FEBRUARY-- Hog Cay (Jumentos) to George Town (Great Exuma)
Hunting and Sailing:
No doubt about it ......cruising is about the people you meet and the places you visit. However, sailing is the preferred way of getting there! Both of us hate the sound of the engine when conditions are not right for sailing. In the Jumentos, we moved between Raccoon Cay, Hog Cay and Southside (Ragged Island) based on wind direction and velocity. For example, the anchorages at Raccoon Cay develop a surge when the wind is above 20 knots from the northeast to the southeast. Raccoon doesn't provide any protection when the winds are southeast to north. Southside anchorage is wide open to winds from south to west with good protection when the winds are northwest to northeast. Hog Cay has the least amount of surge with strong prevailing winds and great holding but is open to fom the southeast to the northeast. So where we anchor is based on the wind velocity and/or directions. Sailed whenever possible between anchorages. Two of the best sailing opportunities this month was the sail from Hog Cay to Buena Vista and then Buena Vista to Water Cay. The sail from Hog to Buena Vista....east wind at 18 to 20 knots. Did not even start the engine to lift our anchor when leaving Hog Cay but had to start the engine to enter the anchorage at Buena Vista. The following day when we left Buena Vista for Water Cay with winds slightly south of east at 15 knots early and diminishing to 8-10 knots in the afternoon making it an easy, comfortable sail. DISCOVERY scooted along in those light winds! As I told Carl, "Most days we reduce the sail area because the winds are strong---this time we had everything out for a quiet, relaxed sail.!
The Jumentos Cays have numerous reefs and rock ledges where lobsters and small fish hang out. Hunting is done with a pole spear. Chris (SYNERGY) was so patient hunting with Carl. Most days, Chris would shoot several lobsters and/or a couple reef fish while Carl came up empty handed but still smiling. Hunting is not easy .....after all the lobster are hiding so you have to SEE them to shoot them. Carl FINALLY started seeing lobsters on February 4. By the time we left the Jumentos ( February 18)....he shot four lobsters. Carl also needs to modify his pole spear which he will do for next year.
During the period of time that Carl wasn't seeing the lobster......we did not go without! Chris generously shared both lobster and fish as did other cruisers (thanks Dave on DYAD) . Some of the fantastic reef fish we ate ....Margate, Grouper, Hogfish and Triggerfish. Hogfish is my favorite. Chris and Carl also picked up about 18 conch one afternoon . Additionally, the local fisherman stopped by to sell what they caught at a good/fair price.
Top left is a photo of the conch Carl and Chris picked up when we were anchored at Raccoon Cay. On the right is cleaned conch just before pounding it to make cracked conch. One of the season's best purchases .....a meat tenderizing hammer for pounding conch. Mike on SAPPHIRE told me that cracked conch requires lots of pounding....when you think you are done pounding do it some more! Bottom left are just a few lobsters from the Jumentos. Bottom right is Monkey Man, a local fisherman, holding up the lobster that we bought from him.
Every chance I could .....I was out beachcombing with other cruisers or sometimes by myself. Many thanks to Kim on FINE LION who helped me spot hamburger and purse beans. I had never seen them before. When the guys (Chris and Carl) were hunting, Karen and I went to the beach in search of treasure. Found a great spot on Hog Cay to pick up sea glass. Karen found two pieces of purple sea glass which is quite a rare find. I found some blue sea glass for earrings and a pendant. In addition to sea glass, found several sand dollars (but the dollars broke into pieces in my backpack). The beachcombing isn't all about finding treasures.....it is fun to walk in the sun and talk with a good friend.
On the left .....beautiful conch shells shining in the sunlight at the head of one of the trails on Hog Cay. On the right.....the water is so clear by the trail head that you can see the starfish on the bottom!
Views from the Crooked Island Passage (windward) side of Hog Cay. It is so beautiful....even on a breezy day.
Most of the cays in the Jumentos are uninhabited except for wild goats. The little goat in the photo below was separated from it's mother. The adult goats run from people but these baby goats are not afraid of us.
