We crossed the 5,000 mile mark shortly before we arrived here on Great Inagua. Yes we have Cruised over 5,000 miles since September 30, 2013. WOW… That’s a lot of miles when you consider we only travel at about 6 miles per hour.
We’re also finally reached “The Tropics”… as in, we crossed 23.5° North Latitude which is the northern boundary of the zone. I’m officially SAFE from winter!!!
While waiting for our weather window we’ve had a lot of time to think about that. So many times we find ourselves staring at the remote scene around us and wonder “how did we get here from there?” It’s astounding when you think about it really…
The Island is surrounded by coral reef with only a narrow shelf of shallow water hardly wide enough to find a spot to drop the hook in many places. It’s simply amazing to sail from waters in the thousands of feet deep… and then mere minutes later we’re dropping an anchor in 15 feet.
We followed the Explorer Chart to an anchorage on the NE corner of the Bay in hopes that the North swell would not find us. There was a gentle swell that rocked the boat but it was not enough to complain about… We dropped the anchor in clear water and white sand with coral patches all around us. Too bad this is part of the Bahamas National Trust park and there’s no fishing allowed. I just KNOW these rocks are full of lobster!!!
I was hot to get to town and re-provision but it looked like we would probably be here for a week before the weather window presents itself, so no need to rush into town just yet. Bruce wanted to hang out here and explore the beach. Our first morning here the weather was rainy and windy so we just hung out on the boat. I was amazed at how tired we both were. I guess passage making really takes more out of you than you realize.
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|There... that should hold it|
There on that beautiful beach was a swing just waiting to be swung. And I did! I could just feel joy bubbling up inside me as I tried to go higher and higher… It’s harder than it looks! Lying back in the swing and looking up at the blue sky through the Australian pines was sheer heaven.
It had been five days since our feet had steady ground to walk upon and I was excited to hike the roads, not caring that Henry said there wasn’t anything to see… Maybe he was right but just walking was very nice…
Of interest along the way… we saw cotton growing in the wild. This brought thoughts of slaves and cotton fields and I wondered about the history of the island.
We had actually seen sea birds offshore long before we arrived. Many of the islands in the Bahamas have few if any birds so hearing them twitter in the brush was nice. We saw one small raptor-type bird and at first thought it was an osprey but it was too small… we found it nesting atop a headless palm tree.
Further along the path there was a large area that showed evidence of a recent fire. Lighting strike? Some trees were uprooted here and there… maybe from the hurricane? All these things we would ask Henry.
After lunch we pulled up the anchor and motored right along the coast nearly ten miles to Mathewtown.
There is a long conveyor that takes the salt to be loaded onto the boats for transport away from the island. We hope to get up close and personal to one of those salt pyramids! They look majestic from the water. I wonder what happens to the salt piles when it rains…
|Government basin under construction|
The next morning we decided that the swell was manageable enough to try going ashore. We headed into the entrance to the government basin and were surrounded by big boats and barges.
We motored around looking for anything that looked like a dock… Workers on the boats just held out their arms like “I don’t know what to tell you”.
This is obviously not meant for cruisers or small boats… but the people around the basin were nice and looked sympathetic as they watched the idiots trying not to be killed.
We decided that I would go in search of a source for diesel while Bruce kept the dinghy from being destroyed.
|This can NOT be it....|
Very old. Lots of damage from past storms or maybe things just fall to ruin here in the islands… I found the Morton Salt Museum… would love to come back here… I passed the police station and found another small building with a lone gas pump outside.
I spoke to some girls in a car parked in front of the fuel pump… they pointed me to a man standing by a fuel-truck talking on the phone. I chit-chatted with the girls until the man was done with his phone call… No he couldn’t help me but pointed me to the yellow building just to the right of the basin…
It was deserted! So, defeated, I returned to the basin. I found Bruce with a group of men. They had evidently been bonding and the guys told him where to go for diesel…
Yes it WAS the place just around the corner, but not the gas station… the HOUSE beside it. We walked up there and knocked on the door. No answer. A car was just leaving around the side and a guy across the street told us to go around to the back… Feeling very strange, we did.
There was a woman leaving with fresh baked rolls. Mmm I want some of those! She offered to give us one. No… So in through the door we went and found ourselves in a very neat and tidy kitchen decorated in overwhelming black and white with yellow daisies.
We went back and got our jerry cans and left them with him as he was airing up the tire on his truck.
Feeling better about life, we headed for the market.
Literally people were standing at the back door to the storeroom asking for things that would then be handed out. I picked up some eggs and when I came back down the aisle again moments later the eggs were almost gone!!!
Wow it was a zoo!
We piled our bags into the back with the diesel and hopped into the truck next to him. Conversation was difficult with the radio blaring… but the ride was short through the back roads of the town.
That was Saturday. For the duration of our stay here on Great Inagua we were plagued by the incessant swell. The boat rolled and bounced continually. Sometimes it would calm somewhat… briefly… At first our attitudes were good and hopeful that it would moderate with the winds turning more east from NE.
All day Sunday we stayed onboard, reading and napping. We couldn’t do much more. We were hopeful that we could go ashore and get fresh bread and maybe hook up with Henry for that island tour to see the flamingos and the Salt Factory…
|Going out full|
It’s a miracle that nobody was seasick, not even Jezabelle.
We were able to contact Chris Parker for weather information and he told us that we would have reasonable weather for leaving here on Tuesday. Soon we would be free.
The swell continued. I cooked passage food… pasta salad, boiled eggs, a cake. Try making a cake with a rolling boat and just see how that turns out…
|More loads. The basin is just not safe...|
NOW we know why nobody comes here… I had hopes that things would settle once the winds clocked around to the SE… but no. The swell just came from the other direction.
The three of us were in “endurance mode”. The end was in sight so we just had to (literally) hang on for a little while longer. Now as I sit here listening to Chris Parker Weather and thinking about last minute preparations… I am disappointed that we didn’t’ get more time to explore the treasures to be found ashore… but we’re really just ready to leave. I can’t imagine that there are ever weather conditions here that would allow for a comfortable stay. The remoteness of this place, the fact that it’s just a mountain jutting up from the ocean floor… makes for a continuous state of flux. The lack of infrastructure for small or non-commercial vessels, no matter how welcoming the people, is just not adequate for our needs or comfort.
A fantastic report on a beautiful island. You really get the idea of just how isolated it is when you don't see any tourist boats or other sail boats at anchor. I also found very little in reviews of the island....happy sailing and be careful on your next leg.ReplyDelete
It really was nice and we would have loved to stay a little longer if we had better weather conditions. There is a tour of the salt production facilities and a trip to see the flamingos that we would have loved to take...Delete
Wonderful report! We have always wanted to go to Great Inagua, but maybe not so much anymore. You said you wanted to learn about the island. I read the most amazing book about Great Inagua called "Inagua" by Robert Klingel. It was written in 1940. It is not only solid work of natural history, but also a high adventure. It was recently re-issued by Mr. Klingel's daughter and is available on Amazon.ReplyDelete
Don't let our weather experience deter you, I would still love to tour the island. But the weather said go! The people were very friendly and really want tourists by boat to come. I think once the work being done on the basin is finished it will go back to being a great place to visit.Delete