Jan 06 to Jan 12 2012

January 06, 2012

 

We finally peeled ourselves away from the marina and all our new friends around 0900hrs with promises to meet up at some point along the way.

 

It was a short 14 mile sail to a place called Panton Cove off of Great Stirrup Cay.

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Beautiful water on our way to our anchorage

There are two Stirrup Cays, one is Little Stirrup Cay and the second is Great Stirrup Cay. Both are leased by separate Cruise Ship Lines. The Cruise Ship companies have groomed the beaches and employed the locals to ferry their guests to and from the island and guide them on a number of tours. The ships stop here so the guests can visit the beach, participate in eco kayak tours, jet skiing and/or parasailing. Regular cruisers like us aren’t allowed on the island while the ships are visiting.

 

While approaching Great Stirrup Cay we could see the Norwegian Cruise Ship docked. There were tourists out in the Parasailing boats and Jet skis having a blast.

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The Norwegian docked safely as the tourists get a chance to play

We anchored at 1230hrs just behind the island in Panton Cove. We were in front of a little beach, a perfect place to work on my tan! As I was getting my stuff together a group of Kayaks paddled by and headed right for the beach…oh well, it is their beach anyway. I set myself up on deck with a cold beer and a good book while Steve went snorkeling for lobster. Not a bad way to spend the afternoon I think! Jan_06_Anchorage_-_GH_Stirrup_Cruiser_Kayakers_resized.jpg

Kayakers making their way back to the cruise ship

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Steve snorkeling J

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Pretty lighthouse on Great Stirrup Cay

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Ahhhh sunset in the Berry’s 

January 07, 2012

 

We departed our anchorage at 0930hrs to make our way a series of little islands called White Cay, Hoffman’s Cay and Devil’s Cay.

 

It was another short day as we were anchored in front of White Cay by 1345hrs with two other boats; one was a catamaran and the second was a 30 ft Nordica called Taragan; with a nice family of four on board from Quebec J Brave souls!!!

 

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Hoffman’s Cay beach

 

There is a phenomenon called a Blue Hole somewhere on Hoffman’s Cay. A Blue Hole is a seemingly bottomless hole filled with sea water with numerous underwater caves leading out to sea. There are several of them around the world and one of them is right here! Once the anchor was set, we got the dinghy ready and headed to find it.

 

We dinghied around the island where we came to a small little beach. We secured the dinghy and searched the shoreline looking for a path. We found an opening that was marked with a yellow bucket.

 

The path was defined but narrow.

 

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Trail to the Blue Hole

 

The trail finally came out to THIS…

 

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The Blue Hole!!

 

It was MUCH bigger than I anticipated. If we were brave enough, we could have jumped into it from here as there was a little rough path leading from the water back up. We were good just looking at it. It was a little creepy looking down into it – beautiful but creepy.

 

There is also a set of ruins on this island but we were unable to find them.

It was getting dark so it was time to head back to Diana.

  

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Enjoying the sunset in my jammies with a cold beer – happiness J

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Another beautiful sunset

January 08, 2012

 

A rough night!!!

 

The winds were up but not horrible, anywhere between 10-20kts from the ENE. This morning, the Catamaran left and we watched Taragan re-anchor. Later, Pierre stopped by to let us know that he had almost dragged his anchor onto us! Fortunately, his wife was up and they were able to set their anchor enough to get them through till the morning in order to re-set.

 

We knew that when the wind opposes the ebb tide this anchorage can be rough. I will try to explain this anchorage:

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We ideally want to be anchored in the spot at the top where the little anchor is in behind White Cay and in front of Fowl Cay. This little spot offers protection from the wind and is far enough away from the entrance to be out of the “Surge” area created by the tide coming in and out (the path of the water current is indicated by the blue hyphenated line) It is a grassy area with poor holding but if you can set your anchor in a patch of sand – it holds well. When we finally set our anchor last night, Diana was actually in the spot where it reads “4” on the map. This means were exposed to the surge from the ocean for hours on end as the tide was coming in and going out, rocking the boat ALL NIGHT LONG. Not pleasant.

