Tuesday, March 29, 2016

from George Town, Exumas

From George Town, Exumas, 28 March 2016

It has been a long time since we did a write-up.  We left Bimini to cross on the north route across the Great Bahama bank to Bimini.  Sailing was quite good, taking us to an open water anchorage at day’s end.  No land as far as the eye could see and perhaps 15 feet of water.  Next day provided a nice sail to anchorage outside Chub Cay.  Sundowners and snacks with friends on their boat.  A relatively quiet night at anchor.

Next day, we moved to Frazer’s Hog Cay to anchor along with our cruising buddies.  Barbara proclaimed this day to be the first day she really felt she was in the Bahamas.   We dinghied ashore to a deserted beach, hiked a ways to explore ruins, she snorkeled, we went back to the boat and swam in crystal clear waters.  I dove under the boat to cut away some fishing line which had wrapped around the propeller at Rodriguez Key in Florida.  Barbara was going to do it but floats too well and kept banging her head on the hull until she almost drowned laughing at herself.

By this time, because of the delays we had experienced due to weather, we decided to forego cruising stops and head to George Town, Exumas as quickly as possible so as to be there when our granddaughter arrives.  This meant parting ways with Gust-O, our traveling companion of almost two and a half months.  They would cruise a while in the Berries, and then head home.

We motorsailed to the west end of New Providence Island for a night at anchor, then on to Norman Cay in the Exumas.  From there we motored to Staniel Cay for a night and another evening of sundowners on a friend’s boat.  We also spent quite a while motoring in circles at Staniel Cay while waiting our turn to top up with diesel.

Next day we motored to near Cave Cay to anchor, but it was quite blustery so we chose to take a slip overnight at Cave Cay Marina, a most well protected little marina with not much for services, but an adequate shower!

The following day allowed us to sail and motor sail to Elizabeth Harbor and George Town, Exumas.  We arrived two weeks early for our granddaughter’s visit, but glad to be here.  We’ve been into George Town once to go for a walk and buy some supplies.  We’ve done a little beach walking and attended an Easter pig roast at the “Chat ‘n’ Chill”.  It started at noon, but the pig was all gone by the time we arrived mid afternoon.  We ordered alternative food for a late lunch.  Between the large crowd in attendance, the great weather, island time, waiting in line to order and waiting for the meals, it was about two hours before we received our food.  No need for dinner that night. 

Today we walked the beach and chatted with several other cruisers and enjoyed a cold Kalick beer.  Tomorrow we will move across the bay to nearer George Town so we will have easier access with our power challenged dinghy.  Barbara says it is laundry time and we need to catch the ride to the place which sells meat.  Also, we’ve decided to try to leave “Submit” here for the next 9 months, so I need to go to customs to see why they issued me a 6 month visit permit instead of the usual 12 month.  I’ll bet there is money involved.

Barbara has been cleaning and arranging in preparation for our granddaughter’s arrival even though it is still a week away.  We are excited but concerned about weather while she is here and activities and meals she might enjoy.  We’ve never had a guest for a whole week before!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Bimini March, 2016

We are getting ready to say good bye to Bimini. We arrived on Wed. morning over a week ago. Most of the other boats here also arrived around that same time. The wind started blowing quite hard from the east soon after our arrival. It is suppose to let up and clock a little further south, so it is time to say good bye. Almost everyone will be untying and slipping away tomorrow. Right now Reggie is meeting with the others to go over the charts, share opinions and options. Some of these friends we may never see again, some we may run into down the road, this year or in years to come.

