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Old 14-11-2009, 11:18   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Currently on the boat, somewhere on the ocean, living the dream
Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
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Last Guests this Year - Abacos, October 27-31, 2009

Last Guests this year - Abacos, October 27-31, 2009

We left you comfortably anchored off Russell Baldwin Rock, in the middle
south of the Abacos chain, having just had a wonderful snorkeling
experience, good food and good company.

Following another restful night aboard, Tuesday October 27, we were off
again, heading to Great Guana's Settlement Harbour, just a couple of miles
up the road, in 12-17 knot SSE winds, a downwind run. By 2:30, we'd
arrived, and despite another boat having anchored there, the great majority
of the harbor was either too shallow for us or had moorings in the way, and,
worse, about the only viable place on the chart for us to anchor was right
where the other boat had thrown their hook.

However, Dive Guana has many moorings in the area, and the guide books we
had said they were only $10 a night, so we hailed them on the VHF. Oops,
they can't promise clear water with our depth, but they had many more of
suitable depth just up the island, in the next cove. We had to make a wide
sweep to miss the rocks and reef between Settlement Harbour and Fishers Bay,
but by 4PM we'd secured our (now $15) mooring. Having heard from many
sources that one mustn't miss the experience of Nipper's, and having read in
several of the promo pieces and guide books we had aboard that they had a
"NipMobile" which would ferry us from our dock to them, we again picked up
the VHF.

Oops, while they DO have a NipMobile, they couldn't find their driver. So,
we asked how to hoof it there, and whle we were getting ready, what should
appear at the end of the street abutting the dock and launch ramp, but the
NipMobile, which hailed us, and, as soon as we'd landed our dinghy, took us
straightaway to the celebrated drinkery/eatery. Sure enough, the view was
fantastic, and since we'd also been encouraged sufficiently, despite knowing
that it would hit us in our wallet's solar plexus, we elected for dinner
there. Oops - dinner menu's not available until 6, and it's only 5. Well,
OK, we'll wander in the gift shop, and buy some playing cards, which,
surprisingly, we hadn't had on board, and chat up the clerk. Then we'll
have an appetizer and drinks while we wait. In the end, they pushed it up a
bit, and we were served, let alone allowed to order, before 6 PM.

True to the reports, it was expensive, but not particularly more than usual
in the Bahamas, and dinner was delicious. The frozen "Nipper" was
delicious, more, even than the Goombay Smash (which inventor's place we'd
visited in Green Turtle Cay), too. However, just before dinner was served,
we started experiencing no-see-ums, and moved from their deck to the inside
dining room. We splurged with a Key Lime pie for dessert, and, stuffed,
waddled out to find a ride home. Albury (the NipMobile driver) had
disappeared again, but our clerk was just getting off, and volunteered a
ride in her golf cart, which we accepted. Along the way, we chatted her up
about the sea conditions expected; she said just give her a call, and she'd
let us know. Promising to do so, we were shortly back home aboard, and
piled into bed.

Having gotten a view of the beach and the expected reef, on Wednesday,
October 28th, we, as encouraged, called our driver from last night to
inquire about the surf conditons - they looked ideal for snorkeling. So, we
hailed the NipMobile in the late morning, and got a ride over for snorkeling
and beachwalking. Michael and I went out in relatively calm seas, and
flippered our way across a rocky shelf right in front of thebeach. From up
high on the dunes at Nippers, it looked as though the reef was way offshore,
a surprise to us as the guidebooks had made it sound like it was right off
the beach. However, what we saw immediately on the way out looked totally
gray, and mostly devoid of any life, let alone interesting fish, so we
assumed that must just be a rock ledge, and continued on for a very long
way. For probably at least 30 or 45 minutes, we swam, seeing nothing other
than sandy bottom. The water was totally clear, though, so, after we
concluded either that the reefs were very much further out than we were
interested in swimmng to, or, instead, that rock shelf we went right over, I
decided to see how deep it was.

