Andante's Sailing Blog

April 2014

BLOG Table of Contents

Back to March 2014                                                                                             Ahead to May 2014
April 1, 2014 Hog Cay
Moved boat 1500 ft south and closer to the beach in order to get more shelter from the wind and swell. Killing time waiting for the the wind to settle down and veer from north to at least ENE. Made brownies as a contribution to playing Mah Jongg and Cribbage with Nancy LU (Mark and Kathy), Journey (Wayne and Dana) and Krazy Lady (Ann).
April 2, 2014 Hog Cay
Spin casting along the rocks and reefs around the achorage. No luck, although I did see that Maxine (of dried Conch fame) was catching fish. Took a short walk on Hog Cay. At the end of the day the Hog Cay Holdouts had a potluck on the beach: Hold Fast (Myron and Dina), Amante (John and Vera), Journey (Wayne and Dana), Discovery (Bob and Anita), Nancy Lu (Mark and Kathy), Krazy Lady. Just a note in passing, Bob Discovery transitioned from being a tennis coach into being a mortgage broker. By luck and design he survived the mortgage meltdown of 2008. Oh yes, we are all still waiting for the wind to diminsh and veer. Nancy Lu and Discovery are planning to go north and west up the west side of Great Exuma. This should be a challenge for Nancy Lu has a draft of more than 6 feet. It won't be simple for Discovery either since their draft is over 5 feet.
April 3, 2014 Hog Cay to Raccoon Cay, Again
Wing and wing out of the anchorage, to a broad reach, then close hauled after the turn at the Margaret Shoal waypoint. This morning I can see two sailboats headed south. They could be going to Hispaniola and then to the eastern Caribbean or to Cuba. After arrival at Raccoon Cay we hiked around looking for the fresh water well that gives Spanish Well Bay its name. Ann gathered salt at the edge of the salt pond and palm fronds for her basket making.
April 4, 2014 Raccoon Cay to Buena Vista Cay, Again
A very short sail on a beam reach. Recall this is the location of Edward's little farm. This time we anchored south of his farm in more sand. There is a veritable mob anchored here; a total of 5 boats. In the afternoon we went walking on the beach trying to find trails over to the Atlantic on the south end of the island; no luck. Today is my Dad's birthday.
April 5, 2014 Saturday Buena Vista Cay to Water Cay
The wind was light today so imposed the 4 knot rule: If I can't make four knots under sail when I have a distant destination (38 miles today) then I turn onthe motor to keep the boat speed up. Today we seemed to have George Town weather. Over the last two weeks the weather in the Jumentos was more similar to that of the southeast Bahamas. Water Cay is where I started my sojourn in the Jumentos. It is the first sheltered anchorage when coming from either Hog Cay Cut on Great Exuma or Thompson Bay, Long Island (or the last if you're heading the other way.
April 6, 2014 Sunday Water Cay to Thompson Bay -- Salt Pond, Long Island
Beam reach to the west end of Comer Channel then close hauled to Salt Pond. The intent was to get the tidwe through the Hog Cay Cut then go NW up to George Town. The Hog Cay Cut is narrow and very shallow. I can get through it only near high tide. George on Seaquel had given me his waypoints through the cut, but in the end I chickened out and headed east through the Comer Channel to Salt Pond. At the decision point I radioed Krazy Lady that I'd buy her a beer and burger at Long Island Breeze Resort. On arrival we found out that the Breeze was closed both today and tomorrow!
April 7, 2014 Monday Salt Pond to George Town
A slow sailing day, in spite of the forecast. Left Salt Pond on wing and wing, and sailed that way to the White Cay way point. Everyone was struggling to find a way to keep their boats moving in the light air. Some tried sailing a broad reach and jibing so that they could stay on track for White Cay. Some motor sailed. After White Cay it was a beam reach westward to Hog Cay Cut, where I launched the spinnaker for the run to North Channel Rock. At North Channel Rock the spinnaker sock jammed, creating some excitement for awhile as I struggled to get all that nylon down on deck.
April 8, 2014 George Town
Laundry, internet, data card access problem straightened out,groceries. A typical George Town sort of day.
April 9, 2014 George Town
Hhmm. Just what did I do today? I think this happens to a lot of people who get their boats to George Town. It is alternately known as Velcro Bay and Chicken Harbor: Once you're there it is very difficult to move on and explore more of the unknown.
April 10, 2014 George Town
Helped Brian and Teddy Sue with some problems on Indian Summer. We went to Peace and Plenty for dinner and what was billed as a Rake and Scrape. The Rake and Scrape band uses instruments reminiscent of an Amrican jug band: a gallon jug, a saw with a hammer, a wash tub with a string and broom handle, all unamplified. P&P turned out to be a big disappointment. Their Rake and Scrape band turned out to be all electronic playing the traditional tunes. Sometime later, after I left George Town, I heard from folks who went to Eddie's Edgewater (the true home of Rake and Scrape in George Town) that the same thing has happened there.
April 11, 2014 George Town
The cell system was down again today so I'll have to wait in order to activate my data plan. Brian and Teddy Sue have a car rental again so we visited Prime Island Meats, the hardware store, then on down to the Rolle Town Tombs and Turquoise Bay. Turquoise Bay used to be an outpost of Peace and Plenty. It now has new owners who have rehabbed the place and are promoting it as a small upscale resort. Cloudy and cool again today, with little wind.
April 12, 2014 George Town
A drizzly cloudy day. It must be spring. Groceries. Pot luck dinner on Mirador (George and Sara). Wow, Brian can sing and knows the lyrics for an incredible number of songs.
April 13, 2014 George Town