 

So, today we tried to re-anchor, closer to the anchor you see on the map. We knew the Bruce would not hold in grassy area so we hauled out the Fortress to see if it would set. We managed to get a little closer to the anchor after several attempts. We settled on a spot just south of the anchor. The boat is sitting much better but I still wouldn’t leave a glass of water out unattended as it would surly tip over as the boat rolled.

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Diana at anchor – Saddleback Cay is on the left and Fowl Cay is on the right…

 

Oh well, the anchor is holding really well so it was time to get off the boat to enjoy the day. So, we packed our snorkel gear, some drinks, books, towels, chairs and we were off to the beach!!

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Beach on White Cay 

 

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On the beach with our little dinghy in the background with fishing line out…

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The tip of Hoffman’s Cay on the left and the tip of White Cay on the right…Steve exploring the shoreline

 

Again, Steve always finds the nicest shells. I found a few shiny green and black shells, that I was very excited about. All proud I showed Steve and he sort of looked at them, sort of said they were nice and that was that. So, I left them out in the sun to dry next to Steve’s only to discover the green was actually mold and when they dried the shells turns a pasty ugly colour LOL!! Have I mentioned I’m not really a “natural” when it comes to water!?! ;)

 

We put on the snorkel gear next. This was the second time I have put on my mask and snorkel and today I would try my fins. My first lesson was to walk backwards into the water because walking forwards is not possible. Again, Steve laughed at me trying to walk forwards before he told me the walking backwards trick. He thought it was pretty funny…

 

We say a few Manta Rays…in the distance, a few Jacks, needle fish and a bunch of others that we have yet to identify. We also so a huge turtle poke its head out of the water near our boat. AND I didn’t run screaming once!! I wouldn’t go very deep though, this irrational fear of fish requires baby steps to get over. So far, so good!

 

The rest of the afternoon was spent lounging and reading. The crew from Taragan joined us on the beach after their “Blue Hole” exploration and we had a nice afternoon.

 

Steve and I headed back to the boat for drinks and supper. 

January 09, 2012 

 

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It’s Steve son’s Birthday today J Happy Birthday Rickee from the Berry Islands!!!

 

We were up at 0600hrs – another rough night – time to go! We were underway by 0730hrs headed to Chubb Cay!

 

Our neighbours on Taragan were headed to Nassau to meet family. We said our “farewells” and “safe travels” in hopes to meet again further south.

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Steve at the helm thoroughly enjoying himself at the helm

 

We were expecting another front to move in and we needed protection from strong North Easterly winds. There are not a lot of anchorages in Chubb Cay. There is, however, a very expensive marina at 3$ foot. Our other option was to find an anchorage in Fraser’s Hog Cay. In Fraser’s Hog, there is a marina called The Berry Islands Club that we heard had closed down with a mooring field. We decided to check it out anyway in case we could find an anchorage.

 

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Water in Fraser’s Hog Cay – notice the dark to light colour of the water indicating depth…

 

When we approached we noticed that the mooring field was still there and intact. We pulled into the fuel dock at the marina to check things out and hopefully find someone to talk to. We were hoping to tie up to one of the mooring balls for a few days. So, we tied up to the fuel dock and took a walk.

 

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Front porch of the Berry Islands Marina Club House

 

The Marina appears to be a great facility and it’s a shame it’s not open. It had fuel, water, showers, extra rooms for rent, a garden, hammocks and BBQ’s still out. Either they just closed or are about to re-open. We peeked into some of the windows and we could see computers but no furniture. The door to the club house was nailed shut.

 

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Grounds of the Marina

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Flower Gardens of the Marina

We decided to tie up to a mooring and figured if someone was tending this place they would come out to us to collect some money. In the mean time we will squat here to enjoy the free mooring J

We headed back to the boat, I got to work on supper while Steve went fishing.

