Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Back to Lee Stocking Island

We stopped at Lee Stocking on the way south to hide from some weather and we found ourselves heading back there from George Town to do the same again. On the way there we were lucky enough to catch a Wahoo which gave Dirk quiet the fight. We actually had two fish hooked and as I took the line just trying to keep him from pulling all the line out Dirk was fighting one that managed to get off and he was able to come rescue me and take over. Gee those things have some fight in them.

Wahoo steaks ready to freeze
We got him on board and made tracks for the inlet receiving a radio call from our friends on s/v Last Star wondering where we were. As we rounded the corner we answered their question and saw they were on a ball where we were headed. They said they would come out and help us with the lines as it’s a pain to get the line through these small eyes and the ball has a very short scope. So we took the last free mooring and took a couple minutes playing catch up with Hank & Patricia later giving them a Wahoo steak to have for dinner. We settled in and had a quiet evening relaxing. The following day s/v Triumph showed up and we gathered on Last Star to catch up since it had been a week since we were all together and it would probably be the last time we saw each other this season as everyone was going their own directions. The last time we were here Dirk and I didn’t get off the boat to explore the island but we decided to take the time and do so. This island was a Marine Science Center but has been abandoned and the island is for sale. Just wish I had the few million I’m sure they are asking for it to buy it. As Dirk and I were walking around we were dreaming of what we would do with this and that and how cool would it be to have our own private island to do what we pleased with. Ah to dream…….
All the abandoned buildings

Renegade from the shore

The old research ponds

We made our way across the air strip and followed the path to the crescent shaped beach on the ocean side.

Here we poked through more plastics and sea weed coming up with one sea bean until Dirk came up to me saying he thinks he found something cool. Cool it was in fact. He had actually found a Mary’s bean or a Crucifixion bean as it’s called. They are rare and they say that only one in every 200 beans you find is one of these.
Below is a good web site about sea beans.....

The Elusive Mary’s Bean
Statistically, only one out of every 200 sea-beans you find will be a Mary's Bean
Statistically, only one out of every 200 sea-beans you find will be a Mary’s Bean.
One of the most remarkable sea-beans is the Mary’s bean (Merremia discoidesperma). In addition to its unique appearance, it holds the record for the longest recorded drift: 15,000 miles.

It comes from a little-known beach vine in the morning-glory family (Convolvulaceae) growing in a small area of Central America, parts of Mexico, Guatemala and Hispanola. Named after the Virgin Mary, it is also called the crucifixion bean because of a cross etched on one side of the seed. This scarcity, combined with the cross, led to it being used as a talisman and many superstitions and legends are connected with it.

Historically, people have used Mary’s beans as good luck charms and to ward off evil spirits. A woman in labor was assured an easy delivery if she clenched a Mary’s bean in her hand, and the seeds were handed down from mother to daughter as treasured keepsakes. They have also been used as an antidote for snake bites in Nicaragua and as a cure for hemorrhoids in Mexico. The hemorrhoidal treatment requires the sufferer to carry a “male” and a “female” seed in their back pocket. Apparently the sex of a seed is determined by whether they float or sink in water. Those that sink in water are called “hembras” (female) and those that float are “macho” (male). Mary’s beans are sometimes sold by street vendors in Mexico as Marine Tomatoes and are known for their curative properties.

The Mary’s bean is a rare find among drift material anywhere in the world and highly prized by drift seed collectors. In northern Europe the Mary’s bean was a special find to pious beach-combers. The seed had obviously survived the ocean and they felt it would extend its protection to anyone lucky enough to own one.
I was excited and held tightly to it so as not to lose it. We ran into Bill and Elaine from Triumph on another beach doing the same bean hunting and showed Dirks find to them. They weren’t sure if it was one but after getting back to the boat and looking it up I know it is. We continued our walk collecting 3 more heart beans, 1 hamburger and a star nut.
Afterwards we headed back through town on the other side, Dirk collecting coconuts from the abundant trees carrying as many as he could.
I need a shopping cart, too many to carry

