Tuesday, April 28, 2015

April 3, 2015

April 3, 2015
Friday: Warderick Wells to Cambridge

We left Warderick Wells early this morning to get to Cambridge.  The entrance to Cambridge on the Exuma Banks is shallow for us a low tide.  The wind and waves are high today so we don't want to go around into the Exuma Sound if we can avoid it.  We arrived in plenty of time to get a mooring ball and before low tide.   We got together with Toucanne (Rick, Leanne, & Peggy) to go snorkel at the Sea Aquarium.  Finding it on the map is easy enough, but finding it by water required some searching.   I have gotten quite accustomed to the water temperature.  The current, however, is another thing.  The currents here are swift and can be dangerous for even strong swimmers if not paying attention.  The Sea Aquarium is the best snorkeling trip we have had thus far.   The spot is marked by dinghy mooring balls that were covered when we arrived.  As we hopped off with our snorkels, masks and fins, we were awed by the size and shape of the underwater aquarium.  It felt as if we were in a large fish bowl which was both deep and wide.   There were many different species of fishes and the clarity was great.  (I wish I had pictures, but our camera broke while at Emerald Rock.  Hoping the replacement comes in before our friends arrive for a visit. )

After this snorkel, we went over to the wrecked plane,  it is a little scary how many wrecked planes are in the Bahamas and are frequently snorkeled.   I don't find these types of underwater sites very enjoyable.  I guess with all my superstitions, I just think it's creepy to be looking at something which could have very well been disastrous for someone. Late in the afternoon, we took a walk to the beach to once again take in the beauty of the islands.  


Sunday, April 26, 2015

April 2, 2015

April 2, 2015

After a visit at the park headquarters this morning we decided to hike out to Pirate's Lair.  We found the trail on the northern ed of the anchorage here and walked through  the narrow palm frond lined path.  Eventually we found an opening in the trees with a fresh water well.  Tall cabbage palms grow here.  It is thought the pirates brought the seeds to these palms to this location because this particular palm is not indigenous to the Bahamas.  Pirates used this lair as a meeting place when they went ashore.  The anchorage can take boats with a draft up to 12 feet.  It is very secluded and one in which we would love to anchor next time we are here.  

We had lunch on the pirate picnic table and headed back.  We wanted to snorkel at slack tide.  The tides are so strong that it is best to snorkel when the tide is slack.  We met Toucanne at Emerald Rock to snorkel and then snorkeled around the big rock.  It was here that our underwater camera died.
After snorkeling, we met with several other boaters in the North Mooring field and shared stories and appetizers.  These informal gatherings are a great part of the trip.  We never know who we may meet.


Friday, April 24, 2015

April 1, 2015

April 1, 2015

Wednesday: Shroud Cay to Warderick Wells

We made the short trip to Warderick Wells, the central hub of the Exuma Land and Sea Park.  Cherry, the park official, was nice enough to give us ball #17, the ball we had before making it easier for us to grab and get settled.  Summer of 42 was on ball #16 and we could see Toucanne anchored outside.  We snorkeled again today just off the stern of the boat.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

March 31, 2015

March 31, 2015
Tuesday: Shroud Cay

Before we went exploring, we heard a call out on the VHF for anyone with experience with generator problems.  We responded (no we don't have experience, but we like to help whenever we can and Steve is very handy).  We headed over to Got the Fever to help Mary & Tim Dent.  We shared that we knew two engineers on Toucanne who would love to get in on the action.  Rick, Rupert and Steve enjoyed the trouble shooting experience, and got the generator working.  We promised to check in on them in the morning.  We discovered that Rick's brother Tom is a United Methodist Minister in Woodbine, GA. We enjoyed meeting Mary and Tim and their two boys who are being home schooled on their boat.  We told the boys it must be a wonderful experience to spend so much time on their boat.  They had traveled from Georgetown, Exumas and were eventually going to make their way to Alaska.  Their plans are to live on board for two years before returning to their home in Connecticut. 

