Bouncing across the Gulf Stream to Bimini – 1/31/16

First of All -

  • First time (this cruise) out on the deep Atlantic
  • First flying fish sighted
  • First Portugese Man O War jellyfish sighted
  • First bull shark seen
  • First time on the trip entering a foreign country

Namely Speaking-

  • Gulf Stream
  • Alice Town
  • Bimini

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 68; Sail: 0 (motor sailed a couple hours)
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 2,695
  • Hours Underway: 10 1/2 hours
  • Fuel: 11.1 gallons
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.7
  • Wind Speed: 12; Wind Direction: ESE to E
  • Daily High Temperature: 75
  • Water Temperature: 77 in the Gulf Stream

DSCF0226I awaken shortly before the alarm goes off and then doze off. The alarm does its job. I’d laid out proper clothing the night before, and Sandy put together a breakfast snack bag of granola bars, cinnamon rolls, box of juice, and hard candy, so I’m quickly able to put myself together and go up on deck. She heated up an insulated mug of coffee last night, but 5 hours later it’s stone cold. Oh well, it was a nice try. A light breeze and a bright half moon overhead greet me when I emerge. I turn on VHF, running lights and auto pilot, start the engine, and go forward to raise the anchor. It comes up easily and clean. No mud. I swing out in our side channel and slowly motor out to the main cut, turning to port and heading out into the open Atlantic. We bob in an easy gentle swell as I follow my “breadcrumb trail” out between the navigation markers. I have no difficulty seeing them in the moonlight. My route takes us a couple miles out, to a waypoint which enables me to avoid shallow places. No running aground on this trip. At the waypoint I turn onto a course of 72 degrees E, which I calculate will take me sufficiently south of the direct line course to Bimini. This should account for the northward set of the Gulf Stream, which usually runs between 2 and 4 knots to the north. The waters stay shallow, less than 20 feet, for about 7 miles, and then gradually deepen before abruptly dropping into the abyss. The depth sounder loses track of bottom at 448 feet. After that the bottom falls off to a depth of between 2,000 and 3,000 feet. The wind is light, and starts out with just enough of an angle for me to let out some jib. This helps steady the boat in the closely spaced 2 to 3 foot swells, which act more like chop. The swells are mostly out of the north, and the sail helps prevent the boat from corkscrewing. I regularly examine the GPS screen, looking for AIS targets, which would most likely beDSCF0231 container ships. We will be crossing a major coastal shipping lane. When I scale out, I see dozens of targets within a 25 mile radius of us. Only a few get close enough for me to see their running lights. I watch one, the Maersk Denver, pass ahead of us perhaps 2 miles out. I’ve pretty much forgotten about her when our boat begins to radically climb and pound over dramatically increased seas. I cut our speed and work through them, realizing that we’ve simply hit the ship’s wake. Shortly before sunrise the wind backs into the east, which puts it on our nose and prevents me from using the sail. Our ride becomes noticeably more difficult after I roll in the jib. The seas seem to be getting bigger as well, with swells coming at us now from both the north and the east. When they peak the boat bounces abruptly. Sandy is still in bed down below, and I can only imagine how difficult the ride must be for her. It’s much easier out in the cockpit where I can see what’s going on. The chop alternately builds and eases as we work our way across. I’m treated to a peach colored sunrise, and I snap a few pictures. As the day brightens I keep a look out for flying fish, and I finally manage to spot a few, but not as many as in previous crossings. Perhaps the rough seas are making them harder to see. I also see a Portugese Man 0 War jellyfish drifting along, and a few sea birds, but that’s in terms of wildlife. I’d hoped to troll a jib and try to catch a mahi mahi during the crossing, but I never put the line out. I wouldn’t want to hook, play, land, clean and stow away fillets in these rough seas. And when the seas ease enough for me to consider fishing, we start DSCF0237encountering drifting seaweed which makes trolling a waste of time. I see very few other boats until we get within 20 miles of Bimini. Cruising power and sail boats from various points of departure are converging on Bimini. While still 10 miles out I sight the tops of trees. Land Ho! The water remains deep until just a mile or so out, and then it comes up quickly, and the depth sounder begins reading again. I I raise the yellow “quarantine” flag and follow a large motor yacht and sailboat into the entrance channel. I try radioing Bimini Blue Water Resort, the marina where we have reservations, but get no reply. When close, I approach the fuel dock and the dockmaster waves us in. He will let us tie up at the fuel dock while I go ashore to take care of Customs and Immigration procedures. The marina office provides me with the required forms, which Sandy and I fill out on the boat. Then I walk up town to the Customs Office. It’s a fairly busy place, with several boats coming in today, but there are 3 customs officials at work, and they promptly and efficiently handle the necessary paperwork. Our cruising permit costs $150, and that includes a fishing license. I think that’s a very good deal. Next I walk up the street to the Imigration Office to submit another application. The office door is closed and says I must be wearing shoes and a shirt in order to enter. I must also knock before entering. Clearly the Imigration Officer has standards. I can pass the dress code so I knock. The voice inside promptly says “Enter”. An older man is hunched over his desk, but he’s cheerful and friendly, not officious and gruff as I’d expected. It only takes a few minutes to satisfy his requirements. That done, we’re officially legal guests of the Bahamas, fully entitled to be here and enjoy this beautiful place. I walk back to the boat, fill the gas tanks, and then, with the able assistance of J.R., the dockmaster, get the boat secured in a nice protected slip. I lower the “Q” flag and replace it with our Bahamas courtesy flag. Sandy and I are both exhausted from the day’s exertions, and we both take late afternoon naps. I fix a quick dinner while Sandy showers. She ate something earlier and isn’t hungry. We’ll slow down tomorrow and try to slip into “Island Time”.

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Getting connected in Bimini – 2/1/16

First of All -

  • First time setting cell phone up for the Bahamas
  • First time riding in a right hand drive car

Namely Speaking-

  • Batelco

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: 0 – Layover day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 2,695
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.75
  • Wind Speed: 15; Wind Direction: E
  • Daily High Temperature: 73
  • Water Temperature: 75

DSCF0241I listed seeing a bull shark for the first time yesterday. That deserves additional comment. Bull sharks are probably responsible for more attacks on humans than any other species of shark. They frequent shallow places, including brackish creeks and murky water. They test out possible food items by simply biting them, and they also tend to be aggressive. They’re apparently intentionally attracted to the marinas around Alice Town by dumping cleaned fish carcasses into the water. We saw a coupleof them cruising around the marina yesterday, shortly after arriving. They were 6 to 7 feet long and easily visible in the crystal clear water. Not a good place to consider going swimming.

