Another setback regarding my health necessitates a return trip home. Gary talked to Ed about the situation and it was decided we would go to Green Turtle Cay, a short distance from Angel Fish Point, to make arrangements to leave our boat and fly out of the nearby island of Treasure Cay to go back to Florida.
At Green Turtle Cay, we went through the narrow channel leading to White Sound and anchored in the more shallow water at the edge of the busy anchorage. The shallow draft on White Swan allowed us the freedom to anchor away from the crowded part of anchorage. Though some boats were having trouble getting their anchors set, our anchor caught the first time down and held tight. We have found the cost of our anchor has been well worth it. So far in our cruising, we have yet to drag.
We were disappointed to find we could not pick up an internet signal from the anchorage. Gary had to take our laptop to Bluff House Marina and while he and Ed had a drink, after Ed got the Password and Code from the bartender, Gary browsed for airlines flying from Treasure Cay to the nearest cities to our home. While Gary was on the computer, Ed talked to the harbor master about renting a mooring ball for a month. The Bluff House Marina only has boat slip rentals (good specials for day rentals but too expensive for a month) and no mooring balls. After leaving the Bluff House the guys checked out a little private dock that had a couple of mooring balls, unavailable for rent. Then they went to the other marina in the sound, Green Turtle Club & Marina, only to find they don’t rent to unattended boat owners.
Giving up on making arrangements to keep White Swan at White Sound while we go home, Gary and Ed decided tomorrow they will check out Black Sound, the next anchorage on the island.
The rest of the evening ( 5 frustrating hours) Gary worked on flight arrangements by going to Green Turtle Club and having dinner while working on the computer using the club’s internet. The internet did not offer some of the information he needed so he ended up using the club’s phone to call Continental Airlines and he finally was able to make the (expensive!!!) flight arrangements. In the meantime, I e-mailed our friends, Pat and Tom Dennis to see if they could drive to Ft. Lauderdale to pick us up at the airport. Pat’s delightful answer was, “Of course we will come to get you.”
So, that was our first day at the lovely island of Green Turtle Cay.
Ed dinghied Gary over to Black Sound to check out a place to leave White Swan. The marinas had nothing to offer, however, a referral for Donny’s Boat Rentals brought the men success. For $200 a month we can leave White Swan on a mooring ball in a very protected anchorage. Gary and Ed returned to White Sound and their respective boats with the laborious task completed, a major accomplishment.
With the stress of making the arrangements for our return trip home complete, we were able to relax and enjoy the rest of the day in the Green Turtle Cay paradise. Feeling a little better, I was able to leave the boat and we decided to rent a golf cart for four hours so we could easily tour the island with Ed and Cheryl. We used D&P Cart Rentals near the Green Turtle Club and then Gary and I rode over to Bluff House Marina, where Ed and Cheryl were staying in a rented boat slip. From there, the four of us (Molly didn’t get to go) ventured to the other side of the island via mostly dirt roads, often rutted, to New Plymouth Settlement. Needless to say, the trip itself was an experience. There are few cars on the Green Turtle Cay and most people use golf carts to travel around the small island. The dirt roads, as well as the less numerous paved roads, are wide enough for a single vehicle or two golf carts to slowly pass each other. Gary was the driver of our cart and for once he didn’t mind the back seat drivers reminding him to “stay left” as that is the side driven on in the Bahamas.
New Plymouth Settlement is the oldest settlement on Green Turtle Cay. There we found the Customs Office, the old PINK jail, a museum that was closed, a sculpture garden, three grocery stores, hardware, and numerous gift shops and restaurants. After going to a couple of the grocery stores for various sundries, Cheryl and I ventured on our own for awhile while the guys went to the Wrecking Tree restaurant for cracked conch. Cheryl and I went to the sculpture garden since we found none of the gift shops open for business. New Plymouth Settlement has picturesque small homes, some with white picket fences and gingerbread trim, and painted in traditional pastel colors that is so befitting the tropical islands. There is bougainvillea galore, adding brilliant contrasting color next to the pastel backdrops. The small town is easily walked (with good health), but the golf cart made it even easier to tour in a short time. There are also golf cart rentals as well as bicycle rentals at Government Dock at the settlement.
