LIB stripped and prepared for Irma. (SUP was inside while away.)
Well, we are finally back on our boat in Puerto Rico and we are SO fortunate that we suffered NO damage from Hurricane Irma. At the very last minute, this horrific storm decided to go just a bit north and the island of Puerto Rico avoided a direct hit.
In the face of this near miss, the folks here on PR have stepped up and contributed to the efforts to help neighboring islands which have been decimated. There are people taking tangible supplies to PR, others have picked up people stranded on the island and brought them to PR and still others have taken friends or strangers into their boats and homes here in Puerto Rico.
On LIB, we have not contributed physically to the efforts, but we have tried to offer emotional and some financial support. Our intention is to give trained personnel time to reinstate order, then actually go and help rebuild. Admittedly Frank is much better with tools than I, but I have learned a lot since moving onto LIB and I am sure will be able to help in some way.
In the mean time, on our flight back to Puerto Rico, we saw from the air some of the islands we played on while cruising the Bahamas this year. I have not always been a student of geography, but living on a boat has taught me a lot and it was fun to recognize the islands we had visited from an arial perspective.
We spent several days anchored off Normans Cay.
Enjoying the shallows while paddling to “The Pond” on Normans
We stopped on Normans twice this season; once alone and once with some of our Sail to the Sun Rally friends on board LIB with us.
Captain found the soft, deserted beaches perfect for playing chase!
The second great picture from the plane was of Cambridge and Compass Cays. The cut between them is where we met up with s/v Radiance in an amazing feat of timing. We had texted with Radiance crew, Susan and Kevin, who were heading toward the Exumas from Florida while we were returning to the Exumas from Eluethera. Our plan was to anchor near Compass Cay and contact each other upon arrival, but just as we were getting close to the cut and were dousing our spinnaker, we spotted Radiance also approaching the cut! LIB fell into line right behind Radiance and we followed them into the anchorage!
Susan demos the arduous skill of floating about on Compass Cay!
Cambridge Cay is where we first met Kristen and James of s/v Tatiana and Laurie and Chris of s/v Temerity. This area is also the location of another Sail to the Sun meeting where about 10 of us did a float snorkel near the Rocky Dundas in water so clear that Tom and Louise on s/v Blue Lady appeared to be suspended in air in the picture below.
Blue Lady lifts anchor near Cambridge Cay.
Traveling in a plane nearly 100 times faster than LIB sails, we quickly covered the area we sailed this season. But it was fun to look out the window and recall the islands we visited and see again the amazing blues unique to the Bahamas.
For now, we are keeping an eye on the weather here in Puerto Rico and hoping this nasty 2017 hurricane season ends without any more storms anywhere! We look forward to putting LIB back into working shape and once again exploring the Caribbean.
As always, thank you for stopping by our blog. We would love to hear from you. If you want to see what we are up to more often, please see our FB page: Let It Be, Helia 44.
We left Cambridge Cay with the intention of going to Farmers Cay before continuing to George Town on Great Exuma. However, once we exited Conch Cut and were on the eastern side of the islands, we had a perfect day for sailing and we just could not get ourselves to stop at Farmers. We had a beam reach and the islands to our west reduced the waves so we clipped along at 8 knots and traveled over 70 miles under main and jib.
George Town is cruisers central in the Bahamas and our first look was startling because of the number of sailboats and cruising boats anchored in the harbors. This was by far the largest gathering of cruisers we have ever encountered!
Typical number of dinghies anytime near Chat n Chill on Stocking Island
We arrived in Elizabeth Harbor, Great Exuma late in the afternoon and chose to find a protected spot because a few windy days were predicted.
We settled in an area toward the southwest part of Elizabeth Harbor called Red Shanks. It was a nice quiet area to ride out the wind, but we knew we wanted to move closer to where all the activity would happen.
Elizabeth Harbor is very large with several areas for anchoring. George Town is where the facilities are like grocery stores, fuel, restaurants, etc. However, this visit was all about the 37th Annual George Town Cruisers Regatta and Festival and many of the daily activities would be across the harbor from George Town on Stocking Island.
