February 12, 2016
We went to Chat and Chill over at Volley Ball Beach for lunch. We ran into Bristol Cream (Joanne and George Tillman out of New Orleans) there on the Beach. We met them two years ago here in Georgetown and again in September 2015 in Oakracoke Island, NC. They were participating in the Bocce Ball Tournament going on at Volley Ball beach. We did a bit of catching up and then went over to the Conch shack to get some Conch Salad.
They have the conch stored in the water nearby and then collect what they need for their order. They then knock a hole in the top of the shell and cut the foot off the conch. They pull out the conch and trim off all the unneeded materials. Then they slice up the conch into small pieces. They then soak the meat in orange and lemon juice from fresh fruit. They then cut up a large onion, tomato and a bit of pepper. This is then mixed with the conch and again soaked with lemon and orange juice. This makes a great salad very similar to ceviche. It tastes great. We were still hungry so we went over to chat and chill and order a hamburger, French Fries and cole slaw to finish our lunch.
We returned to the boat and decided we already had enough of Georgetown. We checked the weather and sea conditions before deciding to leave for Long Island tomorrow. We dinghied to town and provisioned and got fuel for the trip to Long Island.
February 13, 2016
I got up early and dropped the dinghy to make a run for water in Georgetown. I fill our four water jugs at the dock in Lake Victoria and then ran back to the boat to store the filled jugs on deck. Karen had a pancake breakfast waiting which was a nice surprise. After breakfast we pulled up the anchor and headed down the channel.
The rudeness of the Cruisers is incredible. There is a channel marked that goes through the harbor but the cruisers anchor all over the channel rather than keeping the channel open. I am so glad to be leaving these people behind. There must be 200 boats in the anchorage. We try to keep to the channel dodging boats left and right until we finally leave Georgetown.
We motor for about an hour heading down the channel towards Hog Cay. We start with three boats ahead of us and about five behind us. By the time we enter the Exuma Sound there is only one boat ahead of us. We set sail and turned off the engine. We are sailing. Yea!
With the engines off we are charging down the channel doing 7.5+ knots. The winds are blowing 17 to 20 knots and are on a beam reach. The conditions are perfect for a good sail. We must have a favorable current because after a while we are doing 8.5 knots in 20 knot winds. We are pushing the boat hard but reefing the sails is ugly with these sails so we press on. We make the last turn with about nine miles to go. The wind is now a bit aft of us and the apparent wind is now 15 knots. It becomes a much easier sail and we drop down to just above seven knots. We leave most of the pack behind us but the catamaran in front of us is always doing a knot better than us in speed as we sail for Thompson Bay.
We arrive around 13:00. We have done close to 40 mile in five hours. We had a great sail. We douse the sails and motor up into Thompson Bay at a slow rate keeping a close eye on the depth finder. We head in where the charts are showing six feet at mean low tide and look for a spot to drop the anchor. As we are motoring in we see Aquarelle sitting at anchor, so we head for it. Aquarelle only draws five feet and we draw 5.9 feet so we cannot go into quite as shallow water as they can. We stop about one hundred yards behind them and drop the hook. The anchor sets quickly and we let out 75 feet of chain. There are only about 12 boats in the entire harbor so we have lots of swing room. It is high tide and we are sitting in nine feet of water. The tides are three foot, so that gives us just enough room to anchor. We check the depth at low tide and the depth finder show 6.2 feet of depth. We should be OK as long as the anchorage does get not too lumpy. A little while later the other eight boats show up and anchor behind us.
I keep an eye on Aquarelle so we can come by and visit but there is no dinghy there so they must not be at home. We drop the dinghy and head for shore. We tie up at Fox's Dock (Basil's Dock pronounced Bozzil's) and go ashore. We walk up the hill and then up the Queens highway past Sou' Side Grill, the hardware store, the liquor store, and finally come to the grocery store.
The grocery store is well stocked with food and hardware. The prices are quite reasonable for the Bahamas. There is no need to stop in Georgetown for provisioning when this place is available. The center of the Island, where we are now is the white section of the Island. The north and south are where most of the blacks live. The whites are in the minority here and seem to be neglected by the government. The north and south parts of the Island have R.O. water provided to them. The center of the island has to live on what they catch from the local rains in their cisterns.
We head back to the dinghy and the motor will not start. One of the locals comes over and offers a few suggestions but nothing helps. He offers to tow us back to the boat which we gladly accept. It would be a long hard row back to the boat facing 17 knot winds on the nose. Roger Fox gets his flat bottom fishing boat and we tie off the dinghy to the back of his boat and climb in. He leaves the rest of his crew on the dock cleaning their days catch of fish as he takes us back to our boat.
Most of Roger's family makes their living from the sea. They are fishermen. They net fish, collect conch but their primary business is Crawfish (Lobster.) We are back to the boat in no time and I offer Roger a couple of beers. He says something to the effect of "I won't say no to that," but I cannot understand him. I ask him a couple of more times but still do not comprehend what he is saying. Finally he says "I'll take them" and that I understand. We gave him our cold beers and thanked him for his help.
