THE BAHAMAS (PART 2)

Post #48:  THE BAHAMAS (Part 2):  Day 338;  April 4, 2015.  On board:  Barb Stabile, Louise Bombardieri, Trish K, Jim K.    Partial:  Jenny K, Chris Hart

We were fortunate enough to have Barb Stabile and Louise Bombardieri fly into Marsh Harbor to meet us on Friday (March 20). Jenny & Chris weren’t flying out until Sunday, so we took the opportunity to go to Man of War Cay after the girls landed. On the way, Chris put out a fishing line and soon we had Friday night dinner:

Another fresh fish dinner!

A fine catch!

Chris not only catches and cleans the fish, but he and Jenny cook the gourmet meal as well!  From left to right, Chris, Jenny, Barb, Louise, Trish

Chris not only catches and cleans the fish, but he and Jenny cook the gourmet meal as well! From left to right, Chris, Jenny, Barb, Louise, Trish

We left Man of War Cay on Saturday and spent the day anchored in the Sea of Abaco. From the first anchorage, Jenny & Chris took the dinghy fishing while Barb, Louise, Trish & I hung out on the boat.  It was hot, so after awhile the girls wanted to swim off the boat. However, the tide was running hard and the current was strong, going out to sea. So for safety, we tied a rope to the stern of the boat and they had to hold onto the rope anytime they were in the water:

If I pulled up the anchor, maybe they could water ski....

If I pulled up the anchor, maybe they could water ski….

Hang onto that rope!!

Hang onto that rope!!

Jenny & Chris, returning to the Mother Ship...

Jenny & Chris, returning to the Mother Ship…

....fishing all the way -

….fishing all the way –

Although his birthday was still a of couple weeks away, but we celebrated Chris’s 30th in Marsh Harbor that evening:

Oh, to be thirty again....

Oh, to be thirty again….

While in Marsh Harbor, I had to take this picture - "Land Ho, Matey!!!

While in Marsh Harbor, I had to take this picture – “Land Ho, Matey!!!

Our next stop was Turtle Cay – purported to be one on the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world. Crescent shaped and miles long, it is truly stunning – the sand is fine and white, and the water is an incredible shade of light teal:

Swimming in the clear, beautiful waters of the beach at Treasure Cay

Swimming in the clear, beautiful waters of the beach at Treasure Cay

Enjoying the beach at Turtle Cay -

My crew and buddies for the week – I am truly a lucky guy!

From Turtle Cay, we ran the next day back to Man of War Cay.  We had met Harvey and Mary Helen on the vessel Lollygagger six months earlier when we arrived at a marina in the dark after getting stuck for 5 hours waiting to be put through a lock on the Tennessee River – Harvey guided us into the dock with a flashlight then invited us onto Lollygagger for a badly-needed drink! They were docked for a few weeks at Man of War Cay, so we had the good fortune to spend some time with them:

Harvey & Mary Helen

Harvey & Mary Helen invited us onto Lollygagger for drinks, after which we went to dinner in the restaurant adjacent to the marina.  Harvey & Mary Helen are a most enjoyable and interesting couple, regaling us with stories of the 32 years that Harvey was in the Virginia legislature and Mary Helen worked alongside him there. From left to right: Louise, Trish, Jim K, Harvey, Mary Helen, Barb

The following morning, Harvey took us on a walking tour of Man of War Cay. Having spent extended periods of time on Man of War Cay over several years, Harvey seems to know everyone and everything about the Cay.

The following morning, Harvey took us on a walking tour of Man of War Cay. Having spent extended periods of time on Man of War Cay over several years, Harvey seems to know everyone and everything about the Cay.

Harvey showed us the boat-building operation of the Albury Brothers - the business is now run by several of the eight brothers who inherited it from their father many years ago. they build durable, high quality wood boats in the 20 30 foot range, all by hand. In this picture are pieces of roots from Maderia trees, with strong, hard wood that grow on the islands of the Bahamas. They harvest pieces that grow in various shapes that can be milled without bending into the structural ribs of their boats. They soak each piece in the ocean water for four months prior to use to kill any organisms that might live in the wood.

Harvey showed us the boat-building operation of the Albury Brothers – the business is now run by several of the eight brothers who inherited it from their father many years ago. They build durable, high quality wood boats in the 20 to 30 foot range, all by hand. In this picture are pieces of roots from Maderia trees, with strong, hard wood that grow on the islands of the Bahamas. They harvest roots that grow in various shapes that can be milled without bending into the structural ribs of their boats. Harvey explained that they soak each piece in the ocean water, as shown in the picture, for four months prior to use to kill any organisms that might live in the wood.

Our next stop was a re-visit to Hopetown, this time with Barb & Louise aboard. Here are some pictures:

Louise at the helm on our way to Hopetown -

Louise at the helm on our way to Hopetown –

Enjoying a Happy Hour drink at the pool/tiki bar...

Enjoying a Happy Hour drink at the pool/tiki bar…

Now this place understands the importance of the afternoon ice cream stop...

