3.01.2010

Welcome to Mayaguana Island, Bahamas

We made landfall at Abraham’s Bay on Friday February 19, 2010 at about noon direct from Rum Cay. The trip from Rum Cay began about 3 AM with strong favorable winds. We set a reef in the mainsail the day before at anchor for our night departure. The winds died out the second night and we motor saied for a bit before they picked up again very early in the morning. Our max speed on this passage was 9.8 knots surfing with the huge swells. Overall it was a great sail and a good experience.

We had hoped for a short stay at anchor while waiting for favorable weather to continue on to the Dominican Republic (DR) through the Turks and Caicos. The Dominican Republic is south about 150 nautical miles. We are still at anchor in Abraham’s Bay on Tuesday February 23, 2010 still waiting for a weather window that will allow a safe and comfortable passage to at least the Turks and Caicos. The Chris Parker weather report this morning indicated that we may have to wait until at least Thursday evening for departure so that we make an early daylight landfall in the Turks and Caicos. Chris Parker commented that he has not seen weather events like this in the Bahamas since 1996. The fronts seem to be lined up like box cars on a freight train and keep sweeping through the islands one right behind another. Once we get to the DR we will have other challenges with the easterly trade winds that will require sailing in the night lee just off shore to take advantage of the land breeze shelter after dark as the island cools and sends waves of air off shore deflecting the trade winds.

But for now we are in Mayaguana and it has been a wonderful experience. Mayaguana is one of the islands in the Bahamas that still has its original Indian name. It is the most easterly island of the chain, located 60 miles north of Inagua, and 295 miles southeast of Naussa/Paradise Island. The island was uninhabited until 1812, after which it was gradually settled by people from the Turks and Caicos Islands. The island is mostly undiscovered and unspoiled and is a favorite stopover for cruisers in route to and from the Turks and Caicos. The island is mostly surrounded by beautiful coral reefs that are teeming with rays, fish, turtles, lobster and conch. I went spear fishing with Charlie from the sailing vessel Kaya and harvested the biggest lobster you have ever seen. The tail was at least 6-8 pounds and the lobster went below my waist and over my head when I held it up for a photo. The Admiral will post the photo when we have high speed internet available.

The three main settlements on Mayaguana are Abraham’s Bay, Betsy Bay and Pirate’s Well. Abraham’s Bay is the main town on the island and is the home of local government services; it is located on the south coast and has as excellent harbor. This is the town that we dinghy to when we go ashore. There are some services available here but very limited. There is a small grocery with limited supplies, a restaurant and two bars. Batelco has a cellular phone tower here and we are able to use their wifi by sitting outside on a concrete slab. We were directed to Club Paradise when we asked where we could find a cold drink and this was the beginning of a wonderful, rich and rewarding experience with our many new Mayaguanian friends. The owner, Andre (Touch, pronounced Tousch) and his fiancée Vanessa treated us to several meals and evenings of music and dance. I might add that all was very reasonably priced and the quality was incredible. The locals use the phrase “Off the Chain” as we would use “Off the Charts” to describe something beyond good. I can assure you that it was all “Off the Chain!” Andre is a fisherman and fishes seven days a week for deep water snapper, grouper and conch. He uses 200 pound test, nylon line and are you ready for this? He hand lines and pulls the fish in by hand without the aide of any reel or mechanical device. He treated us to several meals from his catch and it seemed as though the whole family got involved in the preparation. Andre is a bright, hardworking and honest individual. We became good friends in a very short time and I will always treasure his friendship. Be sure to visit Club Paradise when you come to this island.

Betsy Bay is a secluded town and lost in time, with just a few houses, a graveyard and a beautiful inlet with miles of beach. Wild corn plants, saucy hummingbirds and stereophonic birdcalls are the only intrusion in this little settlement.

Pirate’s Well is the prettiest of the settlements, with sun-worn pastel cottages and deeply-arced bay where the lone hotel sits. Buccaneers used to roam here in the past and there is still talk of buried treasure they left behind. In the center of the settlement there is a well that was dug by pirates passing through Mayaguana in the 1800’s, hence the name given to this settlement.

If you happen to land here for any reason, you can call “Papa Charlie” on the VHF, channel 16 and Pappa Charlie will direct you to what ever services you require. He is very knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. Our experiences here have been wonderful and everyone is very friendly and helpful, without exception. We enlisted the services of Vincent (Scully) Cartwright to give us a ride to the beaches on the north side of the island where we enjoyed a day of treasure hunting on the beach. Scully specializes in bone fishing adventures. Here is the copy from the flyer he gave us.
Vincent (Scully) Cartwright
Abraham’s Bay, Mayaguana
Cell 1-242-463-0030 VHF CH 16

Scully’s Bone Fishing Adventures

Few people will work as hard as Captain Vincent Scully Cartwright to ensure you have a true island adventure.

Growing up on the remote island of Mayaguana, Vincent earned his nickname Scully, as a young man it was his job to scull the small skiff while his father free dived for fish and conch. Scully is a competent guide with many years experience on the waters, something for which there is no substitute. He is knowledgeable with regards to weather and sea conditions, fish, tide and local lore.

Scully is available for Bonefishing, Blue Water Fishing, Reef Fishing, Spearing, Snorkeling, Beachcombing, Shelling and Sightseeing.

Mayaguana is truly an out island so don’t expect McDonald’s or even a corner store for that matter. What you can expect is seclusion, friendly island people, unmatched beauty, incredible fishing and snorkeling. And most of all, one fellow that will work hard to make your stay most enjoyable. We had a great time with Scully and recommend his services.
So here we sit in a rocking and rolling anchorage today waiting for the weather to turn in our favor so that we can leave our new friends and make some more. We will return to this island on our return trip to the states and see our friends yet again.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Incredible lobster....we didn't hear about the cooking and eating experience.
Mike D

Anonymous said...

Are you in a hurry to get somewhere....you don't stay long in any one place? Too many islands too little time?
Mike D

Anonymous said...

Great photos of the sunrise. Amazing!