Monday, February 22, 2010

Great Guana

Great Guana Cay is the most sparsely populated of the larger cays and its protected Settlement Harbour is quite small and almost filled by the Orchid Bay Marina.  Just north of the settlement is Fishers Bay which is open to the northwest.   It has a number of rental moorings as well as plenty of room to anchor.

There is a dinghy dock at Grabbers which serves a drink called, of course, a frozen Grabber.  They serve meals, including a decent pizza according to the Admiral.

There was a ray fish relaxing next to the dock when we came in.
Fishers Bay and Sesame from Grabbers.

Grabbers is famous for the sunsets that you can see from its beach.
The houses are painted in the familiar pastels of the other cays, but are quite simple with minimal landscaping.
The sunsets are justly famous from the anchorage as well. The sunrises are not too shabby either.
The captain took a dinghy ride up to the north end of the cay which has been taken over by a new development called Bakers Bay Marina and Resort. It is a complex of canals and acres and acres of empty landfill and bulkheads waiting for zillionaires to build their castles.  The most prominent feature is the 200 foot private yacht named April Fool (a friend wrote that the owner is Sandy Weil, who was CEO of Travelers and then City Group -- doesn't that mean that we all own a piece of the boat through bail-out funds?), 6 or 7 large houses, a large "club" building and many empty docks and slips.
Bakers Bay and April Fool, listed as one of the world's largest 100 private yachts.

Further north is what looks like a resort with private cottages with canvas roofs and a beach with lots of water toys on it.

The beaches along this area used to be very popular with both cruisers and locals but are now guarded so that the general public will not sully them even though they are virtually empty.

There are many caves, large and small, that the waves have carved into the relatively soft coral.
This is Fishers Bay looking southeast toward Grabbers. (Sesame is to the left.)
Fishers Bay

The major goal for most tourists on Great Guana, is Nippers.  Just follow the signs to the top of the hill overlooking the ocean.

On Sundays, Nippers has an all-you-can-eat Pig Roast which we haven't tried before.  DELICIOUS!  Dinner with a frozen Nipper or two calls for a very early bedtime!

Nippers has its own beautiful ocean beach and reef.
The Captain had agreed to act as a photo boat for a shoot for Island Packet boats so we ran back to our slip in Marsh Harbour early in the morning, only to find that the photo shoot had been postponed because of bad weather.  It was just as well since the forecast had unexpectedly turned nasty for a few days anyway.  So we'll relax here with our shore showers, electricity, cable TV, etc. for a few days and hope for some nice weather to do some relaxing off a few beaches and in some nice harbors.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Marsh Harbour (mostly)

The Admiral returned from Dallas 3 days after our one-month rental of a slip started at the Marsh Harbour Marina.  The slip rental is $.60 per foot per night plus some extras for electricity, water, and cable TV.  Although we don't plan to stay for the entire month, it gives us a good home base to which we can  return when we want to.
For those who are not boaters, slip rentals in the States go as high as $3.50/foot per night and some are even higher.  Having the slip gives us a home base for the month as well as a safe place to keep the boat for the week we will be spending with Judy's sister and bother-in-law at a beach side house.
Sesame in her slip at Marsh Harbour Marina
Steak Night at the Jib Room
Steak Night
Every Saturday is Steak Night at the Jib Room at the head of the dock.  It's one of the most popular events in Marsh Harbour every week.

"Rake and Scrape"
After dinner, there is always a "Rake and Scrape" with dancing.  Rake and scrape is peculiar to the Bahamas and uses a regular saw and screw driver as a rhythm instrument.  Jason, who is also the dockmaster at the Marina, is the resident musician who performs to taped music.  The night ends with a limbo contest but the Admiral and the Captain retired to the boat long before that happened! The video below is a short sample of rake and scrape by Jason.  (Be sure you have your speakers on.)

Happy Hour Pot-Luck
The Jib Room
During the day, the Jib Room serves lunch Wednesday through Saturday and drinks every day.  Thursdays are Happy Hour during which the boaters and other guests being special hors d'oeuvres and drinks are 2 for 1.  The house drink at the Jib Room is a "Bilge Burner".  (Every bar in the Bahamas has its own name for its own mix of rums and fruit juices.)
Mermaid Reef
Mermaid Reef
Mermaid Reef is a National Park off the beach a short walk from the marina.  It is supposed to be a great place to snorkel, but the weather patterns this winter have made it pretty lumpy and/or cloudy most of the time.

Judy's sister Carol, brother-in-law Larry and Larry's mother Ginny rented a house in Leisure Lee, about 9 miles north of Marsh Harbour by water and 15 by land.  All the houses have names which they use as "call signs" (like a boat name is used) to communicate by marine VHF radio.  Their house was "Nutty Mermaid" (no relationship to Mermaid Reef so far as I know).

