Looking Back: Royal Island, Bahamas

March 26, 2011

Today we said goodbye to Nassau and to our Navitours friends. They had their hands full with the 8 boats that had come in Friday. The passengers on all of these had left Saturday morning, but new ones were coming soon! There were but a few hours to clean.

We headed out to Spanish Wells, but on the way decided to instead pull into Royal Island. There was a nice protected harbor on the south side. Apparently there had been plans to develop the entire island, but the plans had fallen through. Kris and I explored in the dingy. We went to the coconut grove that he and Gary had found when they were here in February, but the ripe coconuts were all gone! We met a few other boaters on the beach, along with their dog Lulu. Kris and I explored the waters around the island.

Royal Island...looking out to Spanish Wells.

We found a pelican and a shallow sandy area dotted with coral heads (excellent snorkeling…should have brought the fins). We also found…a forklift! It must have fallen off of a cargo ship or mail boat. It was in an unusual spot, in a little cut just to the southwest of the island. We also explored an old house that had been built on the cove in the 50s. The house must have once been a beautiful home, with an indoor/outdoor layout, lovely gardens, and a boat house. It’s amazing how quickly things can go to the ruin out here, what with the salty air and the hurricanes. While exploring, Kris and I were surprised by a snake over one building’s doorway. From then on we kept our eyes peeled. Saw one more snake, and a bunch of tiny lizards.

For dinner Gary and Carol made a delicious conch stew. Kris and I made some french fries and chili dogs as well. We shared the stew with a boat neighbor who had just pulled in and looked exhausted. His name was Mike, and he told us that he had just sailed all the way up from George Town, on the ocean side, in one day. Wow!

Looking Back: Atlantis Aquarium – Paradise Island, Bahamas

March 25, 2011

Kris and I dinged over to the Atlantis Resort just after 5:00 this evening. Our new French Canadian friends had told us that we could get in for free if we went after 5, as the $35 tours would be over, but the aquarium would be left open. Acting as guests, we docked in the marina and made our way into the aquarium. We were much more impressed with the resort on this second tour. The aquarium was beautiful with an abundance of fish.

The manta rays.

Our favorite were the two young manta rays that swam in the largest tank. I believe you could even snorkel with the manta rays! We should have brought our masks and fins.

Kris and I took the opportunity to explore the rest of the resort. We stumbled upon the water park, which includes a giant wanter slide and a slow tube ride that go through a mayan temple inspired structure and into a tank filled with sharks!

The trip was well worth it. If you are ever in the area, remember, go into the resort just after 5:00. Make your way through the casino and out the back door. Turn to the left and follow the paths past the tops of the aquarium tanks and eventually you will find the stairs down to the aquarium entrance. Go on in and enjoy!

Looking Back: Nassau, Bahamas…the Third Time Around

March 21-25, 2011

The days went by like a blur. Kris and I explored downtown Nassau by foot on Tuesday while Gary and Spinny relaxed on the boat. There are many interesting old buildings in town, and numerous restaurants, gift shops, a pirate museum, straw market, and guided tours of different kinds. Be careful when crossing the street though! The Bahamian drivers can get a little crazy. Even locals will tell you to be especially mindful. And don’t forget that the roads work in opposite directions!

Becky, the French Canadian dog.

Tuesday night Kris and I went out with a few French Canadian friends we’d met on the dock. They work for Navitours charter company, which keeps it’s 10 boats in Nassau Yacht Haven. It was Kevin’s birthday the next day and we went to Senior Frog’s to celebrate. The night was spent watching drunk cruise ship passengers bemusedly and eventually wandering off onto the dance floor ourselves.

Junkanoo headdresses at the caves.

The rest of the week went by in a blur. We rented a car Wednesday in preparation for Carol’s return flight on Thursday. We explored the rest of the island by car both days, finding many resorts, private vacation homes, smaller local homes, a couple of old forts, and several unfinished building projects. We did find a few caves on the north west end of the island. The caves were fun to explore and the little daiquiri stand just outside was delicious! Everything was made with fresh fruit, bananas, strawberries, mangos, even coconuts! Yum.

Before we knew it, it was Friday night. At the start of the evening, Kris and I dinged over to Paradise Island to see the aquarium at the Atlantis Resort. More on that visit in the next post. Later in the night, we went to meet our Navitours friends at a local bar just across the street from the marina. Though only one friend showed up and hour later than the meeting time, Kris and I still had a good time. The locals and another boat couple began giving us dance lessons and partnered up to dance with us. We danced to music played by a local band (which included a saw as an instrument). It was a true Bahamian experience.

