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Old 11-04-2009, 06:42   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2003
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Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
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Black Point – Big Majors – March 21 – March 26, 2009

Black Point – Big Majors – March 21 – March 26, 2009

As we left you, we had just landed in Black Point. As we came through the cut, we were hard against the northern rocky shore due to the wind coming from that quarter and my preferring to be upwind in such a situation. A boat on the inside, where it’s protected (and likely the route we’ll take north, too), just then took our picture as they were going north to Staniel Cay, calling us on the VHF to tell us of a great shot they’d gotten right up against the rock. Unfortunately for us, while they had planned to return to Black Point and deliver it to us on a memory stick, they never came back, so we’ll have to wait to see what they looked like!
After we threw out the hook in about 8 feet of water, we finished the last of the Cat Island baker’s bread for breakfast, and went ashore.
The expected nasty weather arrived, but mostly without rain – just very windy. We’d also not seen any other than what turned out to be just internal networking for a couple of schools, but a couple of local establishments had wifi available for free, if you went there.
One of them is Lorraine’s, a local and area legend of a small eatery with an Internet café attached. The Internet café had more room in it than the restaurant, and was supplied, free, for donations. With several free machines, or a half-dozen ethernet cable connections, or your laptop’s wifi adapter, you were welcome to use it, kindness of the hostess and her husband, Uriah.
Lorraine’s is a cruiser gathering place, and on Monday of our week there, we had a banquet of conch fritters for appetizers, ribs, jerk chicken, grouper, rice and peas, lettuce and tomato salad, macaroni and cheese, and cole slaw. It was nominally a gathering to honor a cruising couple’s 40th wedding anniversary, so their cake was dessert the 15 of us there. Throughout our time there many cruisers (well, as many as were in the tiny harbor there) ate lunch or dinner there. On our first night, being the weekend, we found ourselves leaving the Internet café through a throng of locals. Here, as well as everywhere we’ve been in the Bahamas, the locals have been unfailingly gracious and helpful, welcoming us and other cruisers to their home islands. While this crowd was overwhelmingly young and male, they were eating but not drinking; alcoholism seems not to be a problem in the islands we’ve visited…
One example of the local graciousness and hospitality, there being no gas or diesel on the island, was Lorraine’s offer to have a local, on their way to work, fill jerry cans at Staniel Cay, just 5 miles up the line, returning them the next day. The local turned out to be Uriah, who makes the trip each day. He offered to take it to the dock in his pickup truck, where he’d loaded it from his boat, but it was out with one of their children, taking a grandchild home. Instead, he offered to bring it to the boat on his way to work the next day. Sure enough, we heard the can being placed on the platform early the next morning.
In my first visit to the café I saw a computer mouse sitting on the counter, with the cord wrapped around it. As I’d brought Lydia’s Mom’s laptop along, not knowing that there were free machines as well, to use for my catching up, I thought to use it. I discovered that the reason it was all wound up was that someone had damaged most of the pins, presumably in trying to force it into the receiver in the wrong position. Ever the tinkerer, I straightened the pins, and, sure enough, it worked on the laptop. Hallelujah! I let Lorraine know I’d fixed it, at which she smiled broadly and thanked me, and I went back to work.
While I was waiting for a page to load, I took a look around and saw, also, a couple of hard drives sitting on the other side of the flat-screen monitor next to where I was working. Hmm. Gotta be a reason for that/those! So, I asked her, and she said they seemed to be dead, which explained the non-operational monitor. I asked if she minded if I’d take a look at them, and she happily agreed.
More "cruising is" – but this time, someone else’ stuff :{)) Following up on those drives, from her answers to my troubleshooting questions, I suspected something else, so before I actually took them, I promised to do some investigating. Shortening a geeky story, I did lots of drive swapping with different computers there, without success in making either the dead machine from which they’d come work or proving their "life on a known good machine. I finally took them back to the boat where I had some utilities with which to check them out. One of them was, indeed, dead, but the other appeared fine. Unfortunately for the end of the story, the good drive would not load Windows, either from their damaged rescue disk, or my original full system. So, 4 days later, I finally admitted defeat – but, at least, she knows she’ll have to send her tower off for repair.