I watch Aquarelle all evening hoping to catch up with them but never see them return to their boat. Karen then informs me that they have a house on the Island and were probably not coming back.
I took some time to work on the engine in the dinghy as it bobbed behind the boat. I pulled off the engine cover and pulled the spark plugs. I cleaned both plugs. One plug was a lot dirtier so I switched them around when putting them back into the engine. I gave it a try after putting it back together and it started right up. It ran better than it has for a while. It is time to put some new spark plugs in if I can find the right ones on the island.
February 14, 2016 Valentine's Day
The winds were up all night but this is the flattest anchorage we have been in for a long time. It is a very nice change. I get up and walk the deck to check everything out and notice a dinghy over at Aquarelle. I quickly drop our dinghy and run over to Aquarelle to visit them and catch up. They were so glad to see us. They gave us a quick rundown on the island and told us to listen to the radio at about 8:15 for the local Cruisers Net. They also told us there was a get together on the beach this evening at 16:00. We let them get back to what they were doing and we went back to our boat for breakfast. I am glad we were able to catch up with them.
Aquarelle came over and visited for a while and then went ashore to work at their house. We decided that since it was Valentine's Day that we would go ashore and have lunch at Sou' Side. We had listened to the Cruiser's Net and they said that Sou' Side was open today. We went ashore to find Sou' Side closed so we went back to the boat for lunch. We were lucky because as soon as we got back to the boat it started raining.
The rains continued until 16:00 and the wind was still blowing at 17 knots. We heard chatter on the radio on whether there was going to be a get together this evening or not because of the weather. We decided to get things started and went ashore with our rain gear just in case. We were the only ones on the beach for a short while then everyone started piling in. Aquarelle and Barefootin' were a couple of the first dinghies to arrive. The meet and greet started small with about 12 people showing up but grew to a crowd of 40 people as the evening progressed. It rained a bit during the celebration and we went back to our boat at sundown while there was still light to navigate back to the boat.
February 15, 2016
Thompson Bay, Long Island, what a great anchorage. The winds are blowing close to 20 knots but because of the great protection we are sitting quite flat. There is no rolling about here. We slept great last night!
We got up and went ashore to walk the beach on the eastern side of the island. We docked our dinghy in a cove cut in the rocks on the northeast part of Thompson Bay. We hiked up the Queen's Highway to pole 108 and then took the trail across the island to the beach about a mile away.
The lower beach was clutter free but the upper beach was covered with debris. Most of the debris is from the wreckage of the Alfaro which was sunk in the recent hurricane. There are syringes, yogurt containers, M&M containers, wooden pallets, and plastic containers strewn about. The shipping company paid the Bahamian Government for the cleanup but the money never got to the island to be used for cleaning up the mess here. This island is not a supporter of the PLP which is in power controlling the Bahamas. If you don't support the PLP then you get nothing in return. I wonder where all the clean up money went to?
After walking the beach, we headed back towards the Queen's Highway and run into Runaway (Matt and Marty Miller). We used to work at Exxon Biomedical Sciences many years back in East Millstone, New Jersey. We chatted for a while and then went our separate ways.
We got back to our dinghy and headed down to Foxes' dock (Basil's Dock.) We tied up there and went to Sou' Side to use their internet and have lunch. When we got there someone had tied their dog to the entrance to the bar. When I walked in the dog jumped up on me. I corrected the dog and told him "down." The owner did not like that I corrected his dog and said he guessed he should have tied his dog up near him. I guess so!
The beer was cold and cheap. The Guinness's was only $4. The food was good but not as cheap as the beer. We spent at least two hours catching up on the internet before returning to our boat. We have not had a lot of opportunities to just sit down and use the internet for a few hours. It felt good to catch up with friends and family on the internet.
February 16, 2016
Work Day. We took our dinghies south past the Government Docks and anchored in front of a local home in about a foot of water and waded ashore. The house we were working on at one point during the hurricane had eleven feet of water in it. The windows and doors were washed away along with most of the furniture.
The house is a cement block construction. The back yard is now clear but used to be wooded until the hurricane came in. The house is pretty low near the water which is why they got so much water in the house.
We move the furniture given to them by their neighbors away from the walls and started preparing to paint. We first scraped the walls to remove any loose paint. I then started cutting in while Rob from Hampshire Rose, rolled the paint on the walls. The previous paint color was coral and we were trying to cover with white. By noon time we had got the first coat on but it was not covering very well so we applied another coat which did the trick. By the late afternoon we had painted a couple of rooms and the new coats of paint were a significant improvement from what was there before.
We were provided lunch by the homeowner. She made a tuna salad that was fantastic. She had added chopped tomatoes which I had not tried before. We will have to try that in the future.
