Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mega Picture Post - Black Pointe, Georgetown, Cat Cay

It's been a wonderful few days here at Cat Island. There's been a lot of relaxing and hanging out with friends. We're here in Fernandez Bay with 4 other kid boats, so Casey and Kaitlin have lots of friends to hang out with. Today the big activity was wakeboarding. We used almost an entire tank of gas on the dinghy dragging the kids around behind us, but the smiles on their faces were well worth it. Tomorrow is Mother's Day, and all of the kids in the anchorage have been busy working on cards and presents for their Mom's. We'll be hitting the restaurant in at the resort here for dinner - God forbid all of us guys actually cook our wives dinner :). It still seems strange to me that we're heading north. Today we talked with all of the other boats about their plans. Side by Side needs to head to Florida quickly as they have a date with a rigger the third week of May. They hope to get in and out quick enough to catch the end of the window to cross the Atlantic in June and sail around the Med. The other boats are going to be going a bit slower and heading to the US for the season.

Anyway, here are some pictures from the past few weeks from Black Pointe, Georgetown, and up through today at Cat Island. Once again, don't forget that you can click on the picture to see a larger version.

The dinghy dock at Black Pointe. What you don't see are the huge waves that keep rolling in and slamming the dinghies against the dock. Neat. That's our dinghy in the background. It might look small from here, but we've found that we have one of the larger engines of the crowd, which is why we usually get picked to do the wakeboarding and ferrying of large amounts of kids. It's all good.

Kickin' back at Lorraine's in Black Pointe. Lorraine's brother is the one who put together the Garden of Eden. She told us to go look at it. He told us to eat at Lorraine's. How's that for marketing?

While in Georgetown the Family Island Regatta was going on. This is one of the first years they actually pulled out their smaller sails. Normally the mainsail goes all the way to the top of the mast and all the way to the end of the boom. The wind was blowing ridiculously hard during the races. At least one boat sank and several lost masts and booms, but that's all normal for one of these regattas. The boat is completely made of wood and is not allowed to have winches or other devices to make it easier to handle the sails.

"Hiking Boards", which are basically wooden planks, are held to the side of the boat and the crew gets as far out over the water as they can to try to level the boat as much as possible. In the rest of the world "Trapezes", or harnesses attached to the top to hold you in place, are used. In the Bahamas, you just hang on for dear life. When the boat is tacked, or turned so the sail is on the opposite side, the crew has to remove the boards from one side, scramble over, reaffix them to the other side, and then get out on them. This happens in seconds, and when the wind is blowing like this it's not uncommon to lose a crew member.

The racers come from all over the Bahamas and generally have competed at their own island regatta for the right to be here. You need more crew to weigh the boat down when heading upwind, but on a downwind leg when the boat is flat extra crew just slows you down. We'll just say this - they now have a rule stating that you have to finish with the same number of crew as you started with.

The boats all start anchored with their sails down. When the gun goes off it's a scramble to pull up your anchor, raise your sails and get moving. More than one boat gets broadsided by another during a start.

A view of one of the anchorages - Monument Beach is in the foreground and Georgetown is in the far background. We had to dinghy from here all of the way across the harbor to reach Georgetown. With the wind blowing as hard as it was you had to wear a bathing suit across. We took huge waves into our dinghy on the way and had to keep up with the water removal so we didn't sink down too low!

A picture of Kristen and I from the top of Monument Hill.

Generally, unless your boat didn't need a lot of water beneath it and you wanted to risk the dilapidated docks of Georgetown's only marina, you couldn't pull your boat up to a faucet or a fuel pump to fill up. Instead, you lugged jerry cans across the harbor (see prior picture), filled up on water, diesel and gas, went back to your boat and emptied the jugs, and then did it all over again. Some people came up with creative ways to carry the water and fuel across, but I wouldn't have wanted to be these guys. They are headed for steep seas in the harbor!

When you arrived on the Georgetown side you entered Lake Victoria where the dinghy dock is. The good thing is that the lake is completely protected so, for the most part, no matter how insane the waves on the outside are you have calm inside. The bad thing is that you have to go through this bridge on a plane (faster than 10mph) to get in and out so you don't slam your boat against the sides of the tunnel because of the surge. The really bad part is that you can't really see who is waiting to leave or enter, and speedboats would come and leave at over 20mph regardless.

This is the dinghy dock. Apparently, this is "almost empty". During the peak season here the dinghies will be parked 3+ deep and you have to climb through several before reaching the dock.

