Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Glass Window Eleuthera Bahamas

The morning came but the winds didn't stop.  The big question today... would we even be able to get off of this dock?!  The passengers Stayed out of the way while the crew worked feverishly to get us underway. 
They tried several different ideas including using the dink to push the nose away, but in the end, they did what Chip thought would work, they used a line as a spring which gave us just enough distance to allow the motor to grab hold. 

The crew did most of the line handling.  They needed our muscle to get the two big sails up but the rest they did themselves.  These high winds had me a little concerned.  I was thinking that this would be a rough ride.

I was pleasantly surprised!  Once we were off the dock and underway... it was business as usual.  What a difference a few tons makes.  The Skipper opened up the helm for the guys to take over and one by one, they had their fun. 

I decided that it was time to take my hair out of the corn rows.  My mind had been working on me all week and I was afraid that my hair would be ruined.  Plus, I was feeling kind of icky since it was necessary to slather between the rows with sunscreen.  Annette took pity on me and with the help of another passenger, they painstakingly unbraided it all.

That opened the door to the "Beauty Shop" on deck.  Annette volunteered to french braid others but wasn't yet ready to take down her own corn rows...

That done... we still had a distance to go, so we settled down for the rest of the ride to our destination.  I was sure hoping the wind would stop at some point so we could get in some snorkeling.  It was not to be...

Thanks to "local knowledge", our Skipper was able to find us something fun to do anyway.  He took us to the Glass Window Bridge on Eleuthera.  We got our first glimpse from the water with the waters of the Atlantic sneaking into the relative calm of the Caribbean Sea.

The crew got busy preparing to drop the anchor in another idyllic spot out of the wind.  Our eager eyes searched the shore and found white sands once again.  The passengers prepared to go ashore and broke up into dinghy sized groups. 

Our turn came and Bruce and I hopped into the dinghy to be carried to join our friends on this beautiful beach.

Photo ops abound in this place.  I could spend weeks walking these beaches and looking for treasures. 

We broke up into two different shore parties.  One group went off to find some cave that was supposed to be a bit dicey.  Mostly the younger crowd, as this entertainment involved hitchhiking.  Us older people chose the Glass Window.  First stop however, was just as breathtaking... the Moon Pools.

 This is a place on the Atlantic side of the island where the waves have worn the rocks into a natural shelf with pockets (pools) of calm crystal waters.  Today, the waves were working hard at it!  We stood and watched as the massive waves crashed the cliffs and sent spray and rainbows sky high.  We could feel the ground quiver beneath our feet at the power of the Atlantic.   I would not like to be in a small boat out there today! 

We left there to continue on our way up the main (pronounced only) road to our next destination. We developed a keen appreciation for the aforementioned winds as we trekked along the road in the sun.  How much further could it be?!?

This was an indication that we must be nearing the bridge which separates the two bodies of water over a very narrow passage.  You think I'll pass?

Local lore has it that many cars have been swept away while attempting to cross the narrow bridge, by huge rogue waves off of the Atlantic. 


Finally we had arrived at our destination...  On the right side, the Atlantic and on the left, the calm Caribbean Sea.  It was beautiful!

What a difference a few feet can make... look one way and it's this... waves crashing and roaring.

Look the other way and you have this -->  calm and placid.

And if you wait a few seconds... the calm placid spot becomes awash with a wave from the Atlantic trying to make it's way across to the other side. 

Who could blame it!  As we turned to go back to meet the dinghy to return us to our ship, we were once again awestruck with the scene before us.

There was one more real treat left on this little excursion.  How could we have missed this before.  A small hole in the rock, about 4 inches in diameter that went all the way through to the water below, was making a sucking noise.  All of a sudden... it blew like a giant sneeze!  Please do not try this at home and no animals were hurt in production of this photo! 

Onward to our next stop.  We followed our guide as he ducked off the road onto a well hidden pathway that lead to the water's edge.  He took us past a big termite mound.  I'm sure I've never seen one of these at home.

We stepped out onto a rocky beach with a carpet of pine needles lining our path to the shore.  The trees provided cooling shade for Bruce while I poked around in the shallows while we waited for the dink. 

We were next to last in arriving back at the ship for the night.  One other group brought up the rear, the cave group.  They were full of talk about what they had seen but I was happy with our choice.  We settled down to relax and were treated to another marvelous sunset.

We showered and went below to the main salon to await the delicious pork loin dinner that Chris had prepared for us.  We were seriously pampered by our crew.  Another great day in Paradise and who knew what would be in store for us tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Governor's Harbor

Did I mention we had some wind this week?  Well we did... and if ever there would be a day for mutiny, this would be it.  Don't get me wrong... you pay your money, you take your chances with weather.  But it would have been nice to take some of these clothes off and get into the water.  Coffee on the deck again today.

