After spending nearly two weeks enjoying the Jumentos from Water Cay to Johnson Cay, we sailed about 15 miles south on Saturday morning, April 11th, to Hog Cay and Duncan Town for Easter.
Hog Cay is just another small island with long beautiful beaches, a thick cover of palm and other trees and shrubs, and good protection from the east and southeast, long enough from north to south to block the swells, and located just 4 miles from Duncan Town, the only settlement in the Jumentos. Duncan Town has only 75 residents, although a flagpole we found in town with a plaque dating from January 1, 2000 noted 121 residents, so the population has declined significantly in this decade. However, it also has three churches (sounds like a good west Texas town, sparsely populated but churches on every corner) and we were looking forward to worshiping there for Easter. Duncan Town has no anchorage close to town, which makes it a pretty unusual place for a settlement, but the islanders have cut and dug a 2 mile channel through the mangroves into a very small harbor (really just a small boat basin). When the mailboat comes, it anchors nearly 4 miles away at Hog Cay and the local residents come out in large skiffs to take on cargo and transfer it in to shore. It was a long dinghy ride from Liberty, but we made it in to Duncan Town twice.
We'd had the anchor down at Hog Cay for just an hour or so when a 12 or 14 foot fishing skiff with 4 locals in it came up to Liberty. The driver, Phil, just pulled up, cut the engine, and grabbed the side of Liberty and, after introducing himself, welcomed us to Duncan Town. The other 3 guys, Ty, Julian and Harry, were busy cleaning conch with their long knives, and they would keep cleaning conch (with an occasional pause to sip beer or acknowledge one of Phil's comments) for the next 45 minutes. Phil eventually tied their skiff to Liberty and asked for a fender to put between the boats, and we visited for a while. He told us all about the area, answered questions, and generally made us feel quite welcome. When our visit wound to a close they took off, having not asked us for anything (they had their own cold beers) or offered anything, other than company and visiting. This was a good welcome to an extremely friendly town. When they first pulled up - four big black guys in a rough looking boat, wielding large sharp knives - well, Dave will admit he had a bit of nervousness to overcome, and he's glad he did. Later in town we ran into Phil, who asked us if we'd enjoy a cold beer, and 30 minutes later he pulls up in his golf cart and hands over a couple of cold bottles of Kalik, the local Bahamian brew. We also saw Ty and Julian at their mother Maxine's store, and we picked up a couple of things and also 5 gallons of gasoline (sold to us from their private stock, as there is no fuel station at Duncan Town). We also saw Harry walking around town, and since half the town's residents had gone to Nassau for the Easter holiday, it was nice to know over 10% of the locals before ever getting out of our dinghy at the dock!
Easter Sunday morning Nancy baked a double batch of chocolate chip cookies, and we had a nice breakfast before jumping in the dinghy for the 20 minute ride in to Duncan Town through the mangrove channel. In town we quickly learned that Easter services were to be held at the Church of God - Prophecy. There are two other churches in town, Anglican and Baptist, and we'd been told that church rotates each week among the three churches. Easter week it was the Church of God's turn, so that's where we worshiped. There were about 20 of us in the small wooden church building, mostly women and children. The loud music playing on the electronic keyboard to welcome us before the service began was a collection of camp tunes - "Oh my darling, Clementine," "Yankee Doodle," "Do your ears hang low?," "Hey Jude," and other similar tunes. Once the service began, we sang all the songs a capella, quite loud. Church of God services are marked with frequent "Amens" from the parishioners, and much exhortation from the pastor. One of the most different aspects of the service was when we were all invited to pray, simultaneously, out loud (some louder than others), as each individual wanted to pray. Needless to say, this is not your typical Lutheran or liturgical service. At one point, the pastor asked the congregation if anyone wanted to stand
A cold front was predicted for later in the week, and since the Jumentos don't offer any good protection from fronts (with their winds clocking southwest to west to northwest to north to northeast), we decided to head for the protection of Thompson Bay on Long Island (about 100 miles away). On Tuesday we listened to Chris Parker weather on the SSB at 6:30 am, then raised anchor and sailed out of the anchorage. We had the engine off minutes after the anchor was up, and sailed 55 miles to Water Cay in just 8 and a half hours, averaging nearly 7 knots. We anchored in the same spot we'd been in 2 weeks before, and relaxed for the evening without dropping the dinghy.
