Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Week 19: Feb. 6-12, 2013 (Day 127-133)

Week 19:

Wed. Feb. 6, 2013—Day 127:      
Destination:  Thompson Bay, Long Island
Winds:  NE & calm
Weather:  warm, sunny periods with heavy dark clouds in the southern part of the island with rains, followed by sunny skies

St. Peter & Paul Catholic Church
See, I told you it was pouring rain at the Blue Hole! 
It was so calm a night I can’t believe we slept so well.  We were up in time for 0630 hrs. SSB; a few days of light easterly winds.  A hefty breakfast then some housekeeping chores.  Graeme was feeling a bit queasy in the stomach today.  Mid morning I drove the dinghy with Pam & Greg to the Long Island Breeze dinghy dock, depositing our garbage & filling 1 jerry can of water.  We visited the Tourist Department Office getting an island map, asking transportation questions & inquiring about half day car rentals.  We were put onto to Jackie at Long Island Breeze; yes, the car was available for $30.00 + a $50.00 refundable deposit once the car was returned; I registered as the designated driver.  Greg dinghied for Graeme, Pam picked up some groceries at Harding & both of us did emails till the car was available & the boys returned.  The Mailboat (every Wed.) was due to arrive at 1100 hrs.  So our 1st stop with the car was Hillside Grocery, just north of Salt Pond (fresh fruits & veggies) then south to Clarence Town, where we had a delicious lunch at ‘Flying Fish Marina’ (undergoing new construction by new owners), then drove to Father Jerome’s distinct Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church (locked) & St. Paul’s Anglican Church (under renovations).  The sky was blackening from the north bringing heavy rains while we drove to Deans & the Blue Hole at Turtle Cove (rough road).  This blue hole & beaches are totally unspoiled & one of the most superb natural sites in the Bahamas.  Unfortunately it was still pouring rain when we arrived & when trying to photograph the blue hole.  Three divers were just leaving as well.  We drove north through Scrub Hill, Hamilton, Pettys, Mangrove Bush, Deadman Cay, Grays to Salt Pond, topping up the car’s fuel tank + gas for the dinghy engine & returned to Long Island Breeze by 1700 hrs.  I found driving on the left quite easy.  A fabulous sunset with no land obscuring the visibility of the setting sun.  And best of all, there was a green flash!  Pam’s first!  A gorgeous red sky afterwards.  And a great supper.  Flat calm water as we dinghied home in the dark under partially clear skies with stars. 

Thurs. Feb. 7, 2013—Day 128:
Destination:  Long Island to McQueens, Cat Island
Departure:  0800 hrs.                   Arrival:  1815 hrs.                               Distance:  68.81NM
Winds:  SSE to ESE 13-18K                             Seas:  1-2 ft. waves with 4-5 ft. swells from SE to NW
Weather:  mostly sunny

A calm night with a pleasant light night breeze.  The guys hoisted the dinghy engine last night which just left the dinghy to hoist to the davits & secured down well.  After listening to 0630 hrs. SSB, breakfast completed & “all” stowed away, we were under way, west past Indian Hole Point, along Whale head, Bains Bluff, Simms, Dove Cay, Glenton Sound & Joes Sound towards Cape Santa Maria (good 4 hrs. distance), motorsailing under full jenny on a broad reach at a speed of 5.7 to 6.2K & seeing depths from 10 to 18 ft.  It was calm in this section that I was able to work down below on my computer composing my blog as I was many days in arrears.  Then our route took us out into the deep indigo blue waters of Exuma Sound & the Atlantic.  We altered plans & headed north to Cat Island instead of Conception because the wind (heavy east component) & sea conditions (1-2 ft waves with 4-5 ft. swells from the SE to the NW) thus on the nose & the bow pounding uncomfortably.  There was enough swell action that I did not want to spend too long a time down below.  We rounded the southwestern tip of Cat Island at Hawks Nest Point, turned to starboard to McQueens (24o11’N & 75o29.5’W) as the sun was setting; a bank of clouds rested just above the horizon, so no green flash tonight.  Greg & I were on the deck straining to pick up coral heads under these poor light conditions, but we seemed to have fared well.  When we reached a depth of 12 ft. we anchored & let out 100 ft. chain.  The warming effect of the sun was long gone, the wind was cool & we were actually chilled, if you can imagine.  Instead of a celebratory rum & coke we settled for a straight shot of Greg’s DR rum.  Pam cooked a lovely supper that we all enjoyed with a glass of wine.  It was now 2000 hrs. & we watched 2 episodes of Qi (British comedy show), fighting to keep our eyes open.  No other boats around, all alone under the dark clear starry sky.

