WITWIBB – 3/31 – 4/5/14 – Long Island, The Bahamas

BB and crew left George Town after a bitter sweet, aka windy, visit that left us disappointed in our weather limitations. The cruise to Long Island was on a beautiful day and we cruised with new sail boating friends that also found that it was time to move on. The plan for Long Island was to go to a central location and rent a car to see the sights to the north and to the south. The Island is about 90 miles long with only a few towns / settlements, and many exquisite sights that included beaches, caves, harbors, marinas, resorts, churches, and restaurants. We arrived Rock Sound, Long Island about 4:00 PM on March 31st, and hoped for an extended easterly wind direction that would be comfortable onboard the boat, and not too difficult of a dinghy ride to get to shore. Our chosen, safe anchorage was in the north end of Thompson Bay which was about one and a half miles to town to tie up at Long Island Breeze Marina – also the source for the daily cruiser’s net info at 8:30 AM on VHF Ch 16, and good food and drinks.

Our catamaran friends from “Pretty Penny”, Bob and Penny Kingsbury, were already at Rock Sound, and were looking for a couple to join them on a tour to the north of the island via rental car. We agreed to meet the next morning at Long Island Breeze at 9:00 AM, and hoped to make a day of it touring the north half of Long Island. No one came away from our day of touring the least disappointed. The sights were among the most beautiful in all The Bahamas. The beach combing, food and drinks were perfect for a lasting friendship, and to looking forward to a return visit

Our fourth day was spent tidying up BB as best we could with a salt water washdown of the decks, and a good sweeping and dusting of the inside. We left time for an evening of Texas Hold ‘Em Poker with a makeshift arrangement of experienced card players, “what is poker” kind of card players, and a couple of guys that just got off their boat after sailing in from Grenada. It was all just for fun, and was our first experience with an organized poker game that finds the real players in the end that might bluff a little, but certainly know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em. Engr Wally and Capt Mary came in last and next to last.

Our fifth day on Long Island was organized by new sail boating friends – Val and Lisa Tisdale onboard Rising Star that anchored near Beulah Belle in George Town. We had a total of 10 boaters in a van and compact car that headed south with a sketch of the island, and hopes to see the sights, but no map to guide us. Everyone had a particular sight that they wanted to see. So, once we found the first one we just asked where the next one was and kept driving south. You have to understand that most of the islands here are long and skinny, and the main north – south road is always named “Queens Highway”. Long Island has a fat top and bottom, but most of the 90 miles in between is less than three miles wide. We stopped at Dean’s Blue Hole first – one of many deep water spots that might be more than 600′ deep that happen along the sea shores or even inland. This particular blue hole holds world championship free diving events each year. It is a crazy, dangerous sport that kills people every year trying to hold their breath for more than four minutes and see how deep they can go before coming back to the surface alive. I think the record is around 240′! Our second stop was in Clarence Town to visit two churches built by Father Jerome. The first church we visited was his last Anglican Church before he converted to Catholicism. The second was the first Catholic Church that he built.

After lunch at the Flying Fish Marina in Clarence Town we turned the vehicles around and headed back north. There are still about 30 miles to go south of Clarence Town to reach the southern tip of Long Island, but it is pretty desolate, and not very attractive. After a few phone calls and a couple of stops on our return north to Rock sound we found Hamilton’s Cave. We weren’t overly anxious to visit the cave, but it turned out to be spectacular, and especially interesting because of the local guide we hired, Leonard Cartwright. The history of the cave goes back a couple of hundred years, and the pictures from inside were awesome because of natural lighting coming from cave openings to the outside every few hundred yards or so.

Our final stop of the day was at the internationally known “Max’s Conch Bar”. A perfect place for us to sit back, order some local delicacies (conch salad with bread fruit chips is awesome!), and share memories with new friends.

We’ll be on our way to Cat Island tomorrow for a quick stop before going on to Eleuthra and then back to Nassau. Hope you enjoy some of the prettiest pictures yet from our winter in The Bahamas.

I am most pleased to introduce you to Bob and Penny Kingsbury. Penny, amazingly found me at Big Majors while onboard "No Agenda" watching the first Denver Broncos playoff game (we won that one against San Diego). Well, we found out that we are class-mates from Howe HS in Indianapolis graduating together in 1965! The four of us touring the north end of Long Island, and had a great day together. This pic is taken at Stella Maris Resort on the Atlantic Ocean side of the island. The resort if first class and worthy of a stay if you have the time and dollars.
I am most pleased to introduce you to Bob and Penny Kingsbury. Their Catamaran is named “Pretty Penny”. Penny, amazingly, found me at Big Majors while onboard “No Agenda” watching the first Denver Broncos playoff game (we won that one against San Diego). Well, Penny and I found out that we were class-mates from Howe HS in Indianapolis graduating together in 1965! The four of us touring the north end of Long Island had a great day together. This pic is taken at Stella Maris Resort on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Long Island. The resort if first class and worthy of a stay if you have the time and dollars.
This picture is of a unique tidal pool at Stella Maris - a fun spot to go swimming!
This picture is of a unique tidal pool at Stella Maris – a fun spot to go swimming!
Our second stop with Bob and Penny was to have lunch at Cape Santa Maria Resort. The facilities and beaches are surely among the worlds most beautiful. The color of the beach and water is indescribable except to say you gotta see it to believe it!
Our second stop with Bob and Penny was to have lunch at Cape Santa Maria Resort. The facilities and beaches are surely among the worlds most beautiful. The color of the beach and water is indescribable except to say you gotta see it to believe it!
A view to the north of the beach at Cape Santa Maria.
A view to the north of the beach at Cape Santa Maria.
A view to the south of the beach at Cape Santa Maria. No, that isn't Beulah Belle in the picture, but two days later we did anchor in this same bay. So, it's ok to pretend that BB is the boat in this postcard photo.
A view to the south of the beach at Cape Santa Maria. No, that isn’t Beulah Belle in the picture, but two days later we did anchor in this same bay. So, it’s ok to pretend that BB is the boat in this postcard photo.
Bob and Penny took us exploring on many trails to the beaches. The car rental company probably isn't happy about it, but everyone does it.
Bob and Penny took us exploring on many trails to the beaches. The car rental company probably isn’t happy about it, but everyone does it.
The Atlantic Ocean on the northern end of Long Island.
The Atlantic Ocean on the northern end of Long Island.
Penny is an expert beachcomber, with a special eye for "sea glass" that she uses to make custom jewelry. The picture is a piece of good quality broken glass that has been "naturally" roughened by the beach sand in the surf. It is less than an inch long, a nice irregular shape, and a pretty aquamarine color (not a piece from a broken Heinekin bottle).
Penny is an expert beachcomber, with a special eye for “sea glass” that she uses to make custom jewelry. The picture is of a piece of good quality sea glass that has been “naturally” roughened by the beach sand in the surf. It is less than an inch long, a nice irregular shape, and a pretty aquamarine color (not a piece from a broken Heinekin bottle).
This is a pic of Capt Mary's collection of sea glass from the day's beach-coming with Bob and Penny.
This is a pic of Capt Mary’s collection of sea glass from the day’s beach-coming with Bob and Penny.
I apologize a bit for the not so great quality of this picture, but I wanted to mention the amazing dinner we had with Bob and Penny Kingsbury at Chez Pierre. Why there is such a high quality resort  and restaurant in a remote area on the west coast of northern Long Island - I don't know. But, please write this place down as a must see when you come to Long Island.
I apologize a bit for the not so great quality of this picture, but I wanted to mention the amazing dinner we had with Bob and Penny Kingsbury at Chez Pierre. Why there is such a high quality resort and restaurant in a remote area on the west coast of northern Long Island – I don’t know. But, please write this place down as a must see when you come to Long Island.
On the morning of our fifth day on Long Island we met a group of eight other cruisers to visit the south half of the Island. As we gathered at Long Island Breeze we were welcomed by this cute, little manatee.
On the morning of our fifth day on Long Island we met a group of eight other cruisers to visit the south half of the Island. As we gathered at Long Island Breeze we were welcomed by this cute, little manatee.
Our fir stop of the day was to visit the world famous Dean's Blue Hole.Our first stop of the day was to visit the world famous Dean’s Blue Hole.
This is a pic of Dean's Blue Hole. Nobody in our group went swimming to the blue hole - could it be too intimidating to be swimming in a spot that goes from knee deep water to over 600' deep in one breast stroke?
This is a pic of Dean’s Blue Hole. Nobody in our group went swimming to the blue hole – could it be too intimidating to be swimming in a spot that goes from knee deep water to over 600′ deep in one breast stroke?
After a short visit to the official Long Island Museum we went on to Clarence town to visit two of Father Jerome's churches. This is a picture of St Paul's Anglican Church - the last Anglican church that Father Jerome built before converting to Catholicism.
After a short visit to the official Long Island Museum we went on to Clarence town to visit two of Father Jerome’s churches. This is a picture of St Paul’s Anglican Church – the last Anglican church that Father Jerome built before converting to Catholicism.
This is a picture of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church - the first of many catholic churches built by Father Jerome. The view of Clarence Town and the harbor was beautiful from the church towers.
This is a picture of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church – the first of many catholic churches built by Father Jerome. The view of Clarence Town and Little Bay harbor was beautiful from the church towers.
This is a picture taken from one of the Sts Peter and Paul Church looking back to the St Paul Anglican Church.
This is a picture taken from one of the Sts Peter and Paul Church looking back to the St Paul Anglican Church.
Our first stop after lunch in Clarence Town was at Hamilton's CAve. Lot's of fun seeing the sights and learning the history from local guide Leonard Cartwight.
Our first stop after lunch in Clarence Town was at Hamilton’s Cave. Lot’s of fun seeing the sights and learning the history from local guide Leonard Cartwright.
We were there - Hamilton's Cave, Long Island, The Bahamas.
We were there – Hamilton’s Cave, Long Island, The Bahamas.
If you don't have the time and or dollars to go to Chez Pierre, go to Max's Conch Bar for a local brew and food. It's a favorite for cruisers, and you're sure to have a good time sharing experiences with fellow cruisers.
If you don’t have the time and or dollars to go to Chez Pierre, go to Max’s Conch Bar for a local brew and food. It’s a favorite, and you’re sure to have a good time sharing experiences with fellow cruisers.
Our last sunset on Long Island - taken from the beach off Cape Santa Maria.
Our last sunset on Long Island – taken from the beach off Cape Santa Maria.

