Andante's Sailing Blog

March 2014

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March 01, 2014 Saturday

Lee Stocking to George Town

A nice bit of sailing today on a broad reach. More than 6 knots all day. Was able to sail through the cut into Elizabeth Harbour and the five miles down to the San Dollar Beach Anchorage. Just some of the 300+ boats in the Harbour:

Ann chauffered me/us up to Chat and Chill for a beer, burger and fries.

As we left Lee Stocking I overheard a VHF conversation regarding cruiser access to the island. It seems that earlier in the season cruisers had a bonfire on the lab property and burhed down a building. We saw what was left. The consequence is that the owners now plan to close the island to everyone.

March 02, 2014 Sunday

George Town

Lounged on the boat all day today. In the afternoon I walked on Stocking Island to see if I could find CrabZilla. All that's left is a much faded warning sign that one is about to encounter the most frightening of all crustaceans.

A frustrating day trying to update my web site. My HP computer only seems to have about 1 - 1 1/2 hours of charge instead of the normal 3 hours. In addition, because of the crowd in the harbour the internet, whether via WiFi or cell hot spot, is slower than molasses on a February day in 2014.

March 03, 2014 Monday

George Town

Today was the first ever "Monument-al Madness Duathlon." That is as in Monument Beach on Stocking Island. The map below shows the three legs: run-swim-run. I finished third overall among the 19 competitors. The winner had 15+ years on me. 2nd place, a woman, had 25+ years on me.

At the duathlon site I found a nesting dinghy like the one I built with Christopher many years ago. Turned out Jamie (sea spirit) had built his at nearly the same point in time. Last year I came across one of these designs by Danny Greene, and now two this year.


03/04/2014 Tuesday

George Town

Spent a couple of hours in Julius and Kristall's internet shop working on my web site and checking into tax matters. Later went hiking to the south end of Stocking Island again. The big boats in the picture are all over 75 feet.

Some of the visitors to George Town renting run abouts don't pay much attention to the tides. The one pictured below is hard aground. They'll be there for a couple of hours.

03/05/2014 Wednesday

George Town

Right after the weather I moved the boat over to Kidd Cove in anticipation of the coming nasty weather, thus beating the George Town shuffle when everyone tries to do the same thing.

With Ann of Krazy Lady I rented a car to tour Geat Exuma. We drove north to start. When we got up to Barre Terre we found Scott and Tina with their grandson Julian (8yrs old). He is with them for the winter.

Barre Terre is the sail boat building center on Great Exuma. Here are a few examples.


The two shown below are now retired.

These boats carry huge sails so they need ample ballast. Below are lead ingots that are used for that purpose.

The traditional racing sloops are built without plans or loft diagrams. Also, they are entirely wood and use local trees for the ribs and knees. A couple of examples are below.

From Barre Terre we turned back south and stopped at a farm that Scott knows. On the way to the farm Ann and I stopped to pick some sopadilla fruit. I'll let you know how it tastes. It is unbelievable what the farm owner has been able to do with ground that is largely rock. His plantation grows tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, pumpkin, limes, and bananas. He is fortunate in that he has a fresh water source on the property.

The next stop after the farm was at the memorial to Pompey who led the slave revolt in the 1830s. Zoom in and you can read the story.

The building below is a relic from the 19th century when it served as the local jail, but what a view overlooking Exuma Sound.

In the 18th and 19th century there were working salt ponds on Little Exuma. To guide the ships in to load the salt the locals erected a pillar on a hill overlooking the salt ponds.

Scott watching grandson Julian riding the cannon at the monument.

Julian trying to climb the signal pillar.

In the neighborhood of the salt monument are the ruins of a colonial era plantation. Although it was called 'The Hermitage' it is not near the town of the same name. In fact, the signage for the ruins refers to them as "The Tombs." The black lump on what is left of the house is a termite nest! There are three tombs behind the house all dating from the 1830s. We could find two of them, but could not read any inscription; the third must be overgrown with weeds.

This is the last picture from the trip, and is at the southern end of the road!

March 06, 2014 Thursday

George Town

Slow day. Updated the web site and worked on my tax return.  Also waiting for wind to turn for the trip to Thompson Bay or some other part of the western side of Long Island.

March 07, 2014 Friday

George Town

Another slow day.  Did laundry and fetched water.  Even the mundane tasks of daily life turn into projects when you are living on a boat.  But I did take a walk out to the Fish Fry, which is George Town’s answer to the dinner shacks on Potter’s Cay in Nassau. The upper left is a beached tug that is no longer in service.The other photos are the new hospital under construction.