Fri. Feb. 8, 2013—Day 129:
Destination:  McQueens, Cat Island to New Bight, Cat Island
Departure:  0900 hrs.                     Arrival:  1045 hrs.                          Distance:  7.69 NM
Winds:  S 8-10K, increasing to 12-15K & clocking westward
Weather:  warm & sunny with clouds in periphery

Walking the Hermitage

I noticed a ticking of the kettle on the stove (not centrally positioned on the stove) & a occasional gentle sideward roll in the early morning hours, but just laid in bed until dawn & time to listen to SSB.  Chris was predicting a cold front in the Northern Exumas clocking S to W to N overnight at 10-12K, increasing during the day from NE to 20K; although the direction of the wind should slowly clock to the E & SE, the wind speed X 2-3 days would be in the 20-30K range.  It was decision time because our guests need to be in Nassau by noon Feb. 14th.  Option #1: to stay here in Cat Island nearly a week & fly from here.  Option #2: move to Rock Sound, Eleuthera, ‘A’ on an overnight passage, or ‘B’ tomorrow during the day.  As we motored from McQueens (south shore of huge, open bay called The Bight) to New Bight (north shore), it was decided to leave at 2200 hrs. tonight to Rock Sound.  Thus more sailing possibility & new adventure for our guests.  We anchored on a falling tide in 7-1/2 ft. water, laying 80 ft. of chain.  A light snack, then 3 of us dinghied to shore; the dinghy got swamped as the 2 ft. waves rolled over the transom as we were landing.  We walked the well paved road, then stone steps for Mt. Alvernia, the highest hill in the Bahamas to Father Jerome’s Hermitage (retirement home)à impressive!  On our walk up we noted a tomato & cabbage garden as well as areas where banana palms were growing in a deep depression & other areas where trees had crosscuts about 4 ft. from the ground, rocky ground patches & a faint smell of something burnt; possibly future garden areas.  On our walk down we picked some very red & soon to be red tomatoes, as we had noticed many had fallen & spoiled.  Graeme had stayed back to establish waypoints on the chartplotter for our passage tonight, but joined us for lunch at the purple shack off the beach.  He stated that Terri & Bill had called, making contact over the VHF & were heading from Georgetown for here.  We had a great fish or rib lunch, letting Graeme eat our mac ‘n cheese while the locals played their dice game called “backo” I think.  This time we turned dinghy bow out, rowed away from shore a bit then employed the engine, a much dryer method.  And of course the wind died as soon as we arrived home.  Terri & Bill anchored next to us & came over for a social; they will wait out this cold front at a couple of anchorages along the western side of Cat Island, then head over to Rock Sound.  Hurray, we all experienced the green flash at sunset; my 3rd!  Sandwiches were prepared for the night voyage, Graeme slept before our late supper, then we all rested until 2200 hrs.  Two boats arrived after dark.  A dark night sky it was, stars by the zillions, no moon, music from shore wafted through the very still calm air as we departed.

New Bight Anchorage from Hermitage

FYI:  John Cecil Hawes, born in England in 1876 &  known in the Bahamas as Father Jerome, was 1st an architect then an Anglican priest.  He was sent by the Anglican Bishop to restore the damaged churches after the 1908 hurricane. He rebuilt 7 Anglican churches on Long Island with thick hurricane-proof stonework walls & barrel-vaulted roofs.  From Deadmans Cay he ministered the people of Long Island.  He became a Catholic priest, returning to the Bahamas to build Catholic Churches & the St. Augustine Monastery in Nassau.  He selected Comer Hill in New Bight as his retirement home in 1937.  His genuine & humble devotion to God is apparent as one walks through the archway at the Hermitage’s entrance at the base of the hill & all the way up the hill through the Stations of the Cross, past the replica of Jesus’ tomb with it’s rolled-away stone to his Spartan living quarters & small chapel for private devotion.
Locals playing dice game

Sat. Feb. 9, 2013—Day 130:
Destination:  New Bight, Cat Island to Rock Sound, Eleuthera
Departure:  Feb. 8 at 2200 hrs.           Arrival:  Feb. 9 at 1115 hrs.                        Distance: 88.39NM
Winds:  clocking SW to W at 4-5K at departure, to N & ENE 13-15K+/- at arrival           Seas:  calm at departure & through the night, gentle waves passing Little San Salvador & 1- 2 ft. waves at arrival
Weather:  dark, clear with a few dark clouds & stars+++ at departure, a mix of sun & clouds at sunrise to mostly blue skies & sun at arrival

Although the skies were clear & breathtaking & stars impressive, it was a very dark night upon departure at 2200 hrs.  The deck surfaces were damp, the visibility was very restricted & passage from Cat Island was greatly by GPS.  Graeme took 1st shift, I stayed up in the cockpit & soon after midnight drifted off to sleep, while Pam & Greg slept below.  Greg relieved Graeme at 0030 hrs. & they continued to relieve each other during the night & I slept below till dawn.  So I had little details of the night to relate, except that the seas were calm & the winds were light & on the nose till we turned off the wind when we reached another waypoint just before dawn.  Then the NE winds increased to 10-13K & we set the jenny on port until our next waypoint when the wind was once again on our nose.  Another change in direction off the wind & again the jenny was set on starboard but the wind now had increased in intensity to 15K+/-, sooner than expected.  We munched on our prepared sandwiches & drank a freshly brewed pot of coffee along the way.  We met Plumpuppet motorsailing in the opposite direction heading for Highborne Cay.  Can you believe such a coincidence!!!  It took us an hour longer than expected for our passage.  When the anchor was set (100 ft. chain in 9 ft. depth), we lunched & napped.  More & more boats arrived.  In fact John & Lois Wyndham (Astar) whom we met Feb. ’09 in Marsh Harbour & Graeme again in Oct. ’12 at the Annapolis Boatshow, came over to reintroduce themselves.  A lovely sunset; Graeme said there was a green flash, but how do you have a green flash with land between us & the horizon?  A clear sky, dark night & stars magnifico.