Casey and Parker (Side by Side) watching the regatta.

The kids BBQ on Queen's Beach. We had 22 kids here at the peak. We did a pot luck dinner and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over the fire. Does it get any better for these guys? Here they are arranging to play a game of Capture the Flag. Notice the 6 year olds mixed in with the 16 year olds - age isn't a big deal out here - camaraderie is.

A local "restaurant'. We got 8 conch fritters for a buck here. We were with several others and I think we got 8 orders. The woman who owned the place walked to her house across the street, mixed up another batch of, well, mix, and then came back to cook it all up. I talked with this lady's son (visiting from Nassau) while she cooked up the fritters. He was a formerly a boxer in the US and turned minister when he returned to the Bahamas. After a while he asked me if I wanted to be "saved". I told him I was good for now and he immediately turned and left. Was it something I said??

There were a lot of festivities, including the local teenage dance troupe putting on a recital for us. There were a lot of smiling parents around! This was followed by the middle school boys choir (6 kids singing pop music - you can see them in the background) and then the combined elementary, middle and high school marching band.

Then, the hit of the night. The Bahamanian Royal Police Force Marching Band. These guys were pretty impressive.

This guy has grandkids and was doing moves that put Elvis to shame. You gotta love the Bahamas mon!

On our last full day at Georgetown we bumped into Sans Cles again. Sans Cles (Without Keys in English) is a Passport 43 (we have a Passport 40). They are heading down to the Dominican Republic.

Chillin' at Chat & Chill on Volleyball Beach.

Kaitlin utilizing the sporting facilities. You climb 15 feet up into a tree and swing off on the rope. No, you don't want to see the thickness of the branch it's tied to.

It was a loooooong day!

The local library does NOT have long hours, so the kids take advantage when they can.

Kaitlin reading a very intriguing novel while her friends make serious hand motions behind her head.

A bunch of Bahamian schoolkids were waiting for their bus when we were at the library. We took the opportunity to talk to them to hear how their schooling is different from ours.

The local grocery/computer shop. Not only could you buy canned goods, slushies in a dixie cup and batteries here, but you could use a voice over IP phone to call the US for $0.15/minute or get on the Internet wirelessly, AND you can buy a computer while doing all of this. Why don't we have these in the US???

Hanging out inside the grocery/computer store drinking slushies.

When we were moored in the Hurricane Hole at Georgetown we were often visited by sea turtles. This guy was probably about 3'+ long.

Side by Side arriving at Cat Island.

Miakota arriving at Cat Island (click on the photo to see the family).

Coming from the near the Adirondack Mountain range and living at a height of almost 200' above sea level at home, I had to laugh a bit at this - 206ft is the highest elevation in the Bahamas. The sad thing is that "Global Warming", whether it exists or not, will decimate the Bahamas and put most of it underwater.

Walking, or I should say jumping, to The Hermitage.

Just a little farther! That's The Hermitage at the top of the hill.

Hiking up the fully ADA compliant staircase. I wouldn't want to be doing this in the rain!

Here's Bohog. I just don't know what to say about the guy. We're estimating that he's in his upper 70's or lower 80's. Everyone is his cousin, or brother or sister. He hangs out at this bar all day playing backgammon and dominos, and he brought his friends in to play some Rake n' Scrape for us.

This is the bakery where we bought our bread and some awesome coconut cookies!

This is Alan and his co-pilot (I hate to admit that I can't recall his name). They are staying at the resort while their charterer (of the $25mil Bombardier) is fishing in a Billfishing tournament. Side by Side brought over one of their conch horns to blow. As a tradition, you blow the horn as the sun dips below the horizon.

Kaitlin finally figured out how to not be bored when hanging out on the boat alone. She rigged a waterskiing handle to a halyard and swung all around the deck in her jammies.

The local strawmarket.

All of these bags were hand weaved and painted using local palm fronds.

You know it's time to do laundry when your shorts (Kristen's in this case) can stand up on their own. We actually had to put a leash on these to keep them from running away.

Wakeboarding was the activity of the day.

Casey buzzing Pelican.

And Alan buzzing us. He left today and flew his jet about 200 feet over the anchorage.

The kids absolutely went crazy when he came overhead. It was an awesome sight!


Anonymous said...

Great pix Chris! Glad the trip is going so well!

Seven C's said...

Great to see so many pictures in the post. It really puts life to the post. What a great time you are all having down there!
Thanks for posting so much information on your cruise and the area!