WITWIBB – 3/20-29/2014 – George Town, Great Exuma Isl, The Bahamas

BB and crew left Between the Majors on Mar 20th, spent a quick day at Little Farmers to give Terry Baine a copy of our 5F’s photos, and then cruised the 45 miles or so to George Town on Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas. We spent 10 windy days anchored off Sand Dollar Beach inside Elizabeth Harbor in about 15′ of water with a very good holding sandy bottom. Six of the 10 days were too windy to take the dinghy to town. Two days we did get to town via “Elvis’ Water Taxi”, but at $24 a trip, you don’t want to have to do it this way for every trip. It was about 1 1/2 miles across the harbor to George Town proper, and there is a beautiful floating dock to tie up to inside Lake Victoria to go banking, shopping, and going to the Batelco office. By the end of our 10 days at George Town our patience with the wind, and so many times not being able to go where we’d like to go, has just about ended our Bahamas cruise for this winter season. I know, I know, all you folks enduring the winter in the good ol’ US of A won’t be shedding any tears for Capt Mary and Engr Wally onboard their good boat Beulah Belle, but our version of cabin fever has come from having too many movie / reading days because of the wind. So, instead of waiting for this weather pattern to settle while anchored near George Town, BB and crew will not be heading for the Ragged Islands this year, but will take advantage of two days of low winds and head to our furthest south destination. We will cross 23 deg 30 minutes north latitude at the Tropic of Cancer, and enter the tropics for a stay at Long Island. How long the wind will let us enjoy Long Island nobody knows, but from there the journey north will begin, and Beulah Belle may reach the US of A before the end of April.

Aside from the wind while anchored off Sand Dollar Beach near George Town we met some more great cruising friends. To name a few:

Dana and Toby Spahr from Charleston, SC, aboard M/V “Oz” (Endeavor 36′ Power Cat) Stephen and Marja Vance from Seattle, WA aboard S/V Motu (45′ Aluminum Ketch)      Val and Lisa Tisdale from North Carolina ??? aboard S/V Rising Star (40′ Valiant)

Hope you enjoy our shopping and beach photos from George Town.

Getting into Elizabeth Harbor from the Atlantic Ocean was a bit tricky. Thankfully we had good visibility from clear skies and an early afternoon sum to help with visual piloting BB, and the chart book and chart plotter waypoints kept us clear of the shallow water hazards.
Getting into Elizabeth Harbor from the Atlantic Ocean was a bit tricky. Thankfully, we had good visibility from clear skies and an early afternoon sun to help visually pilot BB, and a new the chart book and chart plotter waypoints that kept us clear of the shallow water hazards.
This is the entrance to Lake Victoria - the shopping destination for all of the 500-600 boats here. George Town can be one of many different destination points for a cruiser. It all depends on why do you come to The Bahamas - to sit at anchor and enjoy fellow cruisers company on the beach, stop and shop and re-provision at the best stores south of Nassau, go exploring on the islands and beaches nearby, meet up with friends and plan how to continue cruising together once you leave George Town, etc. Capt Mary and Enge Wally did a bit of all of the above. Of course it was our first trip to George Town, and we had to learn to How To's and Where To's, etc. The reason for leaving after only 10 days wasn't about George Town, it was about the weather. The routine has been to go to a new place and get stuck there for 7 - 10 days. So with the first low wind day, we're off to Long Island instead of being "stuck" for another 7 - 10 days.
This is the entrance to Lake Victoria – the shopping destination for all of the 500-600 boats here. George Town can be one of many different destination points for a cruiser. It all depends on why do you come to The Bahamas and to George Town in particular – to sit at anchor and enjoy fellow cruisers company on the beach, stop and shop and re-provision at the best stores south of Nassau, go exploring on the islands and beaches nearby, meet up with friends and plan how to continue cruising together once you leave George Town, etc. Well, Capt Mary and Engr Wally did a bit of all of the above. Of course it was our first trip to George Town, and we had to learn the How To’s and Where To’s, etc. The reason for leaving here after only 10 days wasn’t about George Town, it was about the weather. This year’s Bahamas routine has been to go to a new place and get stuck there for at least 7 – 10 days. So with the first low wind day, we’re off to Long Island instead of being “stuck” for another 7 – 10 days.
This is our view coming to the floating dinghy dock behind Exuma Market - free RO water is available dockside for the sail boaters that live via five gallon jerry jugs.This is our dinghy’s view coming to the floating dinghy dock behind Exuma Market – free RO water is available dockside for the sail boaters that live via five gallon jerry jugs.
This is the City Capitol Building. Well, really it is the official City Building with court-house, police station, and post office all included.
This is the City County Building. Well, really, it is just the City Building with court-house, police station, and post office all included.
Probably the second most important building / office for cruisers is the Batelco office. Come here to fix you voice and data problems that are always a worry while cruising here.
Probably the second most important building / office for cruisers is the Batelco office. Come here to fix your voice and data problems that are always a worry while cruising in The Bahamas.
This is a pic of the primary school kids getting ready to leave the school for the day.
This is a picture of the George Town primary school kids getting ready to leave the school for the day.
There are a few sidewalks in town, but the street around Lake Victoria is one-way, so we found it easiest to just walk on the left side with everyone else.
There are few sidewalks in town, but the street around Lake Victoria is one-way, so we found it easiest to just walk on the left side with everyone else.
This is an outside / street-side view of Exuma Market. It is the place to re-provision for your stay here or for going on with your cruising season.
This is an outside / street-side view of Exuma Market. It is THE place to re-provision for your stay here or for going on with your cruising season.
Inside Exuma Market looks just like home doesn't it? OK, it's a little small, but you don't wear youself out walking the two miles inside your favorite Target or Walmart store.
Inside Exuma Market looks just like home doesn’t it? OK, it’s a little small, but you don’t wear youself out walking the two miles inside your favorite Target or Walmart store.
A sunset picture from Elizabeth Harbor with hundreds of sailboat masts toward the horizon.
A sunset picture from Elizabeth Harbor with hundreds of sailboat masts toward the horizon.
Dinner out at St. Francis Resort with new friends, Stephen and Marja (S/V Motu), Val and Lisa Tisdale (S/V Rising Star) John
Dinner at St. Francis Resort with new friends, Stephen and Marja (S/V Motu), Val and Lisa Tisdale (S/V Rising Star), and John (I can’t find his boat card, but he has an amazing story of family and sailing!).
Inside St. John's Baptist Church on Sunday March
Inside St. John’s Baptist Church on Sunday March 23rd.
Capt Mary showing off her trophy shopping bag from the Straw Market.
Capt. Mary showing off her trophy shopping bag from the Straw Market.
Inside the Straw Market with another new local friend.
Inside the Straw Market with another new local friend.
Capt Mary modeling her new size 6 cruising / dressy shorts. Maybe they aren't size 6, but Capt Mary looks good in her new shorts anyway!
Capt. Mary modeling her new size 6 cruising / dressy shorts. Maybe they aren’t size 6, but Capt Mary looks good in her new shorts anyway!
Capt Mary with new dry goods from Da Bahamian Closet, George Town.
Capt. Mary with new dry goods from Da Bahamian Closet, George Town.
M/V Beulah Belle at anchor off Sand Dollar Beach, Elizabeth Harbor, George Town, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas.
M/V Beulah Belle (near center – seventh boat from left) at anchor off Sand Dollar Beach, Elizabeth Harbor, George Town, Great Exuma Island, The Bahamas.
A short dinghy ride to Stocking Island and then a short hike to the Atlantic Ocean side, and we had this beautiful, beautiful white sand beach stretching for at least three miles to enjoy.
A short dinghy ride to Stocking Island and then a short hike to the Atlantic Ocean side, and we had this beautiful, beautiful white sand beach stretching for at least three miles to enjoy.
Atlantic Ocean beach on Stocking Island.
Atlantic Ocean beach on Stocking Island.
Another view of the Atlantic Ocean beach on Stocking Island.
Another view of the Atlantic Ocean beach on Stocking Island.
A farewell photo of the Atlantic Ocean beach on Stocking Island.
A farewell photo of the Atlantic Ocean beach on Stocking Island.

WITWIBB – 3/11/2014 – Staniel Cay The Bahamas (revised)

Beulah Belle and crew are relaxing still in the middle Exumas Cays. Last week we had two guests onboard that came from Sydney, Australia to have a look at DeFever boats. We picked up Bruce and Mandy at the Staniel Cay airport on Sunday morning and took them north onboard BB to Warderick Wells to stay in the Exumas Land and Sea Park. The weather wasn’t the best during the week with Bruce and Mandy, but doing the touristy stuff wasn’t why they wanted to come to The Bahamas and spend the week with Capt Mary and Engr Wally. These folks have lived onboard their 43′ ketch for more than 10 years and the past few years they’ve been doing their homework, and now hope to buy a DeFever 44 to have a more comfortable boat to live on full-time; i.e. “the smallest boat that is big enough for them”. So, they arranged to go to the DeFever Rendezvous near Fort Myers, Florida to see all of the DeFever models in one place. As they were making their final arrangements while still in Australia, Bruce asked the DeFever group if anyone would be willing to give them a ride on a DeFever 44 some afternoon. Of course there were multiple offers from DeFever owners in the Fort Myers area that took care of this request, but Engr Wally sent a note to Australia that Bruce and Mandy accepted sight unseen – to spend a week with Beulah Belle and crew – to really get to know this model boat and how it would fit their cruising life-style. We left the Aussies at the Staniel Cay airport this past Sunday and we left great, new friends, and we think we satisfied their DeFever 44 curiousity fully to the point that they will likely purchase a DeFever 44 later this summer. And, we hope to meet them again while cruising up the east coast of the USA.

