Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thursday, March 6, 2014 Let the Winds Begin!

We woke up to a cloudy morning so we all thought it would be a good day  to  explore the Settlement. Eileen went up to the office to see about using the free bikes.  Since the temperatures were still cool and a bit drizzly, Eileen, Billy, and Bobby decided to ride into the Settlement to check things out.  Rita and I didn't want to ride the bikes in the rain so we went to the office to see if they have a courtesy car that we could use....better yet...they had a van with a driver.  We set a time for 10 am and Tarran was
waiting for us at the front of the office....Keith, David, Rita, Chuck, and I.  None of us knew what to expect, except for Keith.  He's been here before.   Tarran drove us into the settlement on the road that runs beside the water....Little Bahama Banks or the flats.  He acted as our tour guide, pointing out the police department, various churches and bars. He stopped at the 2 convenience stores just to let us check them out before we decided on which one to do our grocery shopping.  There really isn't much to the Settlement....dilapidated buildings, people standing or sitting along the road, a lot of
potcakes(homeless dogs)...a very depressed area.  It didn't take us long to get from one end of the Settlement to the other.  Tarran took us to the packaging store, Butler &Sands,  and then back to the D & V Convenience
store.  When we got done shopping, Eileen and crew were outside on their bikes.  Eileen was in desperate need of a ride back.  The sun came out and she was looking very overheated.   Tarran was able to fit her bike in the back of the van and Eileen was able to cool down before we were delivered right to our dock.  We made arrangements for him to take us back into town at 1:00 to eat lunch at the Coffee on the Bay Sports Bar and Grill.  Tarran recommended this eatery and said it has the best food in the Settlement.   We'll see!!

Before we took off for lunch, Chuck and I were able to take a walk around the resort and along the beach!

Fishing with hand lines
Shells for sell!

The gang

The food was very good and very inexpensive!  The beer drinkers in our group loved Coffee on the Bay because after paying $5-$6 for a bottle of Kalik or Sands beer everywhere in the Abacos, they cost only $3 a bottle here.
Outside deck of Coffee by the Bay

After lunch we  decided to walk to the Triple Play Sports Bar and Grill to visit with Douglas, the bartender and owner. With all the poverty in this area of the island, everyone we met was very friendly and generous.  A good example  is when Douglass, the bartender from this Sports Bar and Grill, drove us back to the marina in his SUV when we couldn't get Tarran on the cell phone.   He left his bar wide open and unattended saying that 'there are no thieves in the Settlement'!
cleaning a barracuda

a little bit of beauty in this poverty stricken Settlement

Let the winds begin!!
We got back to our boats just in time.  Dark clouds were moving in quickly from the southwest.  The edge of the front was definitely bringing rain as well as heavy winds.  We all stood on the dock and watched the clouds...I'm so thankful we're at a dock!   All of a sudden a funnel started to form and drop out of the clouds....a water spout was forming but luckily it soon dissipated.  Billy warned me not to get too far away from my boat.  All of a sudden the winds slammed us with 35-40 mph winds and the rains came with some small hail right at the start.  Chuck jumped on the boat but the winds had us pushed so far away from the dock, I couldn't get on HHII.  With the force of the winds, he couldn't pull our boat in close to the dock.   I could hear Chuck zippering our panel, leaving me to fend for myself...what's with this?  Billy told me to get inside Circe with Eileen.  Actually Billy told me to get on his boat before Chuck did his zippering because the winds had his boat jammed up next to our dock and it was an easy on!  By the time we got  below deck, Eileen and I  were both soaking wet.  Not only were we dripping water onto the floor from our clothes and our hair, but there was a river of water running along the floor from their keel stepped mast!   Once Billy came below deck, he decided it was time to have a drink celebrating this 'so wester'.  LOL.    As soon as there was a lull in the wind and rain, I thought I better high-tail it over to my boat.  It was a good thing because even though the rains were finished, the winds continued to blow like a banshee through the night and there was no way that I could get on or off our boat.

Around 7:30, we could hear people talking on the dock.  When we popped our heads out, we could see a rather large yacht circling in the outer basin.  I was worried for the people on the boat and concerned that the captain would try to hover there all night long.  The 78 foot Lazarra had crossed over from Florida earlier today and motored around one storm but couldn't outrun this weather!  Finally, the captain(not the owner) and one crew member(his wife) motored in to the face dock at the end of our dock. The guys all went to help with the lines.  Later we found out from the capt. that one of the entrance lights was missing.  It was bad enough entering the channel during the day with 4 foot  swells in the ocean.  I can't imagine the stress coming in after dark, one entrance light out, and the waves, current, and winds working against your boat!!  Yikes...and this was just the beginning for the wild night.

The Lazarra Yacht
Since most of us on our docks went into our boats after all of the excitement with the Yacht, we didn't find out about the 2 sailboats that entered around 10-11:00 pm. After talking to the people on these sailboats, we found out the first to arrive was a 44 foot Swam  owned by Brian, a solo sailor.  He came into the basin and anchored only to soon drag anchor because of the force of the wind.  He told me that this was the first time that his 8 foot keel worked in his favor.  He got grounded in the sand just within feet of the rocky jetty.  The other sailboat that came in about an hour later had two young couples aboard.  They were in a 35' Camper-Nicholson.  They too anchored but when they started to drag, they started their engine and their tow line to their inflatable catamaran wrapped around their propeller.  All the while their boat kept being pushed closer to the rocks.  The four of them jumped out of their boat. While 3 of them fended the sailboat off the rocks, the captain dove under the water to cut the tow rope off  their prop.  They then somehow carried the catarmaran up onto the land....their adrenaline must have been in overdrive....big time!  They then managed to motor to another available face dock but where having difficulty pushing the boat away from the dock to place their fenders.  This is how strong the winds were blowing....and the winds continued with the same force throughout the night and into the next day.....I'm so glad we stayed in Old Bahama Bay Marina and didn't take off for the states  this morning.......

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