Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mike's Vacation

Emerald Bay Marina, Great Exuma Island
23 37.785 N 075 55.10 W

The Georgetown Cruiser's Regatta awards night at Chat & Chill Beach Bar. We enjoyed a nice meal and drinks with our friends Jeff & Izzy and Pollie & Mo (remember a few blogs back our New Year's Eve party onboard the Izzy R while  in Ft. Lauderdale).

Mark passed the time while the winds were howling to polish some sea beans and make beautiful necklaces. Sea beans are actually seed pods that are carried along ocean currents from as far away as Africa and end up on the ocean facing beaches of the islands. The beans above are an assortment of hamburger beans (they look like little burgers), purse beans and heart beans.

Mike, Kathy's son flew in from CT to visit for what was supposed to be a week. The following morning we had a good weather window, so before we even had breakfast, we raised anchor and left Georgetown. Here (a rather pale-skinned) Mike is taking in the turquoise waters as we cross the banks on our 38 mile trip to Long Island. He had his 1st glimpse of dolphins swimming along our bows that day.

Long Island is a long island. About 80 mile long and 4 miles at it's widest with one paved road -  named The Queen's Highway of course - that runs it's entire length. We rented a car for a day to better explore the island. Here Mom & Mike are enjoying the famous Max's Conch Bar that we stopped at for lunch.

After lunch we continued our drive south to visit Dean's Blue Hole which is the deepest in the world, plunging to a depth of 663'.
We wish we could say that Mike caught this Mahi, but then that would be a fish tale. While we were driving Long Island we stopped in Clarencetown to inspect the harbor anchorage & the Flying Fish Marina. While walking the docks a sportfishing boat, having just returned from an off-shore fishing trip, gave us this Mahi which made for a couple of excellent meals.

The day after we rented the car we took a school bus ride with a bunch of other cruisers back down to Clarencetown to experience the Long Island Agricultural and Mutton Festival. Here we met Alexander "Rasta-man" Adderly. 
By day 3 Mike was having so much fun enjoying the cruising lifestyle he decided to stay a 2nd week. Here they're using the WiFi link at the Long Island Breeze restaurant in Thompson Bay, Long Island to check air flights. That and a 35 minute international phone call (most of it on-hold) took care of it.   

During Mike's 1st week we had many passing rain showers that would last for 5-10 minutes producing many nice rainbows such as this one taken while anchored in Miller Bay, just north of Thompson Bay. After 4 days visiting Long Island, we sailed back to Georgetown on Great Exuma Island with the wind off our stern. It was a nice broad reach sail crossing the banks, but as we approached Great Exuma Island the open ocean swells and a wind driven chop produced 6' seas that gave Mike a taste of rougher sailing conditions. We sailed back up Elizbeth Harbor and once again reanchored off Monument Beach. Stocking Island is the popular anchorage just across Elizabeth Harbor from Georgetown.

We spent the next few days sheltered from strong easterly winds behind the lee of Stocking Island. We went for walks on the trails, beach combing, snorkeling, and just spending time at beach bars.

Kickin' back a few Kaliks at Big D's beach bar on Stocking Island. 

Although Mike was on vacation from cooking he managed to whip up a delicious omelet for breakfast.
Making friends with a "tame" ray off Chat & Chill's Volleyball Beach on Stocking Island. There are several Southern Stingrays here that hang around the beach near the conch salad stand waiting for a handouts.

After a the winds moderated we decided to give (by this time a much tanner) Mike a taste of a more isolated anchorage so we sailed north up the Exuma chain about 20 miles to Lee Stocking Island (different island than Stocking Is). We anchored in William's Bay (in the left background) and dinghied to Coconut Beach where we walked the trail up to Perry Peak. At 123' elevation Perry Peak is the highest point of land within the Exuma Island chain. 

Mike is on top of the world as he walked the cliffs on the Exuma Sound side of island.

The next day we motored a short distance back across shallow banks to the Barraterre Settlement on the north end of Great Exuma Island. We did some conching here and shared a conch feast with friends on Riff Raff and Sangaris. We came back to Emerald Bay Marina on Monday so Mike could catch a 6AM taxi to the airport for his flight today.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Southern Exumas

Georgetown, Exumas
23 31.71 N 075 45.97 W

Swimming pigs at Big Majors Spot near Staniel Cay. Supposedly these pigs were left on the island by locals - the cruisers keep them well fed with boat scraps and the islanders have a an occasional pig roast. It's a win/win for everyone except the pigs.

The 3 beautiful conch shells that we harvested at Sampson Cay.
Can't beat the view while Ida Patton, proprietor of Rockside Inn & Laundromat in Black Point Settlement on Great Guana Cay gives Mark a haircut.
The local ladies make some beautiful woven baskets in Black Point.

Adderly's grocery store on Black Point. Not exactly Super Stop & Shop but it works.

Barnacle taking in the sunset.
"Cruisers Central" in Georgetown is the Exuma Market dinghy dock inside Lake Victoria This is the "parking lot" for the grocery store and other businesses in town.

We anchored in our usual favorite location off of Monument Beach on Stocking Island. It looks secluded until you see the next photo.
The view from the top of the Monument looking over Carina. We arrived in Georgetown the last week of February just in time for the 2 week Cruiser's Regatta festivities. There were about  250 other cruiser's boats anchored throughout Elizabeth Harbor.

The Exuma Sound side of Stocking Island is a beautiful stretch of unspoiled white sand beach for walking along.

We never tire of the turquoise blue waters and sugar sand beaches.

Kathy buying fresh produce from a local woman along the Georgetown roadside. The delicious tomatoes and other veggies are from this woman's garden on the island.

Some of the other boats anchored off the Chat & Chill beach bar which is the hub for all of the cruiser activities such as volleyball, bacci ball, dominoes, etc

Beach church also takes place at Chat & Chill on Sunday mornings. Beach Church is an incorporated church with a large membership of cruisers from many countries. The "cathedral" has the highest ceiling in the world and never needs a new floor.

Enjoying a Kalik with friends at Chat & Chill
Sinbad enjoys some playtime onboard.