Tuesday, December 01, 2020

The Long Way Home

All good things must come to an end, or at least that's what they say.  Usually, though, the end is relatively sudden before the next thing begins.  Not this trip back to Connecticut.

After the wait for weather to pass at Green Turtle Cay, I left for Manjack to rendezvous with Edgar and Laura on Way Point for dinner on their boat (tacos!  Yay!) and to say goodbye to Bill and Leslie on the island - Spent a really nice hour or two with them drinking Leslie's special lemonade.

It's a beautiful anchorage as I'm sure I've mentioned.  However the pull to go home is starting to make itself known.  Emails and texts from my friends and customers wanting to get things done and their boats in the water.  Me, missing the lovely and talented Lynn.

The next day was beautiful and clear with light breezes - sailed and motor sailed up to Great Sale Cay where the circle is complete.  Anchored for the night in New Harbor with a few other boats.  It's a lovely place, NW side of Great Sale Cay and very protected from the east.  No other protection, though.  The day was calm and the evening much calmer so it was great! 

I left in the morning hoping to get to Grand Cay.   I passed several vessels heading east towards my favorite haunts.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel some jealousy over that!  Well, at half tide I can't get into Grand Cay harbor so before I got completely stuck, I headed back to Great Sale Cay in NW Harbor (which oddly, isn't in the NW but the SW).  There's a front coming in a day or so and this is a perfect place to be.  I thought hopping over to Grand Cay for some entertainment and seeing Rosie's would be a great way to wait out the front.  Oh, well.

The holding in NW Harbor is pretty good.  The bottom isn't clear and smooth like a lot of the places I've been.  It's more like coral mud.  As I settled in for a 3 day stay I noticed another 424 had come in.  Nothing would do but I got into the dinghy and headed over to Jubilee.  If you're stuck somewhere for several days you might as well make some friends, I say. 

The wind was blowing a steady 25 with higher gusts but the harbor was calm with some 3-6" waves.  It makes for an interesting dinghy ride.  With just me in it, the bow wants to go down wind so controlling it means crabbing across the waves.  Quite possibly the wettest way possible to travel in a dinghy. 

Anyway, I met Rich and Deena Wilcox and enjoyed a rather lovely meal with them including hors d'oeuvres.  Such a great way to spend an afternoon and evening.

Pelican Under Sail
Jubilee Under Sail
After a couple of days, the wind settled down to a mere 15-18 and we decided to anchor south of Grand Cay so they could clear in and we could have dinner at Rosie's.   It was a gorgeous day for sailing - beam reaching!

Of course many pictures had to be taken for the day.  But these two are the best ones.  Truly an excellent day!

We arrived at the anchorage just west of Sandy Cay mid afternoon.  The holding wasn't great and it took some time for both of us to be sure of the anchors.  Rich dove them both to make sure they were caught.  Not too long after that I picked him up in the dinghy and brought him ashore through a little cut between Grand Cay and Little Grand Cay.  At high tide you could get a 424 in there with great skill.  At low tide, it would be bad.  Very bad.

With the dinghy, though, we made it.  Rich got to the Customs Office in good time and I wandered around until he was done.  Afterwards, we went back to the boats and picked up Deena for dinner which we all had.  They were so kind to buy me a lobster dinner at Rosie's.  Really, the first one at a restaurant since I'd been in the Bahamas!  Also:  no small amount of drinking. 

The next day was supposed to be a good day for heading back to Cape Canaveral with south east to south winds 20 to 25 kts and a small window for the trip so I bid them farewell when I dropped them off at Jubilee.  I thought I'd buzz them in the morning when I left but they were still below. 

There was enough wind to sail quite smartly until it died around noon.  Engine on, sails up to maintain 6 knots.  Beautiful waters.  I will so much miss this!  I officially left the Little Bahama Bank at 5 pm.  The seas were rough - choppy and off the aft quarter as I left.  I motor-sailed until around 8 pm, when the seas finally settled a bit from 2-5 down to 1-3 or so.  By 1130 I was sailing on a broad reach at 6.5 knots and really enjoying it - wind was only 12-18 true so it was so comfortable.  A full or nearly full moon just added to the enjoyment!