It’s raining when we get up this morning, and while I’m putting up the cockpit surround, the rain really starts coming down. After breakfast we grab umbrellas and takeDSCF0249 off on a rainy hike up to the Batelco office. By the time we start out, it’s really pouring. The street is narrow, and traffic (cars, golf carts, and bicycles) are zipping by. Sidewalks are non existant, and we must be constantly alert. The challenge is compounded by the fact that cars drive on the left side of the road here. In the driving rain, the street floods in many areas, and we end up walking through ankle deep puddles much of the way. Our task is to get set up for phone and data service. It’s a busy place this morning, and we must wait in line for customer service, to determine what we need to do. We learn that we need to buy a sim card, and then decide how many phone minutes and data gigabytes to put on it. We opt for 2 G of data and $20 of phone minutes, knowing that we can add to both totals if we start running short. The folks at Batelco can’t help us with our desire to get the laptop linked up to our Batelco data, but they direct us down to a computer store.

DSCF0246As we’re getting ready to set out once again in the downpour, a nice guy offers to give us a ride. We thankfully accept and hop in. The steering wheel is on the right side, which seems very strange. It feels like I’m seeing a reverse image of the car through a mirror. He drops us off and even offers to wait and give us a ride back. I thank him but tell him we’ll be fine getting back. Just about the only white people here seem to be boaters or tourists. We mingle with the local black population as we go up and down the street, and I’m reminded how open and friently people are here. We nearly always make eye contact, and they are usually first to offer a friendly greeting. They seem to speak two distinct languages here. The first, and primary is extremely rapid, accented, and somewhat slurred. It’s basically English, however, it’s used by locals speaking with each other, and is almost unintelligable to me. The second is also English, but slower and more easily understood. It’s used by locals when speaking to us visitors. I’m grateful that most locals here speak that second language.

 

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Discovering a side street Bimini treasure – 2/2/16

First of All -

  • First walk on a Bahamas beach

Namely Speaking-

  • Dolphin House

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: 0 – Layover day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 2,695
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.35
  • Wind Speed: 12; Wind Direction: E
  • Daily High Temperature: 78
  • Water Temperature: 75

DSCF0248Yesterday’s gloomy, rainy weather is replaced by clear blue sky and bright sunshine. I listen in to Chris Parker’s forecast, and try to figure out a game plan for crossing the Banks. Right now it Thursday night and Friday seem to look the best. I chat with other sailors on the dock, and they’re coming to the same conclusion. The big question is whether to depart from the dock or move down to a more southern anchorage before setting out. The problem with doing that is that most of the potential anchorages will be exposed to a southeast wind. I’d really like to make the move though, since it would cut about 10 nautical miles off the crossing, and 87 nm versus 77 nm means getting us in an hour and a half earlier.

After breakfast Sandy and I walk up into town once again. We were unable yesterday to solve the problem of connecting our laptop to the internet. Our Verizon hotspot device, which has served us so well thus far, is locked out and can’t be used here in the Bahamas. I also tried unsuccessfully to activate the built in cell phone hot spot. Actually, we were lucky that the phone itself wasn’t locked out, which enabled the Batelco sim card to work in it. But as for the laptop, we learn that we need to buy something called a “dongle”, which plugs inDSCF0252 to a USB port, and which will connect the lattop with Batelco towers and allow us to log onto the internet, using our Batelco data. The computer store we visited yesterday doesn’t have dongles in stock, but they suggested trying the computer store just around the corner. We walk in, and the young lady behind the counter dives into the problem. First, she tries inserting our new sim card into our Verizon device, hoping to modify some settings and get it to work. After a good effort, she concludes that it is locked and won’t work. That leaves us with buying a dongle, which she has in stock. She inserts it into our laptop and works her way through the installation process. It doesn’t go easy, but she’s both determined and skilled, and eventually gets it to work. We’re delighted, and thank her for her help. We conclude that if you need computer help while in Bimini, the place to go is IT-WEBBS, and ask for Sukova. She’s great.

It’s not quite noon when we begin walking back toward the boat. The traffic on the main street motivates us to look for an alternative route. We hike up a side street toward the ocean side, and enjoy walking along a road above the beach. We find a path down to the beach, and take our first walk along a Bahama beach. Conditions are perfect here for producing sea glass: lots of broken bottles and active surf. We select some nice examples, along with a few interesting shells. We climb back up to the road and seek out another cross DSCF0255road toward the marina. As we start down we notice an interesting building on the right hand side. We see columns, tile work, and conch shells incorporated into the masonry. The closer we get, the more interesting it becomes. When we get out front, I get the camera out to take a picture, and this guy calls out to us, inviting us to come in and go on a tour. I chat with him. His name is Ashley, and he is the owner and creater of this remarkable building. He tells us that many years ago he swam with dolphins, and the experience moved him so profoundly that he’s spent the past 33 years building this structure in their honor. He calls it Dolphin House. It’s part gift shop, part museum, part hotel, but mostly it’s a stunning work of art. He’s traveled all over the local islands collecting bits of this and that. He grabs old pieces of tile, broken glass and mirrors, bottles, picture frames, sea shells, conch shells – you name it, he collects it, and then incorporates the pieces into his masterpiece. He’s not only an artist but also a master craftsman and a quality builder. He’s designed a ventilation system using old pickle jars embedded high in the masonry walls to let air in. EverywhereDSCF0260 you look in and around the place, you see magical and whimsical art. His work with tile and shells is remarkable, with themes of mermaids, dolphins, sea horses greeting you at every turn. The first two floors are complete, but he’s still working on the top floor. He takes us up there, along an external tile mosaic staircase to the upper level. I ask him if he has a cement mixer and he says no. All hand mixed, and he poses with his shovel to emphasize the point. I marvel at the thought of this wiry man digging up all that beach sand, hauling it here and up to the top level, hoisting up countless bags of cement, mixing them by hand, and then working the mix into a work of art. Its hard to say how long it will take to complete his life’s work, but he says his son is going to keep it going after he’s gone.