After lunch we spent  another day in paradise discovering the beauty of the mangrove creeks.  After exploring, we took Toucanne to the deposit box to pay for the mooring ball rental.  The mooring field is owned by the Exumas Land and Sea Park.  The park relies on the honesty of the cruisers to deposit the nominal fee to use the mooring balls.  By the time we arrived, access to the beach had been cut off because of high tide.  Rick scrambled up the hill to leave his payment.  


Monday, April 20, 2015

March 30, 2015

March 30, 2015
Monday:  Normans to Shroud

Eldridge C pulled up their anchor early this morning, we waved them off and pulled up our anchor shortly afterward.  We checked in with Cruiseheimer's to announce our departure and made contact with Eldridge C also by SSB radio.  Thanks to all who have helped me get this far in understanding this mode of communication. 

We picked up a  mooring ball with the greatest of ease and settled in to explore this area once again on our own.   We met up with Toucanne and we both wandered through Sanctuary Creek, the northernmost creek through the mangroves.  We came out on the Exuma Sound side of the island and beached the dinghy.  We discovered an uphill path which we couldn't resist.  Once at the top we realized we were at Camp Driftwood.  In the 1960's a cruiser by the name of Ernest Scholtes began building Camp driftwood.  Ernest built the trail up the 50 foot hill and carried sand to smooth the path.  He collected driftwood and plants to form a picnic table.  Cruisers throughout the years added to his collection leaving shells, sea beans, and all other memorabilia to decorate the area.  Unfortunately, cruisers with poor intentions left trash atop the hill destroying the ritual of passage  for admittance to Camp Driftwood.  Park officials now request that nothing be left behind at Camp Driftwood.  

During the years that Carlos Lehder ran his drug business at Normans Cay, DEA set up cameras on this ride at Camp Driftwood on which to spy on Carlos.  They aimed the cameras at the runway on Normans and were able to identify plane id numbers to help locate the planes and pilots helping Carlos with his illegal activity.  


Saturday, April 18, 2015

March 29, 2015

March 29, 2015
Sunday: Norman's Cay

 Eldridge C, Meandering Joy, and Toucanne all took a walk together today.  We didn't explore anything exciting, just wandered around near the airport/airstrip for one last time together.  Finally, the weather was looking better for Monday, so the St. Simons reunion was coming to an end. Eldridge C is heading to Nassau and then to the US,  Meandering Joy & Toucanne are continuing our trips south.  

We met at 4:00 for a photo at a beautiful small island.  No one had been at the island for days and today as we arrived, several boats appeared.  We got our picture though.  LeeAnne and Rick invited us all over for dinner.  

After our 4:00 photo shoot, we returned to MJ to meet with Eldridge C and Stella.  They were both helping me to diagnose the problem with my SSB radio.  Lucky for me they both helped to determine that our radio is persnickety when it comes to tuning in to a given frequency.  Brian called out on the DoDah Net (look it up) and did a frequency tweak and we could hear.  I still have trouble hearing Chris Parker in the mornings for weather, but when everything is going well, we can hear then net and make contact.  Evie brought over some Conch Fritters to snack on during my lesson.  Wow--were they good.  Susie brought over a healthy trail mix that was also good. 

Brian and Susie are on a sailboat and begged off early because they had a lot of work to prepare for their departure in the morning.  They are hoping to stop in Stuart to take some time with their dog, Hannah since she is getting older and life on a boat is a little more taxing. 
Before the sunset, we headed over for some lentil soup, home made bread and mango sorbet on Toucanne.  It was a wonderful evening sharing stories from our travels and I am sure our laughter could be heard all across the water in Normans Cay.  After hugs and kisses and promises to email and keep in touch, we all returned to our boats for the night.  

 Pics: 2725 2730

Thursday, April 16, 2015

March 28, 2015

March 28, 2015
Saturday:  Norman's Cay

After a sleepless night worried about the storm and our anchor holding, the sun rose to reveal cloudy skies and water that was not inviting.  The storms had stirred up the waters and our clear blue water had turned murky and turbulent.  I decided as did most of the other boaters that this would be a good day to stay aboard and do some cleaning or take a nap and read a book.  We were listening to the VHF like we do every morning to learn the local weather.   A sailboat was on the rocks in Allen's Cay talking to Yamacraw and Red Pepper who were both relaying messages and trying to diagnose the best way to offer assistance.  We also heard a general announcement that a supply barge was coming to the service dock at Norman's Cay.  We were anchored right off of the service dock leaving plenty of room for a boat to tie up to the dock--or so we thought.  

