2018 Letters from the Bahamas # 2 by Greg and Barbara Allard
Our sincerest thanks to Greg and Barbara Allard for sharing their thoughts and beautiful photography from their Bahamas cruises. These photos and descriptions will have you aching to follow in the Allard’s wake! Stay tuned for more letters in the weeks ahead.
Letter # 2
After we departed Nassau, we worked our way south, down through the Exumas – a string of cays which is one of the most beautiful areas of the Bahamas.
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One of our favorite places in the Exumas is Highbourne Cay. (The Bahamians pronounce “cay” to rhyme with “key.”) Highbourne is a private island with a small, well run marina, beautiful beaches and a single restaurant.
The week before we arrived there, an Austrian had rented the entire island and marina for his 60th birthday party – for 150 people. Everything (literally) had to be brought to the island on a big workboat: food, generators, extra water, portable lavatories, and dozens of workers. While we were there, the workboat was re-loaded with all of the items (including two huge containers) which were being returned to Nassau.
We watched the boat as it left the marina. It is a tricky exit, since the current runs sideways to the channel, and there are sandbars and coral reefs everywhere. Well, the captain ran the boat aground. In this photo you can see that he has powered-up his engines in an attempt to break free. All he did was to dig a deeper channel behind him, while shoving the boat harder aground. Fortunately the tide was rising, so after about three hours the boat floated off, and was finally able to get underway.
As we do our cruising, we do make mistakes on occasion; it was refreshing to see that a professional captain can also make them.
There is a fish-cleaning station at Highbourne, on the end of the jetty. After the fish are cleaned, the carcasses are thrown into the water, attracting many sharks. These are nurse sharks, and many people say they are totally harmless – in fact we have seen people swimming with them. However, when the fish carcasses were thrown to these “tame” sharks, a wild frenzy ensued as the sharks tore into the fish remains. Tame? Swim with them?
Seagulls too must eat. These two were waiting for the sharks to be done so they could get to the scraps.
It is a tradition on some of the cays that cruising boats leave a board with their boat name and date of visit. Here is “Meander’s board, showing that we have been there a number of times; our companion boat on this trip, “Latitude”, also put up a name board last year, as did our friends on “Soul Asset” in 2014 who used a coconut!
On a dinghy exploration we traveled to the eponymously named “Two Trees” cay, a great diving spot. The French sailboat to the left was working her way through the shallow water looking for a good place to anchor.
After we secure the bigger boats, either by anchor on in a marina, exploring by dingy is one of our favorite activities. This photo, of our friend Jim Pope (from the vessel “Latitude”) is off a small cay called “Tea Table” which is good for beach combing.
Barbara and our friend Ellen Pope return to the dinghy with their finds including some beautiful shells and a fan coral.
You are only allowed to take coral which has washed up on shore; taking live coral from a reef is
prohibited as it will destroy a reef.
The fantail of a beautiful old wooden boat, “Freedom”, built in 1926. She hails from Newport, RI.
Over Yonder Cay, owned by an interesting entrepreneur, Mr. Ed Bosarge. The island has four villas, and is 96% powered by solar and wind. You can rent the island for $44,000 a day. Mr. Bosarge has a fascinating background and it is worth reading about his career. Here’s a link to one of his bio sheets from a conference he attended.
While anchored in “Big Majors Spot” at Staniel Cay, we saw this ominous looking boat. While it looked like a military craft, it is actually an 84’ Italian-built Arcadia yacht.
We’ve always said that we would never own a boat that wasn’t beautiful to look at. I guess we’ll never buy one of these.
A night time view from the top deck of “Meander”, looking down on our dingy. Our underwater lights were on, and the water is so clear that it makes the dinghy look as if it is suspended in air. The water in this picture was about 12’ deep.
Some of you will remember “Shark”, the dockmaster on Cave Cay.
People ask us why we cruise to the Bahamas. Yes, the waters are some of the most beautiful on earth, but the real reason is to meet the people, the friendliest and warmest folks anywhere.
Shark led us on a tour of one of the many caves on the cay.
In one of the caves, we came upon this huge hermit crab, the biggest we had ever seen. Its shell was the size of a softball.
Our next stop was Little Farmers Cay. Many of you remember our friend Ali, who used to run a small liquor store and bar on the island. Three or four years ago he suffered a massive stroke, and when we saw him two years ago he was not doing well. At that time we wondered if we would ever see him again.
When we returned to Little Farmers this year, we were excited to find Ali, and see that he had improved tremendously. He even drew us an accurate map, from memory, showing a good snorkeling site.
Ali is on the left, and his wife Brenda is on my other side. Brenda was the key person who helped in Ali’s recovery.
This is J.R., a woodcarver on Little Farmers. He often works in wild tamarind wood, as he is doing here. In this photo he is finishing a beautiful dolphin (mahi-mahi) carving, which our friends purchased.
Also on Little Farmers, we saw that a yellow building had been erected next to the government dock. We went inside, and found that it was a new bar, with a restaurant to come.
The woman owner who served us is on the left, Katie, and the man on the right is Barry, who built the new structure. We then learned that they were engaged. I asked to take their picture, and Barry just couldn’t look at the camera; he was mesmerized by Katie. After about six photos I finally got him to look at the camera, but this photo is much better when you understand the background.
A woman giving a young girl a swim.
We had lunch at Ocean Cabin, hosted by old friends Ernestine and Terry Bain. Ernestine is an excellent cook, and Terry – one of the most well-spoken, thoughtful thinkers in the Bahamas.
Our companion boat “Latitude” at anchor.
Warmest regards to you all.
Greg and Barbara
Copyright, Greg Allard