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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Bye-Bye Bahamas!

 

French Leave Beach didn't get much more crowded than this. Eleuthera, Bahamas.

By the time you read this, we're probably out of wifi range. This Thursday morning we're headed back to the US, 24/7 sailing with an ETA of sunset, Friday, April 30th. Ideally, we can make the 207 nautical miles to Fort Pierce by then. If not, we'll pull into Lake Worth, which is 170 miles from where are as I write this, the night before our departure and post right before we pull anchor. 

We'll miss the balmy Bahamas days, warm water and the vibrant color palette across the entire spectrum of blue, accentuated by golden, white or pink sands, iconic leafy green palm trees, and white-trimmed buildings painted in happy colors—pastel pinks, pistachio green, and sunny yellows.

But we're also feeling ready to be back in the familiarity of the States.

Location Location

We're currently at Clifton, the Western tip of Providence Island, about 15 miles from Nassau, 25 01 387N 77 32.984W. The water is crystal clear and we saw lots of surprisingly fast sea turtles and a ray zip by. We walked Jaws Beach (named for the reputedly awful Jaws sequel, Jaws Revenge), relieved we didn't get fleeced for the entry fee to the underwhelmingly run-down Clifton Heritage site. We didn't make it Flipper Beach, yet another former show-biz filming location.  But I almost wish I didn't research the weird dilapidated architecture at adjacent Lyford Cay, built by Candian fashion mogul, Peter Nyguard. Warning: if even half of the accusations he got convicted for are true, he is one sick dude

More soon!

I still plan to catch up on posts about Long Island, Georgetown, Flamingo and Water Cay, Lee Stocking Island, Eleuthera and Nassau, interspersed with our new cruising ground adventures along the US eastern seaboard.




Friday, April 23, 2021

Almost S'Long & Thanks for All the Fish

Ocean Hole, Rock Sound, Eleuthera.

First a hello again. I moved my domain for this blog to another provider and due to technical difficulties, it went down in the process. Thanks to James from Projects Made Simple who fixed it. It came back online late last night. Not sure why this time the domain change tripped me up; I've done it before. 

Other writing projects also vied for my limited computer and wifi time. FYI, I write and edit* and close to getting official editing certification. I'm taking a freelance writing bootcamp to increase my reach and income on published articles, and recently tapped an editor to help me better shape the travel-adventure memoir I'm working on


We're leaving Eleuthera and underway to Nassau right now, and it's a race to get this post out while we still have wifi. Our task in Nassau is to refuel, rest, and if weather permits a single jump from there back to the States, we'll also check out of the Bahamas. Nassau to Ft. Pierce Florida is a 2-day 24/7 sailing passage.

Why now? Our three-month cruising permit runs out soon, and our insurance requires our boat to be above the Florida stateline by June 1st. Mostly, though, the US East Coast is new territory for us, and we decided we want to spend more time there. As is, a much-needed haulout for boat maintenance and repair will cut into our cruising time. 

We've also already revisited our favorite spots in the Bahamas, except Hog Cay in the Raggeds. We did make it to The Raggeds' Water (the place we seem to be gifted fish) and Flamingo Cays, though.
Thanks to the nice folks on Blue, who gave us a grouper they caught. Water Cay, the Raggeds, Bahamas.

Lots of posts to catch up on from our time off Stocking Island, Long Island, Water and Flamingo Cays, Lee Stocking, Black Point, and, of course, Eleuthera. Even this post will be updated. More soon!

We're going to miss the Bahamas. It's always sad to say goodbye. 
Wayne and me, Stocking Island, Exumas, Bahamas.


Saturday, April 10, 2021

Flying Fish

 

Flying fish. Photo by Mike Prince from Flickr https://flickr.com/photos/70804987@N00/5800262852.

We're seeing lots of flying fish on our passage today. Cool stuff like this is a reason why when we have crappy days—including ones that prompt us to change our plans—why we do this.

