Our first stop in our “around the world adventure” was Cat Island in the Bahamas. We arrived after a 53 hour motor sail from Marathon, FL on January 10th, 2012. It was exciting to finally drop the anchor and hit our SPOT (a device that sends out our current position and a preset message over satellite). We anchored off of Hawk’s Nest Point at the southern end of the island as we had made plans to meet up with our friends Dave and Paula on m/y Bellissimo the next day. Our friend Captain Graham, who we crewed for on the Cynthia Aguilar world record paddle board trip from Cuba to Key West, was there as well on the boat he now captains, this is their winter home. He answered our call on the VHF and came out to greet us with a big bag of fresh frozen Wahoo (see the recipe section of our blog – I made ceviche, fish tacos and prepared it as in the yellow tail snapper recipe – it was a big bag of fish!), given our luck wasn’t so great at catching any fish on the way over we were thrilled with this gift. We had to wait until the next day to check into the country and we had to pay an extra $100 due to the customs agents wanting to come aboard Beausoleil to complete the paperwork (this was a “travel fee”, even though our friend Graham brought them out to the boat). I guess we should have anchored near Smith Bay Harbor and went directly into the customs office, which is in the middle of the island, instead of heading to Hawk’s Nest Point. I had to wait on Beausoleil alone quite a long time while Jon was ashore waiting for the customs agents so I made fresh carrot cake – the customs agents each took a baggie full home.
Now that I could finally go ashore for the first time in three days, Jon and I dinghy’d into Hawk’s Nest Marina to meet up with Dave, Paula and Angel. I had made ceviche and brought that as a pre dinner snack. It was great to see our friends again and my favorite play pal Angel. We walked around the marina, watched the sun go down (again, we saw the green flash!) and watched the local fishermen feed the hungry sharks off the marina dock. (Note to self, “don’t, whatever you do, fall out of the dinghy on the way home in this channel!”). We had dinner at the Hawks’ Nest Marina, they have a beautiful big “living room” and the folks at the bar are very nice, if you are in the area have one of the local Cat Island Bahamian drinks (I think he put a little something from every bottle in the bar in this drink). After a late night toast to good friends onboard Bellissimo Jon and I safely made our way home to Beausoleil. Before we turned in we looked up at the stars, it was a beautiful night with a full moon, waters were calm and we were the only boat in the anchorage. Pretty amazing.
The next day Bellissimo and Beausoleil sailed to the New Bight anchorage. Yes, Beausoleil actually sailed, without the engine, with the main, mizzen, staysail and the jib at 6.5 – 7 knots when we had a 12 knot breeze – we were on a reach with the wind out of the East – it was awesome!
The Bight is the “down town” area of Cat Island (if you could call it that) where the police station, the Blue Bird restaurant, and the BaTelCo (phone company) are located. There is also a grocery store (actually one of the largest I have seen in the Bahamas) and a liquor store up the hill and a bit of a walk, but we didn’t have to walk – a friendly man driving a bus named Dan (from the local town council) gave us a ride and waited until we picked up what we needed at the grocery. He also brought us to the base of Mount Alvernia and the Hermitage, a must see, the biggest attraction in Cat Island. From the base we hiked up to the highest point in the Bahamas – 206 feet, this is a beautiful stone chapel/retirement home built by Father Jerome, the architect/priest, John Cecil Hawes, sent over by the Anglican Bishop to restore hurricane damaged churches in the Bahamas. Beautiful 360 degree view from the top of the hill, you can see both the Atlantic Ocean and the Exuma Sound.
After our hike we had a nice cold Kalik and a Bahamian plate of pork or chicken with peas and rice, and potato salad at the Blue Bird Cafe. Time for a nap!
We spent time in the dinghy exploring the island, the nooks and crannies and trying to find the snorkeling spots. We SUP boarded (stand up paddle) in the flat, calm waters to see what we could see. We enjoyed walking the beautiful sandy beaches and rocky shores and took our time trying to get into the relaxed way of life. It is truly a beautiful island, we felt like we were the only cruisers there.
Next stop, Staniel Cay…
(NOTE: There are more pictures of Cat Island on the “Photo Gallery” page of our blog)