While we’re standing out front of Pelican House a lady comes up and asks if I’d like to buy some lobster salad. She’s got a scooter with a pair of ice chests strapped on back. I buy a tub, which makes for a terrific lunch back at the marina. We spend the afternoon cleaning the boat up, anToisiting with other cruisers on the dock at cocktail time. They call it “docktails”. Tonight we’ll walk over to the Big Game Club for dinner. We ate there last time we were here, and we have fond memories. Hope it will live up to expectations.

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Beach walk on Bimini – 2/3/16

First of All -

  • First hermit crab seen
  • First Sally Lightfoot Crabs seen

Namely Speaking-

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: 0 – Layover day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 2,695
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.35
  • Wind Speed: 12-15; Wind Direction: E
  • Daily High Temperature: 80
  • Water Temperature: 75

DSCF0291Weather forecast continues to prove accurate: windy again this morning. I tune Chris Parker in, and check my various sources. The game plan of pulling out tomorrow around mid-day and running down to Cat Cay, anchoring there, and then taking off around midnight for Andros still makes sense. A cold front is predicted to move across from Florida in the early morning hours Friday, bringing with it strong north winds. By leaving at midnight we should manage to stay ahead of the front, enjoying light winds during the night while crossing the Banks. By dawn the front should be impacting Bimini, but we’ll be 60 miles to the east, and conditions there should hold until we reach safe harbor at Morgans Bluff on Andros.

For breakfast this morning Sandy toasts up thick slices from the loaf of Bahama sweet bread which we bought at the local bakery the otherDSCF0296 day. It’s delicious with jam or cinnamon sugar. After breakfast we grab the camera and head down the road toward the south tip of North Bimini Island. Along the way we pass a scenic, historic cemetery. Water color along the entrance channel and ocean shoreline is deep aqua, and a delight to the eyes. We walk along the coral shelf toward a picturesque rusting shipwreck, which is slowly wearing away. We saw this wreck when we visited here in 2011. I’m sure the changes to the wreck, if I compare my photos, will be noticeable. We gather more sea glass and small shells, and run across several hermit crabs. On the edge of the coral shelf, where waves are breaking, colorful Sally Lightfoot crabs scurry across the rocks. We return to the boat in time for lunch, and then take it easy during the afternoon. Sandy works with the computer and I go for a rather chilly swim in the pool. Our friend the bull shark makes a few passes through the marina, reminding me to reserve my swimming to the pool. Several boats had previously indicated intentions for taking off today, however no one ends up leaving. The steady breeze has caused dock inertia to set in. I expect that tomorrow will be a different story, though.

 

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Rocking over 5 foot seas on run to North Cat Cay 2/4/16

First of All -

  • First time eating Bahama coconut bread

Namely Speaking-

  • Nate’s Bakery
  • Turtle Rocks
  • Honeymoon Harbour
  • Sapona wreck
  • Gun Cay
  • Cat Cay

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 14; Sail: 0
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 2,709
  • Hours Underway: 2 1/2
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.15 (then plugged in to charge)
  • Wind Speed: 15; Wind Direction: SE
  • Daily High Temperature: 75
  • Water Temperature: 73

DSCF0310By first light the boats are leaving. Running lights on, cruising sailboats pull out to begin their crossing of the Great Bahama Banks. Most are bound for the Berrys. I tune Chris Parker in, and he remains consistent with his forecast of when the cold front will hit the various cruising waters in the Bahamas. The E to SE wind should begin to ease by this afternoon, and virtually collapse overnight. The cold front’s strong NE winds will reach Bimini by dawn tomorrow, and will reach Nassau by mid afternoon. Andros is close to Nassau, so I figure if we get over to Morgan’s Bluff by noon we should beat the front. The urge to pull out, with all the other boats leaving early, is compelling. However, I double check our distances and estimated cruising speed, and it still works out to 14 hours. If I take off right now, we’ll arive at midnight, which seems both pointless and potentially hazardous. I’ll stick with my plan of doing the 14 mile outside run down to Cat Cay and anchor there. The only modification to my plan is to take off from Cat Cay by 6pm, right after dinner, and do an overnight passage with arrival around 8am. This will give me a cushion of time, in case the front arrives early on Andros. DSCF0315

We spend our morning well. First we take showers, perhaps the last we’ll have until we reach Chub Cay in a week or two. We’ll make do with salt water swims (I will, at least), and rinse off with the fresh water solar shower. After cleaning up, we walk over to the ATM for more cash, and to the liquor store where I stock up on rum, nearly as essential down here as cash. I also buy a bag of ice for the cooler. Then, it’s time for a nice leg stretching walk. With dinghy stowed on deck, we won’t get another chance to walk until we get to Andros. We take the upper road and head north, toward Bailey Town. Maybe a grocery there has some lettuce in stock, off the supply boat which came in yesterday. We’re in luck, sort of. The lettuce is mostly green, but some of the outer leaves are already turning brown. We buy a small one and then head back. Along the way we stop at Nate’s Bakery, which we saw on the walk out. It smells wonderful in there. This bakery is operated by Nate and his son, and they produce a heavenly assortment of sweet breads. Jesus said “Man doth not live by bread alone.” However, it’s worth noting that He never DSCF0318tasted Nate’s coconut bread rolls, with ginger and local sweet coconut filling. We buy a loaf, still warm from the oven, and also a loaf of cinnamon/raison swirl rolls. Nate and his father begin baking at 1am each day, and they appear to do a thriving business, supplying both locals as well as restaurants and resorts on Bimini. For lunch today we simply munch our fresh coconut bread rolls, smeared with butter. Yum.