Last beachcombing day at Hog Cay .....Bottom left is Nancy and Karen. Bottom right is Nancy, Karen and I.
For a couple weeks, had a bunch of "gremlins" on board screwing things up. When we filled out diesel tanks before heading to the Jumentos, Carl "over filled " them. There was so much diesel in the tank that the screws on the access port at the top of the tanks started seeping diesel. Eventually, there was a little diesel in the bilge---started looking for the leak. Next, the winch on the starboard side of the boat stopped working (discovered this problem when we tacked). Thankfully the problem was just dirt and grime that gummed up the works.....no broken parts. Carl cleaned the winch...it now functions perfectly. As long as he was doing the starboard winch.....took the port side winch apart (it needed a cleaning too).
When we left the Jumentos, sailed about 20 nautical miles (nm) from Water Cay to Comer West when the winds dropped to around 5 to 8 knots. Fired up the iron jenny (engine) for the rest of the journey (35 nm) to George Town. (Note: Transitted the Comer Passage during low tide seeing depths as low as 6.8 feet). Noticed the amount of water coming out the exhaust was reduced from what it should be. Kept a close eye on the temperature gauge and crossed our fingers that we would make it to George Town without the engine overheating (we did). Carl pulled the impeller from the water pump which was missing 10 of 12 flukes!!!! Replaced it with a new spare and wonder how long the problem has existed!?!?
There is a joke "Cruising is working on your boat in exotic harbors". Carl tries to prevent these problems by completing maintenance when we are in the boatyard. It is a little frustrating to have to work on the boat during the cruising season but you do what you have to do!!!!
Day to Day Activities:
General--One of the most frequently asked questions we get asked is "What do you cruisers do all day?" The day starts at 6:30 AM when we turn on the single side band radio for the weather forecast. By mid-morning, there is some activity planned (usually) with another cruisers such as hunting, exploring or beachcombing. Cruisers typically get together in the evening either as a group on the beach or they invite each other over to the boat in smaller groups for happy hour or dinner. In the Jumentos, if there is a gathering on the beach it is followed by a trash burning session and music.
The following two groups of photos were taken at a Birthday Happy Hour on Hog Cay. It was Klaus' birthday (LUCKY TOUCH). Top left is the food (cruisers don't go hungry). Top right is the resident hermit crab that is always hanging out at the Hog Cay Yacht Club! Bottom left is Klaus (the birthday boy) and Karin his lovely bride. Bottom right is Rick and Susan blowing up birthday balloons with LED lights in the neck.
When announcing Klaus' birthday party on the VHF Radio, cruisers were asked to bring in their instruments for a sing-along. Susan wore her guitar T-shirt. Yes, it includes a battery pack and it actually works. The last picture is Dave (DYAD) playing the T-shirt guitar!
Below are photos of the real guitar players....Dave (DYAD) and John (SAM THE SKULL). Bottom left is Fred (SCOTCH MIST) telling a joke. When the guitar players take a break ......someone stands up to tell a joke. Great entertainment.
Hog Cay--Anchored at Hog Cay on February 1. It is windy (22 knots gusting to 27) so an unusually high number of boats anchored at Hog Cay...19! Hog Cay is a great place to be with brisk easterly trades (protection from the wind, no surge and great holding). The next day, the wind dropped to 15 knots so several boats left to spread the boats out in the different anchorages. We stayed at Hog Cay for a couple more days then escaped to Raccoon for a few days.
While anchored at Hog Cay, experimented with new designs for sea glass jewelry using cheap wire. Have to say..... I am getting better. Looking forward to getting more supplies when return to the States especially wire and beads. Kim on FINE LION came over one afternoon... the two of us worked on sea glass jewelry together. Made a pendant with sterling silver wire and black cherry cultured pearls for the Duncan Town School Benefit Auction held by cruisers on Valentine's Day.
