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Our dream of cruising on a boat Around the Great Circle Loop and beyond has the drawback of leaving our friends and family far away from us for an extended time. This blog is intended to keep you up to date on our travels and adventures, and encourage you to join us for some part of our trip as we make our way around the waterways of the eastern US, Canada, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Click on the archived posts below to follow our journey. Our dog, Ben, has been helping us write this blog since he has more time!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Dick and Cathy on Board

Hi All...Ben here...
writing to you from my favorite place - TAHITI BEACH in the Abacos!
Oh, I love wandering in this warm water and relaxing on the beach!   Yes...that's right...back into the Abacos now! Loved that place last year. They have beaches where I don't have to get wet above my knees. (Izzy says I'm missing the "water-dog gene", whatever that is.)

It took some effort to get here since my last post when Sandy and Dimitry were splashing in the waters of the Exumas.  We left there and headed northeast, crossing the Exuma Sound to the very long island of  Eleuthera. 
You can see where we are by clicking here and typing "Eleuthera, the Bahamas".  Use the back arrow to come back to the blog. 
We pulled into Governor's Harbor (about half way up the island) late that afternoon, tired and hot from the long crossing, and anchored near a pretty sailboat named "White Pepper".  We got to know Karl and Jan over the next few days. I'll introduce you to them in a few minutes.
 After a rest and a cold beer we dropped the dinghy and went ashore for a walk and a little dinner at a local restaurant.  It was full of high school kids from a private school in .  On our way back to the boat in the dark, we heard the rhythm of drums down the street, and went to investigate.  There in the park were a bunch of young people practicing for the Junkanoo.  We stood and watched and danced around to the beat for a while before heading back to the "Izzy R".  I'll try to add a video of them:
Hope that worked for you.  Did you dance, too?  You can hardly help it.
It must have been a lot of work, because they were sweating so much that their skin glistened in the lights. Imagine how hot they'll be with those big costumes they wear. Here's a picture from the internet of Junkanoo drummers in their costumes.
The next day we continued on north up the big island of Eleuthera to a little harbor called Hatchett Bay.  The opening to it is so small that we almost passed it by without noticing it.  Jeff had to pull out those tricky moves again to get us into the narrow rocky entrance without hitting something.
Once inside, it opened up into a very protected harbor with a little town at the far side. 
The plan was to meet Izzy's brother and sister-in-law - Dick and Cathy -  here since they were flying in to join us for a week on the boat.  We pulled up to a wall that was for transient use, and met some of the locals who passed by on their way through town.
"White Pepper" was anchored in the harbor there not far from the wall.  Jan and Karl came over in their dinghy to meet us and walk around the town.  We made plans to meet for dinner at the restaurant  across from the boat.
Here they are arriving to join us for dinner at the "Back Porch" -  my kinda place - that's where I usually have my dinner too!
Dick and Cathy arrived the next afternoon by taxi from the airport.  Jeff quickly got them onto "island time" with a couple of his tasty rum punches while they swapped stories of family and travels.
It was a hot and muggy day so we decided to stay close to the boat for dinner.
Restaurant options in this little town are limited, so here we are again on the back porch of  "The Back Porch" ordering another rum a drink (of course) while we wait for dinner.  This night we were the only patrons, so we got special service and great food. 
After a warm night's sleep on the boat, we were up early and ready to cast off, leaving little Hatchett Bay behind us. 
Since the harbor has such a  teeny weeny opening to the sea, Jeff put Dick on the bow in his bright orange shirt, I guess to scare off anything that might get too close. 

Karl and Jan on White Pepper were headed he same way so we exchanged waves as we cruised to the next destination...an anchorage at Royal Island Harbor.

To get there we took a short cut through a narrow slot called "Current",  and you guessed it - it had a lot of current!  (You can see it on that Google earth map you pulled up earlier)  Getting through there is kind of tricky if you don't have a lot of power.  Luckily we do have enough power and Jeff pulled some magic out of the hat he was wearing to get us through so we didn't have to wait for the tide to change.  The boat in there must be waiting.

After we anchored, Dick and Cathy jumped in for their first quick cool down in the Bahama waters before we put the dinghy down for a ride to explore the ruins of an old mansion on shore.    
We barbequed on board that night and shared the quiet anchorage with White Pepper.
 The next morning we raised the anchor and headed on to Spanish Wells - a small island at the northern end of Eleuthera.
Spanish Wells is busy town with a lot of commercial fishing boats and a beautiful pink sand beach.  Here are Cathy and Dick exploring   

along with Jeff and Izzy
Commercial fishing boats lined the busy harbor
and men were mending their nets

With all those fishermen, we figured there must be a place to get some good fish filets to put on the grill that night, so we rented a golf cart to explore and find some dinner.  I even got a ride to the groomer to get my summer cut while they went off looking around town.
Here's the groomer's house. What's with the balls in the trees?

Jeff and Dick thought they knew a place where they could buy fish right at the dock, but they had trouble finding it. 
This gave us a rare opportunity for picture of men getting directions.
Within a few minutes they spotted a sign along the road.
"Live and Jumpin"?  Have to check this out...could be dinner!
The fishing boat hadn't come back in yet, so they made several trips back there to see what the catch of the day would be.
I think they're waiting for the fishermen to arrive with our dinner!   
Unfortunately they came back empty handed, so they took the rental golf cart down to the fish market and bought lobster tails.
Not fresh fish, but still good on the BBQ.

