May 1, 2011 – Salt Pond to Stella Maris Marina, north end of Long Island

19nm cruised today, 1 hour under power and 4 ½ hours sailing; 610nm total – high temp 84 degrees; water temp 83 degrees – ENE wind at 15 knots; seas inside 2 to 3 feet

It’s Sunday and no weather from Chris Parker. Over coffee I tune in Bahamas Public Broadcast from Nassau on AM radio. We enjoy a nice mix of gospel music, hosted by Reverend Doctor Barry, who interjects worshipful words of wisdom between the music selections. He also seamlessly slides into commercial advertisements for the great shopping variety and bargains at a Nassau store, and in a deep resonant voice also advertises phone cards and encourages patronage at a local laundromat. It seems that Bahamians have a different take on separation of church and state. Also, radio preachers rely on commercial sponsors rather than directly solicited donations to keep their programs on the air. Come to think of it, I actually like that approach.

We sail off the anchor around 8:30am, and make good miles on the fresh breeze we find on our beam. We maintain a speed of 5 knots for much of the morning. We approach the town of Simms around 11am, and head in. We’re looking forward to a lunch break at anchor, followed by a short walk into the town. It’s clearly a town with history. St. Peters Anglical/Episcopal Church is in good repair, and a fascinating cemetery surrounds the church building. Headstones from the mid 1800’s prominently feature the name Simms. The Knowles family is also well represented here. A little further down the road, and on the opposite side of the street, we find an even more striking church. A low stone wall, capped with conch shells, encloses the grounds. The building itself has been abandoned, and it’s a miracle that it still stands. Much of the roof is gone, but the rafters are still in place. The floorboards have totally rotted away, but most of the joists remain, and they somehow still support the ghostly wooden remnants of church pews. Perhaps most remarkably, the weathered old pulpit still stands, inside a low wooden railing, at the front of the church, as though awaiting the shadow of some preacher from Sundays long past.

We return from our walk and resume our northwesterly sail up Long Island’s western shoreline. I’ve put a reef in the main, in deference to the strengthening afternoon wind. We’re headed for Stella Maris Marina, near the north end of Long Island. It’s been forever since we’ve seen the inside of a shower, and we look forward to tying up in a slip for a change. Stella Maris sounds like an upscale marina, and I wonder a bit how expensive it will be. The approach is rather tricky, since the waters leading to the marina are quite shallow, only 3 feet deep at low tide in extensive areas. And we’re arriving at low tide. Our shallow draft once again is invaluable, however, I do try to stay in the recommended channel. It’s marked by a series of white poles, and the cruising guide recommends keeping those poles within a yard or two of your port side. Seeing the water confirms the wisdom of this advice. The “dredged” channel can’t be more than 6 or 8 feet wide, and it’s only a foot or so deeper than the surrounding water. Most larger boats can only enter at high tide. When close I radio our intentions, and am surprised to receive a polite response, confirming that they have slips available, and that we should take our pick. We’re also told that someone will be there to help us with lines. We enter the boat basin at idle speed, and see a couple of empty tie ups, but absolutely no one around to assist. We manage to back in and get secured to the pilings, but not before having to add extensions to the bow lines. These tie ups are obviously intended for very large power boats.

After we secure the boat we take a look around. Apparently the upscale resort is at a remote location, and this is more of a scuba dive and boat repair station. They do have bath room and shower (note the use of singular – just one – lock when in use). At least it’s clean. They also have a pool, of sorts. I think it’s a salt water pool. The shallow end is 4 feet deep and 4 feet wide. The deep end is 20 feet deep. It was apparently designed to be used as a scuba dive training tank. I look around for the office, but am told no one is here right now. Someone will come by the boat later to check us in. They never do. Soon, we’re the only ones around, so we just make ourselves at home. We take leisurely showers, and then barbeque steaks and dine at the picnic table just behind our boat. It’s a nice setting, but somewhat marred by the presence of mosquitoes, flies, and no see ums. We enclose the cabin with bug netting before turning in. Hopefully, someone will be around tomorrow. I’m really curious what they charge for these facilities. If it’s too high, I intend on doing some negiatiating.

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