By 4 am or so, the wind had died so I started the engine again to maintain 6 kts.  Basically just over an idle.  Since I had never been to Cape Canaveral I wanted to enter in daylight.  It's not terribly tricky but there is a jog in the channel that's not obvious.  When you see the barge canal entrance there's no question how to get in.

At 9 am I was tied up at the Cape Canaveral Yacht Club - a very friendly and open place.  The fingers are really short and tying up was a bit of an adventure but no one died in the process. 

I wandered down to Customs to check in.  Florida is a bit of a shock after the Bahamas. 

The next day I did some maintenance on Pelican, impeller, flush tanks of Bahamian water, cleaned engine strainer.  That was enough. 

Of course, when I left the dock I had to back to port.  Happy April Fool's Day! When that didn't work, I just drifted down the fairway until I got to the end.  Then used a warping line to get the bow more or less pointed in the right direction and headed out, much to the amusement of everyone. 

My next destination was Ponce de Leon inlet.  Sadly unlike the weather predictions, it was foggy, wind on the nose at 13-16, really choppy and wet around Cape Canaveral.  There is really nothing good to say about that trip.  Finally around 6:30 pm I got into the inlet.  I found a place to anchor not far in and gratefully did just that.  If I were a drinking man, I'd've had a stiff one.  As it was, I just collapsed.

The next day, I weighed anchor for St. Augustine.  Light winds, calm seas, beautiful sunshine - a good day to be on the water.  It could not have been more different than the day before.  When coming in the inlet there was a huge dredger with a bunch of confusing indications.  I called for guidance and they very kindly gave it to me before I was hard aground.  It was quite a thing!  I blew past St. Augustine, if by motoring against a two knot current could be called 'blowing past' anything.  North of St. Augustine is a beautiful anchorage in the Tolomato River.  It's just off the channel and has great holding ground.  Right across the ICW from a small airport with all sorts of cool little planes to watch.

The rest of the way home was a slog with nothing to recommend it save finally getting to my slip in Stamford at 6 am two weeks later.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Southern Abacos

When last we left our intrepid traveller he was more or less safely ensconced at Fish Cay.

Anchored at Fish Cay
I woke up that morning only to realize we'd drug some, fortunately in a good direction. It seemed like a good time to move somewhere better.  The winds were strengthening from the southeast leaving little protection and a more disastrous  direction.

Welcome To Great Guana Cay
So off I went to Fisher's Bay sort of midway down Great Guana Cay.  The north end of Great Guana has been developed into a rich person's place where mere mortals aren't particularly welcome.  But Fisher's Bay is welcoming.  It's off Grabber's, a bar/grill/hotel with a pool, small but nice beach, awesome bar, and lots of people to talk to.

Grabber's Bar

Funny story which falls into the category of good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from bad judgement.  As I came into the anchorage I saw this big spot where I thought people had left from.  Boats all around, close to Grabbers. relatively calm.  "So", I says to meself, "that looks like a brilliant place to anchor."  And anchor I do. As I always do after anchoring, I checked my position with the boats around me.  I have about 150 feet of chain in like 12 feet of water so I'm right sure of myself.  But then it's starting to look like I'm shifting in relation to the other boats.  Not a lot, and not fast, but it's showing. I'm right on the hairy edge of convincing myself it's just me when I decide to jump in the water and check the anchor...
Grabber's Beach

Well, it turns out the anchor was sitting right on top of some bare coral and the only thing holding me in place was friction from the chain.  It turns out no one anchors there for a very good reason.  You can't.

Entrance To Grabber's
Anyway, after pulling up the anchor and going someplace that was better at the back of the fleet, it was cocktail time and that's what transpired.

I stayed there for two days - one I spent at Grabbers, the other wandering around.  I saw Nippers.  Couldn't bring myself to go to the pig roast.  Nice beach, though.

I met Kevin and Louise from SV Serena Rose and enjoyed a lunch with them at Grabbers.  I had met them at Donny's in Black Sound at Green Turtle Cay and again at Manjack.  A very pleasant couple of days, to be sure.

