Mar 7, 2009
|Current location: Long Island (Bahamas, not NY). We are anchored in Thompson Bay just off the settlement of Salt Pond.
Current weather: Sunny, high in the 70’s but with constant strong wind (“breezes”).
Favorite boat name seen recently: Hullabaloo (their young son explained to me that they have lots of kids and it is always a "hullabaloo" there)
We have reached the southern most point in our journey, here in Long Island. From here we turn back, heading north toward home. We think that we will begin tomorrow, as it seems the winds may die down a bit to allow us to have a comfortable few days sailing. We would like to go north via Cat Island and then Eleuthera, maybe visiting some spots in the Abacos (northern Bahamas) before we cross back to the US. As always, these plans can change depending on the winds.
This is a lovely island, probably one of the nicest places we’ve been in the Bahamas. It is more populated (3500 people live here), but still very rural; a bit more prosperous and very tidy, with a variety of interesting sights and the friendliest (and most industrious) people we have met. Similar to the other islands we have visited, the highlight is the surrounding water. This is a country that is beautiful because of its water, not land. The vistas are always stunning from the boat, and from the land, looking outward. But there is a bit more agriculture here, so it is not as dusty as we often see.
When we left Georgetown (last Tuesday) we said good bye to our friends on the 4 other boats that we have traveled with since beginning the crossing from Miami to the Bahamas (mostly). One of the boats stayed in Georgetown (Isolde II) and the other three (Idunno, Tra dy Lioor, and Dolce Vita) left the same day, heading south to the Turks and Caicos and much beyond. On the day before our departure, we rented a van together and toured Great Exuma Island. First we went north, then south, covering the entire island in a day (Georgetown is in the middle of the island). We visited the ruins of a plantation, saw the old salt pans (used in the days they did salt farming), stopped in to the Four Seasons Resort (to see how the other side lives), and best of all, visited the Tropic of Cancer beach – named of course because it sits on the Tropic of Cancer. It was spectacular!
So out of Georgetown we sailed, about 7:30am on a lovely morning. We were alone again, but this time we felt better equipped (now with our single side band radio working, our knowledge of how to map way points and routes into the GPS, our increasing comfort “reading the water” and understanding local tides and currents) and we also knew of other boats heading the same way. It was a glorious sail – the wind in the 10-12 knot range, primarily from the side (beam reach), the swell was small. Warwick was delighted with the performance of our third sail, the staysail – that goes between the mast and the front sail. We covered the 35 miles in about 6 hours and loved every minute of it. It compensated for some of the miserable sails/travels many times over.
1. Hitchhiking on Long Island. Instead of renting another car, we decided to explore this island in other people’s vehicles, since we had heard that it was safe and acceptable to do so. In fact, we were delighted to find that we got many rides, quickly, and got an opportunity to talk to several locals and learn more about their island. They went out of their way for us – taking us further than they planned or, in one case, turning around to go in the opposite direction just to pick us up and carry us further on our way!
2. We had the good luck to be in Georgetown when Chris Parker was there and were able to take advantage of the weather seminar he offered. Chris Parker is the guru of weather for cruisers in the Bahamas. He is an avid sailor (boat is Bel Ami), and spent many years cruising here before settling in N. Fla and starting a business called the Caribbean Weather Center. He provides daily weather reports that include general conditions for the Bahamas (mostly, though he does offer info about other locations as needed) and specific suggestions and advice about when/where to travel or make passages. It is the first thing almost every cruiser does at 6:30am, six days a week – listen to Chris Parker. And then we discuss his forecasts! Anyway, the seminar was very well attended, and well worth it – we both learned a lot.
3. Belum – we have been asked dozens of times (or more) about the meaning of the name of our boat. We knew it was an Indonesian word, given to the boat by the previous owner. Yesterday we met a couple (on Harlequin) who had lived many years in Indonesia and they informed us that the name is a frequently used word, meaning “before” or “not yet”. Not sure I like it any more now that I know what it means, but it helps.
4. We are finally making good use of the little outboard motor we purchased a few weeks ago for our dinghy. It still is not good to use in really high winds and rough waters, but it has been a big help getting to shore in more moderate conditions – when the shore is far away (as it is here). We’re getting to trust the motor more too.
5. Making new friends: we have gotten to know several new boats here – cocktails on English Rose (with Sweetwater III) and dinner with Pryde, Tradition and Obelix at a local establishment. In fact, we’ll leave tomorrow (if all goes as planned) with Pryde and Tradition as we are all heading northward. I have discovered that the best part of this experience is the people – where else can people our age have such a wide variety of new friends so quickly and easily. And because we all share this lifestyle we have a sympatico that is just neat.