Monthly Archives: February 2017

Playtime in the Central Exuma Islands

Our sail from Eleuthera back to the Exuma Islands was more and less exciting than we expected.  We anticipated an easy spinnaker sail but the wind was shifty and we ended up changing sails two or three times.  So that was a little “more” than we expected.

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Spinnaker sailing is probably my favorite!

On the other hand, Frank diligently employed the fishing techniques Paul, our Eleuthera guide, had taught him, but our only bite was a barracuda.  So the fishing was “less” exciting than we had anticipated.

The fun news is that we were able to raise s/v Radiance on the VHF and made plans to meet at an anchorage on Compass Cay.  Surprisingly they ended up entering Conch Cut, an entrance from the Bahama Sound into the Exuma Islands, at the same time we did! So we followed them through the cut and we anchored right next to each other.

We shared sundowners that evening and plotted activities for the next few days.  S/V Radiance only had a few days before they were off to Nassau to pick up guests so we wanted to pack in a lot during our days together. 

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Celebrating our reunion!

Susan had saved some “bubbly” to share and we managed to consume all of it… waste not, want not!

The first day together, we packed into our dinghy, Day Tripper, and headed to the marina where we could swim with the nurse sharks then hike on Compass Cay. We trekked from the marina all the way to the Bubbly Bath at the north end of the island.

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Frank, Susan and Kevin on Compass Cay.

At five miles round trip, the walk was a bit longer than we anticipated, but the views along the way were great.

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Frank “dunks” a rock at Hester’s Gym, an abandoned bar on along the walk.

The Bubbly Bath was a fun place to hang out in the shallow water and enjoy the waves as they broke over the rocky ledge that separated us from the ocean.  We agreed that this was a place we wanted to revisit!

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Susan is making a beeline for the Bubbly Bath at the right end of this picture.

When we returned to the marina, Kevin and Captain found a breezy, shady spot to cool down and Susan and I watched Frank swim with the sharks.  Unfortunately my camera battery died so I don’t have pictures.

Next we moved the boats to Cambridge Cay which is the southern most part of the Exuma Land and Sea Park.  We grabbed mooring balls and were delighted when we realized that s/v Tatiana was on the very next mooring ball!

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I think these fish were looking for nibbles.

Kevin, Susan, Frank and I went snorkeling the next day at “the Aquarium.” 

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Sorry for the picture quality, I don’t have my red filter yet!

There was only one other dinghy at the snorkel site and they were just about to leave when we arrived. I was busy getting out gear when I heard, “Frank?!”  HA! The folks in the other dinghy had shared our dock in Annapolis during our last few weeks at Jabin’s Yacht Yard!  Art and Celeste were doing some refit work on their catamaran  in Annapolis and we knew they were headed to the Bahamas, but we were surprised to run into them!  What a small world!

Susan and I decided we really needed a second visit to the Bubbly Bath, so we invited s/v Tatiana to join us.  We packed a cooler and some floats plus our snorkel gear.  The six of us, and Captain, took off in Day Tripper and stopped at the Rocky Dundas snorkel site.  We swam into the caves and poked about checking out the coral and sea life.

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Kristen, James, Frank, Kevin and Susan…. Cap and I are in charge of pics.

After an arduous snorkel (not) we really needed to relax, so the Bubbly Bath was next up.  

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It’s important to have plenty of toys and snacks!

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Frank and I on the edge of the Bubbly Bath

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Cappy divided her time between a shady hole in the sand and my lap in the water.

We had a great time floating about, sharing drinks and stories as we watched the waves begin building and breaching the rocky surroundings.  What a fun way to while away an afternoon!

It was great fun meeting up with Susan and Kevin again and we enjoyed several days together exploring Compass Cay and Cambridge Cay.  Although we were only together about 4 days we managed to hike, snorkel, share dinner aboard both boats, gather at an anchorage beach sundowner event, listen to Kevin and a new Canadian friend jam on guitars and float about in the Bubbly Bath twice.

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Susan even managed some down time on the hammock she and Kevin made from beach ‘finds.’

We were sad to see s/v Radiance leave head north, but we have plans to meet again very soon!

