Ships Log

Abaco, Bahamas – Green Turtle Cay to Florida, USA

Ships Long Entry 62

6-11-12 to 6-14-12

 

We are finally getting closer to home and could be there in about three days if we went straight through.  We like it here in Green Turtle Cay so we might stay awhile. 

 

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Green Turtle Cay is located in the "Abaco Out Islands" and is 3 miles long and 1/2 mile wide. It was named after the abundance of green turtles that inhabit the area. The population of the island is about 450 and its main settlement is New Plymouth which was established in the 18th century. The architecture of the older homes in the village is unique in the Bahamas, with steep-pitched roofs, originating with settlers from New England. It contain a post office, a bank, a customs and immigration office, four grocery stores, several restaurants, bars, churches and also a museum featuring the paintings of noted Bahamian painter Alton Lowe. While cars are allowed on the island, golf carts and bicycles are the usual mode of transport.

 

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Next to Hope Town it is our next favorite place in all the Abaco’s. Carol is getting antsy and looking forward to going to Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar, which is famous for her favorite drink “The Goombay Smash”. Just what it does in fact, is it creeps up on you until you are totally wiped out.

 

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We first came to Miss Emily’s in the early eighties when we chartered our first sailboat from BYS (Bahamas Yachting Service), out of Marsh Harbour. They have since gone out of business due to a hurricane, which wiped out all their docks.

Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar is a local tradition and the central gathering place for Green Turtle Cay locals. It guarantees an upbeat experience as visitors, carefree during vacations and enjoying the warm weather and stress-free living of the islands, mix it up with locals who appreciate their lively presence. The Goombay Smash, a tasty cocktail, is the specialty here and packs a potent punch as Carol knows. It was perfected by the notable Miss Emily herself and the tradition is carried on by her daughter, Violet, who's now in charge of the Blue Bee.

 

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Carol over the years has come up with her own version of the “Goombay Smash’ and it’s really close but not quite like Miss Emily’s.

We went into Green Turtle the next day and first stopped at Lowe’s, one of the local grocery stores and bought some of the famous Abaco home made bread. As far as we are concerned, the New Plymouth home made bread is the best you can buy in the islands, as we have visited  quite a few island stores over the past few years.

We then walked around town to see what had changed since we were here last in 2008. We stopped at the Wrecking Tree Restaurant/Bar and we each got a conch burger which will probably be the last one for quite a while. We walked into a few gift shops but found only some stickers that caught our eye. Now it was time for our stop at Miss Emily’s Blue Bee Bar for our “Goombay Smashes”. They were even better that we remembered but  after two our legs were getting a little wobbly and we knew it was time to leave. I don’t know exactly what all she put’s in them but as advertised they really pack a mean punch.

We walked back to the dinghy and dropped off our bread and then took a ride into Black Sound. We had to stop at Brendall’s dive shop and say hello to Brendall but he wasn’t there. His son who is over 6’ tall now was minding the shop and we still remember when he was just a little tike. Gosh, time sure has a habit of flying by.

The next day after a leasurily breakfast we left for Manjack Cay which is the next Cay up. It was an hour trip because we had to go out in the Sea of Abaco to avoid some shallow spots, and then come back in.. After anchoring we took the dinghy and went exploring.looking for our friends dock,  Bob Gascoine and Jane Minty from Wavely Line Charts. We met them in 2008 on our way south in Atwood Harbour, Acklins, Bahamas aboard their sailboat Majic. We walked back through the forest and found their place which is in the middle of nowhere. We saw quite a few houses on the island where in years past there were none.

When we got back John dove the bottom of the boat and cleaned the prop. He said the bottom of the boat still looked great.

Wednesday June 13th we departed around 0640 and headed for Great Sale Cay. This was the last of our internet and phone service until we get back.

We put our fishing line out and also our hand line with a new lure. A fish hit our fishing pole and before we could stop the line the fish got all our line again. The hand line lure broke off and we must have had a big fish. John put a new lure on our fishing pole and this time we caught a 12’ Baracuda. We finally got him off our line and decided we just weren’t great at fishing so we gave it up.

John got a weather report and we had two choices. 1} to keep going all night and stay ahead of the weather system approaching or 2} stop at Great Sale and hang out for who knows how many days before we would get another weather window to make the crossing from the Bahamas to Florida through the Gulf Stream, which at times can get real ugly. We opted for plan #1 and just kept going. It was a good choice because later the next week people were still stranded in the Bahamas because of the weather.

