Shore Leave – Staniel and Black Point

After those first few amazing days at Staniel, we started getting both lazy and into a routine – hang out on the boat and maybe dinghy into the yacht club and have food and drink there, or wander down to Big Dog which had a very locals vibe to it. We were happy as clams. Until the morning when Brian ran the generator and realized it wasn’t charging our batteries.

A few texts and emails (on a Sunday, no less) to the wonderful and amazing Pete Lunde from Lunbar Marine in Annapolis, and we figured out it was bad news – the control panel on our inverter/charger (which takes the power from the generator and feeds the batteries) was likely shot. This means we can only charge our house batteries by running our port engine, or by using the wind generator and solar panels (which, while great, aren’t powerful enough to give us a full charge). We know there are probably a few things we can do to still use the generator to charge the batteries, but those will have to wait until Georgetown, and a repair or replacement of the inverter/charger will wait until we’re back in the States in May.

If that wasn’t bad enough, when we got back to the boat that evening, we realized the keels were hitting the bottom. Seems that while the anchor was holding well, we’d drifted around a bit into a shallow area. We weren’t entirely sure if we were hurting the boat but we thought it was likely fine, as the bottom there was all soft sand. It was the noise and vibration, coupled with the inverter issue, that had both of us upset and frustrated, and we figured it was time to move on.

The next day we had to wait until late afternoon to get into the fuel dock for diesel and water, so we decided that Tuesday would be a good day to move on to Black Point, an 11 mile trip south.

Boy, did Black Point turn our frowns upside down! This is a town on Great Guana Cay whose main purpose is to cater to cruisers. There are no resorts or swimming pigs, but there is a legendary laundromat (very few and far between in the Bahamas), and a fantastic cruiser’s happy hour at Scorpio’s Bar with some of the best food we’ve had so far. That first night as the evening wore on and the Kaliks and rum punches flowed, the dancing started. We are decidedly not dancers, Brian especially, but he even got out on the floor for a song or two – it was pretty hilarious.

After a fun and relatively late night, we decided to spend Wednesday swimming off the boat. That was another downside to Staniel – the current in the anchorage was so strong that you really couldn’t swim for fear of drifting off. Black Point? Not a problem, no current! Happy as clams again…until about 3 AM on Thursday.

The forecast we get from Chris Parker didn’t indicate any rough weather coming, but it seems he may have got it wrong. In the wee hours of Thursday the wind shifted out of the west and started HOWLING. And the waves were BIG. And it didn’t let up for TWO DAYS. And the anchorage is completely open to the west.

If there’s one complaint I have about boat living, it’s being stuck on the boat at anchor or on a mooring in rough weather. The boat is constantly bobbing up and down and it’s hard to get anything done or escape to land, as a) you feel seasick, b) you’re falling all over the place and c) it’s too dangerous to dinghy to shore. Not to mention that we ran out of beer and cigarettes by Thursday morning (hey, we have two weeks of smoking left, I want to take advantage of it!). We were pretty darn grumpy.

Finally at midday Friday I told Brian there might be bloodshed if we didn’t get to shore. It had calmed down a tiny bit, so we went for it and made a break for shore and Scorpio’s, as did quite a few of the other folks in the anchorage. No dancing this time, just getting beers and smokes into us on non-moving land as fast as we could.

By Saturday morning the wind had started to shift out of the north a little, and it looked like if we moved over to the other side of the anchorage, we might have a little less wave action battering us, so we moved over and got a little relief. By this point I had decided that I would go crazy unless I got at least one or two loads of laundry done.

Rockside Laundry was pretty much exactly as advertised. Lots of washers and dryers, but best of all, SHOWERS. Keep in mind that Brian and I still haven’t unpickled our watermaker, and since water at a fuel dock is usually around $.50/gallon in this neck of the woods, we are VERY conservative about how much we use. That means few showers on the boat, and bathing usually means jumping in the water, soaping yourself up (while in a bathing suit), rinsing off in salt water, and maybe pour a cup of fresh water over your head to get the salt out of it. No one has told us we smell yet, so, whatever works. Anyway, we were ecstatic to have a chance to pay $4.00 for an 8 minute shower. Happy and clean, with clean clothes, we ran into new friends Liza and Tony from Inspiration and spent the afternoon eating some great food at Lorraine’s Cafe, followed by what is now the requisite stop at Scorpio’s.

So, while we still haven’t had much of a chance to really tour around, we are big fans of Black Point. We love how it isn’t one bit touristy, you get a great chance to meet and chat with the locals, and the scenery is just as lovely as anywhere else we’ve visited yet. We’d stay much longer, but we’re running low on cash and the next ATM isn’t until Georgetown (about 50 miles away). There could be some bad weather late next week, so once we figure out what that’s actually going to look like, we’ll decide if we head out of here before or after it hits. But we definitely want to be in Georgetown by the 10th or so in anticipation of my 40th birthday, which I believe coincides with a big Bahamian heritage and music festival. If you want to join us and have some frequent flyer miles, the airport code is GGT;-)

P.S. Sorry for lack of pics but honestly, I haven’t taken many yet!

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