It’s nearly noon and time for us to leave. We’re the last boat out, but a group of guys from boats that are staying on come by to help us with our lines. It’s breezy, and without the aid it would be easy to get messed up. We manage to exit the slip and marina without mishap, and motor down the channel. I loaded waypoints and a route into the GPS yesterday afternoon. I’m hoping that a nice but not too strong easterly wind, blowing off the islands, will favor us with smooth waters and a chance for sailing on a reach. NOT!!! We get outside, intoDSCF0319 open exposed waters and find out different. The wind is SE and still rather stiff. Seas in the 3 to 4 foot range energetically march in from the west. They’re far apart enough that we don’t pound, however, we rise and fall so sharply that it doesn’t feel like we’re getting anywhere. I quickly start second guessing my decision to go all the way down to Cat on the outside. The route takes us out into open waters, so we can get arouond Turtle Rocks. It seems like we’re heading back to Florida, with nothing but rough open Atlantic waters ahead. Sandy is out in the cockpit with me and, amazingly, she’s enjoying the ride. The bright sun and comfortably warm air certainly helps. In between some of the cuts the seas occasionally climb to 5 and even 6 feet. The period, as well as our angling course, allows them to remain manageable. I impatiently watch the distance to Gun Cay shrink. After a couple hours of this, we pass through the cut between Gun and North Cat Cays, and comfortably cruise across the relatively smooth inside waters. We head for the cove where the exclusive Cat Cay resort and marina are located. I drop the anchor in 6 feet of water, with good shelter from chop and wind. I take a short nap, before it’s time for dinner. As evening settles in, we anticipate the start of our overnight passage across the Great Bahama Banks.

 

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A canopy of stars on the Great Bahama Banks – 2/4 & 5/ 16

First of All -

  • First time seeing the Southern Cross
  • First overnight passage
  • First time cruising more than 90 miles in a single passage (108 miles total, counting the approach run to Cat Cay)

Namely Speaking-

  • Great Bahama Banks
  • Joulters Cays
  • Morgans Bluff

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 94; Sail: (motor sailed for an hour)
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 2,803
  • Hours Underway: 14
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.84 after arrival and anchoring
  • Wind Speed: 8-10 during passage, 25 from cold front; Wind Direction: SE shifting to NE with front
  • Daily High Temperature: 70
  • Water Temperature: 73

DSCF0337At 5:40pm I raise the anchor and we head eastward, away from the setting sun. The interisland supply boat, which was offloading supplies while we anchored at Cat Cay, pulls out just ahead of us, and takes the same course as I’ve plotted, across the banks and toward the Northwest Channel marker, which guides boats back into deep waters in the heart of the Bahamas. Night quickly settles in, and it promises to be a dark, moonless one. Our watch plan is simple. I’ll take the wheel until midnight, while Sandy catches some rest down in the cabin. She’ll then do a 3 hour turn while I rest. I’ll get up at 3am and bring us into Morgan’s Bluff on Andros. Sandy sits up with me in the cockpit for the first few hours, and we marvel at the night sky. We watch for shooting stars, spot airplanes criss crossing overhead, and look for familiar constellations. Orion’s belt points us on our way. Surprisingly, we have trouble locating the North Star. Turns out that we’re far enough south that only part of the Big Dipper is above the northern horizon at nightfall. It’s not until 9 pm that the Dipper’s handle fully reveals itself. In addition to our GPS route, we’re also aided by the lights from the supply ship we’re following. It’s navigation lights mark the way for a surprisingly long time, not dipping beyond the horizon until 10 pm. We have an 8 to 10 mph breeze, nearly on the nose, so sailing is out of the question. We’re in a light chop, but as the hours wear on, the wind dies and the surface of the water flattens. I maintain a speed of just over 7 mph, turning 3,000 rpm. Depth on the banks starts out at 9 or 10 feet, and then ever so gradually deepens until reaching 16 to 18 feet of depth at it’s eastern edge. Around 9pm Sandy goes below for some sleep, and it’s lonely at the wheel without her company. I monitor course, speed and depth, and watch for lights of any kind as well as AIS targets on the GPS screen. Around 10:30 I see a faint light ahead. It quickly brightens, and I figure it to be a sailboat heading on a reciprocal to my course. This is to be expected, since I’m following a charted cruising route across the banks. I watch for the color of the oncoming boat’s bow navigation lights, easing our course to starboard until I can see a red bow light. This confirms that we will safely pass, port to port. I briefly consider calling on the VHF radio, to say hi, but decide that the radio would disturb Sandy’s rest, so we silently pass each other, somewhere in the middle of the Great Bahama Banks, on this calm, dark and moonless night. An hour later I see a target on the AIS, also heading right for me. It’s a repeat of the previous encounter, another cruising sailboat crossing the banks at night, in order to beat the arrival of the cold front. As midnight approaches I glance over my shoulder. Light from Miami, reflecting against clouds to the west, still intrudes on an otherwise brilliantly black and starlight night.

Sandy emerges from the cabin at midnight, and I review our position and situation with her before going below. I find it surprisingly difficult to fall asleep. The motion and noise of the boat as sheDSCF0340 cruises along are unfamiliar. Periodic chit chat on the VHF (Bahamians are much more casual in their use of the emergency and hailing channel 16) doesn’t help. I do manage to grab much needed sleep, however, I dream of discovering our boat having been totalled by a tornado, and I awaken abruptly. The boat’s smooth passage, which earlier lulled me asleep, has now been replaced with a sharper, rougher motion. I dress and open the hatch. Sandy is happy to hand off to me. She’s kept us right on course, and we’re nearly to the Northwest Channel marker. It’s noticeably windier, and the boat is bounced by 2 foot swells. I’m not particularly concerned, since the wind is still from the southeast. These conditions are due to us approaching the constricted Northwest Channel, where shallow banks waters connect with deep open water. Not long after I take the wheel the seas settle out and the breeze eases again. I make a turn to the southeast, following the edge of the Tongue of the Ocean, a unique cul de sac of deep oceanic water lying between Andros and the Exumas. It reaches depths of over 6000 feet in places, and is used by the US Navy for acoustical submarine testing and exercises. We follow this course for 20 miles, down to the approach to Morgans Bluff. I’ve timed our arrival perfectly, with the GPS telling me we should arrive at my final waypoint by 7:30am. Shortly before daw, a rusty fingernail clipping of moon finally makes her appearance in the eastern sky. Venus, the morning star, rises just below the moon. Around 5 am I notice an unfamiliar kite shaped constellation to the south. It hits me that it must be the Southern Cross, the Southern Hemisphere’s counterpart to our Big Dipper and North Star. It’s just visible above the southern horizon here in the Bahamas in winter.