We  did one SPOT, (Satellite GPS Messenger) at 1800. After dark the ocean got like a washing machine. We must have had 3’ to 4’ waves breaking over the port side, but for once, none got us wet in the cockpit. We did another SPOT at 1200 and one at 0600 to let our sons and Carol’s brother know our position via an e-mail that is sent to them. We had talked to them before we left Green Turtle Cay so they knew we were on our way and would be out of internet and phone service for a few days. By 0700 the seas were finally starting to lay down and it started to be an enjoyable sail. At 0800 we were 22nm from Ft Pierce, Florida. When we were 8 miles out we were able to get phone service so we called both our sons, John & Steve and told them where we were. They said they had been up most of the night getting our SPOT reports to make sure we were O.K. We came through the inlet around 1100 with an easy passage through.

 

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We tried to call the customs agent to let them know we were back but they said to give them a call when we got to a marina. They would not let us check in if we were going to anchor out. We had no option but to go to a marina.

Outside Vero Beach it started raining and started making the trip miserable for awhile. The intercoastal didn’t look the same since most of the mangroves were gone. Now we just saw water everwhere but we definitely needed a chart to tell us where we were. There certaintly wasn’t any money problems here for we saw very large new homes just built or in the process of being built.You definetly had to stay in the channel or I’m sure we would be hard aground, especialy since our boat has a 6’ draft.

When we got close to Melbourne our son John called and said he was going to watch us go under the Melbourne Causeway bridge and to be out on deck because he was going to take some pictures of us coming under the bridge. He was at the Eau Gallie Yacht Basin when we got there to help us get into the slip. What a disaster that turned out to be. The wind had picked up and John was trying to back in and each time he tried the wind caught the bow and swung it around. Another fellow came by around that time when he saw the problems we were having. After about 5 to 6 atempts, John  finally made it in by throwing lines to our son John and the other fellow from the marina. They had to literlly pull us in. It’s amazing we didn’t hit any boats on the way in.

 

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Nice Boat but definetly not the clean waters of the Caribbean

 

 

So now ends our four-year adventure and for those of you who have followed us along our journey, I hope the articles and pictures kept you informed and interested and wanting to hear more about the many trials and tribulations that happened along the way. Also thanks to the many friends we made along the way that helped make our trip one to remember for a long time to come.

John & Carol from the S/V Sweet Caroline

 

Abaco, Bahamas – Elbow Cay to Green Turtle Cay

Ships Log Entry 61

6-9-12 to 6-11-12

We departed Marsh Harbour on the island of Great Abaco

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around 1000 and arrived outside Hope Town on Elbow Cay where we dropped the anchor around 1230. We set the anchor and made sure it was holding good. We know several boaters who anchored their sailboats and thought their anchor was holding and left the boat and later was either told their boat drug or someone came running to find you and fix the problem. Thank goodness for good caring people, for boaters usually take care of each other. This happened twice that we remembered while we were gone. One time a sailboat was dragging toward shore and town and another time one was dragging through the anchorage with a lot of boats around,

We hopped in our dinghy with our lookey bucket (bucket with a glass/plastic bottom) and looked at our anchor and saw our anchor was buried. That is what you always like to see. We took our bucket back to the boat and headed for Hope Town.

Hope Town is one of the districts of the Bahamas, on the Abaco islands as well as a small village on Elbow Cay, located in Abaco. Golf carts are the main source of transportation, and most of the supplies for the area are brought in by barge each week. In Hope Town itself, neither cars nor golf carts are permitted in the main part of town. Only bicycles and walking are permitted on the hilly streets and must be explored by foot.  However cars and golf carts are permitted on the outskirts of town. All the buildings that are built must adhere to Bahamian Architecture at the discretion of Town Planning. All the houses are painted every color of the rainbow. On top of the island ,water is visible on both sides  - the blue ocean on one side, and the green harbour on the other.

Hope Town is the home to the famous red and white candy-striped Elbow Reef Lighthouse. 

 

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Probably the most recognizable landmark in Abaco, the lighthouse is one of the last manual lighthouses in the world. The lighthouse keeper on duty must wind up the weights every 2 hours in order for the lighthouse to be seen from 17 miles away and flashes every 15 seconds.  The lamp burns kerosene oil with a wick and mantle. The light is then focused as it passes through the optics of a first order Fresnel lens  which floats on a bed of mercury. It was built in order to improve navigation and decrease the amount of shipwreck which in their early years was a way which they made their living. It is well worth the effort to climb up the lighthouse’s 101 steps to a breathtaking view of the outlying Parrot Cays and Elbos Cay’s enclosed harbor.