Mich nicer to see flying fish this way, and in daylight, as opposed to from our night passages of yore

Location Location

Making this short while we're still in cell tower range, leaving the Bahamas Exumas from Black Point. Our goal is to arrive in Eleuthera before sunset tonight, crossing Exuma Sound to get there.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

When to Tuck Tail & Turn Around


I took this 7-second video of our passage to the Raggeds when things were still comparatively mellow. Then I stowed my camera below and braced myself.

You've probably heard the adage: Why do we keep beating our head against the wall? Because it feels so good when we stop.

My "Aha!" moment happened when we were attempting to follow our friends in Fiji from Savu-Savu to the Taveunis. They caught the weather window there in time. We did not. That became abundantly clear as the sun set and our autopilot went on the fritz because it couldn't handle the conditions. Wayne quickly reconstituted the autopilot—he's had a bit of practice—then asked . . .

"What if instead of pounding upwind, we turned around, and headed for the Yasawas instead of the Taveunis? It would be a much easier passage and we'll be there tomorrow."

We did. It was. We were really glad we did. We even caught back up with our friends elsewhere in Fiji.

Fast forward to a week ago. 

We were leaving Flamingo Cay in the Jumentos after spending a week with our friends in the Georgetown area, then two days on Long Island, with a hop to Water Cay, then Flamingo. We were bound for Buena Vista in the Ragged Islands, then from there we'd catch up with friends in the Ragged Island at Hog Cay.

A driving motivator to buy our boat when we did and leave right away was driven in part by our desire to return to the Bahamas' Ragged Islands this cruising season. It's a place of fond memories, new friends, good times, and great conversations with cruisers and locals.

The Raggeds' name is apt: they are rugged and remote, particularly in comparison to the Abacos, Bimini, Nassau, Eleuthera, the Exumas, and Long Island. Only one island in the Raggeds is inhabited: Duncan Town. When we last came, Duncan Town boasted a population of 70 hearty souls, a little bar, a tinier market, Marjorie's charming local handicrafts store, and a robust flock of peacocks. Duncan Town was a dinghy ride from Hog Cay.

Meanwhile, we were pounding our way into 20-knot winds, getting soaked by the waves washing up over our bow and making their way back toward us. We braced ourselves into the cockpit, grasping and holding what we could with our hands and feet, our stomachs tight, our teeth clenched. The fun-to-suck ratio was most definitely out of whack, severely pegged on the suck end of the meter. 

We were about to cross the Man O War channel and shift our angle onto a track we needed to travel for several more hours, which would make everything even worse.

Instead, we turned around. For us, that meant writing off the Raggeds for the season and maybe even forever—a disappointment. Yet we felt flooded with relief. It wasn't an easy decision, but for us, in that place and time, in those conditions, it was the right decision.


This is 7-second video shows what it looked like when we turned around.

What are you doing now in your life that's beating your head against the wall?

Notice it. Question it. Figure out a way to stop. Then . . . stop.

Location Location

Georgetown area, Great Exumas, the Bahamas.
The view off our bow at our current anchorage of Sand Dollar Beach. Stocking Island.

We are again anchored off Stocking Island's Sand Dollar Beach, 23 30.690N 75 44.561W. Still catching up on posts from Georgetown, Long Island, Water, and Flamingo Cays in the Jumentos. Tomorrow (Wednesday) we're headed to Lee Stocking Island, working our way back up the Exumas chain. We'll be out of wifi range for a few days.



Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Quirky Cruiser Art of Stocking Island, Bahamas

 



In case you're having trouble linking to the video above (there were some issues with that), try this direct link https://youtu.be/iol7Hk0qly0

I love the creativity cruisers use to transform found materials into practical yet whimsical art. 

Stocking Island's Art Walk, one of the newest walking trails in the Georgetown area of the Bahamas Exumas offers a delightful example.

If you can spare a little less than 2 1/2 minutes, enjoy a virtual walk with this video.

