March 8 John was really tired and slept late and I ended up greeting a whole bunch of cruisers in their dinghies who arrived one after another to say hi in my nightgown! The one morning I don’t get dressed. One couple even had a tour of the boat from sleepy John and joined us at Sampson for lunch with other cruisers for $2 Tuesdays. When we dropped them off, we got a tour of their older trawler which was interesting. A quiet evening finished the day.
March 9-13 We spent our time just enjoying the anchorage, socializing, doing emails and genealogy, and swimming. On mailboat day, we were off in search of food.
March 14 Warren Hutchins, an old sailing friend of john’s, arrived and settled in on Windermere. He had tried to come down earlier in the winter but had suffered a heart attack the day he was leaving. Now he was better and excited about being here.
March 15 It was sunny and the tide was good for a quick trip to Thunderball to snorkel. The current was stronger than I thought it would be and I had to pull him into the grotto to a spot where there is an eddy. You can rest by the wall and look at the fishes and ceiling of the grotto. He loved seeing it but was tired out quickly.
We all had lunch at Staniel Cay Yacht Club.
March 16 Judy had invited us to come and play Biriba at her wonderful house on Little Majors. Warren was the one who had taught us how to play many years ago so it was perfect that he was here for the game.
March 17 In the morning, June and David came to see the boat and found out they live about three blocks from Warren in New York City! What a small world. The big event was dinner on Steadfast. It was Buz’s 60th birthday and another couple, we all know joined the festivities. There was even cake!
March 18 We took Warren to Sampson for an Italian lunch and ran into our friends Mark ,Thelma, and Cheyenne and Thelma’s cuban parents. What a jolly 2 hour lunch! The food was delicious to boot.
|Rosemary and Buzz singing Amazing Grace|
|Birthday cake for Buzz|
|Warren, John, bibs, and minestrone|
|lunch at Sampson Cay with the gang|
March 19 This was transitioning day. Warren left on the morning flight and Gina Warren, my college roommate, arrived on the afternoon flight. We scurried around to get the bed changed and the laundry done but all was ready in time. When she arrived, we took her for a late afternoon swim at the beach. That night we had dinner and went to bed early.
March 20 It was windy but we took her to Thunderball Grotto to snorkel and then she and I drifted over the Fowl Cay cut. Lunch was at a large party on No Agenda. After lunch, we picked up Judy at Little Majors and took her to Staniel where we were all gathered and driven by June to play cards at a spectacular house up on a hill top. The view were incredible and the cards lots of fun. As we were going back to the boat, we decided to invite Judy for a dinner of homemade soup and a game or two of Biriba. We all had a jolly time and John then took her back to her island.
March 21 Today was windy and rainy so we stayed on the boat till later when it cleared. Then we went to Judy’s to show Gina her house and ended up gabbing for several hours and having cocktails together. It turns out she went to our same college, Briarcliff! only it was a two year school when she was there. Dinner and a movie finished the day.
March 22 I took Gina to see the pigs and give them some nibbles. Then we moved the boat to just off Sampson Cay and we went in for lunch- Gina’s treat. As we landed, we saw Steadfast and our new friends from Sunday cards so we all sat together for lunch. Then, we moved the boat up the chain to the western side of Bell Island and anchored for the night. Dinner and another movie were in order.
March 23 A glorious day! not windy and sunny. Our first order of business was to take Gina to the sea aquarium to snorkel. I have never seen it so calm and with no current. She and I were able to snorkel around the back side of the island and the fish were everywhere and so close. It is truly like swimming in an aquarium! Then we took the dinghy to a small deserted island called Sandy Cay and had a picnic on the beach. John had a comfortable chair and Gina and I sat on a towel and ate our sandwiches. While John enjoyed his beer, we walked around the beach exploring.
Back to the boat and up with the anchor and off down the chain to Harvey Cay to anchor for the night. John was dangerously low on half &half and I need some groceries, so we raced into Isles General store before it closed. We made it by 5 mins but found lots of goodies including his half&half. Back to the boat for cards and lobster newburg, a favorite of Gina’s.
March 24 We moved down to Bitter Guana to see the iguanas but it was rocky and rolly which wasn’t pleasant at all. During lunch on the aft deck, we noticed several tropic birds flying around the boat. They are the lovely white birds with the long tails. We could also hear other birds singing in the bushes on the island. It was a welcome sound as we don’t often hear bird down here except the occasional osprey. After lunch, John took Gina and me into the beach to feed the iguanas. He couldn’t get the dinghy very close so when i got off,I went under the water hat, glasses and all! Gina was more successful and that was lucky because she had the camera. We had to make the visit short because he couldn’t land the dinghy in the waves and it was hard keeping it off the shore with the incoming tide. We stayed anchored off the beach because we had to go to Black Point the next day to work with the children at their school with their art class and this anchorage put us closer than being somewhere else. Gina and I took a sloshy swim off the boat to get some exercise and then we finished our Biriba tournament. Dinner was duck and we watched a final good movie- Spy Game.
