A week on Long Island

By March 6, 2011Bahamas, Caribbean, Cruising

Last week I left you knowing Eric, Marilyn, and I sailed to Long Island.  It turned out to be my favorite island so far, because of all the sights.  On Sunday we were at the second most northern cove on the west side, called Calabash Bay.  It was your picture perfect bay with reefs guarding the entrance, clear water, protection from the waves, half moon shaped beach, and a nice little resort.  The best part is that we had it to ourselves.  I think I will come back to this cove on my way to Cat Island in a month or so. After breakfast we took the dinghy around to the north point and visited the Columbus Monument and explored a tidal creek area.  The monument had a great view and the creek was beautifully pristine (I don’t think many people go there due to the entrance not being well protected).  In the late afternoon we sailed the boat south to the Stella Maris anchorage (it was a bit bouncy due to the wind being from the east southeast instead of the east like I expected).  We got up on Tuesday and took my three bikes to shore and rode around for 10 miles.  We got strawberry ice cream cones in Burnt Ground (that is the town name) for a dollar (the only thing better than ice cream is cheap ice cream).  We also visited the Adderly Plantation ruins, which were the best plantation ruins I’ve seen so far in the Bahamas and they had a great view.  The last place we visited was the Stella Maris community (this is a planned ex patriot retirement community) so I could get internet.  While there we found a cave that had tables set up for parties, tree roots growing down from the ceiling, and lots of bats.  Around 3PM we picked up the anchor and motored south right into 20 knot winds, but it was worth it to get to Whale Head Bay for more protection from the wind.  The bay turned out to be another beautiful one and Eric and Marilyn took the kayak for a spin the next morning.  Then we sailed andcmotored to the community of Salt Pond and anchored in Thompson Bay.  We spent the day biking around the town and walked the Atlantic side beach.

On Wednesday we rented a car to see the south part of the island and it was worth every bit of the $65.  We started our tour at the Spanish church built in the 1700’s.  The roof was a skeleton, but the walls were in pretty good shape and it even had a confessional built into the floor plan.  It was a great site to start the day off.  Our next stop was the Long Island Museum, which was a nice historical view of the island.  We did find a gem in Sheena, a museum employee.  She was telling me all these places to visit and I finally asked if she would jot it down, because I was getting over whelmed with information.  She ended up writing three pages with directions to ten different places for us.  The next place I had on my list was Dean’s Blue Hole, which is the deepest hole in the world (over 600 feet).  While we were swimming and diving in it we watched the world champion for depth without fins (101 meters/330 feet) practice.  He could hold his breath for over four minutes.  The next stop was Bonacorde Pools and it was the first Sheena mentioned that I did not know about.  This is two very small bays on the Atlantic side of the island surrounded by rock walls making them protected even in the worst of storms.  It is the place you want to take kids to swim in the ocean.  The last item on my list was Clarence Town with it beautiful bay and two churches built by Father Jerome at the beginning of the 1900s.  He first built the red and white Anglican Church and then switched denominations and came back and built the blue and white Catholic Church.  This one you can climb the very narrow ladders to the top of the spires and get a great view of the town.  We visited a Diamond Crystal salt manufacturing site, which appears to have been abandoned after a hurricane.  We found a machine shop, housing, salt pans, a tug boat, and other various pieces of equipment.  I found it to be quite fascinating.  We also visited the caves near Miley (which had an eerie beauty), the ruins at Dunmore (the only dud on Sheena’s list since we could not get near them), and Gordon’s beach at the very south end of the island (they had a stop sign where the road ended…it looked funny).  The only thing we did not get to see on the island is Hamilton’s Cave, because the owner was off fishing for the day.  I want to come back to see it when I head north from Acklins in several weeks.  After all the sightseeing Eric and Marilyn took me out to dinner at Club Washington (thank you guys) and then we returned the car around 8PM.

On Thursday a three day storm started up so we left at 7AM to sail the 38 miles back to George Town.  We had the sails up (with a reef in the main) right after the anchor and started with 15-20 knots and 2-4 foot seas, but by the last 10 miles of open water we were up to 20-25 knots and 7-8 foot seas.  It was quite spirited to say the least.  We were back in Elizabeth Harbor and had the anchor down by noon (we averaged over 7.5 knots).  The next day and a half I said hello and hung out with the Texas Navy and others.

Since the Cruising Regatta is in full swing this week and next, I was talked into signing up for the Elizabeth Harbor race.  This was an 8.57 miles race inside the harbor.  I had Eric, Marilyn, Steve (Anchor Management), and Robert (Following Tides) crewing for me and we did very well due to each of them.  Because the results will be adjusted based on the rating of each boat, we will not know the results until the awards ceremony next Friday, but I think first place is between us and Sea Yawl Later with less than a three second separation.