Laundry Day at Treasure Cay
Lunch at Bahama Beach Club
My next stop was Treasure Cay Marina - I was going to meet my friends Laura and Cory there - they were at Green Turtle and rented a boat to bomb over in with their friend Gregory.  We had a lovely lunch at the Bahama Beach Club.  What a beautiful view!  Then we walked around the point of Treasure Cay and back to the marina.  Laura and Cory left, Greg stayed behind so I could take him to Marsh Harbor the next day so he could get a plane back to Florida - it just saved everyone time and money.  Also, I had to be in Marsh Harbour to pick up Lynn so she could join me for a few days.
Laura and Cory Return to Green Turtle

It's interesting to note that the power went out fairly frequently as the Abaco power company did rolling blackouts.  Apparently one generator had a failed pump and it took a long time to get the wrong pump, then some more time to get the right one.  So I got to wash my clothes but had to dry them on the lifelines.  Life of a cruiser!
Treasure Cay Marina Office

I stayed at Mangoes Marina and I am so glad I did.  It's the smallest of the bunch but it's really well run and if you're liked, you're invited back.  The restaurant had not yet opened for the season but would have by the time Lynn and I got back.  Anyway, clean facilities, new washing machines and dryers, metered electricity and very reasonable water prices.  And the people there, whether long term or transient are treated like family.

I had heard about Mangoes when I met Helen on her Shucker 36 again in Fisher's Bay. Scott, her friend, made a reservation for me - it turns out he lived there on his trawler.  So it was good to see him again when I got there.

The day I arrived I also headed to Maxwell's, the big grocery store near by, to stock up on healthy food and so forth.  Lynn likes fruit so I got that and other stuff for us to partake of.  I didn't know how much eating ashore we'd do so I planned for food for every night.

The next morning I caught a cab for the airport and waited for Lynn's flight.  Man, was it nice to see her come out of the arrivals door!  My cab had waited and we made our way back to Pelican.  We stayed the night and got ready to go the next morning-ish.

Since we were only going a few miles to Archer Cay we left around noon arriving around 3 and having had a brilliant sail for a couple of hours.  The north of Archer/Water Cay is great protection from winds from the south east through the west.  The holding is good, too.  And it's about halfway between Treasure Cay and Marsh Harbour, just a couple of miles west of Fish Cay.  If you're thinking this area of the Abacos is small, you're correct.  It is.  It's very well protected except from the northeast swell from the Atlantic coming through the Whale Cay cut.

Anyway, the next morning we hopped in the dinghy and went snorkeling around Archer and Water Cays.  There's a surprising amount to look at but a pale shadow of what was to come.

Around two, we left for Man of War Cay, again only a few miles away.   We met Laura and Cory for dinner on Ursa Minor - a delicious dinner of fresh fish (Cory's the best at fishing and lobstering and that sort of stuff, and Laura is darn good at it, too).  It was a great evening and we planned on snorkeling on the reef outside Man of War the next morning.

Laura and Cory
Truthfully, the ride out there was a bit rough, but since we were going to get wet anyway, who cares? What a reef!  We spent a few hours out there and just marveled at the fish and coral.  Eventually we got back to Pelican, cleaned up and invited Laura and Cory over for dinner (grilled conch and stuff).  I sort of overdid the conch so it was a bit chewy.  It's hard to know these things.

Lynn snorkeling

Ray near Fowl Cay
Some coral and stuff

The next day Laura and Cory left to go to Great Harbor and Lynn and I left to go see the underwater park near Fowl Cay.  It's a national park, obviously, that has a few mooring balls to tie to so that people don't anchor on the coral heads.  It was spectacular!  These are the reefs we'd been looking for.  Not only were they healthier, fish knew they weren't being hunted there somehow and the variety was spectacular including fish normally consumed.  And, for the most part, they were bigger besides. 

Elkhorn Coral Near Surface

Some more elkhorn coral

Even more elkhorn

Around lunch time it appeared there was some weather coming in so we got ourselves together hoping to get a place in Hopetown, on Elbow Cay, for the evening.  Nope.  No room.  No moorings, no slips.  Nada.  So we crossed back to Sugar Loaf Cay, just west of Matt Lowe Cay, and anchored.  Well, that wasn't too comfortable so we moved again to Boat Harbor, south of Marsh Harbour (actually on the south side of the peninsula Marsh Harbour is part of.

Brain coral
We anchored in a place there should have been enough water.  There wasn't.  So around 11:30pm I thought it prudent to move the boat.  Here's a tip:  If you're safely aground and in a non-threatening condition just go about your business.  The tide will rise, you will get off.   Just leave everything be.  Or, you could worry and fret and somehow get the anchor up and then you've got a problem because you can't set it again so you have to wait until there's enough water to move the boat to a place there is enough water getting to bed at 1:30am.  Which was never the intent.  It's your choice.