Spanish Wells, Bahamas

March 27, 2011

We moved from Nassau on Saturday to Royal Island. It felt amazing to get back out on the water. I’ll blog about the past week further after updating you with our latest adventures.

Spinny is doing much better. She’s smiling and wagging her tail and eating her food. She wants to play stick, but we want her to relax more and sadly have to turn her away…for now. It is wonderful to see her to bright eyed and bushy tailed once again!

This morning began early. Not because we wanted to leave early, not because we wanted an early start to explore the island further, but because the keel bouncing on the sea floor woke us. In the middle of the nigh the wind had picked up and t the anchor had come loose and the boat had drifted back to the edge of the cove. Somehow we had missed two boats along the way. Thankful that there had not been a collision, we sprang into action, Kris pushing the boat with the dingy, Gary going full speed ahead at the helm. Finally, we pulled off the bottom and headed back toward are spot at the front of the bay.

Here comes the sun.

We tried to anchor again, but the anchor began to drag. Because it was already six in the morning by this time, we decided to head over to Spanish Wells and arrive there just after sunrise. Besides, after that heart racing event, none of us felt like we could fall back to sleep just yet.

Kris and Gary have already been here in Spanish Wells, having come before picking Carol and I up in Nassau back in February. It is a very clean cut, colorful, and quiet fishing town.

One of the northern beaches at Spanish Wells.

The beaches around the island are breathtaking. These are the beaches that people think of when they picture the Bahamas.

Kris and I rode the bikes around the island for a tour of the town while Gary and Carol went out for a dingy ride. Spinny came with us in the Spinny cart. The town was extra quiet as it was Sunday and everyone was closed and relaxing. It was a sunny day, though quite hot, and a good day for a bike ride.

March 28, 2011

Today was just as got, if not hotter, than yesterday. Though I just wanted a cool drink, shade, and a breeze, I know that all of you back home in Ohio are craving the heat that beat down upon us, so I wish it your way.

Fishing boat pulls in.

Today we played bumper boats on the dock! The wind caught an incoming catamaran off guard as it was pulling in next to us. It was an honest mistake, and the only found damages on both parts were a few scuffs and a busted bumper board. The sound of the board snapping in half sure sent our hearts racing though!

The rest of the day was spent riding bikes and the dinghy, much like yesterday. In the evening we all pulled together to scrub and rinse off the decks and the back of the boat. Boat bath time! Horizons feels nice and squeaky clean after her shower this evening. She’s looking good for our trip up to the Abicos tomorrow.

Governor’s Harbor, Eleuthra / Nassau, Bahamas

March 19, 2011

Gary and his catch of the day.

Today we sailed over to Governor’s Harbor, Eluthra. On the way Gary caught himself a small colorful fish. We were not entirely sure of the fish’s name.
Governor’s Harbor was a little different from all the town’s I’ve seen thus far. It had once been the capital of the Bahamas, so perhaps this attributed to it’s character. It was almost like a small East Coast town, at least the wood houses with dormers and front porches made it seem that way. The chart indicated that there were several restaurants in town, a grocery, gas station, car rentals, vehicle repair, hardware stores, and, my personal favorite, a movie theater.

However, Spinnaker’s increasing signs of sickness and rising fever had us worried. We spent a great deal of time trying to get a hold of a nurse on Eleuthra who acted as an amateur veterinarian, trying to get a rental car (but all were out, even after calling 7 car rentals), and then trying to contact a vet in Nassau. Finally, Gary got through to the doctors and an antibiotic that we had on board was recommend for Spin. Poor thing, she was loaded with pedia-light, pepto-bismal, aspirin, and now an antibiotic. She needed some rest.

Sunset over the harbor.

Kris and I went to shore in the evening to stretch our legs and look around. There was an old Anglican church in town whose stone walls looked as if they’d tested time for decades. We watched a beautiful sun set over the harbor. Town, we discovered, was filled mostly with the beautiful wooden residential houses we’d seen from shore. However, there was indeed a gas station, grocery, etc…and, a movie theater! The Globe Princess Theater that plays relatively recent releases every night at 8:15. We were surprised to see that the theater itself was rather sizable. I peeked into the booth to find an older platter and film projector, similar to the ones at the Strand Theater in Delaware, OH. Also inside of the theater is a fast food style concession stand and diner, with hamburgers, chicken burgers, popcorn, and ice cream. We grabbed a few burgers for dinner and brought them back to the boat with us.

That night was watched the largest moon Earth has seen in 20 years rise in the Bahamian sky.