Now this place understands the importance of the afternoon ice cream stop…

I'm just the reporter here....

I’m just the reporter here….

OK, I know I'm getting close to the edge here....

OK, I know I’m getting close to the edge here….

In a previous blog update, I posted a picture of the iconic Hopetown lighthouse. In our second visit, I learned that you could climb the lighthouse at dusk and watch the lighthouse keeper light the ancient kerosene lamp. So up I went, and indeed, with just 2 or 3 other people, was able to participate in the half hour procedure of lighting the light. This picture is taken from inside the lens compartment of the light after the kerosene light was coaxed into burning. It is one of the last manual lighthouses in the world, and burns kerosene with a wick and mantle - much like your Coleman camping lantern. Although it can be seen for 17 miles out to sea, the actual light is no bigger than a Coke bottle - the Fresnel lens concentrates the beam so effectively.  The lens and burner mechanism weighs 8,000 pounds but floats on a bed of liquid mercury - it can thus be rotated by the push of a finger (which I did). However, the keeper must climb the lighthouse every two hours all night, every night, to re-wind the hand-cranked mechanism that keeps the light beam rotating.

In the last blog update, I posted a picture of the iconic Hopetown lighthouse. In our second visit, I learned that you could climb the lighthouse at dusk and watch the lighthouse keeper light the ancient kerosene lamp. So up I went, and indeed, with just 2 or 3 other people, I was able to participate in the half hour procedure of lighting the light. This picture is taken from inside the lens compartment of the light after the kerosene light was coaxed into staying lit. It is one of the last manual lighthouses in the world, and burns kerosene with a wick and mantle – much like your Coleman camping lantern. Although it can be seen for 17 miles out to sea, the actual light is no bigger than a Coke bottle – the Fresnel lens concentrates the beam so effectively. The lens and burner mechanism weighs 8,000 pounds but floats on a bed of liquid mercury – it can thus be rotated by the push of a finger (which I did). However, the keeper must climb the lighthouse every two hours all night, every night, to re-wind the hand-cranked mechanism that keeps the light beam rotating.

My week with the girls ended when we ran back to Marsh Harbor – they flew home while the next crew – Jim Small and Chrissie Bell – flew in. It was then time to start working our way back to the West End to look for a favorable weather window to cross the Gulf Stream back to the States. Although conditions were not ideal to navigate Whale Cay Passage, wide open to the Atlantic, we picked our way through 5 foot seas to get to Green Turtle Cay. Green Turtle has two separate harbors, one near each end of the island. White Sound is the “resort” type harbor where most cruisers go, while Black Sound is the “local” harbor. We, of course, opted for Black Sound, and rode our bikes a short distance to the town of New Plymouth.  It is a small, charming, unspoiled settlement where Bahamians make their living mostly from the sea. We ate at a small, local restaurant where the owner was the baker, cook, waitress, and everything else that was needed.

Here are some pictures from Green Turtle Cay:

New Plymouth is a lovely, seaside settlement at Black Harbor on Green Turtle Cay

New Plymouth is a lovely, seaside settlement at Black Sound on Green Turtle Cay

The local "hangout" in New Plymouth -

The Sunset Lounge – the local “hangout” in New Plymouth –

The settlement focuses its attention on the sea -

The settlement focuses its attention on the sea –

As in the more remote, outer cays, the streets are narrow concrete, and golf carts are the mode of transportation.

As in the more remote, outer cays, the streets are narrow concrete, and golf carts are the mode of transportation.

Chrissie Bell & Jim Small - we rode our bikes the length of the island, from Black Harbor to White Harbor. We stopped at the ocean-side beach along the way, where this picture was taken -

Chrissie Bell & Jim Small – we rode our bikes the length of the island, from Black Sound to White Sound. We stopped at the ocean-side beach along the way, where this picture was taken –

I expected the resorts at White Harbor to be very expensive and glitzy, but was pleasantly surprised. Both were built several decades ago and were very pleasant and comfortable, not overstated, and seemed to have grown in place. We stopped and had an afternoon drink at the Green Turtle Club - the pub, adorned with signed dollar bills pinned to the walls over the decade, is shown here.

I expected the two resorts at White Sound to be very expensive and glitzy, but was pleasantly surprised. Both were built several decades ago and were very pleasant and comfortable, not overstated, and seemed to have grown in place. We stopped and had an afternoon drink at the Green Turtle Club – the pub, adorned with signed dollar bills pinned to the walls over the decades, is shown here.

We continued to retrace our steps as we moved towards the West End, cruising about 60 miles to Grand Cay. We left Grand Cay the following morning and anchored at Double Breasted/Sandy Cay, which we had visited a few weeks earlier by dinghy with Jenny & Chris. We stayed the entire day and intended to stay the night at anchor, but a 20 knot wind was predicted to kick up overnight from the one direction from which we were totally exposed. So we decided to cook dinner on board, then leave at dusk and tie to the dock at Grand Cay.  Here are some pictures:

We spent the day exploring the expansive flats, walking in water between 1 and 5 feet deep in various locations as the tide came in. We saw schools of barracuda, including a 3 foot long one that cruised 10 feet from me in a foot of water looking for a meal in the flats. The Joint Adventure is anchored in the background.

