Hawks Nest, Cat Island, to Little San Salvador, The Bahamas
Sunday, March 21, 2004
The morning started with a heavy overcast and a light shower. We picked up anchor around 7:30 and quickly raised sail in a northeast wind of 15 knots. We had a delightful broad reach to little San Salvador. For company today we had Foreclosure, Pearl, Nisha, Windshift, WindShip, Simple Life, and Geneva. Sandy worked on her basket weaving skills while Bill read and the autopilot steered.
Little San Salvador is owned by Holland America Cruise Lines. It is operated as a day resort where the ship anchors in the morning and disgorges its passengers to the island where they can eat, lie on the beach, eat, play with water toys, eat, go skin diving, eat, etc. By 4:00 in the afternoon the passengers are all back aboard and the ship moves on to their next stop.
We all anchored at the end of the small harbor away from the cruise ship. One of our boats had checked with the resort and was informed we could go ashore after the ship departed. By 4:00 p.m., we were headed to the beach in our dinghies. We were met by Keeno, supervisor of the beach, who was very personable and welcoming. He took us on a tour of the island and introduced us to the staff. By the time we returned to our boats, the threat of rain was imminent. It was the first real rain we had experienced since arriving in the Bahamas – solid rain for several hours. It was delightful. We even built a dam so that we could funnel rainwater into our water tanks.
It was a nice, cozy evening on the boat, although we were somewhat bothered by the surge which rocked the boat from side to side.
Little San Salvador to Rock Sound, Eleuthera, The Bahamas
Monday, March 22, 2004
The weather forecast for a sail was excellent! We (the flotilla) raised the anchor about 6:15 and headed for Eleuthera. The sailing was as forecast with ENE winds at 10-15 knots … a reach. Along the way we saw another cruise ship headed for Little San Salvador as well as another headed for a similar resort at the southern end of Eleuthera. We found our way into the well-protected harbor of Rock Sound and dropped the anchor about 3:30. Strong winds were forecast for five days in a row from the ENE. So, we got in close to shore where we’d be well protected.
As we arrived, we were greeted by Chris of Dingle Motors, a small business in the settlement at Rock Sound. (It turns out that the gal who runs the Luna Sea art gallery in Rock Sound can see boats approaching and tells Chris that we’re coming.) This is the first time we’ve been greeted on arrival and it turned out that Rock Sound was the most welcoming community we encountered, to date, in all our travels. Chris invited all the cruisers in the harbor to use his gazebo for a cocktail party that evening … he’d supply the ice … a precious commodity for cruisers.
We attended, of course, had a great time and met lots of new people. Of interest was the Dingle Motors dock, which was constructed specifically for visiting yacht dinghies. It was extremely high and set in very shallow water. What were they thinking? We had to wade to the end of the dock with our dinghies and could barely climb up to the bottom of the stairs that lead to the dock’s deck. Anyway, Dingle’s heart is definitely in the right place!
Rock Sound, Eleuthera, The Bahamas
Tuesday – Saturday, March 23-27, 2004
The great news was that Dingle Motors opened at 6:00 am and had coffee! Of course, Bill was there by 6:30, coffee cup in hand. They also had internet access so he did e-mail and figured out that Dingle Motors was the hub of the community and was probably responsible for much of the welcoming nature of the settlement.
Later that morning we explored the settlement with Bob & Bev (Foreclosure). Looking for a take-out place that served lunch stuff. Along the way we passed St Anne’s Catholic School where the kids were out for recess. Seeing that we had cameras, a couple of the kids asked if we’d take their picture. Bill said OK and asked the kids to gather in a sunny place. They did, in droves! After taking the photo, Bill asked if they wanted to see the picture. Yes!!!! Bill was inundated by excited primary school kids who all wanted to see the picture at the same time. It was a hoot!
Eventually, with the help of a couple of locals, we found a take-away place that served lunch stuff. Typically, for the Bahamas, there was no sign that suggested the place for lunch. Instead, the sign suggested that this was the place to get school uniforms and supplies. Anyway, the burgers looked great and we took them to Dingle’s gazebo to eat them. It was so windy we had a very difficult time keeping the plates and food on the table!
Later that day we organized a dinner at a local restaurant called the Nort’ Side Restaurant, on the other side of the island. The event was organized in the way typical for cruisers. We simply announced on our VHF radio that anyone who wanted to come should let us know by the next morning. We stated the buffet menu and price and the fact that they’d provide a van to transport us the three miles to and from the restaurant. We got 24 responses almost immediately. One of our fellow cruisers commented that it would be so nice if you could stand at your front door at home and make an announcement to your neighbors or friends to come for a gathering. It’s a little bit more complicated on land!
The 20-25 knot ENE winds continued today.
