A postscript on Rum Cay where we spent the nite of 21 February. We were the only transient to use the marina and the trip in and out may explain the reason for this scarcity. As you approach Port Nelson from the south, a huge coral reef begins to surround you. Patty at Sumner Point was kind enough to talk us in on VHF as we passed the six PVC poles close aboard to starboard. Now this is not a straight track and the coral heads awash beside us... at low water...make this a dubious trip in high winds and rolling seas. We made it in and even agreed to pay the excessive price of half a dollar a gallon for their precious fresh water. The bottom was clear at our berth and we watched as a dozen nurse sharks circled below.
The outward bound trip was only slightly less stressful with a little more water under the keel, and we were glad to see the fathometer finally get over five feet. From Rum Cay we headed directly south to the southeastern tip of Long Island...on the deep water side of the island from Salt Pond, a previous anchorage. It was a nice transit, had a couple of good strikes on the tuna rig, and we arrived at Little Harbor just after noon. A perfect oval harbor that the charts portrayed with just a north and south entry. With a preference for the south entry we headed directly in. It was not until we turned to port and headed down to the anchorage that it became clear that there was a much bigger entrance to the south. Well, we had dodged that bullet coming in at high water with Jean pointing the way across the bar. Lesson here is that you can't always believe charts and plotters and before committing to an entry, it is best to survey the landscape carefully. Again, we had this picturesque harbor all to ourselves. Little Harbor proved to be a peaceful stop and we were up and out the correct channel early on Friday.
The trip took us down the coast of Long Island and out into the Crooked Island Channel. Crossed paths with a few big tankers in this deep cut thru the southern Bahamas. Rounding Windsor Point early in the afternoon we moved up to anchor a mile off the government dock on the Bight (of Acklins) side of Albert Town. The dinghy ride into the dock was thru a narrow channel marked by white poles and the walk to the settlement, another mile, beyond. The town sign welcoming visitors is a bit optimistic for a place with a population of just 28...ten are children enrolled in their elementary school. We checked in with Kermit Rose who was manning the one room, town center; the only BATELCO building on Long Cay. He gave us some history of this little settlement and while Jean negotiated a few phone calls, Bill set off to explore. The roads are really just paths cut in the brush with many more structures vacant than occupied.
We met again at the old Anglican Church (built 1917). The town is full of ruins and the old church has been partially pulled back from slow destruction. One nave has been fully restored and serves as a community place of worship. The more grand part, while swept clean, rests under a roof that could fall in a strong wind. The community prospered on the sponge and salt trades that began to diminish in the 1940-50's. Salt ponds are all around and apparently a very lucrative business involved direct shipments to Nova Scotia. Today, the population seems to exist on fishing and watching daytime satellite TV shows.
Near the church we met up with Bruce Knowles cooking in his front yard with a friend. We spent a delightful half hour with this 71 year old Long Cay native. We read that there were over 2,000 goats on the Island but we actually only saw a few. Facing a dusty walk back, we found the house that sells beer...from her refrigerator. As a resident of Salina Point, she came to Albert Town to find work; she hopes to open a store and bar on the premises by next year. Salina must be a really little place.
We made it safely back to the boat and settled in for the night. Around midnight we awakened to the mailboat offloading right beside us. This big flat bottomed landing craft makes the weekly circuit to Nassau and back to the Crooked Island communities. In this case he was unloading to local skiffs who carried across the shallows to town. Tomorrow we head across the 20 Nm Bight to the Acklin side.