When the wind calmed a bit, we moved Let It Be across the harbor to a spot right off of Volleyball Beach on Stocking Island. This was the perfect spot for us because we were a short dinghy ride from many daily activities.
The GT Cruisers Regatta has far too many activities to list them all, so if you are interested in seeing more detail, look them up on FB: George Town Cruising Regatta 2017
Frank and I tend to be more about ‘doing’ than ‘watching’ so we signed up for many activities. In fact, we were so busy I hardly had time to take pictures.
Yoga was a fabulous way to start our morning on Volleyball Beach.
Nearly every afternoon there were pick up volleyball games that we joined often. Sometime there were 9 people per side and other times we only had four. It just depended on who wanted to play. The games were super fun with a variety of skill levels. We found volleyball to be one of the best ways to meet new people and get a little exercise in the process.
Frank seemed to think that the more sand he got on himself during volleyball, the better and I think he brought home a fair amount of the beach each afternoon. I wish I had a picture of that!
Tina and Bill of s/v Our Log joined us for the Poker Run. The weather was a little rough with some wind and squalls, but we managed to have a great time in spite of it.
The wide, open harbor was rough in windy conditions.
We traveled by dinghy across Elizabeth Harbor to six restaurants and at each location we chose a playing card. The final stop was back on Stocking Island at Lumina Point where we picked up our final card.
Bill, Tina and Frank look pretty serious about choosing a card.
A measly two pair, but we’re still smiling!
Our luck at pulling good cards didn’t exist and we ended up with only two pair. But we enjoyed seeing all of the restaurant/bars and sampling their food and drinks, and we couldn’t have asked for better teammates than Bill and Tina. We also met some great people, especially Jane and Kevin of s/v Libeccio.
Our next big event was the Coconut Challenge which we did with s/v Tatiana. YEP! James and Kristen were back with us again and we had more laughs than should be allowed doing this crazy event. The Coconut Challenge had three parts:
Part 1. Four people in life jackets in a dinghy without a motor. Each person has a swim fin to use to propel the dinghy. 1,000 coconuts were released and each dinghy tried to collect as many coconuts as possible without leaving the dinghy.
Many teams competed in the challenge.
James and Frank catch while Kristen tosses coconuts.
Part 2. One person stands with his back to two other team mates who are holding a garage bag. The thrower tosses coconuts over her head and the catchers catch the coconuts in the bag.
Who gets the most style points?
Part 3. Each teammate has one coconut and the team has 5 seconds to toss the coconuts over a net and into scoring circles in the sand.
Overall we earned 2nd place in the Coconut Challenge!!
Our next event was a dinghy race in which you had to create a sail and race straight downwind. Frank had the great idea of flying one of his kite board kites as our sail. After some convincing, the judge did allow us to enter the race but we had to start a little distance from the other racers as a safety precaution.
We started off great and it looked like we would easily WIN the race. But we quickly outran the kite which subsequently lost all power and fell from the sky! Sadly we were unable to recover and lost the race. Happily, no one was injured by the crazy kite and the kite lines didn’t get entangled in anything.
Next up on our schedule was the SUP race. Frank took first place in the men’s division and I paddled my way into second for the ladies.
There was a big variety show put on at a local park that included acts by cruisers and locals. Most of the performances were singers with musicians. Several dances were performed by children and there was even a poetry reading. Quite a variety of talent.
Frank prepares for the costume party.
Frank pulled out his shark costume from Halloween and entered the costume contest which had a theme of Gilligan’s Island or a Favorite Castaway. Although he was very energetic and into his character, he didn’t win any prizes.
Pretty creative costumes.
The most exciting events for us were the sailboat races! We decided to enter LIB in the In Harbor Race as well as the Around the Island Race. Of course we invited friends to join us as crew! And since most of us were graduates of the Sail to the Sun Rally 2016, we wore our t-shirts!
The In Harbor Race was my favorite because it was fairly short and pretty exciting. Our crew included Ken and Laurie from Mauna Kea, Kevin and Susan from Radiance, Tina and Bill from Our Log and James and Kristen from Tatiana.
