Friday, May 17, 2019

May 13-16, 2019 Top of the mast to under the hull

We spent this week outside of Spanish Wells doing “boat chores”.  We did laundry a couple days.  And that means we had to make water a couple days.   When the generator is running for the water maker, the computer can be powered for me to catch up on this blog.

I spent time cleaning for one last guest.  Devyn Killion will be here Friday.  I was also doing some meal planning trying to use the last of our provisions. 

Dave used the Airline Hookah system to change the zincs.  They were probably half eaten away, but Dave changed them anyway.  We plan to head back to the states after Devyn leaves, so this job is over while we are in clear blue water instead of back at a marina in the states.  He also greased the prop. 
Dave added the shirt with pockets so he had a place to put parts, the hat protects his head from hitting the boat

On Thursday, Dave climbed the mast to change the LED festoon light bulb, which we believed burned out during a lightning/thunderstorm.  He often does this by himself, but I helped today, which made the process go a little faster.  Dave wore a climbing harness today.  Sometimes he uses a Bosun seat.  He used 2 Jumar ascenders on the same rope.  One Jumar was attached to the harness, the other was attached to 2 webbing step ladders, one for each foot. First Dave moved the harness jumar up the rope, sat back in the harness, then moved the other Jumar up the rope to to move his feet up.  Then he stood up straight, which put the weight on the second Jumar and allowed him to move the first one up the rope again.  This moved about 6-8 inches at a time, and the mast is about 50 feet off the deck.  All the while, we watched for possible squalls on the horizon.  We also had an occasional boater pass by, which made the boat AND mast sway.  He had a second line attached to his harness as a back up.  I was keeping tension on that line in the cockpit around a winch. 
multitasking: climbing the mast and doing laundry

Part way up the mast, he realized he had left his parts/tool bag on the deck.  Once he reached the top, he sent down the backup halyard to me.  I attached the bag and hauled it back up. 

Dave cleaned the contacts and old the bulb worked. He used contact cleaner files, and sprayed anti-corode goop called No-oxide.  When he was finished, I lowered him using the winch as friction.  Otherwise it would have been the reverse action of 6 inches at a time.

We have been very happy with all the LED lights we have on the boat, which we bought from Marine Beam.  The anchor light and the bow lights were new in 2015, after a lightning strike.  And our LED lights inside the boat were new in 2013. 

We always need time in paradise to do the routine chores.  One more week of playing, then it’s back to the states.   AND we finished all of the Avengers movies up to Avengers 4/ Infinity Wars. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

May 12, 2019 Mother's Day and spinnaker sail north

I was able to attend church at St Ann’s in Rock Sound.  It was a “communion service”, not a mass because we had a deacon, not a priest.  I remember being here for Mother’s Day 3 years ago.  They did a special blessing for all the mothers.  And we each received a plate of fresh fruit.  I didn’t take one, because I wasn’t sure there was enough.  But they came to me towards the end and gave me one, too.  How nice.  They even had a special welcome for me.  I was the only visitor.  There were probably about 30 people there.  I have notice that all the women wear dresses, and the men wear dress pants and some jackets.  But since I have to climb up a ladder out of the dinghy, I wear capri pants.  No problem, just an observation. 
remembered to take a photo after I broke into the tray for the grapes
The church service was at 9:00.  So after I returned to the boat, we took off towards the Current Cut, just south of Spanish Wells.

We were able to use our spinnaker sail today.  You have to have the right wind conditions.  It is such a big beautiful sail. 
We planned to anchor on the south side of the Current Cut.  We would snorkel the area in the morning, then make the passage through the cut at the appropriate time with the tide and current.  The overnight winds had changed, so it really would be best to be on the north side to anchor tonight.  We checked a couple sources for tide.  High tide in Nassau was at 3:00.  High tide at the cut is about 2 hours later.  We arrived at the cut about 6:30, at the beginning of the ebb flow, which means we would travel with the current.  That’s ok, you just don’t want to be at the fastest time of the flow.  We figured we’d be fine or we would turn around and wait until morning.  Luckily, there weren’t any other boats coming or going.  We were going about 7 knots as we entered the cut.  The current took us unto 11.3 knots at the strongest point of the flow.  Quite the ride for us.  It seems we have always made this passage with the current.  If you go against the current, you have to be able to power up against the current or you could be pushed to the side and into the rocks.  You also don’t want a strong wind opposing the current.  We also had a calm night to our advantage.  Another successful passage!