Hope Town was settled by British Loyalists who were seeking safe refuge after the American Revolution. Many of the settlers came from the Carolinas, by way of East Florida, after that area was turned over to Spain in the Peace Treaty of Paris (1783) . The same treaty called for the evacuation of New York by the loyalists. Many people moved back to England, Canada, or south to the British Caribbean. The initial settlements were at Carleton (near the current Treasure Cay) and Marsh Harbour. 

By 1785, there were over 1,000 refugees in Abaco who were distributed in five or six settlements.  A widow from South Carolina named Wyannie Malone founded the settlement at Hope Town in 1785,  Wyannie, along with her children, started a dynasty in Hope Town that spread the Malone name throughout the Bahamas, over to Florida, and outwards from there. Every place you go you see that name.

We walked around town, which isn’t that big and saw all the improvements that had been made since the last time we were here which I believe was in 2002. We stopped at a new store, which was new to us called the Sugar Shack.

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It’s not hard to tell what we bought here; “Ice Cream Cones”. It doesn’t take much to convince ourselves we need an ice cream fix anytime we come by a store that sells ice cream. We have been here in Hope Town so many times since the seventies; at first flying here in our own plane from Indianapolis, Indiana, and renting cottages; later chartering sailboats in the early 80’s; then purchasing our present sailboat Sweet Caroline in 1986 and sailing ourselves across the big pond ever since.

After getting all the exercise we could stand we departed Hope Town at 1545 and arrived at our next stopping point, Bakers Bay

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on the island of Great Guana, which is located about 8 miles from Marsh Harbour.

This island has one of the prettiest beaches we think around. It has about 7 miles of beach and is a perfect place to find some superb snorkeling and diving just offshore about 50 feet. This is the place where we encountered our first shark, which has left a lasting impression in our minds. We don’t do sharks and in later years we took the dinghy out and hung onto the sides and just floated over the reefs with the current being our motor. This way in case of a sighting of that dreaded word “shark”, we could hop up over the sides of the dinghy in a flash and be safe rather than sorry. The Great Abaco Barrier Reef consists of large, branching formations of Elkhorn Coral with medium to large Brain and Star Coral tumbling down the inside of the barrier. The formations are riddled with fissures providing meandering trails and caves as well as isolated Coral Gardens. A few of the more well known sites include: The Blue Hole, Guana Gardens, The Tower, The Catacombs, Grouper Alley, Twin Sisters and Wayne's World.

The island has a population of approximately 150 people who live on a settlement which stretches along the beach.

Great Guana Cay's settlement is known for its rich loyalist culture and architecture, as well as its lively social scene.

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It is home to “Nippers” the famous bar where the Barefoot Man plays. Anyone whe has ever visited these islands has heard songs played by the Barefoot Man. Several traditional loyalist homes exist in the settlement, which wraps around a natural harbor.

Later that evening we found we had a big dilemma. We started to use our last soda syrup, (used in our soda machine to make our Diet Caffeine Free Soda). What was going to happen to our Happy Hours if we didn’t have diet soda to mix with our rum or is it rum mixed with our soda? Either way we were going to have to break down and purchase some bottles or cans of soda for mix. We figured we were good until we got to Green Turtle, which was our next stop on our agenda.

I remember one trip we took a few years past to the Bahamas and we ran out of Rum at Great Sale Cay which is in the middle of nowhere, and nowhere were there any towns close by to run and get some Rum. We were two days away from civilization so we had to come up with a great plan. I think John solved that problem when he kicked one our crewmembers over the side to the dinghy and told him to go from boat to boat in the harbor and don’t come back until he had some spirits. The place was a safe and secure anchorage which was a stopping point for going or coming from the Abaco’s. After a while we heard the dinghy motor and he must have got lucky because he had a bottle held high in the air, which he must of, begged, borrowed or stole from the large luxury Motor Yacht that was anchored nearby. He was weaving a little so he must have had a few on someone’s boat. He told us that while on the Big Luxury Motor Yacht their crew said for entertainment they would throw a 20# block of ice overboard and watch all the sail boaters fight for it. In those days, most sailboats didn’t have the luxury of much ice and definitely not any to throw overboard.

The next day we took the dinghy and went exploring. We saw they had really built up here. There were quite a few houses on shore that were never here before. We found the canal they made to the new Bakers Bay Marina.