Invited Kathy & Dave (DYAD) and Rick & Susan (C_LANGUAGE) over for dinner on DISCOVERY. Made pork tenderloin, green bean casserole and patio potato casserole that everyone loved. I don't think I have laughed so hard .....Susan is so funny. She had us all laughing. Attended a potluck on the beach. Everyone brought something to grill on the wood fire and a dish to share.
Photos of sea glass jewelry. Most of the pieces are "experimental" meaning I will re-do them later with better wire and beads. Other pieces are "finished" that is made with sterling wire. The first photo is the pendant made for the Auction to benefit the school in Duncan Town. Photo two and three are also made with sterling wire (the white earring match the white sea glass bracelet made last summer). The last pieces are experimental (made with cheap wire).
Raccoon Cay--Stayed four nights with only four boats in the anchorage. Karen and I decided the trails needed more markers so picked up colorful items on the beach. With our markings, can't miss the trail or take a wrong turn. One evening, Chris and Karen invited us over for heavy appetizers followed by a game of Sequence. Chris threw the large lobster he shot earlier in the day on the barbeque. Lobster on the grill is fantastic.
Southside Anchorage (Ragged Island)--A cold front in the forecast for Saturday, February 10. Winds to clock at 15 knots from the south to the west and then build to 20 knots gusting 25 knots from the northwest clocking to the north at 22-25 knots gusting to 30. Decided to find protection from the stronger northwest and north winds so moved to Southside Anchorage on the south side of Ragged Island.
After setting the anchor, took the dinghy to shore and started walking with Chris and Karen to Duncan Town (about 1.5 miles away). On the road for no more than 5 minutes before a small pick-up truck stopped to give us a ride. Had our trash with us so the driver made a small detour to the dump ground and then delivered us to Maxine's Grocery Store. Picked up a few groceries from Maxine and asked her to call to Sheila's Fisherman's Lounge to find out if the lounge would be open for lunch. The response was "Yes". There are a couple places to eat in Duncan Town but you have to call ahead! Sheila's Fisherman's Lounge has the coldest beer in the Bahamas and great cracked conch. After lunch, Karen and Chris walked back to the anchorage while Carl and I went up to the school to use their internet. After completing our internet business, started to walk back to the anchorage. Passed Marjorie Wallace's house...she was sitting on her porch. Marjoie told us it was too hot to walk all the way back to Southside so she invited us sit on her porch while she walked down to the dock to get her husband's pick-up truck. Did not get our exercise that day!
On Saturday, walked back to Duncan Town with Steve & Kim (FINE LION); Bess and Bill (ALIBI II) and Chris & Karen to attend the Duncan Town All Age School Lunch Benefit. Stopped at the Ponderosa Bar for a cold Kalik before continuing on to the school. Lunch was $10.00 per person....main course was baked chicken or fried chicken or ribs or fried fish with your choice of peas n rice, mac n cheese, potato salad and cole slaw. This lunch is the most inexpensive meal you can purchase in the Bahamas. Good food and a good cause. Saturday later in the afternoon, Karen and Chris' friends, Dan and Nancy (MAYA) arrived from Water Cay to sit out the cold front with us at Southside.
Photos taken Saturday when we walked to town for the School Lunch Benefit. Top left is the gang enjoying refreshments at the Ponderosa Bar before reaching the school. The school lunch room is on the right (this is also where we pick up internet). School classroom in the left bottom photo. Bottom right is a photo of the "school moms" who prepared and served lunch.
As expected, the cold front rolled through around midnight with rapidly building north winds. Sunday evening.....went over to DYAD (Dave and Kathy) for dinner along with Rick and Susan (C-LANGUAGE). Kathy gave me a tour of the boat. I have always wanted to see what DYAD looked like on the inside. Kathy made meat loaf, potatoes and green beans. I made scotcheroos for dessert. Remembered how Kathy loved scotcheroos when I made them in 2007 at the Southbound Cruisers Gam in New Bern so I wanted to bring something she would like. It is so much fun to make things that people like to eat. Once again, Susan had us laughing the entire time.
