Black Point for Christmas & NYE

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Central America Caribbean » Bahamas
December 23rd 2014
Published: June 17th 2017
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Geo: 24.0976, -76.4045

Made it to Blackpoint for Christmas. Here's the blast email I sent out explaining the past few islands in the Exumas. Also, the whole story of how OUR DINGHY WENT WALKABOUT!!!

Dec. 24th, 2014 – Merry Christmas from the crew of Inspiration!

Hello from Black Point Settlement, Exuma. As promised, we arrived in time to say Merry Christmas to you all! 😊

I last wrote a quick note from New Providence telling you about our three days of hard sailing from Bimini. The sailing was spectacular, but it was also intense. So, we enjoyed a second much needed day of relaxation at West Bay, New Providence. Both Christa and I were exhausted, and therefore quite cranky and emotional. A day to just relax and unwind was definitely needed. So we played for a good part of the day. Tony and Steve fished from the dinghy. Craig fished from the deck of Simunye and eventually all five of us went to the beach together.

From the west end of New Providence we crossed the White Bank to Highborne Cay, Exuma. Ahhhh, it's nice to be back in the Exumas! We stayed at Highborne Cay for two nights, now knowing that we
had the time to relax and enjoy the islands as we made our way towards Staniel Cay for the 23rd. While anchored at Highborne, we took a dinghy ride to Allan's Cay to see the Iguanas, did some snorkelling and enjoyed a visit to the Highborne Cay Marina. We also bumped into the crew of Mighty Fine again. We had last seen them in Stuart, FL, and therefore sundowners were in order on their "Lido deck"!

In a discussion with the crew of Simunye, we agreed that it would be a good idea for Craig and Christa to start to sail on their own while Steve was still here. This way they could build their confidence still knowing that Steve could dinghy over to them in a pinch. In a week's time they were going to be on their own when Steve flew home. This would be a good way for them to ease into it. So Steve officially became crew on Inspiration's passages for his last week here.

From Highborne Cay we moved on to Shroud Cay. Last year we missed Shroud Cay and I was really excited to take a dinghy ride through the mangroves to the beach on the other side. The trip did not disappoint. It was calm, with perfectly clear water and the most beautiful beach on the other side. The sand was like icing sugar. Christa, Steve, and I couldn't resist going for a swim in such a perfect setting. Our only mistake was that it was so late in the day and we were losing daylight to make it back to our boats. We pinched every last moment in that we could, and then started the slow return back to our boats. "Desperation" towed "T/T Simunye" because our engine is wonderfully quiet and it only seemed right in such an already tranquil setting. (Desperation is Inspiration's dinghy name, and T/T stands for 'Tender To'.) We made it back to Inspiration just as the sun had set. This was around the fifth night in a row of witnessing the sun setting in a totally clear sky. We've been watching for the green flash, and even though I don't believe in it (I think it's just from STARING at a burning star for minutes at a time!), I could swear I saw it one night. Mother Nature is quite magical. We had a celebratory bottle of champagne waiting for Craig and Christa on board. After all, they had made it to Shroud Cay completely on their own!

On to Wardrick Wells next! The day started with a few bumps in the road. Tony was having an 'off' day. First, he turned towards the entrance a bit too early. Although we made it, we passed right over a sand bank at low tide. We actually had other boats calling us on the VHF radio to tell us we were heading straight for a sand bank. Rather than turning around, Tony inched his way over it with Steve and I at the bow attempting to look for the deepest areas. We made it without touching bottom at all. Phew.

When we reached the park entrance, we navigated through the red and green markers to proceed to our assigned mooring ball. There is a clearly defined horseshoe of deeper, darker water around a huge sandbank. This is what makes Wardrick Wells so beautiful. With Steve and I on the bow again, both pointing to port (meaning Go LEFT!) Tony just kept on going straight. And THEN we were on a sandbar! Steve and I hung ourselves off the port side of the boat as Tony manipulated the boat back and forth to free us. We weren't stuck for long. And we weren't the only boat that touched bottom in this basin.

