Saturday, April 26, 2008

Out Island Regatta

Robin and Alan Dinn are here this week and the entertainment is the Bahamian National Family Island Regatta--better known to Americans as the Out Island Regatta. The class A boats are spectacular. They are 28 foot full keel sloops with outrageous over sized rigs. To keep the boats upright two boards are shoved out to weather and 6 or 7 crew members hike out on these outriggers. The racing is very close at the top of the fleet and the yachts are so powerful that mark rounding are quite dicey. I have many amazing pictures, but the Internet is especially thin right now so they will have to wait. No one seem to know who is winning as the results are not posted or announced--that's the Bahamas.

The scene ashore is amazing. Sort of like Bayfest with a beat. Very, very loud music rings out as cheap booze and food is served in hastily erected shacks. Many of the "Nassau people" are here. One of our favorite locals refers to them as the "tives and hos" (thieves and whores in translation.) The locals hate the regatta, but I love it.

Hopefully pics will appear when the band width expands.
N.B. (4-29-08) We have been able to upload the pictures. Hope you enjoy them. I found out that Runnin' Tide won class A and Tida' Wave was second. The picture of the pink sloop above is the Anna Nicol who finished last. Anna Nicol's memory is wildly popular in the Bahamas. The sort of plain picture is of the start. The start is an anchored start with the sails down. It is very tense. The first boat to anchor along the starting line gets the best position, but the longer the anchor sets the more difficult it is to raise.

"Da crane got a problem"

Only a few of the racing sloops for the Out Island Regatta are local. All of the rest are shipped in on the small inter island freighters that service all of the Bahamas. As one of the freighters was unloading a large class A sloop it buckled and fell over into the water. No one was hurt. The sloop was dismasted which is no big deal for these yachts. The masts are crude wooden poles and are easily replaced. However, the preparations were delayed a day until another crane was shipped in remove the broken crane and finish unloading.

The title of this entry comes from a eavesdropped conversation while walking down Government Dock.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Long Island

This past Wednesday we took a weather window and went to Long Island. I had planned this little trip sitting in the chair at our rented condo, Seamount Cay. It is also a favorite of the redoubtable Bruce van Sant, famous for his "Gentleman's Guide to Passages South." We coasted along the edge of the Exuma Sound to Little Exuma Island and then cut east across the White Cay Bank to the slightly deeper Great Bahama Bank. Jan hooked a Spanish mackerel, but Karl failed to net him. Bummer on my first try. After 35 n. mi. of light motor sailing we rounded Indian Head Point into Thomson's Bay. This is a quiet but exceedingly well protected bay. There were 6 other yachts. We anchored in 7 feet of crystal clear water. The night was so quiet that I awoke thinking that I was in bed in CC.

The next day we walked up and down the Queen's Highway and visited St. Joseph's Anglican church. All the graves only have two last names--Knowles and Henderson. That night I treated Jan to a night out. We ate at a local Bahamian establishment--Club Thompson's Bay owned by Tryphema Knowles. For the first time I really felt we got a good deal in the Bahamas! Tryphema asked me to pour my own shot and served a fabulous Bahamian buffet of grouper fingers, grilled grouper, chicken wings, peas & rice, coleslaw, potato salad and fried plantains for $15./ each.

Friday White Pepper motor sailed through the exceedingly narrow and shallow channel that connects the Great Bahama Bank to the Exuma Sound. It is about 8 feet deep, 100 yards wide, and 4 n. mi. long. To the west is a bank that dries at low water and stretches all the way back to Little Exuma. Then we sailed into Calabash Bay. Calabash is rolly, but beautiful. It is mostly lined with upscale private homes and the Santa Maria resort at the north end. We had a nice lunch at the resort Saturday.

John Moore ran over from the 4 star Stella Maris marina where he has Hanco now. We spent a delightful Sat. afternoon together. Jan cooked up steaks from Moody's Meat Market in Corpus Christi. John kept watch over White Pepper while she was at Exuma Dock in February.

Sunday we had to clear back to George Town. The weather was predicted to deteriorate, and it really did go bad Monday (4-14-08) and Tuesday. But Sunday we had a picture perfect 18.8 n. mi. close reach back to the North Channel Rocks in flat seas. For some reason the North Channel Rocks mark the southern entrance to George Town.

So many cruiser have left the harbor that there was plenty of room to anchor at the monument. This is near the world famous Hamburger Beach on Stocking Island. The first time we entered the harbor in Jan. the yachts were stacked three deep. Now we have a primo front row anchorage.

Currently we are pinned down for three days by back to back northers. I have had to pull out my sweat shirt from the bottom of the pack. But the temperature makes for good sleeping.

Next week Alan and Robin Dinn will visit. We will all watch the Out Island Family Regatta. If the weather is perfect a run to Conception Island may be possible. After that the White Pepper will start to head north.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hanging in Georgetown, Exuma

Jan has been back on yacht White Pepper for 5 days now. What do we do? It resembles summer vacation when we were school kids. We sleep late. We fuss over breakfast. My new favorite is thickly sliced homemade coconut bread made into French toast. If the wind permits we dingy into town for shopping. Lately the wind has been so high that the dingy ride is so wet that the ride is not worth it. We do light chores on the boat--which is mostly cleaning and straightening up. A small boat has to be neat to be livable.

After lunch usually a sandwich, we go to one of the beaches for a long walk in the sand. This is very therapeutic for Jan. We swim in the ocean or harbor depending on the sea state. I collect plastic and glass shards on the beach for my service project. It is endless but every little bit helps.

We watch the sun go down every night with a rum and tonic and then have a wonderful meal that Jan prepared. I am so pleased to not have to 'batch' it anymore!

While the generator is on we have full 110 volt access and can use the computer. Usually the Harbor Wi-Fi is running albeit very slowly. Evenings are filled with catching up on the e-mails or downloading weather files from NOAA. We play games on the computer or Nintendo. As a treat we can watch a DVD on the computer.

I have to run the Honda 2000 watt generator about 6 to 7 hours per day to keep the batteries charged and the freezer cold. This uses about one gallon of gasoline. The dingy uses prodigious amounts of gasoline and 2 stroke oil. At $5+/gallon gasoline is the biggest expense on the boat and the chief reason to go to town. Five dollars a day is $150. /month which is about the cheapest utility bill I have ever paid in Corpus Christi so I should not complain.

When Jan is ready, we will try an easy sail to one of the nearby islands--Long Island or Conception. Then we will return to George Town for the famous International Out Island Family Regatta starting April 21st.