January 27, 2016
We headed over to Starbucks to use the internet and have some coffee. Then we went over to BASRA (Bahamas Air and Sea Rescue Association) to register our boat and make a donation. We met Christopher Lloyd there who is quite a character. He had many a good story to tell.
We then went over to Rachel's Take Away to check it out for lunch. We got there at 11:00 which was too early for lunch so we headed over to the Straw Market downtown to see what we could find. The straw market is huge. There are rows and rows of shops selling the same T-shirts and trinkets to the tourists. There was nothing there that we wanted.
We headed back towards the boat and stopped at Rachel's for lunch. Aquarelle (Bruce and Gayle Elfast, who both have their captain's licenses and appear to be very competent sailors) was already there and we shared a table for lunch. We had lobster tails, French fries and cole slaw for lunch. They don't call it lunch, they call it a snack. We enjoyed the company and the snack.
We parted ways. Aquarelle was headed to Harbor Side Marina to get a slip and then to the National Trust to tour the grounds. We headed over to the to the Water Tower and Queen's Staircase which Karen claimed we had never seen and I was sure we had.
We received a text from Mañana that their anchor broke loose last night and they went aground. They had contacted Chub Cay and they would offer no help. We went to talk to BASRA for advice. We relayed that advice to Mañana and wished them luck. They relayed their position which put them very close to shore in about two to three feet of water mean low tide. They were happy they had a wing keel because it was keeping them upright.
After talking to BASRA we headed south and west towards the water tower, which was the most prominent landmark around to find the Queen's Staircase. Once we arrived there Karen recognized that we had already been there before so we headed north into town to catch bus to the National Trust Retreat Center. We were not sure what bus to catch so we went into the Tourist Police Center to ask what bus to take. No one knew but one of the officers went out into the street and stopped the first bus they could find to ask. The bus we needed was the #11 bus which was just behind the bus she stopped. She let the first bus pass and stopped all the traffic so we could cross the street and catch the #11 bus. How nice was that? How incredible.
We took the bus to the Trust and got off. We walked down the drive to what appeared to be an old plantation house from the 1800s. We went inside to register before touring the grounds. We told the lady receiving us we were already members of the Trust (the Bahamas National Park System) but we did not have our card. She invited us to tour the facilities and then come back and our card would be ready. The director for the Trust came over and engaged us in conversation. He was so kind and asked if we had any interest in seeing any of the other parks on the island. We said we did.
They were having a going away party for one of the employees and the director was called away. We thought nothing more of his offer and went out and toured the facility. The site is full of sink holes which trap good soil and water for the growing of plants. Every sink hole is unique and has been planted with flora for visitors to enjoy. We took lots of pictures and enjoyed the grounds for about an hour.
When we got back to the headquarters then we picked up our Trust Card and was again engaged in conversation by the Director. He had one of his wardens there and offered to have him pick us up at 8:00 tomorrow and take us to the Primeval Forrest. We could not believe it. What at treat. We thanked him very much and told him we would love to take him up on his offer. Again, how incredible.
We walked back through the local neighborhoods towards the marina. It was interesting to see how the people live in the neighborhoods nearby. Every house we passed had a pack of dogs inside a fence protecting their property. Crime is a real problem in Nassau and other places in the Bahamas.
We stopped at Dairy Queen and had two Hot Fudge Sundays before returning to the boat. We got back and there was water on the floor. We checked the freezer and found everything was thawing. I got on the phone and found someone to (Roland Nowles) come by tomorrow afternoon and check it out. I also put some Freon into the chiller to keep it going. It was way low on Freon.
January 28, 2016
I got up in the morning and had to put the last of my Freon into the chiller to keep it going. We walked over to Starbucks at 7:30 and worked on our I-Pads until our 8:00 pick up arrived. Christophe Franscois showed up with another warden and we headed towards the Primeval Forrest by the scenic route. I asked our driver where I could pick up some Freon and he made a couple of turns and stopped right in front of an auto parts place.
I ran in but what a unique way to run a business. I picked up what I needed and then waited in line behind several other people trying to make a purchase. When my turn came a lady rang up my purchase and took my money to a teller. The teller gave her my change and she gave me my change and receipt for the purchase. Then I took my purchase and receipt to a desk at the door which was checked before I left to be sure I paid. This was not a very efficient operation. They must have a huge theft problem.
I got back in the car and we headed west out of town along the beach. We passed Junkanoo Beach and the new Hilton Complex that the Chinese are building along the golf course. We then passed many small complexes along the waterfront until we reached the west end of the island.
We turned to the interior of the island from the west end and went a short way. We went under the power lines and then turned north along a road under the power lines. About a mile down we found the entrance to the Primeval Forest, turned the cars around and parked at the entrance.
Christophe unlocked the gate and led us to the park headquarters building. The building is constructed similar to the houses the settlers built. The building is about forty feet square with ten foot high walls that extend up to a very high pitched roof, all wood construction. There is one or two shuttered windows with screens on each wall with no glass. The floors are about three feet above the ground. There is a porch all around the building.
Francois led us through the history of the area and then a guided tour of the Primeval Forrest. There is a wide variety of indigenous and non-native species in the forest. There is an incredible amount of sink holes in the area which makes it very favorable for the vegetation growth. There were actually some Mahogany trees still in this area which were quite old.
