Adventures of Adirondack

Adventures of Adirondack

Sunday, March 31, 2013

From the Sublime to the Ridiculous

We had a great week with David and Adam exploring the Exumas. Last Sunday we put David on the plane to Nassau then on to Minnesota at Staniel Cay then started north with Adam. We went on the “outside” – meaning on the east side of the islands on the Exuma Sound, part of the Atlantic and much deeper water than on the Exuma Bank. Jeff had a line in the water, but we didn’t get any bites.

We got up into the Exuma Land and Sea Park, back to Warderick Wells the Park headquarters and tied up to mooring ball #22, the last one in the North Mooring Field.  The next day we did some volunteering for the park – fixing a step at the ranger’s dock. We had a very hot, steamy hike on the island and went back to the boat and turned on the generator and ran the air conditioning for a bit to cool down and dry out. This was the first the AC has been on since Montreal last summer!

We had a great snorkel of the “Ranger’s Garden” coral area at the bottom of the mooring field: lots of huge lobsters and a big eagle ray. The predicted wind started in the evening and we were glad to be in a protected spot with a sturdy mooring.

We next headed north on the inside and stopped at the south end of Norman’s Cay where we had good protection from the north winds. We shared the anchorage with quite a lot of other boats hiding from the northerlies. The next day we took the dinghy at high tide up into Norman’s Pond, a huge bay in the middle of the cay. After Jeff did another drift dive through the nearby cut, we upped anchor and headed to Nassau, arriving at suppertime. We tied up at the Nassau Harbor Club marina, washed the salt off the rails and deck and settled in for a few days in the busiest place we’ve been to in months.

There is noise and traffic, sirens and boat wakes. We are docked just east of two huge bridges that go from New Providence Island where the city of Nassau is located over to Paradise Island, the home of Atlantis, a huge very fancy resort. We walked over to explore – there is a marina filled with boats that could use “Adirondack” as their tenders. The casino was fairly empty at 10 in the morning, but had lovely Chihuly glass sculptures scattered through it. We purchased wristbands that allowed us to go to all the aquariums built into the complex. The sea life was amazing and the grounds, pools, beaches and buildings of Atlantis were perfectly maintained. It was like a Disney version of the Bahamas. I much prefer the gritty Bahamas of Black Point Settlement and Little Farmers Cay.

Adam taxied to the airport yesterday and winged his way back to Minnesota and the start of his spring trimester. We have laundry done, oil and fuel filters changed, the front head back in working order and just have to fill the water tank on the boat and pick up the scuba tanks that are being filled down the road. Tonight we’ll anchor off the island and then tomorrow head west for the Tuesday weather window to cross the Gulf Stream and get back to Florida. It has been a wonderful time and I’ll miss the blue waters of the Bahamas. Sally

Friday, March 29, 2013

Boys going, gone home....

Tomorrow Adam flies out of Nassau for home, and the boat will be oh so quiet again. We made it to Nassau yesterday from Norman's Cay, former home of Carlos Lehder, still in prison for drug stuff, and allegedly still the owner of the island. We're told he used to pay the head of the Bahamian government $1,000,000 a week to operate out of there. It's amazing how much of the infrastructure out here was built with money spent by US citizens on drugs. And how it has gone downhill after enforcement.

We're in a Starbucks, the only place in Nassau where internet is available to us. We did better out in the Exuma wastelands. This is fast, though, as we try to catch up on everything. And now we can download photos! They include the lovely home owned by Frank and Darla that we parked outside of in Stanliel Cay for ten days while the wind howled out of the north. And another lovely Exuma scene.

More to follow. We are going to shoot for a crossing back to the US on Tuesday.  jeff

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Boys on the Boat

It has been great to have the V berth once again filled with boys. They spent a year on the boat while we did the Great Loop in 2006-2007 so are truly "able seamen" and can help with anchoring, docking and WAXING! We spent a long, hot afternoon yesterday washing then waxing "Adirondack." It helped to have all four of us working on applying first Restore - a cleaning waxing compound, rubbing it off, then applying a coat of wax and finally polishing it. The boat looks great and this will help protect the fiberglass from the destructive effects of the sun, of which we have a lot here in the Bahamas.

We've had lots of fun in addition to working them hard and it has been wonderful to have them here. How lucky that their vacations overlapped for the first week. They did get lots of water time, reading, some cribbage (David double skunked Jeff on their first game!), walks, food, and only a bit of pink skin. David heads back to the cold North today and then we will work our way northward to get Adam to Nassau by next Saturday. Then we'll be looking to head back to Florida and start north to Lake Champlain for the summer. Sally

Friday, March 22, 2013

Boys in Town!

