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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A Different Visit to 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
It’s Been a While
Back in January we made the decision to stay in the Abacos to be near airports and marinas to be able to fly out when it was time to be with my ailing father and help my stepmom with his care. We ended up leaving Noodin in Black Sound, Green Turtle Cay and flying to Seattle in February during a time of really crappy weather. Our connecting flight out of Chicago was cancelled and we were forced to spend the night in a snowy, windy, and icy city. Meanwhile, it was snowing like crazy in Seattle. When we did get into SeaTac the snow had quit falling but there was plenty of it around. So much that our Uber driver made us walk the last block.
We were able to spend Dad’s last week with him and feel privileged to have been able to do so.
We ended up spending a month in an unusually cold Seattle before returning to Noodin on March 12th. Being back in the warm Bahamas felt amazing. Amazing enough that we sunburned ourselves like the silly tourists. Well, not that bad, but still enough to know it. Currently we’re getting ready for a visit from our son and his girlfriend. After that we may just sail south in the Bahamas for a couple of months before hauling out for the summer.
Noodintime is on Instagram!
I haven’t figured out yet how to integrate an Instagram link neatly into the website but we are now posting to pictures on Instagram. On Instagram, search for noodintime and you should be able to find us. Instagram should be a nice way to show you where we are.
The Garmin Tracker is No More
We want to let you know that we’ve cancelled our subscription for the Garmin satellite tracking service. I’ll be modifying the website menus to reflect that. Apologies to those of you who use and enjoy it but it just doesn’t make sense to pay for it now that we aren’t moving around much.
Getting to Know the Abacos
We’ve left a lot of the Abacos unseen on our previous Bahama trips as we’ve traveled through with other destinations in mind. This year life has conspired to keep us a little closer to home. While we are a little disappointed that we won’t see that beautiful Exuma water this season, we are excited to be able to take a more in-depth look at the Abacos. The water isn’t so bad here either.
The other day we were anchored off of Deep Sea Cay and found the beaches strewn with garbage. Many of the east facing beaches have a lot of debris that has drifted ashore from somewhere in or across the Atlantic. The beaches on Deep Sea Cay are located in a great spot to be enjoyed by cruisers so we took the opportunity to give back a little bit and cleaned up about 300 yards of beach. Most of the trash had obviously come off the ocean and most was plastic of some variety. We weren’t able to haul the garbage away but we were at least able to collect it and pile it out of sight.
Junkanoo at Green Turtle Cay
Junkanoo is a Bahamas street parade with dancing, music, and costumes held on Boxing Day and New Years Day. Green Turtle has Junkanoo on New Year’s Day and we made a point of staying for it. The normally quiet streets of the settlement of New Plymouth were filled with vendors and spectators. In typical Bahamian style, the parade started about an hour late giving everyone a chance to eat, drink, and enjoy each other’s company.
A Trip to Manjack
We had a few days of windy weather after Christmas that kept us snuggled in at Black Sound but it eventually gave way to sunny and settled weather. We had a couple of days before Junkanoo at Green Turtle Cay so we, and many other boats ventured off to nearby Manjack Cay ( pronounced Munjack Key) for some different scenery. It was our first time to Manjack but won’t be our last. Manjack is privately owned but the owners are extremely boater friendly. They allow boaters to come ashore and use miles of trails and to enjoy the beaches and mangrove creeks.
The highlight of the visit was exploring the mangrove creeks. These are tidal creeks through the mangroves that are abundant with life. We timed our trip for a rising tide with the sun overhead for great visibility.
The depth of the creek was mostly in the 2-3′ range, just deep enough for dinghy exploration. The creek narrowed as we continued and had different branches to explore. We lost count of the turtles that we saw but guess the number to be about three dozen. Add to that ten rays and three sharks and it was an awesome trip.
The hiking trails were surprisingly well maintained with a variety of vegetation and lead from beach to beach to beach. Two of the three beaches were on the Sea of Abaco and one on the Atlantic Ocean. The sea of Abaco is beautiful but oh that ocean!
We got back to Black Sound New Year’s Eve so we could watch Junkanoo the next day. 2018 was closed out with a great meal on board and several games.
Team Noodin wishes you the best in the new year and always.
Hanging Out at New Plymouth
We’ve been on a mooring here in Black Sound since we arrived in the Bahamas about 10 days ago. The original plan had been to clear customs here and then move onto Hopetown for Christmas and New Years like we did last year. After a little discussion we opted to stay here on Green Turtle Cay through New Years and try something different. The main settlement (also the only settlement) on Green Turtle is New Plymouth. We’d been here a few times before but never stayed long.
We were greeted by our mooring ball neighbors Joe and Yvonne on Modaki and got the rundown on the upcoming holiday activities. Along with an assortment of potlucks and fundraisers was a unique Christmas caroling opportunity. It’s a tradition here in New Plymouth to carol through the streets every day during the week before Christmas. No one remembers how the tradition started but it’s been going on for many decades. The thing that makes this unique is that the caroling is at 5:00 in the morning with drums. We awoke at 4:00, made our coffee, and jumped in the dinghy to head to town. We met up with the caroling crew and made two laps around town. Everyone was awesome as was their singing. It was great having all the kids along. At the end we were all treated to a breakfast of grits and chunks of bologna cooked in some sort of bologna sauce. Gotta say that was a new one.
We’ve had our first experience with international medicine here. I had been having minor pain in my ear for a while and it wasn’t getting better so we went to the clinic here. After just a short wait the nurse practitioner examined my ears and both had an infection in the inner part but the eardrums were fine. We talked about the medicated ear drops that she wanted to prescribe but they weren’t available on the island. She talked about having them brought on the ferry or going on the ferry herself to get them. After some texting on her part, she brought in some drops that she had on hand and gave instructions on how to use them. Total cost for the medication and the visit was $55. Not bad. After we got home we looked a little closer at the medication and it was intended as an antibiotic for use in the eyes. My ears may or may not be getting better but my eyes are just fine.