With Michael hovering off to the side, to judge from my body lengths, I
hyperventilated and, wearing my almost-neutral-bouyancy weights, headed
down. Getting down with the weights, especially as my lungs collapsed from
the pressure (though I wasn't uncomfortable due to my pressurizing my ears
on the way), further reducing me to negative bouyancy, was relatively quick.
However, the swim out had tired me, and I didn't have my usual capacity, so
the way up was a bit more exciting, having to overcome my weights and the
lack of lung-volume bouyancy. In short order, my lungs were bursting, but I
didn't dare let any out because I didn't want to give up any of the
bouyancy, and I didn't really have a clear idea of how far I still had to go
:{)) Had I known, I'd have gone down to my feet, rather than my hands, and
pushed off from the bottom! In any event, of course, since you're reading
this, in due time I surfaced and blew out my snorkel. Based on my body and
flipper length multiples, Michael estimated 35-40 feet. While I was never
truly anxious, it sure seemed shorter going down than UP!

Well, even if there were reefs to explore further out, neither of us had air
supplies, so rather than face having to deep dive for brief periods of time,
even if we found the elusive reef, we headed in. Faced with our realities so
far, we concluded that what we'd passed over was, indeed, the vaunted reefs
of Nippers. So, we went exploring up and down the rock. Hm. Well, at least
there are SOME fish here, and the occasional piece of coral. However, given
our experience only yesterday, this was a huge disappointment. Still, it was
interesting enough for us to spend perhaps another hour in the water, with
many disappearances underneath for photo sessions with the wildlife we did

By the time we made it back up the stairs to the bar and restaurant decks,
we were the subject of much conversation in a group of tourists who'd hired
a guide to go snorkeling. They wanted to know how we "could possibly do it."
Do What? "Dive so much and stay down so long??" We passed it off as
nothing, to their amazement. However, on the way out, we got to chatting up
a guy who was waiting for his wife. He doesn't even yet know how to use a
snorkel, and the wife was pretty new at it. Despite the very calm
conditions, as well, they'd felt it too rough to go out, and so hadn't even
ventured into the water. So, to them, we supposed, we must have looked

Finding a ride home proved that Albury had again gone missing, and our
hostess of the prior evening, of course, was still in the shop, so we
walked, somewhat self-consciously, in our bathing suits, the 3/4 mile or so
back to the boat. Bahamians are very proper folks, and appearance in
general public in bathing attire is frowned upon, so we were pleased that we
encountered very few people along the way. By 5:15, we were off our mooring
and headed to the south end of the island where we expected, from the
guidebooks and charts, to find another great snorkeling spot surrounding a
tiny rock above Scotland Cay.

In short order, we had the hook down in a very nice anchorage. Michael and I
headed out to the little rock nearby, to check it out. The best we could
tell, there was nothing but grass in our circumavigation of the rock, but on
the East side, we spied a little camp with a pirate flag on a pole. On the
West side, there was a tiny beach leading up to it, so we got out to
explore. Someone had made a lovely path, lining it with empty conch shells,
and we marveled at the effort needed to get the full-sized picnic table in
there, along with what we've come to expect of the other associated gear
such as a portable barbeque and some chairs. Back to the boat we go,
disappointed, delivering the bad news to the ladies. We figured that the
chart must have thought that eternally calm water (extremely well protected
from all sides in there) would mean that those such as the folks we met at
Nippers would enjoy paddling around in the very shallow, very clear water.

Thursday, October 29th dawned, and we were shortly joined by a boat from a
nearby home who told us of many submerged cars just off another dock, making
a great artificial reef. He also invited us to his home for showers, if
we'd like, and after we'd thanked him profusely for the information and the
invite, he headed off for home while we prepared to up-anchor and head on
down to the actual Fowl Cay reefs. By 9:45, in very light winds, we were
off, and had the hook out in another nice anchorage by 10:15. WOW!!! It
took some motoring around, initially, in the dinghy, looking for reefs under
us. We were initially concerned that there wasn't going to be anythng we
could see or anchor nearby to, but then we noticed, much further out, and inside the surf line (wouldn't want to try to snorkel THAT in these conditions, but, likely, that, too, was a big reef) what looked like people fishing, not moving. Wait!! Those are mooring balls. Let's go have a look. Sure enough, these were all balls for the many reefs out there. As stunning as the reefs off the Rock just south of there were, these were simply amazing. Better yet, having mooring balls and frequent visitors, these fish were more interested in our rice offerings, and we were surrounded by all imaginable fish. Included were an entire school of dark blue fish, some barracuda, many tiny but very colorful fish, and enormous variety of
corals - brain, tower, fan, mushroom, you name it.

