Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Farmers Cays (Big & Little)

Skip & Eliza on the way to Farmer's Cay

After overdosing on the beautiful views at Warderick Wells we sailed south toward Farmer's Cay. We made a stop at Black Point on Great Guana Cay on the way down where we ran into the New Hampshire kids, Michelle and Tyler on Alida. Eliza got to meet them and she and Michelle compared notes about their time at UNH – Michelle graduated a few years before Eliza. When we first met Alida in Bimini we discovered we had a few crazy links to each other. They began their trip in NH sailing in tandem with their friends on Sheliak (who’s sign you can see on the driftwood pile of boat names in a photo in the last blog) – the parents of one of the crew on Sheliak are great friends with friends of Cindy and Dan, Skip’s sister and brother-in-law. (Still with me?) Before we left on our trip we visited Cindy and Dan, who had said friends, Dean and Kathy, over to share stories of their experiences of sailing in the Bahamas. We didn’t put it all together until we saw a cruising guide on Alida, with Dean and Kathy’s last name on it.  Not only that, but it turns out that the second member of Sheliak’s crew was Eliza’s advisor at UNH. Yikes. Small world.

If I haven’t lost you after that… here’s what else we’ve been doing. We spent some time in Black Point catching up online at Lorraines Restaurant, then walked on to a spot called the Garden of Eden. It’s the front yard of a local couple… and the driftwood sculptures they’ve been creating for more than 30 years. We met the wife of the couple that lives there and she gave me a plant by plant tour of the garden in back of the house. She had an incredible variety of plants growing up out of rocky surface and she told me the names of everything and how they’re all used.

Clockwise from top L: Papaya tree, kitty in tamarind tree, pigeon peas, tamarind pods
From Black Point we had a great sail down to Farmers Cay where Steve and Cindy spotted us from their deck as we came around the corner. We finally got to see the house in person instead of just on Google Earth… it’s very cool. They’re completely off the grid – getting their power from the sun and collecting all their water from the roof. They have the capacity to store 10,000 gallons of rainwater and they were kind enough to fill up Saralane’s empty tanks with some of their catch.

Saralane anchored in Steve & Cindy's 'front yard'
Eliza had to head home to Boston at the end of the weekend and Steve and Cindy gave her a lift to Nassau where they were picking up some friends arriving the same day for a visit.

Our ride to the airport... Steve and Skip...
.... and Eliza

Cindy says "Eliza.. you can sit here!"

A little trouble getting the plane started

Steve says "No problem... we'll get her going!"

...and he does. Bye Eliza!

Eliza got some great shots from her flight.... that's not us anchored in front of the house though, it's the NH kids! We'd moved for one night to get out of the strong surge that made the anchorage rocky one night. The kids toughed it out. 

Saralane gets a flyover on their way back from Nassau bringing new guests.

We met their friends Amy and Tessa who came from various snowy places to visit and soak up the sun. We had great dinners and plenty of rum and beer. One day we zipped out in their boat to a beach on Prime Cay for a picnic lunch…

A picnic guest on a nearby coconut palm

...and then over to nearby sand bar for a walk. The sand bar goes on beyond your view as you walk and isn’t connected (above water) to land on either end… just a beach in the middle of miles of clear blue water.

Before Tessa and Amy left we went for a sail on Saralane. Malcolm, another pilot friend, had flown down for a few days and came along too. It took us a little longer to get organized than we’d planned, which turned out to be a good thing. A really good thing. As we headed out the narrow cut to open water Steve heard someone yelling. When we spotted the swimmer in distress we pulled down the mainsail and turned the boat around to pick her up. She’d been snorkeling and spear fishing with friends and got caught in the strong current running out the cut. If we’d left earlier she might not have realized she was in trouble yet and she would likely have been pulled too far out to sea to be seen or heard by anyone inside.  We got her aboard and returned her to her oblivious diving companions. (There’s a reason there’s a buddy system when you’re diving!) Regardless… it was a good ending rather than a potentially bad one.

 L to R: Steve (at the wheel), Amy, Skip and Cindy

L to R: Malcolm, Tessa and Steve (still enjoying the helm) 
Apparently our dinghy can hold 6 people! 

Everyone headed back to the house after sailing
A fundraiser was planned on Saturday for Willa Mae, a local woman who’s undergoing cancer treatments in Nassau. She needs continuing chemo and has run out of funds. All of Little Farmer’s Cay pulled together for a cookout with music supplied by Diane and Fenton, neighbors of Steve and Cindy’s on Big Farmer’s Cay. We had the pleasure of spending an evening with them at their house a few nights before, as they ran through their numbers before the big event  - Fenton on the guitar and Diane on the bass, with the rest of us supplying rhythm on various percussion instruments picked out of a big grab bag. An interesting evening.  At the event, the kids took over the rhythm section – with a little help from Skip and Steve. 

Fenton & Skip admire each others hats

I helped too… with a little guidance from the kids and Willa Mae’s partner Denzel. Everyone had fun and raised some money to help out too.

A kumbaya moment with Cindy, Steve and their sisters... Bev and Barb who just arrived for a visit!
We're leaving Farmer's Cay to do some errands, laundry, skyping and some snorkeling... but we'll be back next weekend for the big annual festival. So Steve and Cindy, if you miss us... don't worry, we're coming back!!


Miles said...

Hey guys! Lookin' good. Even a picture of Maddie. I was beginning to think she fell overboard. Can you give a more specific location for Steve and Cindy's place on Little Farmers Cay? Trying to find it on Google Earth.

Miles said...

Nevermind. I was obviously looking at the wrong island. Found it on BIG Farmers Cay. After actually reading the blog text... Thought about you guys lots while on St. John watching all the 'tansients' come and go. Dragging dingies up onto the beach and then shoving off again. Safe travels always.

GoodPR said...

Wow, your beautiful beach and sailing photos really warmed my heart here in the frozen north. I hope you're enjoying yourselves half as much as it appears. Keep the great posts and photos coming - we love them!