 

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They had built all kinds of waterways with docks on a lot of them for future homes. It looked like someone put a lot of money in here and were hoping for a building boom. It would be a great investment if you had some money to build on one of these canal lots that led either to the ocean side or the bay. Wowl!!

The next day we pulled anchor and anxiously headed for the dreaded Whale Cay Passage. At least Carol dreads this passage becasue of past passages through these reefs. As a boater when you read or hear the word danger you pay attention. The Whale Cay Passage can be a rough passage at times because you leave the unprotected waters of the Sea of Abaco and the lee of the cay

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to head out into unprotected ocean waters. A long sandy shoal extending from the Treasure Cay peninsula out to Whale Cay means most moderate to deep draft boats must exit the Sea of Abaco and pass on the ocean side of Whale Cay. A rage can shut this passage down for days. You really have to pay attention to weather and sea conditions here. Many a freighter or boat has gone down in this passage through the treacherous seas through the reefs. The entire Whale Cay Passage is less than 4 miles long but it is good to have it behind us.

We arrived in Green Turtle, Abaco at 1345 and glad to finally be anchored. We looked around and saw no boats in the anchorage where we ususally anchored. In times past, this time of year there would be a lot of boats here. We did see some sailboats anchored way out and we wondered why? Did they not let you anchor here anymore? We waited awhile and no one came and told us to move so it must have been OK, we hope!

Stay tuned for more adventures from John & Carol aboard the S/V Sweet Caroline

 

 

eet Caroline

Abaco, Bahamas - Little Harbour to Hope Town

Ships Log Entry 60

5-27-12 – 6-9-12


We departed Royal Island, Eleuthera, Bahamas this morning bright and early at 0600 and headed for the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas. 

We only put our jib up because the main needed some work that we planned later to fix. The jib still does a good job to keep us from rolling too much. Once on our trip, we had put up our stay sail and you had to go up on deck to put it up. We couldn’t control it from the cockpit like we do our jib because it is self-tending and the jib is roller furling. The ideal setup is to be able to control all your sails from the cockpit but we just didn’t have the money when we left for that. You can’t have everything you wish for. The seas are hitting us on our starboard stern quarter. It started to get a little rougher around 1030 and continued that way most of the day. It sure wasn’t a cake walk this passage. 

 
We finally spotted the Abaco Islands, which are a collection of 150 islands and of the 150 only 15 are inhabited.

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The Lucayans, who were a branch of the Tainos, first inhabited the islands. The Tainos inhabited most of the Caribbean islands at the time. The first European settlers of the islands were Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution who arrived in 1783. They made their modest living by salvaging wrecks, building small wooden boats and basic farming. We heard some really good stories about them salvaging wrecks, especially in Hope Town, but we don’t know if they are true or not.

In the Abaco’s the fish are supposed to be abundant and the fishing is excellent if you know what you are doing. Obviously we don’t know much about fishing because we have only caught of few but most of the time we weren’t really trying. Ha Ha! It is too hard to troll a line behind the sailboat when you are pulling a dinghy, which we were most of the time. It you happen to get a pull on your line, it is real hard to get the fish into the boat around the dinghy.
 

We proceeded to the entrance which is through the reefs at Little Harbour into the Sea of Abaco. It didn’t look very wide and it’s always scary for Carol. I remember the last time we came through here in 2002, the boat ahead of us, one of their crew members, went up the mast to get a better look at the inlet so as to guide them through.

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In terms of its physical environment, the Sea of Abaco has earned a reputation for a phenomenon known as the “Abaco Rage”. Beyond the eastern edge of the sea, in the Atlantic Ocean, the seafloor drops off rapidly, generally deepening more than 200 meters (650 feet) over a distance of only a few kilometers. As swells from the ocean move west towards the Sea of Abaco, the sudden shallowness can cause the swells to slow down and pile up, building into large waves. For small vessels, and that is what we are, navigation can be extremely difficult in the shallow channels between the Abaco Cays.  It can be very rough at times, either coming in or going out. John our ever-efficient Captain took us through with not a nary mishap. Every morning they have a VHF radio broadcast put on by the cruisers which is called the Cruisers Net and they tell which inlet is do-able or not. If you missed the broadcast coming back in, you just have to eyeball it and make sure the rollers aren’t too high.

The Sea of Abaco is protected by outer cays and offers some of the clearest, most beautiful, turquoise water you will ever encounter. The average depth of the Sea of Abaco is only 18 feet and you can count the Starfish on the bottom as you pass by.