The trails led through the forest and into some of the sink holes. We entered one deep sink hole by a circular staircase down about 15 feet and walked about the bottom viewing ancient fossils in the coral rock.
This area is not well tended as the Retreat that we had visited the day before. This area has been kept more or less as found. The only exception would be the trails and platforms put in by the park rangers. It is a unique experience and the highlight of our visit to Nassau. Thank you Bahamas National Trust for what you are doing to preserve some of the islands heritage.
We returned from the forest and went back to talk to Christopher Lloyd at the BASRA office for some more advise on what to do to help Mañana. They were still on the rocks. Christopher said that they needed to find some local help and do their best to get off the rocks at high tide. They needed to take one anchor out and attach it to the mast to haul themselves over to reduce their draft and another to kedge themselves off the rocks as they heeled over. His message to us was that they needed to manage it from there as we could do nothing to get them off the rocks from here. He did say that once they were off the rocks some local fisherman could tow them to Brown's to make repairs in Nassau. We thanked Cristopher for his advice and relayed that information to Mañana.
When we were finished at BASARA we headed over to Rachel's for lunch. We again asked for the lobster snack but alas they were out of lobster. We settled on the grouper snack. While waiting for our snack Aquarelle showed up to share our table. We had the grouper which was quite tasty but the fish was quite bony. We enjoyed our visit with Aquarelle and then headed back to the boat to wait for Roland to arrive and make repairs. I called Roland and he said he would not be able to work on it until this evening.
Roland showed up at dinner time and checked out our refrigeration system. He found that we had no functioning valve on the high side and tightened down the cap to prevent further leakage from there. He then put in some leak detector into the system and said he would be back in the morning to check it out.
Roland grew up on Long Island here in the Bahamas. He went to school in Melbourne, Florida. He keeps to himself but will open up if you chat him up a bit. He is pretty upset with the way the government is being run. He likens it to organized crime. He believes his country is going to the ruins. He is also quite put out with the black and white situation on the islands. It sounds very much the same issues that we have in the states.
January 29, 2016
We received news from Mañana that they were pulled off the rocks yesterday on the high tide. Their rudder is bent up against the hull so they have no steerage. They are tied up to the Berry Islands Club (no longer in business) and are waiting for calmer weather to be towed to Nassau for repairs. Nile had contacted Brown's to do the repairs and we followed up to assure everything was good to go. Mr. Brown was very helpful. We needed to arrange for a place for Mañana to stay until Brown's could work on his boat so we arranged a slip for them at Nassau Harbor Club.
We waited for Roland to show up but to no avail. I called him and he said he could come but it would be after 14:00. I worked on getting our boat ready for tomorrow's departure. I topped off the fuel tanks and put in about eight gallons of diesel. Also filled the jugs on deck with diesel which gave me about 20 gallons of reserve. I filled the water tanks and filled the jugs on deck that also gave me a reserve of 20 gallons of water. I now had about 650 pounds of extra weight on the foredeck which made our boat a little nose heavy. We did need to carry all that extra water and diesel because we planned to be away from civilization for a while.
Roland showed up at 17:30 to check out our system. He found extensive small leaks in the evaporator. He also told us he was not trying to jerk us around but he had spent the day battling with American Express Bank Card in the states. Apparently his local bank reported that his local account was closed and American Express was no longer depositing monies for his work into his account. He was currently out thousands of dollars until he could get this straightened out. He said he was not making headway with the banks. He told us he would get back with us on the cost of replacing the evaporator.
January 30, 2016
Got up early and checked the refrigerator. It showed it had eight pounds on the low side and the temperature on the freezer side was down to 19 degrees Fahrenheit. Good enough for me, we will keep an eye on it and see how it goes.
We settled up with the marina and headed east out of the harbor. We checked out with Harbor Control and continued eastward for about three miles. We then headed south south east and set our sails. We continued to do five to seven knots. We did have to kick on the motor a few times when our speeds dropped below three knots but we only needed to run the motor a couple of hours to keep our speed up.
It was a great day for sailing. The seas were flat and the winds were moderate. The motion of the boat was a gentle rocking. With full sails up and flats seas, sailing can be such a pleasant experience. It wasn't long before Karen was dead asleep. I continually trimmed the sails to keep up our boat speed as we headed across the flats.
We had to keep an eye out for coral heads and did adjust our course to avoid them from time to time. We ended up at our destination at around 16:00. We arrived at Shroud Cay and went looking for a mooring ball to pick up. There were only two left so we picked the one furthest out and tied up. As soon as we were finished tying up four other boats pulled in behind us. We were lucky that we were not ten minutes slower, we would not have found a ball to tie up to.
This spot is gorgeous. There is iron shore all about protecting pristine beaches. Now I remember why we worked so hard to get here. It took us almost two months to get here. That feels way too long. I hope the weather turns around for us so we can spend a lot more time cruising the islands. We have spent way too much time holed up for the weather, and way too much time bundled up because of it.
We had drinks and dinner. We then chilled for the night. We got notice from Mañana that they had been towed to Nassau. Good for them. It must have been horrible for them to be stuck on the rocks for two days never knowing if they were going to be able to salvage their boat.