Long Island

No, not New York!

The 56 nm run from Rum Cay to Thompson Bay on the west side of Long Island was uneventful, and even the fishing was a non-event, except that the lure that seemed to be the hot choice of the Mahi somehow was lost due to a parted line. The remaining lure also suffered the loss of the hook, but somehow the leader knotted and kept the lure intact, so a matter of replacing a hook and it’s functional again. We traveled behind Innu , joining them a half hour after they arrived in the anchorage. Thompson Bay is large, spanning about 3 nm north to south and 1.5 nm east to west. It lies on the west shore of the island, the sound side, and offers excellent protection from the prevailing easterly winds. Westerlies are another story, as we learned when the wind piped up into the 20’s and the ride became a little rough. Not the worst we’ve seen, but only lasted one night. Salt Pond, the community adjacent to the anchorage offers a well-stocked grocery and general store, car rentals, restaurants, banks and other services. The Island itself is nearly 60 miles long, and is dotted with settlements along the entire length of the island.

We planned to share a car rental with Innu and crew, and Luc made the arrangements. Car rental Bahamas-style is a marked departure from the US experience. No paperwork, just a contact on the phone or VHF, your car or van, in our case appears at the government dock at the appointed time, and you agree to the price, some tips on travel on the island, and off you go. Pay when you return the car. In our case, Stanley provided the rental van, and we dropped him off at his house a few miles north of Salt Pond on our way to the northern end of the island, where the five of us planned to see some highlights including the Santa Maria resort and the Columbus monument. Long Island was also a Columbus landfall, among several which historians agree he visited, the exact order is not clear. Generally, there is agreement that San Salvador was the first, but even that fact is obscured in the sketchy details history provides. But there is a monument at the north end of the island on a limestone bluff, and it’s a must-visit site.

The Santa Maria Resort is a few miles south. Another grand scheme that was partially developed, it still functions as a resort with an airstrip, a hotel, villas, and a beautiful arcing sandy beach. We stopped for an early lunch, and took advantage of wifi access to follow up on the order for the replacement prop for the dinghy. The third order seems to have gone through, the first two were cancelled for reasons that remain elusive. The real estate portion of the development seems to have fizzled after a few homes were built along the beach, a familiar scene all through the Bahamas. The Stella Maris site further south is another similar development, stopped in its tracks when the real estate boom crashed and banks found themselves holding worthless paper, and prospective homeowners found themselves proud owners of hunks of Bahamian rock. The web sites, brochures and artists renditions of all the sites are fabulous, touting lavish Lauderdale-style digs for the rich and famous, complete with luxury marinas and boutique style amenities. The reality is a stark contrast; sites with construction materials scattered about, homes in various states of construction, and partially build marinas, all abandoned. It’s really a common sight here.

As we passed back through Salt Pond on our way south, we stopped at a bank, something we’ve not seen since our stopover in Nassau. Another stop farther south was the Cartwright Caves on the ocean side of the island. The caves proved to be elusive. We traveled some dirt roads toward the ocean, but none led to the cave. We finally asked (OK, 4 guys in a van and one woman- we sent Barb in) for some direction, and were told that the guy who does the cave tours is down the road on the right. We had already passed the sign for cave tours, and figured as much, so we dutifully headed to the sign and stopped, the hand-lettered scrawl on the paper taped inside the door simply stated “Closed for TODAY only”. The tour guide’s wife appeared and told us her husband wasn’t doing tours today that he was otherwise occupied, and that we could arrange for tours the following day. That, of course was not the plan, and we asked her where the caves were located and she replied that tomorrow would be a good time to schedule a tour. So it seems the small-town spirit is alive and well on Long Island! The gal at the gas station directs us to the tour guide, the tour guide’s wife directs us to the tour guide tomorrow, but nobody’s sayin’ where the caves actually are. I don’t believe they really want us to find the caves on our own! At any rate, one of the side roads we followed led to a summit with a spectacular view of the island. We gave up on the caves, satisfied with the substitute of the great view! Next stop, Dean’s Blue Hole!