DSCF0341I welcome the sunrise shortly before 7am, and slow my speed so I have better light for entering the harbour. Morgan’s Bluff offers a nice anchorage, with protection from all directions except the north. Unfortunately, the cold front which is due to arrive this afternoon will bring in strong winds from the north to northeast. I’m hoping I can squeeze into the tight spaces of the inner harbour, but we’ll anchor out first, and then scout the inner harbour with the dinghy. I anchor as tight into the northeast edge of the anchorage as possible, and then go below for a nap. Around 9am I get up, have a coconut bread roll for breakfast, and then inflate the dinghy on the foredeck. Once the dinghy is launched, Sandy and motor over to the inner harbour to see if we can find shelter for our boat there. The scene is not encouraging. It’s a tight, confined space, and most of the appealing locations are already occupied. We go ashore to find out where we can get water and gas. We chat with a fellow at the bar which used to be called Willies. We introduce ourselves, and our new friend says folks there call him “Captain Hard Ass”. He says Willie has sold the bar and it’s now owned by a guy they call “The Devil”. Interesting place. The Captain says he’ll help us get water, since the system is temporarily turned off. He says if we have gas cans we can get gas cheaper at theDSCF0342 nearby gas station pump, rather than at the fuel dock. I’m considering running back to the boat for our containers when we notice an abrupt increase in wind. Our calm anchorage is now rolling with waves and whitecaps, and the wind is blowing 15 and quickly increasing. The cold front has arrived, and a couple hours earlier than I’d expected. We climb back into the dinghy and bounce back to the boat. We get liberally splashed by the rough seas despite my best efforts to quarter them. Getting back aboard is no simple task, with both dinghy and boat pitching roughly, but we manage without mishap. Our boat doesn’t do well in these conditions. The wind clocks to the northeast, giving us some protection from its gusts. However, we’re periodicly pitched violently by the refracting seas which roll into the anchorage. Whenever we swing out we are struck broadside by the swells. This often gets the boat to pitching radically from side to side, and it’s all we can do to avoid bouncing off the cabin walls. I rig our stern anchor and go out in the dinghy to try and keep us pulled into the swell. It works great at first, however the force of the boat proves too much for the stern anchor and it doesn’t hold. After dinner I make another attempt, this time splicing a second anchor rode on, so I can gain more scope. It’s incredibly difficult to set a stern anchor from the dinghy in strong winds and seas, but I finally manage to get it properly placed and set. It makes a big difference inside the cabin. We now have reason to hope that the boat will not behave too badly tonight.

Getting connected at Morgans Bluff – 2/6/16

First of All -

  • First time rafting up with another boat for moorage
  • First time buying drinking water by the gallon ($2/gallon)
  • First time dinghying ashore to fill gas cans

Namely Speaking-

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: 1/2 mile (motoring in to inner harbour)
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 2,803
  • Hours Underway: 1/4
  • Fuel: 15 gallons ($85)
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.65
  • Wind Speed: 5; Wind Direction: S
  • Daily High Temperature: 80
  • Water Temperature: 73

DSCF0344What a difference a day can make. By morning the seas are calm, the wind almost gone. Chris Parker promises a calm day today, but tomorrow another strong cold front is due to roar in, with winds this time out of the northwest. Our anchoring location was poor yesterday, and tomorrow it will by impossible. I know I’ll have to move. Options include tying up behind the barge, next to the little sailboat, leaving here for an anchorage with protection from a northwest wind, and finally, trying to tie up in the inner harbour. The guy on the little sailboat paddles over in his plastic kayak, and we talk about how we could tie up next to his boat, behind the barge. He learns from the Bahamian crew which is trying to salvage the barge, which is hard aground at the head of the bay, that they plan on making an effort to pull it free in the next day or two, so its function as a breakwater may soon end. While I’m getting ready to go ashore with the dinghy, a work boat from the salvage operation motors over to us, telling us that they will be setting some heavy floating lines today, which will tend to hem us in. Since I’m thinking of getting behind the barge, that doesn’t seem to pose any problems. Sandy and I dinghy in toDSCF0345 the boat ramp on the inner harbour, planning on hauling gas and fresh water back to the boat. These plans are dealt a temporary setback when a guy, seeing my gas cans, calls over to tell me the nearby gas station is closed on the weekend, and won’t reopen until Monday. Also, they say that the free fresh water, which is mentioned in various cruising guides, isn’t considered potable, and they don’t advise drinking it. However, these problems are soon solved, thanks to a very friendly and helpful couple who are living here full time, on their large cabin cruiser. He says we’re welcome to bring our boat into the inner harbour, and raft up with another boat. Apparently, this is common practise here, and the boats tied up here are very accomodating. Steve then offers to drive us into town so we can buy gas, water, and groceries. We’re very appreciative of his generous offer, and we hop into his car. On the drive over to the gas station, we learn that he’s in the process of setting up a stone crab fishing business with a local Bahamian partner (a legal requirement here). He’s a wealth of information on how to function here. He knows where the best blue holes are located, and he says he can connect me with a reputable fishing guide if I want to try going bone fishing. He and his wife also advise us to be careful with business transactions here. Violent crime is almost unheard of around here, but some of the locals are not beyond padding prices and engaging in somewhat unscrupulous practises. We should check our receipts and confirm prices ahead of time. I fill my gas containers at the local station, which comes very close to topping our boat’s fuel capacity off. I buy water in plastic gallon containers, 12 gallons worth, and it costs me $27. Worth DSCF0346thinking about next time I turn the home water tap on for a glass of water, which probably costs around $.80 per thousand gallons. Next stop is the grocery, where we pick up some lunch meat and a few other things. Steve also drives by a Mennonite farm, where one can buy outstanding locally grown produce. However, they’re closed until Monday. We return to the boat basin, and I load the drinking water into the dinghy and run out to the boat. I have to slide my way over the floating line which the salvage crew has set. I’ve decided that our best option is to go into the inner harbour and raft up, but I’m not sure how I can get there, hemmed in as I am by these floating lines. The guy moored behind the barge paddles over, and says he thinks there is room to sneak around one of the lines, which is anchored on the bottom near shore. He paddles over and reports that the water is 2.5 feet deep there. I figure I can clear that with our shallow draft. I retrieve the stern anchor, rig fenders and dock lines for a starboard tie, raise the bow anchor, and motor slowly over to the buoy which marks the end of the barge mooring line. I read exactly 2.5 feet at the buoy, and right around 2 feet a little beyond it, but never touch bottom with my prop. I sneak around behind the grounded barge, and enter the inner harbour. I raft up with a large sailboat, which is in turn rafted up to one of Steve’s large crab fishing boats. I get secured and introductions are made with the sailboat owner and his wife. They’re very niceDSCF0347 folks who have sailed all over the world. They’re both nurses, and are able to find work whereever they go. They home school their two teen aged kids via internet links and self study. There are lots of different life styles out here, and interesting folks with unique stories everywhere we go.