Our cruising schedule (sans the Aussies) from today forward totally depends on the weather. We hope to cruise south to George Town, then Long Island, then Conception Island, then back to George Town to be there for the Family Island Regatta and watch Smashie sail in the C class regatta (go back to the earlier blog update from Little Farmers). Today’s weather is fantastic – we brought the dinghy from north of Staniel Cay – between The Majors – about eight miles to Black Point so we could meet with the folks at the school again, and do laundry at Ida’s. All of the schools in the Exumas have fantastic kids attending up to 9th grade, but after 9th grade they have to go to Nassau and stay with extended family or friends. We have helped introduce a math and science web-site called Khan Academy to Staniel Cay and Black Point schools. We hope as we return in future years to continue to support the schools with computers and / or iPads, and encourage the teachers to use the programs for tutoring and helping the kids get ready for their national exams.

Today’s weather forecast says we might be stuck in the area for more than a week as three fronts are headed our way with strong winds. BB is anchored in a good “hidey hole”, and we’ll take the dinghy out when a calm day lets us, but in order to go from Staniel to George Town we need at least two good days – a third low wind day would be good - we have to go out into the Atlantic in order to get into the bay between the islands at George Town. Capt. Mary has a shopping list that can only be satisfied by spending a day in George Town, and Engr Wally needs to make plans for how and where to moor or anchor in a good spot to watch the regatta races. Our travelling companions will likely be Vic and Gigi onboard Salty Turtle. We look forward to the improving weather here and to turning north to visit other outer islands on our way back to the USA likely in mid-May or early June.

Hope you enjoy the pics taken with Bruce and Mandy.

Bruce and Mandy arriving Staniel Cay airport on their flight from Fort Lauderdale on Watermaker Air.
Bruce and Mandy arriving Staniel Cay airport on their flight from Fort Lauderdale on Watermaker Air. This is definitely the best way to arrange to come onboard BB whenever we have guests again in the future.
This is nearly an exact repeat picture taken of the mooring field at Warderick Wells - Exumas Land and Sea Park. We were on this #13 same mooring ball in January with the same kind of boats joining us.
This is nearly an exact repeat picture taken of the mooring field at Warderick Wells – Exumas Land and Sea Park, when we were on this same #13 mooring ball in January with the same kind of boats in front and behind us.
While at Warderick Wells we had a finch and mocking bird visit us and partake in some cheddar cheese. The park rules were that we couldn't feen the wildlife - how do you not let the critters come onboard and enjoy an afternnon of cheese and crackers and wine and rum and coke? Ok, we didn't let them drink the wine nor rum and coke.
While at Warderick Wells we had a finch and mockingbird visit us and take in some of our cheddar cheese. The park rules said that we couldn’t feed the wildlife – how do you not let the critters come onboard and enjoy an afternoon of cheese and crackers and wine or rum and coke? Ok, we didn’t let them drink the wine nor the rum and coke.
Bruce and Capt Mary preparing to let go the mooring ball at Warderick Wells.
Bruce and Capt Mary preparing to let go the mooring ball at Warderick Wells.
Aloha Friday passing in review. Bruce and Mady we able to visit with Vic and Nancy onboard this DeFever 44 while we together at Warderick Wells.
Aloha Friday, a 2002 DeFever 44, passing in review. Bruce and Mandy were able to visit this boat with Vic and Nancy onboard while we together at Warderick Wells.Our friend Gigi from Salty Turtle was our tour guide to take Bruce and Wally to see the Atlantic Ocean on Thomas Cay on a walkabout from Pipe Creek.Our friend Gigi from Salty Turtle was our tour guide to take Bruce and Wally to see the Atlantic Ocean on Thomas Cay on a walkabout from Pipe Creek.
Bruce coming back from his climb to see the Atlantic ocean while on our walkabout at Pipe Creek.Bruce coming back from his climb to see the Atlantic Ocean while on our walkabout at Pipe Creek.
This is the trail from Pipe Creek to the Atlantic Ocean side of Thomas Cay. Note the manicured trail provided by fellow cruisers that includes a blue basket chandelier with a 250 watt flood lamp.
This is a portion of the trail from Pipe Creek to the Atlantic Ocean side of Thomas Cay. Note the manicured trail provided by fellow cruisers that includes an exotic blue basket chandelier with a 1000 watt flood lamp.
A blog update wouldn't be right without a nice sunset picture. This one was taken while onboard Salty Turtle, another DeFever 44, while having evening cocktails with Vic and Gigi (Salty Turtle) and Ruth and Pierce (sailboaters), Bruce and Mady (wannabe DeFever 44 owners), and Capt Mary and Engr Wally.
A blog update wouldn’t be right without a nice sunset picture. This one was taken while at Pipe Creek (another good hidey hole) onboard Salty Turtle a 1987 DeFever 44 while having evening cocktails with Vic and Gigi (Salty Turtle), and Ruth and Pierce (sailboaters), Bruce and Mandy (wannabe DeFever 44 owners), and Capt Mary and Engr Wally (Beulah Belle owners).
Our gang headed for dinner at Staniel Cay Yacht Club. Instead of anchoring out on our last night with Bruce and Mandy we opted for the convenience of the Yacht Club with a social hour and an excellent meal. Sunday morning was getaway day for our visitors, and they were taken to the airport by the club courtesy golf cart. This may be an out-of-the-way place in The Bahamas, but we surely can treat our guests with style and comfort.On our last night together our gang headed for dinner at Staniel Cay Yacht Club. Instead of anchoring out on our last night with Bruce and Mandy we opted for the convenience of the Yacht Club with a social hour, more friends, and an excellent meal. Sunday morning was getaway day for our visitors, and they were taken to the airport by the club courtesy golf cart. This may be an out-of-the-way place in The Bahamas, but we surely can treat our guests with style and comfort.This is our farewell photo with Bruce and Mandy taken at Staniel Cay Yacht Club just before they were taken to the airport. We surely hope to see them again later this year somewhere along the east coast of the USA.This is our farewell photo with Bruce and Mandy taken at Staniel Cay Yacht Club. We have made good friends again, and surely hope to see them later this year somewhere along the east coast of the USA.

WITWIBB – 2/6-13/2014 Little Farmers Cay The Bahamas

Once we reached the Exumas chain of islands in The Bahamas all of our moving days have been short trips of no more than three hours of cruising to go five to fifteen miles as the osprey flies (there are no pelicans or crows here). This trip took us from Black Point on Great Guana Cay to Little Farmers Cay. After getting to know the folks at the school, restaurant and laundramat / spa at Black Point, BB and crew again followed Salty Turtle to the next island south – Little Farmers Cay. This was another short eight mile trip with a bit of a loop at the approach to the anchorage to miss the shallow sand bar. We anchored just off Hawk’s Nest point which on the weekend gave Beulah Belle a premium location to watch the C class sailing regatta.Our first two full days at Little Farmers gave us very calm wind and sea conditions and engineer Wally took lessons from Vic on Salty Turtle to change the prop shaft zincs on Beulah Belle. Our zincs had last been changed in August, just before leaving Oriental, NC on our way north to Chesapeake Bay. That was six months ago, and we were maybe a month late in replacing the old zincs which had done their job well in sacrificing their metal to the sea while saving our shafts and props from the deadly water disease called galvanic corrosion. It was less than a two hour job taking deep breaths and diving under BB with snorkel gear and fins to take off the old zincs and bolt on new ones. We hope that these last until we get back to the USA in late May or early June – we don’t have another spare set onboard. Engr Wally took the rest of the day off and enjoyed the evening happy hour and beautiful sunset.

Our friends Vic and Gigi onboard Salty Turtle had made plans to go to the All Age School on Little Farmers to take their annual school pictures. There are only 10 students at the K thru 8th grade at the school here, and they are being taught by a couple from Guyana, South America. The school has been blessed by the cruisers over the years, and they have a wonderful library and a computer set-up so every student has a terminal at his / her desk. We hope to help the school at Black Point to have a similar system, and with the help of the cruisers maybe the kids at Black Point can also have a computer system and access to the marvels of the internet with teaching aids similar to what the home-school kids have in the USA. With a good tutoring routine this might eventually keep the high school age kids at home instead of having to go to Nassau.

The big attraction drawing us to Little Farmers is their 5F’s Festival – “Farmers Cay Festival First Friday in February”. This is a “Home-Coming” event for the 60 or so local residents. The festival brings family back to the island for a long weekend, and a special boat from Nassau brings 200 to 300 people to the island to have a reunion with family here on Little Farmers during 5F’s, and to enjoy the food and festivities associated with the sailing regatta. Eleven boats came from several islands around – our favorite was “Smashie” who was towed from Black Point to Little Farmers by Salty Turtle. The boats are locally made ”C” class that are 18′ long with a 42′ tall mast and single sail. They have a full keel and are steered by a big rudder. The fun part is watching the four or five man crews sit on out-rigger boards to give the captain an advantage when tacking and sailing into the wind. We’re not sailors onboard BB, which made the whole event even more wonderfully mystifying to us. We watched from high up on BB’s flybridge and also from our dinghy as the boats raced on the course which was laid out among the 80 or so visiting boats in the anchorage. We were part of the course! There were two races the first day (Friday) and three races on Saturday with huge trophies awarded after the last race Saturday. The presentations stretched way into the night with speeches and back patting, and politicking for more budget dollars for next year’s festival. Our favorite boat Smashie won the first race (YEAH!!!) on Friday, but crashed out in the first race on Saturday (BOO!!!). Their mast broke clean in two about five feet up from the deck. Salty Turtle left early on Saturday to tow Smashie back to Black Point. BUT, arrangements have already been made for a new mast, and Smashie will be able to go to George Town for the regatta there the week after Easter in April. BB and crew will be there with Salty Turtle!!!

