Thursday, February 21, 2013

Still in the Exumas

I wrote the following a few weeks ago, but here in the Exhumas, wifi is hard to come by.  So I will will post it now.  Maybe I'll find a band width that lets me post pictures!

We made it to the Exumas.  The Exumas are a chain of islands in the central section of the Bahamas.  The islands are varied and beautiful.  Seventy (70%)percent of the Bahamas population lives on New Providence Island.  The major city is Nassau.  Nassau has shopping, night life and mobile phones.  The outer islands have quiet beauty, wonderful people and tranquility.  Everything is done on island time.  Or as we call it ‘cruiser time’.  Cruiser time is either daytime or nighttime.  Your body and moods get into the rhythms of the day.  You know when the tides are changing.  You feel the difference in the texture of the winds when they change from a North to South direction. 
The first island we arrived at was Highbourne Cay.  Highbourne is a privately owned island.  They have a marina and well stocked store.  I bought a bag of Doritos, $8.25 a bag.  I was glad to pay it just for the privilege of having a market.  We got fuel $5.80 per gallon of diesel.  Water is scarce in the Bahamas.  Most of the water is RO water, created by filtering sea water.  We have an RO watermaker on the boat.  We can make 14 gallons an hour.  Matt and I use approximately 5 gallons of water per day.  In contrast, and average ‘land’ toilet uses 5 gallons per flush.  Taking a shower means creating the water, pumping it to our tanks, heating the water, pumping the water to the shower nozzle.  You quickly learn not to waste water.
We listen to the weather report every day from our Single Side Band (SSB) radio.  A SSB is a ham radio using marine channels.  You can use the SSB to talk to other folks if you are on the same frequency at the same time.  Each day at 8:30 am, on frequency 8152, a net or gathering of folks on the radio occurs.  It is called the Cruiseheimers Net.  Various people hot the net and other folks on land based units relay signals from distant stations.  We get news, tech tips, and questions from other cruisers and shout outs to find boats.    We connected with Jay and Tanya on Minx through the net.  They are in the Abacos in the northern section of the Bahamas.  The last time we saw them they were crossing from West Palm Beach to West End in the Abacos before Christmas.  We switched to another channel and had a nice conversation.  The SSB radio uses a tuner and insulator attached to our rigging to forma an antenna.  Many folks feel that SSB or ham radios are old outdated technology.  We use our SSB radio every day.  Many places we sail have no cell towers.  We can go use a Pactor modem attached to our SSB to send email.  The email is limited to text only.  I sent emails this morning to the kids to let them know we were fine and our location.  If you ever want to send us a SSB email our address is
A strong cold front was predicted while we were at Highbourne Cay.  The in Highbourne is open and unprotected from the north, south and west.  We moved a few miles north to Allen’s Cay.  Allen’s Cay is populated with iguanas.  The Iguanas are native to the Cay and are protected.  Tourists  come from Nassau and view the little guys.  The iguanas know the sound of the engines and will run up to you expecting food.  They get a bit testy when you have no food. 
New stop, Shroud Cay.  Shroud Cay is in the Exuhamas Land and Sea Park. The Park is a no take zone.  You can look but not touch or feed or gather fish or lobster.  The Park maintains mooring balls that you can pick up or you can anchor near the mooring balls.  We grabbed a mooring ball and settled in for a few days.  We took the dingy to a mangrove trail.  You can use the dingy to go through the mangroves and you come out to a secluded beach.  The beach is called Driftwood Beach.  Legend has it that in order to experience the magic of Driftwood Beach you need to leave an offering to the guards of the beach.  People have created scarecrow statues from the flotsam and jetsam that wash onto the beach.  I gathered some sea weed and added it to the hairdo of one of the scarecrows.  The sand on the beach is soft as silk.  The grains are fine.  Shells abound.  Next to the beach is a blue hole, a very deep area lined by rocks and coral.  Fish abound and come to look at you as much as you are looking at them.  The water is as clear as a cement chlorine pool.  You can see all the way to the bottom.  You felt like you were given the gift of seeing what the sea creatures experience without getting in the water.  The sun hit 1300 hours and lit up the undersea world.  You could see each crack and crevice.  The colorful fish came out and conch and lobster scurried about.  I guess my hairdo contribution was enough of an offering to allow us to see the magic.
Each island is about a 4 to 5 hour trip.  Next stop, the Park headquarters at Warderick Wells.  You have to call in the day before if you want to get a mooring ball near the park headquarters.  We were assigned ball number 16.  Our mooring ball is right next to the coral garden.  You just jump off the boat and you are snorkeling in coral.  Going to be hard not to be in the water all day long.
The Park manager has asked me to resew their circus tent gazebo cover.  The circus is a trademark of the Park and was damaged during a severe blow.  See, sometimes you even have to work in paradise.

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