After coming into the Sea of Abaco we made a right turn and anchored at Lynyard Cay which is a quiet little cay with a few scattered holiday homes. We were sipping our rum and coke’s at 1730 (5:30 pm for you land lubbers).

As soon as we got settled in, John went straight to the computer to see if he could pick up WiFi and needless to say he found out he had to pay for it of all things. John got signed up for the WiFi, which was being broadcasted from Marsh Harbour. He had to pay $70 dollars a month for it and he thought this was a little pricey but since we haven’t paid for WiFi much since we left in 2008 he decided to get it.

A little later, Carol being the NASCAR fan that she is, listened to the race at Charlotte, N.C. over our Sirius radio. Needless to say, her race driver didn’t win but came in 6th.

The next day after a lazy late breakfast we took the dinghy and went exploring over to Lynyard Cay. We saw where a lot of cruisers had left floats, etc. behind.

 

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We then walked across the island to the ocean side. The beach was full of seaweed and the ocean was kicking up. I’m glad we went through the reef yesterday for the cut looked pretty wicked today.

We departed Lynyard Cay the next day around 1200 and arrived at Marsh Harbour at 1530 (3:30pm).

 

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Marsh Harbour, on the island of Great Abaco, is the third largest town in The Bahamas after Nassau and Freeport but there are only about 6,000 people living here. There are no casinos and life runs at a slower pace. It is the commercial center of the Abaco’s where you will find most of your shopping needs. They also have ferry service running to the other islands if you so desire.

After anchoring we decided to go to town to the grocery store. We walked around and around and never found the grocery store we were looking for. It had only been four years since we were here and things have really changed on our trip looking for our grocery store. We found another one that looked pretty big compared to what we were used to. We walked around inside looking at prices and picked up a few things we desperately needed for the boat.

The next day we went back to town and did some serious looking for some stores that were there in 2008. We went into every hardware store we saw, looking for a stainless steel coffee pot for our gas stove. The glass piece on the top of the coffee pot broke and it is now glued on. We didn’t have any luck there but we did find a bakery and purchased some homemade bread. We finally found the grocery store we were looking for yesterday and it was in the same place as it was in 2008. I guess yesterday we were just a little confused.

It’s been raining a lot lately and in fact ever since we have gotten into the Bahamas it’s been raining a lot. It doesn’t make for good boating weather.

On Friday June 1st we had a storm come through and we clocked winds up to 40mph. We also had severe lightning and that is one thing we didn’t see in the Caribbean. We had forgotten how severe it could get. Two boats in our anchorage got hit and lost their antenna and electronics. One of the boats hit said the replacement cost to fix his boat was over $20,000

Tuesday another bad storm came through and this time we saw a water spout over Marsh Harbour going from the SE to the SW.

 

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We saw it touch down but it was a distance from us. It still looked impressive. Later that day we had another storm come through with winds packing over 41mph this time. I’m glad it was during the day so we could make sure we were holding and no one was dragging on us.

We had more storms later in the week and it seemed they were all coming off Florida and heading our way. In between rainstorms we went into town one day and did laundry. That always takes such a long time and one of the chores Carol hates doing but someone needs to do it.. While I was doing the laundry, John went to the grocery store and bought some more things we needed. We now knew which grocery store to go to and the one least inexpensive. They were pretty much near one another.

We departed Marsh Harbour around 1000 on June 9th and arrived outside Hope Town where we anchored around 1230.

 

Stay tuned for more adventures from John & Carol aboard the S/V Sweet Caroline

Exuma, New Providence, and Eleuthera Bahamas

   Ships  Log Entry 59

  5-10-12 – 5-27-12

 

We pulled anchor 0640, May 10th & finally left George Town, Exuma, Bahamas, maybe for the last time. We put the jib up but after a few hours we had to take it down. The seas were two feet or less and little if any wind.  Carol said, “This is how I like the seas – flat” and John said, “We don’t always get the seas we want so be grateful for what we get”.

We arrived in Black Point, Great Guana Cay, Exuma at 1700. It is picturesque and is the largest and most traditional native village in the northern and central Exuma. It is located about 85 miles southeast of Nassau and five miles south of Staniel Cay. Its charm is that it's totally off the beaten tourism track, where visitors can truly "go native" yet have all the amenities for a great vacation. The beaches are incredible…. stretches of white-pink powder sand with azure tranquil water. The quietude of the locale made our stay in the Exumas a wonderful experience.