While still not fully functional--my coffee had not kicked in--I heard a call to all boats in Norman Cay that East Wind was coming thru the cut and requested any vessels in the channel near the cut l to move please to give enough room to get to the dock.  Steve was being patient this morning and decided we didn't really need to move that there was plenty of room.  As East Wind got closer it became obvious that we needed to move and when he blew his horn, I jumped ready for action to pull up the anchor and get out of dodge.  Fortunately we pulled up the anchor with no problems, moved back a few hundred yards and re-set the anchor without a hitch.  It is nerve wracking for me because it its usually at just these times when speed is of the essence that something does not go smoothly.  We were told later that this service boat sometimes arrives in the middle of the night disturbing all boats anchored close by.

This barge type ship contained 6 or 7 dump trucks, and other assorted vehicles.  While it was a little unnerving  at first, I settled down to enjoy the show.  It was interesting to watch the equipment unloaded run about on the island and return with loads of dirt.  The captain assured is he would be gone by 9:30--but they didn't leave until almost noon.  

Pics 2717, 2712


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

March 27, 2015

March 27, 2015
Friday: Normans Cay

Our tour guides took us exploring once again.  Our destination today is MacDuffs restaurant and resort.  There is an airstrip/airport on Norman's.  It is surrounded by a massive amount of newly installed fence--why didn't Steve get any jobs in places like this when he was in the fence business?  Evie informed us that before all the new development here, one could just walk across the landing strip to MacDuffs, but now we had to walk all the way around.  We met for the second time the manager of the development project here.  He couldn't tell us much about the company or individual developing the property; it was all kept close to the cuff.  

MacDuffs is on the Exuma Bank side of the island.  There are 3 or 4 newly built cottages which are joined to the restaurant and one another by a boarded path surrounded by bougainvillea (spelling?).  The bougainvillea is in bloom with one plant's flowers in both orange and pink.  After it warmed up, we headed to MacDuffs for some refreshment.  We ordered some drinks and appetizers for lunch and enjoyed the cool breezes on the deck. 
Late (remember, boaters midnight is 9:00p.m.)  in the night, a storm came up.  We were awakened by the wind and the clattering of glassware.  Around midnight we got up and watched the storm by radar.  The lightning came closer and closer.  The highest winds I saw on the anemometer were at 36 knots.  I overheard another boater in the area record 60kn winds on their sailboat.  Around 4:30, the storm and winds passed and I went back to bed hoping for some sleep.  I didn't sleep long for we were in store for another thrill shortly after breakfast.  


Pics: 1060599, 1060606, 1060608

Sunday, April 12, 2015

March 26, 2015

March 26, 2015

Thursday:  Norman's Cay

Jack and Evie gave us a tour of "The Pond" at Normans Cay.  Normans is shaped somewhat like a shepherds crook.    The Pond is in the crook part of the cay.  It is possible to anchor here but the entrance can be tricky because of shallow waters.  It offers great protection in a hurricane.  Any vessel with a draft of more than 3' should enter through the Exuma Sound, clear the outlying cays, and find the small deep water cut.  We were glad to be going to The Pond in our dinghy and even then we had to look for water deep enough to get across. 

At the entrance of the pond on the western side are three caves that would be fund to explore and off the northwestern tip are several small caves.  One of these has several rooms.  It is said the Carlos Lehder used these caves to stash both money and drugs.  Jack took us up to a small gap in the mangroves where we tied up, got out and walked up the hill to a dirt road.  We were passed almost immediately by two vehicles.  It was a shock to see real automobiles on this remote island. 

