Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rock Sound to Spanish Wells ...

Time continues to fly by without our reporting much.  Internet connection is partly blamed, but so much fun is more to blame.  But now, in Spanish Wells at the top of Eleuthera where we're spending five nights on a mooring, we find the time to catch up on the blog posting.

We had a wonderful three days in Rock Sound Harbor in the bottom of Eleuthera, dropping laundry, having a chance at the internet and doing some shopping.  We met John, Rick and Mark on Candace Rose on the first day, and when we saw them in town later, they invited us for a farewell dinner for Mark aboard their boat.  It was a crew change for them, with Rick arriving and Mark going home (to the Pacific Northwest).  We took over ceviche (made with fresh snapper), a couple of sushi rolls (also fresh snapper), and homemade peach chutney; they provided a pork loin and side dishes.

While consuming appetizers Mark said: "Okay, aren't you going to ask us what we do?"  What a leading question.  We bit, and he responded: "We're all OBGYNs," which led to a hilarious and wonderful conversation that flitted from topic to topic the rest of the evening.  The next evening, after Mark had gone, we invited Rick and John over to Alizee for dinner and had the most wonderful baby back ribs with all the accompaniment and another great evening of conversation.  We haven't connected with them since ... they were going south and we north ... but we hope they keep in touch.

On April 8th, we weighed anchor and sailed with the Genoa north to Pineapple Cays, anchoring in Pau Pau Bay.  We caught a Southern Sennett, a very edible type of Barracuda while passing the village of Tarpum Bay, and over the next couple of mornings had pan fried fish and eggs for breakfast.  The Sennett was the most tender and tasty fish either of us have eaten! ... Pau Pau Bay was a wonderful anchorage except for the no-seeums.  The winds died completely our second evening there, and Pen got eaten alive ... some 75 bites everywhere, and she was miserable for the next three days.  Ugghhh!

We sailed up to Governor's Harbor, the first capitol of the Bahamas they say, and anchored there for a couple of nights.  We bought some conch from a local fellow and I experimented preparing it.  I made a tasty conch salad, and then the next day simmered the conch for an hour and a half and then diced it up to make a conch stir fry served over rice.  It was wonderful, and we won't be shy about getting conch again.

Staying a Governor's Harbor with no other cruisers in sight seemed to put us off the beaten path again, which is really something we like, and we moved even further off the beaten path by heading further north to James Cistern.  This is a little village with lots of room to anchor but on a bottom that has a lot of grass and rocks.  It took us three tries to finally hold, but it was worth it.  We got some wonderful fresh island grown produce at a little roadside stand and had the pea soup to end all at Lee's cafe.  They people were the friendliest, and we really enjoyed the stop.

On April 13th, we made an invigorating beam reach sail up to an anchorage south of the Glass Window toward the top of the Eleuthera bight.  We passed Hatchett Bay, where lots of cruisers go, and elected to anchor out alone ... well, not quite alone, because a half-mile north of us was a 200+ foot luxury yacht, but they were in the distance and of no bother.  The winds came up to 25 knots for the next day or so, and we didn't even bother to explore the shore, electing to read yet more books.  The luxury of reading book after book has been wonderful, and we've read some great books.  Geraldine Brooks, March, which is the story of the husband in Alcott's Little Women, is a masterpiece.  So to is Annie Proulx's Postcards, which is a superbly better novel than her Pulitzer Prize winning Shipping News.  Another good one is Tony Horowitz's Blue Latitudes, in which he traces the journey of Captain Cook (inspiration for Captain Kirk of Star Trek).  Interestingly, he is and Geraldine Brooks met while working as foreign correspondents for the Wall Street Journal and married.  We've also read a couple of Nelson DeMille's adventure novels, Plum Island and Lions Gate, and his character John Cory is the best ever male hero.  Well, the list continues with John Grisham and Lee Childs, but you all probably know about them.