While Black Point has not experienced any tourism "boom", yachtsmen have made it a favorite stop for years, enjoying the local friendly atmosphere and hospitality. A bulletin board in Lorraine's Café is one giant calling card and much to our dismay the day we were in town they weren’t open or they were just closed for a while. We wanted to get some of her homemade bread. We had heard that her brothers are superb snorkeling and fishing guides.

Visitors will also enjoy a whimsical "Garden of Eden" created by one of the local residents, Willie Rolle.

 

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It is a collection of driftwood, shells, and odds and ends to bring a smile to anyone viewing this masterpiece. This is a must see place and this is the second time we have been through it. He’s also got every plant, tree, vegetable and flower imaginable growing out of limestone cracks in the ground. They call it rock farming.

We heard that there was a "blowhole" within walking distance where sea spray whooshes through on the tide. The community has many colorful houses, along with a clinic, school, three churches, grocery and restaurants.

John is back working on the dinghy keel. It keeps leaking air and he keeps patching it. It’s got patches all over it now. The keel had come out from under the floorboards on our trip from George Town to here so it was easy for John to get it out of the dinghy and onto our sailboat to work on it. He says the keel is a poor design and we have had problems with it since we bought it.

We had a little excitement one afternoon. We heard over the VHF radio that a teenager had fallen overboard. The parents didn’t even know when he fell over or that he wasn’t aboard the sailboat. He was not wearing a PFD (Personal Floatation Device). They got a small airplane, several powerboats and two sailboats to look for this teen. After about two hours of nail biting they found him floating in the water safe and sound. It could have really turned out to be a disaster but he was lucky.

John finally decided the keel was finally not leaking after many attempts of patching the little holes that somehow appear out of nowhere. We took the dinghy over to the government dock; where they have a spacious concrete launching ramp and we could take off the dinghy motor, remove the floorboards and then replace the keel on the bottom of the dinghy. We needed to eat our wheaties that morning because that dinghy is heavy and hard to lift, even with two people. Next we put the floorboards back in and then the dinghy motor and now we were ready to go with our dinghy “if we wanted to”, flying at 25-30 mph. You need lots of room and no boats around to do this stunt.

We left Black Point the afternoon of the 15th of May after waiting for the rain to quit. We had a short sail to Big Majors Spot, Exuma, Bahamas and arrived after almost two hours. There were a lot of boats anchored around and some were very large powerboats or “Yachts”. It is a very popular anchorage, and is comfortable and protected in all but westerly winds.  The cay is about a mile long and the whole island is a series of steep hills and valleys. Not only is it a great place for snorkeling and beach bumming; however, the main attraction here is not the beach, nor the island, nor the pretty water… it’s the swimming pigs. 
 
 When Pigs Fly!  Huh,  I mean Swim!

Swim, you say? Yes, that's right.... swimming pigs!  The swimming pigs of Big Major's are the major tourist attraction and celebrities of this little cay. It’s a hoot to frolic in the surf with the pigs.  The pigs come swimming to greet you upon your arrival at Big Major's as soon as you come close to shore in your dinghy.  Don't they look all cuddly, sweet & innocent!!

 

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I don’t think so!  These "little" piggies are expecting (and demand) to be fed. Bread and lettuce I’m told are their favorites. If you don't produce the goods soon enough, the largest of the pigs (really, I think they should be called swimming HOGS... because these pigs weigh 200-300 pounds) will swim up to your dinghy and try to get a hoof-hold (is that a word???) on the dinghy tubes and try to get in with you to grab the grub!  The pigs really aren't wild, as they say they are, for they were placed on the island years ago by a couple of Staniel Cay residents.  There are several adult pigs and of course some baby pigs or are they called piglets.  As for us, we came by dinghy and forgot about the food to feed the pigs, and scurried past out of their reach to head for the grocery store we knew was on Staniel Cay which was the next island.

We left there May 19th at 1000 and arrived at Allens Cay at 1115. We got a good holding place to anchor and there weren’t many boats in there yet. This place fills up fast in the early afternoon so it’s best to get there early to get a good anchoring spot. Allan’s Cay is one of the few places in the “Out Islands of The Bahamas”, where you can see iguanas. While looks can be deceiving, and they might look fierce, these iguanas are actually a gentle lizard. We took the dinghy over to shore to see them a little better up close.

 

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Carol didn’t want to get too close because they really did look like mini dinosaurs. We walked around for awhile but decided we didn’t want to tramp through the high weeds because they had poison wood on the island and we didn’t want to get in that!

