We left Powell Cay after four days at anchor loving our time at what we’ve christened as ‘Come Back Beach’. This is absolutely our favourite place thus far! Powell warmly reminds us of Manitoulin Island in Ontario’s far north where we owned property. Come Back Beach’s line is trimmed with Australian pines whose scent co-mingles with the sweet fresh sea air thereby compelling me to breath fully, deeply and consciously. As a child I suffered breathing ailments; this region of our good earth gifts me with clean and scented air for which I am immensely grateful.
We have spent whole days on Come Back Beach’s narrow strip of silken white and carmel coloured sand shore. Although there are other nearby beaches to explore, we return to exactly the same spot, each day, because it is perfect. We sit, recline, and swim in the cool Atlantic fed water, feed a crude fire that suffers tidal encroachments, and rest on wee fold-out beach chairs while vainly attempting to protect our iPad and Kindle screens from sand, salt, and spray from Alie’s relentless chase-ball-swim shakes.
We dinghy ourselves, dogs and morning carafe of coffee, peanut butter and bread to a shady shore, and hang our towels on the branches. The dogs scamper freely and wade into cooling shallows while I set out their food and discourage scavenging sand ants from their dishes.
Later, Roger dinghies back to White Star anchored a short distance away. He brings goodies: cocktails of gin and O.J. in thermal plastic ‘glasses’ filled with the few ice cubes our freezer is hard pressed to produce. Cocktails in hand, we stroll along the shore searching for treasures and imagine when pirates and drug runners used the Bahamas as a place of refuge and booty management.
We sink into soft wet sand, tip-toe over dried pine needles and sharp coral outcroppings, and dodge around huge blown-over mahogany trees that moon us with intricate, winding root systems poised ten-feet high. These mahogany marvels are worth thousands of dollars yet they lie undisturbed by human intervention. They reminded me of Medusa’s head of snakes. (Years ago we met a local sculptor, Perry, at the Hope Town Cafe just after he’d enjoyed an exhibit in Austria – we had spied a huge hunk of glorious mahogany which was recently delivered to his dock – he was itching to get working on it – sadly we were informed that Perry died shorty after our meeting him – we were not suspects in his demise.)
Today it was time to get on with our schedule of returning to Florida, and ultimately Toronto, Canada. By 10:00 a.m. under perfect conditions we raised the anchor, blew a kiss to Come Bach Beach, and set course for Foxtown Harbour. The journey began as the best-ever sail – strong winds with fairly flat seas, bright sun sky dotted with fluffy clouds.
We carefully negotiated around ‘Centre of the World Rock’ which by its name alone, was ominous. Then five hours later we arrived alongside the entrance to Foxtown. The previous three hours had been spent battling wicked storms, high winds and monster waves.
Foxtown was new to us. Even in the best of weather conditions it’s a challenge to gain safe entry. Hazardous rocks border the narrow channel. This was a good destination when the day was young, but winds were from the west accompanied by ugly storms, and we were in a pickle!
That’s when RS and I began disputing about what to do followed by much shouting – not only to hear over the roaring winds!
Roger pushed to continue west smack into the black horizon; his strategy was to ride out the storm until it blew itself out. I wanted to come-about (turn around) and ride out the storm in the more favourable weather thereby easing our current wretched conditions and consuming less diesel.
We did agree on one thing, no way we were going into Foxtown in these conditions! We were already losing steerage with the overpowering winds and huge waves. The looming rocks and narrow channel were visible and dangerous. In the Bahamas much navigation is based on visual observation and common sense. Going in would be stupid!
So…we continued further west and into the storm, afterall, Roger is the helmsman and makes the final decisions. Then out of the darkness appeared another catamaran heading toward us, it’s sails the only white ‘thing’ on the horizon. I hailed them on the VHF radio and asked if they knew the area and had any weather info.
They had been successful in getting internet connection and an insight into the weather, that’s why they’d turned around and were heading east to Spanish Cay. A short exchange confirmed that they did indeed know the area and advised against Foxtown in our current weather conditions. As for the weather forecast, winds were supposed to increase over the next day or so and not let up until Wednesday. That’s when we ‘came about’ and joined our new friends headed east. It was disheartening to give up our 5 hours of getting to Foxtown Cay, but better safe than sorry.
That’s also when Roger, being over-tired from the conditions and not sleeping the night before (our propane tank chose the untimely hour of 3:30 a.m. to fizzle-out necessitating a fresh tank replacement or fridge defrostment) pulled out the jib on the wrong side. In the 30 knot winds it was a battle to right-the-wrong and more shouting could be heard for many nautical miles!