Conch Lynn caught
Tiloo Cay
The next morning we were understandably a bit slow to get our act together - we did, however, have a lovely sail to Tilloo Cay near Tilloo Bank which was supposed to be really beautiful.  But we were sailing so well and so fast that we got to the anchorage and turned around, sailed halfway back, then turned around again and finally sailed to our anchorage.

Little coral Lynn found
Lynn with her helmet conch
It was a beautiful day and we explored the Tilloo Bank.  It was not low tide so it wasn't too interesting but we did see stingrays.  Then we found a place to snorkel and did that for a couple of hours.  We went snorkeling the next day, too, an explored Tilloo Pond - there are turtles there.  Towards mid afternoon we got ourselves together and headed to Sugar Loaf Cay because the winds had turned north which was bad where we were.

It was still a bit rough at Sugar Loaf so back to Boat Harbor - but this time in deeper water to start.  The nights were amazing - clear skies, lots of stars.  The moon was becoming full.  Just beautiful.

Helmet conch
The next day was Lynn's last before flying home and I wanted to take her to Wally's, an expensive and theoretically good restaurant.  It was blowing 20-25 out of the northeast and we sailed like bandits into Marsh Harbor.  Sadly, our slip wasn't available so we anchored and took the dinghy in to Wally's. Well, it was expensive, I'll give them that.  But not so good.  Definitely not worth it.  The Mangoes restaurant, I was later to find out, was far superior.  What made the evening wonderful was being with Lynn who despite 8 or 9 days on the boat looked spectacular and was brilliant company!  I am, I maintain, the luckiest guy in the world.

Anyway, the next morning sadness ensued as we went to the airport and I saw Lynn off. A slip became available and I took it to get some hardware I needed and stock up at Maxwell's.  Also, to try Jamie's.  Stayed for three nights, met Vince and Sharlene of  "Finn MacCool" and see Scott and Helen of "Ain't Ms Behavin'".

I knew my time was drawing to a close.  I wanted to get to Little Harbour, see the Coral Gardens, another underwater park, and see the 'nature trail' behind Snake Cay.  Also, I hoped to get to Hopetown at least for a visit.

I have found that it is nearly impossible to back and fill Pelican to starboard.  But it is possible and there are twenty or so people at Mangoes who are witness to that.  At this point I am king of going down fairways sideways.  For those of you who don't know what backing and filling is, it's turning the boat using reverse and forward to rotate it on its vertical axis (the axis of the main mast).  If you have a strong prop walk (tendency of the boat to back in a particular direction) you can use that to help the rotation.  For instance, Pelican has a strong starboard prop walk meaning the stern goes starboard and the bow, in theory, port.  So you can leave the rudder to  port and just by reversing and going forward you can make it turn.  But to go the other way is far more difficult.  Lots of wheel turning. forward and backward, swearing, sweating, and trying to convince people you're not going to hit them.

Anyway, it was a good fifteen minutes of amusement for those on their boats or curious enough to watch from shore.

Without any wind, it was about 4 hours to Little Harbour.  Sadly, even within one hour of high tide I bumped going in and once there found no moorings available with sufficient depth.  The boat I was following (Mt. Olympus) got the last mooring and then decided there wasn't enough water.  I knew that as I ran aground.  Then when freed, I went to leave the harbor but had to wait for ocean swells to get me past the entrance - every swell I'd go 20 or 30 feet then settle on the bottom.  10 seconds later, same thing.

Oceanside Lynyard Cay
Path across Lynyard Cay
Eventually, I got out and headed for Lynyard Cay.   There's a couple of coves offering protection from the north to the southeast.  Mt. Olympus followed me out as they decided they didn't have enough water either.  Pete's Pub is supposed to be a must do place in Little Harbour (there's not much else, actually).  No hamburger is worth that aggravation.  So, if you're going and you're on a catamaran, great.  Have fun.  If you draw much more than 4 feet, forget it.
Oceanside Lynyard Cay

Lynyard Cay
The next morning I moved north to the next cove for more protection and because it was closer to Coral Gardens.  Sadly, it was still too rough to snorkel there.  Winds and swell were coming in through the cut between Lynyard and Pelican Cays.  So I took the dingy over to introduce myself to the people on Mt. Olympus, Larry and his wife whose name escapes me (it actually escaped me soon after I left before I could write it down).

