15 March, 2016
Friday, the 11th. We’re waiting for A.J., the water taxi driver, to come and pick Andy& Jodie up for their trip to the airport. I hate these times, the long farewells. Typical to “island time”, he doesn’t arrive at the boat until 30 minutes past the agreed time. Andy is fit to be tied. In his mind, he’s already on his way home. After A.J. finally arrives and picks A&J up, we should be busy cleaning the boat, but are in a catatonic state, so we spend the rest of the afternoon just chillin’. A few of the boats in the anchorage are planning a trip to Long Island on Monday, with some excursions after arrival, so we want in. We call “Five and Dime” to get in, and are told that all of the spots for the activities there are filled. No room at the Inn. A half hour later, we’re called on the VHF, and are told that there’s an opening, as one of the boats hasn’t paid their dues. Quicker than a fly on you-know-what, we’re over to “Five & Dime” with a hundred and five rockets to pay our dues. We’re in.
On Saturday, we spend the day makin’ water and doing laundry, as well as cleaning the Girl, post guests. The office is reconfigured from a guest stateroom back, and our trusty little ship is returned to normal. At 05h30, A.J. picks us up for our soiree into town for the “Bahamian Music and Heritage Festival”. Live music, Bahamian food and drink are on the schedule. The music is good, the food is great, and the night goes quickly. Before we know it, we’re home.
On Sunday, the 13th, the winds had subsided to around 13 knots or so. The seas were predicted to be running 1’-3’, so we saddled up to head over to Long Island. I wasn’t in much of a hurry, as I had taken a quick look at the chart and figured it was about 18NM to our anchorage. Suz looked at me kinda funny when she asked, and I told her that I wanted to leave around 12h00 or so. We got the dinghy up and secured, and got under way at around 11h30. We hadn’t plotted a course. I figured that we’d do it once underway, as it would be a short hop. NOT! Thirty-eight miles? I don’t know what I was smokin’ when I thought it was only 18, but we were lucky that we had switched to Daylight Savings Time, or we wouldn’t have made it before dark. We made Thompson Bay at Long Island just before dusk, and dropped the hook in around 10’ of water at the northern end of the bay. No time to explore as it was getting dark, so we left “White Star” on the boat deck and settled in with the 4 other boats scattered in the bay. Today, we crossed the Tropic of Cancer (23 degrees, 25 minutes North latitude), the farthest south that “Alizann” has been.
Monday. Race day. We expected the sailors from Georgetown to start arriving just after noon. We dropped the dink, and headed to the newly rebuilt dinghy dock for some shore recon. We stopped at the “Sou’ Side Bar & Grill”, which would be the focal point of the upcoming shoreside activities. There, we met Tyrone and his wife Vanessa, the owners of the 400 square foot (Maybe. This included the 2 porches) establishment. It was empty, save for a guy sitting outside under the shade of a Sea Grape tree. We sidled over, and introduced ourselves to Alton, locally known as “Big Al”, as there were 2 other men by the name Alton on the Island. We trolled for some local knowledge, including good snorkel spots, the location of the market, if there was a place to “top off” our cell phone, where we could drop off our well-traveled packages of post-hurricane relief supplies, and etc. (Later, we would find out that he, and his partner, Sue, were former Georgetown liveaboards who had recently sold their boat and were now living on the island. They were also the local organizers of the soon-to-arrive Georgetown to Long Island rally.) We checked out the local scene, which didn’t take long, topped off our data plan on the IPad, found that the “mail boat”, which brought fresh produce to the market, would arrive in 2 days, and headed back to Sou’ Side for lunch and a brew. The Hogfish was tasty. Right about then, the first boats of the rally were appearing on the horizon-no sails (no wind). We beat a hasty retreat back to the Girl, as we had decided that our late evening choice for anchoring was too far from the lone dinghy dock. We re-anchored a half mile or so from the dock in 6’ of water, and watched as the 30 or so boats in the rally streamed in, motoring all the way. In the evening, we all convened at Sou’ Side for a potluck of shared heavy hors doeuvres, supplied by our fellow cruisers, and 2/$5 Sand’s beer, supplied by the bar. Team “Alizann” was smoked in the Conch races. We didn’t even make it out of the first round. I’m pretty sure that there were some professionals in the mix.
Tuesday was a big day. The big yellow schoolbus from St Peters Anglican parish school was at the dock and loaded by 08h30 for our grand tour of the south end. David, our driver (and Harbormaster for the commercial harbor, and lumberyard owner, and former grocery store owner, and jack of all trades), gave us a running commentary on the history of the island as we headed “up south”. Like Canadians in the Maritimes, South is referred to as “up”, and North, “down”. For our tour, I had the best seat in the house. Since the bus was full, I sat on an upturned 5 gallon bucket next to David. We all witnessed firsthand the devastation that “Joaquin” had visited on the people here that were hanging on by their fingernails, even before the storm. We hit a Blue Hole, where a couple of us climbed and dove off a 50’ cliff into the 630 foot deep water below. (The Admiral and I did it twice, with 4 other folks taking a shot each). Next, it was off to “Rowdy Boys” for lunch and sips. After our bus tour, the crew headed back to their respective boats to “get pretty” for the night’s trip to the cave at Stella Maris for dinner and sips. Suz and I stayed behind. David had promised to show us his “secret spot” for bagging lobster (known locally as crawfish). We took the bus up to his house, where we transferred to his wife’s car for our expedition to the windward side of the island. There, he showed us the “spot”. At 18h00, and we were all back on the busses for our trip down north for the nights’ festivities. On the way, we stopped at a roadside bar for a few roadies ($3 beers, as negotiated by Big Al). Dinner was literally in a cave. We sat on the rocks, and supped on grilled Mahi, chicken, peas and rice, cole slaw, and, what? Hot dogs. David got us back to the dock safely, and we motored home.