“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain


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Bahamas Chapter 10: Long Island

Long Island, Bahamas marks the last Chapter in our journey through the Bahamas.  We stopped at two different anchorages, and stayed a little over a week.  We rented a car with friends and checked out the island including:  Dean’s Blue Hole and some caves.  This island was devastated by Hurricane Joaquin (Category 4 hurricane that hit in October 2015) and is still recovering.  

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Beach Bar for Cruisers

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Snorkeling Dean's Blue Hole

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Spelunking

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Lots of creepy, crawly things in the caves!

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We absolutely loved the Bahamas and would like to eventually go back, but our current plan is to continue to head south.  Turks & Caicos here we come!

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Bahamas Chapter 8: George Town (aka Chicken Harbor)

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Have you ever gone on a cruise on a cruise ship or went to summer camp?  You know how everything is scheduled and everyone is friends by the end of the time there…this is what George Town is like.  I am not even joking…there is Yoga and Water Aerobics each morning, weekly poker tournaments, volleyball each afternoon, and fires & sundowners on the beach.  And, if all that is not enough for you, there is plenty of hiking, snorkeling, restaurants with live bands, etc.

The harbor consists of multiple anchorages, which is the home to several hundred boats that come to this stop in the Bahamas, where they remain for the entire winter season.  There is a Cruisers’ Net that comes over the VHF each morning to discuss the on-goings in the harbor, announces items available for Buy-Sell-Trade, and includes Arrivals and Departures of vessels to the area.  To be honest, when we first arrived here all of this was very overwhelming, after we had spent over three months in pretty small, quiet anchorages.

We had an extended stay here as we waited for our guest (Frank) to arrive from Boston, Massachusetts.  The timing could not have been more prefect.  We ended up being at this island during the National Family Island Regatta, which we learned is the biggest sailing event in the Bahamas.  Boats and people come from every island to participate in the races and festivities.  Regatta Point, an otherwise quiet street, became an entire town of shacks and stages just for this event.  Besides the races and drinking & eating, there were art exhibits, parades, a fashion show, and bands.  It was amazing to see this quiet little town swell with thousands of people over the course of just a week.  We had such a good time with Frank and miss him already!

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Race boats arrive via barge or are towed by a power boat

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Shacks being erected

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Shacks ready for action

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Cheers! Tasting our first Sky Juice.  From left to right:  Stacey & Jesse (sv Smitty), Chris & Jim (sv Radio Waves), Frank (sv Smitty guest)

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Late night (well, early morning)….well past my bedtime, but well worth it

Chat’N’Chill is one of the famous stops of this area, just across the harbor from Georgetown on Stocking Island.  They have a weekly pig roast, daily volleyball games, and of course a beach bar.

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We did manage to snug into a quiet spot that hardly anyone goes to anchor called Redshanks.  It was a great place to hide out from high winds that we kept experiencing.  The most amount of boats that we saw in this area was about 15, which meant that the most beautiful beach was virtually all ours! We probably spent the most amount of our time while in Georgetown anchored here. 

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views around Redshanks

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bridge that you go under as you dinghy to/from town.  

On each larger island, there is a monument that identifies to approaching vessels which island that they are in fact approaching.  The short hike up to the top of the hill to the monument on Monument Beach rewards you with the most spectacular views of the surrounding area.

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sunset with Deborah & Keith (sv Wrightaway)

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spotted this eel as we were snorkeling

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You get a pretty diverse group of visitors to this island

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This kid kicked my butt at checkers (likely because he made up new rules as we played)

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Bubbly pool – nice afternoon of relaxing and wine with Radio Waves’ crew

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weenie roast on Frank’s last night

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Flip Flop Beach

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this is how the local police handle derelict boats

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sadly, this was where we departed ways with Radio Waves.  Thank you both again for everything – we had a really great time enjoying this experience with you!


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Chapter 7: Lee Stocking Island

Lee Stocking Island may be our favorite stop that we made in the Bahamas.  There is enough to do that we could stay for weeks, which we did! But, we had to pile Smitty up with 30 gallons of extra water in a bladder and as much extra gas as we could, because there are no stores or other means of getting water or fuel on this island.

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The island marker and the cut (entry/exit) for Lee Stocking

The Abandoned Institute

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In order to pursue his interest in marine research and renewable energy, the 600-acre Lee Stocking Island was purchased for $70,000 by John Perry in 1957. He developed the island as a scientific field station and tried to make it self-supporting by incorporating working models of new technologies.

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Wind Turbine – the cables were used to pull the blades to the top of the post (which looks like a mast of a boat on land)

The Perry Institute for Marine Science included laboratories, housing, an airstrip, a dock, boats, and dive support facilities.  Up until SCUBA technology became more advanced, the field station featured shallow-depth submersibles.

From the institute’s website: 

The Perry Institute for Marine Science is dedicated to making a difference by protecting our oceans. We do this through ocean research and education that informs the public and encourages action. We operate a tropical marine laboratory on Lee Stocking Island in the Bahamas. Scientists, students and educational groups visit our facility from around the world to conduct ocean research in this remote, pristine stretch of the Caribbean. In the areas on and around our island, we study things like coral reefs, fisheries, ecosystems and the biodiversity of undersea life.”

