Saturday, March 14, 2015

Black Point Settlement

N24°05.968’ W076°24.142

Our short ride from Big Majors to Black Point was just a fun sail.  We had less than 15 miles to go and a nice wind.  We could afford to just tack our way there and enjoy the sailing for a change.  Early in the afternoon we arrived at our destination and dropped sails to motor the remaining mile or so.  Always nervous about entering an anchorage, I slowly brought the boat along the shore of the point as directed, watching the depths as we went.  It turned out to be another case in which all my anxiety was for nothing.  

The anchorage was huge and wide open.  There were lots of boats anchored, but plenty of room for more.  Back at Big Majors, there were a bunch of boats anchored up close to the shore when we arrived, and we had to take a place further back…then those boats left leaving a big gap we wished we had taken up.  This time, there seemed to be a gap close to the government dock… we took it.  I figured that if we were too close to the dock and got waked too badly, we could move tomorrow.  We were expecting big winds and I wanted to be tucked in as close as we could get.  

Dinghy Dock at the Laundromat
There was still plenty of daylight to go explore the town.  A couple of friends had come by to tell us that there was a happy hour and a fish fry we might wish to attend.  So early in the afternoon we loaded up and looked to shore.  We noticed that there was a second dinghy dock where some people were climbing ashore.  We motored over there to check it out.  It turned out to be the dock provided by the laundromat that was so famous for being the best around.  The tide was out so the climb was a challenge. 

Sapodilla tree

Kids playing basketball outside the school

Street sign...

Nicest laundry in the Exumas
We took a stroll along the main street of town, noticing how really basic is was.  There was a police station, a phone company, a clinic, two small grocery stores that looked more like homes, and a couple of restaurants.
Police Station

BTC Phone Company

We passed up happy hour at Scorpios, where a lot of other cruisers were headed, and went down to Regatta Point where the fish fry was supposed to be getting started soon. 

Bahamian lady cooking up the fish and conch
We were the first customers to arrive at the fish fry and tried to leave to return later, but they seemed reluctant to let us get away.  We watched as the ladies put the finishing touches on the dinners and got ready to serve.  The little kids danced around to the loud music.

Grouper head and veggies... no.
I took a look at the fish and conch that was steaming on the pits in foil.  It didn’t look all that appetizing and there was nothing being fried at all.  I was a bit disappointed as fried fish is a fave of ours.  I asked the lady what the fish was and she said probably grouper head.  Umm no.  I’ll have the nice safe chicken.  

We got our plates and found a spot to eat.  The food was actually pretty flavorful and very authentically Bahamian.  We donated $20 to the fund for our dinners and two drinks.  The event was a fund raiser for “the school”.  More specifically the planned Easter event, but the lady I asked told me that if there were funds left over, they would go towards building a new community center for weddings… kind of ambitious I though, but then maybe it doesn’t actually cost very much to build such a place here with all the residents pitching in.  

Lots of cruisers were arriving as we took our leave and we headed back to Scorpios for 2-for-1 rum punch happy hour.

Inside Scorpios
There was 75% rum to 25% punch in those little drinks… we will be back.  It was actually dark when we returned to the dinghy dock and I worried that success in boarding our own dinghy was not assured.

One BIG dinghy...
We made it though and enjoyed the moonlit night and the promise of more adventuring to come.  

Lovely full moon rising
The next morning we took off to the Government Dock, kind of a grandiose name for such a dock if you ask me… We returned to the streets once more, this time in search of a house up the way that was reported to sell fruits and veggies.  We walked a while and found the place.  There were goats roaming the fenced yard and a sign, but it was closed.

Just look at her awesome face!
We spoke to a lady across the street who was sitting and plaiting palm fronds into long ribbons and asked her if the store was open.  Evidently it is not.  The owners have gone to Nassau (indefinitely) leaving their daughter in the house and “she doesn’t do no sellin’”  We watched the old woman’s hands fly as she made speedy work of the fronds.  She said she does this all day, every day.  She was unable to answer my questions about how long each ribbon was or how long each one took to finish, but she told me that someone would come from Nassau to take these ribbons for making purses and other things for the tourists. 

Her face was deeply lined and very dark brown.  I wondered how much a woman could earn doing this as I continue to marvel at the lives of the Bahamians in the outlying settlements.  How is it possible that they can remain so untouched by all that’s going on in the US?  It’s like we’ve come to another planet.  I asked her if I could take her picture and she shyly gave permission.

A goat in a sink hole...
Nurse shark begging for fish scraps
We returned to the dock and watched a young fisherman cleaning his catch.  He said they were for his family because Staniel Cay was out of gasoline for the outboards so no fish could be sold to the tourists.  There was no telling how long they would wait for fuel.  We watched as a nurse shark and a hungry ray swam around below the dock waiting for tossed fish parts.  He playfully said we could go in and swim with them if we wanted to…  no.

Well… at least not with sharks.  That we know of.
Dos Libras anchored just off the Government Dock
Even though the wind was blowing pretty good, we were so well protected here in this cove that it got pretty warm in the afternoon.  We had our eye on the far shore of the anchorage as a great snorkel spot.  We found a small cove there and anchored the dinghy in two feet of water on snow white sand.

It didn’t take us long to find something interesting as right beneath our dinghy were tiny baby starfish.  They were small in size only as this one crawled right off my hand and plopped back into the water!  Cheeky!

Bruce followed and swam around me as I slowly made my way along the rocks that lined the shore.  If you go slowly, things that have gone into hiding will come back out.  I was busily snapping pic after pic when Bruce hailed me to come see what he had found.  There was a huge ray that seemed to be trying to his himself in the sand… unsuccessfully.  I was able to swim up very close to get some shots, then later when he moved off, I followed him for a good while and got action video of his graceful and unhurried departure. 

