“The Most Significant Weather Event of the Winter”
Every morning at 0630 I sit patiently waiting for Chris Parker to begin his weather report on the single side band radio receiver. The weather pattern had held to generally mild easterlies; “the trade winds”. We were counting on these mild winds with occasional frontal passages to give us good conditions for continuing on to the Jumento and Ragged Islands farther south. Up until this morning we had no idea of what was to come. He came on with “boy, things sure have changed”. Massive high pressure over the eastern United States was causing all sorts of troubles. For the Bahamas he would state that, “this may be the most significant weather event of the winter”. A secondary low may form near western Cuba, about 90 miles south of our destination. This could develop into a tropical low capable of really nasty weather. The forecast was for gale force winds (above 35 knots) and possible squalls with higher winds. How long would this last? We would find out later that it could last indefinitely.
It had all been so beautiful. After an uneventful but beautiful sail from Georgetown on February 23rd, we rounded Indian Hole Point and headed to our anchorage. Camelot soon hailed us on the VHF. Harv and Anne are from Wisconsin and we’ve been friends since 2008. They had been here for several months. We had much to catch up on since we had not seen them since the spring of 2010.
Long Island is a favorite of ours and we were glad to be back. We lounged at the Long Island Breeze Resort, swam in their pool, walked the beach on the eastern side and generally had a great time talking with friends, new and old.
Marylee was anchored off shore from Long Island Breeze in about six feet of beautiful crystal clear water. We draw five feet but the bottom is nice white soft sand, so no worries. Tod and Ann from “Fiscal Stray” were soon anchored alongside. We had buddy boated with them in 2010 and had heard them occasionally on the radio as they headed south. They invited us to share a rental car so soon we were off to explore the island.
A new restaurant had been built south of Stella Maris on the north part of Long Island. Built right on a beautiful white sandy beach, Beachside Bungalow is what you might expect. Open air, thatched (although fake) roof, bright colors and great food. Their pizza was exceptional. The seafood pizza had white sauce and was covered with conch and lobster. YUM! After lunch we headed south to Dean’s Blue Hole. This hole is 663 feet deep and is totally protected from the surrounding ocean. We snorkeled along its edges and saw many fish. It was very cool.
The wind had been steadily increasing all week. The easterlies were blowing water out of the bay and we were now on the bottom or very close all the time. On March the third we decided to move to a more protected anchorage. By nightfall the wind was subsiding, the calm before the storm. We played cards on Camelot and when we left for our boat the waters were calm and there wasn’t a whisper of wind. Slowly, little by little the wind backed to the south, then the east and finally to the north. At 0400 the front hit us with a vengeance. Soon the wind was howling at 25 knots but since the island protected us we had little wave action. All day Monday the wind has maintained 20 with gusts to 25. Tomorrow and Wednesday were forecast with steady 30 knot winds and squalls to 40. The forecast was right on.
There is a water shortage on Long Island and the resort was not able to let us do laundry. It was almost three weeks since we had done laundry and Mary was running out of underway. John and Nancy on “Langoline” offered to share their rental car and off we went on a laundering adventure.
The closest laundromat is about twenty miles to the south in the Deadman’s Cay area. We were very surprised to find a nicely outfitted laundry and the price was $2 per load! Less than what we had paid in Marathon. The manager offered to put our wash in the driers so we could do some exploring. We were back in time to fold. What fun!
While we were out we had noticed Max’s Conch Shack along the road. We went back for lunch. The food was good, the beer ice cold, and the people exceptional. The locals on Long Island are the friendliest we have met on any of the islands.
We closed out our tour with a trip to the beach and a walk and view of another magnificent sunset. What a life we live. The cost for our day at the laundry:
Rental car (our half) $50.00
Lunch at Max’s $46.00
Our share of gas ($6.09 per gallon) $16.00
It’s not cheap living in paradise.
The winds were continuing to howl but the protection and holding in Thompson Bay is exceptional. Unfortunately services are limited and we needed water and more provisions. We called off our trip to the southern islands and took the first weather opportunity to head back to Georgetown. On the ninth of March we sailed back in beautiful conditions. The petroleum ship “Ocean Energy” passed along the way. You can hardly tell where water and sky meet!
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