Monthly Archives: April 2017
Every time we move LIB from one location to the next, we read. But I’m not talking about cruising guides or even charts, I’m talking about water. Visual Piloting is extremely important when sailing shallow areas like the Bahamas or the Turks and Caicos. Fortunately, the clear waters here make “reading” the water much easier than you might expect.
Visual Piloting helps you know where to go and when to stop.
Understanding the color of the water and what it is communicating can make the difference between floating and being aground. Now don’t get me wrong, there is a boating expression that says, “You have either run aground or someday will.” We have had our experience with grounding in the ICW.
In our defense, on the ICW, the water is not read the same way as it is in clear water, and charts are the primary source of navigation.
Breaking waves are often a “stop sign.”
Understanding the color of water dictates changing course, sometimes even when we are far from shore. These breakers are hundreds of feet from shore, but indicate shallows that we had to avoid.
On LIB, our favorite way of teaching inexperienced water readers is with the following rhyme:
Brown, brown, run aground,
White, white, you just might.
Green, green, in between,
Blue, blue, go on through.
While this isn’t Wordsworth, it is a handy way to remember what to look for here in the Bahamas or other areas where the water is clear and often shallow.
Enlarge this picture to see the shallows in the back.
Today we were exploring the NE area of Providenciales in LIB. The water under the keel as we motored through this channel varied between 9 and 5 feet. (We have a 3.5′ offset so we know how much water is between our lowest point and touching ground.) Slowly we moved forward but we did not go beyond the opening between these two protruding land pieces. The depth at the opening was back to 8 feet, but we could tell by the water color ahead that it would shallow very quickly. I was on the bow, wearing good polarized glasses, to confirm what we thought would become shallow water. About three or four boat lengths past where we turned around between the protruding rocks, the water was less than a foot deep.
Deep Bay, BVIs
This picture, taken from a hill above Deep Bay in the BVIs, shows the deep water in the far distance. Close to shore you can see the water is more green and more shallow. Midway out in the picture are the brown patches where there is too little water to boat across. You can also see a dark blue strip between two brown patches…. that narrow opening may be an opportunity to slip back out into the deep water beyond.
Warderick Wells Park
This final picture from Warderick Wells Park in the Exumas is stunning for it’s beauty but also teaches color. You can see the boats moored in an arc of deep, blue water. To the right is a white beach that is covered in water at high tide but much too shallow to enter. The inside of the crescent to the left shows lighter blue/green then white water; this area becomes a sand bar during low tide. Any boat that tries to cross it will be hard aground!
So there you have s a quick overview of reading water based on our experiences. Memorize the poem, don a good pair of polarized sunglasses, step to the bow of the boat and read away….
Is this similar to how you read water? Any tips you want to share in the comments? I would love to hear them.
As always, thank you for stopping by to read our blog. If you want to see what we are up to more often, check out our FB page: Let It Be, Helia 44. We would love to hear from you.
Well I have not had a single minute to spend writing a post on this blog. It has been forever since mom let me sit down and paw out a few words!
I’m listening to something mom’s telling me.
I have been extremely busy here on LIB. When I first became a boat dog, I was unaware of how important it is to look INTO the water and not just monitor the land. Wow, since I figured that out, I realized I have a lot of territory to patrol to ensure my humans are safe.
But just like on land, my humans don’t always understand why I am barking and sometimes I get in trouble because their noses are really weak and they just don’t smell the things I do.
The best example is the dolphins I talked about last time. While we were on that long Intracoastal Waterway trip (2016 Sail to the Sun Rally), there were dolphins galore! But my humans were oblivious until they actually broke the surface of the water…duh!
Not me! I knew they were there and I barked and barked to make sure those dolphins didn’t get too close to my boat. I was so good at spotting those dolphins that other people in the Sail to the Sun Rally would take notice when I barked. Lots of times somebody would come by the boat and thank me for pointing out the dolphins for them. Big tail wag for that!
Trying to catch those dolphins.
One time there were so many dolphins at No Name Harbor in Florida, that MG let me jump in the water and herd them! I worked and worked trying to coral those things, but I never could gather them all together.
Frank let me rest between swims.
Frank finally came out on a paddle board to let me rest for a few minutes. I did not want to give up trying to make the dolphins behave, but my humans said I had to stop…. I was really tired and a little sad I couldn’t coral the dolphins. But it was still a lot of fun trying and I think mom and dad were proud of me! And later people from boats we didn’t even know came over to tell us they had fun watching me. More tail wags for me!
A nice walk on Conception Island
I liked the ICW but it’s really good to get back to the beaches again. We spent January through March in the Bahamas where the water was clear and blue and it’s really easy to see whatever swims under our boat. It sure is nice to be able to roll in the sand and run on the beaches again.