Once we were through the cut, we thought we’d anchor just to the north side.  We decided to continue on the Meeks Patch, about 2 miles outside of Spanish Wells.  We were anchored by 7:30, just as the sun set behind the island.  We really made some miles today. 

We are both have our minds set on heading back to the states.  We will spend the next couple days prepping the boat for that passage and for one week of company.  We will meet Devyn in Spanish Wells on Friday.  It’s also comforting to be early at the place you need to meet guests.  And we are excited to “play” for a week with Devyn. 

May 11, 2019 Rock Sound, Eleuthera fuel and provisions

We were able to accomplish several things while we were here.  We took the jerry cans to shore to fill at Dingle’s station.  They have a dinghy dock across the street and through a path to the shore.  Dave wanted me to help him today.  He learned last time we were here, that moving full 5 gallon jerry cans from the dock, down and ladder and into our new dinghy was tricky by yourself.  This dinghy seems to want to squirt around.  And the floor is v shaped, not plat.  So the full cans don’t sit nicely on the floor.  Having an extra set of hands to pass the cans and stable the dinghy made it much easier. 

After returning the fuel to the boat, we picked up our garbage and went to the public dock.  We also took backpacks to walk to a small grocery store.  We really didn’t need to stop, but a little more milk and fresh fruit was nice to have.  And the walk was nice to stretch our legs and get a little exercise. 

We walked by the grade school.  They had all the national symbols on the building.  There also was a sign explaining inappropriate clothing, even for visitors.  I had to google pum-pum shorts.  I found a youtube video of a song, but didn’t have the wifi to watch it.  Something to look forward to, I guess.

tree-lignum vitae, flower-yellow elder, bird-flamingo, fish-marlin, and the flag

We even fit in making bread earlier today.  We spent the evening watching a movie and eating the cheese popcorn we found at the grocery store for $4, our treat. 

May 10, 2019 snorkeling Little San Salvador

We took off late morning to snorkel the reef on the south side of the island.  We don’t go that direction if there is a cruise ship anchored here.  So we took advantage of no company in the area.  The first place we stopped had the largest assortment of fish we have seen all winter.  The wind took us back towards our boat, so we drifted along several reefs with the dinghy.
trigger fish and parrot fish
grouper with a parrot fish behind it
parrot fish in the middle of the tang
school of tang
elkhorn coral
trigger fish
unusual to see the mix of colors
today's barracuda

We headed to the north side of the island for a picnic on the beach and for more snorkeling.  When we rounded the west end, it was really rough on the north side.  We decided we had enough.  We headed back to the boat and took off for Eleuthera.  We figured we could anchor in the dark, since we were pretty familiar with Rock Sound.  Plus our boat rolls side to side at this anchorage, and neither of us slept that great last night.

Off we went.  We had the wind assisting us, so it only took 6 hours.  We anchored by 8:30, an hour after sunset.  I had cooked mahi and pasta while under way, so we were able to call it a night.

May 9, 2019 Conception to Little San Salvador and Mahi Mahi

At one time, we considered going further south, but now that Devyn Killion is joining us on the 17th, we decided to head north now.  We left for Old Bight, Cat Island about 9:30am.  At about noon, we decided to go further north to Bennett’s Harbour.  Then about 1:30 we changed our minds again to go all the way to Little San Salvador.  We were hoping to snorkel there before heading north. 

About 4:00, we caught another mahi.  This one gave Dave quite a fight.  It was a 4 ft bull mahi, our first.  We were anchored at Little San Salvador by 6:30 with about an hour of daylight to get the mahi filleted.  We weren’t going to snorkel off of the boat, so we threw the parts of the mahi overboard.  Towards the end, a shark and a sting ray showed up.  This beach is owned by a cruise ship, and they provide all kinds of water sports here.  We thought a shark might add a little excitement to their vacation.  There weren’t any cruise ships at anchor right now, so no problem.
We enjoyed another great mahi dinner.

using a gaff hook to bring it in

they quickly lose their color
found a few worms in the intestines, not in the meat
The male head has a strong forehead with lots of good meat in it.  I don't think we had a pan big enough to cook the head.