The Nutty Mermaid at Leisure Lee
Front Lawn at Nutty Mermaid

It is right on the beach on the Sea of Abaco with its own little island right off the beach. It is in a development called Leisure Lee. The Captain finally got to do a little snorkeling although there was not a lot to see.  It was a great place for walking the beach and shelling, however. 

Dwight, Carol, and Dwight's dinner guest
Carol got a boat ride from a friendly neighbor up the beach and they caught a pretty big lobster.

Around the next point was a lovely little beach with what looked like a giant bonsai tree.  In the other direction along the very long beach were a few small birds keeping watch.

We took everyone for a short motorboat ride over to Man-O-War Cay where we toured the two harbors and dropped the anchor for lunch before returning to Marsh Harbour.

Treasure Cay
Treasure Cay
On yet another cold and windy day (yes, it's all relative: it was in the mid-60s and blowing 30 knots with gusts) we went a few miles north to Treasure Cay (which is not a Cay, but part of Abaco Island) in their rental car.
Treasure Cay Beach: One of the World's 10 Best According to National Geographic

We lunched at the beach bar while we watched some kite surfers off the beach.

Infant Coconut Palm
There are coconut palm trees and coconuts all over the place.  I read that they lose a few tourists every year when they are conked on the head by falling coconuts.  We learned how to tell which ones were good but have not yet figured out how to get the tough outer husk off of them without a big machete. Left alone, the coconut begins to sprout and become another palm tree.

Now that the inlaws have headed back to the states, the forecast finally calls for some decent weather.  We'll try to spend some time re-exploring some of the places the Captain explored while the Admiral was in Dallas and anchor off a few beaches we haven't seen before.

Tentatively, we plan to look for a time to go back across The Whale to Northern Abaco in mid-March and revisit places we have seen and places we have passed by very quickly which are worth another look.  Then we'll start looking for a weather window to head back to Florida and start the trek north to Connecticut.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Bachelor Cruise III: Little Harbour

Little Harbour was settled by Randolph W. Johnston, an American sculptor, and his family in the early 1950s.  His son Peter is carrying on with Pete's Pub, art gallery, art workshop, and foundry.  Pete's son Greg is also an active artist on site.
Pete's Pub is right on the water.  There are no walls and a sand floor.  The fish sandwiches are fresh and delicious and were swimming yesterday afternoon, if not this morning.  I had lunch there with Erik and Judi from Bravo after we watched a "pour" at the foundry.

Just across the dune from the pub at the end of a boardwalk is the ocean beach.
There are sculptures wherever you look: on the beach, in the dunes, in the trees and bushes.

There is a tremendous variety of artwork in the gallery including bronzes by Randolph, Peter, Greg, and others. On the left is "Everywoman."  "Orpheus and Eurydice" are on the right.

This is the "9 Ages of Man" and "Grief."  I believe that they are all Randolph's.

Peter has done done a whole series of sculptures based on Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. 

Methinks I saw this lady swimming in Hopetown Harbour last week but she was all in one piece and had all her extremities.

Actually, I was in Little Harbour twice in this three-week period, but I have put them together in one entry. 

The first time, I got a great tour and personal seminar by the Richard Appaldo, the foundry manager and resident artist. He was Randolph Johnston's last apprentice and has been a full-time resident at Little Harbour for about 10 (?) years after a few years as a part-timer. He was doing the fine work on a wax mold that had been created from a plastic or rubber female mould which had come from an original sculpture modeled in modeling clay much like the clay we played with as kids.

These are rough wax forms which had been poured into the plastic or rubber molds and have to be cleaned up and perfected.
The wax sculpture is dipped in layers and layers of a liquid silica and sand.  It is then fired in a kiln which vaporizes the wax and turns the mold into hard ceramic. Thus, the name for this centuries old sculpting technique: "The Lost Wax Process."

Here are a bunch of ceramic molds ready for casting with liquid bronze.

I went back a few days later to see Richard and Pete's son Greg do a "pouring" of 2,000 degree bronze into the molds which had been reheated in the kiln just before the pouring.

A few hours later, they "crack" the mould.  It's a lot harder than I imagined.  The ceramic has to be chipped away, piece by piece.
The result is a rather rough sculpture which needs extensive polishing, welding, "chasing", and resculpting before it is given a patina and waxed.
Greg is the third generation of Johnston sculptors in Little Harbour. 
Someone flew in on a seaplane for the festivities and lunch.  I'll bet they had a "Blaster" or two at the Pub also.  (Every bar in Abaco -- and probably the Bahamas -- has its own name for its fruit juice and rum drink.)

Little Harbour is a lovely spot with great protection from all the weather fronts that come through.  It's the furthest south we'll go in the Bahamas.
We'll be back after I pick up The Admiral in Marsh Harbour!