While Sandy squares things away on board, I run the dinghy over to the boat ramp so I can fix a leak. The drain valve won’t fully close, allowing water to flow rather freely into the inflatable. It’s a simple fix. I find some grit particles in the valve, which are easily removed, and when I put it together again, it holds tight. I run back to the boat, and Sandy and I go on out for a little excursion in the dinghy. We run out of the harbour and up the beach a little way. We land the dinghy and stretch our legs on the beach. No shells here, just broken bits of coral and large chunks of broken boats. And trash. I try to look the other way, and focus on the beauty while attempting to avoid being depressed by all the trash. It’s difficult to do. There’s so much that trying to make a dent in it by picking some up seems utterly hopeless.

We barbque some steaks for dinner and while cleaning up, the guy on the boat we’re rafted up to calls over, saying that he needs to run his generator for an hour, because the overcast sky has prevented his solar panels from sufficiently charging his batteries. He apologizes about the noise and inconvenience, but offers to plug our charging cord in so we can charge up our batteries too. Very kind offer, and since our batteries could use the boost, I’m more than grateful to take him up on the offer. I close up our surround on the side next to his boat, to help prevent exhaust from entering our boat. An hour later our batteries are much happier. All in all, this is a very rough, even primitive place, however the friendliness of the boaters here compensate greatly. I even learn that the local bar, near the boat ramp, has tv, and the Super Bowl will be shown tomorrow evening. It looks like I’ll be able to watch the game along with other boaters and some of the local residents. Being connected in Morgans Bluff makes all the difference.

Grand tour of northern Andros – 2/8/07

First of All -

  • First time going on a guided tour
  • First time seeing a blue hole

Namely Speaking-

  • Reds Bay
  • Uncle Charlie’s Blue Hole

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 0 – Layover Day
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 2,803
  • Hours Underway: NA
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.48
  • Wind Speed: 25; Wind Direction: NW
  • Daily High Temperature: 70
  • Water Temperature: 73

DSCF0348The rain hit in the early morning hours, followed by the onset of predicted strong northwesterly wind by dawn. We’re not expecting to be able to do much with this day, however, all that changes with a chance encounter. A weathered white pickup pulls up near the rest room building. I walk over to chat with the driver, thinking maybe he’s the dockmaster here. I quickly learn he’s much more than that. His name is Chris Curry, and he says he’s come down to check on his two sport fishing boats, which are tied up here in the inner harbour. He explains that he has a tour company called Discover Andros, and he can arrange anything from a sport fishing trip, a wild boar hunt, a roadDSCF0349 tour of the island, or even a bird watching eco tour. He has an engaging manner, and is an enthusiastic booster of this island. He seems well connected and dedicated to trying to build the local economy. I ask him if he could take us out and show us around. Yes, he can. I inquire as to cost, and he says just buy some gas for the truck and then something for him, whatever I think is right. I figure I can work with that, and arrange for him to pick us up at 10. We grab the camera and rain jackets, climb into Chris’s truck, and we’re off. For starters, he drives over to Reds Bay, which is the location of the Seminole Indian settlement here on Andros. The story is that, in 1822 a group of Seminoles, fleeing war against the U.S., climbed into canoes and paddled crossed the Gulf Stream and Great Bahama Banks to Andros. Nineteen canoes made it. They established a settlement near where they landed, and they and their descendants have lived here ever since. They have succeeded in maintaining some of their culture, including the weaving of baskets from palm fronds. Chris drives up to a house, gets out and knocks on the door. A lady answers and she greets Chris enthusiasticly. Chris tells her he’s brought some visitors by, and she proceeds to lay out a display of her baskets on a table which stands on her front porch. She sets out dozens of baskets of various sizes and designs. The design incorporates a thick ropy bundle of thin palm strips, tightly connected together. Bright, colorful strips of batik dyed fabric are wrapped around the bundles to give the baskets a bright cheerful look. Prices are extremely modest, considering the craftsmanship and number of hours each basket has taken to produce. We select three baskets, ranging in price from $30 to $50. She gives us a demonstration of how they’re made. Her young daughter, a beautiful girl of around 10, watches her work and we learn that the daughter has already learned how to make and sell baskets of her own.

DSCF0361Chris then takes us out to the bay and shows us the place where the Seminoles first landed. On the drive back he turns off onto a narrow dirt track which leads out into a pine forest. At the turn around is Uncle Charlie’s Blue Hole, one of many on Andros Island. A vertical 8 foot rim of coral rock, circular in shape and perhaps 150 across, forms the rim of the blue hole. The water looks inky black in today’s overcast sky. A wooden ladder on the far side enables swimmers to enter and leave the water. I’m not prepared to go swimming today, but I walk over, descend the ladder, and stick my leg into the water. It’s surprisingly warm.

Chris drives us over to Conch Sound, where we see another blue hole which is out in the bay water. He drives us in to Nichols Town, and over to a cemetery which is scenicly situated on a hill overlooking the sea. He buried his father there just last week, and the family crypt is thickly decorated with flowers. We pass through Millers Bluff and several other little communities, with Chris maintaining a steady narrative about the places, the people who live there, and problems related to inefficient government. We stop for lunch at a nice local restaurant, which serves up great barbque chicken. Chris explains that he’s trying to stimulate the local economy with his Discover Andros tour company, and he’s attracted clients from all over the world. He does his best to direct business toward local motels and restaurants,DSCF0367 and to folks like the basket weavers of Reds Bay. We feel like we’ve made a friend in Chris. He’s well regarded by the folks we’ve talked to here at Morgans Bluff. Anyone reading this, who manages to get over here to Andros, would do well to contact Chris at christophercurry54@gmail.com .

We’re back to the boat by 2pm, but the day’s far from over. The wind is still blowing hard as ever, but the sun makes an appearance, and we decide to take a walk over to Morgans Cave. We follow a narrow paved road out toward the bluff. The cave is a short way off the road, and we’re able to climb down into the entrance. Tree roots drape over the entrance, dropping down to take hold on the cave floor. The whole area appears to be honeycombed with pits and passageways.