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Frank kiting off Cambridge Cay

The wind has piped up a few times and allowed us to kite board.  Frank had probably three days of boarding and he continues to try to increase the height of his jumps.  Our kids gave Frank a small electronic device called a “Woo” that attaches to his kiteboard. The Woo records the height of jumps and Frank loves trying to improve his “personal best.”

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Sundown after an afternoon of kiting.

My kiting on the other hand seems to go two steps forward and three steps backwards.  Some days I am comfortable and don’t need any support, but other days I am very happy to have Frank “on watch” to help me if I become discombobulated!

After s/v Radiance and s/v Tatiana departed, Frank spent the next week or so exploring Black Point and Pipe Cay, then returning to Cambridge Cay. We resumed our usual activities of hikes, biking, swimming and general dinghy exploring.  Instead of boring you with details, here are some pictures.

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The anchorage at Black Point.

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Regardless of location, all little kids love to play with smart phones!

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Probably the most beautiful spot we have seen; Pipe Cay.

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Hiking along a rocky ledge.

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A small private island.  They seem to have a few extra comforts available!

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Who needs a Hallmark Valentine’s Day card?

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Just another sunset!

Thanks so much for reading about our journey. Let us know if you are nearby! Next up – George Town; cruisers central in the Bahamas!

Exploring Eleuthera Takes Some Time

Eleuthera is a long, skinny island that is shaped a bit like a half circle with a sling shot on the bottom.  Or at least that’s what I think.  It is 110 miles long and in parts is only one mile wide.  Eleuthera is estimated to have an area of 176 square miles.  Now I realize that our former home state of Texas is significantly larger at approximately 268,000 square miles, but traveling by boat, the island of Eleuthera felt pretty large to us!

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Originally we thought we would spend a few days on Eleuthera while waiting out a weather system, but we ended up spending more than two weeks exploring various anchorages and I know we missed many interesting places. 

After exploring Spanish Wells, Harbour Island and Royal Island, we sailed southeast back through Current Cut so we could explore the southeastern section of Eleuthera.

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Current Cut was an interesting opening on Eleuthera that required some timing because of the strong current ~ yes, appropriate name.  As you can see from the picture of our instruments, our boat speed through the water was 6.4 knots but we had the current going with us and our actual speed over ground was 10.1 knots indicating that we had almost 4 knots of current during our trip through this fairly narrow passage.

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LIB sitting pretty in Governor’s Harbour

Our first stop on the eastern side of Eleuthera was Governor’s Harbour.  We spent the afternoon walking the town and poking into the few shops we found that were open.  We arrived late on a Saturday so most places were closed and they don’t open on Sunday. 

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Fancy and clean food truck

We did find a food truck and decided we to indulge in some ‘take away’ dinner.  See the menu in the window…. what would you choose?

I’m not sure what it is, but there are some stops that call to us or click with us more than others.  Governor’s Harbor didn’t call much to either of us and a weather shift dictated a move further south after only one night.

Rock Sound was our next anchorage of choice and this one we enjoyed more than expected. It is located just above the slingshot shaped part of the island. The first night we anchored in the undeveloped northern part of the sound to protect us from some northern wind.  But the next day we moved to the eastern part of the sound when the wind changed from that direction.  The town of Rock Sound is deceiving and at first glance you might think it has little to offer but we found plenty to do.

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St. Anne Catholic Church,  just like home…. I wish we had been here on a Sunday!

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This sign made me smile.

We enjoyed a cool beverage at this restaurant overlooking Rock Sound.  As indicated, the entrance was around the back where an open patio offered a cool breeze from the sound.

One morning we toted our bikes to shore and explored as much of the town and surrounding area as we could.  Our bike ride allowed us to see the varied terrain near the anchorage.

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Unpaved roads and very little traffic were perfect for our mountain bikes.

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Not a bad dead end for one road.

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This time our road ended in a grassy, palm treed yard.

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Mining for sand???

This was our most unexpected dead end on our bike ride.  This hill of sand must be 40 feet high.  Our guess is that they were excavating the sand and moving it elsewhere? Anyone have a guess?