Wardrick Wells is home of the Exuma Land & Sea Park Headquarters. We spent Easter here earlier this year. Once we had tied up to our mooring ball, I dinghied ashore to check in at the office only to find out that Tony's 'off' day was nothing compared to the day our good friend HH (the Park Warden) was having. The island's generator had stopped overnight, they were almost out of diesel and now on their backup generator, one water tank had cracked earlier in the week so they couldn't make water until the repair cured, and one of their patrol boats had sunk overnight. Yup. That's a bad day! I drove back to Inspiration to tell Tony we had to go see HH and give him a hand. I knew it would make his day! So the five of us helped to bail out the boat. Not a small job, as it's about a 24 footer with two 150hp outboard engines. When we got there, the whole back end of the boat was submerged. The bilge pump had failed. Craig and I started bailing. Buckets. Manual pumps. Tony and Steve tried to get the automatic bilge pump back up and running with a new battery. Everyone pitched in, rotated jobs, and after a couple hours we had made enough headway to keep the boat floating on it's own. Tony and Steve then moved on to repairing the main diesel generator while I returned to Inspiration to make lunch for us. Our work was done at 3pm - just in time to return to Inspiration for a swim and to put on some clean clothes for the cruiser's gathering on the beach at 4pm.

The next day Steve came over to help Tony re-install our swim ladder. This was a job needing to be done since we picked up our ladder from our good friend Chuck, in Stuart, who had gotten it welded for us. That took a couple of hours and then we went snorkelling. Trust me, despite all the work I'm talking about, we had a great deal of fun at Wardrick Wells.

That afternoon we returned ashore to pay the office for another night's stay only to hear that Ken, the other Park Warden, had now returned from being away on a training course. Rather than staying ashore for only a few minutes like planned, we ended up going over to the staff residence and visiting with HH and Ken for several hours. They were still working on the engines for the patrol boat, so we sat on the dock with them and hung out until the sun went down. When we got hungry, we decided it was time to return to our boats. As we started saying goodnight to everyone, one of the BDF guys (Bahamian Defence Force) asked us if we needed a ride back to our boats. We said "no", because, of course, the three of us had come ashore on Desperation. He went on to say that he had just checked the beach and there were no dinghies there. Oh oh!

With flashlights, we returned to the beach only to find that he was right. Our dinghy was gone. Floated off to sea. Not good. Not good at all. Three responsible adults had managed to all miss the fact that we hadn't deployed the dinghy anchor. We were only planning to pay at the office and return to the dinghy! Lesson learned too late. Just like that, we were dinghy-less.

For those of you who are not familiar with the cruising lifestyle, the dinghy is like a car. It's your lifeline out here. Without the dinghy you can't go ashore for groceries, fuel, water, etc. Not to mention, it also serves as the life raft if anything should happen to Inspiration. But with no dinghy, why not tied up to a dock, you ask? First of all, there aren't very many marinas out here. No marinas means no docks. Secondly, if there is a marina, it tends to cater to the mega yachts, along with it's mega-yacht prices. No thank you. We anchor out. It's quieter, and we like it.

One of the guys went back to the staff docks to get their barge. He brought it around to the beach and we all jumped aboard with flashlights, and a spotlight. We did a full round of the island and found nothing. He dropped us off at our boats promising to take us out again in the morning to look for the dinghy. We didn't talk much. We were all to blame. This was definitely a low point. Tony was doing his best to be positive. He was really hanging on to the fact that our dinghy could be found. I wasn't so sure about that.

The next morning, as promised, Ken picked up Tony and Steve at 8am to go searching for our dinghy. Steve had done some calculations of winds and tides for an educated guess on where the dinghy may have drifted to. I stayed on Inspiration putting out calls on the VHF radio every half hour to "All Stations". We knew that the more people who knew about it the better. The cruising community is very close knit and we all watch out for one another. I was thrilled when Watermakers Airline responded to one of my calls saying that he would keep an eye out for it as he flew over our area.

At 10:30am I received a VHF call from "Desperation". Hearing Steve's Australian accent using the dinghy's name brought such a feeling of relief! I got back onto the radio to thank anyone who had kept out a keen eye and called off the search. The guys had sped all the way up the Exuma Sound (outside, or east side of the cays) to Shroud Cay, and then returned along the inside (the Great Bahama Bank). They found our dinghy on the west side of Cistern Cay. It was up on the Iron Shore, but luckily, we had lifted the engine, so it was not punctured and the engine was not damaged. The guys rode the four miles back to Wardrick Wells in the dinghy and ran out of gas right at the entrance to the mooring field where Ken and HH were tending to the fuel delivery they had finally received that morning. Ken towed Desperation the rest of the way to Inspiration. Relief. My guess is that Karma was watching when we immediately went to help the guys with their boat and generator upon our arrival. You get what you give. The five of us had a celebratory meal aboard Inspiration that night.

