Friday, February 18, 2011

Welcome to Geoge Town

February 17, 2011

Oh, be careful what you wish for!  After such anticipation of Alison’s arrival and dreams of sailing away to some of our favorite spots and discovering new ones, the winds came with gusto!!  Alison arrived safe and sound on Sunday afternoon and was immediately whisked away to the local Trivia Night at St. Francis Resort for dinner, drinks, and competition.  If we’d only listened to her answers better we’d have walked away with a bottle (or two) of rum!  Painkiller left with a bottle of wine (2nd place)….coulda, woulda, shoulda………

Monday morning dawned with winds howling, so we spent the day soaking up some good sun on a hike up and over Monument Hill for a fabulous view of both the Georgetown Harbor and the stirred up Exuma Sound.  The sea was frothy and excited; definitely a wise decision to stay in the harbor, and after a walk through some of Exuma’s indigenous forest and plants we headed to the Chat n Chill for lunch and a few Kaliks.  We met up with Carl, Riva and Ivy of Three Belles and played a few good rounds of Mexican Train Dominoes: Painkiller, Endurance and Ivy.  Ivy and Alison soaked up a little more sun and avoided dehydration well before we all headed back to Endurance for a simple dinner and more conversation.
Tuesday morning winds still beating us up.  Tony and Alison snorkeled from the boat in to shore, passing over mammoth starfish and being sure to avoid all barracuda.  After laying in the sun and sand in the lee of Monument Hill we returned to the good ship Endurance via dinghy and were treated to cocktails and hors d’ouerves aboard the beautiful Three Belles.  There is no question some boats have an elegance that words cannot describe; Carl, Riva and Ivy have restored this boat, their home, to a true work of art. 

Wednesday’s forecast is starting to wear on our nerves.  Making lemonade from lemons, Alison baked up a great batch of cinnamon rolls for breakfast and off we went to explore Georgetown proper a bit, and again soak up the chill at the Chat n Chill for lunch and beverages…and beverages.  Alison took control of the dinghy, passing from student driver to proficient aqua-motorist with a little coaching from Mom and mostly Ivy.  Now, if we could get the big boat off the anchor!  We closed the night with drinks at Hamburger Beach at a potluck BYOB sponsored by ARG (Alcohol Research Group)…the Georgetown cruising community takes their research pseudo-seriously!

With all intention to sail and fish on Thursday, the winds have not abated and now the sea state is even more kicked up.  …. We laze about like lizards in the sun – books, sunglasses, casual visits from other boats, sun bathing above decks….and then off to Volley Ball Beach to meet Painkiller for a round of more ‘chill’ and dehydration prevention before Tony and Alison head out to St. Francis Resort for the weekly Poker Night.  $5.00 per person entry---perhaps they’ll win enough to declare on the customs forms!  There is no pain in our daily excursions to ‘chill’, that’s for sure, but we fear the sails will forget what they are meant to do if we don’t lift that anchor soon!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Some catching up...Black Harbor to Farmer's Cay

Getting in to a groove….

Just noticed that our last post brought us to January 31 when we caught our first Bonito or Little Tunny coming in to Black Point Harbor.  Our second Florida Bonito was caught as we headed down Exuma Sound to Lee Stocking Cay.

In the interim, we had a great time in Black Harbor, hitting all the “must see” cruisers’ spots.  First, the Rock Bound Laundrymat (sic) at which proprietor Ida also gives haircuts!  Tess treated her Scottish Lion’s Mane to a little love from Ida—sitting in a “camp” plastic chair out front, looking into a harbor of  crystal blue with boats at anchor, Ida cut away in between selling tokens for washers and dryers.  Tess was DELIGHTED to be shorn a bit.  

Next, Lorraine’s CafĂ© with great food, donation based wifi and a help-yourself beer cooler and bar.  Lorraine’s mom makes the best coconut bread we have eaten so far.  We pulled out the real toaster one morning to take advantage of that (big electricity user, that toaster hasn’t been seen in a long time).  Next “must see” was a tour of the Garden of Eden with a small band of fellow travelers (Painkiller, Georgia E and Ocean Star).  The Garden of Eden is a sculpture garden filled with limestone, rock and driftwood pieces in the artist’s front and back yard.  The yard itself is like a lava lake of limestone with numerous sink holes in which fruit trees, banana trees pigeon peas and vegetables have been planted. The artist’s wife gave us a botanical tour of their delights - a stunning variety of tropical plants, and especially fruits, identified for us.  Even tasted a tamarind pod, thanks to the expertise of Steve from Ocean Star.

The hot stroll was topped off with a cooling sit in the harbor in her pink tube.

But despite our great time at Black Point, we moved South to Little Farmers Cay on Thursday, February 2.  We had 16 to knots on the beam the whole way and sailed our best sail of the trip (have we said that before?).  Once again Tess and the girls took advantage of the Pink Relief.

The reason for Little Farmers Cay is the famous “Five F”.  The Farmers Cay First Friday in February Festival.  This is the 25th annual event.  The Cay has a population, we are told, of only 55.  But in addition to festival-goers and other dignitaries from other islands (including Saturday’s visit by the Exuma High School Marching Band), there were 117 cruising boats in attendance.  As you might imagine, the cruisers dominated the local bar scene; highlight of the cruisers events was an open-mic jam night with Scott of Painkiller looking like Mick Jagger himself as the announcement was made that “all bagpipes were mandatory”…he brought tears to a few eyes with Amazing Grace at sunset and the largest round of admirers throughout the Yacht Club.  
The other highlight for us was Saturday’s Bahamian C-Class Sloop Regatta.  These are essentially 12 foot dinghies with a single sail that is gigantic.  They are crewed by four to six guys who try to keep the massive mast from going over by hiking out on a windward 2x8 that slides a good 10 feet out on one side of the boat or the other.  Pretty exciting and colorful sailing.  They start from a dead stop at anchor and raise anchors and sail simultaneously at the starting gun.  Lots of banging and clashing of boats, but no protests are allowed.

Sunday the anchorages thinned out quickly.  It seemed that half the boats made the sail North the 10 miles back to Black Harbor in order to get a seat in front of a big screen television at Lorraine’s or Dasharmon’s for the Super Bowl.  The other half joined a train banging South into the wind and waves for the 50 mile trip to Georgetown.  We followed the latter group (see Bonito above), but jumped off at Lee Stocking Cay to check out the Marine Research Center here.  Haven’t seen it yet, but had some great shallow grass snorkeling with the Messenger kids (huge rays, reef fish, Margate and barracuda) and the Pink Relief came out as well.

After grilling up the day’s catch as a pre-dinner appetizer, a six foot barracuda made its rounds around the boat.  We threw him the scraps from our catch which he grabbed voraciously.  Result – IDEA!!  I grabbed the spinning rod which had a large squid lure attached and was able to sight cast it right to him about 20 yards from the boat. WHriiirrrrrr… goes the line as he grabbed it and ran.  As I pulled the line taut, he jumped a good four feet out of the air and a distance of at least 15 feet.  Extraordinary.  Lost the fish, but got my heart racing.  Glad to get the hook back, but  more glad to not have to get him off the hook myself.        

Ended the day with a Game Night on Messenger.  Thank goodness they are around, since they bring a little bit of home to these tropical surroundings.