As we got back to the dingy Patricia & Hank were just pulling up and we were able to say our goodbyes as we would be pulling out in a few minutes to head up to Gallot Cay for the night where we had the entire anchorage to ourselves. The following morning we headed up to Blackpoint and set the hook close to the Laundromat. We saw some friends anchored in front of us and later we met up with them on board their boat s/v Insatiable for a couple drinks before heading off to Lorraine’s CafĂ© for her Sunday buffet. What a great meal it was, Cracked lobster, fried grouper, chicken, pizza, peas & rice, mac & cheese, cole slaw and dessert. Afterwards we waddled back to the dinghy and returned back to Renegade for an early evening. Sharon on Insatiable had a loaf of hot baked bread fresh out of the oven while we were there and passed a plate around with melted butter on top. I have been looking for a great tasting bread recipe since we began cruising. I think I found it……It’s so easy and if I can do it anyone can. I am putting the recipe in my galley section along with a wonderful scone recipe that my sister gave to me. I made them up the other day and they were delicious also. So if you want the recipes just click on the From the Galley tab at the top.

White Chocolate & Cherry scone

Bread loaf with Dill

The next morning I needed to do laundry and since they are closed on Sunday everyone says to get there early on Mondays as they are busy. As soon as I saw the back door open we headed in and I was one of the first people there and grabbed 3 washers. I had not done laundry since we left Emerald Bay and it was time. A couple hours later I was done and radioed Dirk to come retrieve me and the laundry. He had been doing maintenance so he had a few items to finish up then we upped anchor and made the hour and a half hour trip up to Staniel Cay and pulled into Big Majors where I would have a day to do the last minute items before our guest arrived on the 10th. And this is where I leave you till next time……

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Long Island Part Two

After a good night’s sleep we got up early to meet our van out on Queens Highway at 8am and it was off to see the north end of the island. We had the van till noon so we would have to make a quick trip of it. Our first stop was to hit a beach in search of sea beans and other goodies. There were about 3 beaches connected by rocky shoreline and we walked and walked and walked. We finally decided it was time to move on but that’s OK because between Dirk and I we collected 8 hearts, 2 hamburgers, 1 purse, and 2 nicker beans. I did however lose one of the nicker beans when I dropped it just as a wave came in and the ocean once again claimed it.
The crew in search of sea beans
A curious ghost crab let Dirk photograph him

The sea beans collected on the beach that day

After that we all decided to visit the monument where Columbus supposedly first stepped on shore here. It was a decent dirt road that turned into a gravel road that turned into an uneven pitted shouldn’t be driving on road. A few times we wondered if we knocked our oil pan off. We wondered if we shouldn’t pull over and walk the rest of the way but there really wasn’t anywhere to pull over. I don’t know what we would have done if we had encountered a vehicle coming the opposite way. We decided to trudge on as we all held our breath. Thank goodness this was a rental van because I would have never brought my own vehicle down here. That’s probably why all the rental vehicles on the island look the way they do. We finally made it to the end of the line and climbed up to the monument. The view was outstanding as you had the view of the ocean along with views of the beautiful turquoise bay.

The monument

It was a quick walk around as it was nearing noon and we needed to get the vehicle back. As we were making our way back we all decided that it was best for the van if we got out and walked reducing the weight and thus lifting the van higher. It was actually better walking because it was a bit bumpy in the van.
Everybody out......
The so called road
The guys directed Hank through the pits and rocks finally getting the van back to a more normal road. We made our way to Queens Highway and headed back towards Thompson Bay. It was the Friday before Easter and here in the Bahamas that is a holiday. We needed to get fuel but no one was to be open in order to fill up, or so we thought. We did find one tiny station that apparently needed money more than a day off and we were able to refill the tank before turning in the van. Hank dropped us off at our little hole in the stone wall and we shimmied through and made our way back to our dinghies. That afternoon the church was putting on a fish fry and was the only game in town so we headed over close to the government dock and ordered us a plate of fried fish, peas & rice and coleslaw before returning to Renegade later. In the evening we had everyone over to our boat for sun downers and to say goodbye to s/v Cloud 9 and discuss our next day’s destination. We were getting close to the end of lobster season and the boys were itching to hunt. We decided to head up north to Calabash Bay. It was a rolly rocky ride but not that big of a deal. We headed into the anchorage and dropped the hook as close to shore as we dare get. There was a surge but it wasn’t too bad and should be getting better as the winds shifted position. Easter morning the guys all assembled and set out to do their best to put a hurting on the lobster population. Hours later they came back all grins as it was lobster all around for Easter dinner.
Bill, Dirk, and Hank with the final lobster catch of the season