May 8, 2019 Conception Island

High tide was about 10:30am, so we took off for the creek about 10:00.  We stopped at Jerry and Larisa boat to travel with them.  Debbie and Don from MonDai Nai (no worries in Japanese) were there, too. 
Jerry and Larisa
Don and Debbie
The landscape was beautiful.  We saw a lot of turtles and one large barracuda.  But nothing else.  There had been a couple jet skis in here before us, so they may have caused everyone to tuck up for awhile.  It was still a nice dinghy ride inland. 
The video is of us going through the entrance to the creek out to the open water.   Have to learn to read the water to avoid hitting rocks, coral, or sand.  Sorry for the poor videography.  Watch for the turtle at the end.

In the afternoon, we went snorkeling off the north west end of the island.  The area we snorkeled had a lot of different coral heads, but very little fish.   As the tide was going down, a lot of the coral heads were close to the surface.  And there was a squall approaching, so we headed back without being too impressed.  We had heard varying reviews of the area, but were glad we made it a destination.  Some place different for us.  It is a beautiful island with no inhabitants or wifi.  So I a nice “get a way”.   Mahi tacos for dinner were excellent!

looking back at our anchorage behind the rocks

always a barracuda checking us out
checking out the beach quickly
will come back on a nicer day
7:05 pm
7:30 pm

Monday, May 13, 2019

May 7, 2019 Mahi Mahi off of Cat Island

We left Old Bight by 9:00 to head to Conception.  We have tried to go to Conception island for a few years, but the weather never cooperated.  It is a small remote island that is a marine preserve. 

About noon, we caught a mahi and a barracuda at the same time.  We concentrated on getting the mahi in.  But it crossed and tangled with the line of the barracuda as Dave was bringing it in.  Lesson learned.  At least bring in the barracuda close to the boat and out of the way, then deal with it later.  Dave did a great job of bringing in the mahi.  It was close to 4 ft long.  We wrap it in a wet towel and leave it on the floor of the cockpit until we stop and can clean it.  The towel helps quiet the fish, keeps it cool, and contains the blood.  We were in about 1500 ft of water off the southern tip of Cat Island. 

my shoe for comparison, and I wear an 11
We anchored at Conception about 4:00.  The whole island is a marine park.  There is an inland  creek to explore and many reefs surrounding the island.  We cleaned the mahi on the stern, but I made Dave put all the parts in a bucket and take them offshore to dump.  This area is known for it’s snorkeling, so we didn’t want to draw in sharks, I least I didn’t. 
pretty anchorage
beautiful clear water
the female has a sloping forhead (and an egg sack).  they lose their pretty colors shortly after dying
Just after we finished cleaning and storing the fish, a dinghy came by and invited us to a “meet and greet” on the shore.  So we cleaned up and went in.  There were about 8 couples there (forgot to take pictures).  We had met one couple at Cat Island at dinner, Jerry and Larisa on the catamaran, One Runnin’.  A lady was drawn to me when she recognized the scars on my knees.  She had just had knee surgery in October.  She was so glad to hear that I was kneeling on cushions and the numbness had gone away.  She was concerned about shaving her legs, not me. 

Back at the boat, we had a fresh mahi dinner.  Yum yum!!

May 6, 2019 Tour of Cat Island

We set up the car rental this morning with Favor’s Service Station.  Jason said he would meet us on shore where the road to the settlement reached the beach.  We haven’t been there, but figured we’d find it. 
Dave securing our dinghy.  Our boat is the one on the right in the background
where the road ends at the beach
We loaded up our empty fuel cans, our garbage, and backpacks for groceries.  Jason met us at 10:00 with a Honda CRV, similar to a 4 door chevy blazer.  That was perfect for all of our plans. 

We drove back to the station and signed paperwork, paid our $75 and were off.  No discussion about insurance or the condition of the car.  He said he knew which dents and scratches were already there.  The rental was for 24 hours, or we could return it before 6:00 pm, when they close. 
an extra mirror on the left side to see the edge of the road
Our first stop was to drop off our garbage in New Bight.  Then we drove to the bottom of the hill to hike the Hermitage.  Last time we were here, we had to hike over a mile from the shore.  And that was before replacing my knees.  This is such a great hike.  The Hermitage is on Comer Hill, the highest point in the Bahamas, 206 ft.  It is the where Father Jerome built his retirement home.  Father Jerome had spent time in the Bahamas around 1910.  But he returned to Cat Island in 1939 and began to build the Hermitage.  He lived there until he died in 1956.
our rental car at the start of our hike
we cheated driving from the water this time instead of hiking

