May 13th – 20th, 2014 (-4 on UTC)
Dear F&F, We had a fabulous time in the Turks and Caicos and if it works out, we\’d come back next season. It was one of our favorite stops in the entire Eastern Caribbean.
All good things must move on and we were looking forward to arriving in the world famous Bahamas! We departed the convoluted pass at Turtle Cove Marina and had much better weather than the day we first arrived. The sail would be about 60 miles and we didn\’t want to arrive too late as there was a long shallow passage into Mayaguana\’s – Abraham\’s Bay.
The 37 foot, Prout Snowgoose Catamaran, \”Snowball\” left about an hour and half ahead of us and would be the boat we\’d be chasing all day. The trip was about 65 miles and the wind was up! We had to make the decision on which side to pass the Plana Cays by and the winds made the choice for us….it would be north of them.
About 8 miles before we arrived at Attwood Harbour on Acklin\’s Island, we passed \”Snowball\” who was flying no main and a spinnaker. Our spinnaker pole out to the windward side of the boat, really allows us to sail very downwind in blowy conditions. This saves wear and tear on the boat and crew as well as making the passage much more comfortable, faster and fun.
When we arrived in Attwood Harbour, we were very cautious as the guide book made it sound like a difficult entry. Frankly, it was about as easy as they get in this part of the \”reefy\” world. No problem with me! The bay was almost a complete circle and not only extremely off the beaten path, but a VERY comfortable anchorage. Again, in about 6 feet of water.
About a half an hour after we were settled, \”Snowball\” anchored next to us and invited us over for a G&T! Paul and Tony were British chaps and Nikki loved the conversation. So did I, but as she says….\”It\’s cultural\”…..:-)
We made fast friends, shared life stories and we\’d both be sailing to Pitt\’s Town Anchorage the next morning on the northeast corner of Crooked Island. We again had a really nice sail and some lovely views of the Little Bird Island Lighthouse. It has been abandoned for many years and we read of plans to make it a private \”honeymoon\” resort experience. Alas, like many of these projects, it has not yet come to pass!
After we anchored at a relatively comfortable but open roadstead off Pitt\’s Town, we had Paul and Tony over to \”Beach House\”. Nikki whipped up some pupu\’s and drinks, we had conversation about the day\’s sail and future plans. We said our farewells as they\’d be off toward Cat Island the next day while we\’d be headed to Long Island Cay. We hope to meet up again with them \”somewhere out there\”.
The next morning we started the engines as usual after I done my checks and upon accelerating the port engine, it made an awful squeak. I went below to have a look and guessed that the bearings on one of the two alternators must be bad? As such, we motored in light winds to our next destination with just the starboard engine. Yet another advantage of a twin screw catamaran!
When we arrived in Clarence Town Bay, Long Island, we went ashore to inquire about a mechanic to come have a look. Long Island is 80 miles long, but never more than a half mile wide!
Long Island, The Bahamas: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Island,_Bahamas
The next morning, Andrew Cartwright arrived at Flying Fish Marina and I dinghy-ied him out to the boat. Andrew\’s family has been here forever and there are Cartwright\’s scattered over the whole island.
Andrew had a look at the engine and at first thought it was just a loose belt. Upon further inspection, it turned out that our 24 volt alternator bracket had developed a crack in the weld where it attached to the side of the engine. He removed it, but told us there were only two welders on the island capable of fixing it. One of them was off island working on a British Telecom site; the other was off until Monday. We settled in for the weekend and took advantage of the time to rent a car and check in with customs up at the north end of the island.
The chap at customs was quite a character and tried to convince us he couldn\’t check us in despite our having called ahead to one of his co-workers who said we could. He spent the better half of an hour trying to figure out who told us this and finally gave up and just checked us in. We drove back in intermittent driving rain storms, but had a great time exploring the island. We also stopped for a drink at the Santa Maria Resort where we\’d next stop with the boat – about 50 miles up the coast. The resort was nice and we thought we might try dinner there when we moved up coast.
