10 January, 2009

The Glass Window

Location: The Glass Window, Eleuthera
Position: N25 25.759 W076 36.142

We leave the Abacos at 2:30am on Friday January 9th bound for Royal Island just north of Eleuthera with a nearly full moon as our “third crew member”. A northeasterly wind blows us about 50 miles south and we arrive at Royal Island at 1:00 pm on the same day. Our friends on Barefootin’ and Diva arrive later in the afternoon having delayed their departures until dawn.

In company with Barefootin’ and Diva, we leave Royal Island on the 10th. The challenge of the day is to negotiate Current Cut at the north end of Eleuthera. It’s a narrow cut with a vicious current – hence the name. After going through the actual cut, we have to negotiate a 100 degree turn to starboard, close but not too close to the rocks, and avoid being pushed by the current onto the shoal to port. Or, to paraphrase Jimmy Buffet, “Shoals on the left, rocks on the right, and you’re the only boat in town.”

Last year when we came north we went through Current Cut about 1.5 hours after high tide in Nassau – that’s the closest tide station we had – and saw less than a knot of current. So we time it the same today. Another boat makes it through about a half hour ahead of us and sees 3 knots. By the time we get there it’s down to less than a knot and we make it through with no excitement, thank goodness.

Our destination today is The Glass Window. The island of Eleuthera squeezes down to a narrow, rocky waist about two thirds of the way up its length. There used to be a natural bridge at this point that was captured by American painter Winslow Homer. In 1872 an enormous wave washed away several couples who were picnicking there. The 85’ high natural span was subsequently washed away during a hurricane in 1926. A bridge was built across the opening in 1960. Then on Halloween Day, 1991, a rage spawned a huge rogue wave that knocked the northern end of the bridge 7 feet to the west. It has since been repaired by closing opposite lanes at each end of the bridge allowing traffic to pass via a single lane that runs catty-corner from one side of the bridge to the other. In March of 1996 two people were washed off the bridge by another wave – by some miracle one of them survived.

On top of the bridge looking out to the East we see the rich, deep blue of the Atlantic Ocean. To the West, the various shades of emerald and turquoise of the Bight of Eleuthera provide a stunning contrast. We’re way above the water – the wave that reached up here and slapped the bridge around must have been absolutely monstrous. We stand in awe of the forces Mother Nature can bring to bear and hope we never see a wave that size – at least not from the vantage point of our Rachel.

That evening we had a happy hour and bonfire on the beach with 4 other couples and a beautiful sunset. Life doesn’t get much better.


03 January, 2009

How many people will fit into Rachel's cockpit

Location: Great Guana Cay

Q: How many people will fit into Rachel's cockpit?

A: 12

02 January, 2009


Location: Green Turtle Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
Position: N26 45.780 W077 20.086

We have been in the Green Turtle Cay/Manjack Cay area for almost two weeks along with several friends we met last year. Our time has been spent attending a cruisers pot luck Christmas dinner on the lawn behind Brendal’s Dive Centre along with about 70 other cruisers; enjoying many long walks on the beaches and through the town; taking advantage of the free wifi offered at Manjack Cay, which gave us the opportunity to call family over the holidays; and attending several happy hour gatherings on the beach and on various boats.

The main reason for staying in the Abacos for so long was so we could attend the Junkanoo on New Years Day. Junkanoo is a street parade with music, costumes, dancing, drumming, cow bells, and various other noisemakers!! We had heard it was great fun and a real Bahamian tradition. Yesterday, New Years Day, we all dinghied into town around noon. The ferry boats that run back and forth to the main island, Great Abaco Island, were working overtime bringing spectators to see the parade. All over the town of New Plymouth booths were set up selling the local fare; conch fritters, conch salad, conch burgers, peas & rice, macaroni & cheese, chicken, ribs, all variety of homemade sweets and any rum drink you could possibly want. We spent the time before the Junkanoo started wandering between the stalls trying this and that and comparing notes with each other on which stall had the best food.

Finally at around 2:30 we could hear a big commotion. A long string of fire crackers popped and the parade started. The first participants were the 3 local police officers clearing a path followed by 2 girls holding a big banner decorated “Lil’ Island Slammers”. All ages of girls followed from maybe 6 to 16 in colourful costumes strutting their stuff in time to the music. They were followed by adult women also in costumes that included large frames fitted over their shoulders and reaching maybe 10 feet high, faces were painted with an exotic flair. At one point one of the ladies lost her balance and fell. The costume was so heavy 2 or 3 people had to rush over to help her back onto her feet to continue on.

The next wave was the musicians, all male ranging from age 4 to 60, the main instruments of all size and variety being the drums, cowbells, and horns. The beat was thrilling! Spectators were encouraged to bring their own noise makers - we had saved food tins and filled them with nuts and bolts. As the musicians passed by we got caught up in the beat and found ourselves moving to the beat and shaking our cans (both kinds ).

The parade was fairly short, it’s just a small community after all, so after it had passed we ducked around to the next block and waited for it to pass again. We watched it from the other side this time. After it passed we continued following side streets so we could pass it and get another viewing. We managed to see it a total of seven times before it finished. During each viewing we saw different things, different painted faces, pieces of costume, cute little children, tiring as time went on. What great fun. We can imagine that the BIG Junkanoo parade in Nassau is much more spectacular and longer but we loved this small town version and were so glad that we got to watch and participate. What a great way to start our 2009. The thing that really impressed us was that this was not a big commercial tourist event; there were no T-shirts, no balloon and cotton candy vendors. This was an event by and for the local townspeople - we were welcome to watch and enjoy, no strings attached, but the focus was entirely local.

Happy New Year

Mark & Julie
s/v Rachel

http://svrachel.blogspot.com pictures on the blog.
For more info on Junkanoo see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/