I don’t know why some of the towns in the Bahamas are called settlements. We first noticed the term used by Kenneth and Alvin when they took us to Port Lucaya and Freeport. When we would ride through an area where there were a number of homes and possibly a business or more, one of our guides would refer to the area as such and such settlement. At that time I thought possibly the term was used when an area was not legally a town. But after visiting New Plymouth Settlement, that is obviously not the case. So assumption leads me to believe it’s just another word for town.
After Cheryl and I reunited with our captains, we traveled down a paved road beside the waterfront, that looked like a sidewalk instead of a road. This route led us to Pineapples Bar and Grill, a hangout for many boaters who anchor in the Settlement Creek harbor, and one of Ed’s favorites.
Our next stop was Alton Lowe’s art studio at his beautiful pink with white trim home that adorns a hilltop near the New Plymouth Settlement. One of the locals had told us “if his driveway gate is open, visitors are welcome”. We were fortunate the opened gates welcomed us in to his paradisiacal treasure. He and his cousin, fourth generation white Bahamians, greeted us as we came into his lovely studio. His paintings of Bahamian scenes, people and flowers were beyond superb and we so complimented him. He told us one of the best compliments he ever received was one time a hummingbird came into the studio and kept trying to feed from one of his floral masterpieces (my word, not his). The justifiable prices of $5000 to $12,000 was a deterrent to purchase one of his original painted beauties, however, to meet the artist and view his work was priceless to us.
Safely making our way back to Bluff House Marina was a feat in and of itself. Our driver’s reward was a relaxing cold drink with Ed and Cheryl before taking the golf cart back within our allotted time.
With enough stamina left from the day’s excursion, I made homemade noodles for a chicken and noodle dinner. Our invitation was declined by Ed and Cheryl to join us, as they took advantage of the special deal they had going with their slip rental and ate at the Bluff House restaurant. Their regrets turned out to be a blessing because by the time I finished cooking, I was ready to just relax after a wonderful fun- filled day.
Today was spent preparing to go home. It rained last night and rained off and on throughout the morning, so we had to time our trip to shore to do the laundry in between the rains. Yesterday we checked out the laundry at Green Turtle Club, finding it to be very nice and clean with six washers and six dryers, so we chose to do the task there. We had heard from other cruisers that the laundries are expensive in the Bahamas and unfortunately we found out they are correct. Two loads cost us $21.25. I don’t know if it is the same everywhere in the Bahamas, but at the marinas at Green Turtle Cay, you buy tokens to run the machines. Where we did our laundry, the tokens were $4.25 each. Cheryl told me they are $4.00 at Bluff House Marina, plus the dryers there provided plenty of heat to dry the cloths in good time. We had to use another cycle to get some of our heavier items dry. Lessons learned during our Bahamian learning curve.
Gary had a lot to do to prepare the boat for our absence: he took off the screecher (sail for light air), took off the lines to the jib, locked the outboard onto the dinghy and locked the dinghy onto the boat, filled the fuel tanks, put covers on all the windows, closed thru-hulls and treated the head. I cleaned out the refrigerator, giving food to Ed and Cheryl and last minute items to Donny (Donny’s Boat Rentals), cleaned the inside of the boat and packed for our trip home.
We took a break from our chores and went to the Bluff House Marina to visit one more time with Ed, Cheryl and Molly. We found them relaxing at the swimming pool and it was a pleasure to visit with them in such a lovely setting.
Our last morning at White Sound, Green Turtle Cay was spent with final preparations to go home. Our mooring ball in Black Sound was not going to be available to us until late afternoon, so we decided to revisit New Plymouth Settlement. Gary wanted some more cracked conch at the Wrecking Tree and I wanted to take some pictures since I forgot to take my phone/camera when we went there with Ed and Cheryl.
The water was dead calm providing a perfect day to anchor in the exposed anchorage at Settlement Creek. There were a lot of boats anchored there today and as we dinghied past Pineapples Bar and Grill, it looked like most of the boaters were there enjoying the ambience of the local haunt.