Well they are finally here! After planning for these dates well over a year ago, David and Adam flew in without a hitch last Sunday and we've all been cavorting around the area since. We went down to Blackpoint Harbor Settlement and Farmer's Cay for the true Bahamian town experiences, went scuba diving with all of our very own gear at the famed Sea Aquarium near Cambridge Cay, snorkeled at lot, danced with the pigs at Pig Bay at Big Majors, snorkelled both of the famed "grottos,"did a fair bit of hiking and beach walking, snorkelled a LOT, played more than a fair bit of cribbage (I won't tell anyone what those scores were), did a lot of eating and dishes, experienced too much sun and what a week it has been!

The weather has been quite reasonable and looks like it will hold out at least until David flies out from here on Sunday. We have a lot of photos of our activities, but the internet coverage here is pretty poor, nothing like we've had in our special spot in the South of Staniel, our home for ten days. We have some great photos of Fred and Darla's and their house (which is for sale, by the way) but this connection just won't allow it. After we put David on the plane on Sunday, we will head north for Nassau, where we hope to get in time to put Adam on the plane on Saturday. Then Sally and I will head for the Berry Islands, West End of Great Bahama and then Florida. Capt. Jeff

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Living off the land in the Darbys

We had a lovely week exploring further south in the Exuma chain. We left our anchorage off the end of the airport runway at Staniel Cay and went to Black Point for laundry and to have a Bahamian lunch put on by the town to raise money for the school to send the kids on a field trip to Nassau to learn about their history. They were serving fish or chicken or ribs along with coleslaw, peas and rice and Bahamian mac and cheese.

We stopped at Oven Rock, a house sized island just off the shore of Great Guana Cay. We had been told there was a great cave near Oven Rock, so we landed the dinghy and wandered about, but did not find the trail to the cave. Oven Rock was topped by a huge osprey nest - they must have been working on it for generations - so the explore was still quite fun.

We continued on and anchored off the west side of Little Farmers Cay, right by the air strip (there seems to be a pattern here). We looked up the email about the Oven Rock cave that we'd gotten from our friend Andy "Andante" who said to bring snorkel gear and an underwater flashlight. We also checked a cruising web information site, Active Captain, which had the GPS coordinates of the cave and I could then plot it on our chart. With this information, we took the dinghy back to Oven Rock and this time found the trail and the cave. What a nifty place! The water goes back about a hundred feet into a hill and with the flashlights you could see about fifty feet down into the water. There were stalactites and stalagmites and little shrimp attracted to the lights.

The next day we headed south from Little Farmers, passing an island owned by David Copperfield (very fancy) and we tucked into an anchorage between Darby Cay and Little Darby Cay. It was very protected from all sides, so we knew it would be a good place to wait out a strong north blow that was predicted. Before the wind picked up, we went to see a sunken mermaid and piano sculpture reportedly placed in a nearby bay by the magician then we snorkeled the inlet nearby, ending up back at the boat (we were tied to the dinghy the whole way so could always get back!)

Jeff found two nice conch (pronounced "konk") which are sea creatures in lovely shells. Once back on the boat, we got out our cruising cook books to read how to get the conch out of the shell. It sounded pretty straight forward in the books, but the conch didn't seem to know that they should just slip out after a hole was pounded into the top of the shell. Finally after lots of pounding, till the shell was in small pieces, we got the creatures out, cleaned, skinned and into the fridge. The deck of the boat was covered in shell pieces and conch slime, but the washdown pump came in handy to clean up. We had "cracked conch" for supper - pounded thin, dredged in flour and fried crispy. It was delicious, but we have a lot to learn about getting conch out!

We had a walk on Little Darby Cay with a couple from "New Moon," a smaller boat that was able to get even farther into the area between the islands. They knew the island well from previous visits and showed us the coconut beach where the shore was lined with coconut trees. We found two coconuts that were edible - they have to have a bit of a sloshing noise when shaken indicating they haven't dried out. We were then instructed in coconut preparation - taking a big rock to smash the outer fibrous part of the coconut to get to the round brown fruit that is what I've always seen in the past. That was cracked open and the white "meat" of the coconut was very tasty.

