These last few weeks have found us anchoring in several spots between Georgetown and Stocking Island depending on the weather. What we did find was that irregardless of wind, unless you go thru the dinghy cut into Victoria Lake at slack water, entering and leaving the lake by dinghy is like getting tumbled around inside a washing machine. At times, we would have been best served by wearing our wet suits! On top of that, our Yamaha 15 HP outboard has been temperamental. I've taken apart, rebuilt and cleaned about everything I know of - twice - but at high load the motor stalls out. Hmmm. At any rate, for Mother's Day we went over to the Chat n' Chill for their Sunday pig roast and conch salad. It's a bit pricey, but a good place to meet other cruisers. During the week we've really been in laid-back mode. A bit of hiking and swimming...mostly just chilling, reading and eating. We've met Steve and Rhonda of sv Cloud 9 and have enjoyed getting together with them a few times. The other night we had a "pizza night" aboard with them and Jody and Dan of Champagne Moment. I made the dough, and everyone brought the toppings they wanted. After 5 pizzas, all of us were stuffed. Every Monday night, Eddies Restaurant has their Rake and Scrape. We hitched a ride with Steve and Rhonda into town from our anchorage at Monument Beach. There were 5 band members who did a really credible job and the dancing music was great. Lots of cruisers and locals, and another enjoyable evening. We got to bed after 10:30...late for us! Yesterday, we did a bit of provisioning as Ty and Hanne arrive tomorrow, and Jon and Ashley Saturday.
Pos: N23deg38.07min/ W075deg20.43min. We took advantage of the good weather and headed out this morning from Cat Island, after staging just north of Hawk's Nest Point yesterday afternoon. The latter saved us 10 nm from our position at the very head of the bay as well as a few hours travel time on our route to Long Island. This morning's wind was NE 8-15 knots, and with full main, Yankee and staysail drawing we saw our speed from 4-6.3 knots. The really good news of the day is we landed a beautiful 4' mahi-mahi (dolphin fish) that Sue promptly filleted. Finally! One of our favorite fish, neither of us can remember the last mahi-mahi we caught so we're looking forward to dinner! We're anchored in 15' sand in front of a beautiful sandy beach; the Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort & Villas are nearby. Don't know if we'll visit there or not; that's for another day.
We started walking in the rain to the Hermitage (I'll explain that in a minute) and were picked up by a kindly sole who drove us to the entrance. Actually, the walk from the beach where we landed the dinghy to the site wasn't that far, but with the rain coming down fairly hard we were appreciative of the lift. The Hermitage is a mini-monastery built by Father Jerome (aka Monsignor John Cyril Hawes,1876-1956) who was a Church architect, building cathedrals in England, Australia and the Bahamas. On Cat Island, he built the St Francis of Assisi Church, the Holy Redeemer Church as well as his retirement home, the Hermitage. The latter sits upon Mount Alvernia at a height of 206', the highest peak in the Bahamas. He lived there 17 years and this served as his spiritual retreat, having been built by hand using native materials. The buildings and furniture are all simple and non-decorative, as if to put the supplicant in closer touch to his surrounds and God. The views from the summit are beautiful and one can climb past the stations of the cross up the fairly steep terrain to reach it. A sundial greets the visitor at the top. The cathedral bell sits in the bell tower which was hit by lightning a few years back. Several small out-buildings serve as kitchen and pump station. The bedroom comprises a small plank for the bed and the tiny chapel is also a simple affair but very moving. Other than the mockingbirds singing, there was no other sound except the wind. As said above, a very spiritual place. Afterwards, we walked down the hill and explored the waterfront area. There's a newer, green-colored building with toilets and a shower for visitors; I can't think of anywhere else in the Caribbean or Bahamas, or anywhere for that matter, that provides such a luxury. We ate lunch at the Sunshine Cafe, where we enjoyed conch fritters and baked chicken. After, Pompey Johnson treated everyone to an impromptu Rake & Scrape on his concertina. His two daughters accompanied him, playing a cowhide covered drum and saw/screwdriver rhythm section. Fun music on the island whose inhabitants think theirs is the best Rake & Scrape of all the Bahamas. When we got back to the boat, I stripped down the Yamaha 15 outboard as it was running rough and was difficult to start. I cleaned the carburetor and fuel pump and changed the spark plugs. It started right up and sounded good, but some late afternoon squalls are rolling thru so we'll have to take a test run tomorrow.
Pos: N24deg17.159min/ W075deg25.268min. We left Georgetown at 0615 and had a nice 50 nm run to Cat Island. Our speed was good to the Hawks Nest Point waypoint but slowed considerably as we motorsailed the last 10 nm to the anchorage in front of the Batelco tower in New Bight due to adverse tide and 20 knots of wind directly on the nose. We anchored at 1645 hours in 6.8' of water at near low tide, so have plenty of water under our keel. There are lots of squalls around and the weather forecast for the remainder of the week doesn't look all that good either. We'll go exploring tomorrow.