Me snuggling down into the cool sand for a rest.
Mom calls this a refrigerator but I call it a snack drawer!
One thing is hard about living on this boat…. mom keeps my food in this drawer that is right at my level. Every time she opens that drawer wonderful things happen. First off, the drawer is cold and cool air seeps out when it is opened. Secondly, there are excellent smells in that drawer; not the kind you want to roll in but the kind you want to eat! And thirdly, my food is right there and I could just reach in and feed myself!
Don’t tell, I get in trouble if I put my nose in here!
Anyway, every time mom or dad open that drawer, I think they should feed me or at least give me a snack. But nope, humans can be heartless! I don’t get a treat every time they go into the cold drawer ~ in fact, mom and dad eat a lot more out of that drawer than I do!
Mom and I climbed out on this rock.
This year we have been traveling with other boats and that is fun. We don’t always stay with the same boats but lots of people come over to visit me. It’s sad because none of the other boats have dogs to give them licks and keep them safe. But the good thing is I get plenty of extra snuggles and sometimes the visitors even bring me treats! Pretty much everybody thinks I’m a really great dog (I hear them tell MG and Frank) and that makes me feel really happy.
Chillin’ at a concert in George Town – it was loud!
Don’t worry that I’m getting fat with those extra snuggles and treats. I still get plenty of exercise riding in the dinghy and on the paddle board; chasing birds on the beach and flies off the boat; and generally swimming and hiking with my humans.
See how easy it is to see into the water!
I hope you like the pictures I put in here so you can see what I’ve been doing.
I’m helping dad keep an eye out for coral heads in our way.
All in all, life on Let It Be is really good….. but I still won’t use that silly, fake grass mom puts on the back deck unless it’s an emergency! Like that cheap plastic stuff is any kind of replacement for land! Sheesh, I can’t let them get out of the habit of taking me to shore. There are far too many good sniffs there and I don’t want to give that up!
I’m the dinghy lookout when we explore.
At the end of the day I snuggle with my dinosaur while mom cooks.
Oh, hey!…. I just heard my drawer open…. Gotta run!
Oh yeah, remember to come say hi and give me some snuggles if you see us somewhere. Woof woof for now!
We left Thompson Bay and sailed to Calabash on the northern tip of Long Island. There is a lovely establishment called Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort where we enjoyed lunch with Laurie and Ken and friends from s/v Sand Castle.
The next morning as soon as our sails were set for the completely uninhabited island of Conception, Fisherman Frank put out his fishing lines. We were about to take in those lines when I saw several MahiMahi jumping out of the water on our starboard side. Seconds later the fishing line “zinged” and Frank had another fabulous catch!
Another bull Mahi…. fish tacos tonight!
White sand as fine as powder.
I seem to say this repeatedly, but Conception was the prettiest place we have visited. The beach sand is as fine as powder and almost as white. There are no buildings or cell towers anywhere on this small island and the water vacillated between turquoise and deep blue.
We spent our days lounging on the beach, walking the shore, exploring creeks, sharing dinners with Ken and Laurie and generally relishing being disconnected from time, electronic devices and even communication.
Once again the pictures are better than my descriptions so I’ll show your our activities.
Captain on alert as we explored a creek.
(I will try to put up a video of traveling this creek on the FB page when we get internet again.)
While the water was aquamarine or perfectly clear in most of the creek, we came upon a deep pool that was very green and murky. Turns out, this was also a popular swimming hole for turtles, so we donned our masks and jumped in. We saw about 20 turtles!
I had to really mess with the colors of this picture so you could see the turtle in the murky water.
Ken hoisted Frank up on Mauna Kea to fix a problematic flag halyard.
Those rocks and coral heads are in about 20 feet of water.
We walked to the opposite side of the island and climbed up a rocky point for an eastern view.
Laurie, a professional hairstylist, cut Frank’s hair on the back of LIB.
Frozen margs… a first on LIB.
Payment for said haircut was frozen margaritas! We lucked out and found frozen Bacardi mix in Long Island, so we shared it with Laurie and Ken. Frank used to make margaritas often when we had friends visit back home and it was a big treat to have frozen concoctions on LIB!
After a week on Conception, we decided to hop over to Rum Cay; a mere 15 miles away. On the way we stopped to dive the Conception Wall on the southeastern side of the island.
Sorry for the quality of the picture… at least you can see how vibrant the growth is.
This is the best dive we have had in the Bahamas! We dove to about 100 feel along the wall and saw scads of healthy, vibrant coral! It was a feast for our eyes. There was very little current and the dive was extremely relaxing.
Frank leads the way through some coral.
There were a decent number of little fish and a few larger trigger fish and angel fish, but the only schools of fish we saw were of very small fish. However we did see a huge lobster having a stroll along the nooks and crannies of the wall. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that lobster’s body was three feet long!
