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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bahamas Warderick Wells 31 March 2010

The Front arrived Monday evening as forecast with some thunder and lightening and the wind veered from south through west to northwest reaching at least 27 knots - we were very happy to be here safely moored in this beautiful well protected spot.

Had some great hikes over warderick Wells mainy well marked trails. The trails are very varied in character, meandering through the vegetation to scrambling along heavily pitted ancient reefs to strolling along white coral beaches.

The limestone has many holes , some quite deep and wide. Stromalite reefs are growing in the waters around the island - one of the few places in the world where this is happening.

One of the most common sights is the curled tail lizard.

Darcy, the very friendly but very efficient volunteer who controls the morning 0900hrs VHF 09 net for allocating moorings
for boats.

Today 31 March, we plan to move further north to anchor behind another Cay ready for the sail back to Nassau on Thursday.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sail Bahamas Black Point to Warderick Wells 28 March 2010

With relief managed to reserve a mooring at Warderick wells on VHF 12 at 0900 hrs on the Exuma Park morning net, albeit in the more exposed entrance to the channel - relief because yet another fairly strong front is expected on Monday / Tuesday and there are not many safe places around here for strong winds with a westerly component.

Had a superb sail from Black point, beam/ broad reaching in a 15 gusting over 20 knot easterly in almost flat water over the Banks - Dutch Link excelled herself making 7 to over 8 knots most of the way. On the way recontacted Exuma Park - we were in luck - someone had unexpectedly left and so we were given an even more sheltered mooring (number 15 in the Northern Mooring Field) which is right in front of the Park Office.

At the Park office a jar of sugar is provided so that one can hand feed the friendly little Bananaquits - they are similar to Hummingbirds with a diet of nectar and can hover.

A Bahama Mockingbird soon appeared but did not find the sugar to his taste.

J. has just finished one of her excellent baking sessions

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sail Bahamas Little Farmers Cay to Black Point 27 March 2010

Woke up 27 March to no wind so decided to leave the tricky mooring at Little Farmers Cay before breakfast and motored the 10 miles or so to Black Point on Great Guana Island.

Perfect anchorage for the prevailing easterly winds but not good in a westerly. Very good holding in 2.5 meters at LW (24deg 06.05N 076deg 24.02W).

Had a walk ashore through the small settlement.

Finally took a photo of a bird we had been getting glimpses of and hearing on most of the cays - think it is a Flycatcher - probably the Gray Kingbird.

Close to the cliffs was an active blowhole.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Sail Bahamas Georgetown to Little Farmers Cay 26 March 2010

25th March the pleasant Easterly 4 Bft wind appeared as predicted by Chris Parker, our weather man and we upanchored at 0730hrs . Had a very pleasant beam to broad reach sail up the Exuma Sound for 36 miles to the Little Farmers Cay Cut. Negociated this on the flood tide and called up Ocean Cabin on VHF 16 for a mooring as the anchorages are not too good here and there is a strong ebb and flood currant through the anchorage with many shallow areas and there is a possibilty of another front passing over this evening.
Terry from OC called out bearings to follow to lead us between the reefs and sand banks - however, was not too happy blindly following his instructions so tried to work it out from the charts what we could see. The flood pushed us a bit closer to the sand bank than we should have been, but with Dutch Link's only 4 foot draught, we made it to the mooring without problem. Later dinghied over to Ocean Cabin and found out that Terry could not see us when he was giving his instructions - so very happy that we had done our own thing.

Little Farmers Cay is a very beautiful spot and all the islanders are very friendly. The island is very small and in about 90 minutes one can cover most of it. It does have an airstrip, however, which just looks as though it is part of the road system - J simulated a landing.

Rays circled around under the dinghy feeding off the parts of fish being cleaned above

Bahamas George Town 21 to 24 March 2010

Decided to stay longer in George Town than originally planned as the weather seems to be much better than further north and life is very pleasant here.

Mornings for Jeannette began with a dinghy ride to Yoga sessions on Volleyball Beach at 0845, returning for elevenses on the boat followed by dinghying back to Stocking Island for more walks along the beach,

scrambling over the coral rocks

and following the numerous winding paths through the interior, taking care not to touch the Poisonwood Trees which can give a nasty rash.

One path had a fixed rope to aid the descent

Several birds were heard but only occasionally seen - managed to take a photo of a Greater Antillian Bullfinch .

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bahamas George Town 20 March 2010

Just enjoyed the 6th Annual Bahamian Music & Heritage Festival here in George Town.

There were 3 days of music, games , competitions at the Regatta Park with local food stalls all round the perimeter of the park.

