Georgetown to Salt Pond, Long Island

For us Georgetown is a special place because that’s where our cruising dream started most of 20 years ago. That being said it’s not our favorite place to be this time of year because it’s crowded with hundreds of cruising boats in the harbour. A stop in Georgetown is a necessary evil as it’s the best place within hundreds of miles to buy groceries and other essentials. We were in and out pretty quick and were off to Cat Island immediately after the passage of another cold front. The night before leaving Georgetown we were able to stream the Super Bowl on our laptop. The picture was small but the nachos and IPA’s were wonderful.

Super Bowl on the big 15”
Motoring out of Elizabeth Harbour

Cat Island is one of those places in the Bahamas that leaves you feeling good about the land and the people. When someone asked us recently what was good about a visit to Cat, I thought of the beaches and the water first. Then I realized what makes Cat special to me, and that’s the people. They are extremely friendly and legitimately happy that we are there.

Our sail to Cat started without much wind and a few miles out of Georgetown we discussed going back and trying again the following day. It’s about a 45 mile trip and we didn’t want to motor that far. Thankfully the wind came up quickly and we ended up having a fast and comfortable sail.

A happy sailor arrives at Cat Island
New Bight Car Island

Cat Island is home to many old buildings and churches. Several of the churches were designed by Father Jerome including “The Hermitage” which he built himself. Loyalist ruins are everywhere as you walk down the road.

One of Father Jerome’s Churches
Loyalist Ruins
Father Jerome’s Hermitage

The beach at New Bight is home to “Fish Fry”, a collection of food shacks, a souvenir stand, and a bar. We had dinner with friends, Dave and Betty, at one of the food shacks, Sunshine Takeaway. The food was excellent but the mosquitos and no see-ums were awful as the sun set. We tried our bug spray and our waitress brought mosquito coils to light but neither worked. Finally she came back and asked, “Would you like some smoke?”. Not really sure what she had in mind we watched her and her son make two piles of casurina needles and light them on fire. They added green leaves to the fires to create smoke. No more bugs!

Making Smoke

We managed a stay of about 10 days at Cat Island but the wind direction kept us from exploring the northern parts of the island. We’ll have to go back. Maybe on our way north in the spring.

From Cat we sailed into the Atlantic to reach Conception Island which is a Bahamian national park. It was actually a motorsail hard on the wind for most of the trip. Not something that we normally do and I was tempted to fall off the wind and sail to Long Island. But we pressed on and were rewarded with a landfall on a beautiful uninhabited island. The anchorage was calm and the water clear when we arrived. It was absolutely beautiful. We dropped the anchor in 12′ of clear water and clean sand. Just after dropping the anchor I looked down and saw a “rock” that hadn’t been there moments before. The “rock” turned out to be a stingray that came to checkout the anchor. The anchorage would have been a great spot for swimming if it hadn’t been for the large lemon shark that also came to greet us. His slow, shallow passes around the boat convinced us that we were happy to stay in the boat.

It’s odd to me that we can go to places where other boats are anchored and yet it’s easy to find a secluded beach. It happens all the time (thankfully).

A deserted beach at Conception Island
Our Private Swimming Hole

One of the fun things to do on many Bahamian islands is to explore the mangrove creeks by dinghy. They’re usually shallow so you need to go on at least a mid tide and preferably a rising one. Good light is also essential for seeing the water depth. The mangrove creek at Conception was a bit challenging to enter because of surf and a shallow bar at the entrance but it was worth it. The water inside quickly turned to a turbid green color making it difficult to clearly see the sea life but there were many turtles scurrying away from our boat as we passed. It’s difficult to show in pictures but the sandy beaches made for beautiful scenery.

Mangrove Creek at Conception Island
On the lookout for turtles

When we entered the Bahamas back in November we were given 90 day visas. These visas can be extended to a total stay of up to 8 months. The tricky part is that you can’t get an extension until your current visa is about to expire and there are only a few places in the Bahamas where this can be done. When our time was nearly up we had a choice of going back to Georgetown or sailing to Long Island. We chose Long Island and a friendly immigration officer made it easy to get another 90 days.