The morning of the race dawn revealed a perfect day for sailing. Frank and I scurried about making sure LIB was ready and things were in order. James and Kristen arrived and we fired up the engines, except our starboard engine would not start! It didn’t even turn over. After a bit of diagnosing (and perhaps a swear word or two) we contact Bill, Mr. Mechanic Extraordinaire! He zipped over to LIB and bypassed the ECU to get our engine started. Phew, we were ok and off to the races!!
James directs and we hop to!
James was our tactician for the day and Frank had prepared a job list so everyone could participate in the race. Every one of the crew had only sailed on monohulls so we had to do some practicing before the race began.
I will admit, our tacks were a little rough at first! But we persevered and by race time, we were ready! This is the first time I have ever raced a sailboat and it was an adrenalin rush. I was at the helm and Frank oversaw all line work while James gave instructions.
Our imitation of wild action shots!
LIB from a competitors view.
We gave it our all and managed to earn third place. Ok, there were only four boats in our class, but still we earned a flag!!
Tina and Bill ready to add a preventer when we flew wing on wing.
The around the island race included the same crew with the addition of Brian from Radiance. Once again James was the tactician, I was at the helm and Frank was overseeing lines. Ken, from s/v Mauna Kea, put it best in a FB post:
We must be flying – look at our windswept hair!
“Let It Be placed another 3rd! It was a great race, after the first mark we were second. Shortly after that we were in first and then it all slipped away. We had victory in our hands and then someone offered drinks and snacks.”
Sharing snacks and laughs post race.
Haha, I’m not sure that was the reason we lost, but it makes a good story. Our monohull sailors got to see LIB in her worst sailing position – upwind. But since we were all comfortable while slogging into it and some one (ahem, Brian) even managed to nap ~ it wasn’t a bad day at all.
At the end of the first day, s/v Tatiana and LIB sported the same winning flags.
After many afternoons of practice, Frank and I chose to enter the Fun Volleyball event. We even had to get “rated” by the organizer. Unfortunately, the weather turned and we had to depart George Town earlier than anticipated, so we had to cancel our spots.
We left George Town on Friday so we could make it to the western side of the Exumas before the next weather front arrived. So today we are anchored off of Little Farmers Cay in relative comfort even though the winds are kicking up close to 30 knots. These winds are expected to stay with us for a few more days, but we will make our way toward Staniel Cay tomorrow as some friends arrive on Tuesday.
Some folks have asked me to give them my thoughts on George Town because it is well known as a cruisers hang out. I have to admit we had a blast there but I don’t know if that is because the Regatta/Festival was in full swing. Frank and I plan on stopping back in George Town when we move south again toward Long Island. It will be interesting to see what George Town is like when it has it’s “usual” number of boats.
Thanks for stopping by and reading this very long post!
Our sail from Eleuthera back to the Exuma Islands was more and less exciting than we expected. We anticipated an easy spinnaker sail but the wind was shifty and we ended up changing sails two or three times. So that was a little “more” than we expected.
Spinnaker sailing is probably my favorite!
On the other hand, Frank diligently employed the fishing techniques Paul, our Eleuthera guide, had taught him, but our only bite was a barracuda. So the fishing was “less” exciting than we had anticipated.
The fun news is that we were able to raise s/v Radiance on the VHF and made plans to meet at an anchorage on Compass Cay. Surprisingly they ended up entering Conch Cut, an entrance from the Bahama Sound into the Exuma Islands, at the same time we did! So we followed them through the cut and we anchored right next to each other.
We shared sundowners that evening and plotted activities for the next few days. S/V Radiance only had a few days before they were off to Nassau to pick up guests so we wanted to pack in a lot during our days together.
Celebrating our reunion!
Susan had saved some “bubbly” to share and we managed to consume all of it… waste not, want not!
The first day together, we packed into our dinghy, Day Tripper, and headed to the marina where we could swim with the nurse sharks then hike on Compass Cay. We trekked from the marina all the way to the Bubbly Bath at the north end of the island.