Another of our highlights from Little Farmers was being introduced to Terry Bain. Terry is probably the strongest voice in the islands to keep the islands protected from over-development, and especially from selling the islands to foreigners (think Johnny Depp and David Copperfield) who tend to make the islands and beaches totally private and off limits to all who would like to enjoy their beauty and natural resources. Terry owns and operates Ocean Cabin which is the best restaurant and bar on the island (the only other is Ty’s Bar and grill). Just taking the time to go to Ocean Cabin and meet Terry and his wife Earnestine and enjoy her Chicken South lunch and talk about the Exumas makes any trip here worth the effort. There are no markets or fuel available here, so we had to be prepared with food and water and the such for our week long stay.

From Little Farmers BB and crew will turn around and go back north to visit Pipe Creek and wait in this hidey hole for the next weather front with west and north winds to pass thru.

Hope you enjoy the pics.

The welcome sign to Little Farmers Cay is at the airport / Ty's Bar & Grill. It's about a half mile walk to "downtown", the town dock, and the marina.The welcome sign to Little Farmers Cay is at the airport / Ty’s Bar & Grill. It’s about a half mile walk to “downtown”, the town dock, and the marina.

We had a couple of calm days to work on the prop shaft zincs, and after the second day The water was so clear that we could see what the light current did to shift the anchor chair from one direction to another. If you imagine closely you can see the individual chain links that are 8' deep. Amazing!We had a couple of calm days to work on the prop shaft zincs, and after the second day The water was so clear that we could see what the light current did to shift the anchor chair from one direction to another. If you imagine closely you can see the individual chain links that are 8′ deep. Amazing!

Capt Mary finding a nice starfish near the beach where we brought the dinghy for a walkabout.Capt Mary found a nice starfish near the beach where we brought the dinghy for a walkabout.

This is Little Farmers All Ages School staff and students having their annual picture taken by Vic Coleman from the M/V Salty Turtle. Vic does a wonderful job with about six schools in The Bahamas.This is Little Farmers All Ages School staff and students having their annual picture taken by Vic Coleman from the M/V Salty Turtle. Vic does a wonderful job with about six schools in The Bahamas.

Inside the Little Farmers School.  We hope to help the Black Point School have a similar computer system starting next year.Inside the Little Farmers School. We hope to help the Black Point School have a similar computer system starting next year.

The downtown Little Farmers Street Guide and Directory.The downtown Little Farmers Street Guide and Directory.

The best bar and restaurant in town - "Ocean Cabin" - selling the best Chicken South in The Bahamas.The best bar and restaurant in town – “Ocean Cabin” – selling the best Chicken South in The Bahamas.

Terry and Earnestine Bain - owner operators of Ocean Cabin. Terry is the strongest proponent in The Bahamas for protecting the environment and ownership of the islands.Terry and Earnestine Bain – owner operators of Ocean Cabin. Terry is the strongest proponent in The Bahamas for protecting the environment and ownership of the islands.

On the beach during the 5F's regatta - making absolutely fresh and delicious conch salad.On the beach during the 5F’s regatta – making absolutely fresh and delicious conch salad.

Happy Hour at Ty's Bar and Grill.Happy Hour at Ty’s Bar and Grill.

Ty's Bar and Grill with all  the trophies inside getting ready to present the winners to the crowd and dignitaries.Ty’s Bar and Grill with all the trophies inside getting ready to present the winners to the crowd and dignitaries.

The races start "Leman Style" - with anchors set and sails down. When the starter drops the flag two crew plull in the anchor while two other crew raise the sail. It is one minute of exciting chaos that often determines the winner.The races start “Lemans Style” – with anchors set and sails down. When the starter drops the flag two crew plull in the anchor while two other crew raise the sail. It is one minute of exciting chaos that often determines the winner.

Beulah Belle was anchored just off one of the three course markers. We had many requests to come onboard. The trouble was the next day the marshall changed the course and we could only see the boats sailing past and in between the other boats. We got in the dinghy and followed the boats around the course for one race - it was a hoot!Beulah Belle was anchored just off one of the three course markers. We had many requests to come onboard. The trouble was the next day the marshall changed the course and we could only see the boats sailing past and in between the other boats. We got in the dinghy and followed the boats around the course for one race – it was a hoot

!The two boats here are Whitty K on the left and Smashies on the right. They were the class of the field. Smashie won the first race, and Whitty K won all the other races - almost by default once Smashie broke her mast during the third race.The two boats here are “Whitty K” on the left and “Smashie” on the right. They were the class of the field. Smashie won the first race, and Whitty K won all the other races – almost by default once Smashie broke her mast during the third race.

This is Smashie from Black Point during her winning race on Friday.This is Smashie from Black Point during her winning race on Friday.

The visiting boats were part of the course. Everyone had a good seat.The visiting boats were part of the course. Everyone had a good seat.

Three boats contesting for the second marker by Beulah Belle. We look forward to seeing these boats again at George Town where they will have two classes of larger boats. The class A boats will have 12 to 14 man crews that put six men on both of the "out-rigger" boards. Can't wait.Three boats contesting for the second marker by Beulah Belle. We look forward to seeing these boats again at George Town where they will have two classes of larger boats. The class A boats will have 12 to 14 man crews that put six men on both of the “out-rigger” boards. Can’t wait.

Today's sunset.Today’s sunset.

 

 

WITWIBB – 1/2-2/5/2014 – Black Point The Bahamas

Beulah Belle and crew left Staniel Cay on Friday January 24th and cruised a very short 12 miles south to Black Point on Great Guana Cay, The Bahamas. We invited ourselves to come along with Vic and Gigi aboard Salty Turtle as we wanted to watch Vic take school pictures of the kids attending the school at Black Point. Black Point is a good provisioning point for cruisers in the Exumas, and is especially well known and valuable because of Ida’s Rockside Laundramat and Spa (her spelling – not mine). There are two provisioning shops here and three good restaurants with satellite tv and free WiFi. After leaving the northern Exumas, that included the Exumas Land and Sea Park, our contact with the Bahamian people has become the biggest enjoyment for us. The weather is the same as we had a bit further north, but the scenery is much different. There are few beaches near here, and no “hidey holes” that will protect us if the wind shifts to the west or north. So, we keep an eye on the forecast and come to Staniel Cay, or Black point, or our next stop at Little Farmers only when there is a good weather window. At Black Point we met some wonderful people. Ms. Young teaches at the Missionary School, Ida owns and operates the Laundramat / Spa and four rental cottages and is the primary contact person for everyone needing anything while visiting here, Corene has a small provisioning and bake shop next to Deshamon’s restaurant, and Ms Adderley owns and operates the “Friendly Market”. The genuineness of the folks here seems to be universal, and it is always a pleasure to take the time to get to know them a bit better. We enjoy doing more than just stop in to buy stuff and hurry back to our boat. An example is after being treated to a loaf of made-to-order cinnamon bread at Corene’s and a haircut by Ida we took them a few home-made baking powder biscuits. The biscuits seemed to be just as much a treat for them as their hospitality had been to us.

Our reason to come to Black Point at this time was to watch Vic Copelan take school photos, which he has done for at least the past five years. Vic makes arrangements a few days ahead of time to check that everyone will be at the school on the day scheduled to take the pictures. Once he arrives everyone goes outside and gathers up in front of the school building, and Vic takes a few shots of the whole group with his Nikon 70D. Vic and Gigi then get back in their dinghy to take them to Vic’s photo shop in the master stateroom onboard Salty Turtle (a 1987 DeFever 44 – sister boat to Beulah Belle) where he makes 54 glossy color 8×10 pictures for all the kids and two teachers. The pictures are truly professional quality, and are indeed a blessing that Vic is able to give. Vic has a very caring friendship with the folks at several islands here in The Bahamas.

Our original reason to come to Black Point also involved the school here. The school is run by a missionary group, which we found through the Christian Boaters Association. While we were cruising along the ICW, just before school started in August, we started gathering school supplies. Ms. Young and the kids at the school were most thankful for the notebooks, and pens, and pencils, and art supplies. After leaving the supplies at the school her plea to us was that we might bring computers to the school on our next trip. Now for next year, instead of writing tablets and such, we hope to bring a mini-computer system to the school next year and maybe some notepads or such. It’ll take some homework and visits to Best Buy to start to figure out what we can afford to do. Family and friends please understand why we’ll be asking for your help to figure out what a mini-computer system is for a K thru 8th grade school in The Bahamas. Maybe we can even recruit a volunteer to join us next year to help install and train the folks at the school how to use whatever we are able to bring?

We did find one local industry at Black Point, aside from everything associated with boating and cruisers, the weaving of palm fronds into plaits. The locals sit on their porches or under a shady tree, after gathering individual fronds from the trees in their yards, split and size the fronds, and then weave them into plaits that are 20 fathoms long (I think this is about 120 ft). The plaits are sold to basket and hat manufacturers in Nassau who use them to make their basket and hat stuff. The final products are sold at the Hay Market in downtown Nassau, near the big cruise ship docks (ok, everything in The Bahamas is tourism related).

Hope you enjoy the pics.

