Calabash Bay, Long Is, to Hawks Nest, Cat Island, The Bahamas
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
The weather report that our fellow sailors got on their SSB radios was not the best, we thought, for heading to Conception Island. We were afraid the anchorage would be lumpy and the water too rough to snorkel. So, while four of the boats in our group decided to press on to Conception Island, we, along with Pearl and Foreclosure, decided to head directly for Hawks Cove Marina and Resort on the south end of Cat Island. We headed out about 8:45 and had another great sail. We covered the 33 miles on another broad reach. It wasn’t quite as windy as the previous day, but we tied up in marina by 2:00, having averaged about five knots.
The marina at Hawks Nest is separated from the rest of the resort by a small airstrip. The marina had fresh, drinkable water at the docks for a mere $.35 per gallon, brand new washers and dryers and real showers! (Granted, you had to put four quarters in the machine for a five-minute shower.) Sandy walked the beaches with Bev and others while Bill tended to some boat chores. Later we all took showers. These are the first real showers we’d had since January 9 … more than two months ago! For those non-boat people, this meant luxury!
Another discovery … our Verizon cell phones are working here! It’s a roaming area and who knows what the charges will be. Bill called his parents, anyway. It was nice not to have the hassle using the cranky BaTelCo public phones.
That evening there were light winds and it was buggy with no-see-ums. Pearl shared a Mahi Mahi they’d caught while under sail, today. We gathered on Foreclosure to grill it and share other covered dishes. Pete marinated the fish in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Outstanding! Afterwards we played a dice game called Farkel. Bev was the F Queen for the evening. We had a great time! We were delighted we finally “farkeled” in the Bahamas!
Hawks Nest, Cat Island, The Bahamas
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
Since we knew lots of people wanted to do laundry, Bill started ours at 6:00 am. Then it was time to fill our fuel tanks and top off the water tanks. Sandy walked the beached in the morning and went snorkeling with Pete & Diane in the afternoon. They came back with three conch, which Pete cleaned and returned the shells to the girls. Bill read and caught up with our e-mail at the resort office.
That afternoon, the rest of the crowd who’d gone to Conception Island began arriving at the marina. Turns out they had a pretty good time while there and caught some nice fish and speared a few large lobsters. Getting there had been something of a bash to windward, though, and the anchorage was a bit rolly. Their risk paid off, but we were content to have spent the day in the confines of the marina.
Again, there were light winds and it was buggy with no-see-ums. We’d arranged for the use of the marina bar to host a cover dish meal for our eight boats. We all had fun chatting away and eating ‘til we dropped. The guys took over the pool table and made macho-like, pretending that they knew something about the game. Our collective skills made for a sad sight but we had a good time, anyway.
Hawks Nest to New Bight, Cat Island, The Bahamas
Thursday, March 18, 2004
The marina was nice, but we decided we wanted to explore the island from the New Bight area. We stopped by the Resort office to settle up and do a bit more e-mail and headed back to the boat. Along the way, one of the sport fishing boats at the marina offered Sandy a fresh filet of King Fish. Only 12 miles away, New Bight was directly up wind and the wind was blowing 15-20. We left the marina about 9:15 and quickly encountered some pretty big, steep waves. Our way made good dropped to three knots or less at times. Water washed down the decks and sprayed over the dodger and we didn’t get anchored until 1:00. It had taken nearly four hours to cover only 12 miles! Fortunately, we could get in close to shore where the water was calm and the anchorage was very comfortable.
We walked the area with Bob & Bev, stopping at the Blue Bird Restaurant to make tentative arrangements for a group dinner. Then, we walked north a mile or so, stopping at Olive’s house to order bread and cakes, Irene’s straw works, the gas station to reserve a van for Friday and to a market to check out what was for sale. This is a pretty nice area with good supplies.
Along the way, we’d met a man who said he’d be at the beach where he’d have fresh produce for sale. We met him there, later, and he had the nicest produce we’d seen since arriving in the Bahamas. His prices reflected the quality, but we loaded up, anyway.
Supper was the King Fish. Bill marinated it per Pete’s recipe and grilled it. We ate it along with broccoli and quinoa salad. Outstanding! We even have enough fish for another meal.
New Bight, Cat Island, The Bahamas
Friday – Saturday, March 19 – 20, 2004
9:00 found us at the gas station, picking up the rental van. It was hot and we all welcomed the air-conditioned van. We decided to head north, first. Notable among the stops were the “Bat Cave”, a small cave beside the road, Fernandez Resort (very nice), Pigeon Cay Club, a small beach resort, Arthurs Town, Sidney Poitier’s boyhood home, and Orange Creek, the end of paved road at the north end of the island.
From Arthurs Town we drove across the island to the windward side. The road across the island was very rough … not what the van was designed for. There, we did some shelling and took in the views. We’d passed some farm fields on the way in and noticed one that had been harvested but that still had lots of ripe tomatoes. We stopped and gleaned a few that hadn’t rotted, yet. On our return, we stopped for lunch at the Triple D Restaurant. The conchburgers were entirely forgettable.
Back at New Bight, we headed up to “The Hermitage”, retirement home of Father Jerome. Father Jerome first came to the island as an Anglican priest and architect. He built several memorable churches. Then, leaving the island for a series of jobs like mule skinner in Canada, he returned as a Catholic priest, building a number of other churches. The Hermitage sits atop of the highest hill on the island. The climb is steep and passes his Stations of the Cross and a replica of Jesus’ tomb. The dwelling is small but ruggedly beautiful and the views are spectacular. The Hermitage is a tribute to his architectural skills and his humble devotion to God.
We drove as far south as we could but couldn’t quite get to Columbus Point. Heading north on a loop road, we drove to the Greenwood Beach Resort, a small place on the windward side. There were several guests in evidence, some taking scuba instruction near the offshore reefs. Continuing on the loop road, the paving disappeared at times and scrub growth intruded on the road. We passed quite a few “farm fields” in this area. People don’t have fields as we think of them. They cut and burn off vegetation in ¼ to 1 acre plots, plant a crop for a couple of years and then abandon the field. Since it is planting time, there was a fair amount of smoke in evidence from the burning. We didn’t see any people, though.
Completing the loop at Old Bight, we stopped at a couple of straw goods vendors and watched some guys play at a fast-moving game of dominoes for money ($2/game) at a bar along the road.
Returning to the anchorage area, we unloaded our shells, groceries, baskets and tomatoes and dinghied back to the boats, tired but happy. Sandy made a salad for dinner.
Overcast all day – highly unusual – with threat of rain. Bill returned van and Sandy made breakfast. Bill spent the day on the boat while Sandy and Bev got a walk in, scoured he beach (no good shells to speak of) and visited with Sylvia Laramore-Crawford. We had met Sylvia during our walk to the grocery store the first day we arrived.
As was common among the Cat Island residents, everyone was very friendly and glad to see us. Sylvia had offered us a ride the day before, which we declined, but then invited us to stop by her home for a visit. So, Bev and I took her up on her offer and had a delightful visit. She was a very interesting lady who was a writer, read poetry and short stores, and had done radio shows. She and her late husband had a summer home on Cat Island and when her husband passed away, she deciced to move from Nassau and become a permanent resident on Cat. Her brother, Richard Crawford, was a writer. We were somewhat surprised that our hubbbies didn’t miss us (we were gone for three hours). Bill worked on the log and read.
Bev & Sandy organized a group dinner at the local Blue Bird Restaurant. It was delicious and was the typical Bahamian-style dinner prepared by owner Grace and sister, Neaker. It just so happened that brother, John, stopped by to do some bartending. Fun by all and all were stuffed!