Buena Vista-- Two days after the Valentine's Day Party we left Hog Cay. SYNERGY and MAYA traveled with us to Buena Vista . This would be the cruising season's last hunt for the guys, last beach walk for the girls and a" farewell for now dinner" on DISCOVERY. Nancy, Karen and I were disappointed with the walk which was a let down when comparing the windward side of Buena Vista to the windward side of Hog Cay. Buena Vista is so rugged compared to Hog. The guys had a great hunt. Originally planned to make spaghetti but changed the menu to sauteed lobster, green bean casserole and mashed potatoes. After dinner we played Sequence. In the morning, Carl and I pulled anchor at sunrise leaving SYNERY and MAYA. Hope this isn't the last time we see Karen and Chris this cruising season. It is possible they may catch up with us in March.
Top left is a photo of the windward side of Buena Vista.....very rugged and different from Hog Cay. Top right is a Slipper Lobster also known as Spanish Lobster. It is sweeter than the spiny lobster. Strange looking creature. Bottom left if the plate of sauteed lobster.
George Town--Before Regatta, enjoyed visiting with friends on Volleyball Beach in the afternoon. Carl volunteered to help with the George Town Cruisers HAM Exams. George Town has 227 boats which is a big difference from the number of boats down in the Jumentos!! It takes time to adjust to the hustle and bustle in George Town. With so many boats, the VHF radio is going all the time and there are so many "rules" which are necessary but just takes some getting used to.
Bob and Bev invited us for dinner on SAVAGE SON. Bev made an excellent lobster and scallop fettuccine. I made a carrot cake with cream cheese frosting. Played Sequence after dinner. Told Bev,"we just ate at the best restaurant in George Town"!!! Kris and Craig asked us to come to TILT for dinner along with Leigh and Ken (ONE EYED PARROTS). Kris made a pasta dish using her good friend Eleanor's recipe which was very good. After a great dinner .....Sequence. Nancy and Aimee on SOUTHERN ESTATE invited us along with Kris and Craig for dinner. Nancy made spaghetti. Once again, after a great dinner another game of Sequence. Finally Skip and Cherylle (ELEANOR M) had a beach dinner. Skip and Cherylle provide the hotdogs and condiments while the guests bring a dish to share. Karen (SEA DANCER) brought a beautiful cake for Nancy's (SOUTHERN ESTATE) birthday. Karen is famous for her desserts...seems like her specialty is "tall desserts". This cake was about 8 inches tall ....chocolate cake, chocolate buttercream frosting and a peanut butter filling. Delicious.
Attended a Sundown Party at Sand Dollar Beach with a great turnout. I was surprised to see how many people brought tortilla chips....mine are long gone. Invited over for Happy Hour with Bert and Pru on EXBURANT. Met Bert and Pru in Vero Beach this fall and again in Big Majors. This is their first year cruising in the Bahamas and they are really excited. So far, their highlight was the 5-F Festival in Little Farmers (the 5-F's are first, friday, february, family, festival). Carl and I have never attended the 5-F Festival and it sounds like we are missing a good time.
Photos taken during the Sand Dollar Sundown Party.
