Thompson Bay, Bahamas, the half way point. Well, it’s Monday March 11th and we have been in the Bahamas for nearly two months.   I have to say that it has been nice to avoid all of the snow and cold weather of the north.  Having said that, the Bahamas in January and February have weather that is challenging in it’s own way, with cold fronts (a relative term as it relates to “cold”) coming through one after the other, twice a week or so.

cheap prednisone online Cold fronts drop the temperature only perhaps 5 degrees while the winds clock counter clockwise from east to south through to the north.  While the full clocking isn’t that common in the central Bahamas, the George Town and Exumas area, where we have spent much of our time, it’s very evident in the northern Bahamas, the Abacos, where frontal winds will often clock nearly 360 degrees with the passage of a front and very often with quite strong winds.

With most harbors in the Bahamas only protected from a very limited number of wind directions, perhaps from ENE-E-ESE, this means that we have to be very aware of forecasted winds and make our way to an appropriately sheltered anchorage when change is in the forecast.

In our first two months we have only really had difficulty with clocking winds, and worrying about where to go to remain sheltered, one time, and that was a few weeks ago when we headed to Rum Cay to ride out a particularly strong front.  Prior to going to Rum, we were in Conception Island which is quite isolated and is subject to wrap around swell from the ocean, even in the best of conditions.  Complicating the situation is the lack of good shelter within a day sail from there and it is certainly not protected from the northerly winds associated with a cold front.

As a result, from Conception, we really didn’t have many options, beyond George Town, where we had already spent too much time, to position ourselves to avoid unfavorable winds.  While a harbor that is sheltered from the prevailing easterlies, is a great spot during “normal” weather, it can be downright dangerous when a front passes, bringing winds that are from an unprotected direction.  In the example of Conception Island, the harbor is protected from easterly winds.  However, you would quickly find yourself on a lee shore (not a good thing) if the winds pick up from the west as is often the case in advance of the passage of a front.

It is because of the passage of a front that we found our way to Rum Cay, certainly one of the most interesting islands that we have visited to date.  I have already written a good deal about our visit there but I should include a photo of the sculpture that Bobby, the marina owner and local artist, did for us.  Bobby is known for his sculptures carved from found objects, mostly coral heads.  These pieces of coral, some quite large, were found washed up on the beach or were dredged from the harbor when the marina was constructed.  He told us that these pieces of coral are from a time when the seas were at a very different level, around the last ice age, some 15,000 years ago.  While the coral pieces come out of the ground looking pretty nasty, all black and stained, they bleach in the sun and after Bobby is done with his carving they look all fresh and new.

Here’s a photo of the raw piece of coral that Brenda selected.

Here’s the same piece after Bobby did his magic.  We are thrilled with his work and certainly will be back to him for another piece if we find our way back there next winter.  He really does great work.

So, what’s next as we think about the next two plus months of our trip?  We are now in Thompson Bay Long Island where we have been for the last two nights after our sail from Rum Cay, a 50+ mile day, which we did, happily, under sail.  I spent much of yesterday cleaning the boat and polishing all of the stainless, something that I have not done in months.  316 stainless, while it’s designed for the marine environment, does get mild surface rust, perhaps better described as a patina, that has to be removed with a mild abrasive such as Soft Scrub.  This is pretty easy to do but does take time.  Pandora had gotten pretty scruffy but now she looks great.  I still have to spend a few hours cleaning some grey streaks off of the hull which I will tackle over the next few days.  The bottom needs cleaning but I am note quite ready to handle that job.

With our trip nearly half over, we will soon begin heading toward the northern part of the Bahamas and will likely visit some of the islands of the Exuma chain that we missed on our way down to George Town.  We also hope to spend some time on Cat Island and Eleuthra on our way to the Abacos, the most northern part of the Bahamas.  The northern portions are best visited in the spring when the fronts are less powerful.

At some point in May we will head back to Florida, probably Ft Pierce.  Brenda will head home by plane and I’ll bring Pandora back to CT with crew.  I’ll have Pandora hauled, probably for two months for some upgrades and maintenance.  After re launching her we will probably take her to Maine for a month or two.  After that we may do some local sailing prior to taking her, again with crew, to Annapolis for the boat show in October and then on to Florida where she will be stored for several months prior to heading back to the Bahamas for part of the winter.   While we are spending nearly 5 months here this winter, I expect that we will come here for three months next winter and split our time with a few months of sailing in Maine too, and area that we love and have spent a lot of time over the years.  Frankly, Brenda and I like the idea of splitting up our time aboard as being away from home for such a long stretch away from family has been tough.

For now, with a much shorter time horizon in mind, we are thinking about what to do in the next week. We are debating if we will stay here in Thompson Bay Long Island through the passage of the next cold front, which will arrive in a few days.  While the bay is very well protected from the sort of northerly winds, 20-25 kts, that will come through with the front mid week, we will be stuck here until the prevailing easterlies return.  That’s probably ok as we were hoping to spend a few days exploring the island with a rental car.

Having said that, Long Island is large, nearly 75 miles long, with miles of beaches to explore and some of the deepest blue holes in the world.  Blue holes are common here as the islands limestone rock is sometimes dissolved by the salt water over time creating caves that run for miles under the island.  These holes, a sort of sink-hole where a piece of land collapses, can be in the middle of an island or out in the water.  You can see them as they show up as a dark blue hole, a few hundred feet across, against a ring of white sand in shallow water.  Often these holes are in the middle of an island and look like a small pond that is a deep indigo color.  Interestingly, a sport of free diving has evolved in these holes, where swimmers will dive down, sometimes hundreds of feet while they hold their breath. The sport is to see who can go down the farthest and come back up while holding their breath.  I understand that some of the best free divers in the world live here on Long Island.  I get out of breath just thinking of this.  If you search for “free diving Bahamas” on You Tube, you will see these guys strutting their stuff.  Not for me…

We will have to see if we’ll leave soon or stay for the week. I’m betting staying will be the word.  Besides, we’re in the Bahamas mon, and we can always put off a decision until tomorrow.

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