I returned back to the wall and continued on with the occasional glance over my shoulder into the murk.  You never know when a shark may express interest in our activities.  Although there wouldn’t be much I could do about it, I would at least like to be aware…

I am amazed by the little creatures that are so delicate and shy.  They just continue on their way as I glide above them.  The little fishes dart around, some are very territorial and almost seem to be escorting me away from their home.

We uncovered this starfish who had buried himself in the sand

Tiny Starfish nursery right beneath our dinghy
As always happens, we got a bit chilled and decided to get in some beach time to thaw out. There’s an huge flat expanse of white sand that is exposed at low tide just begging to be explored.

From afar it looks quite uninteresting, but upon closer inspection, we found several pretty neat things to explore.  There were beautiful sand dollars in pristine condition.  There were starfish and live sea biscuits.  There were some mystery shells, that it took quite some time to identify with the help of several Facebook friends, that must be pin shells.  Pin shells normally plant themselves below the tide line and it is rare to see these.  The other little fringe critters are a different organism just hanging on.  Strange, but beautiful.

Starfish crawled towards the water

Sand Dollars Dead and Alive

Mystery piles

Gorgeous white Sand Dollars

Lone Mangrove 

Pin Shells

Live Starfish

Lots of Sand Dollars

Even a shipwreck!
We had a little fun with the sand dollars.  I don’t bring many shells back to the boat because there is just no room for them.  So, I had to take them with me in photo form.


Dos Libras in the background
After the initial flurry of activity, we really started to slow down and get into the rhythm of this little town.  We enjoyed the sunsets, we took care of the day to day chores like cleaning, cooking and hauling water.  The town of Black Point is so welcoming to Cruisers and there is no more obvious manifestation of this than the free RO water they all us to take.  They ask that we take what we need, but not be wasteful.
Where we go to get water
Several times during our stay, we took our jerry jugs to this small beach, climbed the stairs and filled our tanks from the spigot across the road.  It almost seemed as if we were getting away with something!

Lobster dinner
Why would they just give us the water for free when they could have easily made money off of us?  This generosity and the fact that we weren’t paying for a mooring left our normally frugal minds open to dining out often.  We were more free with our dollars here than we’ve been at any other anchorage yet.  And it was AWESOME!
Conch Dinner

Night time at Black Point.  A sea of anchor lights
The crazy winds blew but we remained un-phased as we took advantage of their very nice laundry facility.  There was the usual camaraderie there where we met other Cruisers and compared experiences and shared advice.  Where else but the Bahamas can you do your laundry with this view???

Cruisers waiting for their laundry to finish

Busy Day at the Laundry dock
Another day… not sure what day it was as they are all beginning to be a little fuzzy… we had lunch with another couple and then took a walk up the island to look for the blow holes.  With the wind blowing like it is, we figured it would be a good day for it.  Finding them was a bit of an adventure, and we’re not sure we actually found THE blowhole in question, but we did have a nice walk and see one that was pretty active.

Tromping through the sea grape brush past a small cemetery was a little scary.  I’m still worried about snakes when we leave the beaten path, but none were spotted today.

We were awed by the wildness of the Atlantic crashing against the jagged shore.  So different from the bank side.  Looking around in confusion, we didn’t know which way to go to see the blow holes.  Suddenly, we saw the water spewing upward off to the right.  There it is!!!  It was no easy thing to traverse the razor-sharp rocks but we were determined to see the hole.  

There is no mistaking them when you get close.  There are piles of flotsam and jetsam that were forced up through the hole and deposited in a splatter pattern all around the hole.  Some of the stuff is natural like seagrass, but sadly there is a lot of plastic stuff strewn all about.  Blow holes are kind of like the sink drain of the ocean.  They are pretty neat though, you can hear the violent whoosh of the air being forced up through the hole before the spray comes blasting up and out.  Don’t put your face too close!


The view just doesn't quit!
Cruisers getting instructions
Unfortunately, the trash doesn’t only come from the ocean.  Walking the streets of town, we see a lot of it on the roadside.  Certainly this problem is created by the residents of Black Point, but Cruisers have devised a way to “give back” for the kindness these people have shown to us.  One of the Cruisers organized a street cleanup while we were here which we gladly joined.  

School kids playing around while we organized
We gathered at 3pm, yes, the hottest part of the day, at the school.  The time was chosen so that the school children could help us out.  We watched them play around while we waited for everyone to arrive and they were the cutest little things.

The young ones seemed only too happy to be helping us help them!  Cruisers spread out and went both ways… Bruce and I filled five bags between us with lots of glass bottles and miscellaneous junk.

When we reached the end of the road, we left our bags on the side of the street to be collected by a guy with a truck.  Then we treated ourselves with a cool rum punch back at Scorpios.  We were happy to meet new friends, who turned out to be fellow Bloggers from Operation Tropication!  Small world!  

While we were doing our clean-up, the supply boat arrived.  The older kids in town were pulled away to help unload the boat and the town was pretty much all involved in this activity.  Tomorrow we will be able to revisit the small grocery stores in town and should find a much better selection of fresh goods!
They moved our dinghy to park the supply boat

The fish boat!  We bought a nice Hog Snapper
We spent eight days at Black Point.  It’s just such an easy place to be, the days go by effortlessly.  We sat out some high winds there and almost never felt them blow.  But the weather moves us and it looked like we would soon have a window for travel outside in the Exuma Sound, so we must begin to position ourselves for the jump.  The next morning we were busy getting the boat ready to go.  We visited the grocery and picked up a few things.  We loaded some more water and were lucky enough to score a Hog Snapper from a local fishing boat.  They cleaned the fish for us while we finished getting the boat ready for departure and after picking up our huge bag of fish, we upped anchor.  Our time in Black Point was done.

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