4.18.2011

Update | Cat Island | Bahamas

We are in Cat Island with very limited internet. We are leaving Cat Island in the next 48 hours to visit Conception Island. We do not expect to have web service for the next week or two. We will continue to write off line and update in the near future.

Cat Island Part I

Cat Island | Bahamas | Cruising
We went back to Allen’s Cay after Mike and Alex retuned to Kansas City. We spent a couple of days there and took several grouper by spear fishing and we had an endless supply of fresh conch. We were anchored in our own tiny paradise. We were discussing our next adventure and we decided to go to an island we had not yet visited. While looking at the Explorer Chart Books, we saw a photo on the front cover of the retirement home built on the highest point in the Bahamas by Father Jerome. It was his Hermitage, it was beautiful and we had to see it! So off we went to Cat Island! We left with strong unfavorable winds with a forecast for winds to clock and weaken. It was a rough sail the first half of the day but conditions improved throughout the day. Our original plans were to make Little San Salvador before sundown and spend the night at anchor then continue to Cat Island the next day. We did not make Little San Salvador so we hove-to in light winds and calm seas eight miles off shore and took turns watching for traffic and getting some rest. The next morning we continued to sail east and entered the banks on the west side of Cat Island, just after we passed Little San Salvador.
April 06, 2011
Once on the banks we were in awe of the crystal clear water. We were sailing in 30 feet of water and could clearly see star fish on the bottom as well as the deep colorful coral heads. Our first anchorage was at Arthurs Town. It is a quiet beautiful village that is named after the pirate Arthur Cat. The anchorage was outstanding with great holding in a sand bottom with a few scattered coral heads. We unloaded the dinghy and went ashore. There was no dinghy dock to be found so we beached the dinghy on a small strip of sand which was rocky and conch shell covered and difficult to maneuver. Unbeknownst to us this was the beginning of a trip full of blessings and new friendships! We walked the lovely cemented path to a roadside cabana bar; we think the name of it was Cocktails by the Sea, where we stopped to have beer. Afterwards we headed back to the dinghy and decided to go up the road a little farther to check out a place called “Da Smoke Pot” where we decided to have dinner, on the menu…chicken wings and fries. The food was exceptional and company entertaining. We met the owner, Julian, who is a blast to hang out with. He gifted us with a Cat Island Guide book as well a sample of the local music called Rake ‘n Scrap, his instrument…. A carpenter’s hand saw and a screwdriver raked across the teeth, believe it or not, it made a satisfying sound and provided excellent rhythm. A few of the locals were going to gather that evening to play and he invited us to come and hang out. Regrettably, we tried to make it but the tide was high and the water was all the way up to the road, no place to dock the dinghy but we were determined to try and in the process the Admiral was stung on the leg by a scorpion, so we spent the evening listening to the beat of the island music known as Rake and scrape on Mary Rose under a star studded sky. The next day we moved south to gain some additional protection at anchorage from slightly clocking winds.
April 07, 2011
The name of the next settlement was Bennett’s Harbour. Once again, the anchorage was stupendous with grand holding in a sand bottom with a few scattered coral heads. We jumped in the dinghy and went to town. Fortunately there was a fantastic dinghy dock here, Lana’s scorpion sting was still tender and she was a bit reluctant to climb around on any rocky sandy patches today. As we entered the creek where the dinghy dock was located we noticed a boat standing on its keel in the middle of the creek at low tide. We decided to take a closer look, it was a Westsail 32!!! There she stood proud and confident, her keel wedged severely in the mud and sand refusing to fall for no man or women. She was stripped of most gear and looked tired, her hull covered in dried sludge. We went closer to see if we could get her name and hull number, her name was washed out and difficult to read, Sly Boots. It was a bit heartbreaking to see such a sea worthy vessel in such disarray. We checked around with the locals that were hanging out and no one seemed to know anything about this boat that was held captive in the creek. Update: We found out after sending the hull number to Bud Taplin and continuing to talk to the locals that the vessel has been through 2 hurricanes and the doctor that owns her is living in the States and has had no free time to tend to her. Whenever we arrive at a new port the first thing we do is take a walk to meet the locals. Our first stop today is to check out the local library, we chatted with the locals and then we stopped at a small store named Yardee’s to purchase bottled water. Here is where we met Richard. Rich is a private pilot and builder from New York City and owns the Tail Winds Resort on the north end of Cat Island at Shanna Bay. Rich invited us to anchor in front of his resort and come ashore to visit. He assured the captain that he had plenty of ice cold Kalik but he really enticed us with the free internet and showers! He guaranteed there was an abundance of deep water as well as a protected anchorage. After we concluded our walk we decided it was time to stalk our dinner, we noticed quite a few coral heads on our way in which meant there may be grouper fish! We snorkeled around the bay with no avail; the bay was barren, which means……………….. beans and rice! On our return to Mary Rose we noticed people swimming on the beach. We decided to go introduce ourselves. That’s how we met Gian Franco , Linda and Tito. They were leasing a private home for the week and were very friendly. They mentioned that we should check out Tail Winds which convinced us that it must be a sign, Tail Winds is now a definite! They invited us in for a sundown cocktail, with ICE!! Yeah! But we had to decline since the Admiral had beans and rice to cook and it was getting late. Rain check please!
April 08, 2011