The wind just won’t let up and we’re getting quite weary of it. As the sun nears the horizon, Sandy retreats into the cabin while I walk over to the bar where the Super Bowl will be shown on tv. I get there half an hour early and order a hamburger and a beer. So far it’s all locals in there, and it’s quite a scene. The owner, an extrovertish, exuberant, and very loud fellow called “The Devil”, short and stout of build and dressed in camo shirt and pants, is holding court at a backgammon game. His style seems to be to continually shout at the top of his lungs, with every 4th word or so F—! I’m told that he stays loud as long as he’s winning, and he tries to win by intimidation. By the din of noise, I gather that he’s definitely winning. In another corner the dominoes table is set up, with 4 players loudly engaged there as well. Dominoes are played with a loud slam of the tile upon the table, accompanied with voluminous shouts. Gradually, people from the cruising boats infiltrate the bar, and attention diverts toward the tv screens. The place fills with people, and The Devil hauls out extra chairs. Close to halftime, he sets up some fireworks and launches colorful bursts into the air. It’s so loud inside that I can barely hear conversation from the person right next to me. I hang in there until the outcome of the game is clear (Yeah Broncos), and then retire to the boat. Talk about a full day.

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Feeling our way inside the reef – 2/8/16

First of All -

  • First snorkel
  • First time diving on the anchor
  • First time using the solar shower

Namely Speaking-

  • Nicholls Town
  • Conch Sound
  • Coconut Point

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 7; Sail: Motor sailed 1 mile
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 2,810
  • Hours Underway: 2
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.35
  • Wind Speed: 12; Wind Direction: NW
  • Daily High Temperature: 69
  • Water Temperature: 73

It’s time to say farewell to newly made sailing friends who are bound for different ports. The 2 large sailboats we’ve been moored with are pulling out this morning and headed for Nassau. The boat ahead of us leaves first, and we hand line our boat up to their spot. This clears the way for Yarika, the 50 foot sloop we’ve been rafting up with, to likewise depart. We’re also planning on leaving, buy we’re in no particular hurry. We have only a short distance to go, and we’ll be taking the narrow shallow draft route between shore and the barrier reef. I’m hoping the breeze will die DSCF0406down a little more, and I want to have the benefit of good visibility looking into the water which a higher sun angle affords. We’re visited by the dockmaster, who collects $11.40 for two nights moorage here. I get rid of garbage and Sandy rinses and cuts up our head of lettuce into salad size pieces which can be stored in a zip loc bag. I walk over to the bar and am able to purchase a bag of ice for the cooler. We have lunch in the harbour, and then are ready to depart. I toot our horn, and receive waves from folks on one of the two remaining cruising boats. On our way out of the habour I get a radio call from Steve, the guy who drove us in to town for gas and water when we firstDSCF0408 arrived. He wishes us a safe journey. I thank him and wish him success with his planned stone crab business. We pass between the two coral rock jetties and turn east to begin our cruise down the seldom traveled shallow draft route inside the reef. Safely navigating these waters requires an ability to visually pick a route based on water color. Dark blue to aqua means deep water, 20 feet or more in depth. When the aqua color transitions to emerald green, depth is around 10 feet. Pale aqua is water 6 feet or less in depth, and when the color becomes transparent its 2 feet or less. Dark patches in deeper water generally mean areas of coral which are far enough below the surface for a shallow draft boat to safely pass over. Dark patches in shallower water usually represent areas of grass or weed. Whenever a patch of brown colored water appears, beware! Brown is the color of shallow coral reef, two feet or less below the surface. Even for a shallow draft boat like ours, straying into brown will soon result in a damaging hard grounding. The water surface also has a story to tell. Even when color is hard to read, the pattern of surface ripples and wavelets can warn of a shoal up ahead. And of course, the barrier reef itself reveals its presence by causing the open ocean swell to break in dramatic foaming waves. One definitely doesn’t want to get tangled up in that area.

The start of our inside route is quite wide and 20 feet in depth. I start out by motor sailing. However, things soon narrow up and the depth reduces to between 10 and 15 feet. Dark patches begin to appear along our route in increasing numbers. I try to weave my way between them as much as possible. This requires that I roll in the jib. If I get caught in a tight spot I don’t want to be DSCF0410messing with a sail. I keep the speed down to 4 1/2 to 5 mph, and pay close attention to both the GPS and the paper charts, in addition to watching my water color. As we pass Nicholls Town the passage narrows further, and average depth reduces to around 6 feet. We pass several brown patches, but have plenty of room to avoid them. Nearing Coconut Point we can see several long reaches of breaking waves out on the main reef. We round Coconut Point and glide into the very broad, shallow Conch Sound. We slide into 3 to 4 foot water, feeling our way as close to shore as possible. I keep my eye out for a nice light colored sandy area where I’ll lower the anchor. I’m suspicious that the bottom will prove hard, making it difficult to get a good set on the anchor. I find my spot and lower away. Sandy backs us down, and I feel the anchor scrape hard bottom for a moment and then grab hard. She pulls harder with the engine in reverse, revving up to 2000 rpm and we don’t budge. She shuts down and we’re here. It’s breezy and despite the bright sunshine, quite chilly. I want to go over and explore the nearby blue hole, which is located 30 yards off the beach in shallow water. I pull my snorkel gear and shorty wetsuit out from deep storage in the king berth and shimmy into the wetsuit. Sandy isn’t up for snorkeling in 73 degree water on a 65 degree andDSCF0413 windy day, so I’ll go it alone. I run the dinghy over to the beach, park it there, pull on my mask and fins, and walk backwards into the water. When it’s knee deep I turn, lay down, and begin snorkeling. The water is fairly clear, and soon I reach the edge of the blue hole. I discover a derelict sunken boat lying in an irregular arm of the hole, in 15 feet of water. Countless scores of snappers and reef fish cruise along the ledges and walls of the hole. The water grades to a deep, dark blue. I recall hearing that a number of years ago, a cave dive team set a world record for length of cave exploration while diving in this hole. I also remember hearing that a 7 foot long barracuda is known to patrol this hole. I don’t relish meeting up with him and fortunately I don’t. I keep the swim fairly short, not because of the barracuda, but because I’m quickly chilling. I decide to inspect the anchor on the way back to the boat. I slide back into the water and don’t like what I see. Only the tip of the anchor is buried. I try to set it deeper, but the hard bottom foils my efforts. I pick it up (I’m in only 4 feet of water, at low tide) and move it over to another location. Same result. I’m thinking I should move the boat in search of better bottom. I climb aboard the boat and start to pull the anchor in. I discover that it’s really hooked hard, probably in a crevise. I decide to stay put. I’m not expecting a dramatic shift in wind direction tonight. I’ll set up the anchor alarm and call it good.

