Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Cruisers Meca (Georgetown, Exumas)

We left Emerald Bay early Monday afternoon with east winds 25 knots. The wind was almost on the nose so we ran with a main sail only. At Georgetown we anchored along with at least 200 other boats. At 8:00 am there is a cruisers net on the VHF that announces the days activities. There is volleyball, bible study, basket weaving, hiking, conch horn making, something for everyone. 

At Night from a distance it looks like a city as everyone has on their anchor light

We took in a couple of games of volleyball but spent the rest of the time here touring around, restocking and taking care of small jobs on the boat.  The town is centred around Lake Victoria where there are dinghy docks which make picking up supplies easier.  Access to the lake is made by dinghy though a tunnel just wide enough for single lane traffic.
Entrance to Lake Victoria in Georgetown

Price shock at the pump
Tomorrow we are setting out again,  island hopping our way to Turks and Caicos. It may be a few days until we have Internet service again so we will send out spot connect messages to let family know where we are.,

Monday, 28 January 2013

Emerald Bay Marina

Janice is a real pool shark
We stopped here for water, fuel and to do laundry. Emerald Bay Marina is a real treat. The facilities are first class, the washroom/showers are stocked with all the essentials including shave cream and sunscreen , use of the high efficiency washers and dryers and internet is free!  The marina is part of the Sandals resort so we went out for dinner at one of the resort's restaurants.  After dinner we went up to the marina clubhouse and played a few rounds of billiards.

This morning Al and I went for a bike ride and on the way back Al broke a spoke so the back wheel has quite a wobble now.  Al and Dave got a ride to the liquor store in one of the marina golf carts.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Lee Stocking Island

This was a gem of a island and spent 3 days here.  This is the location of the Perry Institute for Marine Science.  This is a ghost town currently as everyone has left and in a hurry I might add.  It had about 100 people when it was fully operational.  It is a complete city with Wind, Solar and Diesel Generators, Reverse Osmosis water-maker, scientific labs, aqua culture center, full tri mix dive center with hyperbolic chamber and numerous other labs and offices.
Dave from "At Last" inspects the solar and wind generator
There is fully stocked hardware, plumbing, mechanical and electrical repair shops and supply storerooms that are still stocked.  It appears that the money ran out and everyone left.

These buildings are fully stocked with supplies that would put most hardware stores to shame.
On the north beach of Lee Stocking Island

The fruit on this palm is half the size of the tree.
There is also a landing strip for aircraft, a submersible watercraft, tractors and several large pieces of heavy equipment. It was kind of strange to walk through what once was a happening place and see things like dishes still sitting in the draining boards in the houses and lab equipment in the labs, like everyone had just stepped out for a minute.  It seems like such a waste to see it all rusting away.

View of Lobster pond at the institute

Anchorage by night

anchorage by day

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Sharks and Caves

Sting Ray by our boat at Compass Cay
Wow what a day today, Yesterday we spent half the day looking for jeep reef, which we never found. It supposedly one of the better reefs to dive down here according to AquaCat a diving catamaran that runs tours. We moved down to Compas Cay and anchored out in 8 feet of water. The half moon was so bright that I would swear we were sitting on the bottom as the water is so crystal clear.
Lots of sharks and fish just under the dock at Compass Cay
Thunderball Groto

Janice petting the nurse sharks
Mid morning we headed south with the dingy to Staniel Cay and snorkeled in the Groto where the James Bond movie Thunderball was shot. Very cool !!!

Lunch was at Compass Cay Marina (burger and a beer). The highlight was swimming with about 20 nurse sharks after lunch. I am glad they didn't mistake some of my toes for their lunch.

Late afternoon we headed out to sea for the 17 nm trip down to the town of Black Point. This is the first real sign of any population since Nassau. They have street lights and hydro poles here.
Loaded the bikes in the dingy and headed into town for some needed exercise.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Exuma Land & Sea Park

Posting our sign on Boo Boo Hill (no did not see Yogi)
We arrived yesterday afternoon at the mooring in Exuma Park. It is a well protected area and we can rest easy knowing we are well secured on a mooring ball while a bit of NorEaster (weather) passes through.  We will stay here for a couple of days to do some diving and hike to the top of Boo Boo Hill where we posted the sign Janice made.

View from Boo Boo Hill looking North (lots of signs left by previous cruisers)
We could almost jump to the shore from our mooring.

Hoffmans Cay SunDowner Party

Picked up a hitch Hiker (Corinne from At Last) on the way to a secluded beach for a Sun Downer

Private island beach with bar ready for us

Networking with Fellow cruisers.