March 20, 2011

Gary tracked Spinny’s temperature every hour and a half through the night and was pleased to find it going slowly down. This morning at about 7:00, however, Spin’s temperature spiked back up again to the highest it’s been. After calling airlines to look at booking Gary and Spinny and flight over to Nassau and thinking over other options, we decided to just move the boat over to Nassau. We could stay on the boat over there and not have to rent Gary and Spin a hotel. Spin could stay in the comfort of home and be close to a vet if need be. So, as soon as the decision was made, we set sail to the current capital of the Bahamas and waved goodbye to the old.

Dolphins of the starboard bow!

On the way we met a couple of dolphins. Kris and I greeted them up at the bow and the crisscrossed back and forth, jumping and turning sideways, curiously checking out the boat and us. Even Spin woke up enough to look out of the side of the cockpit, interested in the “sea dogs” swimming by her boat.

Spinny’s temperature went up and down during the trip. The antibiotics would take 48 hours to take full effect and the aspirin appeared to be wearing off before it’s 12 hours were off. However, her temperature never rose higher than it had before , and it would always go down again.

We entered Nassau through the east channel entrance and had to weave our way around a slue of anchored boats. Everyone was pulling in for the rough weather that would be coming our way tomorrow. We saw a Bahamian sloop out for a cruise around the channel. My favorite boat, however, was the tall ship at the end of the dock at Nassau Yacht Haven, whose crew aboard stared in slight horror as we came straight for their port side. Kris/ Captain Ron had it all under control though, and we backed up and swung around and into our dock smoothly.

We are all relieved to be here in Nassau, close to a vet for Spin. We even started up the air-conditioning for her, and she laid down happily in her favorite spot under the table, right by an air vent. We’ll all sleep better tonight, knowing Spin will be heading for the doctor in the morning.

March 21, 2011

Spinnaker our sailor dog.

Apparently Spin has been diagnosed with Tick Fever. This can be a very serious disease if not caught early. We were all very glad then, that we had brought her to Nassau and the vet. She’s is staying there for the day for treatment and Gary will pick her up at 4:00 this afternoon. Meanwhile, we are cleaning the boat so Spin can come home to a clean, de-sanded, and air-conditioned home this afternoon. We will probably stay here in Nassau for a few days as Spin recovers. Send her all your good wishes, thoughts and love.

Day 2 at Rock Sound, Eleuthra, Bahamas

March 18, 2011

Not much to report from today. Spin is still feeling sick. Our main mission of the day was to find her some recovery supplies: pedia-sure, Gatorade, Pepto-bismal, and more rice. She is a very lucky dog, not in that she’s sick, but in that her family will dedicate themselves to making her feel better.

Kris spent a great deal of the day working on the Cheers Chalet website, so we stayed here in Rock Sound where we have internet.

I took a few photos of the houses around town as we walked Spin this afternoon, plus a few others. Enjoy!

Rock Sound, Eleuthra, Bahamas

March 17, 2011

We enjoyed a good long sleep this morning. We all must have been worn out from the trip over here yesterday!

Ocean hole fish. They love bread crumbs.

First on the list of things to do: check out the ocean hole in town. The hole looks like a big quarry lake with murky water and brown fish (only these are ocean fish). The hole is somehow connected to the ocean, though it is a few blocks into town. However, no one kind find the connecting cave or tunnel. Not even Jaques Cousteau himself could solve the mystery. The rise and fall of the tide in the hole is the only testament to the connection. We saw many dingy looking ocean fish in the hole, including a small grouper. There is a ladder leading into the water and people sometimes swim and snorkel in the hole. In the hot day yesterday, the water certainly looked tempting, but I did not remember to bring my bathing suite.

A beautiful old tree.

The rest of the day we wandered around town, eating lunch at Sammy’s Place, and finding a few groceries at the large store just down the street north of town. This is the largest town we have encountered thus far, complete with several crossroads, a couple of roundabouts, and working street lights. There are groceries, hardware, souvenirs, a post office, government dock, clinic, drug store, and a few restaurants. However, several of the restaurants listed on the explorer charts are now out of business. We were hoping to find a pizza place as well, but discovered that the listing for it in the chart was a typo. Instead of “pizza” it should have said “plaza”! There are several abandoned and burnt down houses in town as well.
Still, I think this is one of my favorite towns thus far. There are still many houses still being lived in, with fresh paint and several green and flowering trees and lush grass. We were excited to see lawn mowers in some yards! The day is filled with a cacophony of bird song, and the night thrums with the chirps of frogs and crickets.

Spinny has seemed on the up today. She ate a bit of breakfast and was smiling and eager to walk, sniff, and play around town. She’s still a bit out of sorts. I hope she feels better in the morning.

We may stay here one more day, or leave for Governor’s Harbor. We’ll see how we feel in the morning.