Attended the Annual Hog Cay Valentine's Day Party sponsored by Maxine Wallace. Maxine is a friend to cruisers. She has a small grocery store in Duncan Town where you can get basic supplies. She also takes special grocery orders from cruisers that are shipped via the CAPTAIN C( mailboat from Nassau). Maxine has made it easier for cruisers to stay in the Jumentos for extended periods of time. For the party, Maxine prepared roasted turkey, ham and fried fish plus all the traditional Bahamian sides (cole slaw, potato salad, peas n rice and mac and cheese). Can't forget the desserts.....all kinds of cakes. Oh, can't forget the beverages....pop, water and beer. Cruisers bring appetizers, desserts or a side dish to supplement what Maxine provides. Maxine's only request is that someone bakes brownies for her!!! All most all the cruisers in the Jumentos gather at Hog Cay for the party. Locals from Duncan Town come out by boat. Even the school kids attend. This year, she managed to get some government dignitaries to attend. Cruisers help Maxine cover some of the cost of the food by paying $10.00 per person After the meal, the cruisers hold a auction to benefit the Duncan Town All Age School. As he did last year, Steve on FINE LION served as the auctioneer. I held the money. Cruisers provided items that they want off their boats for auction. I donated a sea glass pendant which was used to open the auction. My pendant went for $35.00 to Maura on PUDDLE JUMPPER who was so happy to have it. By the end of the auction, the cruisers raised $1140 for the school. Last year, shortly after the Valentine's Party, Maxine's daughter in Nassau had a stroke. As a result, Maxine has been in Nassau taking care of her for almost a year returning to Duncan Town on a few occasions. As you can imagine, the medical bills are overwhelming and her absence has affected her business. So, the cruisers took up a special collection for Maxine raising $1400. The cruisers in the Jumentos were generous. All that money raised by approximately 25-28 boats.
Photos taken at the Valentine's Day Party. Top left is Monkey Man ...a fisherman from Duncan Town. Top right is Bess, Mr. Billy Storm and Christy (VERANDAH). Middle left is the "chow line". Middle right is Steve auctioning off a donated boogey board. The locals provided some music and drums for dancing. Bottom left is Rita (MAGIC) dancing with three sisters from Duncan Town. Two of the sisters are twins.
The party continued after the locals returned to George Town. First it was time to "dirty dance" to music on Susan's ipod. Then it was time for a sing-along.
Celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary on February 19 in George Town. Did not do anything "special" to celebrate on the actual day other than wish each other a Happy Anniversary and recall the day of the wedding and dance. Oh, so young at the time but still my Dad thought I was an old spinster when I was single at 24 years of age!!! Celebrated the anniversary onboard SAVAGE SON the following night.
LAUNDRY ....finally did the laundry which was a special event. Had well over a month's worth. Bev contacted Baranki's Wash to arrange for a ride for Annette (TEMPEST) , herself and me. What kind of vehicle arrived? A pick-up truck. The three girls rode in the back with the laundry. There was some oil on the truck bed so some of our laundry bags got greasy.. When I carried my laundry bags in .....transferred grease from the bags to my clean shorts. Did seven loads of laundry while checking email (this laundry offers free wifi). When the laundry was complete, Annette, Bev and I treated our self to ice cream.
Helped Kris celebrate her birthday on February 24 along with Tom & Sandy (ANANIA), Barb & Jerry (KUMBAYA), Leigh & Ken (ONE EYED PARROTS). Took the dinghies over to Augusta Bay Resort. Great hamburgers and a beautiful view of Elizabeth Harbor.
2012 George Town Cruising Regatta--Registration Day for the George Town Regatta was February 25. Signed up for Bocce Ball and Trivial Pursuit. Voted for next year's t-shirt design. There was a drawing for various prizes. I won a plastic cowboy boot glass filled with a Kalik beer as a door prize. This year's theme is "Cowboy Boots and Bathing Suits". After registration, Carl attended Keith's (CAMELOT) annual seminar on solar panels and electrical systems. This is a very popular topic that is well attended.
Rockin' Ron and Kool Karen at Regatta Registration. Ron wanted me to get a picture of his cowboy boots. On the right is Carl and I making use of one of the props!! I had to loosen the rope....Carl said I was pulling too hard.
Trivial Pursuit is a team game.... we played with Kris and Craig. Our team was named "Disco Tilt". The questions for the Trivial Pursuit were allwestern/cowboys questions (lots of old Western TV shows and movies). We did not do well but had fun playing.
Opening Night was Monday. The first event was the Pet Parade. Oh do people love their pets......pet owners write a short biography about their pet, select music that is played while their dog takes the stage and they dress them up in a costume. After the pet parade there was a game for the children .....a cardboard cowboy boot filled with candy suspended on a rope for the kids to hit with a stick. The next event was the No Talent Show followed by a dance. During the No Talent Show, food was served compliments of Indian Town Marina.