 I'm quite glad we still have lots of food on board from our provisioning trip to the Publix grocery store in Florida. Feeding ourselves from what's available here in the Bahamas would involve way too much smashing and crunching!

Now we are headed back north to await the arrival of David and Adam, our stalwart able seamen, who are heading to the boat for Spring Break! They'll be leaving snow and cold for the warm waters of the Exumas and we can't wait to see them.  Sally

Sunday, March 10, 2013

MUTINY on the Adirondack!!!

Wes says he is jumping ship if Sally doesn't start doing some blogs. He's tired of all of these contrived story lines and titles I've been coming up with to draw folks in and he wants some real facts, written by real people. I tell him that no one wants to read the truth anymore and he should look at the news, TV programs and crap that people watch and read these days. And what does he know about these matters anyway, he's a Lego toy! Every time I tell him that he stays quiet for a while. I think we could do just fine without him (I bet we could learn to wash dishes.), but just can't tell him that to his face.

I'd post some photos and real information about where we stayed for about ten days south of Staniel Cay and the folks who were our gracious hosts, but our internet connection here south of the runway at Farmer's Cay is so slow we can't do photos. Life is tough out here, I kid you not. I will mention that we went snorkeling in a cave (can you believe it? In a real cave with stalagtites and stalagmites and everything?) today just north of here and are still amazed at how cool it was. Maybe if Sally posts it people will believe....

Capt. Jeff

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Naked Nitting

It may look like Sally has clothing on here in this classic knitting pose, but she doesn't. It was a very clever bit of photoshopping I did to get her covered her up, don't you think? It's just unbelievable what we will do to get folks to look at our blogs.

The first shot is our friendly iguana who followed me all the way down the beach out here on Bitter Guana Cay. There were quite a few of them out here. I'm not sure just what this one was trying to do. The second is the famous "Knaked Knitting" shot of Sally, the third of me enjoying the beach. How could I have mixed those up? This was a phenomenal beach on a phenomenal day and we still can't believe we had the place to ourselves all morning.

We are still on Staniel Cay waiting for the wind to switch around so we can move south and check out more islands. There has been a couple cold fronts involving west winds which we want to hide from, and this anchorage is the perfect spot, with access to town and free water (water down here is usually $0.40 - 0.50/gallon) from our friends, as well as great protection, great snorkeling,best  no bugs and free wifi. And if you're going to be trapped by wind in the Exumas, Staniel Cay is the place to be trapped. Friday supposedly will bring a return to regular east winds and we will move south.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Personnel problems

Our blogs have been boring, far too factual, stuff few people really care about. Well, I'll start right at the top with the good stuff this time. Everyone knows who follows this blog that the captain is responsible for everything, especially the good stuff. And sometimes some folks think this is good, and sometimes not. I'll leave it to you, the gentle reader to decide how serious my own personal trouble is. And maybe I'll wait til later, after everyone else's....

You know by now all the problems we've been having with Sally. First, let me tell you how perfect she's been, in ALMOST EVERY WAY. Right now she's making a crustless quiche!  Just last night she came up with the fix for our Drag Queen app that tells us if the howling winds and current were blowing us down into the three other boats and reefs located just downwind of us. (They didn't.) It seems the iPhone looks for cell towers and turns the alarm off after it can't find any. After some communication with the developer wherin we impressed upon him just how important this all was, (too bad he couldn't have heard the crashing of the waves and howling wind!) he told us there was a fix coming and wht he thought the trouble was. My first tech/engineer/first mate/laundress/navigation/deckhand/cook/morale officer came upon an immediate solution. We used the iPad, which has all those bells and whistles, but no phone, so it doesn't shut off!!  Brilliant!! We slept well despite the really bad weather. It looks better today and we awoke in the same time zone, a credit to our Rocna.

And now the bad stuff: She's been pretty neglectful with the blogging, despite threats from sharks and poisonwood trees and very frequent requests for more information from most of her gentle readers, her fingertips are inside books, a truly despicable habit that gets in the way of getting these things done. I think this goes waaaay back. Aaand she found copies of the third season of Downton Abbey, which makes us both pretty useless until bedtime.

And now more troubles with Wes. You remember Wes, our stowaway Lego guy who caused all that trouble in the beginning about taking over the world and bringing truth and justice for all, changing the world economy, eliminating pollution, assault weapons, hate and riding lawnmowers (except for the handicapped, of course) and establishing a metric system, single payer health care, gay marriage and a few other things. Yes, Wes is going to get all this done but had to lay low for a while, so we had him doing dishes, cleaning the bilge, waxing the boat and trimming sails, anything to keep him under wraps, so to speak.

