Feb 23 to Feb 29 2012

February 23, 2012

After my run, we had a lazy morning on board reading and drinking coffee. We waited for low tide then headed to the first beach to find some lobster. Lots of fish but no lobster. We were skunked again!

We stopped at the resort and the package had not arrived. We talked to Jared a bit. He is from Freeport and enjoys cooking. He would like to attend the Cordon Bleu Cooking School to get certified then maybe come back to Long Island and start a business. We talked a little about our fishing woes and he offered to take us out on his day off. He has never been sailing so we offered to do a trade if the weather is good. He also mentioned that he makes his own pizza crust – our ears perked up and promised we would be back tomorrow for lunch to try it.

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Diana at sunset

February 24, 2012

Birthday announcement!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is Steve’s daughter – Val’s 25th Birthday today - Happy Birthday Val!!!!!!!!!!

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“Happy Birthday Val – 25 – Long Island” We wish we could be there to celebrate with you!

It is PIZZA Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It felt like 1200hrs would never come – we skipped breakfast to make room for a great big pizza. We were not disappointed!!

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Large Vegetarian Pizza...heaven on a plate :)

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Pizza and beer – my absolute favorite!!...I’m still a little sunburnt from the other day he! he!

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We at the WHOLE thing and enjoyed every bite – Jared makes a mean pizza!!!

Our package still has not arrived.

While munching on our pizza, Jared popped over to our table and offered to take us on a tour of Long Island. He wanted to rent a car on his day off on Sunday and thought we might want to go for a drive with him. We absolutely accepted and said that we would cover the car if he drove. We are not comfortable driving here as they drive on the opposite side of the road than we do in Canada. He reserved the car while we were still there and he also suggested he could take us fishing if the weather is good. Perfect!! We may be eating lobster yet!!

We waddled back to the boat where Steve got busy getting Diana ready for her new Auto Helm. With a little elbow grease, a little swearing and a few tools he was able to get the steering wheel off, you see the salt water had fused the steering wheel to the pedestal. Salt water corrodes EVERYTHING. Once it was off, he prepared the space for the new unit. I worked off my pizza by cleaning the boat. We are hopeful the package will be in by tomorrow. The weather isn’t looking good for the next few days so it doesn’t look like we can head to the Jumentos until next Thursday which should give us plenty of time to get the boat ready.

February 25, 2012

Still no Auto. We know it’s in Long Island. Mike seems to think the FedEx guy may have gone hunting…only in the Bahamas!

Oh well, so much for the install today. Instead Steve spent the morning reading then later went of a dinghy ride to go snorkel. I tried a new bread recipe - French Baguettes - it’s a bit of a pain but it turned out pretty good. I prepared a little picnic for tomorrow’s outing; Greek pasta salad, fresh bread, drinks and fruit. We are really looking forward to getting to know the island…and Jared J

This morning Tom from Polar Pacer stopped by to invite us for drinks later – we gladly accepted. Polar Pacer is a Gemini Catamaran from Toronto. We have heard him on the VHF and SSB often. We met him briefly in Lake Worth so it will be nice to meet his wife Chris and get on board to check out their boat.

By 1600hrs, we were ready to head over, I brought fresh baguette with some dip – it was a hit! Tom and Chris have an amazing boat. They have done a tremendous amount of work on her and it shows. They completely gutted it and refit it to suit their needs and are really comfortable. They are headed to Cuba. They were surprised we were not going considering how close we will be once we are in the Jumentos. He was VERY convincing and we just never know but our plan at the very moment does not include Cuba.

After supper, we got our gear ready for the morning. We are meeting Jared at the resort at 0800hrs. 

February 26, 2012

It’s another lovely day in the Bahamas. We met Jared at the dock by 0800hrs. Once the car arrived, we were off to explore Long Island shortly before 0900hrs.

On the agenda is a visit to a Catamaran wreck along the Exuma Sound, explore a cave, swim at Dean’s Blue Hole and a drive around Long Island to check out the scenery. Since Jared is from Freeport, he too was looking forward to doing a little sightseeing.

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Map of Long Island we found in the rental car…

The first stop was a cave just up the street from the Long Island Breeze Resort. I was a little skeptical to visit a cave because it seems my definition of a cave; dark, ominous with bats flying out of it and quite possibly with big scary animals living inside it, and other peoples definition of caves; a crevasse in a mountain, can be a little misleading. Now, my experience with caves is limited, in fact up until this trip the only caves I’ve ever explored were small ones in the Gatineau Hills so when Jared pulled out some flash lights and head lamps from the trunk of the car, I was pretty excited.

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View of entrance from inside the cave

As we were walking around, we noticed a brown, sometimes slimy film on the rocky floor. We originally thought it was just dirt.

