Thursday, January 31, 2013

Roughing it in the Ragged Islands

While I worked on my baskets, Al tried to find out why we cannot hear people far away on our VHF radio when other boaters can and a problem of lots of static when we call.  So once again he went up the mast to check the antenna.  Peter and Michael hauled him up this time, so I got a break. 
Michael and Peter get the job of cranking.

Al up the mast again.
 Unfortunately Al saw nothing wrong at the top of the mast so back down he came to search out other possibilities.  Later he replaced some connector wires and people said it sounded better but we still cannot hear those who are far away.  This is a problem that is on going and so he will continue to try different things.
Jamming at the Hog Cay Yacht Club
We moved closer to shore to anchor hoping it would help with the rocking.  It got better but more due to the fact the wind changed to a better direction for us. 

Later that day we went in to the “yacht club” for heavy hors’deurves and music. Some of the gents brought their guitars, tambourine, harmonica and saw.  It was a good time. 

Us with our addition to the Hog Cay Yacht Club.
We took in our addition for the “yacht club” like all the cruisers which was a buoy we found on the beach.  We added our boat name, our names, the year, a sketch of a sailboat and on the back our motto.  It is:  “Dark clouds are things that pass, the blue heavens abide always.”  We discovered the saying on the back of a Salada tea bag no less!

After a true down pour of rain in the early morning which was great because it gave our boat a good wash down which is what it needed, we went with Michael and Robin from Seabiscuit to hike the trail from the south beach on House Bay.   

On the other side it was a beautiful beach with loads of live conch in the shallow waters and a few palm trees that you don’t see often.    
Small conch all over the shallow waters.

Another beautiful beach.
 We had a nice long walk so came back to the boat to just chill the rest of the day.  We read and I worked on my baskets.  We also watched a movie after dinner.

The weather guru predicted the winds were going to blow, and they sure did along with a lot of clouds.  They were 20 to 25 knots.  We never got off the boat.  I hooked on another project, worked on my baskets and read.  Al spent most of the day reading.

It still was blowing strong the next day so I pulled out my jewelry making supplies to organize, as well as my sea glass.  In the afternoon, Marilyn and Carl on Discovery, and Chris and Karen on Synergy braved the waters and came by dinghy to play Sequence on Blue Heaven.  The ladies were champions once again.  It was close to the bitter end.  There was a late afternoon “burn” on the beach so we went in.  It felt good to be on solid ground.

Another dreary day dawned, three in a row which is highly unusual.  Wind was still up and we had a few squalls but nothing strong. I went to a boat named Cookie Monster to work on jewelry.  We each learned something new from each other which was very helpful.
The chefs at work on the grill.
I made a pasta salad for a potluck dinner on the beach.  They had the fires burning for what meat you wanted to cook and sides and desserts were brought to share. 
Hermit crabs come out in masses!

Close up of Mr. Hermit

 It was amazing once all the food was brought out, the hermit crabs came a looking.  They were not scared of people that is for sure!

Sunday dawned and the sun came out finally.  We hiked another new trail where we came across a stone wall which had to have been built many years ago, a pond and wild goats.   

Was the wall for Hogs on Hog Cay?
We only saw goats on Hog Cay.

Once in awhile you will find a pond.
 We hiked the beach on the other side but not much was found.  I am a bit disappointed in the lack of shells down on this island. 
After hiking, I made veggie lasagna and Robin and Corbett from Cookie Monster and Howard and Lois on Chrispamel a Canadian couple who were anchored next to us, came for dinner.  Robin brought a Caesar salad made with cabbage which was great and Lois brought a dessert called a “Cranberry Orange Duff” which was a cake made in a pan set in boiling water and tasted like a moist scone.  It was great also.  It is wonderful sampling all these new recipes.

I believe we mentioned that it is difficult getting food, gasoline and water in these islands.  There is one small store in Duncantown, Ragged Island but you really need to order ahead to get the things you need.  Maxine the owner has not been around because she was helping her sick daughter in Nassau.  She returned with the boat on Sunday, and so she announced she would be over with the food that had arrived to the beach at the “yacht club.”  Now cruisers who had been there prior to our arrival had placed orders, but she said she would bring what extra she had.  Almost all the cruisers were in at 8:30 am to see what they could get.  People were much more civilized than I expected.  No one took all of one food, they shared what was left to buy.  I got a dozen eggs, a green pepper, 3 oranges, 2 tomatoes, 2 limes and a carrot.  I felt like I hit the jackpot!  The clincher was that she did not want to deal with collecting money.  She said to come to her store on Ragged Island and pay.  She had no idea what you took, she just trusted you to pay.  With it still blowing quite a bit, not many were ready to head to Ragged Island but she said, “Whenever you get there, you get there.  (Imagine a store in the states doing that!) 