We spent the day exploring the expansive flats, walking in water between 1 and 5 feet deep in various locations as the tide came in. We saw schools of barracuda, including a 3 foot long specimen that cruised 10 feet from me in a foot of water looking for a meal in the flats. We also snorkeled in the deeper water on the other side of the rock and coral islands in the foreground. You can see the Joint Adventure anchored in the background.

Anchoring a catamaran is a little different from anchoring a monohull. In order to ride properly at anchor, the anchor line is attached to a bridle, which is attached to the bow of each pontoon, as shown in the picture. The anchor line above the bridle is secured with slack so that the bridle takes up the force.

Anchoring a catamaran is a little different from anchoring a monohull. In order to ride properly at anchor, the anchor line is attached to a bridle, which is attached to the bow of each pontoon, as shown in the picture. The anchor line above the bridle is secured with slack so that the bridle takes up the force.

In the Bahamas, we always used a trip line with a float on the anchor so we could pull it up if it got snagged on a rock or coral or other obstruction on the seabed. Here Jim is pulling up the float on the trip line while the anchor is being raised.

In the Bahamas, we always used a trip line with a float on the anchor so we could pull it up if it got snagged on a rock or coral or other obstruction on the seabed. Here Jim is pulling up the float on the trip line while the anchor is being raised.

Jim & Chrissie on Sandy Cay -

Jim & Chrissie on Sandy Cay –

Due to the predicted winds, we pulled up the anchor after dinner at dusk and headed for the harbor in Grand Cay. On the way, we saw this amazing sunset as the sun seemingly disappeared into the sea.

Due to the predicted winds, we pulled up the anchor after dinner at dusk and headed for the harbor in Grand Cay. On the way, we saw this amazing sunset as the sun seemingly disappeared into the sea.

We left early the next morning on a somewhat rough, 65 mile run to the West End to look for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream. While spending a day exploring  and riding our bikes around the West End Village, we came upon my new friend with the beard that I had met a month earlier. We couldn’t resist taking a picture of the two of us together:

He told me his name several times, but I couldn't pronounce it and I could never spell it, so I'll just call him my West End Friend

He told me his name several times, but I couldn’t pronounce it and I could never spell it, so I’ll just call him my West End Friend

After a month in the Bahamas, we left Grand Bahama Island early on Friday, April 3 and headed due west across the Gulf Stream for Palm Beach. We had a 10 knot wind on our port stern quarter, so the passage was a bit rolly – not quite the smooth, calm water of our trip east, but quite tolerable. Culture shock hit us upon our arrival – the inlet at Palm Beach was crowded with boats and the narrow channel at low tide near Sailfish Marina was jammed with boats of every size and description heading every which way. Much different from the laid-back outer cays of the Bahamas!

One last anecdote regarding out visit to the Bahamas. My daughter Jenny loves to bake, and has a “baking blog” entitled “Sugar Mason”. She is a talented writer (brag, brag) with a unique way of looking at the world and at her surroundings, and a unique way of expressing what she sees and feels. After she and Chris had spent ten days with us in the Bahamas, Jenny posted the following excerpt on her blog. I thought I would share it with you:

“we spent ten days on the sea.    floating along.    intermittently pulled through the mouth of a harbor by the sounds of people cracking conch.   we turned off our phones that can sometimes be too smart.    and felt a headache dissolve that we didn’t know we had.    on the first day we yelled about politics.    by day two we found ourselves wanting to talk of nothing but fish.    when the fish stopped biting, we mixed ginger beer with coconut rum.    we gaped, breathless, at the water.    and stared long and hard, hoping our eyes would absorb the translucent color, the greatest of all souvenirs.    we put fins on our feet and escaped to a world where the grass grows blue & orange & purple.    we hunted fish with spears in our hands.    humbled by the fish with spears for teeth, hungry like us.    we cannonballed into waves.    and read words from paper.    we spent an evening mesmerized by a lone beam of light, merry-go-rounding it’s way through the dark.    we imagined the lives of sailors it spared.    and dreamt about the lives it did not.    we ended each day around a table.    looking at maps for tomorrow’s journey.    already nostalgic for yesterday’s magic.    an internal mantra echoed through my head.    louder with each passing sunset.    i am grateful for the sea.    i am grateful for the fish.    i am grateful for the rum   . but mostly, i am grateful for the company.”

If you’re interested in baking and great recipes, or just interested in some unique writing and great photographs, the link to her blog is:   sugarmason.com/

We now start our journey north along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway toward Boston and the completion of our voyage. We have about 1500 miles to go, so there are still plenty of adventures and challenges ahead. On we go…

 

 

 

 

 

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