We’ve been anchored near the town of New Bight on Cat Island for 3 days in mostly settled weather. We left Black Point on Friday and sailed to Galliat Cut. The anchorage was nice and quiet during the day but really got rolly at night. We weren’t going to launch our dinghy but Joe tempted us with a dinner invitation of freshly cooked beef stew. The dinghy ride back to the boat was wet and bouncy (but the dinner was yummy and worth it!)
Leaving Galliat Cut early in the morning on Saturday, we put a reef in the mainsail and motored across rather large waves out to Exuma Sound. Our original destination was Hawke’s Point but with the wind very close on our nose we decided to head off about 7 degrees and make for New Bight. We sailed practically the entire trip with wind-driven chop driving waves over our bow. We actually got some water inside the cabin–not sure where it came in but probably from the dorades (made a note to close them next time!) By the time we were approaching Cat Island, the wind calmed down and a brief shower brought a beautiful rainbow off the shore. We anchored right in front of the Batelco tower in sight of the Hermitage–one of the historical attractions on the island.
Sunday morning was still a little choppy but we decided to dinghy ashore (mainly to let Bailey run on the beach.) He’s such a good trooper and we feel bad when he doesn’t get off the boat for a few days. The approach to the beach was, shall we say, not pretty! The small waves pushed us ashore and proceeded to swamp the dinghy. We all got wet and Bailey jumped out as soon as he could. Getting back out wasn’t easy either. I rowed furiously while Skip waited until deeper water to start the engine. It only ran for a few seconds and wouldn’t start. He took over the oars and I got the motor started. I think I have better motor karma than he does!
On Monday the seas were much calmer so we all went ashore to explore the island. The short hike up the highest hill in the Bahamas (206 ft!) was well worth the view. The Hermitage sits at the top of the hill and it’s an amazing site. It was built by Father Jerome as his retirement home. He was also an architect and built several of the churches on the island and also the beautiful Catholic church we visited last year on Long Island. From afar, the Hermitage looks very impressive. As you get close, you realize that the buildings are actually very tiny. Father Jerome was also an architect and he really played with perspective and scale when he built this place.
On the way back down the hill we also visited one of the many ruined plantations on the island. As it was getting close to lunch time we asked the lady in the grocery store to recommend a good local place. She told us to go to the place across from the airport. Sure enough, it was really good. We like the local Bahamian food and the lunch plate served at the 3 D’s was delicious–peas and rice, steamed pork chop, cole slaw and potato salad.
Skip did all the driving in our rented right hand drive Honda. Mike served as co-pilot; making sure he stayed on the left side of the road. It really wasn’t much of a problem as the roads were good and there wasn’t much traffic. Just like Long Island, everyone waves as you pass them. All of the local people we met on Cat Island were very friendly. One of the ladies in the restaurant had a little girl who was quite a character. She spotted Angie right away as a grandmother who loves children. Angie let her wear her hat and we weren’t sure she would get it back!
We drove as far north as we could (until the paved road ran out and I vetoed the idea of continuing on the unpaved road–too bumpy in the back seat!) On the way back, we stopped at the Hernandez Bay beach resort. It was a beautiful, serene place with a white sand beach and very well-kept facilities. They also have an honor bar. While visiting all of the local places, Joe plugs his website (www.bahamascruisersguide.com) and tries to get information that would be useful for cruisers. The manager at Hernandez Bay was interested in having more cruisers come ashore, just not the mooching types (the people who use the facilities without asking permission.)
Since we had a big lunch, we didn’t do much for dinner. I’m engrossed in the second book in the Millennium series (The Girl Who Played With Fire by Steg Larsson) so I read while Skip watched a movie.
This morning we listened to the weather and the predictions have suddenly changed for the worse. The settled weather pattern now looks more like a series of strong fronts coming through with strong south and west winds. We discussed possible destinations to wait out the fronts and ultimately decided to head back to the Exumas on Wednesday. There are very few safe harbors in the eastern Bahamas with protection from the west. We now plan to head back to the Exumas and hang out somewhere in the Exuma Land and Sea Park–either Warderick Wells or Cambridge Cay.
We spent the morning seeing the southern part of Cat Island, stopping at another resort called Greenwood (not nearly as nice as Hernandez Bay) and Hawke’s Nest where they have a development and marina. It was nice there–mostly fishing boats and big yachts. Dropping the car off around noon we headed back to the dinghy landing and were excited to see that the Bluebird restaurant was open for lunch. This restaurant was recommended by several people including our friends Rick and Eva who vacationed on Cat Island. The lunch was delicious–peas and rice, chicken, potatoes and coleslaw. The food was spicier than the 3 D’s but the Kalik’s (local beer) helped!
We had tied our dinghies to the government dock and came back to find them bouncing in the waves. As we got closer we saw to our dismay that Joe’s dinghy had deflated on the bow. As the tide went out and the wind kicked in, his dinghy was punctured by a protruding screw in one of the pilings. Since it has a hard bottom, he was able to slowly motor back to his boat and haul up it up on his davits. Now he needs to get it to a dry spot to assess the repairs. We talked later in the day and all of us offered to help. We felt terrible–that could have just as easily been our dinghy that got punctured.
Tomorrow, we’ll head back across the Exuma Sound and look for a nice place to wait out the front this weekend. I may or may not have wifi access. (I sure hope to be able to upload more pictures someday.) Stay tuned!
(This is a delayed post–tough to find wifi connection!)