Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Places, Old Years and Mermaids

I want to be their CAT in my next life...
We left Black Point in hopes of sailing some down to Rudder Cay.  I know I sound like a broken record but the winds ARE supposed to moderate... nevertheless... we should be in protected waters from the ESE winds forecast today.  We motored out of the anchorage and raised a reefed mainsail and turned into the wind with the water maker humming.

There ARE crab traps in the Bahamas!
The ride wasn't too bad actually.  The waves were small and not the big-boat-stopping waves we've become accustomed to...  We enjoyed the cool breeze and the view as we ambled down the banks in familiar territory.

Calm Galliot Cut
We approached Galliot Cut and motored in between these small cays.  The waters are beautiful in all shades of blue and green.  Last time we were here the conditions were a bit rough... this time we would not go out through the cut, but continue on into new waters.  Our excitement built as the views became breathtaking.

Private Musha Cay
We are much more brave this time... our last time in the Bahamas we barely deviated from the well travelled pathways and stayed in the "easy" anchorages.  A little bit of confidence goes a long way here and the payoff is an anchorage with fewer boats and views that few ever see.

This is where you go when you want to buy your own private island.  Many of the small islands and Cays here are either private resorts, or even more private homes of the rich and famous.

The route through from Galliot Cut to Rudder Cay Cut winds through some very shallow spots on the Exuma Banks.  From Galliot Cut south is pretty much a VPR (visual piloting rules) area and much of it is too shallow for our 5'3" draft at low tide.  But with the help of an extra 2.5 ft., we were able to coast our way through it easily.

Well... maybe "easily" is the wrong word.  I had some tense moments with Bruce on the bow and depths that told me we would NOT be traveling this route at low tide...  But the reward was an anchorage that looked like something out of a movie!

Complete with caves and a mermaid!!!

I couldn't wait until tomorrow when we would go out and explore this beautiful spot by dinghy!

We sat on the deck and enjoyed the changing view as the sun set and darkness fell.

I can't describe in words or pictures the profound beauty of the night sky here.  We are worlds away from any city  The stars seem like our closest link to civilization. Velvet and starshine.  Cool moist breezes and gently lapping water.  Perfection.

Morning. Our last of the year.  I can't say that I can think of another way I would like better to spend it than in this place with my husband.

The day stretches out before us to spend as we like.  No boat chores, just a bit of exploring in the dinghy and maybe a swim... if it warms up enough.

A sea plane brings a family to their island...

We took off for a dinghy tour of the area.  The first order of business was to explore the caves more closely.  There is one just off our stern and another around this point of land.  Upon closer inspection, the caves did not extend very far back into the rock... a little bit of a disappointment but still cool.  Many small tour boats arrived and took a look at this cave... we got to do it for free!

Cheesie selfie from inside...

The second cave
This place would be absolutely perfect if not for the fact that this island is private.  The beach is gorgeous and just begs to be walked upon... but we are not those people who flout the rules, even when nobody is around to object.

I'm sure the owners spent more in signage than in any correction of damages by past trespassers... but Oh well... I guess they've earned their right to privacy.  There were signs on every beach and solar powered security cameras on the hills.  There was rumor of a crazed dog guarding the beach near the cave but we never saw a dog... but then we never tried to step foot on the beach either.

We zoomed along the coast downwind as far as we dared without refueling... then turned and zoomed back upwind to see if we could find the famous Mermaid and Piano commissioned by David Copperfield.

I had entered the coordinates into my Garmin App and was happy to find that they took us right there.


It was still a bit chilly with the winds blowing and lots of cloud cover.  It is best to try and snorkel here during slack tide.  I took some pictures from above in 14 ft depths.  Our plans to return with the afternoon slack tide were precluded by a nap that ran over a bit.  By the time we got up, the tide had already turned.

Oh well... I can't get down 14 feet anyway and I think we got a really good look at the sculpture.  It was smaller than I thought it would be, but no less awesome.  It amazes me what some people would do with their money.  So few people will ever get to enjoy this work of very obscure art.

Friends on Mañana arrive
Our last day of 2015 slipped quietly away with the setting sun...  It has been a very good year and we look eagerly forward to what the new year will bring us.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Few Of Our Favorite Things

After kind of a downer day motoring the less-than-ten miles from Big Majors Spot to Black Point Settlement, we decided that a little walkabout would help soothe our mood.  Maybe it’s just the annual-after-Christmas-blues… or maybe it’s the fact that the majority of our “sailing” has been motoring or motorsailing with the wind on the nose and usually in the 17-24 range…  Not exactly fun. 

But once we took a stroll along the familiar streets of one of our favorite places in all of the Bahamas… Black Point… we got our heads back on straight and things began looking up.  Since our last visit here, the people of this small settlement seem to have had a building boom.  There are several new homes and several more in progress, along with a nice new deck and a new bar room at Lorraine’s.  