At anchor we've finally figured out our SSB and are now regularly listening to the weather broadcasts of Chris Parker, who covers the Caribbean, Bahamas, and eastern seaboard.  And we've checked in with the Cruiseheimers cruisers net on the SSB as well.  The weather is a good thing, because my record of predicting is a bit marred.  The Sirius weather subscription which displays on our chart plotter is good, but it's never more than three days out and very slow to load.  We're not always in internet range, so Windfinders.com, which is generally right on and gives seven to ten day forecasts, is not always available.  So having Chris Parker works out well.

On April 15th, we had a very brisk downwind sail with just the Genoa over toward Royal Island from Glass Window, with 20-25 knots from the east and making 6 knots speed over ground (SOG).  We had to sail off our course to the Current Island Cut (half way to Royal Island), and when we jibed the Genoa to make the Cut, the tack blew out on the sail.  The shackles simply wore out and we lost the pendant and both shackles.  We rolled the Genoa in right away and put out the stay sail and then put a second reef in the main and raised it.  We lost our momentum and couldn't go much faster than 4.5 knots, but we made it through the Cut with the ebb (at 6.5 knots SOG), and then beat our way up to Royal Island.  Pen didn't think we should have left Glass Window, but when the weather worsened the next day, she agreed we'd made an okay decision.

That afternoon about a dozen cruisers came into Royal Island, most from Spanish Wells, a couple of miles north, and three or four from Hatchet Bay.  All were staging to go to the Abacos the next morning (April 18th).  We listened on the VHF to their conversations about what the weather would be and so forth, and we agreed that we didn't think the next day would be the best day to make the 60+ nautical mile crossing.  But then, most were eager to get going, and Chris Parker seemed to suggest that the optimum day would come for a week or so.  By 0800 the next morning they were all gone, and we motored up to Spanish Wells and picked up our mooring from Bandit (Jock Morgan).  Picking up the mooring was Pen's first time, and it didn't go well ... but we were rescued by another cruisers and had our after-action debriefing later. 

Spanish Wells has been wonderful.  I got to see my first Manatee, of which there are many in Florida's ICW and few here.  But this pregnant female has become the darling of Spanish Wells, and everyone feeds her volumes of cabbage and lettuce and awaits the big day.

Monday, April 19, says Penelope, was a "near perfect day."  We succeeded in getting Chris Parker on all his broadcast channels, enjoyed a blueberry pancake breakfast and reading while some rain passed, and then we went into town.  We got shackles to repair the Genoa at a marine store, found some wonderful fishing lures and two "old hickory" knives (like those we saw Nestle and Cracker using in Arthur Town on Cat Island), went to Jean and Tom Goldson's "book exchange" in their cottage, got a couple of pounds of Stone Crab claws and two lobster (crawfish) tails at the fish store and shopped at the big market for some groceries (and more baby back ribs).  We had lunch at a little restaurant and had the best ever lima bean soup plus tuna and cracked conch.  Jean and Tom invited us to "happy hour" at their "Done Reach" cottage at five, so we cleaned up, made up some salsa, and joined our now friends Pete and Dianne on Pearl, a Bristol 40, to go to the happy hour (we'd had Pete and Dianne aboard Alizee the night before for drinks).  Penelope wrote in her journal: "What an amazing group of people!  The best time we've had socially for a long time.  We sate on the cottage porch with Pete and Dianne, Linda and Ed and Tom off the trawler Lady Brookhaven, and Jean and Tom,with appetizers, wonderful conversation and laughter in the most natural and authentic exchanges.  The head discussion was hilarious, especially with Tom Goldson's descriptions of use and misuse.  Jean gave us the name, address and phone number of some cruisers who live in DeLand that they know well and made us promise to get in touch when we get back.  Then Jean brought out p0asta in plastic cups (what a good idea), which made dinner back on the boat unnecessary.  A grad time was had by all, after which we came back to Alizee and had the most stimulating conversation about Annie Proulx's Postcards and then graphic violence in books and movies as we sipped wine.

A perfect end to a perfect day!

Alizee's geotrack


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