The Pet Parade. Yes, that dog has a saddle on its back. Regatta theme is "Cowboy Boots and Bathing Suits".
A game for the children. Seems like this year there have been more families in George Town than previous years.
Kool Karen was chairperson for Opening Night. She calls it "A No Talent Show". The kids put on a skit for the Opening Night. Ayla on Three@Sea read information about the primary constellations while the other children wore costumes depicting the constellation. It was really cute.
Hugh on PATIENCE played a couple country tunes. If this is truly a no talent show.....Hugh should not have been in it. He has a wonderful voice.
The funniest skit was the George Town Regatta Synchronized Swimming Team. The music was the Olympic's Theme. The guys walked in so seriously all dressed in white with swim goggles. When they were in the pool....the blue curtain came up. What a hoot!
Below is my "cowboy hat". I am getting into sea glass.
Tuesday morning Carl and I played Bocce Ball. We were assigned a partner (randomly). My partner was Keith on DOLPHIN LEAP ; Carl's partner was Georges (WET WINGS). Carl was eliminated in the first round. I managed to play two rounds before being eliminated losing by one stinking point. After Bocce Ball we took the dinghy into George Town to meet Mr. Ivan Ferguson (Administrator of the Exumas) for lunch. At the Duncan Town Auction to Benefit the school, Carl and I won the bid to have lunch with Mr. Ferguson. However, the arrangement we made with him to meet Tuesday did not work out. He was meeting with the top Immigration Officer to discuss the problem cruisers are having....not getting the number of days to stay in the Bahamas that they want. Disappointed!
Top left is Carl tossing his Bocce Ball. Top right is my partner, Keith. Bottom left..... called the judges over to decide which ball--yellow or red was closer to the pig. To determine which was closer, the judge had to slide a piece of paper between the yellow ball and the pig. The paper would not slide between the red ball and the pig. Keith and I were blue and yellow so we lost that point but won the round.
The last Regatta event held in February was the Coconut Challenge. Teams of four compete in this challenge. The dinghies take off their engines and remove the oars/paddles. Each person has one diving fin to use to propel the boat. About 2000 coconuts are released in the hole behind Chat n Chill. Participants line up on shore. At the gun, push their dinghy out and try to gather up as many coconuts as possible in a set period of time. When the time runs out, a tally of gathered coconuts is taken for each team. Next the teams compete in two coconut games. In the first game, two members of the team "man" a trash bag and try to catch as many tossed coconuts as possible. The tosser has their back to the bag holders. The fourth member of the team passes coconuts to the tosser. This is also a timed event. The purpose it to catch as many tossed coconuts as possible. The last event is like darts ......concentric circles for a target with a "bulls eye". Team members stand behind the volleyball net and toss 4 coconuts. The team with the most points from the three games wins the challenge.
More Regatta activities to follow in the March activity log!!
Almost "perfect" weather for cruising the Jumentos. Occasional cold fronts exited the southeast US and penetrated the Northwest Bahamas about every 4 to 5 days. These fronts either stalled or dissipated before reaching the Jumentos (in fact never made it south of the Staniel Cay area) . The winds would lighten and clock to the southeast ahead of front and then back to the northeast after the front and increase in velocity to 20 knots or so. This was the weather pattern until just before Valentine's Day when the front penetrated all the way to the Turks and Caicos. Therefore, the winds clocked to the south, to the west and then northwest in the Jumentos. Sat out this front at Southside. A couple more weakened cold fronts made it to George Town with no significant weather. All in all .......February was a fantastic month for weather.
The two pictures below were taken for our friends who visit or live on Beaver Island. One day we saw a big catamaran in Elizabeth Harbor with Beaver Island as the hailing port. The boat's name is CYNERGY with John and Cyndi on board. They have a summer place on Beaver Island.
January 01, 2012