Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Exumas - Warderick Wells to Black Point

Black Point Settlement
Great Guana Cay, Exumas

24 06.12 N 76 24.01 W

We sailed across Exuma Sound from Eleuthera on January 3rd. Our 1st stop in the Exumas this season was at Warderick Wells within the Exuma Land and Sea Park. It's been 2 years since our last visit to this island; and once again, we hiked to the top of Boo Boo Hill to take in the beautiful view.
The island of Big Majors Spot, near Staniel Cay was our next stop. We love being back in the gin clear water of the Exumas and Big Majors is a popular location. We remained anchored here for over a week along with about 3 dozen other sailboats, trawlers and motor yachts - with many of them cruising aquaintances we have met up with before. 

Free roaming domestic pigs and wild goats are the only inhabitants of Big Majors. They have become conditioned to swim out to approaching dinghies for food handouts from cruisers.  

Craft time on Carina...

Kathy makes the sea glass earrings and pendents. Mark's polishes the sea beans for necklaces.

Colorful cottages are abundant on Staniel Cay which is home to many ex-patriots as well as native Bahamians.

It's a great place for family and friends to visit. This is the Staniel Cay International Airport. The "jumbo jets" are on the tarmac in the background. This building is the arrival and departure terminal as well as the baggage claim area. The chalkboard serves as the arrival/departure board...looks like a quiet day at the airport.

We decided to explore a new island and anchorage on our way down-island this season. Bitter Guana Cay is just south of Staniel Cay and north of Black Point. The island is a nature preserve and home to a population of native iguanas. The 60 foot high limestone cliffs reach down to the white sandy beach below making for a stunning anchorage.

On the morning of our 2nd day, we climbed to the top of the cliffs to get a better view of our beautiful and solitary anchorage.

We were welcomed by some of the "locals" when we came ashore to explore.

We found some beautiful sea fans washed up along another stretch of beach.

Our next stop and one of our favorite spots is Black Point Settlement on Great Guana Cay. We enjoyed a barbecue dinner with these other cruisers at Lorraine's Cafe to celebrate the completion of the mural in the background. The artist is our friend and fellow cruiser Penny from Pretty Penny.

Penny, Lorraine and Kathy

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hatchet Bay to Rock Sound, Eleuthera

Rock Sound Settlement, Eleuthera

24 52.25 N 76 09.90W 

We departed Hatchet Bay last Wed afternoon 12/30 and traveled only about 10 miles further down the west coast of Eleuthera, anchoring in Alabaster Bay before sundown. The next day we had a wonderful light-wind sail over shallow turquoise blue waters. We were joined a few times by pods of Dolphins who swam in front of our bows.

Our approach to Rock Sound Settlement in Eleuthera. The prominent white building with red roof along the shore is the town's Anglican Church. It is called Rock Sound Harbor on the nautical charts; but at 2 miles wide by 4 miles long it is more like the size of a typical bay, with an average depth of only 7-8 feet. Boaters will anchor on the eastern shore just off of Rock Sound Settlement in normally settled weather which offers great protection from the prevailing easterly trade winds. However, when a cold front works it way south with clocking winds, most boaters will move to the southerly or westerly or northerly side of the “harbor” for more protection from wave fetch that will build up until the weather and winds moderate again.

Rock Sound is a great place to re-provision.This is the Bahamian out-island equivalent of a US shopping mall. Here you have a hardware store, a very well provisioned market, a NAPA auto store, fuel pumps, and out of photo nearby - a bank and liquor store. And only a 1/4 mile walk from the dinghy dock I might add. What more does a cruiser need???

We moved Carina up into a well protected corner of the harbor for a few days in anticipation of a cold front bringing strong clocking winds. Anchored nearby us was the Bahamian fuel tanker Atlantic Breeze, off-loading 110,00 gallons of fuel for the local airport. Oscar Taylor is a deck hand on the tanker who came over to visit us in this work tender one night around sunset. He's from Long Island (Bahamas) but now lives in Nassau with his wife and twin girls. 

After the winds moderated to the east we returned back to the anchorage off the Rock Sound settlement on 12/31. We had Rich & Linda from Side by Side over for dinner and to celebrate New Year's Eve that night. 

On New Years Day we took a walk with Rich & Linda about a mile down the Queen's Highway (the one main north to south island road) to a nearby cave. Carina and Side by Side are the white specs anchored off in the distance to left side of photo. The Anglican church is over Kathy's head in photo.

We have visited these caves before but it is always such a neat experience. Those are vertical roots of trees above that have dropped their roots 35+ feet through openings in the cavern ceiling to establish roots in the ground below.  

Exploring the caves.

As we did in Hatchet Bay, we decided to walk (about 2 miles) across the island to the Atlantic Ocean side, both for the exercise and for yet again more beach combing. Mark was walking along this beautiful stretch of sandy beach in search of more sea beans ....

.... when he found a bottle washed up amongst the sea weed. Unlike most glass bottles that wash up on shore in pieces, this (Grolsch beer) bottle was not broken and upon closer observation had what appeared to be a note curled up inside it. 

Kathy did the honors removing the message.

It was written on Dec 21st, 2012 by a couple from Florida who were cruising aboard the Holland America cruise ship Eurodam when they threw the bottle over board. The latitude and longitude coordinates they provided indicated the bottle had only drifted about 16 nautical miles, but never the less, pretty cool to discover.

We did reply back to Rick & Debbie Cottingham to let them know their message was discovered and that we will keep the message alive by tossing it back to the sea, along with our own updated message, on our next off-shore passage (so it will have a better chance of drifting to more distant places) .

View from Rosie's Northside Restaurant.

We have favorable following winds and seas forecasted for tomorrow and after a week here in Rock Sound we plan to depart Eleuthera tomorrow morning on a southeasterly course 30 miles across Exuma Sound. Our next blog will be from the Exumas.