Archive for February, 2010

Out Islands – Cat and Long

February 27, 2010

CAT ISLAND

(posted from Gilligans Island (really!!), Puerto Rico)

After ten days we had had enough of Georgetown, so early the morning of Saturday, Jan. 30th we set sail NNE for Cat Island.  We had a nice wind on the beam and sailed with jib and mizzen – jib and jigger for you sailors.  The seas were a bit lumpier than we would have preferred, but we persevered and made it to Old Bight, Cat Island after about eight hours of sailing.

We visited the town of Old Bight the next day.  It was a long walk into town from the beach and little was open because it was Sunday.  We looked through a couple old abandoned churches and had a cold drink and snack at the Don’t Pass By Inn.

The next day we made the short trip to New Bight and anchored off the town with a few other boats.  You can’t visit New Bight without hearing the story of Father Jerome.

The Bahamas has many old churches built by Father Jerome.  He started as an Anglican priest and later returned to the Bahamas as a Catholic priest.  Churches he built can be found around the Exumas, but many are abandoned or have fallen into disrepair.  Father Jerome built his retirement home, the Hermitage, on Comer Hill.  This is the highest point in the Bahamas and it overlooks New Bight and Exuma Sound to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.

The Hermitage, New Bight, Cat Island

We hiked up to the Hermitage.  The trail up is very steep and along the way Father Jerome placed the stations of the cross.  They are quite amazing. 

Jackie and the Hermitage. Yes, it's that small.

From below the Hermitage looks quite impressive, but once on top of the hill you see that it is very small.  It has a small chapel, a bell tower, a bedroom, a kitchen, and another small room.

LONG ISLAND

On Feb 3 we headed South-Southeast for Long Island.  There was some weather coming so we tucked into Joe’s Sound.  This is essentially a creek with a very narrow entrance.  There are the remains of a sailboat keel on the rocks next to the entrance as a reminder that it’s a tricky pass.  We got in without any problems and anchored, but we didn’t like being so close to the wall behind a house.  After much checking the depth with a lead line from the dinghy we finally found a spot that we thought would work.  It did, but we barely fit.

The entrance to Joe's sound. Yes, it's as small as it looks.

Anchored in Joe's Sound

We wanted to leave the day after the storm, but the west wind had kicked up the sound and the waves were crashing into the mouth of Joe’s Sound.  There was no way we could get out.  We waited for the next day and then motored down to Thompson Bay, Long Island where we met up with Mark and Michelle on Reach.  We anchored in an area in the southern part of the bay called Salt Pond.  It’s a small settlement with a grocery store, a gas station, and the Island Breeze Resort.  Although Island Breeze rents rooms and has a resturant, they cater to cruisers.  They have a nice dinghy dock, laundry facilities, a book exchange, internet, trash bins, and showers. Mike, the proprieter, runs a cruisers net each morning. Down the road is another grocery, a marine store, and a couple more resturaunts

Later we moved to the north end of the bay with most of the other cruisers.  We found lots of people there that we had met in previous anchorages.  It was almost like a reunion.

The big excitment while we were there was Muttonfest – a festival where the locals sold handicrafts, displayed various livestock, played music, and sold food.  Strangely enough, we couldn’t get any mutton at the booths.  Evidently they didn’t bring much and it sold out quickly.  The catchphrase for the festival was “Mutton or nutton” and that’s what we got – nutton.

We had been watching the fronts march through the Bahamas and continue south, preventing the easterly trade winds from developing.  Our next planned stop was to the east, so we wanted to catch one of these fronts and ride it as far as we could. The pattern seemed to be continueing, so we contacted my brother, Dave, and had him fly down to crew with us on the passage.  He was able to get time off work, found a good air fare, and headed for the Bahamas.  We rented a car to tour the island and picked him up at the airport.  All we needed was the next front to come through.

Next – the big cruise.

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Georgetown

February 21, 2010

Georgetown

(Posted from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, Feb. 21, 2010)

As we motored into the anchorage a voice came over VHF channel 16, “Attention all you cruisers. A tiger shark has been spotted in the harbor, so be careful if you are snorkeling.”

Welcome to Georgetown.

Georgetown is on Grand Exuma Island, almost at the end of the Exuma chain.  It is fairly unique in that it is on the Sound side of the chain and is one of a relativly few places that cannot be accessed from the Great Bahama Bank.  It is protected from the Sound by a row of barrier islands.

Many cruisers never get beyond Georgetown.  They make that one mad dash into the ocean, duck into Georgetown, and settle into one of the many anchorages.  Then they commence to take part in the myriad activities that have led Georgetown to be described as “Summer camp for cruisers”.  Most of the people you have met coming down the Exuma chain will end up in Georgetown.

The favored anchorages are in the lee of the barrier islands, nearly a mile across the harbor from the town.  Like any good cruiser would do, we found a spot to anchor on the outside of the crowd and dinghied into town to drop off the trash, get some groceries, and scope things out.

Approaching the tunnel into Lake Victoria

You land your dink in Lake Victoria by motoring though a small tunnel under the main road.  Once inside you can tie up at the public dock and walk around town.  We found Georgetown to be a dangerous place, because we weren’t used to having lots of cars around us – especially with them driving on the wrong (left) side of the road.

Jackie looking at Compass Rose from Monument Hill

Somehow we didn’t manage to make it to most of the organized activities, but we did some hiking and got stocked back up.  One of the things we did manage to attend were the C Class Bahamian Sloop races in Barraterre.  We piled into a bus that didn’t have nearly enough seats, so a lot of people had to stand.  Then we went on what felt like a roller coaster ride through the wilds of Great Exuma Island.  Barreterre is a tiny town near the north end of the island.  It is surrounded by shallow water.  A few really brave folks had brought their cruising boats into the area.

There were a few booths set up with local handicrafts, Bahamian food, and of course cold beer was available from an open air bar near the dock.  The races were held in the sound and easily viewed from the dock.  The races start with the boats anchored and sails down.  At the start signal, they pull in the anchor, hoist the sails, and go.

C Class sloops about to start

C Class sloops racing

Jackie watched the first race and then found someone with a garden who sold fresh herbs.  Her purchases made the tour bus smell much better on the way back to Georgetown.

Next: Cat and Long Islands, then Puerto Rico