Mar 27 to Mar 31 2012

March 27, 2012

The boat finally stopped rolling sometime during the night – thank goodness!!! We slept in….til 0730!!!! We missed the weather forecast but we can always catch it tomorrow.

We were finally ready to get off the boat by 1000hrs. Were we ever happy to plant our feet on solid ground. As we were stepping off the boat we were greeting by a nice man, Reverend Johnson, who offered to bring the cruisers fresh product tomorrow evening. Since we were leaving in the morning we offered to announce it to the cruisers over the VHF. He was pleased with that then we parted ways – very nice.

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The government dock where we beached the dinghy

We started our hike to the Hermitage, stopping at the ruin of an old plantation. This ruin is Henry Hawkins Armbrister’s Great House that was burned by slaves during the days just prior to emancipation. The house was built 1760’s during the pre-loyalist period.

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Henry Hawkins house

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Must have been quite the sight in its day and I’m sure it has many stories to tell and secrets to hide…

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View of the Banks through the ruins

We continued on our walk towards the most noted tourist attraction in Cat Island; The Hermitage which sits on the highest point of land in the Bahamas (206 feet) on Mt. Comer also known as Mt. Alverna. Our guide book calls this a monument to the faith of one man, John Hawes, known as Father Jerome, born in 1876. He spent five years studying architecture before entering a Theological College to become an Anglican Minister. He went to Rome in 1911 for three years to study the Catholic Priesthood. He later built the most recognizable white churches in Clarence Town, Long Island then later went to Australia to be a bush priest. In 1939, Father Jerome received permission to retire in Cat Island as a hermit. He chose the Mt. Comer site for its view to the east of the indigo blue water of the Exuma Sound and to the west where he could gaze upon the turquoise waters of the Bahamas banks. He began construction in 1940 of The Hermitage, a miniature replica of a European Franciscan Monastery. He built the entire place by himself out of the native rock. Father Jerome lived here until his death at the age of 80 and is buried here beneath this impressive monastery he so devotedly built with his own hands.

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The Hermitage a top of Mt. Comer

It’s quite impressive even from far. It is about a 20 minute walk from shore up the hill.

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The gate leading up to the Hermitage…I’m having a little bit of fun…you guessed an angel right? Nope, just me J

The walk gets a little steeper as we climbed the winding road up to the Hermitage. The road is lined with the Stations of the Cross which were also hand carved by Father Jerome. It is quite remarkable…

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One of the Stations of the Cross lining the path

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Another station on the walk up to The Hermitage

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Another Station – Jesus is laid in the tomb…

The Hermitage is a bit of an optical illusion. From far it appears very large sitting on top the hill but as we got closer and roamed around inside it we realized Father Jerome was a small man.

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The front which faces the Bahamas Banks…notice the size difference with Steve in front of the doorway?

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The alter in the Chapel

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Steve sitting Father Jerome’s chair in the Chapel area to give you some perspective

The doorways were probably 2/3 of the size of regular doorways. Father Jerome built this place to fit him perfectly and it showed. The place is fascinating!!

 

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A tile located on the outside of the residence – does anybody know any Latin for a translation?

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The view from his wash area of the Exuma Sound

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The Hermitage from the back

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View of the Banks and the road leading to the Hermitage from the top of the hill.

 

We made our way back down the hill and continued on our walk into town…well there isn’t much of town but we did find a bakery!

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Road along the beach in New Bight, Cat Island

We went for lunch at the Bluebird Restaurant. Steve had chicken for the first time in the Bahamas and said it was very tasty!! Real chicken for a change J It was served with pigeon peas and rice, coleslaw and potato salad. I just had the sides and cold beers – delicious!! I am a big fan of Bahamian peas and rice J

We bought some ice then headed back to the boat for a nap. It was rough day ;)

We ran into John and Mary who we met in Long Island. They are on an O’Day 40 called Marylee. They told us of an estuary in Alligator Point we should check out tomorrow instead of going to Arthur Town with lots of turtles and good snorkeling – done!! We are heading to Alligator Point in the morning!

March 28, 2012

We had an easy sail to Alligator Point and were anchored in Bennett’s Creek by 1630hrs. Steve caught another barracuda MINUTES after he put his line out. He let it go and didn’t bother fishing for the rest of the passage. We started reading Treasure Island together this past week. Believe it or not I have never read it or any tale about pirates so this is a good start. It’s the classic chasing treasure story. I am enjoying the adventure on a schooner with a crew of seedy pirates, some with peg legs and who say “Arg!” I can’t wait to read this story to my nephew – he is mad about pirates right now! I read a few chapters to Steve while we were underway.

We are looking forward to our dinghy ride to the estuary tomorrow.