Normans Cay

The variety of corral, fish and sponges was phonemnal
It was a bit more of a challenge getting into Normans Cay as some sandbars extend out for miles from shore and are quite shallow; at least less than 5 feet we draft.  We were hoping to go out for dinner as there was supposed to be a restaurant  on the south end.  We went there in the afternoon and found it under renovations.  We had a chat with the contractor and he told us some stories about the island.  It used to be owned by a drug lord; Johnny Depp played him in  BLOW the movie.  Apparently as the story goes this drug lord bought 45 large plastic barrels in Miami just before he was busted and the Feds recovered only 30 of them.  Each barrel holds millions in cash.  His prison sentence is up in Feb of this year and he wants to come back as he legally owns his house here.  His wife was to the island just recently to check out the place.
Wonderful reef at Hybourne Cay

This is as close as the sea turtle would let us come

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Highbourne Cay

The Anchorage at Highborne Cay
Moved down south a 4.5 mile trip on Sunday to change the view and get Internet. At Highborne Cay we are seeing for the first time large power boats anchored out along with the sailboats.

Dave returned from Nassau with our water filter (which was left on the dock) and with the bilge float he picked up for us at the marine supply store.  We went snorkelling, but still no luck finding lobster.  Today we will take on fresh water before heading out to Norman's Cay.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Allans Cay

Close hauled in 25 knots approaching Allans Cay
We seem to have quite a following.  We currently have almost 5,000 page visits to our blog and we come up second when you search Quantum Joy in Google.

 We had a fairly rough ride from Nassau to Allans Cay in the Exumas as we were in 4-6 foot seas and winds were 25-30 knots.

Endangered Iguanas at Allan's Cay
On the beaches of Allan's Cay the Iguanas (a protected species) approach visitors when they come ashore.  At times we were surrounded by dozens of these curious creatures who can live  80 years and weigh up to 24 pounds.

We have been enjoying the crystal clear water and wonderful reefs.  We have our own personal aquarium here with every fish you could imagine.

Janice scoping out where the lobsters are hiding

Dave from "At Last" came and helped put the rub rail back on the port side of Quantum Joy.  It came off on our passage from Miami across the Gulf Stream.

While at dinner one evening on board "At Last", Al was ordered to go back to our boat and pick up the remaining Key Lime Pie I had made for dessert the night before... Al went up on deck only to find our dinghy missing! Dave and Al immediately set off to track it down.  They were able to determine the drift rate (speed and direction of wind and current) and with the help of some high output searchlights and a hand held compass they found the dinghy floating out to sea over a mile away and brought it back intact.  Needless to say we will be more cautious securing the dinghy line in future.
Dave and Corinne from "At Last" (Halifax) over for dinner

We have been looking for Lobster for a couple of days with no luck

The visibility is great but the camera needs flash

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Checking in at Nassau

Blue Hole on Hoffman Cay
Hi everyone.  We have been out of communication for a few days as we explored the out islands from Bimini to around Hoffmans Cay in the Berry islands north of Nassau.  We anchored out with 3 other boats at the south end of Hoffmans Cay and enjoyed some diving, conching and, of course, sundowner parties.
One afternoon we took the dingy to a secluded beach and hiked inland to see a blue hole - amazing!

Janice trying out her underwater camera
We dove on a reef close by the anchorage on the Atlantic side

Some of the amazing sights we saw while at Hoffmans Cay include magnificent clear waters where you could clearly pick out the starfish on the sand bottom 20 feet below, glowing fish swimming by the boat at night.  The stars actually are visible on the horizon, something we never see at home.

We had a wonderful lunch at Flo's
Bahamian style.  Half of us are  Canadian.
Conch House and Bar on an otherwise deserted island and afterward a lesson on how to open the conch we collected at a nearby island. The conch are plentiful and we collected a dozen in less than 5 minutes - we were expecting more of a challenge.
 I cooked the conch last night and it was edible but not as good as what we ate at Flo's - I will add more seasoning next time! Click on this link to see our YouTube video on....
How to shuck a conch

We all departed for Nassau yesterday and are provisioning and catching up with emails before we head out for points further south, Allans Cay on Thursday. Today we walked through town and then joined friends for conch salad and lobster at Potters Cay.  One stop at the Post Office shows how mail is sorted, pretty simple doing it by islands.

Mail sorting bins
View from Flo's Conch House and Bar, a 5 mile dingy ride south.

Cave at the Blue Hole

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year

Wishing all our friends and family a very happy New Year.  All the best for 2013.

We spent New Year's Eve day getting some much needed exercise as we biked from one end of the island to the other.  On the way we stopped by to meet a local hero at his boat building shop. Ansil Saunders regaled us with his stories of Martin Luther King and proudly showed his momentos and awards for the assistance and clarity he provided to Dr. King as he prepared some of his speeches.  Ansil is very eloquent and entertaining, he has a gift for poetry which was evident as he shared parts of an inspirational psalm he wrote for Dr. King.

The beaches of this island are strewn with conch shells; cast offs from the apparently abundant conch fishery. I attempted to order conch stew at lunch but, sadly, none was available.  At lunch we met Clark and Karen who happened to be anchored next to us.  They mentioned they would be heading out in the morning and Clark offered to share some electronic charts he has. After dinner we stopped by their boat, Temptress, for a drink and conversation, perhaps we will run into them again as we explore the islands of the Bahamas.

Here is a little inspiration as you contemplate your resolutions for the new year...