Published: March 22nd 2011March 22nd 2011
The more relaxed Frank
This was the much more relaxed Frank after a week sailing in the Bahamas. He had to show off his Canadian hockey sweatshirt even though it was definitely a warm night. We saw quite a transformation in him in just one week (besides the 6 day grown of beard). It is amazing what the islands can do for you!
So Janice and I are in Lorraine's Internet café at Black Point. Janice is working on e-mail in the room next to the Café and I am in the café reading my book and watching CNN. It's late in the day and the café is starting to fill up with people coming in for dinner. Lorraine is not what one would call a gourmet cook but what she makes she does well, primarily deep fried or hamburgers. In fact she is responsible for Bob swearing off deep-fried conch and fries (a result of overindulgence). But I digress; I am sitting quietly one ear to the reports on CNN of the Japanese earthquake and the other to the variety of discussions going on at the tables waiting for dinner. Then I hear a voice, a very familiar voice. I turnaround and sure enough there's Frank. Now you might be saying “who is Frank?” Well a week before Janice and I were in Staniel Cay waiting for our package to arrive from the United States (refrigerator problem Janice talked about in the last blog). Janice was on the Internet and I was reading my book (we do that a lot). We were sitting
Here is Lorraine
Her e is Lorraine who is quite the entrepreneur – she owns the café, the internet café, rents boats and has cabins for rent. When we talked to her she stated that she started the internet café as she enjoys meeting people. She definitely gets a lot of repeat business from cruisers that return to her place year after year.
out on the veranda of the Staniel Cay Yacht Club when up to the veranda comes this very white, very happy and very tall gentleman. In the bar he goes and a few moments later comes back out with a piña colada, important to note its 10:30 in the morning at this point. We do understand this however as he did just arrive in the islands after coming in from the cold, snowy north. We immediately strike up a conversation and he introduces himself as Frank from Toronto. We get talking as cruisers usually do comparing notes and trying to find common ground . It turns out that Frank's son played hockey for RPI which is near where we grew up. Once he hears we are from Ithaca and one of us worked at Cornell the fun begins. He proceeds to dig into his suitcase and pull out the brightest red hockey jersey I have ever seen in my life with a huge Canadian maple leaf on the front and back and immediately puts it on. We get to talking and it turns out he has just arrived and is meeting up with a friend of his to spend the
Farewell dinner at Lorraine's
The scene at Lorraine’s Café the night before Frank’s departure. It was great to have Mark playing guitar as well.
week sailing. Now Frank has never been sailing before, all he knows is he supposed to meet his friend, the name of his friend’s boat, Windemere and the fact that the boat is at Black Point. Now Black Point is a community on the next island down from Staniel Cay which has its own airport. Janice and I take out our handheld VHF and try to call his friend. No luck but the fellow in the bar, David continues to try. After Janice completes her e-mail work we say our goodbyes to Frank and wish him luck hooking up with his friend. Frank is one of those larger-than-life people who loves to laugh and basically creates the party wherever he goes. So now back to Lorraine's Café one week later. Turns out Frank has had a great time although he does mention that the latches on the compartments on the boat and the marine toilets he found to be a significant challenge. When I asked the question how long did it take him to hook up with his friend when he first arrived, everybody in the place starts laughing hysterically as apparently everybody had heard the story which Frank gladly
How would you like to build here?
When walking around Great Guana Cay near Black Point we noticed many construction sites. This is a typical one where much of the brush was cleared, some of the stone was piled and lots of concrete blocks piled. How would you like to build here? No wonder it takes so long to build when you have this land to clear.
relayed to us . It turns out that when Frank arrived from Nassau he saw them remove his luggage from the small plane he flew in on and figured that meant he had arrived. He climbed off the plane, grabbed his luggage, got a ride to the yacht club where we met him. He failed to notice the rather large sign that said “Welcome to Staniel Cay” at the airport. This is an issue because he was supposed to get off at the next island where the village of Black Point is located. After a 3 ½ hour wait, the realization that he was on the wrong island was apparent so hooked up with boat for $70 which delivered him to his friends boat. While Frank was having his farewell party at Lorraine's, very quickly Janice and I were drawn into the crowd. We had a wonderful time laughing and listening to Frank's friend Mark play the guitar and harmonica. This was an evening we will not soon forget. Thanks Frank you're a great guy. It's a shame your kid couldn’t have played hockey for Cornell (sorry I couldn't help myself).