Today we practiced the mass get away, in a small scale. Nine dinghies, some carrying more people than they were designed to carry, followed our leader, Dan, in his small motor boat to East Bimini, which is really just mangroves.  I’m sure everyone felt like we were baby ducks following our mother. During high tide you can carefully snake your way through to a memorial to Martin Luther King. There is a platform and a statue of him there. Why? You may ask. This is where he came to write his last speech. One of our group had a recording of that famous speech which he played while we were there. It was quite a touching experience.  From there we continued on to a beach for a lunch snack and then hurried home before we were stranded there in low tide.  When we arrived home, everyone got busy stowing the dinghies and everything else for the expected passage tomorrow.  Each evening there has been a gathering here in the marina of boat people to meet, greet, share whatever treats show up, etc. Tonight our evening sundowner is expanding to a full blown potluck.

But I digress. Since we last posted, we visited the Dolphin House. It is an amazing structure built by Ashley Saunders almost completely from recycled materials and stuff he has found on the beach. He is an amazing man. Just a few of his accomplishment: taught school here after getting his degree in the states, wrote the history of Bimini in two volumes, “because there wasn’t one”, published short stories and poems, artist, and master builder.  We took too many pictures to show them all, but here are a few:

There are car license plates from every state in the union.  Barbara looking at the Montana plate which happens to be from Flathead county where we live.

Barbara in one of the guest rooms he rents out.

Pieces of trash transformed into art.

And Reggie gets a clippin'.

Thanks, Marilyn!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

time in Bimini 5 Mar 2016

Day one in Bimini 5 march 2016
We arrived at the Blue Water Marina at 8:00 AM after an easy crossing which required motoring the whole way, but at least we were able to cross. No wind beats a northerly. After "Ship's Master" Reggie made a couple trips to the immigration and customs offices we were legal and I was no longer held captive on Submit. Our yellow quarantine flag came down and our Bahamian courtesy flag is up.

The water is so incredibly beautiful. There is no way to describe it and pictures just don’t do it justice.

I took this picture of Ray taking down his quarantine flag

and waited for him to raise his courtesy flag. And waited. And waited.  Apparently, he could not postpone sleeping one more minute.

I had only slept a few hours also, but I was too excited to sleep. I started by walking the docks and looking at the fish.  I saw a large fish swimming by Gust-O and have seen it several times since. I have since learned it is a Tarpon or Bonefish.  I was tempted to snorkel around the docks. It wouldn’t be great, but it had been so long.

We decided to take a quick tour of Alice Town instead. Good choice. The main road is called Kings’ Highway, of course, and is about as wide and well maintained as an alley in the states. It is lined with small shops and homes.  We also had a walk on the beach. The road we took back to the east side ended at a place that advertised homemade ice cream, guava, soursop and mango.  She only had soursop, so that is what we had. Might not be my favorite, but it was refreshing.

When we returned to the marina Vic and George had just returned from a fishing trip with a very nice Wahoo. They told us to come back around six when they would be feeding the sharks. On cue a bull shark swam by. While I was learning about the fish, Reggie was organizing a BBQ with the other cruisers here.  A swim in the pool was necessary by then and was as refreshing as it should be.

Part of our time Wednesday was spent discussing plans for our travel and our next stops.  We have a short window of weather which would allow us to move on to the Berrys Islands.  However, there is  a weather system coming through which will generate uncomfortably high winds from the east, the direction we wish to go next.  We would find ourselves looking for protected hiding spots to anchor and perhaps be stuck on our boats for days.  Plan B would be to just stay in Bimini and explore and enjoy.  We all opt for an extended stay here in the marina until the next weather window.  We notice most boats stay only long enough to clear customs and immigration and then move on, not taking time to see what Bimini has to offer.  Our goal was to go the Bahamas.  Bimini IS in the Bahamas and is nothing like home.  And we are enjoying it!  Hooray for plan B!

 I was feeling relaxed after my swim in the pool and nap, so it was time for a little excitement… the shark feeding! Apparently you do not swim in the harbor here as bull sharks call this home. I’m told they are very aggressive. Vic had the Wahoo’s head on a rope and hung it over the side of the boat. I guess the plan was to pull it up before a shark could get it. They were going to tease the sharks a bit. Well, the lesson I learned was don’t tease the sharks. One grabbed the head so fast that Vic didn’t have time to do anything. The shark swam away with the head, the rope and almost with Vic. The BBQ was good fun and then we retired to Submit for a good night’s sleep.

