Monthly Archives: January 2014

Allans aliens 1/28/14

Allans aliens 1/28/14

We pulled anchor at 8 and headed for Allen’s Cay. Got mom up to see to the Nassau shores as we left. It was a short sail to Allan’s Cay with anchor down at 3:20. On the sail over we were in 19′ of water and it is so clean you could see the starfish on the bottom. We had to dodge a few coral heads on the way.

I ain't afraid of no alien lizard

I ain’t afraid of no alien lizard

The largest native animal in the Bahamas

The largest native animal in the Bahamas

Drug transport C46 sunken in Normans Cay Inlet.
Drug transport C46 sunken in Normans Cay Inlet.

Allan’s is famous for the inhabitants of the island which are iguana’s. Allans iguana’s are the largest native “animal” to the Bahamas. They are Very large and love grapes. They scurry up looking for a handout as they are regularly visited by tourist boats from Nassau. Mom, Gary and I had a blast feeding these lizards.

Brave hunters in black rubber clothes...huh?

Brave hunters in black rubber clothes…huh?

Gary met up with friends from “Outrageous.” Rick offered to take Gary “HUNTING” spear fishing for lobster, crab, grouper and conch. They were able to spear one lobster, crab and one conch, was a good day.

Escapade arrived arrived the day after us. We were able to visit over the days we spent here.

From here to went to Normans Cay

Normans is famous for the drug Lords who owned the island, George Jung, who is now serving his time in prision.

THERE IS A PLANE Crashed in the shallow waters here and snorkeling around it IS done By all. We dinghied TO SHORE AND WALKED the beach and the SMALL road TO the airstrip on island. There are SEVERAL Buildings still STANDING FROM The days of the drug smugglers. Pretty cool. Had to RENT THE MOVIE “Blow” just to see the mention of the islands name by Brad Pitt.

Miami to the Exuma’s – Paradise found

Welcome home "Grandma Phyllis"

Welcome home “Grandma Phyllis”

For the last several years “Grandma Phyllis” has come to Florida and spent the winter with us.  This year she flew into Nassau to travel with us for a month. Once we had her on board and firmly situated in the forward stateroom, we left Nassau and headed into the Exuma’s. Coming from here from her Northern icebound winter must have been like being transported through time to Paradise.

If you are visiting in the Bahamas, you are going to ride the bucking dinghy.

If you are visiting in the Bahamas, you are going to ride the bucking dinghy.

In 1667, when John Milton wrote the poem “Paradise Lost,” he had no idea that we would pervert his poem to refer to more earthly places. Today we think of the hustle and bustle of Honolulu or Miami and think of what it must have been like back when…. We now think of that as Paradise Lost.

Indeed, if I were Ernest Hemingway returned from the dead, I might find the Bahamas also a “Paradise Lost”, but for a normal 2014 boy from the USA, this place is a remarkable image of what Paradise might actually be. Even now, there are beaches that stretch for miles that just beg you to drop any and all inhibitions and enjoy your own completely private and VERY beautiful world. Even “old” couples feel the urges and passions of youth. I am not sure what Hemingway may have lost, but the Exuma’s for us are certainly a “Paradise Newly Found.”

The second mate making breakfast more interesting.

The second mate making breakfast more interesting.

Phyllis has spent several winters with us now, but this one is shaped up to be a great one. She has become a very special part of our Florida family and we have enjoyed the love flowing from her generation into ours.

Crossing the Gulf Stream 1-14-2014

The BIG DEAL in going to the Bahamas is the crossing of the Gulf Stream. Its actually the Florida Current down here and only becomes the Gulf Stream as it rounds Cape Hatteras. None the less, it is a fierce and raging 40 mile wide river in the ocean between Florida and the Bahama Bank, traveling at as much as 4 kts from south to north. 4 knots doesn’t seem all that much until you consider that most sailboats crossing here, are doing so at only 5 to 7 kts of forward speed. But the worst part is if there is any wind blowing against the current, it builds up an incredibly rough sea. The waves are not all THAT tall, but they have nearly vertical faces and are very close together. This is not only hard on the boat and crew, it can easily take that 7 knots of forward speed down to more like 2 to 3. When the wind is right (from the south) this is a simple and quick trip to Bimini.

Samvaro III

Samvaro IIIWe crossed with “Samvaro III” and “AWAB” and arrived in Bimini about 2:30PM.