Then I tootled off to the main beach on Lynyard found Linda from Linda Jane who had managed to find the one deep water mooring in Little Harbour.  I had met them at Mangoes before they left.  I explored to the other side of Lynyard and took pictures.  When I got back, Tom was there so I hung out with him while Linda wandered off to hunt for shells. Very pleasant.

The next morning with the wind still out of the east I left for Tilloo Cay again.  Sailed most of the way.  There's a story, though.  When Lynn and I were there she found a helmet conch.  I found out you can't really eat them so suggested we leave it there.  She was disappointed.  Well, I figured I'd go back and find it again.  Or at least search for it.  It turns out they can travel 2-1/2 miles a day but they don't necessarily do that.  In fact, it was right where we left it, more or less.  So conch acquired. See above picture.

Once again on the move to a little bight north of Snake Cay.  There's a little 'nature trail' you can take your dinghy on behind the cay.  I did that the next day with the winds out of the south west.  It's amazing how rough it can get in three feet of water.  It's an interesting trail and if you have a portable chart plotting software bring it.  You can get lost-ish.  Which I did.  Anyway, on a calm day you can see turtles and rays and even fish.  There are pools and coral and things to see.  On a cold rough day it's less interesting. As I look at my pictures I realize they're mostly worthless.  Just go and see for yourself.

Lighthouse Marina, Hopetown
I'm in Hopetown!
 I left Snake Cay for Hopetown.  Got a slip at Lighthouse Marina for a couple of nights.  It was a great day of sailing, if slow.  It didn't matter as I had to enter at at least half tide.  Anyway, the marina is nice, right next to the last manually operated kerosene powered lighthouse in the world.  Pretty cool.

Pelican from Lighthouse
The lighthouse is lit at dusk and the operator has to wind the clockworks every two hours.  The Fresnel lens floats on a bath of mercury.  It's been in operation since the 1800s.

That morning I went to town after having breakfast at Captain Jack's and had a walk to Firefly's and around the island.  Firefly's is a must go to restaurant with a resort.  They have courtesy transport to Hopetown and back.  Just call.  But I don't really like going to places like that alone.  Who should come in that afternoon but Helen on Ain't Ms Behavin' with Scott and others.  No small amount of drinking ensued.  Also, I climbed the lighthouse.

Pressurized kerosene tanks for light

Another view of clockworks


Fresnel Lens

Light clockwork mechanism

View down the lighthouse stairs
I left Lighthouse Marina for Mangoes the next day.  I took a couple of days to reprovision and make some minor repairs on Pelican.  Because it's the Bahamas it took as long as it took and no longer.  No rush.  I hung out with  Vince and Sharlene on Finn McCool again, Also, Helen, Scott, and Erin.  I can't recommend Mangoes enough if you're like me and want friendly marinas.  If you want hoity-toity marinas, there are others in Marsh Harbour.  That's all I'm going to say about that.

A couple of days later I crossed Whale Cay to the Other Club in Black Sound to wait out weather for the start of my trip home.  Got a chance to say goodbye to Kevin, Sarah, and Jesse.  Also, met Ron from the Pearson 31 "True Blue" I had met waiting for the swing bridge in Virginia.  Also "Old Sam" from Marsh Harbour.  I also met Edgar and Laura on "Way Point", a Morgan 41 Out Island.  What incredibly nice people - in fact, they offered me their slip in Lady's Island Marina in Beaufort SC, where I'm now writing this.  I hope to see them again!

Next, the trip home.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Northern Abaco Sound (Walker's Cay to No Name Cay)

The northern Abacos have convinced me that there is no way to explore the Bahamas in a mere two to three months.  I've been here mostly on Green Turtle Cay for the best part of a month and I'm learning more about this place and making friends nearly every day.  Sadly, though, I can't drink as much as I used to and that seems to be a big part of the boater's life.  I say this, of course, while Happy Hour is happening at Pineapples and I'm sucking down rum punches, two for $6.  Tomorrow, I'm heading for No Name Cay for the day before jumping off around Whale Cay to the southern Abaco Sound.

Green Turtle Cay has been my home base for the month.  I think I've mentioned I've been on and off the dock here at the Other Shore Club.