There is a small, nice resort at Salt Pond that caters to cruisers, Long Island Breeze. Come on in, have a beer and enjoy some internet, while hanging out with fellow cruisers and the friendly proprietors. We stayed 4 days, got a month's worth of laundry done, refueled the boat, splashed in the fresh water pool, visited with other cruisers and cruising kids, and enjoyed a couple of really nice meals at Long Island Breeze - one pizza night with kid boats Miakoda and Happy Camper, and dinner the next evening with friends from Nauti-Nauti (and celebrating Dave's 46th birthday too). On Dave's actual birthday, Monday the 20th, Nancy baked brownies and bought 2 pints of ice cream (forget the cost - quite high - and just think about trying to keep them frozen in a boat freezer - not easy!). That evening we played cards and enjoyed brownies and slightly melted, or maybe slightly frozen, ice cream - for dinner! It was a great birthday.
Tuesday, April 21st, we raised anchor early again, just after the 6:30 weather, and set sail for George Town, heading for Family Island Regatta.
around town, sharing more cookies and visiting with people, and stopped at the local bonefishing lodge to hook up to their internet signal for a few minutes. Back at Liberty we enjoyed time on the huge beach and relaxed. On Monday, we stayed anchored at Hog Cay, hanging out with our friends on Tauá on board and later that evening preparing for a long sail back north.
and speak. With some urging, several of the matrons rose and gave mini-sermons, or spoke whatever was on their minds or in their hearts, and the pastor looked several times in Dave's direction when asking if anyone else wanted to share a thought. Finally, he turned right to Dave and asked if our visitors wanted to address the congregation. Dave may be a little slow on the uptake sometimes, but he got the message, got religion, and rose to give a semi-eloquent and very heartfelt "thank you" for welcoming us to worship with them to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. After the service ended we broke out a big bag of Nancy's almost-still warm chocolate chip cookies to share, and folks seemed quite appreciative. At least one young boy, and one quite old grandmother, quietly asked for seconds. Later,we walked
We were not sure whether we'd sail on to Long Island the next day or enjoy the day and sail on Thursday, but by 6:45 am on Wednesday (after listening to the weather forecast) we'd decided to raise the anchor and sail. Once again we had the engine off minutes after the anchor was up, and we had to turn it on to motorsail for a little under an hour when we were pointed close to the wind in a shallow channel. Our trip to Salt Pond in Long Island (near Thompson Bay where we anchored back in January for our short trip to Long Island) was wonderful again, two great days of sailing in a row. We covered the 42 miles in just about six and a
half hours, again averaging between 6 and 7 knots. We did have at least one exciting moment - when we decided to raise our mizzen spinnaker. We had watched the winds hover at 8 to 10 knots, behind the beam, with the occasional gust to 11 or 12 knots, for close to an hour while we discussed raising the mizzen spinnaker. Finally, when the winds settled to under 10 knots, we brought it up and rigged it. We were sailing with a catamaran (Nauti-Nauti) and another ketch, and Nauti-Nauti was also pulling out their spinnaker. Well, as soon as we raised it, within 3 or 4 minutes, the winds piped up fast - Liberty was making 8 knots, rail in the water and heeled so far we thought the rig was coming down, and we were all working as a team to get the spinnaker pulled down. Chris on the helm shouted out that he had seen 16 knots of wind and we were making 8.5 knots boatspeed! Hauling down the sail, then hauling it partially out of the water, was a real job, but we got it done and for the rest of the day the wind stayed between 15 and 20 knots!
Welcome to Duncan Town, Ragged Island
The mailboat brings food, supplies and fuel
A typical house in Duncan Town
The only way to Duncan Town
is through the channel in the
middle of this photo
Zooming up the narrow, shallow channel in our dinghy
Church of God
Nancy & Dave w/ Peter & Monika from Tauá
Chris found a thorny sea star
This fiddler crab greeted
us on the beach
Chris & Josh w/ Claudia & Monika fromTauá
Sunset over Water Cay, Jumentos
Dinner with Alan & Patricia from Nauti-Nauti at the
Long Island Breeze