Team Noodin is departing the Bahamas Tuesday morning bound for Jacksonville, Fl. This will be about 300 miles and approximately 50 hours. Watch the dots move in the Gulf Stream.
We needed to head north after the Family Island Regatta to get back to the USA before hurricane season. We waited a couple of days for favorable weather and then we were out onto Exuma Sound bound for Black Point. We were threatened with squalls for a lot of the trip but we never did get hit.
We had stopped at Black Point on our way south so we knew what to expect. Namely, a small settlement with wonderful people. This time around there were fewer cruising boats in the harbour. Maybe 10 instead of the 50 that we shared space with during the southbound migration. We didn’t have much on our agenda other than to locate “the bread lady” for some coconut bread and to track down some woven baskets.
The “Bread Lady” happened to be Lorraine’s mom who lives in the house behind Lorraine’s cafe. We knocked on the door and were greeted by Lorraine’s mom (“everybody calls me Lorraine’s mom”) who was in the midst of baking bread. We had a nice chat and left with a warm loaf of delicious coconut bread. She only sells bread from her house and doesn’t advertise.
When we were in Black Point earlier we saw local women sitting outside weaving with palm fronds. We wanted to find one of those women who had baskets to sell. We came across Elouise sitting in front of her house. She wanted to chat and shared stories of her fishing the harbour in her younger years. She also sold us a couple of nice small baskets.
From Black Point it was onto Warderick Wells to hang out and find some protection from a couple of days of squally weather. There was wonderful wind on the banks so we had a great sail the entire way. At Warderick Wells we did just enough hiking to get this picture of Noodin in the mooring field from the top of Boo Boo Hill. When you hike Warderick Wells you come across thousands (gross understatement) of what look like rat turds. They belong to hutias, the only mammal native to Warderick Wells. They’re nocturnal so during the day you just see the turds, everywhere. We were at a cruisers happy hour on the beach and the little rascals started popping out of the brush as soon as it got dark. Kinda creepy. Like the Iguanas at Bitter Guana Cay, these hutias came out in droves. From Warderick Wells it was onto Hawksbill Cay. This would be new ground for us as we had sailed from Eleuthera directly to Warderick Wells on our southbound journey. Hawksbill is still within the Exuma Land and Sea Park and is absolutely beautiful. Like most of the cays in the Exumas, the west side is on the Great Bahama Bank and the east side is on Exuma Sound which is basically the Atlantic Ocean. Both sides of Hawksbill have beautiful beaches. We stayed two nights and shared the anchorage with a couple of other boats each night. The trails across to the ocean side beaches were a little sketchy with poison wood trees lining the way as you walked across the sharp marl.
It was well worth the trouble though as the ocean views and beaches were awesome. We went to the ocean side both days we were there and never had to share the beach. It couldn’t get much better.
We left Hawksbill Cay and moved onto Ship Channel Cay to stage for our crossing to Spanish Wells, Eleuthera. Ship Channel Cay is the last big rock in the Exumas and was an overnight pit stop to get ready for our trip to Eleuthera. Goodbye Exumas, we already miss you!
We ended up spending about two months in George Town and other than visits from family, the Family Island Regatta was definitely the highlight. It’s also one of the highlights of the year for the people of the Bahamas. Many of the Out Islands hold regattas but this is the national regatta for the big bragging rights. The sloops must be constructed of traditional materials and must be owned and skippered by Bahamians. The boats are shipped in (literally) and unloaded at the government dock. There isn’t a limit on the number of crew or the size of the sail. It’s all up to the skipper depending on the race day wind. Another very different thing is the start. The boats all anchor with their bow at the start line waiting for the start signal. When the gun fires, the crew simultaneously hauls up the anchor and raises sail.
We enjoyed three days of racing, food and drink, and hanging out with the locals. These guys speak a flavor of English all their own but when they get excited about their racing it’s taken to a whole new level. The racing took place in Elizabeth Harbour amongst all the cruising boats. The pictures were taken with my point and shoot camera so the quality is sketchy but you’ll get the idea.