We got a good weather window so we pulled anchor at 0825 and left for Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas. The sail was uneventful and we came into the east side of the island at 1640.

Nassau has a very colored past and was formerly known as Charles Town and in 1684 it was burned to the ground by the Spanish, later rebuilt and renamed Nassau. Nassau is the capital, largest city, and commercial center of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. The city is located on the island of New Providence, which functions much like a business district. Nassau is the site of the House of Assembly and various judicial departments and was considered historically to be a stronghold of pirates. In 1713, the sparsely settled Bahamas had become a pirate haven for pirate chieftains Thomas Barrow and Benjamin Hornigold. They proclaimed Nassau a pirate republic, establishing themselves as "governors", and were joined by Charles Vane, Calico Jack Rackham and the infamous Edward Teach known as “Blackbeard”, along with women pirates such as Anne Bonny and Mary Reed.

Coming through the reefs we lost our lure and all our trolling fishing line to some big fish, shark or was it a whale. By the time we heard the reel running out it was too late to stop it. A good thing the pole was tied good to the back of the boat or we might have lost it too or maybe the fish would have caught us. John thinks it wasn’t a fish at all but a jet ski who came across our line just about the time we were coming through the reefs. We will never really know what happened but it’s great to think it was the big one that got away.  We found a place to anchor down by the cruise ships, picture taking position of  the famed Atlantis Hotel

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and near Green Parrot  Restaurant that had a dock that the cruisers used to tie up their dinghies to when they went to town. It took a few tries to set the anchor so it wouldn’t drag or so we hoped.  After about ten minutes we decided we were too close to one boat if we swung that way so we decided to move. You have to make sure the anchor is holding good because they have a couple of knots of current running through the harbor when the tide changes direction. John set the GPS waypoint to where we anchored so we could watch if we were dragging or not. He checked it several times during the night because the boat would change directions every time the tide changed and the boat would turn with the current. You might be facing west when you went to sleep and in the morning you would be facing east. You try to anchor away from boats that are on moorings because they swing a shorter arc.

The next day, Monday the 21st of May it started raining and rained off and on for almost a week. Needless to say we didn’t do much touring of the island as we would have liked to if the weather would have permitted us to do so. We did go out a few days for groceries and to the bakery nearby for home made bread and sweet rolls. One day when we decided this was enough of sitting around the boat we ventured downtown and checked out a few stores in between rains. We went down by the cruise ships

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but didn’t see a lot of people scurrying about. We were told the crime rate is quite high there so the cruise ships don’t stay there overnight anymore.

We had about as much as we could handle of Nassau so on Saturday we got a weather window and headed for Royal Island, Eleuthera, Bahamas. We left at 0710 and arrived at 1512. The ocean was flat the whole trip and we had to motor the whole way.

Royal Island is a 430-acre island approximately 190 miles east of Miami near Spanish Wells, Eleuthera Island. Roger Staubach, former Hall-of-Fame quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, along with Jack Nicklaus, and Cypress Equities, developer, purchased it October 10th, 2006. They had big ideas but I’m not sure it got built like they planned.

 

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When we anchored here in May of 2008 they had just started working on the Jack Nicklaus Golf Course. We had to anchor out in the middle of the harbour because they had all the cranes by where we had wanted to anchor and where the Yachtsman’s Guide said to anchor. It was here during the night the tide went out and we were on our side aground. When the tide came back in we were floating again. We made sure we didn’t anchor there because we didn’t want that experience again. There were other cruisers over near shore so we anchored by them in about 10 feet of water. The anchor held great during the night and we didn’t list to one side at all.

We got up at first light and left the harbour at 0600 headed for the Abaco’s, Bahamas.

Stay tuned for more adventures from John & Carol aboard the S/V Sweet Caroline

George Town, Exuma, Bahamas

Ships Log Entry 58

4-20-12 to 5-9-12 


On Friday, April 20th, we wanted to have some friends, Susan and Robert, from S/V Impetuous III  over for drinks and snacks. After getting a little into the spirits we decided to have a conch-blowing contest, to see who could blow the conch horn the best. Robert definitely came out the winner, with John coming in last and blowing like a wimp. He still hasn’t gotten the task down after four years. I hate to describe the sounds he makes that come out of our conch horn. I guess he needs some more practice, or maybe some tutoring. Robert was so good he could be heard all over the anchorage. I was told he played a horn all throughout school and it definitely helped to blow the conch horn.