The sun is out. Explore the Exuma Sound side of Stocking Island. Found lots of pools and cascades among the rocks along the beach. In the evening there was a birthday party for Ted WIlliams at flip-flop beach. This is now quiite an affair with tables, a firepit, benches and an elaborate gazebo; all constructed by cruisers over the years.

The party was supposed to have been at Salt Pond several days ago, but the morning of departure he ran aground and couldn't get out in time to make the sail to LI to attend his party. Those who did get there had a party on his behalf and constructed a cardboard effigy so that he could be there in spirit.

April 14, 2014 George Town to New Bight, Cat Island
On departure from the Monument Beach anchorage near flip-flop, this was a day of close reaching and close hauled as the north flowing current in the Sound set me off course. The fifty miles took about nine hours. The wind direction today and for the coming days has precluded getting to Conception this year, although I did see some boats that must have been motor sailing in an attempt to make it.
April 15, 2014 New Bight, Cat Island
Including me there are only six boats in the anchorage. This is not a popular stop for cruising boats headed back north. I suspect it is because the anchorage is completely open to the west and Cat Island has very few places to get shelter from a passing cold front. Today's activties included a visit to Mt Alvernia, the highest spot in the Bahamas. On retirement Father Jerome built The Hermitage on the top of the hill. It is all in very small scale, leading one to believe that Father Jerome must have been a very small person. Also did a photo and walking tour of New Bight. Ann and I stopped to have lunch at one of the fish fry shacks. We chose the one that had locals eating there rather than boaters and tourists. We enjoyed lunch with Pompeii and two others. Pompeii was playing backgammon with a young woman attached to the shack cum restaurant. It was a spirited game and they both kept up a running conversation with us.
April 16, 2014 New Bight, Cat Island

Krazy Lady and I rented a car to tour the island. The car rental woman is the first cranky Bahamian that we have laid eyes on! Our first stop was a 130 years old Anglican Church in Old Bight. Sitting under a tree next to the church was a very old woman, the tip off was no teeth. As a general rule the Bahamians have very good teeth; no refined sugar in their diet. Anyway, the woman told us that she knew Father Jerome when she was girl and that he was my size (6 feet). If she is right about Father Jerome's size then he would have been very cramped in the Hermitage. On the other hand he might have built it so small in order to emphasize his humility in the eyes of God. The woman also told us she thought the church had been built during the time of slavery, in spite of a plaque in the buiolding stating its year of construction.

After the church we drove east and south to Green Tree Resort on the Atlantic side of the island. This is a small boutique resort that is difficult to get to even if you come up from the airport on the southwest corner of the island near the Hawk's Nest Marina. The route we chose was very daunting indeed. One of the managers at the resort encouraged us to go the Healing Hole. This is a salt water pond that is so salty that you flost on the water instead of in it.

From the Healing Hole we drove west through Port Howe where we found one of the nicest, newest Kids' playgrounds we've seen in the Bahamas. In addition there were ruins dating from the colonial Loyalist era. We were not able to find the nearby Bourbon Plantation Ruins. Lunch at Hawk's Nest Marina was a little pricey. But what can you expect at a place that caters to the sport fish crowd that flies their own planes in to go fishing on the 60+ foot yacht. We also drove north to Arthur's Town where we came across the Bat Cave and another first class kids' playground. Road conditions and affluence deteriorated the further north on the island that we drove.