From Wardrick Wells we moved down to Staniel Cay for two nights. Of course, a stay at Staniel wouldn't be right without a visit to the yacht club! So lunch at the club was first on the list! Who doesn't love a 'cheeseburger in paradise'??!? 😉 We also had to live it up as this was Steve's last stop. He was flying out on Watermakers Air to be home for Christmas. Both boats were anchored just off of "Pig Beach" like the last time we were here and what a great surprise it was to bump into Mike! - the guy whose boat was struck by lightning last July while we were the only two boats in Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera! On Day Two the five of us had a wonderful time snorkelling at Thunderball Grotto and then returned to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club to continue the farewell festivities for Steve. It wouldn't be right to send him off without one last meal together!

After dropping Steve off at the airport, and thanking the pilot from Watermakers Air in person for responding to my VHF calls about our dinghy, Simunye and Inspiration weighed anchor en route for Black Point. Unfortunately, it was a two hour motor as we were heading straight into the wind. Fortunately, it's a short trip. There aren't many cruisers here. It's actually wonderfully quiet. Craig and Christa love it here! Staniel Cay is the place that is having most of the Christmas festivities so it's packed there right now. Staniel is having a Regatta on New Year's day which we may return for...not sure yet. For now, we are happy to be back in Black Point with many familiar faces; happy for our first hot shower in two weeks; happy for three loads of laundry done this morning; happy to have our dinghy; happy that we are hanging out with Zhivago and having a Christmas dinner here with him tomorrow.

We aren't doing presents for Christmas this year. Yet I can tell you that I'm feeling rich by counting the many gifts in our lives that money can't buy. Tony and I wish each of you a very Merry Christmas.

Love and Kisses from the crew of Inspiration.

Dec. 30th, 2014 – Pictures are up! (New Providence to Staniel Cay)

Hello everyone,

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Ours was very quiet, but it was nice to be around the familiar faces of the locals we've met here at Black Point earlier this year, and with Christa and Craig (The Simunye's). The Christmas dinner we had at our friend, Zhivago's restaurant, was a delicious spread of Turkey, Ham and all the Bahamian fixings. Nevertheless, it's not like being at home and enjoying
bunwiches at midnight with the family! Boy, do I ever miss Xmas Bunwiches. (Those little dinner rolls that you fill up with leftover turkey, stuffing, mayo, and cranberry sauce...Mmm..Delicious Goodness!)

We are staying here in Black Point for New Year's Eve, and then when a weather window permits, Inspiration and Simunye will move further south towards Georgetown (GGT). We likely won't stay in GGT too long, as we really want to make it further south this year. The goal is to make it to Grenada, but if we only make it to Puerto Rico or the Virgins, that's okay too.

As most of you know...we enjoy meeting the locals, and can easily get stuck in communities that we like, so place your bets now as to how far you think we'll make it! 😉

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year!

Love and kisses from the crew of Inspiration.

Jan 5th, 2015 – So long Black Point!

We're going to miss it here. We've been here for two weeks and have rekindled all of our friendships with the locals. We've helped Zhivago put on his first ever New Year's Eve party. We then helped him through the new VAT (Value Added Tax) that
came into effect across the Bahamas on New Year's Day. I've been volunteer bartending for two weeks straight now...with only one day off. Tony downloaded the manual for the cash register, taught himself how to use it, and has been programming all the buttons to include all the drinks & food. Then, of course also included the new tax. We've also shown Zhivago how to get the tips out of his Credit Card terminal. Believe it or not, he's been using this 'new' credit card machine for years and never knew how to add his tips onto the total. We fixed that.

There is such a sense of accomplishment in helping out our dear friends here. I wish we could stay forever. But we will find more opportunities to help others along the way. It's time to move on. Staying in one spot won't get us further south. The vagabond life just isn't so when we are in one spot for too long! 😊 There is a small weather window that has presented itself and we're grabbing it. Unfortunately, that means we won't get to stop at the places I was hoping to see, but hey, there's so much more out there! I'll see other things. We should be in Georgetown in two days. Once there, we don't plan to stay for long!

We won't have internet access in Georgetown the way that we have here. But I'll do my best to get a few more pictures up on the blog. Hopefully Nicky (the resident dolphin) will be there again to entertain us. Or maybe it's that we entertain her?

Sending love & kisses from the crew of Inspiration!

Additional photos below
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5th January 2015

nice shirt!
5th January 2015

LOL Thanks Peter! I still wear all my EYC shirts with PRIDE!! :)

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