The weather co-operated with us last week and we returned to Long Island on Mon, Feb 6th. We even managed to sail there with an average speed of 7.4 kts. Together with High Stepper, Doug & Connie, we anchored in Thompson Bay. Murray has managed to catch 3 fish on the way over and even landed one, so we cooked a fish dinner for all of us. That afternoon, I arranged a car rental to start at 2 pm the next day.
The best part of the whole experience was the interaction with the local people. They are very friendly and will even pick up cruisers hitch-hiking on their roads. Details of the trip follow.
In the morning, we explored the anchorage, the dinghy dock and walked around the neighbourhood somewhat. At 2 pm, we got our rental car and started the adventures. We would spend that afternoon heading north and, in the morning, would see what we could to the south. We passed through a few tiny towns and followed a sign to Elsie Knowles Straw Handicraft. Elsie was a trip – very knowledgeable, friendly and enthusiastic about the Bahamian straw weaving industry. Each area weaves a different pattern and Elsie gets it all and makes bags, hats etc. When I said that I was trying basket-making myself, she showed us her plait patterns, the “straw” and encouraged me to continue with the skill.
Elsie sent us down a dirt road, looking for a beautiful beach. That was an adventure in itself as the road deteriorated to a mere track, littered with rocks. Finally, we did find a beach but we have seem more beautiful ones. We had a nice walk but found few shells or beans.
Eventually, we reached the northern tip of Long Island at the Columbus Monument. One of Columbus ships wrecked here on a reef off of the point named for it – Cape Santa Maria. Long Island was Columbus’s third stop in the New World. The land around the monument is very rough and tourists would not be allowed to even walk near this area in Canada or US, due to danger of falling from the cliff or slipping down the steep path. But, we made it and got some good pictures too.
A cold beer was next on the list and quickly taken care of. Heading back to the dinghy dock, Mur spied the sign for Beer and Burgers. The car turned right in and we spent a pleasant time, conversing with a local lobster fisherman.
Early the next morning, we headed off southward. The first stop was the ruins of the Spanish Church, built in 1600’s and still in use in 1960’s. Clarence Town and the St Peter and Paul’s Catholic church was our next stop. The church was built by Father Jerome and is situated on the highest hill in the area. Mur climbed the one tower that was still usable and has some great photos. Also in Clarence Town, we saw the salt ponds and the canal dug by the slaves to fill those ponds. They used the sun’s heat to evaporate the water and then harvested the salt.
The road from yesterday soon paled in our minds as we traveled down a track to Dean’s Blue Hole. It is one of the deepest blue holes in the world and is 633 feet deep. An Australian is training there to beat the world record for free diving and dives daily, with no fins or weight belts to assist him. He dove to 240 ft while cruisers stood and watched. The record now is at 256 ft.
The museum was next on the list and, although small, was very informative and interesting. There we saw the remnants of a dugout log canoe built by the early inhabitants of these islands, the Arawak Indians.
Time was running short, but we stopped by Roland McHardy’s Produce & Sponges. He is a 77 yr old widower, who farms in the rocky soil and grows fruits and vegetables galore. We chatted, marveled and carried two buckets full of stuff to the trunk. Sixteen dollars was all he would charge, but only after he showed us photos of his daughters and grandson. Now we just have to figure out how to cook/eat some of the unusual stuff like plantain and papaya.
The car was returned by 2 pm and we headed to the boat, exhausted from our adventures. Thompson Bay Inn was the place for dinner that night, with many cruisers in attendance.
Thursday, we sailed the whole way back to George Town, right into the anchorage. A radio call informed us that a concert was planned for that evening. We dinghied over, tied onto a major dinghy raft and listened in awe to opera. Stephanie, from Rhapsody and Divia from Maggie M. provided the beautiful arias. Stephanie, the whole 110 lbs of her, was a trained professional opera singer and can really project her clear, beautiful sound over the water. The almost full moon rose behind them. Wow, what a night.
But, we must pay for these good days and another cold front was expected. Hiding once more in Crab Cay, we are somewhat protected from the wind. The front hit yesterday afternoon with rain and high winds. Our anchor held and so did the ones around us. Now, the wind will continue to blow for a few more days and then we will head further north.
This is getting too long, so I will write another one soon. Hugs to all,
Heather & Murray