BB anchored about 100 yds off shore directly in front of Ida's. This gave us great free WiFi connection, and access to her dock to bring in laundry and the school supplies that we took to the Missionary School.
BB is anchored about 100 yds off shore directly in front of Ida’s. This gave us a great free WiFi connection, and access to her dock to bring in laundry and the school supplies that we took to the Missionary School.
Capt Mary loading the school supplies into our dinghy - getting set to go to Ida's dock, and then on to the school which is just next door.Capt Mary loading the school supplies into our dinghy – getting set to go to Ida’s dock, and then on to the school which is just next door.
Inside the Black Point Missionary School. These kids are very bright, polite, smart, eager, ---------! A joy and source of pride for the community!
Inside the Black Point Missionary School. These kids are very bright, polite, smart, eager, ———! A joy and a deserving source of pride for the community!
Engr Wally shooting hoops with a local youngster that now knows how to play "PIG".Engr Wally shooting hoops with a local youngster that now knows how to play “PIG”. Note the true jump shot form of Wally’s right wrist on his “jump” shot from the corner!
Making plaits to be sold to the basket and hat manufacturers in Nassau.Making plaits to be sold to the basket and hat manufacturers in Nassau.
Black Point is VERY popular with the sail boaters. There is free city RO (reverse osmosis) water, free trash drop-off, free WiFi, good Happy Hours, good provisioning (when the boat comes in - three times a month). This is a good place for everyone cruising in the Exumas.Black Point is VERY popular with the sail boaters. There is free city RO (reverse osmosis) water, free trash drop-off, free WiFi, good Happy Hours, and good provisioning when the mail boat comes in – three times a month. This is a good place for everyone cruising in the Exumas.
Capt Mary spotted this cave which is just big enough to take the dinghy inside. It was spectacular in the late afternoon glancing sunlight from the west.Capt Mary spotted this cave while we were on a dinghy cruise. It is just big enough to take the dinghy inside and take spectacular pictures in the late afternoon with glancing sunlight from the water with the sun in the west.
Our view of "Thatch Hill Cave" from the inside looking out.Our view of “Thatch Hill Cave” from the inside looking out.
Taking a short hike over the hill gives us a view of the Atlantic ocean - stunning!Taking a short hike over the hill gives us a view of the Atlantic ocean – stunning!
Our church for the day - Black Point Gethsemene Baptist ChurchOur church for the day – Black Point Gethsemene Baptist Church.
Capt Mary with Corene - we get more than a plastic sack to go with our Pringles and fresh cinnamon bread - we get hugs too!Capt Mary with Corene – we get more than a plastic sack to go with our Pringles and fresh cinnamon bread – we get hugs too!
The Mail Boat was a day late this week (a broken crane?), but we knew it would likely make it because the restaurants were all depending on the ordered supplies for their Super Bowl parties.The Mail Boat was a day late this week (a broken crane?), but we knew it would likely make it because the restaurants were all depending on the ordered supplies for their Super Bowl parties.
The government dock gets super busy when the mail boat comes in with Super Bowl supplies. Even the older school kids get out of school to help carry supplies to the shops and restaurants.The government dock gets super busy when the Mail Boat comes in with Super Bowl supplies. The older school kids get out of school to help carry supplies to the shops and restaurants.
Our Super Bowl party inside Deshamons with Rex and Amy Noel (S/V Xtasea). I won't go into details about winners and losers this year.Our Super Bowl party inside Deshamons with Stephen and Natasha (S/V Turning Points). I won’t go into details about winners and losers this year, but the food was awesome, and the company even better! I might have stolen the show when my chair broke and all the table’s drinks came tumbling down! I was indeed penalized for alcohol abuse (spilling everyone’s drink – not being not sober).
Engr wally with girl friend Ida after getting his best haircut ever.Engr wally with girl friend Ida after getting his best haircut ever.
Black Point anchorage with 80 boats ready for a party.The Black Point anchorage with 80 boats ready for a party.
Today's sunset.Today’s sunset. Farewell to Black Point. 

WITWIBB – 1/6-23/2014 – Staniel Cay The Bahamas

BB and crew cruised another short distance on January 6th from Cambridge Cay to Staniel Cay. When we arrived we knew that our stay here would not have a schedule, and would introduce us to provisioning of food, water, and fuel in The Bahamas. What we did not anticipate was the introduction to meeting and making so many new friends, both boating friends, and on-shore Bahamian friends. Our chosen anchorage to begin our Staniel Cay stay was at Big Majors Spot which is actually just to the west of an island that is to the west of Staniel Cay and offers good wind protection from every direction except the west. Our first few days were spent exploring with the dinghy – going to town, going to Pirate’s Beach, and snorkeling at the James Bond Grotto. Staniel Cay “town” is about a mile and a half dinghy ride around Big Majors Spot and across some open water. With any wind over 15 mph this open water stretch gets pretty uncomfortable and is a wet ride in the dinghy so we waited until the winds would settle down a bit. We’re learning that the winds in The Bahamas can blow for weeks without “settling down”, and there can be fronts pass through every few days or so. So, you have to take advantage of a “less” windy day to do your dinghy stuff.We got lucky on our second day at Big Majors – the wind was under 10 mph, and the mailboat had just come in earlier in the day, and we had a dry and comfortable ride. The mailboat brings mail of course, but more importantly for the cruisers it brings food supplies from Nassau. The mailboat comes about three times a month to the islands with stores and restaurants, usually on Wednesday or Thursday, and it is best to be at the shops soon after the supplies have been brought in. As courteously as we could we joined the crowd and got our fresh fruit and veggies and eggs. This was our first trip to “town” in the Exumas, and we went shopping at Isles General, the Blue Store, and the Pink Store buying things for about double the prices we are used to in the USA. Our shopping list was pretty short as we had provisioned BB before leaving Florida packed to the brim with meats enough for four months, and all the dry goods / canned goods for the same. So, after buying our stuff we headed back to BB and Big Majors Spot. We did check out the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, and made plans to come back with Beulah Belle in a few days to buy water and gas for the dinghy.

Our next trip in the dinghy was to James Bond Grotto so we could snorkel through the cave with Vic and Gigi. This was our first snorkel experience since we left Singapore almost 20 years ago. The cave is accessible at slack low tide and we took an easy swim and saw the inside, topside, and sea bottom side of the grotto (aka cave) with lots of fishes, big and small, lots of stalactites, and the beautiful powder blue and aqua-marine colors of the water inside and around the cave. Scenes from the James Bond movie “Thunderball” with Sean Connery were filmed here in 1968. Engr Wally’s Canon camera doesn’t like taking pictures under water so maybe you can Google Earth or Wikipedia and check out Staniel Cay Exumas Grotto and see what we saw. Our tour guides Vic and Gigi own a sister boat to Beulah Belle. Their boat “Salty Turtle” is a 1987 DeFever 44 with nearly the exact same layout. We met Vic and Gigi when they anchored near Beulah Belle at Big Majors Spot, and we have since become good friends.

Our next dinghy trip was to Pirate’s Beach to join the other boaters (there were as many as 35 boats anchored near each other while we were at Big Majors Spot) for an afternoon shore party at one of the several beaches on the west shore of Big Majors. Many of the boaters have been coming to this anchorage for 10 years or more, and have created a little public park on the beach with donated picnic tables, a gas grill, tables, a fire pit, etc. The tables and grill are always there, and usually the beach starts drawing a crowd bringing their own beach chairs around 3:00 pm. Aside from an enjoyable afternoon and sunset on the beach it was a good time meeting fellow boaters with common interests and needs. Another benefit of this particular beach party was an invitation to join Ray and Sue aboard their yacht “No Agenda” to watch the Broncos vs Chargers NFL playoff game – all food and drink was provided, and we watched the game along with more than 20 other folks on one of at least seven TV’s onboard. Getting back to BB after the game was a treat as well. “No Agenda’s” swim platform has underwater lighting, and in the Bahamas the colors and fish swimming by at night are especially spectacular! It took some extra time for everyone to oooh and aaah while getting into their dinghies, marveling at the beauty of the yacht, and saying kind words to especially kind and generous fellow boaters Ray and Sue. We hope we get invited back sometime.

Our next trip to town included moving BB to a new anchorage. We needed fresh water, diesel fuel, and gasoline for the dinghy so we went to the fuel dock at Staniel Cay Yacht Club and bought 272 gallons of fresh water for $0.40 per gallon, 100 gallons of diesel for $5.60 per gallon, and 4.5 gallons of gasoline for $5.95 per gallon. A pretty hefty credit card bill that had an extra 5% added as a credit card surcharge, but actually our monthly cruising cost is down now that we anchoring out virtually every night and not going to restaurants very often as compared to our routine when we were cruising the ICW. While we were tied up to the dock at the Yacht Club (we did move down to the open face dock so other boats could get to the fuel dock) we walked to town and bought some more fresh veggies and chicken from the Pink Store, and then came back to the Yacht Club for fish fingers and a coke and a pitcher full of ice cold RO water for lunch. All of the drinking water in the islands comes from reverse osmosis (RO) machines, and it is very good tasting, clear, and absolutely safe to drink. While we were at our table a guy comes up to the fish cleaning table at the water’s edge and bangs on the table a could of times with a big piece of wood and yells out SHARK, SHARK! Well, the deal is that when there are visitors at the club / restaurant, at noon the guide comes out, bangs on the table to tell the sharks that it’s feeding time. The sharks came up onto the steps at the dock, and we went down the steps and did actually pet the sharks. And, a bunch of pretty girls at the club got into the water and swam with the sharks! These weren’t little 2′-3′ sharks. These were man size 5′-7′ sand or nurse or yellow sharks. Nobody seemed to know for sure what kind they were, but they were “tame” enough to so long as you didn’t try to pet their teeth, and they certainly didn’t mind or get excited about having people in the water with them. They did know when the guide was throwing pieces of squid into the water, and that’s when we decided it was time to go back to our table and finish our fish fingers lunch while we still had ours.

On our way to our new anchorage we took BB out through Rock Cut, managed the minor rage that was occurring because of the cidal current and wind mixing at the inlet, and went out into the Atlantic far enough to dump our holding tank, and then cruised back through the Rock Cut Inlet rage, and turned north to find an anchor spot “Between the Majors”. Our previous anchorage was just around the north-west corner of Big Major, but this Big Majors Spot location was open to the west and north, and the forecast was for a strong cold front to pass through in a couple of days, and we needed to find a more protected location. Between The Majors is an anchorage between Big Major to the west and Little Major to the east with a soft sand channel about 50-100 yds wide by 1/2 mile long with little land masses wrapping around us to protect us from winds from the west and north. The actual open water between the islands was about 1/4 mile wide, but the good holding sand without rocks and coral or too much grass was only about 50-100 yards wide by about 1/2 mile long. Between The Majors became our home for the next week. The front came through with about 2″ of rain and wind gusts from the west to 51 mph, and then steady wind over 25 mph from the north for two days. We were very glad to be Between The Majors. After the wind settled a bit we took the dinghy down and went beachcombing a couple of times to a beach near Sampson Cay and had a good snorkel swim with lots of corals and fishes in the quiet bay there that faces south and is protected from the north-east winds.