In the course of my troubleshooting, I repositioned her router so that the laptops in the café could see it (the way a laptop gets its Internet signal) more reliably. Along the way in our several days there, we discovered the other freebie site, a bar across the street. In the process (well, as a result of) of my router adjustments for Lorraines, we were then able to see it from our boat, and even, one day, got the other, Scorpio’s. As usual, we helped out our neighbors by allowing them to use our internal wifi distribution.
Lorraine’s Internet connection is through a Hughes satellite system, with the dish for reception planted in her front yard. One of the realities of the Hughes system, only about the level of ISDN bandwidth, is that you can’t use Skype due to the level of traffic needed to support it. We also learned that one can’t upload picture files, such as to Shutterfly, Lydia’s photo gallery of all we’re doing, as it overloads the bandwidth. The Hughes software shuts down as a precaution against a virus that is mass mailing or otherwise commandeering the bandwidth. Working through the troubleshooting screens with Lorraine showed that there was still communication with the satellite, but service wouldn’t be restored for a few minutes. So, in addition to the hand-made signs stapled to the walls cautioning against Skype, caution against large uploads is the order of the day for her Internet café. And, being a satellite, even precipitation can degrade, or lose, the signal. Still, at "free" (donations and the inevitable eating and drinking costs there aside), it’s the only game in town.
By the time we left Black Point, we’d made fast friends of Lorraine and her family. She presented us with some conch fritter batter she’d made up for us without our knowing about it in advance. We enjoyed it the very next day, aboard :{))
While there in Black Point, we also went to see the blowhole fed by a choke point in the shoreline, during one of the windier times with the waves in the right direction. We’ve got lots of pictures of it spouting and splashing, 20 feet higher than the ocean, and inland far enough that you could stand upwind with the ocean behind you, and not catch any of the spray. On the other hand, a good couple hundred feet downwind was wet from its eruptions!
Laundry, cave exploring, driftwood hunting, shelling and other jewelry-part scavenging rounded out our explorations ashore. Even the laundry is a local experience; if nobody’s there, hail them on your handheld and they’ll come and sell you the required tokens for your washer and dryer loads. This laundermat, is it’s spelled here, is widely lauded, and we agree, to be the very cleanest and neatest self-wash you’ll ever find. A book exchange here and at Lorraine’s provided us with new reading fodder, as we find ourselves devouring books at a great rate…
Many other enjoyable times and acquaintances were had while we were in Black Point, but at 3:30 in the afternoon on the 26th, we sailed off our anchor for Big Majors. We had light winds and made a broad reach to downwind sail on our first leg. With 5 knots of apparent wind on our 150* heading down wind, we were making 4.1 knots on a course of 310*, but turned the corner at our waypoint onto a beat. With apparent wind of 30*, our going upwind turned the light breeze into 15 knots as we made 4.5 knots into a course of 45*. All in all a very pleasureable sail and we had the anchor down in about 8’ of water in Big Majors by 5:15PM.
On the way in, I tested the Internet connection at sea. A couple of miles east of Harvey Cay and south of Staniel Cay, I picked up the Sampson Cay Club and Marina, again proving the worth of our system which, many times, has allowed us to be in internet wifi contact while under way. That connection persisted as we pulled into Big Majors, we are happy to report, as I got my internet fix and Lydia got to talk to her kids on VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) connections through Skype and Googlechat, in the middle of nowhere, so to speak.
As it’s getting long, we’ll leave you here, as we catch up on our internet and enjoy our dinner aboard.
Stay tuned!
Skip and crew

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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"And then again, when you sit at the helm of your little ship on a clear
night, and gaze at the countless stars overhead, and realize that you are
quite alone on a wide, wide sea, it is apt to occur to you that in the
general scheme of things you are merely an insignificant speck on the
surface of the ocean; and are not nearly so important or as self-sufficient
as you thought you were. Which is an exceedingly wholesome thought, and one
that may effect a permanent change in your deportment that will be greatly
appreciated by your friends."- James S. Pitkin
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