Over the past several years, cruising the Bahamas has been revolutionized by a set of three excellent chart books compiled and published by Sara & Monty Lewis (trawler Saranade). They were in the harbor with us and offered to do a seminar and feedback session this morning at Dingle’s gazebo. Most of the cruisers in the harbor attended and it was an excellent session. Dingles even provided pastries and coffee!
Afterwards, we finalized our dinner arrangements with Rose of Nort’ Side Restaurant. We had a total sign-up of 32 people for dinner!
The previous afternoon Bill had printed a good copy of the St Anne’s School kids picture, which had turned out to be an excellent photo. We took it to the school and gave it to the teachers so they could post it in the classroom. Afterwards, Sandy got in her morning walk with Sue (Wind Ship).
That afternoon we made up name tags for the dinner as there were quite a few people who hadn’t yet met each other. At the appointed hour the van arrived to begin ferrying up, eight at a time, to the restaurant. We had a great time. The setting was beautiful, high above the ocean beach with lots of reefs off the beach. Rose also had many sisal plants. They look like HUGE century plants with flower stalks the size of trees. Unfortunately, the wind was so strong we couldn’t really walk the beach or we’d have gotten soaked. The drinks and meal were good, the price very reasonable and the company excellent.
The 20-25 knot ENE winds continued today.
We spent the morning on the boat, Sandy cleaning and Bill working on our income taxes … yes, uncle Sam doesn’t care WHERE you are!
Later, Sandy walked with Bev & Bob (Foreclosure) to a blue hole just outside the settlement. (A blue hole is a very deep pond that is connected with the ocean by an underground cave.) On their way back they met a local fellow who offered them fruit from his own trees. He climbed up and cut down a couple of papayas and picked several sappodilloes for them.
In typical community hub fashion, Dingle Motors was the place to drop off your laundry. There is no laundromat, but Dingle’s contacts a local woman who does laundry. She picks it up, washes it and drops it off the next day for only $6 a load.
That evening we had dinner aboard Pearl (Pete & Diane). The entrée was fresh fish that they’d caught on the way to Rock Sound. Pete’s quite the cook (learned in the firehouse as a NYC fireman) and the meal was excellent. Afterwards we played Farkel and Sandy was the evening’s “F Queen”.
The 20-25 knot ENE winds continued today. A beautiful day. Mid 70’s!
Today we toured Eleuthera. We’d hired a van and driver for ten people and headed north. Our driver was named Avian. He lives in Rock Sound and has a business, with his brother, making spices that they market in The Bahamas. Avian even grows many of the peppers and other spices that are their main ingredients for their products.
Our first stop was at a very large Banyan tree. We’ve just begun to notice these trees as we move north in the islands. We toured through several settlements, resorts, marinas and exclusive vacation housing areas. We noticed that these islands are much more prosperous looking and better maintained than the Exumas. There are many Victorian-style houses. We stopped for lunch at the Sunset Grille along a beach.
Farther north we stoppd to look at a pineapple field, now mostly failed as an industry. Still further, we drove past many abandoned silos, mute reminders of the prosperous cattle farming industry that once flourished in this area. We were later told that the industry failed when taken over by an inept government.
The primo stop was at a place called the “Glass Window”. It was once a natural rock bridge that connected the two halves of Eleuthera, ocean to the east, the banks to the west. Years ago the natural bridge fell and was replaced by a man-made bridge. The bridge was shifted about 20 feet to the west during hurricane Floyd which devastated The Bahamas. As a result, the bridge is now only a single lane … scary! (Dave and Nancy sure would find this bridge interesting.) Since the wind had been blowing hard for days, the “Window” was quite a spectacle with wave- and wind-driven spray drenching the roadway. It was blowing so hard Avian had to hold on to little Arti (Nisha) to keep her from blowing away. We all wanted photos but the salt spray threatened to ruin our cameras!
On our way south we stopped at Pam’s Island Made Gift Shop, had ice cream cones and stopped for homemade bread. Avian took us to his home (built by himself) and showed off his garden (typical pothole style). Like many Bahamians, he built his home in stages, without a mortgage, as he accumulated funds.
It was nearly 6:00 when we got back to the boat. We were beat but happy!
The 20-25 knot ENE winds continued this morning.
Bill finished work on our taxes and entered the GPS waypoints for these “Far Bahamas” into the chart plotter (Total: 429 waypoints for all The Bahamas). Meanwhile, Sandy walked. Tough life, Bill!
We met Bev, Bob, John & Arti for lunch at Sammy’s, which is a “can’t miss” local restaurant. Good food! Since it was convenient, we then took our propane tank to the local hardware store to be filled and bought a few groceries. Finally, toward the end of a beautiful day, the winds finally began to diminish. This is the first time the wind wasn’t howling since our arrival in Rock Sound.
We celebrated happy hour on Foreclosure. Since rum is cheap and Foreclosure had a blender, we made Pina Coladas! As the sun set, we planned the next day’s sail, north, to Spanish Wells.