Several places on Eleuthera have ocean holes in shore. These are pools fed by the ocean from underground.  It was pretty amazing to ride our bike through town and come across this ocean hole.  

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Frank was happier than he looks in this pic.

You would expect this to be a fresh water pond, but in actuality it is ocean water with salt water marine life.  The town has built a park around the hole so locals have a nice place to gather and enjoy the water.

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The park around the hole is simply green space.

Rock Sound has a well stocked grocery store where we were able to buy some fresh produce and a few odds and ends to shore up our food reserves on LIB.  We stopped in a cute little shop called The Blue Seahorse where I bought some earrings made of sea glass.  I consider the owner of the Blue Seahorse (Holly?) a bit unusual here in the Bahamas because she is very marketing savvy and interested in increasing her business.  We saw signs for her business in several places and she hopes to advertise in some of the cruising guides.  You should stop in and see Holly at the Blue Seahorse if you ever visit Rock Sound! She has some great items and she makes them all herself.

After enjoying several days in Rock Sound, we raised the anchor and moved further south toward Davis Harbour Marina.  This small marina has about 25 slips and most are used by local fisherman, by scuba diving trip operators or by fishing guides.  Davis Harbour is a small, well protected marina with super nice people and much more than expected.

Our first night here we enjoyed dinner at Frigates Restaurant right in the marina.  It’s always a positive when I get a break from cooking, plus the dinner was tasty and the atmosphere pleasant.  It is interesting that these places are so small that one person is the bartender, waitress, cook and cashier! 

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Dusk at Davis Harbour Marina

Our plan was to stay at Davis only two nights as we wanted to fish along a submerged rock formation called The Bridge located between Eleuthera and Little San Salvador.  So we headed out early in the morning and fished for several hours with the intention of anchoring in a small area off of Lighthouse Point at the very tip of Eleuthera.

There is a Yiddish proverb “Man plans, God laughs.”  That happened!  We caught only one skipjack tuna and a barracuda.  Plus while we were trolling for fish, the wind direction became more southerly and made our planned anchorage untenable.  Yep, God had a good chuckle about our plans.

So back to Davis Harbour we went and we were very happy to have such a calm spot after a day of waves.

We spent the next day exploring nearby creeks in our dingy.  There were three creeks very close, so we took Day Tripper as far as we could then hopped out and explored on foot.  Captain loves jumping around in the shallow water but she isn’t much help when we try to bonefish!

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Captain is a front seat driver in the dinghy!

Frank decided to bike to Lighthouse Point, the anchorage we were unable to visit due to weather, but I bailed.  I know I could have ridden the 25 mile trip, but I wanted a day at “home.” When I saw the pictures he took I regretted skipping the trip.  

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Seeing the pictures made me sorry we were unable to anchor at that beach!

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The actual lighthouse might need some repair.

Remember our friends Kristen and James of s/v Tatiana who shared the adventures at Harbour Island? Well they decided to join us in Davis Harbour for a day of diving! Paul, a local man, climbed aboard LIB and spent most of a day with us.  Paul showed us two nearby dive spots where the coral was in excellent condition which again was encouraging to see.

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James captures some coral with scuba bubbles in the background.

Thankfully James had his GoPro with the red filter and his pictures were great.  

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Look at the colors!

Really, what was I thinking moving onto a boat in crystal blue waters and not bringing a red filter?!

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Hahaha, you have to be able to laugh at yourself, right? Conehead much?

After our second dive, Paul taught Frank and James a few fishing tricks using live bait.  We didn’t have any luck catching fish while Paul was on board, but we have some new techniques to try.

We returned to Davis Creek and said goodbye to Paul.  What a great guy he is and so generous with his knowledge.  We are lucky to have met him.

Of course Kristen and I decided that after a “long” day of water sports, we needed to be pampered with dinner at Frigate’s, so the four of us shared our evening meal and discussed our next move.

We have been in contact with Rally buddies, Kevin and Susan of s/v Radiance, and Frank and I decided it was time to head back toward the Exumas and see if we could rendezvous with them. 

Perhaps on our sail we can put to test some of the fishing pointers Paul shared…

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