The next day we did some exploring in the bay at Clarence Town with the dinghy and walked along empty, protected white sand beaches which stretched for miles. We kept thinking that there are dozens of places that we could kite board if we really get good at it throughout the Bahama Islands. We eventually went ashore at Strachan Cay, one of the barrier islands that forms Clarence Town Bay. There was a single private home here. It seemed abandoned, but an ideal place to just \”get away from it all\”. We learned that the long time owner had passed away, but that his extended family comes down in the winter months. The beaches were sweet white sand, a true Robinson Crusoe get-away spot.
On Monday, we drove to Les Harding\’s shop. He\’s another famous and long time Long Island family scion and had him weld the bracket. Thirty dollars seemed a bargain. Back again the other way where we would have Andrew re-install the whole enchilada.
En-route, we stopped at the deepest \”Blue Hole\” in the world at \”Dean\’s Blue Hole\”. This is a natural limestone sink hole which is about 150 wide but attains a depth of 202 meters (663 feet deep). Every November, there is a gathering of the world\’s best free divers to try and set either personal bests or world\’s records. Most of the world\’s free diving records have been set here. This is a gorgeous natural setting, but has a mixed history. Several people who have tried to attain records have died including a few tourists who for unknown reasons have been lost here as well. Despite a somewhat checkered history, thousands of people swim in the warm calm waters without event every year. The setting is in a gorgeous protected cove at the edge of the sea.
Another very interesting site at this island is what are known as \”Father Jerome Churches\”. Father Jerome was an Anglican priest, trained as an architect who came to the Bahamas in 1908. He dedicated much of the rest of his life rebuilding churches in the Bahamas in a Greek Mediterranean style. Eventually converting to Catholicism, he rebuilt the Anglican and Catholic churches on Long Island as well as the famous \”Hermitage\” on Cat Island.
To learn more about Father Jerome Churches on Long Island: http://www.yachtingmagazine.com/article/Picnicking-with-Father-Jerome
This is the St. Peter and St. Paul Church. See Link: http:/shanepinder.com/blog/2008/11/14/sts-peter-and-paul-catholic-church-clarence-town-long-island/
The Hermitage on Cat Island – see link: http://www.greenwoodbeachresort.com/english/churches.htm
The people on Long Island were, like the Turks and Caicos, some of the friendliest folks we\’d met anywhere in the Eastern Caribbean. Andrew got us put together in a few hours after our return and we were off the next morning for Calabash Bay, the site of Santa Maria Resort. The sail was quite brisk and we took in a reef with the staysail in some wild squalls and wind shifts as we sailed the 50 miles north to the top of the island.
Along the way, we crossed the Tropic of Cancer. This is the latitude line (running East and West) that is the limit of the Sun\’s northward annual trek. If you dropped a \”plumb bob\” from the Sun to the Earth, this is as far north as it gets on June 21st or 22nd every year. This is the Summer Solstice; the longest day of the year and marks the official beginning of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere.
Tropic of Cancer: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropic_of_Cancer
We pulled into the tricky reef entrance at Calabash Bay, anchoring yet again in very skinny water. We did a \”wet landing\” with the dinghy on a lovely sandy beach. I wanted to give Nikki the night off from her Galley duties and we had a nice meal at the Santa Maria Resort. The resort mostly caters to Bone fisherman.
If you\’re not familiar with Bone Fishing, check this link out: http://www.patientangler.com/blog/view/9248
Bone Fishing is quite the craze amongst the catch and release crowd. The fish are great fighters, caught on light tackle like trout, but totally un-eatible!…:-)
Needless to say, as Summer is rapidly approaching (as well as Hurricane Season!) ….it\’s getting HOT, HOT, HOT here in the Northern Caribbean Sea. Our next stop would be one of the great cruising grounds of the Bahamas – Grand Exuma Island.
Stand by, much more really soon!
Scott and Nikki