March 30, 2010
We spent 3 windy nights on the dock at the old bahama bay marina. We borrowed bikes and cycled into the little settlement of West End and bought some bread and meat (it turned out to be lamb when defrosted), 3 just-caught yellow tailed snappers (which were delicious on the BBQ) and a bottle of local bahamian rum. We also did some snorkelling which was amazing: clear turquoise blue waters and fish of all shape, size and color, it was like swimming in a tropical fish tank.
We left there once the wind died down a bit, after fueling up and doing laundry, and traversed a very shallow channel onto the little bahama bank and headed for our first anchorage, mangrove cay (pronounced key), a teeny island 20 miles east. We had a very peaceful night with just one other boat at anchor and nothing on the horizon but wide open sea and sky. The next day we had planned to head for Great Sale Cay and anchor there for a few days and explore the deserted island and its beaches, but the wind was in the wrong direction, dead ahead of us, so we decided instead to sail north-east to Grand Cay, the northernmost cay of the bahamas which has a very sheltered harbor with a skinny channel into it. We anchored just off the colorful little village and settled in for the night, which turned quite windy so we were up a lot checking we weren’t dragging. The next day was windy too so we stayed put and eventually went ashore the day after for a walk around:
The village is small and pretty poor, but the locals are very friendly. There is no street as such, only a little concrete path that golf carts ride on around the island, we only saw a couple of cars, but most people have some kind of boat for fishing. There are 2 churches, a school and a government health clinic with a nurse on site, and a dentist that visits once a month; they were hit badly by a hurricane a few years ago and a lot of the houses and shacks are in a state of disrepair. There are a couple of businesses that cater to fishing tourists mostly from the US, and the marina called Rosie’s Place had a little restaurant where we ate that night, conch fritters and fried fish which was good. The store was very sparse with only basic canned goods, we had more cans stashed away aboard Harmony, but they had tomatoes so we bought some.
We moved on at high tide in the late afternoon after 3 nights at anchor, and motored south about 10 miles to Great Sale Cay where we anchored for the night just off the western shore. The next day we headed east again to Crab Cay, the wind was perfect and it was one of the nicest sails we’ve had, calm and peaceful, no motor noise, just waves lapping against the hull, cool breezes and amazing vistas; we thought it couldn’t get much better but then we heard the whirling of the fishing rod reel and realized we had caught a fish! Dickie reeled in a beautiful big spanish mackerel (we think!) which we grilled on the BBQ for dinner that night, stuffed with rum soaked limes from our sunset cocktails; the left overs became a sort of fish chowder and kept us deliciously fed for 2 more days. Finally the curse of the new fishing rod bought 2 years ago has been broken! We spent another night at Crab Cay with very strong winds from the west which made for a rocky night in the v-berth. The next morning, after a swim, we weighed anchor and sailed to manjack cay to anchor in a wide cove between 2 islands over crystal clear water. We caught another spanish mackerel en route, even bigger than the last, but having only just finished the last one we had had enough mackerel and threw it back. We had planned to stay there for a few days but the weather reports indicated a strong front would be reaching us the next night so we headed to Black Sound in Green Turtle Cay where there are moorings in a very sheltered harbor and tied up for a few days.
A big storm did come through with wind gusting in the 40s, lightening and torrential rain, but we were well-protected and secure in Black Sound. We heard a lot of radio traffic that evening from boats that weren’t so lucky, dragging around the harbor just north of us which is no fun at all, as we know from experience. We went ashore and walked around the town of New Plymouth, settled by British loyalists who fled the US during the American Revolution, it has a very interesting history. It is a colorful town with a few stores and restaurants and a busy waterfront with a ferry service to the main island. We bought a few groceries, some vegetables and milk and eggs and couldn’t believe it came to $53, everything has to be brought here by boat from the mainland so it pretty pricey. We walked the length of the island and back, about four miles, and had sore feet by the end of it, being cooped up on the boat for a few days we are out of practice. On our last night in Green Turtle Cay we visited Pineapples for happy hour, a little bar on the water with wifi and met some other cruisers, one from sandwich MA on cape cod, and caught up on some email. We had planned to dawdle south, island hoping over the next few days, but our propane tank for cooking has run out and the only place to fill it is Marsh Harbor, the biggest town on the Abacos, about 20 miles south, so we will go there and hang out for a few days over easter. Happy Easter everyone!