Now it was time to head for Black Point Settlement on Great Exuma Cay, and visit the school there with Vic and Gigi.

Enjoy the pics.

Whether you come to t'own via the airport or the dighy dock at Isle General you will be greeted by the "Welcome to Staniel Cay" sign.
Whether you come to town via the airport or the dinghy dock at Isle General you will be greeted by the “Welcome to Staniel Cay” sign.
This may not be your classic Midwest black dirt feed the neighborhood garden, but how many of you had sweet corn tasseling and squash vining through the corn rows in January?This may not be your classic Midwest, black dirt, feed the neighborhood garden, but how many of you had sweet corn tasseling and squash vining through the corn rows in January?
This main street in Staniel Cay, officially known as "Kings Hwy, Don't look for any stop lights or stop signs, and it is perfectly acceptable to take shortcuts across neighbor's yards to go from the pink store to the blue store.
This is main street Staniel Cay, officially known as “Kings Hwy”. Don’t look for any stop lights or stop signs, and it is perfectly acceptable to take shortcuts across neighbor’s yards to go from the pink store to the blue store. 
Another don't miss this item on the agenda for Staniel Cay is to swim with the sharks. If you aren't up to swimming with the sharks at least go down the steps and pet the skin on top of their heads - you are advised to keep your fingers out of their mouths!
Another don’t miss this item on the agenda for Staniel Cay is to swim with the sharks. If you aren’t up to swimming with the sharks at least go down the steps and pet the funky skin on top of their heads – you are advised to keep your fingers out of their mouths! 
Everyone's favorite beach at Big Majors Spot is Pirate's Beach. Come with your drinks, and parrot, and stories to tell, and enjoy, and enjoy!
Everyone’s favorite beach at Big Majors Spot is Pirate’s Beach. Come with your drinks, and parrot, and stories to tell, and enjoy, and enjoy! 
No visit to Staniel Cay and Big Majors Spot is complete without a visit to the swimming pigs.
No visit to Staniel Cay and Big Majors Spot is complete without a visit to the swimming pigs. 
This is Vic and Gigi's "Salty Turtle" a 1987 DeFever 44 sister boat to Beulah Belle that is to the right in the picture.
This is Vic and Gigi’s “Salty Turtle”, a 1987 DeFever 44 – sister boat to Beulah Belle that is to the right in the picture. 
There are dozens of snorkeling and beachcombing places near Staniel Cay. This is one of many that we went to when the wind would let us take the dinghy for a ride.
There are dozens of snorkeling and beachcombing places near Staniel Cay. This is one of many that we went to when the wind would let us take the dinghy for a ride. 
This is a 300mm telephoto picture of Rock Cut on a 20 mph day like we had when we ventured out to dump our holding tank. We were a bit too busy to take pictures when we were doing this, so I offer you this shot with some good size waves mixing with the wind and current at the inlet. There is plenty of water there under the boat so long as you stay away from the corner of the island to the north and the shallow shoal to the south.
This is a 270mm telephoto picture of Rock Cut from our anchorage Between The Majors on a beautiful 20 mph wind day like we had when we ventured out to dump our holding tank. We were a bit too busy to take pictures when we were doing our trip, so I offer you this shot of a sailboat coming in with some good size waves mixing with the wind and current at the inlet. There is plenty of water there under the boat so long as you stay away from the corner of the island to the north and away from the shallow shoal to the south. 

WITWIBB – 1/3-6/2014 – Cambridge Cay The Bahamas

BB and crew took a short cruise from Warderick Wells Cay to Cambridge Cay in order to visit the last / southern most cay in the Exumas Land and Sea Park, and make our way south towards George Town. As the gull flies our destination was only 8 miles away. But as BB cruises, we navigated around the shallow and rocky waters, and it took us close to four hours to go about 25 miles from Warderick Wells to Cambridge at about 6 mph. There is only one way in and one way out of Warderick Wells, via the north-west, and we went further to the west to be sure we were clear of the shallow areas around the island. As we approached Cambridge from the south-west we decided to go all the way around the island via Conch Cut on the south end, out into the Atlantic, and up the east side to O’Briens on the north end. We turned back to the south-west, stayed near the Cambridge shore, and entered the mooring field that is in a channel similar to that at Warderick Wells – not quite as beautiful – but still beautiful nonetheless to be sure! We had to negotiate a tricky VPR area (visual piloting required) along the north shore of Cambridge, and even after re-reading the notes that George Stateham had given us before leaving North Carolina we made a small error in piloting. We approached Cambridge too far from shore and had to stop BB, back up a bit, and turn her to port and get closer to the rocky shoreline in order to have enough water under us to make the channel where we would tie up to another mooring ball. As George and our charts said, it is a tricky VPR area only. We were doing this on a clear day at about noon which is best for having to pilot the boat visually – not relying on the chart-plotter, but only on our eyes and BB’s depth sounder. Thankfully, we were going slow, there was little wind this day, and the sun was overhead making for good visual reading of the depth of the shallow, brownish color of the HARD coral, and the powder blue, shallow sandy spots (not too bad to hit these sandy shoals slowly at low tide so you can float off later, but not a good idea to end up on one of them at high tide, especially when there is no TowBoatUS available, and never a good idea to challenge the shallow, hard corals!). We learned a lot today, and thank the Statehams again for their coaching.We were still in the Exumas Land and Sea Park which meant $20/day for tying up to the park mooring ball, no fishing, and no taking souvineers from the beach. We were hoping to pay our mooring fees by putting our money in an envelope into the park mailbox on a small island just west of the mooring field. But we ended up paying the park ranger as he passed in his twin Yamaha 225 hp, 26′, center console, Boston Whaler while making his rounds.

We spent three days here visiting the beaches, and waiting out a windy day that we thought might be too uncomfortable for cruising to Staniel Cay that would be our first visit of a “town” in the Exumas. But that will be another blog posting, so we’ll save describing Staniel for another day.

We did have phone and internet service at Cambridge thanks to the shah’s cell tower on Bell Island. We don’t know who the shah is, but he had enough money to afford buying the entire island and having his own Batelco tower. No one could explain why there was free internet service. But, we didn’t know any better so we made use of the service for our days there. If you ask why we didn’t update the blog while we were there? Well, we were just enjoying being in The Bahamas and The Exumas in particular, and didn’t take the time to organize pics and write an update. Sorry.

The highlights of our visit to Cambridge had to be the Atlantic side beaches and fish. When we took the dinghy to the sandy beach near the south end of the mooring field, we found a winding hiking trail about 1/2 mile long through the scrub palms that took us across the island to a beautiful crescent beach on the Atlantic Ocean side. We went for a swim and were greated by dinner plate size angel fish, and I mean very large dinner plates! They seemed to be just as curious of us as we were of them – it was awesome! The other fishy story was from onboard BB. After the sun had set, and our deck lights were having an effect in the water, we were greeted / surrounded by five or six sand / nurse sharks that were more than five feet long. There were other fish in the water too, we assume attracted by our lights, but the sharks are the ones that caught our attention!

Cambridge Cay was fun, and we look forward to going back to the beaches on the Atlantic side, but now its time to head south toward Staniel Cay. Hope you enjoy the pics.

Arriving Cambridge Cay from Warderick Wells Cay on January 3rd 2014.
Arriving Cambridge Cay from Warderick Wells Cay on January 3rd 2014.
Our dinghy brought us to shore so we could go beach exploring. BB is in the deep blue channel in the background.
Our dinghy brought us to shore so we could go beach exploring. BB is one of the three boats in the deep blue channel in the background.
Another view of one of Cambridge Cay's ocean side beaches. We think we chose well for this year's "winter" location.
Another view of one of Cambridge Cay’s ocean side beaches. We think we chose well for this year’s “winter” location.
This is the beautiful crescent shaped beach on Cambridge Cay on The Atlantic Ocean side of the island. The sand is so very white and powdery, and it was wonderful going out into the mild surf for a swim and meeting the local 10" angelfish.
This is the beautiful crescent shaped beach on Cambridge Cay on the Atlantic Ocean side of the island. The sand is so very white and powdery, and it was wonderful going out into the mild surf for a swim and meeting the local 10″ angelfish.
Capt Mary found some treasures on the beach - kinda wish we could have kept some of the fan coarl or sponges, or shells. But, rules being rules, we took only pics, and left only footprints.
Capt Mary found some treasures on the beach – kinda wish we could have kept some of the fan coral or sponges, or shells. But, rules being rules, we took only pics, and left only footprints.
A view of the Atlantic Ocean side of Cambridge Cay.
A view of the Atlantic Ocean side of Cambridge Cay.
About a mile north of the crescent beach is a rocky beach with a large rock out in the water with a natural "key hole". The water was a bit too rough today to get in and try exploring, and the beach was really trashy with all of "our" plastic junk that washes up on every beach in the whole world nowadays. Too bad about the trash. We pick up and put it in a pile that someone else started, but it's likely that the pile will never be moved away. Its a beautiful spot if you look at the rocks and water, and not back at the trash on the beach.
About a mile north of the crescent beach there is a rock strewn beach with a huge rock out in the water with a natural “key hole” (you can see the key hole on the right side of the rock if you look real close). The water was a bit too rough today to get in and try exploring, and the beach was really trashy with all of “our” plastic junk that washes up on every beach in the whole world nowadays. Too bad about the trash. We picked up what we could and put it in a pile that someone else started, but it’s likely that the pile will never be moved away. Its a beautiful spot if you look at the rocks and water, and not back at the trash on the beach.
This is the "mailbox" and Exumas Land and Sea Park sign on a small island near the mooring field at Cambridge Cay. If the rangers don't come by to pick up your $20 you can put you money in the mailbox.
This is the “mailbox” and Exumas Land and Sea Park sign on a small island near the mooring field at Cambridge Cay. If the rangers don’t come by to pick up your $20 you can put you money in the mailbox.
Today's sunset. An awesome end to another awesome day!
Today’s sunset. An awesome end to another awesome day!