Lonely waters inside the reef – 2/8/16

First of All -

  • First time using Go Pro attached to boat hook pole for underwater video
  • First time on a day’s cruising run without seeing another boat under way

Namely Speaking-

  • Mastic Point
  • Paw Paw Cay
  • Rat Cay
  • Saddleback Cays
  • Calabash Cay
  • Stafford Creek

Loop Log:

  • Miles Cruised today: Power: 20; Sail: Motor sailed 2 hours
  • Total Miles Cruised to date: 2,830
  • Hours Underway: 4 1/2
  • Fuel: NA
  • Morning House Battery Reading: 12.28
  • Wind Speed: 12-15; Wind Direction: NW
  • Daily High Temperature: 68
  • Water Temperature: 67

DSCF0415These are lonely waters. The only sound drifting out to the boat from shore is a solitary rooster who crows to greet a glowing sunrise. A lone fisherman casts a handline into the blue hole, hoping to catch a snapper for his dinner. We’re the only boat moving, as we get underway. It’s high tide, so I move in toward the blue hole. I’ve rigged the Go Pro camera to our boat hook pole, hoping to get some worthwhile underwater pictures of the blue hole. It’s worth a try anyway. We’re the only boat moving as we carefully follow our entry track back toward the mouth of Conch Sound. I turn southward once I reach 6 feet in depth. The passage inside the reef is quite roomy here, averaging a couple miles in width, however the chart shows lots of scattered coral heads, so I carefully plot waypoints as we go, about half mile apart, so I can stay centered in clear water as much as possible. The breeze is fresh, around 12 knots, out of the northwest,DSCF0416 and it kicks up a chop. I pay out some jib with the wind on our beam, and we motor sail at 5 mph. It’s mostly overcast today. When I checked the voltmeter this morning, the house batteries were down to 12.28, which is lower than I’d like. Today’s motoring should help them out, and I’m hoping for a bit of sunshine so the solar panels can kick in as well. After rounding Mastic Point the shoreline arcs away from us, creating more space for the chop to build. The wind stiffens to over15 knots and it heels the boat more than I like, so I furl the sail in. We have these waters all to ourselves, no other boats in sight. We pass Paw Paw Cay and Rat Cay, and after rounding Calabash Cay we near our day’s goal of Stafford Creek. The Yachtsman’s Guide gives directions on how to find passage across the shallow bar. We’re supposed to locate the white stone schoolhouse which is mostly hidden by cassarina pines, and turn when it bears at 270 degrees. Well, those pines are certainly doing a good job of hiding the old schoolhouse, because I can’t spot it anywhere. I rely, instead, on the depth contours shown by the GPS chartplotter, and they serve well. We’re coming in close to low tide, and I read depths as shallow as 2.4 feet as we approach the mouth of the creek. Once clear of the bar we find depths of 6 to 8 feet. The Yachtsman’s Guide has a nice sketch of the mouth of the creek, and the preferred anchorage is easy to locate. The creek, which is really the size of a modest river and completely tidal in nature, flows strongly beneath a low road bridge. Just outside the bend in the creek is a comfortable sized nook which is clear of the strong tidal current. I pick out a spot in the center, in about 8 feet of water, and lower the anchor. I’m pleased with the cloud of silt which kicks up when the anchor reaches bottom. I’m even more pleased with the solid, reassuring tug it gives when we set the anchor. No need for the anchor alarm here tonight.

DSCF0421After lunch and a nap, I prepare the dinghy for an explore. The current is still running strongly out, despite the fact that we’re 2 hours past the nearest low tide reading. I’m guessing the creek, which runs 12 miles inland, takes a good while before reaching slack. We saw 3 small bonefishing boats running in while we ate lunch. There may be a fishing lodge just above the bridge, but beyond our view. I run the dinghy up that way. Sandy doubts we’ll be able to buck the current and get beyond theDSCF0420 bridge. I’m confident that our little 2.5 hp kicker can do the job. I run up along the shore, gradually increasing throttle as the current strengthens. Our speed slows, so I crank the throttle up. We slow further – more throttle. We’re barely moving against the swift current. I’m almost wide open before we slowly gain headway between the bridge pilings. Once clear of the bridge I’m able to back off, and we angle over to a boat ramp where the bonefishing boats obviously pulled out of the water. We land there and go for a walk along the road. It feels good to stretch our legs, and we go more than a mile up the road. The vegetation along the road is interesting, a mix of pines, palms, hardwood trees, and thick underbrush. Close to the road we see numerous pretty little orchids, with clusters of flowers on a tall single stalk. Sandy spots a bird perched on a tree limb. It’s some sort of kestrel, but the pure white breast doesn’t match the American kestrel in our book. I wonder if it’s a different species, unique to the Bahamas, or just a different color phase of the common species we’re familiar with. Near our turn around point on the walk we see a building which looks like it might be a store. No sign out front, but the door is open and a “Top it up” cell phone minutes poster is in the window. I look inside and it is indeed a small grocery. A radio plays loudly on the counter, and a little dog yaps excitedly in the yard. The dog lets the proprietor of the store know she has customers. She walks out and greets us. We buy some cold drinks. Sandy chats with the lady, and I visit with a guy who’s out in the backyard. He shows me his fish ponds, which are loaded with snapper and grouper which he’s captured and placed in the pond. He feeds them, and they in turn feed him. It’s nearing 5pm and I figure the creek flow will reverse soon, so we hoof it back to the dinghy before we have to fight current again. We make it, and get a nice downstream push back under the bridge. Dinner tonight is a tasty dish of steak strips simmered in a Korean steak sauce, along with sliced green peppers and onions, and served over rice. After dinner the wind dies down enough to allow mosquitoes to visit, so we button up for the night and swat the few intruders who got in before we closed the hatch.

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