There are a few dilapidated homes which despite their state of disrepair have spectacular views of the Exuma Sound.  Window were broken and boarded up.  A lone matchbox car sat on an outside table as if a child got up for a moment but never returned to collect the toy.  We walked along the rocky beaches to another home which had steps leading down to the beach.  We went up the steps carefully avoiding the missing steps to yet another once lovely home that had succumbed to neglect and harsh winds and salt.  Walking down the driveway to the road, we crossed to the pond side of the road to discover a new home with a solar panel garden and a garage in which the two vehicles we had seen were safely tucked.

On the top of the hill is a large home in the middle of construction.  Of course, it called us to come take a look.  The bones of the house indicate that it will be beautiful --we all hope that it will not be another tragic  Bahamian construction project that goes unfinished.  From here, we did discover Carlos' old home.  By this time, we were all telling crazy stories about  murder and crime and what it must have been like during the seventies and eighties when this calm little island was a patrolled by Lehder's guards in helicopters and in jeeps with vicious dogs.  


Friday, April 10, 2015

March 25, 2015

March 25, 2015

Wednesday: Norman's Cay

We persuaded Jack and Evie to give us a tour of Normans.  They graciously obliged us.  As they led us to Shrouds Cay, we could see clearly through the water.   As we approached Shroud, there is a small opening in the mangroves through which we entered to another world.  It doesn't seem possible, but the water became even clearer.   After winding through what seemed like a lazy river, the creek opened up into the Exuma Sound with breath taking unspoiled beaches.  Unspoiled except for the odd bits of washed up debris from the ocean.  

Shroud is part of the Exuma Land and Sea Park where all visitors are encouraged to take only photographs and leave only footprints.  The debris found on the cays are thrown overboard from vessels at sea and perhaps from other countries who dump garbage into the sea.  Like others before us, we picked up our share of lone shoes, bottles, and other debris and piled it on the stacks around the island.   Eventually the Park Officials will gather or destroy it. 

Shroud is named for a shroud used to wrap a body.  Kind of interesting name given its proximity to Norman's Cay and the violence of Norman Lehder.  Shroud is actually not one cay but a grouping of cays between which lies a mangrove and marl salina.  A salina is a salt lake or salt marsh.  The root systems of the mangroves is clearly visible above the water line.  The creeks are a breeding ground for conch, lobster and fish.  We rode atop a bed of about 15 conch.  The bottom of the creek is sandy and the water is so clear that we could see the ripples in the sand that had been left by the movement of the tides.  We had to zig zag from side to side to find water deep enough to get through with the dingy which requires about 3 feet.  We could raise the propeller for a little added room. 
Jack took us a different way back where we found another unoccupied beach.  We are very grateful to  our tour guides for sharing what they have learned during their 11 visits to the Exuma Islands.

Toucanne arrived this afternoon.  They have guests Peggy and Rupert from Beaufort, SC.  Everyone from Toucanne and Eldridge C came over to Meandering Joy for appetizers and an opportunity to catch up on our travels. 


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Haircuts at the Laundromat

Steve got a haircut today at Black Point Settlement.  The best laundromat in the Bahamas.  They have free wifi, grocery, and haircuts! 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Black Point Settlement

Lovely little community on one of the largest islands in the Exumas

March 24, 2015

March 24, 2015

Tuesday: Nassau to Normans Cay

Time in the Bahamas is subjective.  When the dock master says he will be at the fuel dock at 9:00 a.m., one should remember "We are in the Bahamas mon".   It was not until about 9:30 when he arrived and another boat was ahead of us to purchase fuel.  We left around 10:45 for Norman's Cay. 

There were several boats at the anchorage, but we were most excited to again see Eldridge C!  We were still hoping to have a reunion with them and Toucanne.  We all enjoyed our time together in St. Simons and wanted to play catch up and enjoy this lovely island.

Steve and  I wandered around after we got settled and saw the downed plane and a beautiful tiny island.  


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter

Happy Easter from Staniel Cay!   During a visit to Isles General Store, we were told we would surely be welcome to visit the church services at St. Olivet Baptist church.  I hope to find this lovely woman who said she would look for me.  I joked that I would probably stick out--she laughed and agreed.  

I am very excited to experience a worship service with these lovely Bahamian people. 

We hope to update the blog tomorrow with free internet and maybe pictures.