Sail to Eleuthra, Bahamas

March 16, 2011

We made it safely to Rock Point last evening. I manned the helm for much of the day, as it was relatively calm sailing. I even drove the boat into our anchorage spot and backed the anchor down to help set it. Woohoo!

Spinny seemed a bit sad to have Carol gone yesterday and appeared to be tired and mopey. However, this morning she’d still not touched her food and her nose felt a little warm to the touch. Poor Spinny seems to be sick as a dog. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious.

Waves wash over the deck. We were REALLY rocking and rolling today. When we got out onto the sound, the waves were much larger than we expected. Water pored in over the bow and seeped through the closed hatch over the electronics. Gary and I rushed down to clean up the mess that was the cabin. Everything was battened down as much as normal, but apparently that wasn’t well enough for today. Sitting in the cabin too long felt like an amusement ride gone wrong, and I found myself sea sick again. We all felt great relief when the sails went up, helping to stabilize us in the rough seas.

If you thought our troubles were over now, you are quite wrong. Sick dog, sick Emily, water in the cabin, drenched electronics, chicken broth spilled all over the kitchen, rolling seas. Oh no, this isn’t enough. A squall was building in the distance and descending down was a nice little wisp of a funnel cloud. A potential water spout in the making. Luckily this was easily avoided with a slight course change.

None of the day thus far was really that disastrous or unfixable, but it certainly makes for a more interesting crossing over to Eluthra. The day wasn’t all that bad. Gary did catch another smaller mahi mahi on the way over, but released him as we still have some mahi mahi meat in the freezer. Still, we were all glad to anchor safely in Rock Sound harbor. To celebrate we took an evening walk through the town and found a good dinner of hamburgers at the 4 Points Restaurant. Spinny even ate a bit of hamburger herself and played a game of fetch. Spirits were certainly lifted all around with our walk into town. We’re looking forward to exploring Rock Sound further in the morning.

Marina at Emerald Bay: Great Exuma, Bahamas

March 13 – 15, 2011

I’m typing the entry here this morning as Kris, Gary and I ready to boat for the slow trip back up north. Carol left us in the very early hours of the morning for the airport, as she is flying back to Ohio on business matters.

Our first day here at the marina was cleaning day. Laundry, sweeping, vacuuming, scrubbing down the cockpit, decks, and dingy.

The second day we rented a car. First on our agenda was lunch with the Mounts. It was good to see them again before we part ways for a while. Then we ran a few arrands – groceries, air in the tiny air tank, etc – and just took a nice drive around the island. We were sad to see that Santana’s was not open, is it was a Monday. However, her mother was in, baking bread for the Exuma market. We bought a loaf of coconut bread from her that she had extra.

Now we’re readying the boat for a jump up north in the Exumas. I’ll talk to you all when we get internet once more.

Hawks Nest, Cat Island and onto Emerald Bay, Great Exuma, Bahamas

March 11-12, 2011

On the first day we sailed down to Hawk’s Nest Marina on the SW tip of Cat Island. On the way, Gary cast his fishing lines. He was able to catch a big barracuda before a little rain storm caught up with us. Spinny and PinkEms waited out the rain with a good book.

After getting into the Marina at $2.25/ft (we didn’t want to try the narrow anchorage), Gary and Carol headed up to the club house for drinks and the honor system, serve yourself bar, and internet. Kris and I borrowed a couple of the complimentary marina bikes and took them on a bike ride up the road a little ways. Not too much to see except some vacation houses, but it was a nice day for a bike ride.

We had another visitor in the marina, a big sea eagle. He was perched atop a smaller sail boat’s mast at the end of our docking area. He stayed there all day, drying his feathers off in the sun and wind. Perhaps they’d become wet in the rainstorm.

The next day we headed out to sail back to Great Exuma and pull into Emerald Bay Marina. It looked as if it was going to be another bumpy ride, so in leu of the bit of sea sickness I had before, Carol and I took dramamine together. Not only did it knock me out for half the trip, but it made me a little loopier than normal all day. Kris and Gary were incredibly amused by the fact that I slept with one eye open, saying they’d finally got me paranoid enough to have to keep an eye on them at all times, even when dreaming. Considering that the next thing Gary did was berate us all with a homemade hand puppet (inspired by the Jennifer Lopex South Park episode), I don’t think I can be blamed.
However, on the way Gary did have something to do other than highlight his hand. He caught himself another barracuda.

Kris pulled us expertly in through the choppy marina entrance. A group of people standing near the breakers gave us applause and thumbs up. Later, Kris’ skills at the helm were congratulated by many at the pot-luck up at the club house. Gary’s skills with the fishing pole were appreciated as well, for they had provided the fried mahi-mahi morsels we made for the party.