Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Voyage 2-5 Green Turtle Cay - Judy (Steph in italics)

We pulled into our slip at Bluff House Marina and Resort in White Sound at Green Turtle Cay and had a very happy welcoming committee to greet us!  They were also impressed with our landing at the dock as many people have trouble getting into angled slips when the wind is coming from the side.  We slid in as if it were an everyday docking.

As skipper, I was required to fill out arrival paperwork and go to Customs with all our passports, the boat’s documentation, the Bahamian forms and $325 US cash for the Bahamas Cruising Permit.   I got all the paperwork in order and Johnny drove me by powerboat over to New Plymouth near Black Sound at the other end of Green Turtle Cay to go to the Customs Office, which is open 7 days a week.  Ms. Terry Ferguson was the Custom’s Officer with whom I had the pleasure of taking care of business.  We went through all the paperwork and as I reached for my wallet, I realized that it was back at the other end of the cay aboard Bentaña.  I picked up our permit and said that I would be right back with the money.  Terry said, “Make sure you bring me back that money!!”  I replied, “Would you be more comfortable if I left the paperwork here and picked it up when I bring the money?”  She laughed and said, “MUCH!”  So I did.  Johnny drove me back to the boat; I got the money and headed back to Customs.  Having had very little sleep for days, I am surprised that I actually remembered to do it! 

As I was walking along the dock, Dick on S/V Endeavor said, “Can I buy you guys a drink and hear your story?  You guys are amazing!”  There was a cocktail party later that afternoon so we took him up on his offer.  He mentioned that one of his crew had heard me on the Single Side Band (SSB) calmly describing the fumes and sparks on top of our engine and whether we would catch on fire or explode if we continued to crank the engine to start it. Well, we had a lovely evening, even though we had, once again, missed the “prize giving party” because we had stayed outside the cut and there were many crew members who had to leave before we got there. When all times and handicaps were calculated, we ended up coming in 4th (out of ten boats starting) in our fleet, which thrilled us.

Bill and Tim had decided to get a room on shore, so when they moved their stuff out, it was easier to straighten up the boat. As I began to uncover the floor in the salon, I discovered that the carpet was wet, so I took it out to rinse and dry it.  I found lots of mud/sand under it. It seems that our extra hawse hole (where an anchor line can come through the deck) cover had not been firmly affixed to the deck and water came through it into the V berth and also soaked the cushions and all the linens that were not in plastic bags.  Luckily we had some days of lovely warm sunshine so after carpets and cushions were rinsed, they dried and were reinstalled.  The limited laundry facilities were a godsend, but I still spent 12 hours doing laundry one day.  It became quite a joke among the women of the 1500 fleet.  “Are you STILL here?”

Steph decided to take a dip one day and came back with dinner!  He had caught a conch right near our boat.  We invited friends over for Conch Salad.

In addition to getting our sails repaired, refueling and investigating engine mechanics, it was also necessary to free the blades of the wind generator.  If you remember from our “Voyage 2-4 Cut to the Chase” post, a flag halyard from the main mast had gotten loose and tangled in the blades of the wind generator.  I had been unable to free them at sea due to the swells and not having enough hands and arms to do the job under those circumstances, I found it much easier to do when the boat was standing still tied to the dock. I went up on the mizzen halyard with the main halyard attached to the bosun’s chair.  Steph pulled me forward with the main halyard and I was able to free the halyard, in pieces, from the blades and the nose cone of the generator.

Besides Bluff House, The Green Turtle Club sat across White Sound.  Both marina resorts had suffered hurricane damage from Irene just a few months before and were operating under challenging conditions.  Phone and internet service was out which made bookings or even credit card postings problematic.  Green Turtle lost electric power to its marina so nobody came. In order to entice boats they offered “Free dock with Dining,” that is every dollar you spent in its upscale restaurant erased a dollar of your slip fee.  It was easy to dock for “free.”  The main part of Bluff House on the hill was closed due to storm damage, but the marina side “Jolly Roger Bistro” provided a perfectly relaxed spot for good food and drinks.  We spent several days here getting our “land-legs” back, some well deserved rest, and our two damaged sails stitched up.