Cracked lobster, Parmesan pasta, and cucumber, tomato, onion and mint salad
Now that lobster season is over we tallied up our catch of all the fish and lobster Dirk has caught so far.
42 Lobsters
 2  Hog fish
 3  Mahi Mahi
 2 Queen Trigger
 1  Dog Snapper
 1  Nassau Grouper

After a wonderful dinner we settled in for an early night so that the following morning we could head back to George Town. Unfortunately we didn’t catch anything on the way back after crossing the deep water but we had a decent motor sail and found our way back to Volley Ball Beach where we dropped the hook.  We would stay here a couple days to wait on favorable winds to start heading north back to Staniel Cay to pick up our first guest of the season. We went into town on Tuesday to dump garbage, hit the grocery store and the liquor store to restock our cupboards.  We also decided to upgrade our Bahamian phone to a Blackberry Smart phone. With a data package we would now be able to use it for Internet and thus have Internet anywhere there is a Batelco tower rather than having to wait until we could buy a day’s worth for $10.00 a pop. So far it has been working out great. It seems a bit slow at times but it’s much better than having to wait a week to find Internet to check mail. Plus by the time we pay $10.00 hear, $15.00 there it is cheaper. So I am going to take advantage of the connection I have and post this blog. Till next time….

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Long Island Part One

On the 25th we pulled anchor and headed down the channel making tracks to Long Island. This would be our first trip here as in the past we just never made it. After zigging and zagging our way through our way points we pointed the nose east, deployed the spinnaker, and settled in for a beautiful days sail.
Beautiful water and a beautiful sail

There were two boats ahead of us in the distance, us and s/v Triumph and s/v Glide pulling up the rear. As we were about an hour out Glide radioed us and said there was to be a gathering on the beach shortly after our arrival so I headed below to whip up an appetizer. We slipped into Thompson Bay and anchored in the north part of the anchorage along with several other boats. We had another boater calling us as we entered the harbor inviting us to the beach gathering before we even had the hook set. We had just enough time to clean ourselves up a bit, lower the dinghy and engine and head over to the beach gathering. Lots of folks we had never met before and what a spread they had laid out. It amazes me how boaters can throw together such great appetizers when several things are so hard to come by here in the Bahamas.

Cruisers get together on the beach

cruisers parking lot
We met several new people and had a great time heading back to the boat before dusk when the bugs would begin to take over. The following day we and Elaine & Bill from Triumph decided to hike to the beach and do some beach combing but first we had to wait for a front to pass as it was suppose to blow overnight. As you can see it was arriving while we were enjoying our morning coffee.

The morning front that came through

After the rain quit we waited till things calmed down and the sun returned then we set off. Everyone had said you have to go down to electrical pole 108, and hike the path to the beach. We found a little place to stow the dinghies and a path that led to a wall with a few stones missing that we were able to shimmy through.

just a cool old motor bike we saw sitting propped up on the trail, parked and forgotten about

We walked down Queens Highway for what seemed like forever counting the poles down as we did.

Thompson Bay with Renegade sitting under the arrow
Finally pole 108 sat before us and we hiked the path making tracks toward the Atlantic side. It was a beautiful beach if you could get past the sight of piles and piles of plastics littering it.