Downwind was a smoother and much faster ride; we spent the next three hours driving eastward steady-on to Spanish Cay under fairly decent conditions, with the western horizon still brewing in the distance. The hard work and adrenaline rush now in decline, we were left weakened and dispirited, and it didn’t help that we were still soggy from the earlier rainshowers.
Arriving around 6:00 p.m. at Spanish Cay we continued to battle the high winds within the ‘protection’ of the marina harbour. We made four or five attempts to get White Star into her corral/assigned slip, but to no avail…finally we called to the marina staff that we would go elsewhere. We made our own slip selection (in truth, the wind had a greater say) and with, again, much yelling between us, we finally latched onto a dock.
We rocked and rolled despite lines tied to multiple dock posts. As per our usual routine, I scurried off with the dogs as they hadn’t seen a bush since 9:30 a.m. Roger secured lines and hefted out the electrical cord to hook us up. We opted for air conditioning vs high winds because the humidity was a killer.
Walking the dogs had me stumbling along a landscaped path, my equilibrium very much still at sea. The dogs adapted instantly, pulling and skipping with glee, producing in healthy manner, and unbeknownst to me – collecting a ‘bushel and a peck’ full of burrs.
Twenty minutes later I returned to the boat to find Roger. He was still…tense – so I high-tailed it in the direction of the bar. Entering the restaurant/bar I received a not-welcoming reception from the bar-maid who clearly viewed me as a delaying facor in her plan to close early. Just what I needed after a rough day!
Then my attention was caught by my dogs munching at themselves. Burrs! I was already overtired, stressed, still rocking although on terra firma, and now tasked with plucking out a gazillion tiny, imbedded, prickly burrs – what fun!
Alie, my sweet little dumpling, is always compliant and lets me do what I want. Charlie is the chore, and is inclined to bite under these circumstances. He came to us as a stray, found by a rescue agency in Ottawa. His dew-claw was growing into his paw and the cause of much pain. Charlie is exceptionally patient, kind and loving – we call him our Budah-Dog – but when it comes to anyplace near his dew claw – BEWARE OF DOG!
Eventually Roger, me and pooches, made our way to the air conditioned restaurant over looking the marina. The same barmaid I encountered earlier, was deplorable, and our server. We didn’t take it personally as she was equally miserable to the handful of other patrons nearby. We overcompensated by being soooooo-friendly, despite our maladies and invited her interaction, silly us! The food, however, was a redeeming factor and worth packing up the leftovers to have for lunch tomorrow. The desert of home-made key lime pie was delish. We wound up the short evening chatting with a cruising couple born and bred in Florida and true to form our Americans cousins continue to be engaging are friendly. T
Bertha is now a hurricane. We’re here in hurricane season. Today’s wretched conditions are related to Bertha, though at first our weather guru, Chris Parker, said it wasn’t so! It looks like we’ll be holded up here a few days until the weather gets settled down. We are anxiious to get back to Florida despite the beauty of the Bahamas. We’re into our fourth month of cruising and, well – I can’t believe I’m saying this – I’m kinda getting tired of it…hard to believe!
Roger and I are pining for our Florida home. Before leaving for Toronto we’ll have two weeks to use the much missed laundry room and revel in fresh clean clothes, bedding and towels, whenever we want! Our freezer will give me as many ice cubes as I want! Our king sized bed will provide good sleeps – we won’t have to worry about inclement weather and Roger taking bleary eyed anchor bearings, multiple times, in the rocky night. My morning routine of walking the dogs will be an open lanai door to allow access to lawn and a leak, followed by me sucking up a good cup of java, then taking them for a walk. No more keeping a pair of scissors in my pocket to cut out Australian pine needles, burrs, matts and mystery items! No more my exclamations “My kingdom for a groomer!” – she’s at Pet Smart just a 5 minute drive away!!!
So here I sit at 12:30 a.m. with Roger crashed in front of the air conditioning vent in the main salon and the dogs sleeping off to the side. I will retrieve my iPad and hopefully stay awake to read a few pages of the Joe Carstairs biography I’m enjoying.
Tomorrow: the luxury of doing laundry! I’m not kidding, having laundry facilities is a luxury!!! Hopefully it will not cost $5 per machine as in Hope Town.
Tomorrow we will recoup and watch the weather and hope that Bertha will blow well away from us. Ya know, it’s an exciting blessing to be doing all of this! It sure beats being a couch potato!