Day two was Thursday, the day each week that supplies are shipped in, weather permitting. The containers are unloaded in the parking lot and pickups, cars, wheel barrows and small trucks load up with the supplies they ordered. The street is packed with hauled supplies.

Our first stop was the craft market where I found the perfect hat. It made me want to dance. Since I’m not a hat person, this was quite a find.

Anita also finally found the perfect-shirt for her grandson.   Reggie re-started our Bahamian phone. The only disappointment was the ice cream store was closed today. Better luck next time, Ray. We enjoyed another afternoon by the pool and dinner at the Big Game Club Marina next door for grilled ribs or snapper.

Day three found us off to South Bimini. We decided to take the ferry instead of deploying the dinghy. We explored the nature trail where we were warned by several signs not to touch the poison wood tree. I’m not sure that I could identify it even yet. To be on the safe side, I’m not going to touch any tree except a palm.  

Apparently all creatures great and small deserve protection here. Ray doesn't seem to agree.

Neither does the owner of the house behind them

We either didn’t find the shark lab or what we did find wasn’t so appealing, so we skipped it and chose to have lunch at the Sands Marina. The special was either a boiled dinner or BBQ chicken with garlic mashed potatoes. Since I will eat garlic mashed potatoes at every meal that was my choice. It came with pasta; there were no garlic mashed potatoes. I then wished I had chosen the Angus burger. Since that was the only disappointment of the day, I won’t complain.

Next stop was the fountain of youth.

 I’m sure this one is the real one. When we arrived back to Submit it was very hot, but my eyes wouldn’t stay open. When I finally awoke, Reggie said, “Well that fountain of youth really worked. You slept like a baby!”

The evening was another social around the pool and then dinner of the fresh Wahoo. Delicious.  After dinner, we were too hot in the boat so we sneaked up to the pool for a dip.  It was cool and refreshing and we had it all just for the two of us.  Quick!  Wrap in a towel and skitter back to the boat.  All is good.

Today is Saturday, day four.  We had a slow morning, participating in the dockside conflabs about weather, politics, weather, religion, weather, recipes, weather....

followed by renting a golf cart so the four of us could go exploring.  Ray was the chauffeur and did a commendable job of driving on the “wrong” side of the road.  Our trip was peppered with stops to explore local businesses.  Fresh tomatoes were found in one store, a chart book in another, etc.  We visited the big fancy resort casino where we gambled our selves silly for half an hour, losing $2.00 but gaining 4 nickels.  It took a few moments for some to understand that a return of 10% OF your investment is not the same as a 10% return ON your investment.

We stopped for conch salad at a roadside stand which was supposed, by some, to have the best conch salad on the island.  Small mountains of conch shells gave testament to their time in business.  Ray purchased an order and we all sampled.  Barbara and I had decided previous servings had been less than stellar.  This was really good!

Another stop at a local bakery provided cinnamon rolls, guava rolls and guava duff.  Guava duff is a Bahamian specialty, but each maker follows a different recipe.  This was the best ever, but the half pound serving is worth 10 pounds on the belt line.

Another stop gave us cracked conch.  We decided this is the day of sampling.  Dinner may be skimpy.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


1 Mar, 2016
We spent three nights on a mooring ball in Coconut Grove, doing cruiser things like learning the local bus system so we could go to West Marine and Napa.  We are at anchor off Key Biscayne this evening, waiting until 10pm to haul anchor and head to Bimini.  It will probably be a motor trip all the way, but at least we will have made the crossing.

While in coconut Grove, we saw manatees up close and personal, even watching them browse the shoreline.

On our Key West visit so many days ago, Barbara checked off a bucket list wish to visit a butterfly habitat.