 We found a pretty park on the water, with some kids swimming and others playing in the shade. They even had showers attached to the trees so swimmers could rinse the salty water off their bodies. 
It seems like every block in this clean little town had a tree lined lane leading to that big pink beach on the ocean side of the island. 
This is a nice place for a dog, but I didn't see any around to play with.

We found a real pretty church with a fancy cemetery in front.  Some graves had lots of flowers, and some had none.  I felt sorry for the empty ones, and wanted to move some of those flowers over to the graves that had none.  Dick said that I must be a Democrat.  Funny, I thought I was mostly Airdale??
We made some new boating friends while at that marina.  Three other trawlers were traveling together and asked if we wanted to go on a beer and wine run to the next town over in their big dinghy, then join them for happy hour on the docks.  That was a no-brainer! 
We had already met two of the boats in Staniel Cay a week before - Jim and Judy on Silver Foxes, and Mitch and Barb on Land's End,

 and they had hooked up with Glenn and Susie on Ellysium.  We had happy hour with all of them on the dock and got to know them better.  They were fun.  They're travel plans are the same as ours, so we'll be seeing them more over the next week as we go on to the Abacos.
 Jeff said our next stop is Little Harbor and Pete's Pub.  Uh-oh!  Do you remember the time last year when we got stuck in the entrance to this harbor on a falling tide, and had to stay there all tipped over to one side until the tide came back up?  (see May 15, 2010 post -  http://jeff-izzy.blogspot.com/2010/06/still-tanning-our-toes-in-abacos.html
Well, we didn't want to repeat that little fiasco, so
 Jeff posted Dick and Izzy at the front of the bow and had them checking for water depth the using the old fashioned Mark Twain method. 
 So when we started "gardening" like this,
they shouted to back off! Gettin' shallow - stirring up the bottom!
  It wasn't looking good, so this time he decided to anchor outside the harbor until the tide came up.  Good move, Jeff.  Better to keep the boat FLOATING!  
Besides, that gave the crew some time to whip up a few boat drinks and laugh about last year's strategy shortcomings.
Later, after we had plenty of water under our boat, we drove the Izzy R smoothly into the harbor and anchored, then dinghied over to Pete's Pub to meet up with our new friends.  
We met up with Jan and Karl from White Pepper, as well as the other three boats from Spanish Wells.  Twelve of us in all (well, thirteen counting me).  Quite a group, and a lot of Kalik and rum drinks! 
I guess I'll be the designated driver again tonight. 

Not far from Little Harbor is one of Jeff and Izzy's favorite snorkling places called Sandy Cay.  Here's Kathy giving the thumbs up...or counting sharks, I don't know which. 
I don't snorkle, you know. Mask doesn't fit well, and I can't hold that snorkle in my lips...and I'm afraid of sharks. 
Apparently they saw coral of all kinds.  This is Elkhorn coral

And I think this is Staghorn coral

This is a giant Brain coral...bigger than Jeff!
I can see why they like snorkling here.  The water is real clear and warm. 
But I think I'll stick to the shallow places for my swimming.

Like this...Tahiti Beach!  My favorite!
We anchored nearby and waited for the beach to appear out of nowhere.   As the tide went down the beach got bigger and we could walk on the dry sand, or stroll in the warm shallow water.
Perfect place to soak up the sun.  Actually I'm soaking my butt.
 Yep, the chicks and ME

Hmm...those are Dick's footprints in the sand.  Where'd he go?  How'd he do that?

When the sun faded, we got back into the Izzy R and continued up the island to Hopetown, where we picked up a mooring ball in the pretty harbor, with a view of the famous lighthouse.
Our new friends, Glenn and Susie on Ellysium have a house overlooking the harbor and invited us all to come for pizza party and drinks that evening.
I didn't go because there are too many steps for my old legs to negotiate, but Jeff and Izzy, and Dick and Cathy went, along with the three other couples from our caravan of boats.  Here's a view from their patio.
What a great location and what generous hosts to have everyone there for the evening. 
The girls having a chat,  and the sun starts to set
What a beautiful spot!
The next morning we dropped the mooring ball and headed for Great Guana Cay - home of Nippers and Grabbers - two more favorites of Jeff and Izzy.
Here they are at the bar at Nippers. 
Sitting across from them were Andy and Annie from SeaDee that we traveled with last year.  Small world, eh?  We all chatted and caught up with each other's travels and decided to go to watch the Kentucky Derby and have dinner together that night.   
Until then, they strolled and waded in the water in front of Nippers. 

With a few Goombay Smashes under their belts,
 and Dick and Jeff convinced Cathy and Izzy to pose for them at the rocks.
They look pretty good for a couple of cougars.

A quick clean up and off ot Orchid Bay Resort for the Derby.  Cathy won all the pool money with her bet on a horse named Animal Kingdom. Good choice, I'd say.
On to Grabbers for sunset and dinner.

Time for Cathy and Dick to go back home to Atlanta.  They'll be back...I think they like the boating life.  

Well, that takes us back to the beginning of this blog post as I sit here at my favorite beach watchin' chicks and havin' a beer. 

I'm glad I get to come on this trip with Jeff and Izzy.  I've almost forgotten that I started out in a cage in the Animal Shelter in Irvine trying to look cute when Sandy came to rescue me that day thirteen years ago when I was just two years old.  Not bad retirement, eh? (that's Canadian)
Hope you all  have a great retirement too!