I apologise, Dear Readers. Since my last blog post about Georgetown Great Exuma the Bahamas, SV Sanitas and her crew have sailed to:
- Conception Island, Bahamas
- Long Island, Bahamas
- Mayaguana, Bahamas
- Provodentiales, Turks and Caicos
and we are now in Luperon, Dominican Republic. But so much time has passed, and so much has happened that I’m not feeling inspired to write about those lovely places. However, I am giddy with delight soaking up all that the Dominican Republic has to offer in terms of natural beauty, culture, and new experiences. So, with your permission, I’ll share a few of the best pictures of the out-islands of the Bahamas and then jump right into stories of our Dominican Republic adventures – the first time in this cruising year that we really feel we are in a new country and a new culture!
Sailing from Exuma to Conception Island was one of the best sails of the season. Truly fair winds and following seas, averaging almost 6 knots!
I never took the “gin blue” waters of the Bahamas for granted, and the waters off Conception Island were some of the most beautiful of them all.
We ate well off the grid in the National Park on Conception Island. Sharon and Drew on Z-Raye had caught mahi, tuna, and amberjack, so we had a ceviche and mojito night with a different recipe for each fish. Then baked gluten free blueberry bars for breakfast. Yum!
So this may sound terrible to land lubbers, but we learned a new way to deal with our glass trash. On the islands, there is no recycling, so everything goes to the landfill. But when you are far out to sea, a glass bottle filled with sea water and sunk will eventually turn back into sand….(Don’t worry. We would never do this with plastic)
Capt. Mike’s first fish! Thanks to Nathan who brought us new lures on his visit, we finally caught a beautiful mahi with enough meat for several meals.
Then even though we had a freezer full of fish, we couldn’t resist buying the biggest lobster ever from a fisherman on Long Island. Soooooo gooooood…..
We rented a car on Long Island with Dave and Michelle of SV Half Baked and explored. Best quote, “I’d forgotten just how long this darn island actually is”. The conch salad at Max Conch stand is the best I’ve ever had. Max is a true artist. And the sangria wasn’t bad either!
We enjoyed the opportunity to visit another of Father Jerome’s churches in Clarence Town, Long Island. Remember Father Jerome who designed his own retirement hermitage on Cat Island? This was a beauty, with twin towers that you can climb “at your own risk” for a windy view of the island.
Dean’s Blue Hole on Long Island is one of the deepest in the world, and the Guinness World Record for free diving (without scuba tanks) was set here. Also, at least 15 people have died here attempting free dives.
The Columbus monument at the northernmost tip of Long Island is very near the spot where the Santa Maria ran aground in 1492. We treated that point of land with great respect! The monument is a memorial to the peaceful Lucayan indigenous people who were victims of the European explorers.
When I come back this way as a rich tourist instead of as a cruiser, I’ll definitely stay at the Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort. It’s lovely, and understated, and peaceful, and at $400 per night, definitely outside my budget.
Capt. Mike and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary on Long Island at the Sou’ Side Grill at a cruisers’ happy hour.
And I fell in love with a baby goat named Billie at the local Farmers’ Market.
I’m a sucker for a good beach bar, and Tiny’s Hurricane Hole is a darn good one!
After our stay in Salt Pond (aka Thompson Bay) Long Island, the islands get farther and farther apart, and the passages get longer. At a speed of 5 or 6 knots, we can’t get there in the daylight, so overnight passages are the rule. I prepped for this passage with plenty of food, so we wouldn’t have to cook underway.
Four boats sailed together from Calabash Bay Long Island to Mayaguana. It’s great to stay within radio contact of other cruisers so that if anything goes wrong, we can help each other out. This was a long one. We started out at 5am and had two sunrises and one sunset at sea, before we reached Abraham’s Bay in good light so that we could avoid the coral reef.
Not a good picture, but a good story…. pretty darn sure this “package” is drug smuggling. A bale about the size of a sofa cushion, wrapped in white plastic and in a green net, with a line dangling off it with a float marking it. We sailed right by to take a closer look, but it was too heavy to hook and bring aboard without losing the boat hook. Plus, I didn’t want drugs on the boat as we cleared customs. But now I wonder….what if it wasn’t drugs? What if it was millions of dollars in cash? Only Neptune knows.
There’s not much on the island of Mayaguana, but it’s exciting because it’s our last stop in the Bahamas.
We cleared out of the Bahamas, got our paperwork and everything. But no one seemed to care if we actually left. So we took a tour of the island first. What do you do when the restaurant doesn’t open for another hour? You buy all the cold beers that the next door neighbor has in his fridge.
Then you admire Freddy’s super bling Huffy bicycle.
Our explorations of Mayaguana also included a trip to see the wild Flamingos. They stand knee-deep in the waters of a shallow bay until we get too close. Then, they walk away from us, through the water, grumbling in annoyance in a sort of slow speed chase. When the water gets deep enough to wet their bellies, they finally lift off in a group and fly.
After flamingo viewing, we stopped at “The After Work Bar” so named because Patrick only opens it after he gets home from his real job. Capt. Mike celebrated his birthday here with dominos and tequila shots.
Finally, we got good weather to head south. Goodbye Bahamas! Another long overnight passage from Mayaguana to Turks and Caicos with another beautiful sunrise at sea.
Arriving at Turks and Caicos, we cleared into a new country for the first time since January 8. Good thing because our Bahamas courtesy flag is in tatters. Captains went ashore to clear customs, and we are official!
We had to enter the channel of Southside Marina at high tide to have deep enough water, so we all headed in at the same time in a line like little ducklings. We don’t usually sail so close to our buddy boats – I promise!
The Southside Marina was lovely and “islandly” Only $50 a night (reasonable in pricy Providenciales) and we had to tie up with a Mediterranean mooring. The showers were open air and built right into the cliff.
We had a great group of cruisers staying here, including the crews of: Willfull, Half Baked, Tanda Tula, the Orange Boat, and Zoe. Had a lovely music-filled happy hour on the waterfront, and a farewell drink at Bob’s Bar. After this stop, our group will split up and sail off in different directions.
We didn’t have much time to explore Provo, but the north coast is lovely.
Finally! Another good weather window allows us to leave Turks and Caicos and continue our journey to the Dominican Republic!