April 17, 2014 New Bight to Little San Salvador
We moved on from New Bight because there is a forecast for a cold front reaching the area, even though it is quite late in the season for this to happen. Little San Salvador is owned by one of the cruise ship companies. I visited here in 2001 with Christopher and Ocean Explorer, and last year in the company of Meltemi, Indian Summer and Spartina. Last year there was no cruise ship in the anchorage so we went ashore. This year a ship was present and there were crowds on shore so we didn't go in. We later learned that as long as one beaches the dinghy away from the passengers that one can infiltrate the crowd and get a free meal.
April 18, 2014 Little San Salvador to Rock Sound, Eleuthera

Pretty good wind for sailing today. For awhile I sailed under main alone on the broad reach because the roll kept dumping the wind out of the genoa and flogging it. Eventually in the lee of Eleuthera the seas were flat enough to roll the genoa out again and sail wing and wing. As I turned the corner at Cape Eleuthera I reefed the main and rolled in some genoa. Before long I had to give even that up. The ten miles from the cape to Rock Sound is in a natural channel through the sand bars, but it is too narrow to try to tack. The result was ten miles of motoring into 17 knots of wind. Yuck.

On getting into Rock Sound we headed for an anchorage at the south end of the sound near Starved Creek. The intent was to be able to find shelter from the early stages of yet another late season cold front. It was impossible to find sand to anchor in. I dove on the anchor and found that it was just caught on a piece of rock under a few inches of sand and silt. After many tries Andante and Krazy Lady decided to bite the bullet and went up and anchored off the settlement. This weekend has turned out to be homecoming so there was fish fry and concert venue set up along the shore. Lots of food and loud music until the wee hours.