Another 90 Days!

The anchorage here in Thompson Bay is very protected from most directions and is a popular place to stay during inclement weather while staging to go to other places. We’ve been here quite a while now as we bide our time waiting for weather suitable for our first trip to the Jumentos and Ragged Islands in the southern Bahamas. It looks like we’ll be getting passage weather in a few days so we’ll be off to new places. In the meantime we’ve been exploring some of the local area and getting some beach walks in. The people here in the settlement of Salt Pond are also wonderful and welcoming. We’ve been here long enough that hugs are a part of greetings.

Bahamian racing sloops

The ocean side beaches are stunning and secluded but require some work to get to. First a dinghy trip that may or may not be a wet one. Then walking or hitchhiking to the mile long access roads. Once there you’re alone. Speaking of hitchhiking, it’s a great way to get around. Sometimes you’re in a car and other times you ride in the back of a truck, but you always get a ride and the people you meet are great.

Not another sole on the beach
A rare cloudy day
Looking for treasure
Heart bean, sea urchin, and hamburger bean
Road to the beach
Noodin underway on a calm Alligator Bay
Team Noodin at Tiny’s Hurricane Hole

Abacos to Georgetown

We left the Little Harbour cut in predawn darkness to hit slack current on our way to Eleuthera. The wind was 15-20 knots just aft of the beam which made for a fun and speedy sail to Eleuthera.

Sunrise Over the Atlantic

We had wanted to stop at “The Current” settlement for a couple of years but the weather hadn’t been right to anchor there until this trip. The Current is a small Bahamian settlement at the end of the road on the west tip of Eleuthera. Most boaters bypass the settlement as they pass through the notorious Current Cut between north and south Eleuthera. Not much to be found in Current other than friendly Bahamians and amazing views. Nothing wrong with that though.

Local Fishing Boats on Their Moorings
The Colors are Amazing
Spotting Turtles

Our visit to Eleuthera marked the start of our windy season in the Bahamas. The first week of wind was just before Christmas and we treated ourselves to a stay at the Cape Eleuthera marina. Even tied up in the marina Noodin bucked and strained at her lines but at least we were able to get off the boat.

You Know it’s WIndy When…..

We did a lot of walking and spent time with some new friends, Nick and Linda, including a very nice dinner aboard Noodin on Christmas Eve. We shared a rental car with them one day to tour some of the Island including Sweetings Pond, home to a large number of seahorses. Unfortunately, it was rainy and the water turbid when we snorkeled looking for the seahorses but Phebe did spot one. We’ll return on a nicer day and try again.

Home of the Seahorses

Christmas Day found us sailing across Exume Sound to Warderick Wells, the headquarters for the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. A more beautiful place is hard to find.

Noodin on her Mooring at Warderick Wells
Warderick Wells Mooring Field
A Nurse Shark at Warderick Wells
Exuma Sound to the right, Great Exuma Bank to the left (from Warderick Wells)

After a great Christmas dinner at Warderick Wells, we’ve been touring the Exumas and enjoying spending time with old and new friends alike. A highlight has been traveling with our friends Joe and Maribeth who have Noodins sistership, La Peregrina. Two prettier sisters would be hard to find.

Noodin and La Peregrina at Anchor off Bitter Guana Cay.

Our Exuma travels have taken us to Shroud Cay, Bitter Guana Cay, Black Point, Little Farmers Cay, Lee Stocking Island, and Barratarre. We find ourselves in Georgetown now where we’ve reprovisioned and are ready to travel again. We travel where the wind allows and Tuesday looks like a good day to go to Cat Island.

