Sunday, April 26, 2015

Exploring Rock Sound

We’ve heard nothing but good things about Rock Sound, so now let us throw our praise upon the pile.  Our four nights here are a blur of random Cruiserness.  Our first order of business was to get rid of our stinky trash!  We have been carrying around a gradually growing bag of trash for a solid week!  Disposing of garbage on the islands is an adventure in itself.  All through the Exumas we found that trash could be disposed of… for a fee.  Everywhere we went there was a charge of $2 to $5 per bag.  They just have nowhere to put it all… We didn’t find anyplace on Long Island and didn’t take it ashore on Cat Island… Lucky for us, Rock Sound has multiple collection barrels all along the streets and they are free of charge!  We like free things!

Next order of business is to find water.  We left Georgetown with full tanks and have been really frugal in our usage, but I worry constantly about running low on water and there is bad weather coming.  We might be stuck on the boat with no water.  Boy will I be GLAD when we get a water maker!  Another kudo for Rock Sound is the FREE WATER!  We asked other cruisers and quickly figured out the drill.  

Filling the water jugs
We dinghied up to the shore, best done at high tide to avoid scraping the dink on the rocks and glass… then crossed the street to the public spigot.  After testing it and finding it to be very good (measuring 186 ppm) we made two trips back and forth to shuttle water to the boat before declaring our work done for the day.  

The public dock
The condition of Rock Sound Settlement is much improved above the many others we’ve visited.  Although there are still a fair amount of derelict structures scattered around, there is a marked improvement in the overall condition of the place.  I would love the chance to go inside of one of these old homes from a time gone by and feel the history.  
Fresh catch!  

Our goal was to find Sammy’s Place.  We had to ask twice for directions as the signs are sometimes missing and there are several turns to make before we finally found the unimposing place…  All sources say that this is the place to eat here in Rock Sound and they were not lying.  We were the only dine-in customers while there, but they did a brisk take-out business.  We ordered a fisherman’s platter that had a combination of lobster, conch, shrimp and fish with the typical Bahamian sides of Fries, mac & cheese and peas & rice.  Not typical were the unique flavors of these side dishes.  Each dish was obviously prepared with individual attention and pride.  We thanked the cook for one of our best meals since arriving in the Bahamas.  Then we waddled our bursting tummies back to the boat and fell into bed.

Airing our dirty clean laundry...
The sun was shining bright the next morning.  The combination of free water, sunshine and a growing bag of stinky dirty laundry had me thinking I should drag out the laundry buckets and have a go at it on the cheap.  Laundry costs us anywhere from $15 to $42 to wash 4-5 loads.  We had spent a bundle after our guests left in Georgetown and were hot to defray costs at every opportunity.  So I spent the entire morning making a new batch of laundry soap, plunging load after load of dirty laundry in the wash and rinse buckets, then painstakingly pinned the newly sweet-scented skivvies and such to the lifelines to dry in the gentle breeze and sunshine…

Then it began to rain.  Well, we would have a second final rinse before we could collect everything off the lines.  Finally everything was washed and hanging out to dry in the sun.  We had made arrangements with some of the other Cruisers anchored here to go on a little field trip.  We left our laundry drying and dinghied over to the government dock to meet our friends.

Ocean Hole
There is another blue hole in town, this time more land locked than Dean’s Blue Hole.  We met up with three other boats, Rainbow, Bliss and one other I didn’t catch.  We traipsed through the streets of town to Ocean Hole.  This is a curious place.  It isn’t the beautiful blue we crave, but more of a dark and murky green.  For a second I considered NOT swimming in it but the heat of the day dictated differently.  We all donned our snorkels and fins and jumped in.

Ahhh the water was fine.  The light winds didn’t reach us here as we swam through the ocean fishes gathered near the platform.  

My guess is that they get fed often because we hardly found any fish the further we got from the entry.  This was proven when several groups of tourists showed up with food.  The fishes went wild.  

I swam away from the group, then got spooked and returned to the fold.
Ocean Hole is over 600 feet deep and rises and drops with the tide, suggesting some underwater connection with the ocean.  That connection has never been found even though many years ago Jacques Cousteau tried and failed.  Fascinating and a little creepy… I swam a short way around the perimeter but shied completely away from the murky green center that gradually darkened into nothingness.  I was glad for the small crowd of Cruisers as I started to freak myself out and scurried back to the pack.  

