Sampson Cay to Georgetown February 8-22, 2006

Click on the above thumbnail for a map of points visited during this time period.

The Green Flash....

There really is such a thing as a green flash!  We've seen it twice in the last week.   This phenomenon happens at sunset (with no clouds on the horizon over the sea) when the color on the horizon suddenly and briefly changes from red/orange/pink to green just after the sun's glow disappears.  It is called a flash since it only happens for a second.  Pretty cool!  We attended a beach party on Staniel Cay with about 30 other folks and were treated to the green flash much to the delight of everyone.  Of course, not everyone saw it.  They must have blinked at the wrong time.

Barb has finally gotten Skype working on our computer so we can now make phone calls on the PC via the internet.  Of course it only works when we have a wi-fi connection, but it's great to be able to talk 20 minutes for pennies instead of $10 or $20 .  Of course if the person on the other end has Skype on their PC, the call is free. The problem we have had is that our computer has speakers but no microphone.  The closest thing we had to a microphone was our Verizon phone headsets, but they had an incompatible connector.  Barb got offers from a number of folks for adaptors and headsets that they thought would work, but none of them did due to the spacing of the speaker and microphone plugs on the computer.   Finally John, a clever fellow on the sailboat Savvy, gave her a headset where he snapped off one of the connectors.  Thus she could plug in the one standard connector into the microphone plug-in on the computer.  But the appropriately-sized connector was associated with the earpiece, not the microphone!   So now we speak into the earpiece of the headset and listen out of the speakers on the PC.  This works, but only barely, since the earpiece (surprise!) was not really designed to be a microphone.  "This works" means that the user must shout.  Of course this is not conducive to private conversation in a public place.  We need to have the volume setting on the computer up to "high" in order for it to work, and so we can only make calls from the privacy of our boat.  Fortunately, Bill and Staci McLaughlin of Tapestry (the previous owners of our boat) are leaving the States for the Exumas next week on their new 58' Krogen, and have volunteered to bring us a real headset (as well as a new navigation light for the dinghy and a Food Saver.)  They are good people, so we are anxious to see them in any case, but we'll also be glad to get all of the goodies they have graciously offered to bring us.

Chuck read about a good dive site 20 miles south of Staniel Cay near Galliot Cay, so on Thursday we headed south with Cocoon to give it a go.  We cruised the 20 miles south on the ocean side, and were able to fish and catch another mahi-mahi.  Chuck is becoming quite the expert at filleting them by now.   When we arrived at Galliot's, Chuck and Tom spent quite some time in the dinghy looking for a good reef to dive.  After they found one, Barb ferried them out and spent quite some time trying to re-find the reef.  Next time they will use their GPS.  In the end, we found it and they had a thoroughly enjoyable dive.   Phyllis and Tom joined us for fresh mahi-mahi dinner that evening using a Bahamian marinate recipe of Phyllis' (lime juice, soy sauces, and lots of spices.)

We knew a front was coming through on Sunday and that a charity event was happening on Saturday in Staniel Cay, so we decided to stay in the Staniel Cay area for the festival and the protected anchorage.  We had a nice snorkeling dive in the cave Thunderball (of James Bond fame), Chuck got a few runs in, and we had a fabulous Thai feast aboard Cocoon, but we mostly braved the strong winds aboard Tusen Takk II for a number of days.   It started blowing Sunday afternoon as predicted and blew between 20 and 40 knots for two days.  We stayed up late Sunday watching things, but our anchor was holding well so we called it a night around midnight.  We had a surprise about 3:30 am when we heard someone knocking on the side of the boat.  We jumped up (only minimally clothed), and discovered the skipper of a neighboring sailboat perched on his bow pulpit doing his best to hold his pulpit off from spearing our boat.  Their anchor had drug at the beginning of the blow and after resetting it they put down a second anchor.  This prevented them from dragging again, but also prevented them from swinging with the wind and current the way their neighbors were.  When the crisis happened the tide had turned but the wind was so strong that the boats were all doing crazy dances.  They didn't dare start their engine as they thought the line from one of their anchors was under their boat and therefore might become entangled with the prop should they try to move.  (For just this reason one of the most popular chart publishers of the Bahamas recommends NOT using two anchors.)  So we started up our boat and moved away from them to the extent that our anchor chain would allow.  Chuck headed in a direction that allowed the current to grab our boat and keep it away while the wind and current opposed one another.  (We didn't want to re-anchor in such strong winds in the middle of the night.)  Fortunately, that did the trick and we kept our distance from them the rest of the evening.  Of course, we took turns doing an anchor watch the rest of that night and the following.

Tom on Cocoon, who is an expert at varnishing, gave us a varnishing lesson Sunday afternoon by sanding and doing the first coat on our saloon table.  The table had a few scratches, so we decided to try to bring it back to its original state.  By the time Chuck gave Tom a dinghy ride back to Cocoon, the front had arrived and they both got absolutely soaked going just the few hundred feet between boats.  Chuck put four more coats on while we waited for the winds to die down over the next few days.  We finally had a chance to start reading some of the books in our library, so it was an enjoyable lull in activities.  

