Our early to bed, early to rise routine had us listening to Chris Parker’s weather forecast and routing advice on the SSB at 6:30 am. We asked him again about the conditions for transiting the Whale Cay Passage. “Not looking good – earliest would be on Sunday, but better on Monday next week” he warned. He also told us to take a camera to the reef beach at Green Turtle Cay on Friday to take pictures of the “rage” conditions there! We decided to take his advice and view it from the shore rather than experience it on Tai Chi.
So we cannot get further south to Treasure Cay, Guana Cay and Marsh Harbour for another week. On the other hand we were afraid we were getting just too darn comfortable at the Bluff House Marina in Green Turtle Cay, so we decided to take a little wander in the Abacos. Not far. In fact just around the corner to Manjack Cay.
Not surprisingly in this transient cruising community, where lasting friendships are forged in mere minutes of dock chatter, we found friends anchored there already – Linda and Vince on “Fortnight” – from near Ancaster, Ontario. As we dropped the hook in the peaceful bay near a pretty beach, Vince drove over in his dinghy to invite us for drinks and snacks on their other friend’s boat – Legacy.
It was Vince and Linda who tipped us off about joining the Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club, of which we are now proud members. Although the club has many planned activities for those who opt to stay long-term at the Abaco Beach Resort in Boat Harbour, such as bocce ball, mahjong, yoga and parties, which we are not sure we will partake of as we plan to move on to the Exumas, we felt the nominal membership fee was worth it just for the marina discounts.
We enjoyed socializing in the afternoon on Legacy, meeting Ron and Pamela and their guest Bill, picking up some fishing tips and other ideas from these recidivist Bahamas cruisers. However, our dinghy motor had inexplicably conked out as we arrived, our knot meter and wind instruments were acting up when we left GTC and, so, as usual, boat projects encroached on our relaxation and we returned to Tai Chi (rowing the dinghy when the motor went on strike again) to attend to chores and cook dinner. Talking about my pet peeves (boat fixes) reminds me of some other surprising things about life in paradise so far:
1. Gender-specific “no-see-um” sand fleas that bite only women. Seriously. I am covered in so many awful itchy bites that it looks as though I have chicken pox. Steve has not one bite and nor did Paul get any while he was here. Then I spoke to two other women who were covered in bites while their respective male consorts had none. Go figure. It’s unfair.
2. Sunset at 5:30 pm! It is just too early. It is totally dark by 6 pm – stars and moon and all. Now I know short days come with winter in Canada, but I feel a little robbed of the sunshine here and I am ready for bed by 7:30 pm. Luckily we have been getting up early to make the most of the day.
3. With cartage to and from the islands difficult and expensive, garbage is a real problem here. We are very conscious of it and got rid of most of our packaging when we provisioned in the States, and we try to minimize garbage. But evidence of this problem is everywhere – old cars, boxes and appliances, and a chain-smoking burning pit dump near White Sound.
4. The main method of communication here is VHF radio. Boats call each other on channel 16, then switch to chat – restaurants and resort advertise their specials, people call for the water taxi etc. It is more social and less emergency than at home. In fact when our friends on Galadriel called a pan pan on channel 16 while approaching Nunjack passage with no motor, they got no response. Not good for emergencies, but as a social network it works. Saves on phone bills.
The wind has been relentless since we arrived – seldom dropping below 15 knots and today it is gusting to 30 knots again. However for the most part it is warm and sunny, and so we were undaunted as we set off with a picnic lunch to explore Manjack Cay the next day, despite some looming clouds.
Manjack Cay is a smallish island, largely inhabited except for a few homes and private piers at the end where we anchored – near Manjack beach. The owners welcome visitors and there is a well-marked trail from pretty Manjack beach, where we landed our dink, through bush and mangroves to a long and beautiful ocean beach on the north side of the island. The trail markers were unique and colourful, so I created this collage from them!
The ocean beach was deserted, we had it to ourselves. But the weather was not ideal and we spurned swimming there as we watched the breakers and took shelter from rain squalls.
We made our way back along the trail and this time chose the fork for Coconut Bay beach, another delightfully secluded little cove on the much calmer channel side of the island. In fact it would have been perfect had it not been for the masses of sargasso weed which clogged the beach. We went swimming anyway and at our lunch perched on a washed up ship’s hatch – probably a remnant of one of the many horrible shipwrecks along these shores.
We made our way back to the boat for sundowners, and barbecued dinner using the last of our fresh veg. It seems I will have to break down and spend a small fortune at Curry’s Food Store in Green Turtle Cay buying some basic fresh food!
Just another day in paradise!
View our photo journal for Manjack Cay.
View Tai Chi: Journey 2012 in a larger map