Friday, March 12, 2010

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THE BAHAMAS March 5-14, 2010

Six of us, three couples from the Northern Lake George Yacht Club in the Adirondacks, set out on a sail in a roomy 44 foot catamaran, aptly named Stray Cat, to explore the Exumas.

Two couples, Ken 'n Enid and Jim 'n Seddon, experienced cruisers, were joined by, Manning 'n Ginny who are not experienced in cruising, but have skippered and crewed in small one-design sailing yachts. Ken, Jim and Ginny "grew up" during summers on Lake George…all learning to sail at the yacht club. So when Jim said that we'd known each other for over 50 years…it was no exaggeration. We were all little kids together--all "Skippers" by the time we were 12 or so.

5 March 2010
At 1700 hours Ken and Enid arrive Nassau Town, hail a cab to the "Poop Deck," to report aboard Stray Cat with a salute to and a warm greeting from our tanned and muscle-bound Captain Mark and his pretty, very fit and very able matey, Marybeth. Unpacked; had a quick bite near the harbor. Back "home," K and E chose a cabin and retired.
6 March 2010 Next morning, after a quick bite, Enid and Ken went into "provisioning" mode and set out for the "Wegmania of the Bahamas." Two and a half hours and two shopping trolleys-full later, they returned to the pier, blithely wheeling them right up to the Cat. Carefully, everything was stowed with efficient direction from Marybeth All conjectured about the weather, and shortly Jim and Seddon came into view. "Ahoy, ahoy, maties!!" Happily, the second they stepped aboard, Captain Mark revved up the engines, and we sailed off for Rose Island, close by. Checked out the island, met Mark's sailing buddies, grilled steaks aboard, watched the sun set…..
7 March 2010 At 0717 hours, set off on a 10 hour sail to Staniel Cay. Anchored, took the dinghy (Stray Kitten) ashore to the Yacht Club for Bahamian cuisine of mahi mahi and cracked conch. Yum. Despite "dinghy butt," made it back to Stray Cat.
8 March 2010
Leisurely breakfast, set off for Little Farmers Cay…fished en route, catching a young barracuda who fought briefly, let us pull him aboard, then jumped, broke the line and vanished…taking the lure with Her. Disembarking, we took a micro-hike, checking out the hilltop, the runway and the beach. Dinghied back to Stray Cat to change for dinner at Ocean Cabin, owned and operated by Captain Mark's good friend, debonair Terry Bain and his family. Ordering the best lobster in the Cays, we ate too much, finishing up with "Do you trust me?" flaming Nassau Royale. "You didn't burn your fingers, did you?" Warmed to the occasion, our dinner soon turned into a musical evening which began with one voice and a ukulele, and progressed to a lively sing-a-long, accompanied by a guitar passed among our three guitar players. Wonderful songs, which some remembered…it was unforgettable!
9 March 2010
Gourmet breakfast; set sail for Black Point Settlement…largest settlement in the Exumas (excluding Great Exuma). Ashore, we set off on a hike to the highest point on the island, overlooking Dotham Cut. Path a bit obscured, but that didn't keep us from venturing on…down to the beach…up across the coral hillocks, down to the beach, up hill to the mangrove forest. We forded a shallow inlet, climbed up again to the high point…incredible view. By now, way off the path, had to bushwhack our way back…which included wading thigh-deep around the mangroves to the very end of the road. Caveat…if you check out the map first, you won't have nearly as much fun. Dinghied back to the Cat to enjoy barbecued pork chops on deck with Mark and Marybeth. Motored up to Staniel Cay again to be ready for "The Grotto," next morning. What a life!
10 March 2010
Up and ready at dawn, Captain Mark dinghied us over to the renowned Thunderball Grotto for an early morning snorkel under the island…opened to the sky by 3 openings in the coral above. The coral garden below was filled with fish, sponges, coral fans and brightly-colored schools of fish. Aboard Stray Cat again, we sailed and motored north en route to Sampson Cay. Docked, checked out the gift shop, purchased water and set off again for the Exuma Cay Land and Sea Park on Warderick Wells Cay. The park is a safehaven and replenishment area for Bahamian wildlife. Passing the sperm whale skeleton, we hiked on the trail up to BooBoo Hill…with a couple of blow holes nearby. The cairn at the top was constructed of driftwood, piled high with signs carrying yacht names or names of couples which and who had "drifted by." We were enchanted by the little bananaquit birds who wanted to eat right out of our hands. Back at the Cat, we spent a relaxing evening after grilling "Bubba Burgers."

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