We participated in a Cruiser-cleanup last visit and Black Point Settlement has been known as one of the trashiest towns in the Bahamas… the people here must have heard about it and are trying to remove that stigma by the many obvious signs of pride we saw walking along.  
Neighborhood beautification project

We picked up some eggs and fresh milk at the grocery store and then headed for happy hour.  There wasn’t anything going on at Scorpios, the local cruiser hangout, so we sat at Lorraine’s new bar and had a drink for the road… since we wouldn’t be anywhere near a proper road…
Dinghy Dock is a challenge at low tide...

The weather continues to moderate as the winds slowly come down, but with even better conditions forecast for later in the week, we took an extra day here to do our laundry and revisit the blow holes on the other side of the island. 

Ida will do your laundry for a very reasonable fee, so we splurged and let her do our work while we went off to play.

The walk to the blow holes is not long.  We passed several houses and a church that look much better kept than last time we were here.  Soon we turned off the road and picked our way through the seagrape wilderness to the rocky coastline on the east side.  It seems like such a shorter distance now than before… You know, like when you revisit a favorite childhood place and it all looks small… only we weren’t kids our last visit.  Oh well…

We easily found the blow hole.  Knowing where to look helps, but in case you’re ever out putzing around on a wild and windy coast, the way to know when there is a blow hole nearby is by the presence of flotsam and jetsam piled around a hole in the rock.  

Tons of seaweed and a plethora of plastic crap can be seen all around the hole where they are sucked from the ocean and spewed up onto the shore by this awesome force of nature.  Today, the hole was just spitting a little as water would suck and surge up through the hole.  It’s always good to be a little cautious around one of these.  

Water goes out...
Finding the blow hole to be less entertaining than we had hoped… Instead of going back up to the road, we picked our way along the jagged rocky formations to watch the waves build and crash upon the shores.  The colors here are beautiful and ever-changing.  It’s easy to get lost in thought while gazing out onto the misty beauty all around.
Water comes in...

It’s been so long since we had a good place to really stretch our legs and get some much needed exercise.  Climbing around on rocks is one of my all time favorite ways to spend a morning.  
I was in my element.  I love rocks.  All kinds of rocks.  The vicious jagged rocks soon gave way to the more smooth but nonetheless weather shaped sandstone cliffs.  The stark white looked twisted and gnarled with lots of fallen chunks to climb upon.  Bruce hung back and took pictures with his Goodwill Camera while I let my inner child run wild.

Can you see me now?

How about now?

And NOW???
Little snails are EVERYWHERE on these rocks.  

I noticed a large crack in the rock above my head...skedaddle!


Down at water level

Looking up

Can you see Bruce?

Sand sculpture

Now on the adventure scale, this climbing around on rocks is still pretty tame.  But when I think back (and it’s times like these when I alway think back) to when I was working… I never knew that this is what my future held.  If I had known, I would have tried to get here much sooner.  

Looking down from my perch on top of the world
Watching the waves crash and foam with the wind in my face and the feel of rough sandy rock beneath me… the mist rising from the whitewater and blowing across the landscape, misting my glasses and skin… the warm sun counterbalanced by the cool breeze… and looking around as far as the eye could see, not a soul other than Bruce and myself.  

And all of this while our laundry is being done for us!!!  Priceless!  We sat on top of the white hill for a while just alone with our thoughts, yet together.  

This too must end.  We climbed back to the sandy road, delighted by the view of the anchorage and the settlement down below.  

We made our way back to the dinghy and had a bit of trouble getting it to start.  Rut-Ro… Insert sound of scratching record messing with our perfect day!  After a while, a local came by and gave us some help and it started right up.  He advised that maybe our fuel pump might be going out… I didn’t know we HAD a fuel pump on the outboard…Must investigate.

A quick buzz by Ida’s laundry, where they had run out of gas which delayed our drying clothes.  Expect delays in the Bahamas for everything!  After a quick lunch back at the boat, we picked up our clothes just as Ida was finishing up the folding.  What a treat!  

Our evening was spent with friends at Lorraine's.  Kelley Nicole and Mañana arrived and we planned to meet up at happy hour at Scorpios.  Walking toward Scorpios, it didn't look like they were open.  We heard our names called from the door at Lorraine's and were happy to find that our happy hour party had been relocated and was already in full swing.  

We enjoyed meeting the crew on Agape V and ended up closing the place down with an awesome dinner.  (sadly no pics)  Lorraine basically counted heads, went into her kitchen to see what she had on hand, then produced dinner for us all without even having to order.  I guess we cleaned out her leftovers!  This does not happen in the US...  It was like going to you Mom's house and she stuffs you with food...  Which is another of my favorite things...

Tomorrow we leave Black Point.  Bruce really wanted to stay here in his favorite place... but weather said move.  For me, the thing about cruising the Bahamas is that each day I add to the list of MY favorite things.