Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Manjack Cay and The Whale

We saw our first sting ray leaving the Black Sound. No picture of course Sad smile, but exciting, none the less.

The trip to Manjack Cay (pronounced munjock key) is a short one – just a couple of hours.  It is a popular little island with lots of boats anchored out.  There are no marinas – just a small number of private homes on a fairly large island.


The beach we dinghied over to seems to be privately owned but open to the public.  This is the sign that greeted us.


And oh the chickens!!! We have seldom seen such chubby chickens!


Someone has lovingly kept up the trails in the area and posted signs directing us to the ocean beach.  It is a mile walk in the humid air, but full of flora and some fauna (other than chickens).

Most of the signs were painted on palm husks.


Fan palm


There are many varieties and sizes of air plants.  These grow on trees, but do not take any nutrients from the tree.  The get all their nutrients from the moisture in the air.

air plant

We even saw cactus!


I call this my camouflage tree.

camophlage tree

Talking about camouflage – can you see the hermit crab?  He would scurry away then “put up his dukes” to fight us off.  We did not fight back.

hermit crab

We’ve seen these flowers other places but have not identified them yet.


The soil is so sparse here, it is a wonder anything grows! It seems to be sprinkled lightly over the limestone.  We must watch our step carefully on the trail due to roots and limestone sticking up everywhere.


We made it to the ocean! To the south it appears to be a cultivated garden with a beautiful variety of plants.


To the north is open beach. The water is an incredible blue green.


Next we took a dinghy ride through the mangroves to look for turtles.  We saw several, but getting a picture is challenging


From Manjack we went south, past Green Turtle Cay and through “The Whale”  This is an area where we must go out into the open Atlantic Ocean for a brief time as the inside passage is extremely shallow.  Whale Cay is the island we must go around thus the name “The Whale” has been adopted as the term for transiting this area.  Being the open ocean, this passage can be quite challenging so we wait for a a good “weather window” again.  It was a gorgeous day and there was only a light swell, making for a great time to go.  Blue Yonder III had also chosen that day to go and was only about 1/2 hour behind us. 

This beautiful sailboat also crossed with us.  Moonstone of Aberdour – London!  That is Whale Cay in the background.  You can just make out the waves crashing on the beach.  Notice how calm the water is around them.

Moonstone of Aberdore - London

Here is a closeup of the beach – glad we’re not too close!


We arrived at Lighthouse Marina in Hope Town with plenty of time to get tied up with Blue Yonder III next to us!

Anchored at Manjack Cay, Bahamas – 2/25-/2/26/18

Docked at Lighthouse Marina, Hope Town, Bahamas – 2/27-2/29/18 with Blue Yonder

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Green Turtle Cay


We stayed at Leeward Yacht Club and Marina for a week.  It is a tiny marina, but well maintained with good, friendly service.

The Good Life is the first boat to the left of the dock.


We were warned that the bathroom facilities in the Bahamas were third world quality so were quite pleasantly surprised to find nicer facilities than we found in many state side marinas.  There were two private restrooms, each with their own shower and very clean.  One even had a beautiful display of a seashore.


The marina has a lovely salt water swimming pool…


and had just bought a pump out system – the first one on the island – and we were the inaugural pump out! Usually people take their boats out to the open water and dump their holding tanks.

First pump out ever for Green Turtle Cay!

Mike and Judy on Blue Yonder III were docked near us and we enjoyed sightseeing with them.

blue yonder

New Plymouth is the little town on the island – population around 400. 

new plymouth

You can walk, dinghy, bike, or rent a golf cart to get there.  We did all but walk – there was enough walking once you got there!

We rented this one evening to visit Lois and Glenn on Ensenel.  Golf carts are the main form of transportation on the island although there is the odd pickup truck or car.

golf cart

The bicycles we borrowed from the marina for free.  I’m still unsteady but improving.  I think this sign is understating the narrowness of the “road”.  I wouldn’t even ride the bike on it.  I got off and walked.  Bob, obviously is braver (and more steady) than I!


The town is old – settled in 1786 by Loyalists after the Revolutionary War.  The island is made up mostly of limestone and very little soil so it was difficult making a living and many returned to the states (many to the Florida Keys), moved to England, or other islands.  The remaining settlers occupations changed through the years, with a different major industry seemly for each generation.