The sign says it all. Deepest blue hole in the world. There are blue holes scattered all over the Bahamas, some are on land, some are in the water. This one is a sort of cross, in the water but directly next to land. Competitions are held every April for divers who free dive the depths of the hole. One fellow who was there during our visit said he was training, he was able to go to 96 meters. Not sure if we were understanding meters or feet, but the general agreement was that he said meters. That’s deep with no gear! It’s a pretty spot with limestone caves and a nice beach opening to the ocean. It was worth the side trip!

Next on the tour was Clarence Town, where three other Selene’s were anchored. We visited St. Jerome’s church and while we were visiting the towers, called the group on our hand held VHF to arrange for dinner. Orient Moon came in, Mystic Moon and My Sharona stayed aboard. Terry & Leslie joined us at Rowdy Boys bar & grille for dinner. The menu selections were somewhat limited, we ended up having cheeseburgers. Nothing fancy, but the company was fun! It was well after dark when we bid farewell to Orient Moon, and we headed back the 20 or so miles to Salt Pond and the dinghy trip back to the boat. The dogs were glad to see us after a long day of sightseeing!

The following day we spent doing some beach time, visiting the store and since it was windy, not much else. Travel by dink in windy conditions is less than ideal, but travel in a dink that refuses to plane makes it not worth the soaking- so we caught up on some boat chores. I found a problem with the 12V main disconnect switch that was causing some voltage drop problem and charging problems with the inverter/charger. A temporary fix will correct the problem until replacements can be ordered and modifications made to prevent the problem from recurring. Since the dink simply won’t plane with everyone aboard (us plus the two dogs), a consequence of the prop damage, I tried to true the prop up a bit on shore, using an old anchor shank as a mandrel. I was able to make considerable improvement, and it will run with very little vibration, but it still bogs and won’t plane with a full load. An email from the supplier indicated that the 3rd order for the replacement prop was again cancelled due to credit card problems, a reply email resulted in a return call from their customer service rep who successfully walked the order through their system with me on the phone. It appears the problem was with their online ordering system, never was the credit card. I appreciated the followup, although sparse internet access for retrieving email will add a week’s delay. Such is life in the Bahamas!

We decided to make the 30-some mile diversion to Georgetown Saturday, where we’ll be able to more easily access internet, and follow up on delivery of the replacement prop. We’ll also be able to return our tax forms. Yippee!! Now we wouldn’t want to keep the gub’ment to be waiting for those funds to redistribute, would we? 😉

4 Responses to “Long Island”

  1. Mother on 04 Apr 2011 at 8:30 PM #

    EXCITING day, temperature was in the 70’s. Problem is, tomorrow in the 50’s windy and rain every other day.

    Your day sounds fantastic. Every day a holiday!! Love to you both,Mother

  2. Richard O on 04 Apr 2011 at 10:52 PM #

    Steve and Barb – It’s fun to be able to follow your cruise via your blog – and hugely disappointing that we’re in Atlanta while Cronulla is at Sampson instead of bumping into you guys every other day down there. I’m jealous but appreciate the blog.

    Let me know if I can help with any stateside logistics, etc.


    Best to Sam and Molly.


  3. Steve on 04 Apr 2011 at 11:14 PM #

    Hurry back!

    Sure was fun being able to spend time with you folks again, perhaps we’ll see you on the return trip! Give our best to Heather!

    Having fun in Georgetown!

    All our best,
    Maerin’s support staff.

  4. joyce rocko on 05 Apr 2011 at 6:02 AM #

    hey guys,

    i see you are continuing your wonderful exploration of the bahamas!

    we had a great time with you all, and my lookey bucket got a lot of use in norman’s pond.

    keep in touch. you never know when we would want to attach a tow rope to celebrate!!!

    love to sammy and molly too.

    joyce, chris, phyllis, and baci