There are no laundry or internet services in Bennett’s Harbour which meant it was time to travel north so we could get those much needed services. So our next stop was Orange Creek. Orange Creek acquires its name from a rare occurrence that takes place only when all the correct conditions occur at the identical time. This includes the angle of the sun, the direction of the wind and waves and the correct tide. When all these environmental conditions align in the appropriate form it causes the entire creek to appear a dazzling, luminescent orange color. It is said by the locals that a person may only see this phenomenon 2-3 times in their lifetime, but it is something you will never forget if you are fortunate enough to see it. First stop, The Orange Creek Inn which consists of a hotel, store and laundry. Margaret is the proprietor and is very helpful. This is the great place to provision since her prices are the cheapest we have seen in a while. Her selection is limited but there are still many items to choose from. The store is closed from sundown Friday and all day Saturday to allow Margaret to celebrate her Lord and the Sabbath so no provisioning until Monday if you arrive after sundown on Friday. Margaret has fast internet that she will allow you to use for a small donation that goes to her church, Seventh Day Adventist. We also met some local fishermen who were also preparing for their Sabbath rest. Once again we ran into Rich. I suspect this happens often on this island since there is only one main road that runs north to south. Rich loaded us up in his delightfully vintage 1947 Willy’s jeep and drove us to see his resort. We enjoyed a beer in this beautiful place as well as spent some time getting to know Rich. We concurred that we must come and spend some time anchored at Shanna Bay. With provisioning and laundry completed and internet items accomplished it was time for relaxation and a game of cards.
April 09, 2011
We decided it was time to go to the Tail Winds Resort on Shanna’s Bay just north of Orange Creek around Orange Point. We slowly worked our way around the point as it was in an area on the charts that was not yet surveyed. We anchored in a lovely spot after scouting the area with our dip stick to make sure Rich was correct in regards to the massive amount of water in the bay. We settled in and then took the go-fast dingy to the beach on the north end of the island and that is where Lana found the message in the bottle. We then returned to Shanna’s Cove and went ashore to visit Rich. This is where we met Emily and Kathy that were guests at the Tail Wind Resort. Later that night we all boarded Rich’s 1947 Willy’s jeep and headed for a local restaurant called “Da smoke pot.” It is named after the practice of putting out a smoke pot up wind at night to keep the bugs away. The food was excellent and later in the evening a “Rake and Scrape” band started to play. It was wonderful and the Captain just happened to have his maracas with him. Needless to say, the captain became part of the band and before the night was over they even made a new song up about the captain. We spent the night in one of the resorts luxurious villas. Thank you Rich!
April 10, 2011
Rich was trying to arrange a snorkel trip for Emily and Kathy through local services but was running into barriers so we decided to offer our services and take everyone sailing and snorkeling. We had a great time and Lana made some excellent Conch Ceviche for us all to snack on. The captain speared a huge queen trigger fish but it got loose and swam away. Later that night, we all gathered at the resort and created a wonderful tropical dish from rice, shrimp, conch and many other ingredients.
April 11, 2011
Lazy day spent catching up the blog, talking to family and friends on Skype, showers and exploring, we also watched a bit of TV at Tail Winds to get caught up on world events…that was depressing
April 12, 2011
Lazy Day
April 13, 2011
Today we moved to Bennett Harbour and met up with our new acquaintances Gian Franco and Linda at their rental property. There was a bit of upheaval occurring when we arrived, Boxie the local run around dog had been shot and Linda was working hard and trying to rectify the situation and help him. Boxie is a bit of a terror to the locals from what I gathered, possibly due to abuse because he is gentle as a lamb to the vacationers. Nonetheless someone shot Boxie and Linda was determined to make sure he was carried for. Thanks to you both for the provisions, perishables mean so much when you are cruising.
April 14, 2011
Today we moved to Fernandez Bay. It was a nice, slow lazy sail all morning into mid afternoon at which time rain showers began developing. We had rain showers in front of us, rain showers behind us and of course the rain preventer up, aka rain catcher. We call it the rain preventer because every time we put it up the course the rain showers are following magically change direction. We made it to anchor minutes before the winds picked and began to make a little havoc. At 1605 we were in the final phase of putting gear away when the Captain yelled, “Water spout touching down, grab the camera, no wait... There are 3 water spouts touching down!!” It was a magnificent sight to see these powerful mix masters of nature. They formed at the base of the clouds and reached down to churn the water into a frothy brew below them. They were about 1 -2 miles from us and moving away but still the Admiral was nervous. I told her to take refuge in the basement. She gave me a bewildered look and went below.
April 15, 2011
Wake up slow was our motto today. We went snorkeling speared three yummy fish! Our newest neighbors is a boarding school of 7 high school kids on a 70 foot sailing vessel, Geronimo, there are also 3 crew on board. Purpose?? Turtle research. The reason I know so much about this vessel, one of the crew members swam up to Mary Rose incognito style to admire Mary while the Capt with binoculars in hand was being a Nosey Ned and Stew the Crew caught him in the act of snooping.


To be continued.......photos later........

3 comments:

kathy said...

Lana & Don,
Just checking in to see how your sails are going. Emily & I arrived back home safe and sound and missing Cat Island! What a wonderful time it was meeting you both. The pictures you shared are awesome although the ones you put on my card did not come out and the video I wanted most with the Captain A-Hole song is not there. Boo hoo! Hope you guys are having fun and enjoying the sun and sail. Perhaps we will meet up again!
Kathy Jiamboi

Anonymous said...

Stu from geronimo checking in. Stuartkem@yahoo.com keep in touch great meeting you.

CaptainDon said...

Hi there! We will be leaving Cat Island today heading for Conception. Glad to hear you both are home safe and sound. It was great meeting you both. Sorry about the video I will e-mail it to you when we have adeq internet. Please keep in touch!!

Don and Lana