One of the highlights was a cooking competition where students from the local college had an hour to convince the judges that they were the best.

Sampling their effects was very enjoyable.

The prize for the winner and runner up was a trip to Chicago.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bahamas George Town 17 March 2010

The last few days we have been dinghying over to the Stocking Island side of the harbour where we have been enjoying long walks over the island and along the superb coral sand beaches.

In parts there are dunes which reminded us very much of the Dutch Wadden Island of Vlieland (but maybe the sea is a bit bluer?).

Many yachties are to be found on volleyball Beach where many activities are held daily.

J is very happy to find there is an early morning Yoga session on the beach most mornings

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sail Nassau to George Town 5 to 12 March 2010

Stayed longer in Nassau than planned due to the frontal weather systems with which we have been plagued this year. Two of the days were luckily good kite surfing conditions - so Richard could show us his skills (see separate Blog for photos of some of his spectacular jumps - a crazy sport for those needing an adreneline kick).

On Friday 5 March the weather moderated so we left Nassau and motor sailed to Allens Cay - the closest island in the Exuma chain. Anchoring there is not easy as the anchorage is quite narrow, the holding very variable (have to place the anchor in a sand patch) and there are very strong currents.

We ended up with having to lay the Fortress anchor by dinghy 180 degrees to the CQR (24deg 45.09N 076deg 50.26W in 2.4 meters).

Dinghied over to beach to see the Iguanas which come out of the vegitation to greet one.

In the morning it was an interesting exercise raising the anchors as we were lying to the Fortess in a 20 kt NEerly.

Had a good fast downwind sail on the Genny on 6 March over the turquoise waters to Warderi
ck Wells at the heart of the Exuma National Park. Picked up a mooring close to Emerald Rock.

After Richard had had a kite surfing session we dinghied ashore to the Park Headquarters to pay our 20 dollar mooring fee and have a walk along the Nature Trails. Made contact with S/V SeaWalk, a Dutch family whose blog we have been following with interest.

Next day 7 March we had a super fast reach with one reef in Main and Genny to Big Major Spot.

There we anchored off (24deg 11.02N 076deg 27.50W in 2.6 meters - excellent holding in sand). Rich Kite surfed but the conditions were marginal and had to be rescued by dinghy - apparently if the wind gets too light, it is impossible to stay upwind which is why kite surfers are always looking for a beach with an onshore wind. In this case the only beach was upwind so one needs a rescue boot if the wind drops.

Launching from this beach has an additional hazard - the local wild pigs that roam the island and are quite a tourist attraction as they swim out to greet any dinghies approaching the beach were very interested in the kite that Richard was preparing on the beach and had to be shooed off before they could find out if it was edible.

Later we dinghied over to Staniel's Cay via the Cave where the James Bond Thunderball movie was shot, and had a walk on the island.

We had planned to spend another day on one of other the Exuma Cays but the weather forecast was for the wind to turn SEerly and strengthen so we made a long but fast close reach motor sail the 60 miles to George Town in an ENE 3/4 Bft wind, entering the Exuma Sound at the Galliot Cut. Arrived in Elizabeth Harbour by 1700 hrs 8 March and anchored in 1.8 meters in sand close to a sand spit near Monument Beach ( 23deg 31.96N 075deg 46.40W) - excellent holding and plenty of space.

9 March there was a good Easterly 4/5 Bft blow and Richard had a great kite surf off the sand spit with the wind strong enough to perform countless trick jumps. Later in the day we motored over and anchored in Kidds cove close to George Town (23deg 30.19N 075deg 45.79W ) in 1.4 meters at LW in excellent holding sand - (very good as we expect squall of 40 kts tonight 12 March).

10 March dinghied ashore - very good free floating dinghy dock in Lake Victoria in the centre of the town which is accessed under a small bridge - there is free drinking water on the pontoon.

Around the local supermarket area there is free Wifi - signal requires some ingenuity / luck to get good reception.

Hired a car for a day (77 dollars including full insurance from a company opposite the supermarket. Drove up to Barraterre at the northern end of the Great Exuma Island - not terribly interesting other thean the occassional glimpses of the beaches.

11 March up at 0445 and ashhore by 0530 to drive Richard to the airport by 0600hrs for his flight back to the UK.

Later we drove down to the southern tip of the island and had a pleasant lunch at D's Santana's Grill on the beach in Williams Town.

Bahamas Kite Surfing 2 to 10 March 2010

Here a few photos of the Richards Kite Surfing in Nassau, Warderick Wells, Big Major Spot and George Town.