The last day that we were on Black
Is this dwarf corn?
We have noticed that there is not much in the way of agriculture here in the Bahamas. Near Black Point we did see the remains of a few corn fields, however, they were dwarfed and did not look as if they had been very productive.
Point we took a long walk and found one of the most pristine beaches we have seen – the sand was so fine and pure white with the turquoise water lapping the shore. The topping on the cake was that there was even a castle at the far side of the beach (it is actually a home built by a couple that moved here from California). We also met up with some people from Ithaca (Sherry & Lee from Alesto) that have been following our blog and they knew of us through our friend and neighbor in Trumansburg, Alanna. We are constantly reminded of how small a world this is.
As is always the case with this new life of ours weather controls our plans. The next part of the trip required us to go from the protected side of the islands to the Atlantic Ocean side. In order to do this you have to pass through what are called cuts. These cuts can be especially tricky if the wind and the tide are opposing each other. As a result timing is critical. After listening to the weather reports on the SSB we determined that the next favorable weather
Plaiting done by men & women
Numerous people were seen plaiting the palm which is then made into numerous items such as handbags and wallets. It seemed as if all of the adults in Black Point were seen doing this all day long. There were numerous women doing it but we also saw lots of men as well participating in this craft.
window for us to head down to Georgetown was going to be Thursday, St. Patrick's Day. In order to get out the cut when the wind and current were right we would have to be at the cut first thing in the morning on Thursday. This meant we had to sail the three hours to the cut and anchored there overnight so at sunrise on Thursday we could move through the cut and head to Georgetown. We were to have mild winds on Wednesday, but they piped up to 25-27 knots so we had quite a sail to the staging area at the cut. Everyone else knew the same thing as there were numerous boats anchored in the same location. On your mark, ready, set, go – that is what it was like the next morning as all the boats came alive and we “shot out through the cut” and into the Exuma Sound. The best description for the cut is that of trying to motor through a washing machine cycle and come out on the other side. We made it through OK and then set our sails for a 6 ½ hour sail. The winds were stronger than predicted
A castle by the sea
A California couple moved to Black Point and decided to build a home without any corners as a protection against hurricane damage. As a result they built this castle which is completely off the grid and powered through solar and wind power.
and they had not changed direction as much as we had hoped so had most of it on the nose which makes for a somewhat uncomfortable ride, but after an hour or two you get used to it. This type of sailing definitely helps if you are trying to lose weight as you don’t cook when heeled at 20-25 degrees! It takes enough effort to just climb up and down the stairs into and out of the cabin. The leg muscles are also stretched as you try to hold yourself in while you stretch to the other side of the cockpit. This is when longer legs would be a benefit. We were able to adjust our point of sail some and we did reduce our heel to between 15-20 and still made it to Georgetown in time for us to have lunch.
Georgetown is a large community located on Great Exuma Island and is affectionately known as chicken harbor. One of the reasons for the nickname is that people come here and decide to stay for the season as they do not want to venture any further. This area is a haven for cruisers and during the busiest part
An idyllic location
This is one of the views that the people in the castle would see out of their windows. Hopefully you can see some of the color differences in the water in this photo. The sand beach was made up of very fine sand and we enjoyed a lovely walk along the shore.