Patty from S/V Casa Mara came over to tell us she was going up the mast today to retrieve the American flag which was stuck way up the mast near the top. She wanted me to take some pictures.  They have no steps on their mast like we do so they hoisted her up in a bosom chair and she wrapped her legs around the mast for some support.

 

 

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She sure didn’t have any leverage. It was going to be a scary event. It was not a good day to be going up the mast and especially one that didn’t have steps. The wind was blowing quite strong and the boat mast was rocking up & down & side-to-side. Even in good weather this is a feat. I’m glad it was she because I would not have done it. She was like a bunny rabbit going up the mast to the top, but she did conquer all odds and brought the flag down without incident.

 

The winds tonight, Friday, April 21st were blowing hard and we clocked the highest gust at 27mph. The winds on Sunday were 34mph with high gust of 36mph. The next day, the winds clocked around to the north. S/V Small World got along side us real close. I was getting anxious that she could hit us. When we had anchored here the winds were out of the south and they had anchored behind us. So I yelled, actually I blew the whistled at them to get their attention. When they finally came up into the cockpit I yelled, “You are too close”. I didn’t want to tangle with them. That always turns out to be a disaster.

Everyone is getting ready for the week long Family Island Regatta and is really hipped up. It’s party time again. They have this Family Island Regatta every year and the locals come out in thousands for this event. We went into Georgetown and watched them unload some of the racing sloops.

 

 

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They come from all over the Bahamas for this event. They were still building the shacks around the Government dock, which will sell food and spirits.

The workboats and the racing sloops started racing today on Wednesday. They have all sorts of classes according to length. 

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We took the dinghy over to where they were racing and had front row seats from our dinghy.

  

 


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After the races we went into town and walked around watching all the people and the activities going on.

 

 

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You could tell it was party time and something was going to happen which was out of their ordinary everyday lives.

 

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That afternoon we decide to move the boat across the bay to Sand Dollar Beach because we thought we might be in the way of the races and also hopefully we wouldn’t swing so much.

The next day we picked up Robert and Susan from S/V Impetuous III and went to the Chat and Chill Restaurant/Bar, where we boarded the water taxi

 

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which took us back over to Georgetown to watch the last day of the Family Island Regatta. In town we got some local food and liquid refreshments. After eating and drinking we watched both the local school band and the Royal Bahamas Defense Force band perform.

 

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The bands were both outstanding and tons of people everywhere.

 

  

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I guess this Family Island Regatta is a big thing, put on every year and the locals come out in droves to watch/participate in this event. 

The next day it started blowing real hard but we were holding good. We weren’t going anywhere today because we would get totally drenched in the dinghy. That’s the problem anchoring on this side of the harbour.  If you want to go back over to Georgetown by dinghy you get totally wet for it is quite a stretch to go across the bay.

On Tuesday, May 1st we again moved the boat back across the bay and anchored back in Kidd’s Cove (Elizabeth Harbour). They call this back and forth across the bay according to the direction of the winds the Georgetown Scuffle. Georgetown is also called Chicken Harbour because people are afraid to go further south. Hundreds of boats come back here year after year from all over the place for the season. It is not a good place as far as we were concerned to anchor your boat here for the hurricane season. We didn’t feel there was enough protection even though they have places called Hurricane Hole, I, II and III. A lot of boaters feel confident to leave their boat here but we would never even consider it.

Our friends S/V Impetuous III left the harbour today because their boat insurance requires them to be some where north of Florida for the hurricane season.

We finally received our package from our son Steve that took 15 days from Florida by Federal Express. It went to Nassau over night and then was put on the mail boat which we call the slow boat to China. Nothing is fast here and you just go with the flow. Now we can leave the harbour and head north.

Monday May 7th was Election Day here in the Bahamas and it really gets wild with everyone yelling and screaming for their party of choice.  We thought this was a good day to stay on the boat and do some boat chores.

We went into town again on May 9th and John bought Carol a bottle of Nassau Royal Liquer,  one of her favorite drinks for Mothers Day. We also got some home made bread from someone selling it across from Exuma market. Home made bread tastes so much better and we are going to miss it. After our shopping we pulled the anchor and went across the bay to a place call Hamburger Beach. We are staging from here to get ready to leave Georgetown tomorrow and head to Black Point, Exuma, Bahamas. We hoisted up the dinghy engine and put it on the sailboat so now we are ready to leave.

 

Stay tuned for more adventures from John & Carol aboard the S/V Sweet Caroline