We may be on vacation but the Crew isn't.  They still have their chores and a ship to run.  Maintenance projects can be entertaining to those of us who can hang about and watch and ask stupid questions like "What's a Baggy Wrinkle?".  Evidently the winds have beat these to death so some attention was needed... way up there!  Glad they didn't call for volunteers for this one.
We got underway just after breakfast.  The winds forecast for tomorrow had arrived early and were really blowing.  Once again the Skipper had to adjust his plans for us.  Even coming from Corpus Christi where high winds are common, I was nervous about raising sails in these conditions.  I had visions of the rail in the water and people sliding all over the deck.  But the Crew had the ship trimmed out just right in no time and we had a sleigh ride seeing over 10 knots through the incredibly blue and remarkably flat waters.
While the Crew did their chores, the passengers found places to hunker down out of the wind.  The Foredeck was out of the question as even though the seas were not choppy, there was a considerable amount of spray.  The Spences and I found a nice spot on the stair outside the Galley.  We got a lot of reading done.  The only fault to be found was the tortuously wonderful smells coming out of the window.  Something with cinnamon...

Chip had asked earlier if we could fly our BYC burgee for a little while and had been given the go ahead.  Now seemed like as good a time as any as we sailed back through Current Cut on our way to our next destination.

Chip got it all lined out then decided that it would be apropos for a Club Officer to do the raising.  Bruce was called for the job and up it went.  He's not one for the photo op so this is all I got.  Oh well, you get the drift...

Well that entertainment didn't last long so it was back to hanging out watching the Crew work.  The spray on the foredeck had diminished  and some of the Crew were working on scraping the old varnish off the wood rails.  Bruce went up there to see how it was done as we grew near the end of today's sail. 
We dropped sails and entered the protected cove of Governors Harbor and motored around while the Skipper formulated a plan for docking.  The winds today, tomorrow, and the expected arrival of a container ship had to be taken into account when picking the right spot. 

The Crew worked feverishly.  Our job as passengers was to stay back and try not to get crushed between the Ship and the dock as the ferocious winds pushed us hard against it.  We were happy to comply as we looked around eagerly at this quaint little town.

In no time we had been given our orders to be back aboard the ship by 10 am the following day.  We all prepared for hiking and set out through the town.
This is what I love about the Islands of the Caribbean.  The fact that everything is old and quaint to us, but this is life for the people who live here.  This is their church... Where they congregate every Sunday.  They get married here, they're buried here in the Churchyard...

They're industrious. (Sort of)  This guy's JOB is to go out and dive for some lobsters, then sit around and wait for someone to come along and buy them...  When I go back home to my crazy stressful job in CC, this guy will still be standing here in this beautiful place trying to sell a lobster.
Our plan for the day was to hike though the town, over the top to the other side where we were promised the wonders of a pink sand beach.  We had no idea how to find it but figured there couldn't be too many ways to get there.  We headed off up the main road past homes with lush tropical gardens surrounding them.

We marvelled at the size of the homes.  When you think of Island life, you think of small cottages or shacks.  These are some really nice estates. Who lives here?... we wondered.

We found a little gift shop that was open for business about half way up the hill.  We all stopped but our group moved on, leaving Bruce and I behind.  We (I) shopped until I dropped... about $200 bucks on souvenirs, then we hurried to try to catch up.

Looking back the way we had come, we found the long sloping road ending in the sparkling little cove where our ship lay waiting.

Upon reaching the summit, we could see the long downhill road ahead of us, ending in the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

We came to a "T" in the road and still hadn't found our friends.  We looked left and looked right... no sign of them, or anyone else.  I looked for footprints in the sand and it seemed like the left hand road was more well travelled.  We had no coin to flip so the footprints were the deciding factor.
Just when we began to get nervous that we had chosen poorly, we found a footpath which brought us to our destination.  The promised pink sand beach.  It was a wild, windy, desolate looking place.  There had once been a resort here but it was no longer in business.  The empty facility gave it a strange feeling.  I almost felt guilty that we were here enjoying this beach all alone.

I don't know exactly what you were expecting of a pink sand beach, but this is it.  It's made pink by tiny microscopic shelled animals mixed in with the normal white coral you see on beaches all over the Caribbean.  It's more pinkish in certain light and when it gets wet.

We fooled around a bit trying to get the ever elusive "jumping" picture.  It's much harder than you would think with a digital camera. 

We could see a group of people far up the beach to our right and believed that they were our group.  We began our power walk towards them.  I guess they had gone right instead of left.  We began to worry when we saw them leave the beach, that we wouldn't find them, but Chip took care of that.  He and Brenda left us a message in the sand pointing the way.

We took a lush garden path right up into an oasis.  We went from being alone on a beach to being in the midst of a large group of our shipmates and a few other patrons on a patio/beach bar right out of a movie.

In no time we had libations and were enjoying appetizers with the best view on the planet.  I found myself feeling a bit of jealousy towards the woman working the bar.  This is her JOB!  I struggle to make my work environment more pleasing by listening to music and seeing glimpses of beach when my screen saver kicks in... this woman has the sounds and the sight of this incredible place every work day.

We enjoyed our eats and drinks until the sun began to get low.  It was time to head back to the ship or get a room, we opted for the ship.  Once again drawn to the main saloon by the lure of Chris' home cooking.  We took the much shorter path back to the main road over the island.  The view this time was much more dramatic in the waning light. 

Our little bay had turned to a sparkling jewel dotted by sunfish sailors just finishing a race.  The picture just can't do it justice. 

We made our way along the water's edge to our home away from home. 

Our BYC Burgee was still proudly flying as we boarded and settled in for the evening.