The last part of the hike can be done by a path that rounds the hill, or up a climb though depictions of the 14 stations of the cross.  It is truly amazing when you think of how he did this on the mountain top.  In the chapel, I found a prayer book of the stations of the cross that I used as I grew up in Miller, SD.  I am sure my siblings and many other Catholics will recognize this book. 
the trail with the Stations of the Cross
continuing on the trail
inside the chapel with the book I used as a child

just for the geochache-ers
 As you walk through his home, you would think he lived here 200 years ago.  There is no running water, electricity, or heat for his home, even though he lived in an era where those things were available.
hallway within the Hermitage

fireplace inside

"shower" with soap dish in the wall and natural drain in the floor

covered walkway form shower to the bedroom


correct time without daylight savings time

the separate area for baking/cooking
a cave we found nearby

We were glad we made the trip here for the second time (first was 3 years ago).  There is an awesome view, and it is so peaceful. 

Our next plan was to do a little sight seeing.  We need to get fuel and groceries, but we will plan that for the end of the day.  There is only one road that runs north west and south east the length of the island.  So we headed north west.  We drove into a couple resorts to check them out.  One was just being built and had a long ways to go before we could imagine anyone staying there or buying a condo.  Fernandez Bay Resort has been there a long time.  From the land side, we weren’t impressed with this one either.  I guess people that come to Cat Island are looking for a remote experience. 
airport customs and immigration office

airport terminal
We drove past the grocery store and were glad we weren’t walking with the groceries back to the boat.  We also found the airport, pretty simple.  We stopped for lunch at a restaurant along the road called Triple D’s Restaurant.  When Dave’s Dad had a second hand store in Watertown, SD during Dave’s high school years, the store was named Triple D’s, for Dad, Dave and Dean.  There was a bar and several empty tables.  There was one lady working behind the bar and a friend of hers at the bar.  We looked at the menu on the wall to order, but were told that they had one thing thing on the menu that day.  It was conch and rice, pork chop, potato salad and corn.  So that’s what we had.  My gosh, it was full plate of food for about $12 each.  What a great find.

Triple D's restaurant

Next we drove north and when we came to Bennett’s Harbour, where we had anchored earlier, there was a big kid in a school uniform hitch hiking.  So we stopped to give him a ride.  We found out that Ethan was an 8th grader, but looked like Michael Ohr, the football player in the Blindside movie.   He even said he would like to go to the states and play football someday.  Ethan’s school was is Arthur’s Town, about 5 miles north.  He had left something at home and hitch hiked home to get it over his lunch hour.  We got him back right when the bell rang to end the lunch period.  It was fun meeting him and asking him about his school and a little about the island. 
Ethan back at school
On the way back, we stopped in Bennett’s Harbour at Yardie’s for ice cream.  We had read earlier that this was the local restaurant.  It was more like a gas station/convenience store that also served food. 

Next we looked for a road that would take us to the east side of the island for an island/beach view.  We finally found a road that went to a Beach resort.  It was 1.5 miles of a really rough road.  There were a few homes along the way, but not much else.  If you were staying at that resort, you probably wouldn’t leave for the whole week.  I couldn’t imagine driving this road daily to go anywhere.  We were just hoping we didn’t get a flat tire or hurt the suspension.  I got my quick view of the ocean, but no beach access, so off we went back across that crazy road with our fingers crossed.

east shore of Cat Island, supposedly, pink sand
Back on the main road, we stopped at a local basket stand, made by the people that live next door.  I wanted to pick up a basket for a wedding gift and found the perfect one. 

Next stop was for groceries.  The store was fairly well stocked.  We were able to pick up some fruits and vegetables.  The milk was $11/gal, eggs were $4/dozen, and the luxury of diet coke as a $1/can. 

Back at Favor’s Service Station, Dave topped off the gas tank and filled our gas and diesel jerry cans.  I repacked all of our groceries into water proof back packs for the dinghy ride home.  Jason’s grown daughter had a beauty shop in the service station.  She gave us a ride back to the shore.  She was amazed that we could get 4 fuel cans and 2 backpacks of groceries in the dinghy along with us.  Actually, this dinghy is a foot longer that our old one, so we think it’s huge. 
Favor's Service Station/ beauty shop/ church

the road back to the beach
We had to drag the dinghy a little ways to the water, since it was low tide.  We made it back to the boat fine.  Unloaded and had cereal with our fresh milk for dinner.