WITWIBB – 12/29/13-1/5/2014 – Warderick Wells Cay The Bahamas

BB and crew had a beautiful day to cruise from Shroud Cay to Warderick Wells Cay, the home site and office of The Exumas Land and Sea Park. Our arrival was a bit tricky as we had to negotiate a narrow channel with a strong current, and several boats already tied to the moorings, to get to our mooring site. But, with the help of fellow cruisers Bill and Donna aboard their dinghy from their sailboat “Moonraker” we managed to tie to mooring ball number 13 in the north mooring field. This is a near perfect location insofar as giving us the best view of the sights inside the bay / channel and access to the beaches, and other fun stuff. We spent seven days / six nights tied to the mooring ball, and enjoyed each day visiting and re-visiting some of the “don’t miss” sights. It cost $20/day, but there was no real option at Warderick Wells Cay for anchoring. You can anchor near Emerald Rock, but this is about a mile from the good stuff nearer the park office. The beauty of the location is pretty much indescribable, especially for a couple recently removed from northern Iowa. But, to be sure, when we say “powder blue” water, it is breath-takingly beautiful!

When we return, or when we have the opportunity to tell others that hope to come to Warderick Wells Cay, we / you have to take the hike up to Boo Boo Hill, and take a driftwood sign with your boat name and date to leave on the heap. Another must do is to take the dinghy onto the sandbar at low tide and walk about – it is amazing what you will see without the aid of a lookie bucket or snorkel gear (it’s too shallow to snorkel). The sunsets are likely to be spectacular, the folks that you meet will be awesome, the trails around the Cay make for miles of great exploring, and the weather will likely be 60 to 100 degrees warmer than what you might routinely have in January or February in the Midwest.

Hope you enjoy the pics and are making plans to come visit us.

We had a beautiful day to cruise from Shroud Cay to Warderick Wells Cay.
We had a beautiful day to cruise from Shroud Cay to Warderick Wells Cay.
Our approach to the mooring field from outside the narrow channel. You know there's a way inside - you can see other boats there already. But, exactly how did they do it?
Our approach to the mooring field from outside the narrow channel. You know there’s a way inside – you can see other boats there already. But, exactly how did they do it?
Isn't this amazing? How to describe the colors? How to tell someone that this is a "must see" place? How to negotiate the channel and mooring balls? How to say anything more than "thanks" for bringing BB and crew to this beautiful spot?
Isn’t this amazing? How to describe the colors? How to tell someone that this is a “must see” place? How to negotiate the channel and the mooring balls? How to say anything more than “thanks” for bringing BB and crew to this beautiful spot?
Our chart plotter shows BB location in the channel / mooring field at Warderick Wells cay. There is only one way in, and the same one way out - regardless of tide and / or wind direction; i.e. be careful!
Our chart plotter shows BB’s location in the channel / mooring field at Warderick Wells cay. There is only one way in, and the same one way out, from the north-west, regardless of tide and / or wind direction; i.e. be careful! 
The start of the trail to Boo Boo Hill - it is located at the north end of the beach where the office is at the south end. Good shoes for walking the sharp stones are helpful, but be prepared to take them off to cross the tidal stream about half way there. There are some some stones in the stream that you might use to keep from having to take off your nice clean sneekers. Flip-flops are not recommended.
The start of the trail to Boo Boo Hill – it is located at the north end of the beach where the office is at the south end. Good shoes for walking the sharp stones are helpful, but be prepared to take them off to cross the tidal stream about half way there. There are some some stones in the stream that you might use to keep from having to take off your nice clean sneekers. Flip-flops are not recommended.
Many years ago on a windy, stormy day a luckless schooner sank near Warderick Wells with the loss of all souls onboard. Legend has it if you come to the top of Boo Boo Hill on a full moon night you will hear the sounds of the ghosts from this lost ship.
Many years ago, on a wild, stormy day a luckless schooner sank near Warderick Wells with the loss of all souls onboard. Legend has it if you come to the top of Boo Boo Hill on a full moon night you will hear the sounds of the ghosts from this lost ship.
Capt Mary leading the way on our hike up to Boo Boo Hill.
Capt Mary leading the way on our hike up to Boo Boo Hill.
this is the view from Boo Boo Hill looking back to the mooring field on Warderick Wells Cay. Over the years it has become traditional to leave a piece of driftwood with your boat name, much as what happened back in 1900 where the schooner XYZ wrecked here, and some local Bahamians memorialized the loss with a piece from the boat on top of the hill.
This is the view from Boo Boo Hill looking back to the mooring field and the park office on Warderick Wells Cay. Over the years it has become traditional to leave a piece of driftwood with your boat name on the heap of driftwood “trash” to say that your were here.
Capt Mary is holding our "m/v Beulah Belle 01/14" sign. We didn't leave the sign with the other boat signs - we made it from a piece of teak that will become part of an improved back rest on our flybridge seats. But we now have an actual piece of driftwood that we will leave the next time we climb Boo Boo Hill - with dates added for each hike up the hill.
Capt Mary is holding our “m/v Beulah Belle 01/14″ sign. We didn’t leave the sign with the other boat signs – we made it from a piece of teak that will become part of an improved back rest on our flybridge seats. We now have an actual piece of driftwood that we will leave the next time we climb Boo Boo Hill – with dates added for each hike up the hill.
This is the view of the Atlantic Ocean from the top of Boo Boo Hill looking north. To take hikes, or ride the dinghy around the islands makes for great exploring, with wonderful sights, good history, and a day well spent in The Bahamas.
This is the view of the Atlantic Ocean from the top of Boo Boo Hill looking north. To take hikes, or ride the dinghy around the islands makes for great exploring, with wonderful sights, good history, and a day well spent in The Bahamas.
This is the view of the Atlantic Ocean looking south from the top of Boo Boo Hill on Warderick Wells Cay
This is the view of the Atlantic Ocean looking south from the top of Boo Boo Hill on Warderick Wells Cay.
Bill and Donna from the sailboat "Moonraker" are coming to Beulah Belle for a New Year's Eve dinner of ham, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and apple salad. Bill and Donna came to our aid to put our bow line through the eye of the mooring ball line. This is always a problem for us on BB because of 8' bow above the waterline. To say thanks, and to get to know some nice folks better we invited Bill and Donna to dinner, and finished off the evening by watching the James Bond movie Quantum Leap. A great evening in The Bahamas.
Bill and Donna from the sailboat “Moonraker” are coming to Beulah Belle for a New Year’s Eve dinner of ham, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and apple salad. Bill and Donna came to our aid to put our bow line through the eye of the mooring ball line. This is always a problem for us on BB because of our 8′ bow above the waterline. To say thanks, and to get to know some nice folks better we invited Bill and Donna to dinner, and finished off the evening by watching the James Bond movie Quantum Leap. A great evening in The Bahamas.
Beulah Belle looking good tied to her mooring ball at Warderick Wells Cay home of the Exumas Land and Sea Park.
Beulah Belle looking good tied to her mooring ball at Warderick Wells Cay home of the Exumas Land and Sea Park.
This is the view of the Warderick Wells Cay north mooring field that has 18 mooring balls for boats to 55' length in a channel that runs between the island and the natural sand bar. When we read about this location it was still very difficult to visualize how the boats would get to their assigned ball, and how to approach the island / channel, etc. We called the day before on VHF channel 9 to make a reservation request, and about a half hour later the office person called us back on channel 9 to give us the ball number. That was all good, but until you've actually brought your boat into this unique location it was a mystery to be sure. Now the mystery has been replaced with wonder and amazement!
This is a sandbar view of the Warderick Wells Cay north mooring field that has 18 mooring balls for boats to 55′ length in a channel that runs between the island and the natural sandbar. When we read about this location it was still very difficult to visualize how the boats would get to their assigned ball, and how to approach the island / channel, etc. We called Exuma Park the day before at 9:00 am on VHF channel 9 to make a reservation request, and about a half hour later the office person called us back on channel 9 to give us the ball number. That was all good, but until you’ve actually brought your boat into this unique location it was a mystery to be sure. Now the mystery has been replaced with wonder and amazement!
This picture is amazing, if I don't say so myself. Beulah Belle is secure on a mooring ball within a boat length of the sand bar that we are exploring. The channel is 10'-20' deep and moves at 3 knots minimum. The sand bar has about 6" of water covering it at low tide, making for amazing walking about and exploring and taking wonderful pictures. Capt Mary is holding our live conch find. Wish you were here!
This picture is amazing, if I don’t say so myself. Beulah Belle is secure on a mooring ball within a boat length of the sandbar that we are exploring. The channel is 10′-20′ deep and moves at 3 knots minimum. The sandbar has about 6″ of water covering it at low tide, making for amazing walking about and exploring and taking wonderful pictures. Capt Mary is holding our live conch find. Wish you were here! 
Capt Mary is holding a beautiful live conch that we found on the sand bar. Yes, it would be good to eat in conch fritters or conch salad, but the local authorities frown on taking anything from the park. There is a threat of taking your vessel to make it clear that they really don't want visitors to do anything more tat take pictures and leave only footprints and maybe a Boo Boo Hill sign.
Capt Mary is holding a beautiful live conch that we found on the sandbar. Yes, it would be good to eat in conch fritters or conch salad, but the local authorities frown on taking anything from the park. There is a threat of taking your vessel to make it clear that they really don’t want visitors to do anything more than take pictures and leave only footprints and maybe a Boo Boo Hill sign. 
When you walk the sand bar along-side the mooring channel you will find hundreds of small, beautiful small polyps and corals. No need for a "lookie bucket" or snorkel mask. At low tide there isn't enough water for that fancy stuff.
When you walk the sandbar along-side the mooring channel you will find hundreds of small, beautiful polyps and corals. No need for a “lookie bucket” or snorkel mask. At low tide there isn’t enough water for that fancy stuff.