Rum Cay was decimated in September 2015 by hurricane Joaquin and then took a lesser beating by hurricane Matthew in 2016. There was a large marina on the island, but Joaquin dumped so much sand in the channel that the marina entrance was blocked and remains that way today. The main peer, a government dock, has not been repaired and getting weekly supplies to this island via the mail boat is a challenge.
The lack of rebuilding of the government dock and the closure of the marina have caused difficulty for the few remaining residents of Rum Cay. But you would never know it from the incredibly warm and welcoming attitude of everyone we met on the island.
A young man named LeMont and his dog, Spicy, strolled the island with us and introduced us to everyone we met and the dogs as well. Even the free roaming dogs were welcoming and didn’t get territorial with Captain!
Cotton grows wild along the road.
Though I am no agriculturist, Rum Cay seems to have the best soil we have seen so far in the Bahamas. Grass, cotton, trees and flowers grow here unaided and LeMont told us locals grow a wide variety of food.
Principal Ann and Frank
The local school has grades one through nine and a total of 11 students! We stopped by one afternoon and donated a few toys and toothbrushes to the Principal. The school is spotlessly clean and appears to have a good supply of books.
The church and evacuation location
– can you imagine water up to mid-thigh rushing down this street?
During hurricane Joaquin, 40 people took refuge in this church. LeMont told us that the water began encroaching from three sides and they had to move everyone to a different location. LeMont said it was frightening to walk through the thigh high water rushing across the street and that there were elderly people who had to be carried through the rising water. How brave these people are!
Unfortunately our visit to Rum was short because the wind turned south and the anchorage became too rough, so we returned to Conception. Of course we stopped and dove the wall again because who can skip such a great dive opportunity?
Our plan is to stay in Conception until the morning of April 7th, when we will leave at first light and sail toward the Turks and Caicos. Originally we had planned to stop at Mayaguanna, but it appears we will have a W-NW wind so we are going to take advantage of it and go to the Turks in one jump.
The trip to the Turks and Caicos will be a bit over 200nm and should take 30-35 hours. Your prayers for a safe passage and that Captain is accepted into the country are appreciated.
The perfect blue waters welcomed us back to Conception Island.
Bougainvillea is commonly found in the Bahamas.
It is hard to leave these beautiful Bahamian Islands with their unmatched waters and hospitable inhabitants. Everywhere we have visited we have felt welcome and safe. I completely understand why so many boaters choose to return here year after year.
Frank caught a beautiful bull Mahi on our way to Emerald Cay Marina.
After our Sail to the Sun Rally friends left from New Providence, Frank and I spent the day provisioning and trying to buy a few things only available from a large city like Nassau. I had thought the ongoing search for the elusive red filter for my GoPro was completed in Nassau when I bought a very nice red lens cover and GoPro adapter from a dive shop.
However, much to my dismay, the adaptor they sold me does not fit my GoPro 4**, so once again I do not have the correct equipment to get beautiful underwater pictures….. which I find very frustrating! Not bringing my GoPro into town was a really dumb move on my part and the result is that I have a beautiful red lens just staring at me, waiting to allow me to share fabulous underwater pictures, and I can’t get it to fit my GoPro!
Gratuitous sunset photo.
Speaking of big cities, Frank and I spent more than 30 years living in Dallas, Texas which is truly a large city with a population of 1.258 million as of 2013. It is a very different experience here in the Bahamas when we visit various Islands and find them sparsely populated yet boasting of many “towns.”
Our visit to Long Island really drove home how incredibly different this new lifestyle is for us.
Physically, Long Island is large island by Bahamian standards. It is approximately 80 miles long and the width ranges from 3/4 of a mile to 4 miles, for a total of 230 square miles; yet Long Island has a total population of only 3,094 as of 2010! The people who live here do not gather into small cities, but are spread among many small villages usually where their ancestors settled long ago. Even well known towns have very few residents, like Clarence Town, the capital, which boasts a population of only 86 folks!
A modest monument to Columbus.
Long Island was originally called Yuma by the indians who settled there and later was named Fernandina by Christopher Columbus. After the American Revolution, many Americans from the Carolinas moved to Long Island and tried to recreate their plantations but the cotton crops didn’t last long and only ruins of those homes remain. Today farming is still important on Long Island but the planting is “pot farming.” My understanding is that soil accumulates in holes in the limestone and it is in these holes that most planting is done. I admire the tenacity of these people and how well they use the resources of their island.
Regardless of the relatively small population, Long Island has a lot to offer, so Laurie and Ken of s/v Mauna Kea and ourselves, rented a car and set out to explore. Car rentals are on a 24 hour basis and we could pick up the car at any time. We decide to begin our tour at noon and explore the south part of Long Island one day and the north part the next.