March 25 We were all up early, saw more tropic birds, and John delivered Gina and me to Black Point in the dinghy. It was quite a bouncy ride but we’ve been in worse. we walked to the school where Sharon met us. This time, we got to work with the big kids whose pictures I had taken about a month ago. We had foam frames for them to decorate and put their portraits into. They loved the project and it got really quiet in the room for a while as they concentrated on their projects. Then Gina and I walked back through town to the dock where John came and picked us up again. Back to Windermere and off in her to the Big Majors anchorage for the night. After lunch and one more quick swim, Gina was off to the airport with John. When he returned, I suggested to him that we could get a few miles under our belt, towards our destination of Long Island, if we left then and went down to Galliot Cay for the night. He agreed and we had a fast and easy passage down the chain, through the cut and were anchored just after sundown. We had leftovers en route and went to bed early.
|view from Judy's house|
|picnic on Sandy Cay near Belle Island|
|Gina enjoying Sandy Cay|
|Gina feeding the iguanas|
|Black Point school art class|
|our littlest student-Miah with her hand project|
March 26 Another beautiful very calm day for our jaunt, of 54 nautical miles, over to the northern end of Long Island. I cooked and watched the helm while John took a nap. Along the way, we saw seabirds, dolphins feeding in the distance, and many flying fish. We even heard a man on the radio speaking Spanish and saying he was calling from Santa Maria. As we were headed for Cape Santa Maria on Long Island, we couldn’t figure out why he would be speaking Spanish. Finally, we realized we were picking up Cuba! This was new territory for us. Our first sighting of land looked like small rock outcroppings. As we got closer, they became the low hills of the island. We motored through some widely spaced coral heads and finally anchored. It took several tries to find the right spot and we even picked up some rocks with the anchor on the first try. We are getting good at flipping them off the anchor after our days in Maine this summer. We both took a swim in the warm water. Now we are about 70 miles further south than usual.
March 27 After breakfast, we headed out of the harbor and turned north east towards Conception Island about 20 miles away. It is a little piece of paradise sitting in the middle of the ocean. The anchorage is on the west side and has good sand for anchoring off the long beach just about anywhere inside the various coral heads. The whole center of the island is mangroves and canals and young sea turtles grow up in these protected waters safe from predators. One has to go into the canals just before high tide. We dinghied by the other boat in the harbor and one man waved to us. We went over and asked him about seeing the turtles and he said he and his wife were taking another couple there in a few minutes. Fantastic! The other couple came in our dinghy and we caravanned down the coast to the opening for the canal. Once inside, the water was shallow, calm and a beautiful green turquoise. It was so clear that is was easy to see the turtles darting about. We wound our way through the canals seeing turtles everywhere. They were hard to photograph because they were so quick. After this expedition, we invited the two couples over for cocktails later. It was time for a swim by the boat and John was the first one in the water. As I got in and looked around with my snorkel, I saw two lemon sharks headed for me! I levitated on to the swim platform and yelled shark to John who efficiently swam back to the boat and also levitated on to the swim platform. So much for exercise! Cocktails were fun and dinner was Thai food and then a movie.
March 28 Oh, boy! We get to go ashore and explore the northern part of the island. There is a path across the narrow part of the island to the other side and what a beach is there to see. A perfect crescent beach with no one on it and coral heads out in the deeper water. Tropic birds flew overhead and made there distinctive cries. After our walk, John took me in the dinghy to another area where I could snorkel and look for shells in the shallows. What an idilic spot- in calm weather. After showering, we brought the dinghy up and headed for Long Island again. Along the way, the radio picked up signals from as far away as Florida and from the Staniel Cay area. Usually VHF radios don’t get signals from more than 30 miles away! This time, we are going down the island to another anchorage where we can rent a car and explore on land for a day. As we went down the western side of the island, the water got a bit too shallow for our liking even at supposedly high tide. The chart’s depths were not right and we think the sand had shifted because they are usually conservative on the depths. We did just squeak through and made our anchorage in Thompson Bay just as the sun was setting. We had dinner and played cards.
March 29 After the generator finished charging, we loaded up the dinghy and took it into the dinghy dock where we left it for the day. the car rental place was nearby and the car was perfect and even a stick shift for John to have some fun. i had forgotten that I had read that Long Island was another Loyalist island from the American Revolution. Many of the locals were white Bahamians like in Spanish Wells and Harbor Island off of Eleuthera. Long Island is an agricultural island so we headed for Clarencetown and the produce coop where we knew we could get vegetables and fruits fresh and inexpensively. Along the way, we stopped at a museum of the history of the island to get some culture. After buying our food, we had a good lunch at a nice restaurant owned by a construction company whose trucks we see all the time at Staniel Cay! Then we drove across the village to the old Catholic church that had been built by Father Jerome who also built the Hermitage we saw on Cat Island many years ago. John climbed up a series of ladders to get some panorama photos for our album. Next stop was Dean’s blue hole. It is the deepest blue hole in the world at 633 ft and it was definitely dramatic. There is a white platform in the middle with a long line attached that allows people to try to free dive to the bottom and set world’s records for this sport. As we left the beach, we picked up two hitchhikers who were sailing on their boat called Windemere! We dropped them off where our dinghy was and went to a civilized grocery store. Finally, i wanted to swim at a beach that was suggested to us by some friends so we drove down a dirt road to the beach. i went swimming and John looked for shells. After dropping off the car, we loaded up the dinghy with even more things and went back to the mother ship for the night.
March 30 We were up early and off for the Exumas again. The tide was good and we even had a current pushing us along for most of the way. We motored over to the Georgetown area and then up the chain all the way to Harvey Cay off Staniel where we anchored for the night. We had done 95.6nm in 12.5 hours which meant an average speed of 7.6 knots! Pretty good for us.
March 31 The weather forecast was for west winds so we moved to between the Majors where it would be more protected.