Saturday, April 4, 2015

March 23, 2015

Monday:  Nassau

Not much to do today but wait around for Federal Express delivery.  We discovered the playground and the tennis courts.  It didn't take much persuading for me to agree to go hit some balls on the courts.  Although quite breezy, we had a great match.  (Greg & Sanford --call me and I will let you know the scores)
The part finally arrived around 4:00, but it was too late to leave.  Plans to leave first thing on Tuesday. 
Talked to Grand Plan & Irish Mist who also plan to go to the Exumas.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

March 22, 2015 Happy Birthday and Bye Bye Free Wifi

Today is my father's 81st birthday--Happy Birthday Daddy!

Collette took Lainey to the airport this morning for her journey back to St. Pete.  While I was posting to the blog, she texted me that she had arrived safely home.  We are leaving Palm Cay Marina tomorrow so we say Good Bye to free Wifi.... I hope to be able to find some free wifi somewhere along the way. If not, I will try to post without pictures.  The past few posts have been scribbled hurriedly and without alot of editing since I had to make the best of the time with the internet.

We are safe and enjoying the beautiful weather.


Wednesday, April 1, 2015

March 21, 2015 Palm Cay Marina

March 21, 2015
Saturday: Nassau

We set out to explore downtown Nassau with Collette our taxi driver.  Collette gave us the scenic route to Nassau and let us out at the Pepper Pot a favorite spot of the locals.  A quick glance at the menu and I knew we were in trouble.  I didn't think there would be anything Steve could eat.  I was even a little hard pushed to find something and I eat almost anything.  The waiter brought me a taste of some type of cod--it had been boiled and boiled again which didn't sound appealing, but he was so persuasive that I couldn't resist sampling.  The taste was fine, but the texture was not .  I chose curry chicken with the sauce on the side, rice and fried plantain.  Steve and Lainey chose jerk chicken, sauce on the side.  Lainey was courageous and tried the dumplings and coleslaw.  Steve had rice and beans. 

No part of the chicken is wasted when it comes to platters at the Pepper Pot.  A vast amount of chicken was on our plates--bones and all.  No sauces were on the side.  We politely picked through the bones and skin and other things to find the chicken.   Steve made a valiant attempt to eat.  (Katy, Caroline & Lainey--remember when he ordered tea at the Thai restaurant? This was one of those types of meals) Lainey asked for a box to take her food with her telling the waiter she was full. Funny, that box never made its way back to the boat. That girl, she is a smart one, kind and thoughtful too.

As we wandered around Nassau, we wondered why we left the tranquility of the marina.  The masses of people from the cruise ships were all madly scurrying around making purchases from Gucci, Versace, Bacardi and Starbucks.  Many were taking pictures with the policemen in their pretty white uniforms and white pith helmets.  As we walked through the historic Straw Market, we didn't see straw baskets or bowls, but we did see t-shirts in every size, shape and color.  A young girl of about 12 or 13 took my hand to show me how to play with the toy turtle she was selling.  

We practically begged Collette to come get us after about 30 minutes of rambling through Nassau.  We settled at the Gucci store to wait.  Collette arrived to shuttle us away.  We picked up another family for the ride back to Palm Cay.  Collette took us around Nassau in a different direction so that we could see the other side.  On the ride we learned she has three daughters, the youngest of which is in school at Rabun Gap Nagoochee School in Georgia.  She is a senior.  Collette had many questions for me about colleges in Georgia.   Her daughter, Anastasia, is looking at Georgia College in Milledgeville.   

It is a rough life waiting on repairs.  I put on my swimsuit when we returned to the boat and headed to the beach and pool to relax from all the stress.   We talked with Shannon and Paul about the repairs to their generator and they shared with us places to visit on our return to the Exumas.  Sufficiently relaxed, Steve thought it a good idea to put on his snorkel and mask and do a little inspection of the underside of the boat.   He discovered no significant damage but some scrapes bends from our entry into Palm Cay.
Finally, the AC repairman arrived.  He found nothing wrong so we are just awaiting the circuit board which should arrive on Monday.  We watched a movie- Life as we know it,  and then called it a night.