Rock A Bye Bye Bahamas .: The final farewell
Our final days in the Bahamas were a real mixed bag. And that bag was yet again overflowing with weather issues. Nothing new there!
We spent our last night in the Exumas at Black Point being entertained by a local yachtie and chowing down on a buffet of food you couldn't jump over at Lorraine's Cafe . It certainly was a fun night. Next morning we headed out to Cat island. The 50 mile trip across Exuma Sound was a bit rock and roll and with the wind and waves pretty much on the beam, not our preferred angle of sail in big seas. We were pretty happy when we arrived. Salt encrusted but happy.
Pigeon cay, a spit of land just beneath Alligator Point was our chosen destination and it turned out to be a good call. The wind picked up from the north west but as we were anchored close in to the sweeping beach we were very well protected from the swells rolling around the point. Three days later the winds swung back to the north east and that was our que head south again. This time our stop was the sandy crescent shaped Fernandez Bay.
Chatter on the morning cruizhimers radio net on our SSB reminded us that it was St Patrick's Day and that the fellas from the cat Salty Paws would be playing a few appropriate Irish tunes during happy hour at the small resort in the bay. We’d heard over the years that Jim and Bentley were quite the musical duo so we mooched on in about 5 pm to join in the fun.
The laid back little resort wasn’t quite your run of the mill place.The patio bar overlooking the bay was fully stocked and ran on an honesty system. Here’s how it worked. You rocked on in, mixed your own cocktails, choose whatever beer takes your fancy or poured your wine from the selection kept on ice. Then you keep tabs on what you drink on the note pad on the bar and pay at the front desk as you leave. We sure don't find bars like that everyday.
There was an excellent roll up to listen to the boys and the complimentary conch fritters, went down quite well while I sipped on G&T’s and the captain downed a couple of Rum and Dry's. With only five boats at anchor in the bay most of the patrons were resort guests who stayed for dinner after the show.But at $65 US pp plus tax, plus15% gratuity and beverages on top it was definitely out of our budget.
No fancy date night dinner out for us, it was back to GWTW and throw something together from our freezer.
Next day we trotted around the corner to New Bight, a large open bay where the main attraction is the little church high atop Como Hill. The Mt Alvernia Hermitage sits at 200 ft above sea level. It is the highest point of land in the whole Bahamas. I guess that's about as close to heaven as you can get here. Built by a priest named father Jerome in the 1900‘s it is quite amazing structure. It took he and his helpers years of blood, sweat and tears to build and fittingly he now lays at rest in his tomb next to the small chapel. Hand carved from stone, the Stations of the Cross lead the way up a virtual goat track to get to the summit and the view from up there is fabulous.
The other draw card to this settlement are the colorful fish fry huts along the beach. Most are open every day and a couple even on Sunday which is really something in the Bahamas. We've been to fish fry's before and the food never disappoints At New Bight we road tested two of the venues Hidden Treasures run by Denise, where we munched on fresh grouper salad and wedges and the blue place to the right of Denise’s when looking from the bay.We highly recommend both especially the ribs at the place next door.
It certainly is the way to top off a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Great food and great people. Cat island seems to have cornered the market on that combo.
Next stop was Conception Island 30 miles further south. Part of the Bahamas National Park network it is a bird watches dream during the migration season. We only saw a few species but it was so nice to hear their calls.
Liam celebrated his 66th birthday while we were here and we had the whole Island to ourselves for the day.
A few boats came and went over the next couple of days but once the forecast of really strong winds of 35 knots and more got around over the airwaves we once again we had the place to ourselves.
The front lasted 4 long days and the wind howled day and night. The heavens opened up on a regular basis dowsing our decks and filling our water tanks . GWTW tugged and groaned on her 200ft of anchor chain we’d laid out and she didn't move an inch as our anchor burrowed deeper and deeper into the thick sand. We love our anchor and sleep very well knowing our home is secure.
Well time waits for no one and with the promise of better weather ahead we picked out a couple more spots to explore. Bays and Islands of the Bahamas we 'd by-passed on previous trips.
Tuesday morning we set off south. During the day the sea and the wind conditions got better and better and it just made plain sense to on keep going..to Jamaica! So after two days we are coming to the end of a 421 mile non stop passage. The conditions have been brilliant and we've sailed with a full mainsail and combo of jib and screecher, our big reaching sail since lifting our anchor at Conception Island . Sitting on speeds of around 10 knots with a spurts of 15 and 16’s now and then has made for a very fast passage.
As I write it's 0430 Thursday and I can sniff the finish line. Just 64 miles to go to reggae land mon. and the home of two Jamaican legends, Bob Marley and Usan Bolt.
Guana Cay Exumas: Black Point .Lorraine puts on a buffet Wednesday and Sunday nights. Check with her on VHF 16 to confirm your booking and number in your party.
Cat Island ..Pigeon Cay good holding over sand. Lovely long beach to stretch those stiff legs. There’s a small resort towards south end of beach but unsure if open to the public.
Fernandez Bay. Excellent holding in sand. Fernandez Bay Resort open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Honesty bar open daily. Wi-Fi available but trash disposal and laundry are not available to cruiser’s at the resort.. Easy walk to well stocked supermarket at Smiths Bay just past government dock on right side main road. Supply boat comes in on Thursdays,three times each month.
New Bight : Walking distance to well stocked supermarket north of anchorage .Follow the beach road till it joins the main road and keep walking north about one mile .
Fish fry huts on beach serving delicious food and adult beverages. Free Wi Fi.
Excellent cellular coverage from 260 ft BTC tower.
Trash bins across from government dock near post office. Post Office also has free Wi-Fi
Extra clean pubic bathrooms and showers in green building near fish fry's. No cost to use amenities.
Energetic walk to Mt Alvernia, Hermitage. Turn up road at police station near BTC tower and office and just keep on walking.
Olive’s bakery for fresh bread and cakes on main road where it divides heading towards BTC tower. Open everyday, just knock. Olive also sells home grown tomatoes.
And finally, Cat Island folk are the friendliest in the Bahamas
Conception Island. The entire island is National Park and a no take zone . Dinghy ride up mangrove creek at south end of Island . Best to enter at high tide.
North Bay. Beautiful bay and great holding in strong North through South winds but get out of dodge if a Westerly comes along . Easy dinghy access to east side through cut but watch out for the many coral heads
Strong Cellular coverage while sailing between Rum Cay and Long Island . Both have 260 ft BTC towers and we were 15 miles offshore ...priceless!