We headed back to our dinghies and were in for a big surprise. When we anchored in the morning it was at low tide. It was now at high tide and the water was three feet deeper. We almost had to swim to get to our dinghies. I brought the dinghy in close to shore so Karen could get in and we went back to the boat.
When we got back to the boat I decided to scrape the bottom of the boat to remove the barnacles that were growing there. I was already wet, so it was not much of a bother. I finished scraping the hull but did not have enough energy to do the keel. That will have to wait for another time. We also need to scrub the hull to remove the vegetation that is growing where the barnacles had been removed previously. Hopefully we can get that done some time this week.
February 17, 2016
We drop the dinghy and head down to the Esso Station to drop off our propane tank for filling. We then head back up the bay to Foxes' Dock and tie up the dinghy there. The Foxes' dock is about 10 feet above the water. It is built this high so the Foxes can drive their vehicles onto the dock if necessary. It is a challenge to use for dinghies because of how high it is. You have to get off on the inside of the dock because of where the ladder is, then move your dinghy to the leeward side of the dock and tie it off. The problem is when you come back there are five other dinghies tied around your dinghy that you cannot get around. You also can not climb down to your dinghy from the dock either. So you end up jockeying each dinghy around until yours is free and then fight the dock and winds to get your dinghy to the ladder. Still we appreciate the Foxes letting us use their dock.
We head south on the Queen's Highway to find the Marine store. We pass the Farmers Market on the right and then continue south. We find it down the road in a strip center on the left side of the road. They buzz us in, I have no idea of why, there is no crime on this island, and we look around. It is a well-equipped marine store with reasonable prices for the Bahamas. It also has snorkeling equipment and household paint. I pick up some 80 pound test fishing line for one of my reels that has only 40 pound on. I am loosing too many fish on that light line. I hope it helps.
We walk further south looking for the Ministry of Tourism but never find it. Karen is not sure where it is. In actuality we walked right past it when we went down to the Government Dock to drop off our propane tank at the Esso station. We give up looking for the Ministry of Tourism and head back up the road to the cell phone tower. We then took a side road east and walked another mile down to another beach. This beach was significantly cleaner. We learned later that the locals and the boaters had a work party down here and cleaned up most of the beach and hauled off the trash to the dump. We walked the beach and found a few shells. The beach here also has a slight pink tint to it due to the red coral that breaks up on the shore here. The color of the sand is unique and quite granular. It does not support your weight well so each step you take sinks about three inches into the sand. The long walk on the beach is a good workout.
We thought we had the beach to ourselves but ran into another couple as we were walking down it. Then another couple showed up and then a couple of ladies, the beach was getting crowded, time to head back to the boat.
We walked back to the dinghy and headed back to our boat and had lunch. We found the Ministry of Tourism on the map and realized our mistake. We went back down to the Government Dock after lunch and hung out at the Ministry of Tourism all afternoon using their internet. We had a good connection and were able to get many of the updates we needed for the software we use on our iPads.
After getting our updates done we walked the area around the Government dock and survey the damage. The Long Island Breeze which used to be the Cruisers hangout is now abandoned. The metal roof is all bent up exposing the wood beneath it. The dock and deck along the water is gone. Only the support posts remain. The swimming pool is now a part of the bay.
The Regatta Site has some walls missing. There is no sand left on the beach. Many of the buildings there are damaged and there is some debris that needs to be cleaned up. The cement walkway down to the water is almost completely gone but the overall damage to the Regatta Site is not too bad.
The Esso Fuel dock is completely gone. The area around it is also completely silted in. There is currenly a dredge there at the site but we have not yet seen it being used. The fish plant dock is caved in and barely useable. They have abandoned this site and another on the island. There in now only one plant for the fishermen to take their catch to. They also lost 12 of the 15 fishing boats in the hurricane. The current fleet of three is tied to the Government Dock. When the ferries come in they move one of the boats so the ferry can have access to the dock. There is very little room for our dinghies to have access to the dock. There is no apparent damage to the Government dock.
We return to our boat and clean up for dinner at Washington's. We dinghy up to the cut and tie our dinghy up in the basin. We walk up to the Queen's Highway and catch a ride from the second car that comes by.
We arrive at a two story 25 by 60 foot white cinderblock building. It looks abandoned. We find a door and walk into a small bar area with about six locals in it. There are three playing dominoes and the few drinks I see are sodas. We are not sure we are in the right place. We order a couple of drinks and wait.
In a little while the boaters start coming in and there is a shift change at the bar. Most of the locals leave and the boaters take over the bar. We place our dinner orders at the bar and hang out for a while. The electricity go out. We run in to Aquarelle who shows up a little later. They open some doors at the back of the bar to open up the eating area and we are one of the first to be served and seated. The food and company is good. Due to lack of electricity, the venue is pretty hot. So, after dinner we visit with Aquarelle who then generously takes us back to our dinghy before they return to theirvv