March 08, 2014 Saturday

George Town to Thompson Bay, Long Island

In a last minute decision Krazy Lady and Andante decided they would participate in the cruisers’ race down to Thompson Bay. The fleet departed Elizabeth Harbour at 7 AM, but the official start was down at the Hog Cay Cut waypoint.  It was a beautiful sailing day on beam and broad reaches with the wind in the high teens. Krazy Lady’s dinghy flipped before the start, but Ann got it back right side up in time to start the race. 


In the evening a lot of the cruisers went into the fund raiser for the local sailing club at Regatta Point. For pictures of the boats see tomorrow’s entry.


March 09, 2014 Sunday

Thompson Bay

Went snorkeling off Indian Hole Point with Krazy Lady.  No fish or lobster, but Ann found two conch.  We asked Jennica Ann for help getting out the animal and cleaning it.  After letting JA mince the animal in a failed effort I got them both out in jig time.  At least JA knew how to clean them once out of the shell.  Ann and I made enough conch salad for two meals each.


The Bahamian sloops were out on the water off Island Breeze in Salt Pond.
















March 10, 2014 Monday

Thompson Bay

During the day I went snorkeling on the Atlantic side of the island.  Another day of being skunked.  If I had to depend on my success as a hunter gatherer I would starve. The Regatta awards dinner was this evening.  Andante finished 3rd in her class and Krazy Lady received a silver flag for he seamanship skills in getting her dinghy righted in the wind and rolling seas.












March 11, 2014 Tuesday

Thompson Bay

With Krazy Lady I hitch hiked down to Dean’s Blue Hole. It took two rides to get down there and four to get back in the afternoon.  All of our rides were with locals.  Two of them were in the back of pickup trucks.  It was great fun to talk to the locals.  They were very curious about what we were doing, and we were equally curious about their lives.  Zoe was US by birth, Canadian by citizenship, and Bahamian by marriage. Soon her kids will have to get US passports, but the US does not make it easy: They have to get visas to travel to the US in order to file for citizenship, but the is a wrinkle that makes it hard for kids to get a visa! Eleanor and Victoria were a hoot and wanted to know when we would take them fishing. 

March 12, 2014 Wednesday

Thompson Bay to George Town

Another beautiful reaching day, sailing more than 6 knots for 30 nautical miles under the spinnaker. At the end of the day I anchored at Kidd Cove to wait while the wind wound through the western half the compass as another front approaches.

March 13, 2014 Thursday

George Town

In the AM I took care of a couple of errands, including renewing my iPad data plan. In the PM I moved over to Sand Dollar in anticipation of the wind clocking around to the NNW to N to NE and E tonight and tomorrow.

March 18, 2014 Tuesday George Town to Thompson Bay, Long Island
17-20 knots apparent wind all day on close reach and close hauled point of sail. Should have reefed for an easier sail.
March 19, 2014 Wednesday Thompson Bay to Water Cay in the Jumentos

Today Andante, Krazy Lady, and Indian Summer departed Long Island for the Jumentos. About a third of the way through the Comer Channel Indian SUmmer developed an engine overheat problem. After some fussing and adding water to the coolant system they decided to turn back rather than risk bigger problems in the remote Jumento Cays.

Had to motor all day due to lack of wind. There were three fishing boats in the harbour. Before the sun went down I walked up to the top of the hill overlooking the anchorage.