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View from the entrance into the main part of the cave – notice the brown floor

We could hear squeaking and thought perhaps rats were roaming about till Steve decided to track down the origins of the squeaking. Sure enough, they came from a hole in the ceiling that looked a little like this…

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The difference was that it was FILLED with squeaking bats!!!! I was a little freaked out so I didn’t take a picture but neato!! This also means the brown slimy stuff covering the cave floor is bat guano…so there must be a heck of a lot of them in here!!

We did not run screaming instead we put on our brave hats and continued to look around.

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Jared and I brave hats in place…

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Interesting formations on the ceiling

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Stalactite and stalagmite…(I think – forgive me if I’m wrong people!)

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Steve and Jared going in a little deeper…

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Young stalactite…

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Piece of limestone it was making…

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Other end of the cave…

Next stop was a catamaran wreck. We were told the story of this catamaran wreck by Mike at Long Island Breeze. It goes a little like this…

A few weeks ago they noticed a catamaran called “Angel” floating aimlessly on the Exuma Sound side. They watched it for a while, tried to hail them on the radio and determined there was no one on board. They notified the police and contacted the coast guard to see if anyone had abandoned ship recently. Nothing had been reported and neither planned to do anything about the drifting vessel. So, Mike with the help of a few guys towed the boat to shore before it crashed on the reefs causing more damage. Once on board, Mike noticed the GPS was missing and the VHF radio had been unplugged. There was no ID or anything to identify the vessel left on board. Later, they heard that a couple was picked up in a life raft sometime earlier by a passing cruise ship believed to be the once-owners of this vessel but it was never reported to the coast guard. The crew towed it to shore, where it was later picked clean by local salvagers. As we know, once a vessel is abandoned it becomes anybody’s game. This is what’s left…

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Part of a pontoon

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Every stainless fitting was removed…valuable stuff…too bad we didn’t get here sooner - we may have scored an Auto Helm!  

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Lots of debris…Steve is in flotsam heaven and earning his salvaging badge

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There wasn’t much left to pick over but Steve managed to find a few pieces of hard wood ;)

 

We our thoroughly enjoying ourselves so far – we are off to the blue hole!!

On our way we stopped at a ruin of an old Spanish Church. Here are a few shots:

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Me in the doorway...

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Inside entrance

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South wall...

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Alter area

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Steve in the bell tower window...

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Outside in the back where the alter area is located...

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Pretty flowers growing in the window of the Alter area

Dean’s Blue Hole is the deepest blue hole in the world measuring in at 663 feet/202 meters deep. The World Free Dive Competition was held here. This Blue Hole is located at the far corner of a beautiful beach area.

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The dark blue part is the Blue Hole and the platform in the middle is where the free diving happens. It is rigged with a line that runs to the bottom.

The water depth falls from knee high to 663 feet in an instant – like falling off a cliff. So, we threw on our snorkel gear and got under water to get the full effect of the drop off. It was really cool. The water turns from clear blue to dark and murky. Steve strapped on the Go Pro camera to film the decent while Jared and I swam around. The water was warmer than I expected with several fish swimming about. Jared and I noticed a rope latter along the cliff and decided to see if he could climb it. Sure enough, he managed to pull himself up to the cliff and after a few moments of quiet contemplation he jumped off it into the Blue Hole. The jump is about 30 feet. Steve filmed the whole thing. I was watching from the platform where Steve joined me. As Steve pulled off his mask and snorkel he noticed the Go Pro was no longer on his head!! He quickly realized that it must have fallen off went he pulled off his mask. Our hearts sank - of all places in the Bahamas it falls in the deepest hole in the world. Anywhere else in these waters it would have been easily recoverable since the visibility is so clear and the waters so shallow but we lose it here. We can’t believe we didn’t think of tethering it. As a result, we just threw hundreds of dollars into the deepest hole in the world…oh wait a minute…isn’t that what boating is all about anyway ha! ;)

On that note, I figured the cliff didn’t seem so high from the water so I climbed up the rope with all the confidence in the world that jumping off would be no-sweat. After all, I used to cliff jump in quarries when I was a teenager so this should be no problem. Well, I got to the top, I realized my cliff jumping days were many, many years ago and I no longer carried that fearlessness from those carefree days. I looked over and my knees almost gave out. Jared encouraged me to “not look down” and “don’t think about it too much” two things I did repeatedly. It probably took me about 10 or 15 minutes to get the courage to jump off (maybe longer). Finally, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, made the leap and screamed all the way down. I did it!!

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That was enough excitement for one morning. Steve did a couple of laps in the shallow areas just in case the camera fell off there but no success. It was time eat!