 

 

WITWIBB – 12/27-28/2013 – Shroud Cay The Bahamas

Yes, BB and crew are very well indeed, and enjoying our adventure cruising in the Exumas chain of islands in The Bahamas. After Christmas with the Worrells in Nassau we left Coral Harbour on the south-west coast of New Providence Island and headed for Shroud Cay some 50 miles to the south-east. Our day began about 8:00 am in calm winds and slightly overcast skies, but as the day wore on the wind picked up considerably from the north-east and rain clouds passed by or showered on us as the case may be during our eight hours of cruising. We started slowly at first because of the shallow water near what is known as the yellow bank and white bank. The water is never more than 15′ deep, and in places only 8′, with coral heads sprinkled here and there. It took BB almost three hours going mostly south to clear this shallow water before could steer more to the east, but by then we still couldn’t rev up the Ford-Lehmans to our normal cruising speed of 8.2 mph (7.3 knots) in 20′-30′ of water because of some pretty rough waves hitting our port side. Nothing worrisome to be sure, but we thought we might make the next Cay south, but not on this windy day.We arrived the western shore of Shroud Cay about 4:00 pm, and set the anchor in deep white sand as close to shore as we could, hoping to get some protection from the winds that were shifting to the south-east. The next day we raised the anchor and moved a bit further south toward a small bend in the coast that protruded west that we hoped would calm the surge condition that happens when the wind and current oppose each other. This particular cay has some pretty strong current in the anchorage area and twice a day when the wind was opposing the current BB would start to rock from side to side. This made Capt Mary and Engr Wally wish for a calmer location – soon. During our first overnight a couple of huge yachts passed by and even-though they were never closer than two miles away their wakes made the surge deal seem like no big deal at all.

Shroud Cay is just inside the north boundary of the Exumas Land and Sea Park – some call it the “Sea Aquarium”. We had hoped to take the dinghy exploring up one of the creeks that fills up during high tide, see some more of the island, and probably some coral and fishes, but we were reluctant to take it down from it’s safe resting spot on the fly-bridge with the wind and waves being a bit unkind to us. So, we rested, and enjoyed the views, and made plans to go on to Warderick Wells.

Our weather was windy at Shroud Cay, and there are more “cold” fronts predicted, but we are blessed to be in 80F temps with stunning bronze sunsets, flowing rainbows, powder blue water, and a most beautiful place from horizon to horizon.As we left Nassau we headed south-south-east to avoid the coarl heads and shallowest water in the Yellow Bank and White Bank. We have 50 plus miles to cruise across the Exumas Bank to reach Shroud CayAs we left Nassau our chartplotter shows us heading south-south-east to avoid the coral heads and shallowest water in the Yellow Bank and White Bank. We have 50 plus miles to cruise across the Exumas Bank to reach Shroud Cay.Our cruising day was not terribly scenic, but nautical for sure. Rain and wind kept us interested, and looking forward to a calm anchorage at Shroud Cay.Our cruising day was not terribly scenic, but nautical for sure. Rain and wind kept us interested, and looking forward to a calm anchorage at Shroud Cay.Capt Mary is excited about enjoying her view of our first anchorage in The Bahamas - Shroud Cay, on Dec 27, 2013.Capt Mary is excited and enjoying her view of our first anchorage in                   The Bahamas – Shroud Cay, on Dec 27, 2013.Our first anchorage in the Exumas - Shroud Cay.Our first anchorage in the Exumas – Shroud Cay.Our anchorage is not without fellow boaters. There are catamarans, sailboats, and power boats all sharing space in the anchorage along the western shore of Shroud Cay.Our anchorage is not without fellow boaters. There are catamarans, sailboats, and power boats all sharing space in the anchorage along the western shore of Shroud Cay.Today's sunset at Shroud Cay.Today’s sunset at Shroud Cay.

WITWIBB – 12/24/13 – Nassau The Bahamas

Welcome to the next chapter of the wonderful adventure for Capt Mary and Engr Wally aboard the good ship Beulah Belle. We arrived Nassau, New Providence Island, The Bahamas on Monday December 16th after a 26 hour voyage from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. After seven days at Nassau Yacht Haven we decided to move to a private dock at the invitation of new found friends Paul and Denise Worrell. On Sunday December 22nd, while the folks in the Quad Cities were getting the latest major winter storm we asked our cabbie to take us to church, and in a few minutes time we were being greeted by the Worrell’s at Calvary Bible Church on Collins St in Nassau. To say the least we were taken in by a wonderful church family and have been treated so amazingly that we can only try to say thank you in the most sincere and humble way. I must post a separate blog update to better describe these few days with the Worrells, but in the meantime I thought you might enjoy the arrival message that was sent to family to let them know of our safe passage and arrival in Nassau: Hi from Nassau The Bahamas!

What an experience!
BB performed beautifully, and her crew did ok on the 26 hours from Ft Lauderdale to Nassau. The only issue during the passage was in the first hour when a glass jar of queen olives and a glass jar of salad peppers decided they couldn’t handle the rocking and rolling inside the top cabinet in the galley, and launched themselves into the openness of the unknown and came crashing down onto the galley floor. Well, it was a mixed salad of sorts to clean up, but that was the only real issue during the entire trip.
The first hour into the Atlantic Gulf Stream from the Ft Lauderdale Inlet was met with an outgoing tide and a 15 mph wind out of the south-east. We had up to 7′ waves for about an hour, but then for the remainder of the 52 statute miles to our first waypoint at Moselle Bank (46.6 nautical miles) to get across the Gulf Stream we had constant 2 to 4 footers, and only an occasional 5 footer heaving us from the starboard side. We couldn’t maintain a constant east direction for the entire 50 plus miles because of the push from the 3 mph current in the Gulf Stream (typical depth of 800′) and the need to try to take the waves at as comfortable a heading as possible and still keep BB going as quickly as possible toward the east. Many thanks go to George Stateham for his coaching on Saturday! Normally BB would cover 52 miles at her normal 8.2 mph pace in just over 6:30. Our crossing was done in 8:00, and we think we did great! Our actual track was an “S” curve from point to point (a bit more south in the beginning, then a long stretch curving a bit north, and finally toward the south-east to connect to our waypoint at Moselle Bank. BB’s Raymarine chartplotter was fun to use and watch to get us from waypoint to waypoint for the crossing. Our second and third waypoints were across the Great Bahama Bank that has only 10′- 18′ water depths: Mackie Shoal – 38 statute miles away, then Northwest Shoal another 28 statute miles. We did have a bit of a scare going across the Bank during the middle of the night – there were two boats anchored along the way. The first was a big yacht about a mile off the navigation line and was lit up like a Christmas tree. The second was a trawler about our size and had only a small anchor light on. We were in the middle of a slight coarse change, and were paying too much attention to the Christmas tree boat when I realized that we going to T-bone the second boat. I brought BB to a full stop and Capt Mary performed a quicky defribulation on the engineer before BB was by the boat at anchor and we were on our way to NW Shoal. We reached the NW Shoal waypoint at about 3:00 am and entered into the “other side”. This last section of the trip to Nassau is across the “tongue of the ocean” for 56 statute miles and had our deepest depth per the chart at 9,774′! As we approached the port entrance to Nassau we called Harbor Control and received permission to enter the port, and then it was a quick three mile trip to Nassau Yacht Haven where we met the dock master Dino who helped us find a slip with current we could handle. We tied up BB to the west end of the face dock at the marina (next to the commercial yard), and nearest the bridges to Paradise Island and the Atlantis Resort.
After arriving with our “Q” (quarantine) flag up we sneaked into the Poop-House restaurant while we waited for the customs and immigration officials to arrive. It took about an hour for the folks to check our paperwork and stamp us in (to include permission to have Beulah Mae onboard) and get our fishing permit – all for the deminimis payment of $300 that is good until our planned departure date of May16th, 2014. There were at least 10 boats checking in here at NYH, but there was an amazing stream of boats (our radar screen was indeed like a Christmas tree) coming in on Monday, all taking advantage of the brief good weather window that may not return for a week or two or more.

After the check-in it was time to get the word out that we had arrived safely. Easy right? Just get the wi-fi password from the marina office and log onto the internet and send out a quickie message to family and friends. Well, it took us about an hour to figure out that the marina wi-fi wasn’t going to work. At least not within the time frame we needed to prevent Crystal from calling the US Coast Guard and report us as missing, that would mean we were late per our float plan schedule while crossing the ocean. So, we walked up to the Harbor Bay Shopping Center and the BTC (Batelco) phone office and bought a Samsung phone, and Bahamas sim card, and voice minutes, and data minutes (for the not so deminimis price of $840). It’s a long story why we went this way instead of unlocking our i-phone and such, but we now have a working Bahamas phone for calling home, contact friends and family via facebook, searching the internet, and having all the apps we can afford. We are now dependent on being in range of a Batelco tower while we’re in the Bahamas, but that is the best we can do for the next few months. The other shopping stop was to Lignum Technologies where we bought a booster antennae for the laptop that will boost the marina wi-fi signals that Wally’s pc will need to have his internet connection, and hopefully update our WITWIBB blog. Today the signal is good enough to get our mail, and maybe send this note out with a pic attached of our first Bahama’s sunrise with the parade of sailboats headed for Nassau.
Love to you all, and if we don’t hear from you in the next few days we hope you have a very merry Christmas.
Our first Bahamas Sunrise about 25 miles from Nassau.
Our first Bahamas’ Sunrise about 25 miles from Nassau.
Entering Nassau Harbor with Carnival cruise ships and Nassau Yacht Haven ahead.
Entering Nassau Harbor with Carnival cruise ships and Nassau Yacht Haven ahead.
BB in her slip at Nassau Yacht Haven.
BB in her slip at Nassau Yacht Haven.
Nassau 15_Capt Mary w Christmas Necklace_131220
Capt Mary with her Bahamas necklace Christmas present.Our wonderful Nasssau family. From left to right - Michael, (Capt Mary, Engr Wally), Denise, Paul, Christopher Worrell, and special friend "Tee" visiting the family from Thailand via Canada where he is studying in college with Christopher.
Our wonderful Nasssau family. From left to right – Michael, (Capt Mary, Engr Wally), Denise, Paul, Christopher Worrell, and special friend “Tee” visiting the family from Thailand via Canada where he is studying in college with Christopher.