April 19, 2014 Rock Sound
Stayed on the boat all day due to wind and rough anchorage. If there is grass in an anchorage, leave it to me to find it. My little Bruce does not do well in grass. Naturally I dragged in the morning and had to reset. In anticipation of the west and north component winds to come I went over to the west side of Rock Sound.
April 20, 2014 Sunday Easter Sunday in Rock Sound
Due to high wind and rough anchorage this was another day spent on the boat.
April 21, 2014 Rock Sound
The wind has settled down, but it is still from the NW so anchoring off the town wouldn't be too comfortable. During the day I checked the coupling and strut bolts to make sure everything is tight. In the afternoon Krazy Lady and I hiked on the beach down to the mangroves. There was no deep channel in them for turtles. On the way back up the beach we collected a mountain of sponges that must have washed up into the Sound from elsewhere. At one time the Bahamas were prime sponging grounds, but at some point a blight wiped out most of the sponge beds.
April 22, 2014 Rock Sound
Moved the boat back over to the anchorage off town now that the wind has swung more around to the east. Visited the Batelco store then walked on to the Ocean Hole. The blue hole was cleaner and more landscaped than when I was here 13 years ago. At the Ocean Hole we met some locals in town for homecoming who took us to the caves south of town. After our visit to the cave we took the LONG walk out to the Atlantic beach.
April 23, 2014 Rock Sound
Today Andante and Krazy Lady shared a car rental with Wayne and Dana (Journey). Our first stop was the Island School. This was founded by a faculty memer at Lawrenceville Academy (NJ) about fifteen years ago as a marine sciences study abroad program. The program has flourished and now includes a research arm that hosts visiting scholars. The facility is designed and operated to have minimal impact on the environment. Almost all their power comes from solar panels, with fill-in from their bio-diesel generator. They get the bio-diesel from the island's restaurants. Although they have RO water, they go to great lengths to recycle it by running it through artificial wetlands. In addition they grow a large proportion of their own food. After visitng the school we stopped for a cuppa passion fruit sorbee at Henry's roadside vegetable stand. Then it was on to Lighthouse Beach. We went snorkeling on the reef off the beach; the weather is still quite settled. While out on the reef I found a large lobster that was taunting me by strolling across the sand. It was as though he knew that it was out of season to take lobster. Our last stop of the day was in Tarpum Bay to buy fresh fish. Dana supplied the recipe for Veracruzan Fish.
April 24, 2014 Thursday Rock Sound to Tarpum Bay
Bored to tears with either too much wind or no wind and remaining in Rock Sound for six days the decision was made to move a little north to Tarpum Bay. We had stopped there briefly with Wayne and Dana and wanted to see what else the settlement had to offer. My out of date cruising guide said that it was home to an artist of some repute and other artists had also settled there. There was also the promise of some art galleries showing the works of locals. Arrival was early enough that a walk around town was in order. The artist referenced in the guide had built himself a home that looked like a castle, known locally as Macmillan Castle, high on a hill at the edge of town. He also ran a gallery there. However, he has died and the other artists moved away. There is no nascent art colony here anymore. On walking around town it is apparent that the economic recovery to be found in Long Island, the Exumas and even distant Ragged Island has not found its way to Tarpum Bay. A lot could be done with this little community of the central government put some effort in to nudging along the art colony concept. Contrary to the cruising guide there is good holding in sand off the town. We played good samaritan when we towed into town a local fisherman whose boat engine had quit.
April 25, 2014 Friday Tarpum Bay to Governor's Harbor
Another short day of sailing on a beam reach in a nice breeze. In the afternoon we had a brief walk through town and went to the weekly fish fry in the evening. The fish fry, unlike George Town, was largely frequented by tourists. Had to wonder where the locals were on a Friday evening.
April 26, 2014 Governor's Harbor
The big project for the day was to hike out to the Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve. After Longwood Gardens outside Philadelphia and the New York Botanical Gardens I would have to say this is one of the best arboretums I have visited. It is well thoght out, comprehensive, and all the plants are clearly labelled.
April 27, 2014 Sunday Governor's Harbor to Hatchet Bay
Departed on a broad reach. Launched the spinnaker and again had trouble with the dousing sock. To get it straightened out I had to run it up and down twice. Once inside I picked up one of the free moorings installed by the government in Nassau. Krazy Lady and I went into town and pulled up a bar stool at Da Spot. The barmaid told us they would not be cooking until much later, without defining much later. We asked about other eateries here in Alice Town. She said there were none. After finsihing our beer we walked up the street and came across Twin Brothers, a restaurant and bar with rooms to let in a cute adjacent building. All I habve to say to Da Spot is liar, liar pants on fire. Twin Brothers got our business and we had a good time talking to the very young and charming barmaid.
April 28, 2014 Monday Hatchet Bay
Another car rental day with Wayne and Dana. This time we went north. First stop was the Hatchet Bay caves. The folklore is that these run westward to an outlet on Exuma Sound and that the cave was used pirates. We did go down inside but didn't stay long or hike very far since we had no string to lay down a line to follow and we were not sure of the battery life in our flashlights. As an experiment we did turn out our flashes. It was pitch black. If our batteries died we would have had to crawl back out. Next stop was Surfer Beach where we found a bubbly pool in which to go wading. From there we drove on to Gregory Town. This is another cute little settlement that depends on jobs at the resorts elsewhere on Eleuthera. Further north we got to the Queen's Baths. This is a set of rock formations on the Atlantic Ocean side that has natural pools when the tide is out. When the tide is in it would be treachorous climbing to the baths. From the baths we went to the Glass Window. Decades ago this was a natural rock bridge with the Atlantic on one side and Exuma sound on the other, and the tides flowing between them. In the 1920s the natural bridge was destroyed by a hurricane. SInce then a manmade bridge has, wioth considerable maintenance expense, spanned the opening. Before going back to Hatchet Bay we stopped at a pink sand beach and did some body surfing. There was a cool blow hole in the rocks at the end of the beach.
April 29, 2014 Tuesday Hatchet Bay to The Current
To get through from the banks on the southern end of Eleuthera to the banks on the Spanish Wells side one has to go through Current Cut. The tidal flow through here even exceeds that of the infamous Hell Gate in New York. We timed things so that we wouldn't be going through at the most rapid flow. Even then I made 9.5 knots over the ground while running the engine at an idle. Once through we anchored off a fine sand beach then went for a walk in the little town. The Current is more prosperous than the cruising guide would have you believe.
April 30, 2014 The Current to Spanish Wells
Nice broad reach, then beam reach and finally close hauled for the last 1 1/2 miles up to the entrance into Spanish Wells harbour. We got in early and all three boats were able to pick up moorings. The mooring field is well protected for yet one more late season cold front. Went for a walk through town.
April 9, 2014 back to







Raccoon 04


day Hear
ember to
Back to March 2014                                                                                          Ahead to May 2014