May 23, 2018, Aboard Krogen 50' Open "TOGETHER"
I must admit, the weather has been less than stellar for the two weeks we have been in the Bahamas. We had mostly clear skies and a benign crossing of both the Gulf Stream and Little Bahama Bank, but since then, it has been cloudy and windy, so when it looked like there was going to be a few days of partial sun, it was time for a few shorter work days and more serious exploring.
We were anchored at the southern end of Tilloo Cay just north of Tilloo Bank, an area of shifting sand that fans out west from the island like large tentacles from a giant squid. Some of the stands are awash at low tide and some shimmer just below the surface. The adjacent beach is on the west (not the ocean side) of the island and makes for a great walk in soft sand or inches of water in just about any weather. It is this anchorage that Janet has proclaimed her favorite so far. It is clear that other cruisers feel the same, as some have setup small enclaves reminiscent of Gilligan’s Island! Not just picnic tables in the shade, but swings and Weber grills. While we were one of a small handful of boats at anchor, I imagine this is quite the spot once the summer gets going. Contrary to what most northerners logically think, summer is the busy season in the Bahamas, when school is out and Floridians and their families come to play. Memorial Day Weekend is the beginning of the busy season in the Abacos.
Tilloo was also Janet’s favorite spot for the wildlife. Lots of wildlife. At low tide, we could walk out the bank and see dozens of rays, some as large as five feet across, feeding along the sandy bottom. There were crabs running around the water’s edge at the beach and then there was our dolphin encounter. This encounter was unusual in that the family of dolphins appeared to be playing with each other. Three or four of them rolling over the top of each other, with some on their backs. Janet remembered that John Gear, of Kadey-Krogen Yachts fame, told her that dolphins respond to knocking on a hull. Sure enough, the curious critters came right by the boat! As they then headed off the stern, she knocked again and two of them immediately turned around.
I apologize for the poor audio quality!
After leaving Tilloo we headed further south to Lynyard Cay in anticipation of being able to snorkel at Pelican Cay National Park once the weather settled down a bit. While it never did settle enough to safely enjoy the reef at Pelican Cay, we did have a wonderful afternoon with Jeff and Ellen Hall from the Krogen 44' Sea Dweller. With the forecast for a sunny day, we hopped in our respective tenders and headed a few miles south to Little Harbour, and specifically Pete's Pub and Foundry. Yes, you read that right. A pub and a foundry and we're not in Pittsburgh, Cleveland or Milwaukee - and I can make that joke since I was born and raised in Cleveland and went to college in Pittsburgh! As the story goes, Pete's father, Randolph Johnston, a renowned American educator and sculptor, brought the family to Little Harbour in the 1950's and established a bronze casting foundry. Pete, a sculptor and a great chef, opened Pete's Pub which has become one of the quintessential cruisers bars that any self-respecting cruiser must visit.
What makes Pete's unique is that it is on a little beach within the small, completely enclosed deep water harbor of Little Harbor. In fact, you can say its a hurricane hole, and for three soles back in 1996, the hole, was a hurricane hole - quite literally in fact! Look at the photo to the right. This plaque was in the men's room!
After lunch and a visit to Pete's gallery next door, where one can purchase stunning,
one of a kind sculptures for tens of thousands of dollars adjacent to a sandy beach, Jeff asked if we wanted to hike to the abandoned light house. Since lunch involved a few adult beverages, it was not hard to convince us to undertake an adventure. As you can see in the photo, it turned out it was more than a hike - a bushwhack to get to the old lighthouse grounds. There was something of a worn path on the ground, but foliage grows so quickly down here that it would require weekly trimming to really keep it clear.
While the walk there was a bit of an adventure, the structure itself did not disappoint. It was easy to imagine this lonely outpost, with its cistern and home as it was when built in 1889. The entire one-room home measured no more than 20 feet by 30 feet, and while there are stunning views, it must have been a trying existence 130 years ago. Numerous lights have been placed there since, with the last metal tower being destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. Nothing has been built in its place.
After this little excursion, Jeff had another adventure in mind - a trip to the blue holes adjacent to the nearby Bight of Old Robinson. What are blue holes? Think sink holes that can be hunrdeds of feet deep with surrounding areas being no more than five feet deep at high tide. Jeff had read about blue holes on Active Captain and I had been told about them by another Krogen owner and even marked them on a chart. That was all the confirmation Jeff needed to hear and he was off in that direction with us following close behind. Once back in the shallows, surrounded by mangroves and tiny cays, we were on another adventure that required leaving a trail of breadcrumbs. Its a good thing we both had small GPS units with chart plotters, otherwise I fear we would be still trying to find our way out! The blue holes were a little murky but what was amazing is the number of sea turtles we saw - dozens upon dozens - and the buggers were fast. Put away the notion of watching a sea turtle lumber along on National Geographic, these turtles were as fast as many fish, out of sight in a second, their fins looking like an outboard propeller in notion. While I could have watched them for the remainder of the afternoon, the tide was going out and that meant we needed to leave, or risk being stranded until the next tide cycle.
After a 15 minute ride retracing our route out of the mangroves and then across the Sea of Abaco, we were back at the boats. After a quick pause to prepare sundowners for the beach, we met up with Jeff and Ellen again, hopeful for a stunning sunset. While mother nature did not cooperate, the company was wonderful and the view still pretty damn good. We said our goodbyes to Jeff and Ellen the next morning and headed north towards Marsh Harbour.