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Steve and Jared – our picnic at Dean’s Blue Hole

From here Jared drove us to through Clarence Town (the capital of Long Island) and through a dozen other settlements. Steve and I like the quiet island pace here and could easily come back on holiday.

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View from an upscale resort along the water we so happened to drive around in J

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Local sheep on the side of the road. Goats, sheep and hogs are common animals roaming around.

Long Island is known for its salt ponds; fairly large ponds filled with salt water once used for salt mining. There is very little salt mining here now ‘cause it too expensive but remnants of the process still exist in the ponds today. The ponds are generally separated into squares of various depths by rocks identifying the various drying stages. The reason I’m mentioning the salt ponds is that they are also remarkably smelly. It smells a little like sulfur but much stronger. We arrived at the South End Beach and it was in typical Bahamas style – strikingly crystal blue but since there was a salt pond nearby, the smell was overwhelmingly foul.

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I could almost get over the smell but not really. All three of use walked about a bit then headed back to the car and quickly put on the air conditioning ha!

The ride back was easy, we got to know Jared a little more and he got to know us. We stopped off at the Resort in Salt Pond for a few things and realized the winds weren’t too high and the tide was fallen. This may be a perfect opportunity to hunt for lobster. Jared got his spear and we drove the first beach we went to so the guys could go hunting.

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Off they go!

The story tells like this. The snorkeled for about an hour and couldn’t find any lobster – lots of fish but no lobster. As they were heading back, Steve spotted a whole lobster stuck under a ledge. It was a joint effort but the two guys were able to spear it and retrieve it.

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Jared and Steve with their catch – it is a big one too!!!!

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They sure are pretty

Jared showed Steve how to clean it. Basically, the only part to eat is the tail, the rest gets thrown back into the sea. We had a nice big tail to share but not tonight. Jared took us to the to the only restaurant open on Sundays - Bungalow Restaurant - for beers and dinner. Jared said the food was really good and he was right. The guys had cracked conch, fries and macaroni Salad. I had grouper fingers, fries and coleslaw – absolutely delicious!

We got back to the boat just before sunset, put everything away and were asleep by 2000hrs.

February 27, 2012

Today is very windy – winds picked up overnight as predicted– gusting to 25-30kts from the east…We are well protected and did not feel a thing other than the wind blowing through the rigging.

I went for a nice run first thing to burn off my supper. It rained a little which was refreshing and it also unveiled a HUGE rainbow over the bay – just beautiful!

I headed back to the boat and made a nice big breakfast then we went to see if the package had arrived. Jared let us know that Mike went to pick it up for us at the airport. It would seem the FedEx guy did not want to come all the way to the resort to drop it off – crazy – we are lucky to have a guy like Mike around. Since Steve could not do the install, him and Jared went for a dinghy ride to do some fishing while I did a little cleaning and got caught up on the blog. They guys didn’t catch anything but were happy to have gone out. We had some lunch, then headed back to the Resort to see if Mike was back with the package. I also desperately needed to do laundry. Long Ilsand Breeze has a laundry facility but it has been inaccessible to cruisers since he is having trouble getting his water. The water gets trucked in here as they are not set up for R/O directly at the resort. Mike buys the excess water that the R/O facility makes and has it trucked to his resort and stored in big reserves under the resort. Generally, this is not a problem but at the moment, Mike is having trouble getting the truck to come. This means – no laundry. Discouraged, I asked if there was another place nearby. He said the closest one is in Deadman’s Cay about 15 miles from here. Useless to me as I don’t have a car…I’m going to have to buy water and do it all by HAND – oh my!! Desperate I asked Mike how much a cab ride would be to Deadman’s Cay and he said it could cost up to 40$!! There was a couple sitting at the bar who had asked him a similar question. I jokingly asked if they needed to do laundry and if so, if they wanted to go halfsies on a cab. They considered it, so I introduced myself and I met Bradley and Sabrina on Joint Venture. They were considering renting a car for a few days as they had friends flying into meet them. We discussed our laundry situation. They decided to rent a car for a few days and offered to take me to do laundry tomorrow if I split the cost of the car for the day which was 50$ - done!!! So, I got directions to the Laundromat and agreed to get in touch tomorrow to sort out a time to go. Excellent!! I may not have to do it by hand after all – yippee!!