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Steve fishing…still nothing…we need advice!! 

January 10, 2012

 

We’ve finally been able to pick up Chris Parker’s Weather forecast on our Grundig SSB receiver – which is a relief since we do not have access to weather info without the Internet.  High winds are expected for the next couple of days out of the NE so it is best to stay here.

 

We needed fuel, check our email and get the latest weather information, so we headed to the Chubb Cay Marina. They also had a little store J

 

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An ACTUAL marker leading into Chubb Cay marina 

 

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We get the sense there is some money here…

 

We rounded the corner into the marina and HELLO Mega yachts!! No wonder it’s 3$ a foot!!

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There is a motor boat on the back of this boat…PLUS they have and exercise bike on the stern!

 

We tied up at the fuel dock and got 6 gallons of diesel and a bag of ice lol!! The ice here is 12$ for little bag!! Oh well – cold beer is good J We picked up a few snacks at the little store and met a couple who sailed their boat “Abel” from the Netherlands – a beautiful aluminum sailboat. We were headed in the same direction so we made promises to get together for drinks if we meet up along the way.

Back at the dock, I tried the Internet and it was UNLOCKED – Yippee!! The fuel dock guys didn’t mind us hanging out but we needed to move the boat back for a catamaran that was coming in for fuel. So, we got the latest weather info, checked our mail and sent a few messages.

And then the Catamaran arrived…we had to talk to these guys!!!Jan_10_Bruces_Hobby_Cat_1_resized.jpg

This is a 27ft MacGregor converted to a catamaran – neato!!

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It has just this outboard for power…these guys are awesome!!!

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Meet Bruce (left) owner/creator of this vessel and his friend Tom (Right) - his sailing buddy; who has never sailed before and is having a GREAT time!! This is there first stop after crossing the Gulf Stream from the Florida Keys – now they are adventurers!!!

Bruce built this boat in his garage. He used a MacGregor hull and hobie cat kit for the pontoons. Since the pontoon stabilizes the boat, he didn’t need his water ballast. Instead, he converted it into fresh water storage. They are planning on sailing his boat to the Andros, then the Exumas to the Crooked Islands where Bruce has a home. He invited us to visit when we are in the neighbourhood. We hope we can take him up on his offer J 

Three hours later, after a couple of beers and interesting conversation, we left the dock and headed back to our squatting place in the mooring field.

January 11, 2012

 

It’s a warm and sunny day - a perfect day to explore our surroundings.

 

We loaded the dinghy with drinks, snorkel gear and beach towels then went for a ride.

 

There were several small beaches where we stopped to beach comb a bit and explore.

 

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We could see this old home from the water…one of many abandoned homes along the waterway. We can certainly feel the struggle the Bahamas has gone through in their many attempts to find prosperity over the years but sadly, a lot of what is left behind is these ghostly remnants of better times.

 

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This is the view from that same window in the main house – this place is really cool!!!

 

Steve and I found this place when we beached the dinghy and followed a dirt road which lead here. It had an outbuilding as well which held tools, an old generator and a well. This place must have been beautiful in its day. I took a lot of photos so these are just a few…

 

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An old gas tank and light fixture in the main house

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The bathroom in main house with a tree growing up through the floor

 

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Stone steps leading to the main house from the out-building

 

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View from the deck...well...what used to be the deck - it's an open space with exposed beams

 

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Steve on shore while I’m up in the ruins playing photographer ;)

 

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Tool shed in the out-building

 

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Old fridge in the out-building

 

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Graffiti inside the out-building - surprisingly this was the only spot of graffiti

 

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View of out-building from the back – notice the generator on the left…

 

We then went to another beach that appeared to have some snorkeling potential. And it did!! We came upon a little shallow reef with enough fish not to freak me out. We saw a lot of little reef fish, jacks and a Parrot fish – just beautiful!!