Anyone who can look at this sight and not believe that humans have a huge impact on our environment must be crazy. It’s a sad sight and to know this stuff isn’t going anywhere anytime soon is bothersome. This is the type of stuff that is thrown over, or falls off ships and boats only to find its way here. Fishing nets, water bottles, bottle caps, plastic buckets…….
This is all plastics that are littering the beach, all sizes and shapes
After digging around in the seaweed and plastic we found 5 heart sea beans to add to my collection and then we decided to make the trek back to the boats. We were in need of some wood pieces to do a temporary repair in our shower and came across what appeared to be an old abandoned falling down barn. Dirk & Bill went to scope it out as Elaine and I hung out on the road. The guys realizing that it was someone’s farm retreated only to have the owner drive up as they made it back out to the road. The gentleman was very nice and took us on a tour to show off his pigs and chickens and along the way gave us a lesson on the plants and medicinal purposes they use them for. Proud that they don’t need to run to the drugstore for what ails them. After him giving us the tour and pointers on where to go we started back again to the boat only to find what looked like a closed down business with the door open. Bill and Dirk poked their heads in and found it was actually an open bar & restaurant. Our throats were parched so we cozied up to the bar and ordered a round of cold beers. After talking to the bar tender we found that they did dinners there and arranged for the next evening to go in. We made it back to the boat after a long day and found that parked next to us was a boat we had been touching base with since Rock Sound. Dirk hopped over to talk to them and they agreed to join us for dinner along with a nice couple we met the first evening at the beach gathering on s/v Last Star. The final arrangements were made the following morning for eight of us to do an early dinner as the bartender was staying late to cook for us. Cracked lobster, peas & rice, Bahamian mac & cheese and salad was on the menu and we were all seated and served. Dinner was great along with great conversation.
Our travelling companions for several days
After dinner we all headed to s/v Triumph for sun downers and made our final plans for all of us to rent a van to sight see the island. Being there only a week doesn’t allow one to visit all the anchorages and see all there is to see. Long Island is just that, an island about 80 miles long and in order to see certain things one must have access to a vehicle. Hank & Patricia picked up the rental the following day and we found that it actually was a minivan so eight of us were a bit cozy. But we made it work and on the first day we decided to head south. Our first stop being a museum showing history of Long Island and good information from the caretaker was gotten. We headed down to Clarence Town and found a nice church to photograph and look at. It had a tower to go up into and as we wedged our way up one at a time we were rewarded with a beautiful view of the entire town and of the bay.

Clarence Town from atop the church

Look at the many colors of the water

Afterwards we ended up at the Flying Fish Marina where we found a nice cold beer to quench our thirst. Then it was onto Deans Blue Hole.
I have seen a special on Discovery Channel or something like it telling about it and thought it would be nice to see in person. World record free dives are set here. Free diving consists of a diver diving down on his own breath and returning to surface with no assistance or breath below. I have learned there are two types of free diving, one is assisted with weights and pulleys and the other is with no assistance. The hole is 663 feet deep and is the deepest seawater blue hole with the clearest water and a beautiful half moon beach surrounding it.

The gang at Deans Blue Hole
In all its beauty it’s hard to think that several people have lost their lives here. One such memorial shows three persons all in the same day.

Our crew took the hike up to the top of the cliff that overlooks the hole and Dirk of course saw a challenge there. It’s as high as I think a 10 meter board is all the way down to just a couple feet above the surface. Dirk opted for the middle ground going a bit higher on his second dive.

Dirk diving from the lower level

Yep, couldn’t do it just once….That’s my husband. After poking around Deans for a while we headed back up the road to find a cave to explore. There is one you can pay $10.00 per person and get a personal guide and we hear it is wonderful but we also hear it takes about 45 minutes. We had not eaten lunch yet and it was beginning to get late so we opted out to find our own. After talking to the lady in the museum we had stopped in at our first stop we learned of one, now, just to find it. Up the road, back down the road, uh stop, there it is. The road being partially hidden by shrubs we had missed it the first time. We all poked around the small caves not going inside the holes as it was pretty dark in there.

Boys will be boys
Before long the boys got bored and started throwing rocks at a couple bees nest they found. Ummmm time to go. On down the road we travelled till we came across a little place to eat that several people recommend called Forest One. We ordered and in no time we were all happily consuming our hamburgers, fish sandwiches and cracked chicken sandwiches. What a deal it was too at $5.00 with every side you order costing $1.00 extra. We all ate till we were stuffed then made our way back to Thompson Bay where we found a nice grocery store and I was able to restock on some basics and produce. We were all dropped off at the road that led to our trail through the brush that took us back to our dinghies. We all returned back to our boats so we could get an early start on seeing the north end of the island. That is where I will leave you till next time……