We ran into several cruisers at the resort; Myron and Deana from Hold Fast, Robert and Cathy from Barrie Ontario who are on a Catalina (the name escapes me at the moment) and a few others. It’s always fun to run into other cruisers. We chit chatted, told stories and jokes over some cold drinks. Some are leaving in the morning for the Jumentos – we are hoping to leave once the install is done. Mike delivered our new auto pilot so we were excited to get it back to the boat and unbox it J

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Well, nothing has come easy on this trip so why should it start now. What should be a simple install is turning out to be a pain. The bracket that attaches to the wheel of the new Auto Helm does not fit our particular pedestal – EVEN though the website said it would. Well, it would appear there are different pedestal models and since ours is a 1979 pedestal – we are the exception – can you believe it!?!??! We are discouraged by this and Steve is actively trying to find a solution. He will ask around tomorrow to see if someone can help us fabricate an adapter for the bracket. We are hoping this will not delay our departure more than it already has.

My oven also caught on fire tonight…not a bad fire, just a piece of plastic at the back where we have noticed a hot spot developing. This will need immediate attention before any more wonderful bread is baked. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise ;)

We ate our lobster tonight on a bed of fettuccini in a rose sauce. Steve enjoyed it and I determined I don’t really like lobster. I already sort of knew that but I thought I would give a try just to make sure. Steve was happy as there was more for him ha!

February 28, 2012 

It’s a “Nothing Fits” kinda a day – not even my pants but I’m not referring to them ;)

Steve has figured a few alternatives for our bracket problem. With drawings and measurements in hand we went to speak to Mike about it to see if he could recommend someone in the area that can help us. It would appear we may need to have one made…Before we headed to land, Steve installed the wheel part to discover the adapters do not fit either – the company provided 2 different sizes and we need the third – can you believe it?!?! He had to make it fit…he also discovered once the wheel part was installed that the holes did not line up as expected meaning the bracket he originally designed would not work. He went to work figuring out another design. For the cost of this thing, you think it would fit -especially since the company said it would. I am very pleased I am not in charge of this project as I would have thrown it overboard out of shear frustration and gone for a beer. Steve is a very patient man and his ingenuity and perseverance always amazes me - he only swore a little. He’s certainly cut out for this stuff.

We got to shore around 1400hrs to talk to Mike. Unfortunately the two guys who are really good at fabrication are not on the island at the moment but as Steve described the simple bracket, Mike suggested another fellow that could help us out. Steve went to for a walk to talk to Les. Steve explained the problem, showed his the cardboard cut-out he made of the angle he needed for the bracket, gave him a piece of stainless to make it from and Les said he will have a one for us tomorrow. Things could be looking up!

My laundry day has been postponed until tomorrow so I busied myself with writing and editing photos. The internet connection we were able to pick up is no long available from the boat so we packed our computers and headed to Long Island Breeze to check email, post the blog, research and ask around for some help with our bracket situation.

We decided to eat out once again while we got caught up on our internet business….mainly website uploading and connecting with family then headed back to the boat to relax for evening.

February 29, 2012

Laundry Day!!

I met Sabrina with my big bag of dirty, smelly laundry around 0830hrs. With directions in hand we made our way to Deadman’s Cay to “turn right after Carole’s shipping, past the green 2 story apt buildings to a little white building”… We are on an adventure!! Deadman’s Cay is only about 25 minutes away and we only had to ask for directions once to get to our destination. The “little white building” had everything we needed; six washers, five dryers and we had the place to ourselves. It was also the cheapest laundry in the Bahamas 2$ to wash and 2. 50$ to dry – fabulous!! Sabrina and I spent the morning getting to know each other and sharing cruising stories. Sabrina and her husband Brad are from Maryland and are living on a 39 foot Beneteau called Joint Venture. They are off for about 18 months to cruise the Bahamas. They left around the same time we did but started their trip in the Abacos and worked their way down through the Eleuthera then to Conception Island then to Long Island. They are headed to the Exumas next then making their way back home. Basically, we are headed to where they came from and visa-versa. So we shared our favourite spots and I made many mental notes of places to stop on our way back through the Eleuthra’s and Abacos.

While I was doing laundry, Steve got to work on the Auto Helm. Les came through and built the bracket. He tacked it in place so Steve could bring it to the boat to make sure it fit. It did, so he returned it to Les to finish the weld. The bracket will be ready by tomorrow morning.  He spent the rest of the morning getting tools and the area ready to do the install before he needed to take our propane tank to shore to be filled – where he met me and Sabrina with our clean laundry.

We had lunch and made our way back to the boat – frustration and aggravation is quickly becoming the theme of this silly auto helm installation. As I had mentioned, the bracket with the pin that attaches to the auto helm from the pedestal did not fit  – even though the specification online said this model fits all Epson pedestals, except ours as we discovered. Fortunately, Steve is a good “figurer” and designed a new bracket which is currently in the hands of Les. Another BIG problem with this new Auto Helm installing is that it required a hole saw – another important piece of information not mentioned online when we bought it. Well, we do not have one on board. Steve tried his best to saw a hole with the tools on hand but was not making any progress. Frustrated, we called it a day!!