 

Our gear is great!! WE bought these little Seadoo Mask and Snorkel sets from Costco. Steve is happy with his mask but I am having trouble with it. It cuts my nose and fogs us way too much to be comfortable…I may look for a new mask at the next opportunity. In the meantime, I will just suck it up ;)

 

We headed back to the boat to discover a few boats have found our little mooring haven. By evening we had one Mega Yacht and three other sail boats. One of the sailboats was an Alberg 37 called Rodeo from Toronto – too cool!! They moored next to us and we chit-chatted with Gabe and Monika about their trip so far. They are headed to Nassau to meet family then to the Exumas. We are still hoping to get to the Andros then make our way to the Exumas. Perhaps we will meet again!

 

The Andros is one of the biggest islands in the Bahamas with the least amount of people. We want to stop at as many islands as we can while we were here but the anchoring potential in the Andros is very limited. We are expecting some weather over the next few days so we are not sure we can go. We want to go to a place called Fresh Cut Creek – there is a batik factory there.

Batik is a cloth that uses a unique wax-resistant dyeing technique. The one made in the Andros is called Androsia. Since 1973 they have used the beauty of the environment of the Bahamas for inspiration in their print designs and brilliant colours. It looks like this:

 

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Picture taken from the Internet

 

We need four days of light winds to do the trip and the outlook is not good. The trip to Andros is 14 miles from here to an anchorage in Morgan’s Bluff with limited protecting. Then we would have to travel another 25-30 miles South to get to Fresh Cut and another day to go to the factory. We will get the forecast in the morning and make a decision.

 

For now, we will enjoy a nice drink and take in our surroundings. Winds are supposed to increase overnight.

 

Later on in the evening...

 

The jig is up!!! We saw some action on the dock at Berry Islands Club and were visited by the new owners who advised us they will be reopening very soon and are presently charging for their moorings…the fee is 25$ a night. We said no problem, we just got here and we may be leaving in the morning. They said they would pop by in the AM to collect their fees. Teehee!!

January 12, 2012

Up at 0630hrs to catch the weather forecast. The weather is not conducive to make the trip to Andros so we decided to go to Nassau instead. We really do not want to go to Nassau and were hoping to avoid it at all costs BUT we did need a few things and Nassau is the place to get them. So, the decision was made. We secured the dinghy on deck and prepared the cabin for the crossing to Nassau.

 

To go to Nassau we will be crossing the “Tongue of the Ocean”. It is a really deep part of the sea at one point it is more than 10 000 feet deep!!! It can kick up quite a bit in high winds and todays’ prediction is for light winds – perfect for a crossing.

 

At 0900hrs, the staff at Berry Islands Club came by to collect their dues. We paid our 25$, said goodbye to Rodeo and off we went.

 

It was FLAT calm on the Tongue today!! The water looked like liquid mercury. We actually had to turn on the motor to help us along in order to get to Nassau before dark.

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Tongue of the Ocean – there is more than 10000 feet of water here!!

 

The crossing went smoothly and we arrived at Nassau around 1630hrs.

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Nassau Harbour – very busy. Paradise Island in the back left of the above photo

 

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Cruise Ships in Nassau Harbour

The Harbour is a busy, dirty place. There are tour boats and fishing boats everywhere. The smell of diesel is in the air and swimming is not an option. Anchoring in this harbor is not recommended as the holding is poor but we did see several boats anchored. We decided to head for a dock space and were able to secure a slip at The Nassau Harbour Club at 1.75$ a foot. This is a little over budget for us but at least it is a safe place with all the amenities, stores close by and we can leave the boat during the day without worry.

We intend to be here two nights. Laundry gets done tonight and tomorrow we get all our shopping done then get the boat ready to leave for the Exumas the following morning.

We quickly settled into our slip with the expertise of the dockmaster. He had us tied up and in the office within minutes - very efficient. We signed in, handed over our credit card, got some laundry tokens (3$ per) and got to work.

I did a couple of loads of laundry while Steve tucked Diana in for the night.

We had showers, supper then bed.