I felt really bad for Stacy and Ian, the new owners of Bluff House.  The hurricane hit just after they took possession of the resort.  Coming from the Central States, it is their first adventure in the Marina Business and I couldn’t help thinking of Herman Wouk’s island novel, “Don’t Stop the Carnival.”*  Two weeks after we left, they e-mailed us that they couldn’t process my AMEX card. Eventually we sent them cash by way of “Endeavour” when Dick was sailing back that way weeks later.

*(In “Don’t Stop the Carnival,” A visitor from the states decides to own and operate a hotel in paradise. The story revolves around the hardships of doing most anything in the islands.)

The first few days, our slip fees were included in the Caribbean 1500 Registration, We stayed a couple of extra days to get squared away and to give them a bit more business. But at last we left the slip and anchored out to get back into our island lifestyle.  We were in the middle of White sound, half way between the two marinas We deployed our Dingy and explored White Sound first and eventually motored over to Black Sound to the Settlement of “New Plymouth.”

After a few days at Bluff House Marina and anchoring in White Sound, we heard our friend Bob from “The Edge” on the VHF radio.  He was coming in to GTC from the US and was planning to get a mooring in Black Sound.  We decided to go there also.

New Plymouth is a lovely village with small brightly painted cottages on narrow lanes. Unlike the resorts at White Sound, New Plymouth is a small hometown, with a large number of winter residents.  The community has a very active social calendar and we had the opportunity to meet many locals and many visitors.  We had Thanksgiving dinner at the local outdoor basketball court. It was serendipitous to find ourselves in “New Plymouth” for Thanksgiving, as it was the pilgrims who allegedly celebrated the first such feast in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  It was a fundraiser for the “Festival of Lights”.  They were raising money to upgrade the Christmas lighting for the town.  Friday night was “Soup Night”.  The leftover turkey, ham, corn and veggies had been turned into a huge variety of different soups and chowders. The entertainment was “The Newlywed Game,” won by our dear friends on “Troubadour”.  Saturday’s menu was pulled pork or BBQ chicken and the entertainment was a decorated golf cart (one of the preferred modes of transportation on many cays) parade of which Steph was one of the judges.  The children also sang Christmas carols and paraded their handmade lanterns around the village.

The village itself had an interesting cemetery and a memorial/honor park with busts of famous local people who had helped the cay in some way.  It was very interesting to read their stories.  Green Turtle Cay was originally settled by British Loyalists from the American colonies after the War for Independence. These Tories were physically and verbally ostracized and driven out by their neighbors and aided by their motherland. They were offered asylum and transport to the Bahamas on British ships. Unlike the West Indies British Outposts, The Bahamas’ poor growing conditions failed to provide the livelihood the Loyalists (mostly wealthy Planters,) had hoped to find. The current day mix of speech patterns, skin color and life stories tells of a long, fascinating and challenging history in a hardscrabble land.

We waited for a weather window that would provide us safe passage through Whale Cay Cut so that we could go to Marsh Harbour for additional repairs.  When the day arrived, we were accompanied by Dick on “Endeavour”. He was boarded by the local authorities and said he felt that it was a training exercise.  When he asked them if they were also going to board us, they asked if we were friends.  He said yes, and they decided that they had delayed our trip long enough and that no, we would not be boarded that day.  We had a lovely, uneventful sail to Man-o War Cay, while Dick stopped at Baker’s Bay.
Crossing the finish line

Johnny needed a list if issues we encountered on our piece of paper was not large enough!

The Jolly Roger Bistro

Dick and Judy holding down the mizzen so Elisabeth
 the sail repair lady could examine it.

Judy removing the flag halyard from the wind generator.  It was
much easier with the boat standing still!

Look Honey, I caught dinner!!

Christmas decorations were going up

Ye Olde Gaol (Jail)

Thanksgiving dinner with the folks from "Yacht Sea"

Good friend Bob, from "The Edge"

More Christmas decorations

The ladies serving dinner

New Plymouth

A model ship shop that we visited

Walking through town

Judy, Ms Terry F and a freind

The Memorail Sculpture Garden