March 20, 2014 Thursday Water Cay to Flamingo Cay
The water colors are remarkable, even more clear than in the Exumas. Came across two fishing boats along the way and was able to smell them more than a mile out. Two fishing boats were anchored here at Flamingo Cay. They seem to be a collection point for the skiffs that spend the day running out to the lobster traps. In the afternoon there were two waterspouts north of the Cay. At Flamingo Cay there is a short cave into which one can take a dinghy, provided you watch your head. After exploring the cave we stopped at Lady Marie out of Spanish Wells to buy two lobster tails. George encouraged us to look him up when we get to Spanish Wells. Later I hiked around to the back side fo the cave to look in through the skylights.
March 21, 2014 Friday Flamingo to Hog Cay anchorage near Duncan Town
Broad reach the first 3.5 miles, then beam reach for the next 35 miles, and close hauled for the last 5 miles. The anchorage is about four miles from Duncan Town.
March 22, 2014 Saturday Hog Cay
Took the Krazy Lady dinghy into Duncan Town about noon. Had lunch at Silveertail where ?? took care of Ann's water and fuel problems. The Silvertail is the gathering place for the few cruisers who make it down here since they have free internet access even when the BTC cell system is down, which has been the case for several days. Indeed, I couldn't get my iPad data plan active again until I got back to George Town on 04/07/2014. After lunch it was time for a walkabout around the island and its settlement. The old marble farm (aka cemetary) had graves as old as 1895. Older graves may exist, but the headstones are done with concrete which deteriorates rapidly in this environment. Outside the cemetary we chatted with the local policeman for awhile. Why is there a need for a policeman in a community of 60 people? Well, there are disputes and alcohol can be a problem. In addition there is the occasional Haitian refugee boat that lands here and kust be dealt with. Duncan Town is a very entrepreneurial place: Maxine, who owns the local store, has drying racks for conch behind her house. She explained that her customer base is mostly the Chinese who use the dried conch for chowder. This activity explains the huge conch shell middens lining the channel into town. The salt ponds are still actively used to make salt for commercial production. There is a formewr restaurant out on the southwest tip of Ragged Island, known as the Eagles Nest. Percy Wilson salvaged a crahed plane, raised it up off the gound and built a restaurant inside the structure. Unfortunately his house burned about 11 years ago and his family has been living in the restaurant while he gathers the money to rebuild; not much happens fast in the Bahamas. In addition to all the junk that he has salvaged from the beaches and around the island, Percy has two Haitian sloops on his beach. The larger one (about 40 feet) landed with 150 on board. The smaller one, closer to 35 feet, had 55 on board. There was a beach party in the evening. There are about a dozen boats here, a far cry from George Town.
March 23, 2014 Sunday Hog Cay
Snorkeling among the reefs in the cut between Hog Cay and Ragged Island in the AM with George from Seaquel. No fish and no lobster. In the PM I went back to the same location with the crews from Nancy Lu, Krazy Lady and Discovery. Again no luck. When I was concerned about the large barracuda that seemed to be stalking me I swam back to the rest of the crew. On my approach I thought I saw a shark fin slicing through the water. When I got back in the boat the others confirmed my siting and Ann said she had been face-to-face with the shark. No wind today.
March 24, 2014 Monday Hog Cay
No wind again today. Bernie from the trawler Countess Cosell took us over to the Atlantic side to one of his favorite fishing holes. Almost as soon as I was in the water I had an armful of Conch. After a short while I got a sizable lobster. Bernie took Ann over to a lobster but she couldn't get enough power in her spear to go through its shell.
March 25, 2014 Hog Cay
While the wind was light from the north the north we hiked over to the Atlantic side where I got another lobster. Beforehand I put out a second anchor, my Danforth, in anticipation of the coming front. The front did materialize with higher winds and clocking W -> WNW -> SW -> NW with thunderstorms during the night. Remember this anchorage is entirely open to the west.
March 26, 2014 Hog Cay
The wind is still WNW, stronger, 14-16 knots, and veering less quickly than forecast. It was pretty uncomfortable and I spent the day on the boat since the anchorage was too rough to go ashore.
March 27, 2014 Thursday Hog Cay
The wind has come around to the east, but it still very strong and making the anchorage rolly and choppy. So much so that I gain stayed on board all day.
March 28, 2014 Friday Hog Cay
Not feeling well today. The wind is east at 18-20 knots gusting 25. In spite of all I went for a hike on Hog Cay with Bernie and Ann. With the advent of electronic charts the Jumentos have been an increasingly popular cruising ground. Some wags now refer to it as George Town South: cut trails on the island, yoga on the bach in the AM and potlucks on the beach in the PM.
March 29, 2014 Saturday Hog Cay to Raccoon Cay
Finally there is just the right amount of wind to move! It was a run and broad reach up to Raccoon, with just Andante and Krazy Lady in the anchorage. At the start of the sail the shackle fell out of the mainsheet block and tackle. Fortunately I found another that would fit and was on my way quickly enough. After entering the anchorage I dove on my anchor. Almost as soon as I was over the anchr a barracuda showed up. What is it with these guys? While here we visited the Salt Pond, ruins of a house and Pimlico Cay. Pimlico has many lobster and fish traps stored here.
March 30, 2014 Sunday Raccoon Cay to Buena Vista Cay
Broad reach today. Anchored off Edward's farm/beach/shack. Hiked up to the cave in the bluff, down to Low Water Harbour, and to the Atlantic side. While walking on the beach some local fisherman bringing in the traps for the close of the season gave us three lobster. At the end of the day we moved the boats further off the beach into deeper sand in anticipation of the stronger winds piping up from the north. This made for an uncomfortable night.
March 31, 2014 Monday Buena Vista Cay to Hog Cay
With the wind from the north there was no way to make our way back to Long Isalnd and/or George Town so we hightailed it back to Hog Cay where we could anchor behind some bluffs for a bit of protection from the N wind.. After arrival we hiked out to the Atlantic. Lobster for dinner.

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