After the death of Perry in 2006, research funding dried up and the institute was closed. However, the Institute was not cleaned up; tons of garbage (including hazardous materials), buildings and equipment remain on the island. 

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A couple of the many abandoned buildings and a pick-up truck

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Live-wells used for research

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Airstrip

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Hazardous chemicals and the remnants of a decompression chamber

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The tanker trucks were used to hold fuel for the generators that supported the island

Hunting

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Where the conch live

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Conch:  Before                                      Conch:  After

Beautiful Beaches and clear water in every shade of blue

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Hiking

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Summer leads the way on the trail hike

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Snorkeling

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Anchorage with spectacular sunset

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Farewell & Following Seas

One of the saddest days of of our trip so far was parting ways with Deborah & Keith and their pup, Kai on sv Wrightaway.  Thank you so much for the pleasure of your company, sharing the hunting and snorkeling spots with us, showing Jesse how to clean conch, and especially for sharing all of the super yummy fish & conch meals. 🙂

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As I suspect that this island (or at least a portion) will be sold and developed into some sort of luxury resort over the next couple of years,  I am glad that we had the opportunity to explore this island now, especially in its current state (which, we found to be quite interesting and fun).


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Chapter 6 – Cat Island

Cat Island is located on the outer reaches of the Eastern Bahamas (also known as the Far Bahamas); a well-worth sail from the Exumas.  We anchored in Old Bight, off of a 3-mile long, perfect sand beach, that we shared with two other buddy-boats:  sv Wrightway and sv The Lucky One.  This area has one small bar to the north and a large creek that is the home of lots of turtles to the south.

We traveled to North Bight in order to check out the local shops and the Hermitage.  Father Jerome (John Cecil Hawes), an architect and Catholic Priest, known throughout the Bahamas for his work, built the Hermitage (along with many other churches on various Bahamian islands). The Hermitage, located on Mt. Alvernia, the highest hill in the Bahamas, is amazing.  When you first see it from the water, you would think that you are about to embark on an epic journey to get to the top of the mountain where it is located.  In reality, nothing is very tall in the Bahamas. Having hiked parts of the Appalachian Trail; the tallest point in the Bahamas would be comparative to hiking to the base of any of New England’s mountains.  The trail begins as you walk through the archway at the Hermitage’s entrance at the base of the hill.  As you ascend the hill you will see the Stations of the Cross and the replica of Jesus’ tomb.  Once at the top of the hill, you arrive at the beautiful, yet humble Hermitage. The tallest part of the building, the bell tower, is only about 15 feet tall.  This is where Father Jerome prayed and lived in his retirement years.  On the back side of the hermitage, you can see the cave that Father Jerome lived in for several years while he was building the Hermitage.

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View of the Hermitage from the town below

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Debbie & Keith (sv Wrightaway) and Stacey (sv Smitty) hiking up the hill to the Hermitage

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Left to right:  Crews of sv Wrightawy and sv Smitty

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New Bight area – snack & beer shacks

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Fire & weenie roast on Old Bight Beach.  The L Dock koozie is enjoying the Bahamas as well

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Great sail  to Cat Island with our buddy-boat sv Wrightaway


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Bahamas Chapter 5: A Hole, a Cave, a Mermaid,oh, and Laundry

Black Point, Great Guana Cay

After swimming with the pigs at Staniel Cay, our next stop south was Black Point.  The plan for our stop at this island was to wash clothes at the clean & affordable laundry mat.  It seemed as though every cruiser in a 20-mile radius was on this same plan.  When we went to the laundry there were at least 50 other cruisers up there as well.  It was so nice to meet so many people but it was also so overwhelming after being in small social groups or alone for the past month or so.  However, we were really happy to finally meet Keith & Deborah (and Kai) Wrightaway on sv Wrightaway Blog:  Wright Away Sails Away.  Jesse was one of the first followers of their blog many years ago.  We also caught up with John Ahern on sv Freedom Kewlchange.com…we owe him so many beers after that fun day – Thanks again John!

 

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Black Point sound and ocean

Top:  Exuma Bank (harbor side);  Bottom:  Exuma Sound (ocean side)

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Oven Rock, Great Guana Cay and Little Farmers Cay

At the south end of Great Guana Cay is Oven Rock.  It literally looks like a huge kiln oven.  There are some nice hiking trails in this area that we checked out as well as the cave that had deep water pools (Jesse and I were both to chicken to jump in).

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Oven Rock Cave

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At Little Farmers Cay we got fresh lobster from Little Jeff and checked out his pictures of the pink pearls he found in conch (these are very rare and fetch a handsome price if you come across one). We also attended the church fair, although we were late and all the food was gone.

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Rudder Cay

Like most entertainers with too much money, David Copperfield owns land in the Bahamas, Rudder Cay.  You cannot step foot on this island or anchor too closely – there are very large signs posted on every beach advising No Trespassing.  So, what I do not understand is, if you do not want anyone to come around your playground, why add a really cool attraction to it!  Obviously, we went and anchored just off one of his beautiful beaches and snorkeled to check out the mermaid playing the piano.

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Dinghy Spelunking Video

 

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