Tag Archives: #thebahamas

Bahamas 101

We are currently cruising through the amazing archipelago known as The Bahamas. We didn’t know much about this incredible cruising ground and now fully appreciate why so many boaters, particularly those from North America, spend their winters exploring the incredible little nooks and crannies!

DSCN9564 (800x599)
Dean’s Blue Hole on Long Island is the deepest known blue hole in the world at 663ft.

Bahamas_2009

According to Wikipedia, The Bahamas territory encompasses 470,000 km2 (180,000 sq mi) and is made up of over 700 islands, cays (keys) and islets in the Atlantic Ocean. These islands are divided into regions: The Abacos, The Exumas, The Raggeds, The Jumentos and the Far Bahamas, which cover the more uninhabited outer islands. The main ‘cities’ are Georgetown down south in the Exumas, Nassau on the island of Providence, also the Bahamian capital, and Freeport on the northern island of Grand Bahamas in the Abacos.

bahamas

Many boaters sail across from the US for the northern hemisphere winter and spend their time cruising up and down the islands often only visiting the closer ones: The Abacos and The Exumas. We made our way up from the Dominican Republic via Turks and Caicos and have visited some of the outer or Far Bahamanian islands. These were a treasure and we feel privileged to have been able to visit some of them!

The islands we have visited have all been different but, at the same time, very similar. The striking similarity is the ‘gin-like’ clarity of the water! We attribute this to two reasons: the islands are flat and have little to no agriculture eliminating run-off; and, the prevailing winds during winter are from the east so this means the Atlantic ocean is flushing out the waterways with every tide. The result is pristine waters just begging you to snorkel, dive or swim.

DSC_0286 (800x507)
Staniel Cay

We find it impossible to accurately describe the colour and clarity of the water…..

The shallows, of course, present their own problems. We have to time our movements according to high tide and our snorkelling to slack water. We are on constant alert for coral heads and sandbars and many nautical miles are completed with only 1-1.5m under Kool Kat’s keels.

IMG_7516 (800x533)
Capt’n on high alert for coral heads and sandbars.
DSCN9755 (800x600)
Typical sandbar on the right.
DSCN9793 (800x600)
Jack’s Cove and very typical island terrain

We had to stop at Rudder Cut Cay to dive on David Copperfield’s stainless steel piano with accompanying mermaid. And, of course, Mal had to tickle the ivories. Not bad clarity in 15-20′ of water. The tide was going out and it took all our energy to maintain position. We time our dives now for slack water!

DSCN9726 (800x600) DSCN9724 (800x600)

And, like all good tourists, we had to feed the pigs at Staniel Cay….

And, snorkel Thunderball Grotto. This is a gorgeous little cave where James Bond (Sean Connery) did what he did best in the film Thunderball.

DSCN9871 (800x600)DSCN9879 (800x600)

Good ol’ Sergeant Majors always provide a pretty show.

DSC_0322 (800x532)

And, so we continue, up through The Exumas to Nassau where we are collecting my sister at the end of this month and we can share some new experiences with her through The Abacos! Can’t wait 🙂

Until next time, Sue and Mal xxx

Island friendliness…

We needed to refuel but the fuel dock on Mayaguana is no more so locals, Marissa and Dalton, drove us to Pirate’s Well to pick up fuel in two 15-gallon drums. We talked, laughed and sang and generally hit it off! We discussed all things island, and it came up that we hadn’t ever tried conch salad. Ok, says Dalton, today is your lucky day!

DSCN9348 (800x600)

OK, out to KK to refuel whilst Dalton and Marissa go fishing, or is that conching?

DSCN9351 (800x585)

We’ve never refueled like this before! Boy, those drums are heavy!

DSCN9353 (600x800)

DSCN9358 (800x600)

Four hours later, we’d finished refueling and Marissa and Dalton arrived with all the ingredients to make a conch salad and with two fabulous dog snapper for our din-dins!

DSCN9359 (800x600)

Chop, chop, chop and dice, dice, dice very finely! Intersperse with jokes and a little rum and soda!

DSCN9366 (800x600)

Add some salt, goat pepper (wow, it sure packs a punch!), ground black pepper, capsicum, red and brown onion, and heaps, I mean heaps, of lime juice!

DSCN9370 (800x600)

It was sooooo good! Dalton’s THE MAN! It went down very nicely with an ice cold beer!

DSCN9371 (800x600)

Then he prepared our snapper; first he created a rub with salt, garlic, that fiery little goat pepper and a touch of black pepper.

DSCN9374 (800x600)

He made an incision on the outside and placed in the cut along with inside the fish itself.

DSCN9375 (800x600)

Then he placed sliced capsicum and onions over and inside the fish and wrapped in foil. We refrigerated it for a few hours and then placed on the grill and hmm! Need I say more!

DSCN9380 (800x600)

What a day! Thanks Marissa and Dalton for giving us a taste of island life Mayaguana-style!

Still having a blast, Sue and Mal xx

PS: Conch are everywhere throughout the Caribbean and The Bahamas and is also known as Lambi. We’ve tried it a few times in a stew-style dish but it’s always been a little rubbery. This is what a conch looks like alive….

queen-conch-peeking-sally-weigand
Photo courtesy of Google – one type of conch.