My first week here I spent exploring the island - Gillam Beach, Brita Beach, in and out of town, so forth.

Beach Dis Way, Mon
Gillam Beach covers the whole southeastern tip of Green Turtle Cay.  It's very often deserted, and it borders a long and wide shallow bay where at low tide you can walk out to Pelican Cay.  The walk out to the beach is pointed out helpfully with a sign that tickled my fancy.

The beach itself is wide, white, and very easy to walk near the water.  Most of it is marked above the high water line as a bird sanctuary so you're not supposed to wander around in the woods.  To be truthful, you can get lost in the woods so you're best off just exiting the beach where you entered.  It seems like it would be easy to find your way through.  It's not.  Even locals get lost in there.   Anyway, there's swimming from the calm to the challenging.  All up to you.

I met some lovely people, Jeff and Nancy on Exile, at Pineapples and went visiting the next day to the Leeward Yacht Club for lunch.  It's a beautiful club, open to the public with a great bar and pool and views of the Black Sound.  After lunch we went for a walk to see the ocean side beach and wandered up a ways towards Brita Beach but it was hot and we were getting tired.  Thankfully, a local woman stopped by with her golf cart and gave us a lift to  Coco Bay where on a good day you can see and feed sea turtles.  Not that day, though.

The beach, New Plymouth in the
We ended up trudging to the Green Turtle Club where they rented a golf cart (for the trip home), and it was decided that we should really go for a drink because it was sunny and hot and 5 o'clock somewhere (even though it was only like three here).
Sands Pink Radler

So off we went to the Bluff House Beach Bar for a cool drink, mine being a new favorite of Sands Pink Radler which sounds girly but is, in fact, a healthy drink being only 2.5% alcohol and the rest grapefruit juice.   It's refreshing, it can be had with breakfast, and of course, it's a good source of vitamin C which helps with the dreaded rickets so very prevalent here.
The bar and deck

The Beach Bar is really beautiful, overlooking the Abaco Sound. The bar isn't always open so you have to choose your visiting time.  But as I later found out, the food's pretty good and it's a pleasant place to while away the hours.

Anyway, Jeff and Nancy gave me a ride back to Pineapples where I retired to Pelican for a quiet evening.

The next day or so I rented a golf cart and donned my thin wetsuit, loaded up the fins and snorkle and headed off to see the other beaches.  One beach in particular, Brita Beach, is a small cove protected by an even smaller cay and looked to have some fish and protection.  It has both.  Most of the ocean beaches are wide open to the reef and in east winds are unswimmable.  Also, when the wind kicks up the water is way too cloudy to see anything.  You can see the change from a clear greenish water to a milky turquoise.

After snorkeling all morning at Brita Beach and at the beach at the northwestern tip of Green Turtle Cay (where there are conk, helmet conch, barracuda and other fishes I can't even begin to identify) I headed to the Beach Club Beach Bar again for lunch... That's how I know the food is good.

I'd like to say that I was active every day.  No, I wasn't.  Oh, sure, I wandered around and so forth but seriously how much drinking and eating cracked conch can you do?  There is a limit.  I say this while eating cracked conch at Mangoes Restaurant in Marsh Harbor.  But I digress.

Pineapples and the Other Shore Club are owned/run by Sarah and Jesse.  Kevin is the dock master.  So I spent an incredible amount of time pestering them.  They were all unfailingly kind. They may not have the best facility on the island but they definitely have the friendliest with good, fresh food.  Jesse goes out every week for fish and lobster (which they call crayfish).

Manjack Cay south harbor
Anyway, I became stir crazy and headed off for a week at Manjack Cay. There are several anchorages but by far most popular is the southern one near Crab Cay.  It's a huge anchorage where it's not unusual to see 20 or more boats.  There's snorkeling on the reefs nearby by travelling by dinghy through the mangroves between Manjack and Crab Cays.  Manjack also has nature trails made and maintained by Bill and Leslie who live full time on Manjack.