This is the easy part up through the mangroves to Duncantown.
First Edition, SeaBiscuit and us had decided we were going to town even though it was rough.  What an adventure!  Even with foul weather gear on we were still wet over much of our bodies when we arrived at the dock.  A Bahamian man came to greet us and gave us hugs, jabbering away in his Bahamian English which we can barely understand.  We politely shook our heads as if we knew what he was saying and thanked him for the welcome.  

Walking Duncantown
We saw more goats than people!

We went to Maxine’s store which carried some can goods and cleaning supplies.  She had brought all the produce to the beach.  We paid our bill and got a pint of Pistachio Almond ice cream with spoons and had ourselves a treat!  The main reason we came was because First Edition was having trouble with adding data to their internet plan and they wanted to go to the phone company to see if they could fix it.  I thought I would have them add our money to our data plan as well.  When we got there, the door was locked!   

Phone company office locked up!  What a disappointment!
We had heard that the person who runs the office was Maxine’s son, so we went to her to ask where he was.  It was Election Day and he had a role in that so he was at the police station.  We went there and he came out and tried to help them even though it was his day off.  We left in our dinghy to go back before they were finished so that I could make dessert to take to First Edition for dinner that night with them and Dick and Nancy on Blue Bay whom we were glad that we got to know better.

The next day while I was down in the cabin I heard some strange sounds coming from our refrigeration.  I called Al down and sure enough the electronic controller for the fan wasn’t working.  He brain stormed with the men in the anchorage and finally disconnected the fan from the controller and got it working again.  It is good we had planned to head back to Georgetown because we might need to have someone look at it, or order a part.   

Look at the strata of blues in the water!

While Al worked on the refrigeration I went hiking with Robin and Corbett and got some great shots of Blue Heaven in the anchorage.  I also loved this natural piece of artwork that was on the path.  I thought it worthy of a picture.  
Nature's artwork.

That afternoon Monkey Man came around selling his seafood.  We got two red snapper and a lobster tail for $20.  He filleted the fish for us too.  Can’t get seafood any fresher than that!

Monkey Man filleting the fish we bought.

The lobster that became our dinner!

We prepared the boat to leave in the morning to head to less rugged but busier Georgetown.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Happenings in the Far Bahamas

A week ago or so I wrote that we were heading to the Jumentos which is a group of islands south of the Exumas.  There is but one town in the Jumentos and so not much is available but surprise!  I have internet connection!

Let me go back to where we left you which was on Long Island.  We had dinner at the Island Breeze with Lynn and Peter which is where I had internet last. 
A magnificent double rainbow.

The next morning we planned to head out for further south but not before we had a rain shower and then a magnificent double rainbow. 

We motored at first but then we were able to have a great sail to Flamingo Cay.  It was a fairly long day so we just had dinner and chilled.  Unfortunately it wasn’t fresh fish which we were hoping.  Al caught two, a yellow tailed snapper which he thought was too small and an unidentified fish.  Since we could not find it in the books, we threw it back.  
A yellow tailed snapper
Mystery fish?

Even though there wasn’t much wind there was a bit of a surge which made the night a bit roly-poly.  We decided to hike over to the other side of the island after doing some shelling on the cove beach.  

A small aircraft that crashed in the water years ago.
 We saw the outline of a downed small aircraft right off shore as well as the nose section on the beach where a friendly lizard posed for his picture.

Lizard lounging on the nose of the plane.

 Once back on our dinghies we decided to look for a cave we had read about in the cruising guide not far from where we were anchored.  Lynn and Peter went first and we followed. 
Should we enter or not?
Brave Lynn and Peter.

 It was neat once inside because there were several holes that sunlight streamed in, especially the one directly overhead which made for a spiritual experience!
Sunlight streaming through the hole at the top of the cave.

Two other spots which light the cave.
Butterflies enjoying the flowering plant.
It was still early so we decided to sail to Jamaica Cay which was only about 10 miles away.  We anchored with very little wind which made it a great time to be there.  There was great shelling and found quite a bit of sea glass because not many people visit here. There were also some plants that the butterflies seemed to enjoy.  It was odd to see the colorful butterflies because they are not often seen here as well as flowering plants due to the arid conditions. 

Shells and glass from Jamaica Cay
You can see some of the great shells and glass we found. 

We had a very peaceful night listening to the waves crash on the atoll but with no surge so no rocking!

All gotten in one hours time!
Al and I decided after breakfast to take a quick trip out to the small beach on the atoll.  In about an hour you can see the great finds we had. 
A fossilized leaf or not, is the question!

  The tulip shell was found by Al and I found what I think looks like a fossil of a leaf, but the men think it is just the hinge of a shell.  I don’t care, I think it is neat and hope to make it into a necklace, fossil or not!

I also had to add a picture for all our Chesapeake Bay friends.  Wouldn't it be nice if we could see our rudder like this in the bay?  This is how clear the water is in the Jumentos!
Not Chesapeake water for SURE!

We left to go to Buena Vista Cay where Al threw in his fishing line again but this time he caught a barracuda. Of course all we wanted to do was get it off the hook and back in the water.
One feisty barracuda.