Our first stop was right on the road where a local man is in the process of building his sailboat in preparation for the upcoming Long Island Regatta. This regatta is raced by locals who make and sail their Bahamian Sloops.
As soon as we stepped out of the car and began looking at the boat, two residents came over to chat and tell us all about the boat. Apparently their son is building this boat and has been working on it for two weeks. We were amazed by how much he had accomplished in so little time! He must work quickly though as the race is the end of May!
The pool and buildings at Flying Fish Marina are great.
Our next stop was Clarence Town, population 86. There is a very large marina in Clarence Town called Flying Fish. Flying Fish Marina was completely renovated and reopened in October 2016 after damage from hurricane Joaquin.
The exterior of Fr. Jerome’s Catholic Church
Clarence Town also boasts two churches designed and build by Father Jerome. Father Jerome was born in England in 1876. He began studying architecture then changed to theology and was ordained in the Church of England. Father Jerome patterned his approach to religion after St. Francis of Assisi and later converted to Catholicism. Prior to his conversion to Catholicism, Father Jerome had designed and build an anglican church in Clarence Town. After his conversion, he wanted to build a larger, catholic church and did so on the highest available point in Clarence Town. Though he is best known best for the Hermitage on Cat Island, Father Jerome also built and repaired churches as far away as Australia. All told it is said that Fr. Jerome built five churches on Long Island. We visited the two largest ones in Clarence Town.
Churches seem to be the preponderance of buildings on Long Island behind residences! The one below is said to be the oldest Spanish church on Long Island.
The Spanish influence is visible in the beautiful arches.
Perhaps the most beautiful stop during our exploration of the southern side of Long was Dean’s Blue Hole. This hole, where the world free diving competition is held, is said to be 660 feet deep with a cavern that extends 4,000 feet laterally once you get to the bottom.
Yeah, we don’t have any pictures of the 4,000 foot cavern!! But here is a stunning view from above.
Guana Cay was another pretty stop and Frank was quick to observe the kiting potential of this bay. For you kiters, Frank definitely kept his eye on the wind and later in the week managed to get in a bit of kiting here.
Long Island has many caves that were once used by ancient residents as dwellings or places to hide during hurricanes. We sought out Leonard, an older gentleman whose family has owned Hamilton Cave for many generations, to give us a guided tour. Leonard had many stories about the history of the cave and pointed out five different types of bats that live there…. Laurie and I were NOT thrilled when some of those bats swooped down toward our heads!
Sunset was approaching so we turned toward Chez Pierre, a well known restaurant on Long Island. Like every place we visited off of the main road, Chez Pierre was found down a long, rocky, pot-holed road that meandered several miles without any signage to reassure first time visitors. We did manage to find Chez Pierre and had a fabulous Italian meal?? Yep, Italian at Chez Pierre!
The picture isn’t great but the food was!
Pierre was the waiter, chef and check out person, so he was a busy man. The bar was self serve and on the honor system which was unique and fun. We highly recommend Chez Pierre if ever you visit Long Island.
Locally grown produce and homemade breads.
Farmers Market is open every Saturday from 8 am to noon. We arrived at 8:30 but already most of the produce was gone.
Sarah displays her woven goods.
Straw and sisal work is common on most islands in the Bahamas. You will find straw markets and stands in front of homes where locals sell everything from purses to placemats to hats and baskets.
Sarah’s sample board.
Sarah, at the Farmer’s Market, had a wonderful display of items and she had a poster of the various plaits available. This is the first time I was able to see all the weaves used and I found it interesting.
The boating community at Thompson Bay, Long Island has to be one of the finest I have encountered. The boaters and the Long Islanders have developed a wonderful relationship in which both recognize the positive skills each brings. The people of Long Island are kind and welcoming and clearly enjoy the boating community. The boaters are very aware of the needs of the islanders and contribute tangibly to those needs.
Most recently, there was a push to bring trees to Long Island to donate to the islanders. After hurricane Joaquin, boaters brought much needed supplies and food to Long Island and helped rebuild many damaged buildings. In fact, the day before we arrived, a group of boaters volunteered and replaced the roof on a home.
The relationship between the boaters and islanders seems unique and wonderful to me. I can certainly understand why so many sailors return to the area every year. This is the first time I have seen island life and boat life completely intertwined and it was truly beautiful to see.
Lest you think we are neglecting Captain, let me assure you that she goes with us on most of our escapades. Here she is enjoying the pool and view at Latitudes on Great Exuma Island.
**For those who own GoPros, apparently their is the standard underwater housing and the “diving” housing. We have the regular underwater housing and the attachment I bought was for a diving housing.