Bill and Leslie purchased most of Manjack some 26 years ago and lived on their boat for a while there while they built a house.  They have great cisterns to collect rainwater from all their roofs and solar panels which supply all their power.  Cruisers who have taken the time to meet them find them lovely people with hearts as big as all outdoors. If they like you, they'll offer you some special lemonade.  However, they are private people and you are discouraged from just wandering up to their home unless introduced.
Manjack Cay Ocean Beach

Anyway, I spent a week there on anchor wandering to the beaches and meeting people and generally hanging out.  It's a very social environment - every Sunday afternoon there's a little get together on the public beach.  You bring a drink and some food to share and as many stories as you can remember.  What I found, sometimes uncomfortably, is what a complete newbie I am at this.  But everyone was kind, full of good advice, and welcoming.  Fortunately I wasn't the only newbie, so there's that.

Ben on the helm
After a week or so it was time to return to Green Turtle.  So up anchor and away I went to my spot on the dock.  One evening at Pineapples I met Ben, Kristin, and Michelle from Detroit.  They had decided to take a week off and rent a house on Green Turtle and were looking for adventures.  So during eating and drinking I offered to take them sailing the next day.  Excitement ensued.

Kristen reading
The next day they met me at Pelican and off we went in a nice 15kt breeze - sailing up to Manjack again where we anchored, had some beer and stuff, went swimming, took pictures and so forth until we sailed back.  The only fly in the ointment was running a little bit aground leaving the harbor.  More annoying than anything else.  

Swimming in Manjack 
We got back at dark and they all hopped off for showers, I suppose.  The nice thing is having guests aboard who know how to sail and aren't afraid of taking the helm or doing anything else.  Ben's a racer and Michelle crews with him.  Kristin was on holiday.

The next day we met again around lunch - all hopped into my dinghy and went over to the Leeward Yacht Club for lunch and drinks.  Well, sir, the day went downhill from there.  Somehow we managed to meet later for dinner at their rental place for pizza and much imbibing.  All in all, a pretty good day.

Another day passed, I figured they'd had enough of me so I went a wandering again.  At Pineapples once again I am greeted by the trio - after some snacks and drinks we all went off to Sundowner's in New Plymouth for pizza and more drinks.  If you're in Green Turtle Cay you should go once. That's enough.

Another place in New Plymouth that cruisers meet on Fridays is Plymouth Rock Liquors and Cafe.  You can have breakfast in a liquor store, which is perfect if you're an alcoholic.  But seriously, the food's good and the prices are pretty fair as well.  Friday nights - remember that.

Some other places to eat in New Plymouth include Harvey's Grill - good food, fancy prices.  Like a real restaurant.  Usually they have fresh fish specials.  Then there's Two Shorty's - it's a take out that you can get a lunch for $5!  Or $10 for the large size.  Brilliant.  Good food.  Kevin's sisters run it. Also there's The Wrecking Tree.  Odd name, decent food, worth the trip.  There's Macintosh's that does breakfast and it's good.  They're also a bakery.  Good cookies. Never made it for dinner.  Or lunch, for that matter.  I'm sure I'm forgetting someplace.

My Pig
After Ben & Group left I spent some time getting ready for the trip around Whale Cay.  The dreaded passage to the Southern Abacos.  I left the dock and headed the two miles or so to Noname Cay where there are wild pigs.  Apparently, a must see.  So I saw.  This is my pig.  Everyone else on the beach was being chased by the big ones and squealing with the little ones.  This one was enough for me.  Bread fed,  box checked.

The next day dawned brilliant and calm so I weighed anchor and headed to the Whale Cay cut.  After all the hubbub about it it was a bit disappointing.  Don't get me wrong.  In a northeast wind it would be treacherous but there were 4 foot swells and no waves to speak of.  Also, the cut is short and the distance in the ocean is only like 2 nautical miles.  The channel back to the southern Abacos is wide and deep as it was dredged for cruise ships which no longer stop here.

There are rumors that the channel markers which were steel poles remained but below the waterline because of storms and corrosion.  I sailed down the edge of the channel looking for them and didn't see them.  I think they were removed when a vessel got holed on one and sank.  There are still poles around the turning basin, though, which are still visible but a little worse for wear. 

I decided to anchor off Fish Cay which is an archipelago of about six islands.  Because it was calm it was ok.  The eastern side is deep but not good holding ground - good enough for the weather or for winds out of the west.

Anyway, that's the northern Abacos.  Next up, the southern Abacos from Great Guana Cay to Treasure Cay, Archer Cay, Marsh Harbor, Elbow and Lynyard Cays, Tilloo Cay and so forth.