A picture of the town circa 1850. 

1800's picture

Not much has changed – this is one of the three grocery stores – each one has about 3 aisles. Notice the lack of cars on the street – this is wide enough for two golf carts.  Many streets are wide enough for only one.


This building no longer looks inhabited but we couldn’t tell for sure.

old inn

The spit of land the town is located on is so narrow you can see water on both sides

From our right (look close and you can see the dock at the end of the street)…

street 3

to our left.

street 2

The houses were small but colorful.


Nearly all of them seemed to have chickens and a generator.  The electricity was so intermittent we weren’t too surprised.  Later we talked to a local who said surprisingly few people had generators. 

House 1

Scattered throughout the town are houses abandoned due to storm damage or just old age.

old home

The locals were very friendly.  This young man came up to talk to us while we were eating lunch and did some showing off on his bicycle for us.

local boy

This is where we were eating lunch – I told you it is a colorful area! That is Mike sitting in front, waiting for their “take away” (take out) lunch order, which he then took back to the phone company office.  He and Judy were waiting to get their Bahamian phone activated.  It is only open one day a week and because of the combination of the large influx of cruisers, plus the fact it didn’t open last week, Mike and Judy had to wait several hours to get their phone. We ate cracked conch (kind of like fried squid in taste and texture) and fries.  Another favorite local side dish is “peas and rice” – rice cooked with onions, brown sauce, and a type of pea/bean.  It didn’t excite me but its OK.


While we were eating at the picnic table (under cover thankfully) a sudden storm kicked up!  We enjoyed watching the rain pelt down and the palm trees blow.

rain storm


Some restaurants offer beach seating!

service on the beach

One of my favorite places to visit in nearly every place we go is the cemetery (are my children surprised?). Green Turtle’s cemetery was no exception. It is located on a bluff above the water – exquisite!


The comparison from old to new is striking.  Notice the deteriorating grave in the the background.  Some still had plain wooden crosses.  I dearly hope there is a record some where! 


One of the more recent graves shows the love of a life at sea.

grave 2

“Ye Olde Gaol” – steps up to the roof for????


We haven’t found any good beaches for shells yet but there is evidence that they are here.

A pile of discarded conch (pronounced “konk”).


Conch shells are used to line gardens, driveways, and to decorate walls!

conch 2

Other unique decorations adorn some trees.


All the islands in the Bahamas are comparatively narrow with the open Atlantic on the east side and the more protected waters to the west.  It’s fun to go watch the waves on the east side.


As I noted before, the grocery stores here are small.  They are also quite expensive due to the combination of limited farming capacity and the difficulty of getting the supplies to the islands. This is the delivery dock where the ships can deliver goods to the island.  Note the new refrigerators ready to be picked up by their new owners.

delivery dock

One local farmer has begun a new venture providing fresh greens to the community.  It is a single pass drip irrigation system.  He opens it twice a week to the public when you go in a “pick your own”. He charges by the pound and offers a selection of lettuces, a few cherry tomatoes, bok choy, and a few herbs.  He also brings in special items such as coconuts once in a while.  It is so nice to eat a salad again!


Most cruisers have their own mode of transportation to and from their boat. The majority have a dinghy of some variety to get back and forth.  This one is especially colorful as well as memorable.  The parent boat is “Dalmatian” (the captain was a fireman).

Boat name is Dalmatian

This lovely little family is from Maine, cruising with their three young sons, coming into town in their inflatable Kayak.  They use my favorite form of homeschooling where the world becomes your classroom! They were studying water currents today.


The locals use the ferry system to and from work.  Cruisers also use the ferry for short hops to another part of the island or a neighboring island. These little boats whip in and out of the dock at amazing speed.


We loved staying at Green Turtle but new horizons await, so when the winds calm down, we move on.  Blue Yonder will join us at Hope Town but meanwhile takes pictures of us as we leave them behind for a few days.

Leaving Leeward Yacht Club

Docked at Leeward Yacht Club, Green Turtle Cay, Bahamas – 2/18-2/24/18 with Blue Yonder III