We ended up moving back to Sampson Cay and enjoyed a delicious Valentine's Day dinner with Phyllis and Tom at the Sampson Cay Yacht Club.  Unfortunately, a local couple decided to bring their three year old along for their romantic dinner.  The boy had the run of the restaurant screaming and having a great time while the parents ignored him.  Pretty incredible that they could as the rest of us could not.  We decided to make the best of it and just speak more loudly to each other over the child's shrieks.  We had someone sing to us, won a free bottle of wine and the ladies were each given a red rose - so not a bad evening.  

We decided to have a farewell dinner with Phyllis and Tom as we were getting ready to head south to George Town while Phyllis and Tom were going to stay in Staniel Cay to await guests who will be arriving shortly.  We had a Mexican dinner which started with lots of Margueritas and ended with our dancing the night away on Cocoon.  Needless to say we all were moving pretty slowly the next morning.

We headed south and spent our first night out anchored at Lee Stocking Island, the location of a Bahamian research center used by many US universities.  We kayaked around the island and hoped to get a tour of their research facility, but discovered that they now only do tours on Monday and Thursday.  We were there on a Friday, so were out of luck.  Instead of spending additional days there, we pushed on to George Town on Saturday.  Forgot to mention that on the first day of our trip south, Chuck was trolling and caught a small (and delicious) jack.   He got something huge on the other line that after a tiring fight ended up breaking the line and taking one of his lucky green and yellow lures with it.   He was bummed out but brought out a backup lure to try.  He thought he had a few nibbles on both lines, but nothing serious.  At the end of the day he reeled them in to discover that his second (and last) lucky lure was gone and he had forgotten to take the cap off the hook of his backup lure.  However, he was all set to do it right the next day on the way down to George Town.  We left early in the morning expecting light sea conditions in the Exuma Sound.  Instead, we found seas that were four to five feet, with an occasional seven footer thrown in.  We had to do some tacking to avoid going directly into the waves or abeam, and didn't even think about fishing.  We wouldn't have been able to slow down to bring a fish in without getting beaten up by the seas.   By noon the seas had calmed down and Chuck put out his poles with two blue and white lures.  We did not expect to catch any mahi-mahi with them, so we were surprised when he got caught two back to back.  We were sure happy that his luck continues.

We were amazed when we arrived in George Town to see all the boats anchored there.  The estimate was that there were 345 boats in the harbor with 90% of them being sailboats.  We found Seaclusion and Dream Weaver there having a great time, and were invited to join a beach pot luck dinner and party starting at 3:00 pm that afternoon.   Barb whipped up a pasta dish in no time and we spent the rest of the day catching up with our Krogen friends and meeting many other boaters.  At dark a bonfire was lit and the group sat singing songs.  We had so many generations of folks there that it was hard to find songs that everyone knew.   Speaking of generations - one of the neat things about boating folks is that age is irrelevant.  Probably because everyone has boating in common, the fact that someone is 20 years younger or older than you does not matter.  It is also true for the boating kids.  They will latch on to each other and have a good time regardless of age.  You will see 4 year olds playing with 12 year olds - they have sleep-overs on each other's boats to give the parents a break and so the kids can have fun.  There are many families home schooling their children while boating and they love to get together. 

Pat on Seaclusion explained to us that George Town is summer camp for adults.  After spending a few days here, we finally understand.  There are so many activities available that it is unbelievable.  The activities are announced each morning on the VHF radio.  On a typical day there might be: beginning and advanced yoga, bridge, bocce, tennis, beach volleyball, conch blowing, ham radio meetings, basket weaving, and a beach party somewhere.  On our second evening we joined in a dinghy raft-up.  It consisted of one dinghy anchoring near the windward side of the harbor and the others tying up to the growing mass of dinghies.  An earlier VHF announcement had announced the time and place, and had advised everyone to bring an appetizer to share.  In the end there were 84 dinghies in the raucous assemblage.  The anchor was pulled and the group floated down the harbor for over an hour while we passed our appetizers around and visited, and some folks stood up to tell jokes and gave toasts.  We had a marvelous time.  We learned later that 84 was a new record.

The following day we attend a weather class given by Chris Parker, who is our SSB weather guru.  We have his weather book and Barb keeps rereading it since weather is such a complex subject and she is determined to get a better grasp on it.  That evening we attended an Eileen Quinn concert on the beach.  She is a fellow boater and a great singer who performs witty songs relevant to boaters and boating.   We are gaining an appreciation for why folks love to come to George Town.  We will probably stay for a week or more as we want to be here for the beginning of a regatta that starts early next week. 


Detour sign (around Staniel Cay festival)

Barb hiking on Compass Cay

Chuck on throne (made from beach debris) at Compass Cay

Barb taking her turn on throne

Relaxing on beach at Compass Cay

Signs on Compass Cay

Outside of Thunderball Cave

Getting ready to snorkel in cave

Ready to dive cave

Snorkeling in cave at Rocky Dundas

Barb kayaking at Lee Stocking

Anchorage in George Town (345 boats there in February)

Sailboats at anchor in Georgetown (boats are anchored everywhere)

Dinghy float at George Town on Feb 19 (84 dinghies rafted together having a party)

Dinghies in the raft on the other side of us

Farewell party for Dream Weaver on evening before its departure for South America