Our friends on Sea Biscuit were anchored and waiting for First Edition and Blue Heaven to come.  This cay boasts the longest beach on these islands but no shells, no sea glass, just sand and sea weed!  Can you imagine?  What kind of beach is that!

First basket of the winter/
I cut more palm to make another basket.  I did finish my first small basket with some shells, so you can see the finished product.

At happy hour on First Edition the men planned to go lobster hunting the next morning.  We took two dinghies for the six of us.  The women manned the dinghies while the men were in the water.  We are lookouts for sharks and tired divers.  

Lynn on watch for our diving men.

Unfortunately, the local fishermen were here the day before so the men did not even see a lobster.  Needless to say, we had turkey marsala for dinner and not lobster tails.  

We did have a great sail to Hog Cay with 12 knot winds on our beam.  There are about 10 boats here which was a bit
different than the other three cays where we were the only boats there.  This is where most people hang out in the Jumentos.  It is 3-4 miles to Duncantown the only town in these islands.  You can tell that some people just come and stay the entire winter.  The cruisers have built a “yacht club” complete with sun shade tarps, tables, fire pit, grilling station and seating.  It is quite charming and makes me feel I am on Gilligan’s Island!                                 
The Hog Cay Yacht Club

Low tide gives for interesting shot.
There are several trails made by the cruisers on the island to hike.  Lynn, Peter, Michael, Al and I took one of the trails across to the other side of the island to a beach. 
On the hike a passion flower was found.

A little color among all the gray rock.
 It was great for finding sea beans, both heart and hamburger beans but not much else.  

 After lunch I went into “ the club” to do basket weaving with some of the ladies and one gent.  I showed them the one new stitch I learned in Georgetown.  Some of these ladies liked working in much finer cuts which gives for a much daintier look to the basket.  I thought I might give it a try.

We turned on the TV and we could not believe it but it worked for a few stations.  It was Sunday so we watched the Ravens beat the Patriots.  Go Ravens, go!  I guess even in this remote part of the world if there is a town and a cell tower you can get connected!

What a view!
Once again it was time to hike another trail to a beach where Lynn said we would find sea glass.  And we did!  Lynn found the largest piece of royal blue I have ever seen.  We also got a beautiful view from a high bluff.  

After lunch we decided to snorkel.  We went to a small reef not very far away.  Al suggested I go first.  We wanted a watch because cruisers told us after 3pm sharks are more prevalent and it was getting close to that time.  I went in the water and took one look around the reef and told Al there was a lobster sitting in a hole.  I had suggested before we left that he put his spear in the boat so we switched positions and he went in the water.  It was the first time either of us even saw a lobster on a reef.  Unfortunately he missed! 

Happy hour at the yacht club
Look at those lobsters!

But luckily, a local fisherman, named “Monkey Man,” came in at the beach later in the day with a boat load of lobsters.  We got two nice size lobsters for $10!  Al says why tire yourself out hunting???  There were drinks and “a burn” on the beach at 4pm.  (A “burn” is a fire in order to burn paper trash.)  It was a good time to meet some more cruisers and share information while watching another wonderful sunset!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Heading to NewTerritory

This is a short blog because not many days have past but we are headed to the Jumentos where we have no idea if we will be able to connect to the internet or not.  Since the last blog, Al found a small leak in the dinghy and while he fixed it on the deck we were stuck on the boat for a day.  So I cleaned, worked on my rug and basket. 

We also had Donna and Walter from Windspell for dinner.  It was a great dinner, pork tenderloin, fresh broccoli, potatoes, spinach salad and fresh pineapple and raisin spice squares for dessert.  As Donna said,” It is great not to have one fried thing in the dinner!”  We don’t think the Bahamians know how to cook anything unless it is fried! 
Isn't it beautiful!

One of the sand bars off of Sand Dollar Beach
The next day we went over to Kidd Cove near town to get water, some food and church for me.  Afterwards we anchored in Sand Dollar beach where we spent most of our time two years ago when we were in Georgetown.  Very few boats there compared to two years ago. 

The water was caught just before covering the live sand dollar.

 I went searching for sand dollars at low tide.  I found only three white sand dollars which are the dead ones, but at one small beach I counted twenty brown ones which are alive.  I guess I should check back later in the season to see if more have died.
Live conch.
I also found a couple of live conch and enjoyed taking pictures of them.

The next day we decided we were heading to Long Island which was the furthest south we went on the last trip.  It was a bit roly-poly at first but then it settled down.  When we arrived, First Edition was the only boat in the anchorage.  So we enjoyed catching up on what we each did in the past week.

Island Breeze

We headed into Island Breeze (a small resort) to do laundry, get some groceries, and to get ready for heading to the Jumentos tomorrow.  We have no idea if we can get internet where we are headed because it is much more primitive down there.  We plan to stay a week or two at the most.  So if you don’t hear from us for a while, don’t worry.  We will get connected eventually when we get back to Long Island or Georgetown.
Here is some summer for you folks dealing with winter!