March 29, 2012

The winds have pretty much died down and as per Chris Parker it is to remain this way for the next few days. After breakfast, Steve and I piled our gear into the dinghy and headed toward the estuary. The estuary follows Bennett’s Creek to Pigeon Creek on Alligator Point. While entering Bennett’s Creek we noticed several derelict boats, two of which were fully submerged and there was this one:

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Derelict boat at the entrance of Bennett’s Creek…poor little boat

We wound our way in the creek by dinghy; through mangroves and very shallow water. We should really have waited for high tide but we were pretty excited to explore this area.

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Pretty water through the mangroves

At one point the water ran out and we had to get out of the dinghy and walk our way to deeper water.

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Steve towing the dinghy

We waded through shallow water for what seemed like a lifetime until we found enough water that we both could get in the dinghy and slowly motor from deep spot to deep spot, stopping the motor occasionally to paddle. It was all worth it when we rounded the corner into Pigeon Creek.

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The water here has been the bluest we have ever seen – spectacular!!

Birthday Announcement!!!!!!!!! It is Steve’s brother, Dan’s birthday today. On our dinghy ride to through the estuary we found this perfect beach.

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“Cat Island, Happy Birthday Dan!!!” J A toast to you with a bottle of Ricardo Dark!! “Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!”)

The water is so swimming pool clear it makes wildlife spotting very easy. We saw a variety of fish, a barracuda, a small shark, a couple of cranes and TURTLES!!!!!!!!!! They were everywhere, big and small ones. To my surprise, they can swim really fast. I was amazed!! They startle easy making a good photo almost impossible. We chased a few to try and get a good photo. This is the best I could do:

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One of the many turtles zipping about the estuary

We had more fun chasing turtles than I’m prepared to admit. We headed back to the boat once we thought there was enough water to get back through the creek. We made it back safely without having to walk J

We re-anchored the boat closer to shore in an effort to get WIFI – with no luck, so I went for a run in “town” while Steve settled in with a new book. There really isn’t much in Bennett’s Creek; a resort lines the beach, a restaurant or two (that MAY be open), a gas station and a primary school pretty much sums it up. I love these little runs, they give me a chance to clear my head and take in my surroundings.

We had drinks, supper and pretty much relaxed for the rest of the evening. Tomorrow, we head to Little San Salvador Island to stage for Eleuthera the following day!

March 30, 2012

Chris Parker said we should have very little wind for the next few days so Steve rigged up the Spinnaker for today’s sail. Before we left, he did a battery check, topping off the water in each battery as well as an engine check. He noticed one of the bolts on the motor mounts we had installed in Georgetown had come loose - we were hoping it would hold until we got home but one of them has shaken loose. The other bolt is hanging in tight so it’s band aid time for the loose one. Steve epoxied the hole and screwed a thicker bolt back in. It should hold for the rest of the trip. We will be looking into a stop in Whitby to have the motor bed re-made, a new shaft and cutlass bearing installed before we make it back to Ottawa. Oh well…

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Steve topping up the batteries…everything must be dug out to get to them. It was time for a little reorganizing anyway.

I topped up my food bins with the remaining can goods from the extra bin in the garage. Turns out I only really provisioned for about three to four months – can you believe it!!??

Since, we needed to stay put an extra day for the repair to cure, Steve put the spinnaker away but handy for tomorrow. I have been feeling a little under the weather the last few days so I don’t mind too much. We spent the rest of the afternoon reading and waiting for the epoxy to dry. So far so good J

March 31, 2012

The anchorage became rolly during the night making it a fitful night’s sleep for the two of us. We were happy for morning and eager to get underway. The winds are a little less than 10 kts – perfect to try the spinnaker. We have never flown the spinnaker on Diana and looking forward to seeing how she performs with it.

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Steve trimming the spin…it’s flying wonderfully! We averaged 4 kts in less than 10 kts of wind all day. No motor required!

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It sure is a pretty sail!!

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Our new Bahamas’ courtesy flag and our clubs’ burgee finally flying – yay RYC!! J

Little San Salvador is a private island used by the a few different cruise lines as a landing destination. On our approached we noticed not one but TWO Holland American Cruise Lines anchored in Half Moon Bay. I hope there is room for all of us!

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View of anchored cruise ships in Half Moon Bay, Little San Salvador

We carefully motored in and anchored. There was lots of activity when we arrived; people parasailing, ferries running people to and from ships to shore, people on horseback and of course swimmers and sun tanners lining the beach – fun!!

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A cruise line guest parasailing over the boat. Steve had a ring side view and waved to the passing sailors.

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Beach full of cruise ship passengers having fun

Within an hour, the tourists were ferried back onto the ships. Then their horns sounded and they went on their way leaving the place deserted except for a few staff cleaning up the beach. It was amazing to watch – it was all done so quickly and efficiently.

It was just us for the rest of the afternoon!

We are making way to Rock Point, Eleuthera tomorrow, about 50 miles or so. We will be leaving at first light.

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Sunset in Little San Salvador