We started to get chilled so we left the water to go look through the tourist trinkets offered by local women beneath a nearby gazebo.  We looked through it all and I was tempted to buy a handmade set of sea glass jewelry but settled instead for a simple hair band to keep my hair out of my eyes when I work the helm.  Practical in all things these days.  I have enough pretties that I almost never wear.  Plus, I was thinking ahead to revisiting a little shop in Governor’s Harbor where I had found sea glass jewelry when we were here back in 2011.  

Soon we were all done shopping and went off walking around the banks of Ocean Hole in search of a beverage.  We sat at a table outside of a small liquor store where we had all purchased a drink until we finished.

The skies were beginning to look ominous.  Hmmm…  So we took off through the streets of town toward the dock and it began to rain!

We ducked beneath a shoreside gazebo and laughed about it as we watched the skies devour our anchorage.  The rain stopped as quickly as it had started and we took off.  

Although it was already too late for our clothes… we thought we should hurry back.  There was our boat, sitting still with our sunshades covering fore and aft deck and clothes lining the rails like the Beverly Boatbillies.  We spent the rest of the afternoon rotating clothes, flipping them so that their other sides could dry and thus speed up the process.  It never rained again, but as darkness fell we were still piddling with laundry.  It finally did all get dry.  
Rain enveloping the anchorage

That's our boat with all our laundry hanging out!

The rain let up and we made a run back to the boats

Soggy laundry

Rainy days have the best sunsets…

Dock at Wild Orchid
The next day we were to meet up again with our friends but not before we made a run to the Market.  We parked the dinghy at a dock that belonged to the Wild Orchid restaurant.  They weren’t open this early and the place looked like it could be a pretty neat place to have a happy hour.

The Market was just up the road north from there about a quarter mile.  We had left with no breakfast and were glad to find two ladies selling baked goods on the sidewalk outside the market.  We bought pound cake and ate some before we went in to shop.

This is supposed to be one of the better grocery stores in the outer island settlements and it was.  The stock was a little hit and miss, but it had everything we needed.  I don’t know if I’m just getting used to the prices here in the Bahamas being inflated or what, but their prices were surprisingly reasonable for the things we needed.  We loaded up our stuff into the cold bags we had brought and stuffed them into the little red cart we got from another Cruiser back in Georgetown.  

We finished our pound cake as we retraced our steps back to the dinghy.  We loaded everything on and I sat watching the critters around the dock while Bruce worked on starting the dinghy.  We haven’t had too much trouble with it until lately.  It seemed to be running sort of weakly as if it was tired.  Today, it stopped running at all.  Bruce piddled with it for a while as our cold stuff undoubtedly suffered the heat… until I started just paddling us towards the boat…about a half mile away.  Eventually Bruce took up his oar and we made slow time until Scott from Bliss saw us paddling and came out to tow us the rest of the way.  My arms were just about to give up so I was very happy to see Scott.  

Looks like a party going on!
We were supposed to meet up with the gang at 10:00 to go to the beach, but with the dinghy out of commission that wasn’t going to happen.  Bruce messed around with it and finally got it going again and we found out that nobody else was ready either so we rescheduled for 1pm.  Perfect.  After a quick lunch, we loaded up and met everybody at the dinghy dock.

Now this walk to the Atlantic side was supposed to have been about 2 miles each way.  It showed to be a little more like 2.5 on the chart… but it seemed like a LOT more in reality. The winds were light and it was full on sunshine and hot.

I just LOVE the tiny cemeteries all over the islands!
We walked along in companionable conversation and finally reached the top of the hill where we could look down and see… very. far. away… the other side.  Oh well, we’re committed.  So on we went.  

The reward for the grueling hike was a stunning view and a beach all to ourselves.  We found a shady spot to leave our stuff and we all stripped down to our swimsuits and eased into the cool water.

If I had to find something to complain about (just so that you know my life isn’t perfect) I would say that there was a little bit of seaweed in the waves that wrapped itself around me in creepy fashion, but that would be about it.  

We bobbed and floated and had a grand time until we could find no more excuse not to get out and begin the journey back over the island again.  We shared one more beverage, descending upon the poor liquor store owner like a swarm of thirsty locusts… We were probably the bulk of his business for the week.  While sipping our beverages, we told everyone that we would most likely be leaving in the morning.  We said our goodbyes with hopes of meeting again and split up into two smaller groups.

We would wander home and then meet up later aboard Bliss for happy hour after showers and a quickly thrown together snack to share.  We had another boat join us after a bit and got to meet Bill and Gayle on Spiraserpula.  She is VERY interesting to me because she’s a marine biologist and knows all about the critters we find snorkeling.  We hope to get to know them better… but for now, our time here is done.  Weather says move on.  There are several stops we’d like to make on Eleuthera and time is short.  Next stop… Governor’s Harbor!

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