of the season can have up to 500 boats at any one time. Our understanding this year was it was down to about 350. Luckily for us many have already left for their return trip north and back to the US or Canada. With this many cruisers here there are many organized activities from volleyball to bridge to knitting groups and anything else you can think of. The way you hear all the news is to listen to channel 72 at 8AM every morning – this is the way you find out what is happening in the Georgetown area as well as where to get propane refilled, where to dump your trash and a general orientation to the area. Luckily for us this weekend is the 7th annual Bahamian Music and Heritage Festival. A group of us took the water taxi (with Elvis as the driver) to town to explore, have dinner and listen to a great concert with numerous local bands playing. It was great to see everyone having such a good time dancing, listening to the music and supporting the local food vendors. We even bumped into some people that we had dinner with at St. Mary, Georgia
The other end of beach
Just another view of the other end of the same beach. It is so inviting you feel like walking forever to see what is around the next bend.
last Thanksgiving as well as others we met in the Dismal Swamp. It is always interesting to catch up and find out where everyone has been. The last group of the evening was a junkanoo band complete with full costume. It is said that the wild costumes and masks were worn by slaves as a way to disguise themselves while exacting revenge upon their masters. Junkanoo was developed as a celebration during the pre-emancipation days when slaves were allowed a special Christmas holiday. The heart of Junkanoo is the music. The typical band consists of lead drums, second or bass drums, cowbells, clappers, bugles, trumpets, horns, conch shells and whistles. The drum is the core of the music and the combined effect of the music fuels the emotions of all the participants and observers. What a way to end the evening!
The next day we went back to the festival and watched many of the traditional crafts of baking bread in a brick oven, plaiting of grass and cooking demonstrations. At one of the areas we were asking about some of the local fruits that we had not seen before and a man started explaining them to us. We
The power of the waves
The power of the ocean is seen in the formations along the island.
found out in the discussion that he was going to be one of the artist playing that evening. He stated that he plans to come to NYC to have some of his music recorded and also mentioned that he had a CD for sale. Of course we had to buy it and have him autograph it for us. He is a great ambassador for the Bahamas and we hope he does well. We told him we needed his autograph for when he became famous we would be able to sell it for enough money to be able to pay off the boat - he definitely enjoyed the complement! Once again the kindness and sincerity of the people of the Bahamas became evident to us. By the way, he is a well known Rake and Scrape artist here in the Bahamas. This refers to the use of drums and a handsaw that is "raked" and "scraped" for some of the sounds in the band.
Another benefit of the cruisers radio net in the AM is you can make general announcements if you are looking for something or if you have something extra that you’d like to get rid of. Janice
Another view near Black Point
It is hard to choose what photos to send as it is spectacular in every direction.
made an announcement about the problems she has been having with the SSB and luckily a person responded and came over to the boat to provide assistance. We have been able to transmit now which is great news as we just signed up with Chris Parker, the weather guru everyone here listens to at 6:30AM. With our subscription to his service we can now call in and ask specific questions about the weather which includes the sea state for our projected cruising plan. We also have found a frequency which is a maritime service that takes check ins. In this way our position can be reported to them daily. In talking to them we even found out that the position we report to them will be put up on the internet site www://mmsn.org . Anyone that goes to that location can put in my call sign of KC2TIU and find out where we are. As we continue to cruise south we will be using this service regularly so others can keep track of us – it will be a nice feeling to know this group knows where we are and record our location – just one more piece of the
A view into Black Point
One of the streets as you enter Black Point. The population here is approximately 300 people, however, we were told that many of them live in Nassau.
safety net that is available to cruisers.
Janice did actually get an email message sent via the SSB radio the other day, but it appears to be very tempermental regarding the ability to send via the free service. After talking to others we have decided to subscribe to a paid service for this as well. We are now waiting for the final approval of our application before we can use it. This will give us the ability to send email even when the internet is not available. This has a very defined time frame and we cannot send or receive attachments through it, but hopefully will be more reliable. Please continue to send any email to us through our home address of Tsamaya.waller@gmail .com or comments and messages through this blog as we really enjoy hearing from you. We may not respond to your specific messages, but be assured we read each and every one with delight.
There are more photos below