If it weren't for the fact that we'd eventually gotten chilled, we could
have spent the entire day there. Much imbedded video in the underwater
camera, along with copious photos, of us underwater, some including
reflecting views of the surface overhead, and all the flora and fauna of the
single reef we were mooring-balled near, ensued. We'll definitely return and
explore some of the other reefs marked by the many other moorings, as it's
definitely worth the chill. Likely, next time, we'll wear our wetsuits so
we can stay longer!

However, there were another couple of things we wanted to show our guests,
so by 1:45 we were under way again, this time to nearby Hopetown, for the
marvelous architecture, the lighthouse, and the grocery store. We again
anchored off, this time a bit closer, though, due to the settled weather,
and dinghied into town. We headed first to the dock across from the
grocery, as it's closer if we turned out to be laden, and, as we were
docking, encountered yet another Albury, this time the owner of the fish
market, who was just returning from a fishing trip with his already-cleaned
catch. We bought nearly 4 pounds of Wahoo from him and stashed it in our
dinghy before we went ashore.

As we'd been here already, we sort of acted as tour guides, and did the town
tour. Between this and our last time, several trees had flowered, so that,
and some of the local wildlife, served as photo subjects for Fish, a
microbiologist. We stopped into the grocery, intending to buy our loaf of
bread and some eggs. However, unlike Marsh Harbour, the eggs were
exhorbitant, being only Eggland's Best or Certified Organic, so we settled
for a single dozen. Happily, however, they'd replenished the lemon juice,
the staple in Lydia's lemonade, and we bought 15 more bottles. This time,
the clerk was even more generous than the previous one, trying initially to
give us a case (12) price, but the machine wouldn't compute it. So,
instead, he gave us 18% on all of them. We also got several other items,
and Michael and I splurged on an ice cream bar, each. Fully loaded, but
only a few feet from the dock, we loaded up the dinghy and set out for the

While I was mostly interested in the "works" in my visit, Michael and Fish
have a much more photographic eye, and brought back several very interesting
pictures of the interior, including some looking down on the entirety of the
spiral staircase leading to the top. Thus sated, we again fired up the
dinghy and returned to our home for a delicious, marinated, grilled, Wahoo

Friday, October 30 we sailed off our anchor at noon, bidding a fond farewell
to the little islands we'd visited. The wind was ideal, providing an initial
beam reach in benign seas with moderate speed. We made our turn at Point
Set, moving to a downwind, wing-and-wing configuration at 1PM, and, as the
wind shifted, conveniently, turned, again, downwind on our final leg into
the channel for Marsh Harbour. Having seen the satellite views of where we
were before (through the SPOT locator program pages), and having yet another
look at all the charts and guidebooks and chartplotter and computer's nav
programs, we decided that we could indeed anchor closer in than we'd been
before. Calculating the tides and the related depths, we set the hook in
about 8' of low-tide water at 2:15, directly opposite the Union Jack public

Following another delicious Wahoo dinner, we set in for a game of Hearts,
with our guests soundly trouncing us, before finally retiring for the

Saturday, Halloween Day, before we had to deliver Michael and Fish to the
dock for Fabian, Taxi 129, to give them a ride to the airport, we had a
debriefing on what had gone well, what could have been better, and how to
make future guests and us happiest about the experiences when it was over.
Generally speaking, this was a wonderful visit, but there were some things
we were able to learn from their perspectives, along with some of our our
expectations which we may not have adequately exposed, which will go into a
future "FAQ (frequently asked questions) for Potential Flying Pig Visitors."
In the end, both of us are looking forward to the next time, most likely in
another exotic location.

Having delivered them to the dock, we repaired to Flying Pig for some
downtime before returning to shore for yet more provisioning and some leg
stretching. We met many children who were clearly keyed up with
anticipation for their trick-or-treating later this evening, a delight to
see, as they told us of their costumes and where they were going. Having
restocked the critical items, chiefly eggs, as it's a staple in the diet
which has peeled a combined more-than 50 pounds off Lydia and me in the last
several months, we returned to our home, alone for the first time in a

As this is the last visitors we expect in the foreseeable (meaning that we
can put any dates to) future, we set about for some serious, unstructured,
relaxation. Of course, there's always the odd boat chores, and still lots
to see and do in the Abacos, but for now, we're just chillin' - so, likely,
it will be some time before the next log.

Until then, Stay Tuned :{))


Skip and Lydia, comfortably at anchor and doing nothing in particular for
the next while...

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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"There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in
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