Well, we forgot to check him in when we got to Nassau! This means he has been traveling with us undocumented since the middle of January! We're not sure just how to handle it. We discussed it with him and he's decided to throw himself at the mercy of the Bahamian court and tell them we have had him doing dishes, cleaning the bilge, waxing the boat and trimming sails, anything to keep him under wraps, all lies. WE could be in serious trouble. We thought about starting Adirondack on fire and swimming for shore with him in it, but that sounds a bit drastic. Right now we have him confined in a garlic jar until we come up with something better.

And now my issues. Those who know me well know about my obsession with dirt in all of its awful forms. I can't sleep at night until everything in the boat is clean and in it's place. I spend all night planning the next day's attack on dirt (you just wouldn't believe how dirty a boat can get in four hours!) and then get up right away and start at it again. The mail boat has made a special trip over here because I've used up all their cleaning supplies, if you can believe that! Well now that the boat is done, I've moved onto the island of Staniel Cay itself, picking up roadsides and rubbish, washing the roads and cars. Now that I'm all done with that I'm diving an getting all the bottles in the Atlantic, and making a pretty penny on the recycling, too. Today, I'm re-washing our laundry; it has to have gotten dirty from yesterday.  Capt. Jeff

Friday, March 1, 2013

Tucked Into South Staniel

We are anchored in a bay at the south end of Staniel Cay waiting for the west and northwest winds that  started yesterday and are predicted to be pretty strong on Sunday. One other boat came in to share the anchorage - we can't quite figure out why more aren't using this space, as it has great protection from the west and north. We met some of the home owners on the edge of the bay and they said very few boats come in and anchor here, so we should have lots of space!

We dinghied over to the dock of the house named "Omega" right on the bay on Wednesday. They have a FOR SALE sign on the dock and we had emailed them if we could leave the dinghy at their dock or beach to get to town. They said that would be fine, so we motored over and were greeted by Darla at the dock. They have spent winters here for the past 30 years, flying down from Pennsylvania. They even have a garage for a plane and are just at the end of the airport runway.

Darla was just leaving to go help unload the delivery at Isles General Store and gave us a lift over in her golf cart, the main mode of transportation here. The mail boat had arrived with replenishments for the store. There were many there to help and get first dibs on fresh produce. We helped carry in boxes of dry goods and pop, met a nice bunch of people (including a woman who cruises the Apostles in the summer and another bunch who spend summers on Lake Champlain!). We then walked to town, stopped on the way back for "grouper fingers" at a little restaurant (and sat next to a couple from Brooklyn Park, MN), bought our fresh produce at Isles General and then back to the boat for a swim and snorkel.

The water here is incredibly clear. We could see our anchor nicely set in the sand and swam over to near shore where there was some lovely coral, lots of fish and a large nurse shark. 

Yesterday Jeff did a lot of exploring by dinghy and walked into town and I spent the day reading and knitting. We both had wonderful times!

Today we took the bikes into Omega's dock and rode to town to meet friends of Mary and Dennis "Tortola" who were now here at Staniel. We found bananas at the "Blue Store" and added those to our cache of fresh produce. The day is filling up: we plan to share cocktails with the other boat in the anchorage later today and then are going out to dinner with Darla and Fred from Omega and their friends who sail Lake Superior in the summer. Sally

Sharks!! And not much else.

A few days ago we were out snorkeling in the beautiful coral garden right in front of our boat. There was a shark that we think was bigger than these out there eying us up as we went through. I happened to be there again yesterday and spoke to him about the blogging problem. He said he would take it up with his buddies. So I happened to be downtown yesterday and saw this whole flock of them circling the dock. I immediately recognized my buddy and asked him what was happening. He said they were waiting for any non-bloggers to fall in the water.

The second photo is a house on the water with a seawall made entirely of conch shells. We don't have these in Minnesota, that's for sure.

We're still sitting on the boat awaiting a west to north wind coming from another front, and now there's supposed to be another next week. We may be here a while. Thankfully we have a dock that we can use and a place to park the bikes. Our new friends have also invited us out to dinner tonight. This isn't too bad of a place to be stuck in at all.

Today we met friends of friends in town, stopped for groceries and are about to go for a swim. Then cocktails on our neighbor's boat then dinner. We have to pace ourselves and concoct some new boat stories to keep the blog interesting.  Capt. Jeff