Touring the Mangrove Creeks on Shroud Cay by Dinghy
Dinghy Ride Got Us to Within a Short Walk of the Ocean Beach
No Footprints on the Ocean Beach at Shroud Cay
The Welcome Committee At Bitter Guana
The Only Footprints on this Beach Belong to the Iguanas
Pretty View at Bitter Guana
Noodin at Lee Stocking
Combing the Beach at Lee Stocking Looking for Sea Beans
Starfish at Barratarre
This Years Collection of Assorted Sea Beans
Team Noodin at Lee Stocking Island

A Different Visit to the Abacos

Dorian Hovers Over the Abacos

This is a reposting from earlier this season for those that didn’t get notified of the December post.

Phebe and I have spent much of our time aboard Noodin in the Abacos and have gotten to know many of her people and places. We had made the decision to skip the Abacos this season in favor of seeing new places in the Bahamas.

On September 1st, Hurricane Dorian came ashore with winds over 200mph, spawning tornadoes, and in some places bringing a 20′ storm surge. Total destruction in many places. As it got closer to the start of our sailing season we made the decision to take another trip to the Abacos to see if we could help in some small way. Even if we just showed up and supported them with hugs and spending money in their stores would help show that they weren’t forgotten.

We got hooked up with Bill and Loree in Vero Beach who were purchasing supplies and arranging their transport to Green Turtle Cay. We did a little shopping with them and filled the remaining voids aboard Noodin with bottles of propane, oil, WD40, and brooms.

Shopping with Bill and Loree

Our very good friend Dan decided to join us for our Gulf Stream crossing for which we are thankful. It was his first Bahamas visit and for him to choose to make it to the hurricane ravaged Abacos shows a lot about his good character.

Team Noodin

The Gulf Stream crossing was nearly windless and the seas small. Noodin rolled more than normal with the weight she carried but all was good. The bioluminescence that night in the Gulf Stream was incredible. Rivulets of white-blue light streaming from the bow was an amazing sight. Thirty two hours later we were anchored in the Bahamas watching a beautiful sunset.

Sunset from Munjack Cay

We had made arrangements for a mooring ball in Black Sound on Green Turtle Cay where we had stayed last year. We understood that they would have work for us to do as much of the marina had been destroyed. As it turned out they weren’t ready for our help which in the end left us frustrated.

Sailing into Black Sound was a surrealistic experience. Homes were damaged. Homes were destroyed. The shores were littered with boats. Some were sunken and others were way up on land. We took some pictures but in the end it just wasn’t something that I wanted to dwell on so just quit. The worst of the damage couldn’t be shown in pictures because the homes were just gone. Completely gone. It’s amazing that there were no deaths on Green Turtle Cay. The stories were amazing. People huddled in a basement as it filled with water and having to bail out the water to keep from drowning. An elderly person leaving a destroyed home, crawling and clinging to blades of grass to find new shelter. Someone watching the tornadoes take the houses next door and having his son sucked out and away. Crazy, emotional stuff.

This beautiful boat was on the mooring next to us last winter. She and her mooring drug aground during Dorian.

The foreground shows a foundation that use to be a beautiful cottage. 

Many vehicles were destroyed and damaged

Fires burned on Great Abaco filling the air with smoke

Our effort to help out on Green Turtle Cay didn’t turn out the way we had hoped. We weren’t able to get plugged in to the right place to get work to do. We were able to bring supplies, hug people and listen to their stories, and spend money to help them support themselves. We even untangle a crazy mass of Christmas lights and helped set up a Christmas display.

There are many private groups doing great work on Green Turtle Cay and other places in the Abacos. They do everything from cooking meals to building houses and everything in between. They are awesome! The Bahamian government on the other hand is nowhere to be seen. No help whatsoever from the government.

Team Noodin has moved on with sadness for the people of the Abacos who have suffered so much and who will continue to suffer. They are strong, God fearing people and will be ok but it will be a long road. Please pray for them.

Our dinghy landing in Black Sound 

The beaches are still beautiful 

and the water is still wonderful