A 265’8″ Feadship with two 32′ tenders, a 102″ pop-up outdoor TV, and an 8 meter swimming pool.  You and your 13 best friends could charter her for a mere $1,166,115.00 per WEEK!

Ginnie thinks our next boat should be a power boat, this one looks good and it comes with a helicopter!  Do you think they would trade even?

The next morning we rented a car with Lee from Alesto 2 and Cordell Thompson, a Bahamian historian from Exuma,  who was sailing with Lee.  Renting a car to tour the island by ourselves would have been OK but being given a tour by Lee and Cordell was amazing.  Lee has spent a great deal of time on Cat Island and Cordell’s knowledge of the Bahamian island history was fascinating.

One stop we made was to visit Nick Cripps a friend of Cordell who is developing a subdivision on a hill top at the north end of the island.  Nick is completely off the grid for power.  He has solar panels that provide all the electrical needs for the two homes he has built.  Water is provided by wells and by roof collection and stored in large cisterns.  The remaining lots are for sale but must meet association standards.

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Cordell and Nick, what a view.  360 degrees.

Further north, at the end of a very long road/driveway, we visited Pamela Portier, a friend of Lee and Cordell.  Pamela is Sidney Portier’s daughter.  Both Nick and Pamela have incredible views from their hill top homes.  If you know who Sidney Portier is then consider yourself old.  When we told Sarah, Ginnie’s daughter, we visited Sidney Portier’s daughter she had no clue who he was.  With age comes a vast amount of knowledge, but we still need Sarah to fix our phones and computer.

At Old Bight we beached our dinghies at a new resort being built by Mr. Rolle. He has named it Rollezzz Resort because it is a great place to sleep.  The buildings are well designed and built and the interiors are first class.  A little more site work, landscaping and the installation of a wi-fi system and the doors will open for business.  Mr. Rolle,  like all Cat Islanders we met,  was very friendly and helpful.  When we asked if we could land the dinghies on his beach he not only said “Of course” but then proceeded to give us a tour of the resort.  Needing more palm fronds for baskets, he told us where to find the silver top palms and even told us where his wife’s favorite shelling spot was.

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Building a covered patio.

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Roderick “Rasta Man” the rock sculpture artist.

The next morning we travelled by car to the south end of the island stopping at Port Howe and Devils Point.  Cordell pointed out that the vegetation at this end of the island was much more lush and dense.  It was obvious that there is more rain here than in any other part of the island.

On Wednesday afternoon, we moved the boat up to New Bight.  We learned that Pompey Johnson and his group “Bo-Hog & Da-Rooters” would be performing Rake & Scrape music at one of the beach conch shacks.  It is said that Rake & Scrape music started here on Cat Island.  The instruments are a concertina, a goat skin goombay drum and a carpenters saw. 

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Pompey Johnson (middle) and  Bo-Hog & Da-Rooters.

To watch a video of Bo-Hog & Da-Rooters copy and paste the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aVlYM7825E

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Before the music Ginnie was learning to play Double 6 Mexican Train dominoes.

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Any excuse for a party.

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Can anyone spot the ring leader of this party?

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Crystal, the happiest waitress in the Bahamas.

Pompey has performed in Paris, on the Today Show with Kathy Lee & Hoda, and at the Apollo Theater.

While there we ran into Roderick “Rasta Man” Smith who we had met earlier working with Mr. Rolle at his new resort.  We learned that he was an artist that creates sculptures from brain coral.  Rasta Man was the manager at the now closed marina in Rum Cay.  While there he learned the art from a master sculpture.  Rasta’s company is Rasta Soup, you can email him at rastasoup@hotmail.com.

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Rasta Man and his art.

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Our candle holders.

We also met Mark Knowles, a multi champion sailor and boat builder from Long Island. He was in Cat Island working a construction job building a sea wall along the roads adjacent to the beaches.  Mark builds and very successfully races Bahamian A, B and C class sailboats.

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Mark with Rasta Man getting into the act.

Even in the Bahamas a little rain must fall

When we returned to George Town from Conception Island we anchored near Lake Victoria to be better protected from the predicted west winds and squalls.  Good choice!  A particularly strong squall came through, fast moving and nasty.  The photos below were taken 5 minutes apart.  About 20 minutes later there were blue skies and some sunshine.

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The next day we moved the boat across Elizabeth Harbor to the Volley Ball Beach anchorage. 

Conception Island

Conception Island is said to be a paradise within a paradise.  It is part of the Bahamas National Trust and is a sanctuary for tropical birds and green turtles.  There are no safe all weather anchorages and it is not a good place to be with the passage of a cold front.  With that in mind, we had a two day window to leave Long Island, visit Conception, and return to George Town before the passage of the next cold front.

Firecracker, Camelot and Sol Mate  (Steve and Karen, a Rhode Island couple) had a nice sail to West Bay in Conception.  We were able to explore the creek and lagoon at the south east side of the island.  This creek had numerous birds, live conch and green turtles.

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Steve & Karen on Sol Mate

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Keith & Rose on Camelot, BTW Camelot’s dinghy is CameLittle

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Adventuring up into the creek and lagoon.

Trying to take a photo of a green turtle here is a challenge, they may be slow on land, but are like rocket ships in the water. 

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Not a great shot, the turtles were skittish and fast.

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A sand bar at low tide that is a perfect breeding ground for conch.

Our plan to visit Conception was perfect, a great sail there and an even better sail back to George Town.  We were able to sail from Conception all the way through the cut to our anchorage in George Town.