Frank, Susan and Kevin on Compass Cay.
At five miles round trip, the walk was a bit longer than we anticipated, but the views along the way were great.
Frank “dunks” a rock at Hester’s Gym, an abandoned bar on along the walk.
The Bubbly Bath was a fun place to hang out in the shallow water and enjoy the waves as they broke over the rocky ledge that separated us from the ocean. We agreed that this was a place we wanted to revisit!
Susan is making a beeline for the Bubbly Bath at the right end of this picture.
When we returned to the marina, Kevin and Captain found a breezy, shady spot to cool down and Susan and I watched Frank swim with the sharks. Unfortunately my camera battery died so I don’t have pictures.
Next we moved the boats to Cambridge Cay which is the southern most part of the Exuma Land and Sea Park. We grabbed mooring balls and were delighted when we realized that s/v Tatiana was on the very next mooring ball!
I think these fish were looking for nibbles.
Kevin, Susan, Frank and I went snorkeling the next day at “the Aquarium.”
Sorry for the picture quality, I don’t have my red filter yet!
There was only one other dinghy at the snorkel site and they were just about to leave when we arrived. I was busy getting out gear when I heard, “Frank?!” HA! The folks in the other dinghy had shared our dock in Annapolis during our last few weeks at Jabin’s Yacht Yard! Art and Celeste were doing some refit work on their catamaran in Annapolis and we knew they were headed to the Bahamas, but we were surprised to run into them! What a small world!
Susan and I decided we really needed a second visit to the Bubbly Bath, so we invited s/v Tatiana to join us. We packed a cooler and some floats plus our snorkel gear. The six of us, and Captain, took off in Day Tripper and stopped at the Rocky Dundas snorkel site. We swam into the caves and poked about checking out the coral and sea life.
Kristen, James, Frank, Kevin and Susan…. Cap and I are in charge of pics.
After an arduous snorkel (not) we really needed to relax, so the Bubbly Bath was next up.
It’s important to have plenty of toys and snacks!
Frank and I on the edge of the Bubbly Bath
Cappy divided her time between a shady hole in the sand and my lap in the water.
We had a great time floating about, sharing drinks and stories as we watched the waves begin building and breaching the rocky surroundings. What a fun way to while away an afternoon!
It was great fun meeting up with Susan and Kevin again and we enjoyed several days together exploring Compass Cay and Cambridge Cay. Although we were only together about 4 days we managed to hike, snorkel, share dinner aboard both boats, gather at an anchorage beach sundowner event, listen to Kevin and a new Canadian friend jam on guitars and float about in the Bubbly Bath twice.
Susan even managed some down time on the hammock she and Kevin made from beach ‘finds.’
We were sad to see s/v Radiance leave head north, but we have plans to meet again very soon!
Frank kiting off Cambridge Cay
The wind has piped up a few times and allowed us to kite board. Frank had probably three days of boarding and he continues to try to increase the height of his jumps. Our kids gave Frank a small electronic device called a “Woo” that attaches to his kiteboard. The Woo records the height of jumps and Frank loves trying to improve his “personal best.”
Sundown after an afternoon of kiting.
My kiting on the other hand seems to go two steps forward and three steps backwards. Some days I am comfortable and don’t need any support, but other days I am very happy to have Frank “on watch” to help me if I become discombobulated!
After s/v Radiance and s/v Tatiana departed, Frank spent the next week or so exploring Black Point and Pipe Cay, then returning to Cambridge Cay. We resumed our usual activities of hikes, biking, swimming and general dinghy exploring. Instead of boring you with details, here are some pictures.
The anchorage at Black Point.
Regardless of location, all little kids love to play with smart phones!
Probably the most beautiful spot we have seen; Pipe Cay.
Hiking along a rocky ledge.
A small private island. They seem to have a few extra comforts available!
Who needs a Hallmark Valentine’s Day card?
Just another sunset!
Thanks so much for reading about our journey. Let us know if you are nearby! Next up – George Town; cruisers central in the Bahamas!