Waiting, waiting, waiting…

DSCN9131 (800x600)
Kool Kat in her slip at Palmas del Mar Marina

OK, our last post had us arriving at Palmas del Mar Marina on the east coast of Puerto Rico where we planned to hire a car to provision in preparation for The Bahamas.  All our cruising friends had told us that you need to be well-provisioned before visiting this incredible archipelago of islands. According to Wikipedia, it encompasses more than 470,000 sq kms!

bahamas
So much to see….

From what we understand there is very little agriculture so most foodstuffs are brought in, often by mail boat once a week and, when that food has gone, it’s gone until the next boat arrives. Because it is imported, food can also be expensive. Cruising guides have stressed that boaters need to be independent as there may be little or no services available. So, with all this advice in mind, we got busy!

Inventories were taken in the pantry, laundry and workshop! Use-by dates were checked and some stuff was tossed! We then set about trying to estimate how many meals x how many days we might need and exactly which boat spares we should buy, just in case!

DSCN9155 (800x600)

We stocked up at Walmart, Econo and West Marine. Oh, and Gwen and I stocked up at JC Penney’s and Marshall’s too as we didn’t have anything warm to wear in the cold Bahamas, LOL! New goods were added to the inventory and excess packaging was removed, not only minimising opportunities for little beasties to stowaway on our boat, but also to reduce the amount of rubbish we’d create in The Bahamas.

DSCN9153 (600x800)
I hope we’ve got enough……
DSCN9154 (800x600)
Definitely got enough tea bags!

In the midst of all this activity we celebrated Australia Day with the Inaugural Australia Day Film Festival on Kool Kat! Banyan (Alex and Dave) and Slow Waltz (Gwen and Guillaume) joined us to watch Aussie movies Red Dog and Gettin’ Square, which is only fair as we helped celebrate Canada Day last 1st July. We had a little Vegemite overload with Banyan and Slow Waltz bringing Vegemite popcorn yes, you read that correctly, Vegemite popcorn, which accompanied our Vegemite on salada-like biscuits and Vegemite and cheese scrolls. Thank goodness I also made Anzacs and mini banana muffins! I should add Mal showed a short Youtube video called ‘Straya’ which is quite a hoot!

DSCN9134 (800x600)
Yep, that’s the Vegemite popcorn in the green bowl! It was scrummy!
DSCN9138 (800x600)
They tasted better than they looked!

So, back to our planning for The Bahamas. Guillaume and Mal had been checking the weather watching for a good window where we could bypass the Dominican Republic and sail straight to either Great Inagua (bottom of The Bahamas) or The Turks and Caicos, a small country next to The Bahamas. The window needs to be 3-4 days of good sailing weather and there was one coming up which looked perfect.

Kool Kat leaving Puerto del Mar Marina. Thanks Banyan for the image.
Kool Kat leaving Puerto del Mar Marina. Thanks Banyan for the image.

We said our goodbyes to Alex and Dave and headed off with Slow Waltz to the southwest corner of Puerto Rico, where we would stop for the night before commencing our journey across the Mona Passage and into the great beyond! But before long Slow Waltz had trouble with the autohelm and an autohelm is not what you want to have out of action when doing a big passage, well, any passage really! So, we both pulled into Salinas on the south coast of Puerto Rico to see what was what. Luckily for us, our hot water service gave up  the ghost whilst there. We’re lucky because if this had happened elsewhere further into our trip we would have been having cold showers for a very long time! Everyone tells us that The Bahamas is a lot cooler than we’ve been used to in the Eastern Caribbean so we wanted a working hot water service! We were able to order a new one, along with some other items and, because Puerto Rico is a US territory, delivery was estimated as three days and not hellishly expensive.

We moved to Guilligan’s Island and then on to Puerto Real on the west coast to wait for the goods and so we would be ready to go as soon as the next window opens up. Our trip was beautiful with dolphins and interesting terrain to keep us occupied.

IMG_7328 (800x533)
Dolphins playing off Kool Kat’s bow
IMG_7329 (800x533)
They love to jump and surf the waves
IMG_7314 (800x530)
The stunning lighthouse, Faro Los Morrillos de Cabo Rojo, on southwest corner of Puerto Rico
IMG_7345 (800x515)
Sunrise over the sleepy port of Puerto Real
DSCN9151 (800x585)
Homes in the fishing village of Puerto Real

The goods arrived true to their word in three days and Mal successfully installed it. Slow Waltz have also got their autohelm working and we’re all ready to go!

DSCN9149 (800x600)
One new fully-installed hot water service!

So now, we’re waiting, waiting, waiting. The winds are very light and there doesn’t seem to be a big enough weather window for The Bahamas so, we think we will do one overnight hop across the Mona Passage to the Dominican Republic where, once again, we’ll be waiting, waiting, waiting.

Until next time, Sue and Mal xx

Postscript: We’ve woken this morning (Sunday 7th February) to 20-30kn winds so we’re off! Woohoo!