A short dinghy ride to Government Dock, brought us to the life of this quaint old settlement. We walked around taking pictures and Gary got to go to the sculpture garden (he was with Ed at the restaurant when I went there with Cheryl).
A short distance from the sculpture garden is the Albert Lowe Museum and today it was open so we went in for a tour. Our lovely native docent, Mrs. Ivy Roberts, was informative and personable, and became a new friend in short order. At the end of the tour, conversation led her to ask if we were Christians, and our affirmative answer was rewarded with hugs.
Albert Lowe was the father of Alton Lowe, the local artist. Some of Alton’s painting were on display in the museum, which was in a house built in the 1800‘s. The craftsmanship of Albert Lowe was prominently displayed with large models of ships, designed and built by himself. On display were numerous historical pictures of the settlement, many taken after hurricanes ravaged the old waterfront town. A peek into the kitchen that was in a building separate from the house, common in that day, was the finale of our tour.
We bid Mrs. Roberts farewell with the hopes of seeing her again someday at her church, Miracle Church of God in New Plymouth Settlement.
We resumed our walk through the small town, taking pictures along the way to the Wrecking Tree where Gary once again enjoyed (beyond measure) a full order of cracked conch. Cracked conch is fresh conch thinly sliced, beaten until it is lacey, thereby tenderized, lightly breaded and deep fried. Gary said it was the best he’d ever eaten. The flavor is similar to calamari, but much lighter in texture. I couldn’t resist and tried a bite of it, and then I understood the look of satisfaction on Gary’s face. It was fabulous. I’m sure the Wrecking Tree will be on Gary’s list of places to revisit when we come back to New Plymouth Settlement.
On the way to the dinghy, Gary stopped at a conch salad stand on Government Dock. A gentleman, assisted by a lady, made fresh conch salad while we watched. He kept his fresh conch on a string in the water which he pulled up as he needed a conch. He sliced it and diced it like a master chef, mixed it with tomatoes, green peppers and onions. The final step is adding lots of freshly squeezed lime juice, which actually cooks the conch, “Immediately”, he said. The “can’t get any fresher than that” conch salad was going to be Gary’s dinner; however, after we got White Swan moored for her extended stay at Black Sound, Donny invited us to his home for dinner and we ended up taking the salad to share with Donny and his other guests.
At first Gary declined the invitation to go to Donny’s dinner, because of my health issues, but I interjected my opinion that it would be rude to decline his offer. The evening proved to be a blessing and once again new friends were made as we shared the evening with Donny, Janis and Rick (Canadians who are here until the end of May) and “Fred”, as he prefers to be called. Donny prepared a fabulous meal, per Gary, of marinated flank steak, rice, red skin potatoes sautéed with onion and bacon. All of this was accompanied by a salad donated by Fred made with homegrown vegetables given to him by one of the locals and our donation of Gary’s conch salad, grapes, cheese and crackers. Any one who knows Gary Glenn knows he has to finish dinner with dessert and Donny surprised him with pineapple upside down cake and ice cream. To top off the evening, Gary was able to watch the ending of the Final Four basketball tourney and see our Indianapolis Butler Bulldogs win their entitlement to play in the championship game.
Spending our last evening in the Bahamas with new friends, having a secure place to leave our boat, and preparations made for our trip home tomorrow gave us a sense of gratefulness. We are so blessed.
We feel confident that White Swan will be watched over by our new friends at Black Sound. After last minute details of preparing the boat for our absence, we hailed the ferry via VHF, which came to our boat to pick us up. We had a pleasant ride talking to the young ferry captain while we were transported to Treasure Cay. A short taxi ride brought us to the very small airport of Treasure Cay. Continental Airlines presented a 19 seat plane which took us to Ft. Lauderdale International Airport.
Pat and Tom Dennis drove down from Telemar Bay Marina (3 hour drive) to pick us up to take us the rest of the way to Melbourne. If Gary had not had such a hard time making all the other arrangements to get us home, we would have also made plans to rent a car at Ft. Lauderdale. It was a long day for Pat and Tom and they will be well rewarded with a lovely dinner, their choice of restaurants, when I’m feeling better.
Plan A: Seek medical treatment to get me well and go back to the Bahamas as soon as possible.