Sun. Feb. 10, 2013—Day 131:
Destination:  Rock Sound
Winds:  E & gusty 10-20K during the day & +/- 20K evening & night
Weather:  mainly sunny & cool from the strong breeze

Ocean Hole

Although awake at the usual early hour there was no need to get OOB.  A leisurely ½ cup of coffee sitting in the cockpit reading as a new pot of coffee was brewing, while the others slept.  Once everyone was up for a while, I made French Toast for breakfast.  Graeme emptied 3 water jerry cans into the boat tank, then stayed aboard to fill the boat’s diesel tank & adjust the water pump fan belt, while the rest of us dinghied along the shore to the wooden dock.  We walked passed St. Anne’s Catholic Church (Sunday Mass only at 0900 hrs.) to The Market Place Supermarket & back to St. Andrew’s Anglican Church off the beach, in search of the inland Ocean Hole.  The Ocean Hole is straight up from the wooden dock & up a few blocks; included was a small park with picnic table & a gazebo with picnic tables,  well constructed concrete steps down to the hole with a ladder to descend into the hole; several varieties of fish devouring bread, chicken & rice scraps thrown to them.  Once back to the dinghy, we grabbed 2 jerry cans & Greg filled them from the tap outside of Dingles (not legal but Dingles closed as it was Sunday), then levered them down into the dinghy at Dingle’s dock; Greg walked into the water from shore & climbed into the dinghy.  A semi wet dinghy ride home.  Lunch of smoked salmon, cream cheese, small bread squares, crackers, celery, carrots & red pepper dip.  L&L (lazy & leisurely) the rest of the afternoon of napping, reading or blog writing in my case until my battery was down to 10%.  I prepared a one pot meal for supper.  Another Bahamian sunset with decreasing easterly winds to calm & a dark, star filled sky night. 

Mon. Feb. 11, 2013—Day 132: 
Destination:   Rock Sound
Winds:  ESE to SE 12-17K
Weather:  mostly sunny with a few cloudy periods & a cool breeze

South Eleutheran Mission
Though I have failed to mention this, daylight came noticeably earlier X several weeks now & similarly sunset occurred later.  The winds were to moderate & clock over the next few days.  Chris though was unsure what may happen Wed., Thurs. & Fri.  Graeme & Greg dinghied to shore for 3 jerry cans of diesel (expensive).  Then Pam & Greg dinghied to the north shore in the direction of the airport to arrange flights for a Wed. am departure ($65.00 each).  An early lunch, then the 4 of us dinghied to Pascals at high tide & arranged a taxi for 0700 hrs. Wed. to the airport via Tina (bartender at Pascals) with her cousin, then walked to The Market Place Supermarket for just a few things & to Dingles & the South Eleutheran Mission, which housed an adult library, childrens library & a computer lab & room of historical antique furniture; Sam was the administrator.  We grabbed an ice cream at Dingles & I purchased a 1 day 24 hr. internet ($10.00).  We returned to Pascals, connected to WiFi (sunsethse) & electricity, & the decision was made to have dinner here; tasty, enjoyable & scenic on a beautiful evening overlooking the harbour; just  aslightly cool breeze.  No green flash but an orangey pink evening sky & a sliver moon visible.  A clear night sky of stars.

 Tues. Feb. 12, 2013—Day 133:
Destination:  Rock Sound
Winds:  S to SSW 15-20K                        Seas:  white capped 1 ft. rollers in the harbour
Weather:  sunny but breeze still coolish

Normal routine of morning activities.  A number of boats left this morning & new arrivals in the late afternoon hours.  Greg & Graeme did the shore ride for 2 jerry cans of water, since we obtained permission yesterday.  A pleasant lunch in the cockpit.  We were hailed  by ‘Second Option’ about 1130 hrs. as they were nearing Chubb Point; they had left Cat Island at 0230 hrs. & set their anchor about 1500 hrs. when we were on shore.  Mailboat scheduled arrival is every Tuesday.  The 4 of us landed ashore at Pascals to confirm the taxi for tomorrow at 0700 hrs. & to pick up bread rolls we had ordered; no bread delivered but we were assured that the taxi would show on time even though we had no phone number.  We walked about town, verified the Laundry Mat location (opens at 0900 hrs. & costs $3.00 per load).  We returned to the boat for some reading & packing, & Graeme dinghied down to ‘Second Option’.  The winds calmed significantly.  A lovely orangey sky after sunset with pink & violet hue & a sliver of moon like a nail cuticle.  Lights of a vessel were seen entering the harbour after sunset; later we discovered it delivered fuel to the airport.  Mirror like water & clear skies filled stars above.

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