When it is wrong (from anywhere north) it can be a bone jaring and frustrating 24 hours of pain and danger. Before making this crossing we are always looking for a “weather window” that has less that 20 kts of wind speed, and NO “N” in the wind direction – at all !!

We crossed with “Samvaro III” and “AWAB” and arrived in Bimini about 2:30PM.

Our very first sight of the Bahamas

Our very first sight of the Bahamas

Bimini is a hoot! It is absolutely an unbelievable change from everything we have seen to this point. The water is Aqua, the beaches are empty, the streets (street) is only wide enough for one way travel, but used for both directions AND pedestrians too. The ONLY thing familiar is the sun sets. We walked around the whole island, talked to kids in their uniforms headed to school, and bought our first loaf of Bahamian bread.

We had to share our anchorage in Bimini

We had to share our anchorage in Bimini

Mainstreet Dimini.  Note the sidewalks and slow cautious drivers!

Mainstreet Dimini. Note the sidewalks and slow cautious drivers!

Definitely good stuff. “AWAB” shared our anchorage along with a 26′ sailboat from New Hampshire. I really had a hard time believing anyone would sail such a small boat from there to the Bahamas, but when we met Mike and Myra on “Bear,” they had really done it. Understand a 26′ boat has no shower, a 2 burner “camp stove” and a bathroom (sort of) in the middle of the bedroom – which was the livingroom. Great for quick weekends, but these two had gone over 1000 miles and crossed the Gulf Stream in a “day sailer.”

A couple days here to check in, get a phone card and off to Nassau.

You sail across the Bahama’s Bank and then the “tongue of the ocean” to get to Nassau.

The first part of this is in water 12-17 feet deep, and you can clearly see the bottom all the time. Suddenly, the bottom drops away and the depth goes to over 2000 feet deep, and the color goes from aqua to deep navy blue. Really quite an experience the first time.

Now THATS what I'm talking about!

Now THATS what I’m talking about!

We started to troll our Mahi Mahi lure, and first a 3.5 ft barracuda and then a 8lb Mahi found it interesting enough to bite. The barracuda probably fed the other barracuda, but the Mahi feed us…. and it was wonderful. Although we have tried to catch more, this is still the only one we have caught so far. Just because we could, we anchored in the middle of the Bank and spent the night. Imagine being anchored where there is nothing at all in sight from horizon to horizon. It is very errie and strange as we normally don’t normally drop an anchor unless tucked into someplace very protected, safe and close.

Nassau was very different again. This is the capital of the Bahamas, and holds fully 1/2 of the nations population, along with its largest tourist attraction…Atlantis. We anchored in the harbor, just east of the cruise ship docks, and had an endless parade of ships to watch. One afternoon there were 6 ships including “Oasis”, the largest cruise-liner in the world.

Cruise ship nation

Cruise ship nation

There is just about anything you want here, and prices are about 1.5 times USA prices. Obviously, EVERYBODY seemed to be selling fresh conch, and Jodi found the “market” full of little beer stands and fresh veggies under the bridge to Paradise Island. The area downtown near the cruise docks was exactly what you see in the posters and TV adds… white coated and helmeted policemen directing traffic among the statues, and jewelry shops. 1/2 mile in any direction and the city looks dirty, run down and poor.

Nassau shame

Nassau shame

Nassau Pride

Nassau Pride

Perhaps the very worst for us was walking through a large church cemetery and seeing mounds of garbage tossed over the walls and strewn among the graves. Something about this put a dark and depressing cloud over our visit that no amount of sun would clear away.

On Saturday, we needed to ride a Jitney into the airport to pick up Phyllis (Jodi’s mom). For a $1.25, we got the ride, and a ongoing tour from the Jitney owner/driver about the island, politics, his wife’s company and any even about the sights we were passing. It was a blast. We tried to connect with him for the ride back into town, but the flight was late and a $40 cab ride was required instead. We did have so much fun on that Jitney ride, the next day we went into town and just flagged one down. This time it was $.75 for the seniors and we just rode around the whole route. About 1 and 1/2 hour “tour” for $2.75…. the best deal in the Bahamas! This ride took us “around the hill” and to the backside of Nassau. It was much as expected with fine gated communities next to sections of abandoned buildings next to dumps next to seeming nice little neighborhoods. We left wondering if dirt and decay that seemed pervasive was getting better – or rather the result of the 40 years of independence.