Location Location
This video is a recent retrospective of our initial stop in the Georgetown, Bahamas area, where we've since returned. We are again anchored off Stocking Island's Sand Dollar Beach, 23 30.690N 75 44.561W. Still catching up on posts.




Monday, March 29, 2021

Snorkeling Thunderbolt Grotto at Staniel Cay The Bahamas


Staniel Cay is Exuma’s mecca for the novel experience of snorkeling (click the 1-minute YouTube video to join me on my snorkel, or check out this one) in an internationally famed cave grotto and to get a gander and Major Cay’s equally famed swimming pigs—just don't get bit in the *ss by a porker like I did! 
Chris of s/v Scintilla, getting ready to snorkel Thunderball Grotto.

If you fancy propping your elbows on the bar where Sean Connery and the Bond Thunderball crew hung out, then stop on by the Staniel Cay Yacht club. They must’ve liked it as part of Never Say Never was also shot there as were Splash and Into the Blue. For more on Staniel Cay celebrities and Thunderball Grotto check out Planet D's post.
My cruising budget is the two-fer Liquormat on Staniel Cay, rather than the Staniel Cay Yacht Club.
We went for a beer, but did our own laundry rather than use the "mat."

Staniel Cay offers the basics and post-COVID could use the business.  There are two tiny grocery stores on the island, a pink and blue one. You’ll find some overlap but different enough stock it’s worth a stop at both. But when our friend Chris got a shock when the small can of Spam she bought and thought was $4 rang up for $9, we were glad our provisions didn’t need restocking.  
We're still well stocked on our cheeses from the States—thank goodness.
These were for sale in one of the Staniel Cay markets. Guess inventory turnover is low these days.

A small airport supports the jet-setter crowd, as does a marina. On our past visits, the fisherman put on a bit of a show feeding their scraps to the friendly nurse sharks and stingrays. This year, we didn't see many sharks or rays. Guessing they've re-learned to fish for themselves.
This rather handsome rooster ruffling its feathers was one of my favorite sights on Staniel Cay.

For us cruisers, neighboring Big Major Cay—a great place for cruiser BBQs, if they’re far enough from the porkers—is 20 nautical miles from Warderick Wells and 57 nautical miles from Georgetown. Stocking Island offers a midpoint stop between Georgetown and Staniel Cay for those who want or need one. Staniel and Big Major Cays are considered don’t-misses in the Exumas. 

Location Location
This is a recent retrospective from March 14, 2021, as I'm playing catch-up after a week or so out of WiFi range (and sometimes it takes a while to make a video). We anchored at Big Major Cay 24 10.96 N 76 27.637W and made the ~2-mile dinghy ride to Thunderball Grotto and nearby Staniel Cay. 

We are currently in Great Exumas protected Elizabeth harbour, getting ready to hunker through a couple weather fronts. More catch-up posts coming up!

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Temporarily Incommunicado

 

Even this won't be an option for at least a day maybe several.
We've seen working phone booths in far more remote places
like this in French Polynesia
.
Photo by 
Kelly Lacy from Pexels

Weather permitting, we're off to the Bahamas Ragged Islands tomorrow, likely stopping off at Water Cay first. We loved Water Cay when we last went, in 2014.

The Raggeds are a series of islands that are mostly relatively remote. That means instead of Georgetown's 150 boats in their harbor (versus 400 or more in a non-COVID year) or superyachts or charter boats, we either be on our own or with more crusty cruisers like ourselves.

When we get in range of Duncantown—population 70—the only populated island in the chain, we will be back in phone and thus wifi range again.

So in the interim, I'll be queuing up some catch-up posts, when we're not too busy with new adventures.

More soon!

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Location Location

Dean's Blue Hole, from today's Long Island, Bahamas road trip. 
It's the second deepest blue hole in the world and international freediving championship site
.

We're currently anchored off the Salt Pond area of Long Island, Thompson Bay, 23 21.474N 75 08.376W.