Friday, May 8, 2009
OTHER END OF THE ABACOS
One of the great gifts of "CRUISING" is that you get to meet new and interesting people at every new anchorage. You may not ever see them again.................... but then that's 'cruising', and great preparation for " the other..............zeimer". Take the other day as a classic example. We met a great bunch of people on "GIGI's ISLAND", that's the name of their yacht (not a piece of terra-firma), an immaculate Caliber 40 (that's a brand of very expensive 'tupperware'). We dealt with life tragedies, the great potential and finer points of "geezer-assist", took a quick video trip through Brazil and the Caribbean and saw the brilliance of Robin Williams, all in just under three hours. The Queen had taken great photos of their beautiful yacht under sail, the morning before, and they in turn took great photos of the Queen, whose short sarong was under sail.(You need to double-click on this one to see real brilliance in long-distance photography). The pics were instantly delivered by dinghy on a 'flash-drive'. A 'Rummy thing' and red wine were also exchanged. Don't you just love cruising..........
We anchored behind Lynyard Cay, a section of hard rock high enough to keep the atlantic rollers out and bare enough to not allow a thing to grow. In no time at all a fat juicy 4 foot 'Barracuda' had taken up residence beneath the hull. They don't necessarilly eat you, they just like to grab your shiny wedding ring off your finger. They have this in-built 'bling-bling' thing. You cannot eat them because they have residual toxic mercury build-up from eating certain reef fish. More on that later when we catch one by default. Swimming over the side is therefore out, but we did visit some incredible coral growths, only to discover that our underwater 'waterproof' camera was not so waterproof after all. They were great photos too.
Interesting thing about mangroves is their propensity for survival amidst very hardy conditions. They attach themselves to the bottom with incredibly strong roots that penetrate the murky bottoms through the salt water and then by osmosis extract fresh-water. They do have flowers, which in turn form seeds and before the seed even drops, the roots are shooting ready to hit the water or land. These baby mangroves come out of the womb running, not 'crawling and bawling'.
By dinghy and our trusty 15HP Johnston outboard we raced across a couple of miles of incoming ocean waves to get to 'LITTLE HARBOUR'. (It is way too rolly to leave ARITA anchored there) Flying off the top of waves and trying to keep the Queen in the dinghy is an art. Trying to keep our sense of humour, while your stomach passes your ears with every leap, is another. Once inside Little Harbour there is calm. There is also this huge limestone bat-cave. This was the original loungeroom/bedroom of the JOHNSTON family (no relation to the outboard), who early in the 50's (that's 1950, not 1850) settled here to 'get away from it all'. Old man Johnston was an artist. He worked in sculptured bronze and brass to create such magnificent pieces in his foundary that they are now exhibited in places like the New York Museum of Fine Art and the Vatican. The bat-cave and the surroundings are not exactly endowed with raw material like charcoal and bronze and since it takes an arm and a leg to get even the basics like milk and sugar imported into the Islands, it is all the more amazing that he was so successful. The Queen sits lovingly alongside one of his bronze "Hammerhead shark" sculptured castings, while waiting for the Museum to open. The sign says 11.00am to 4.00 pm every day. We found however, and confirmed by others, that this applies only to non-visitor days. We gave up waiting after about an hour. One of the sons now continues to run the foundry while the other runs "Pete's Pub". Both now live in real houses. The house to the right is the old lighthouse on the point, replaced with a steel structure and a small solar panel, both of which will need replacing after the next serious storm. The support wires for the tower are totally corroded.
The lack-lustre plant in the photo above, grows all over the dunes on the windward side and probably gets its moisture from the salt spray. Despite its blandness it is in flower (you have to look closely or double-click). The sisal plants to the right are remnants of a once-thriving industry on the islands to produce the sisal hemp for manufacturing ropes. The leaves were cut and dried and the fibres plaited to make hemp rope, nowadays replaced with synthetics like Terylene, Polypopylene and Nylon. By the way, "Nylon" conducts electricity. Do not hold a nylon line attached to your boat when lightning strikes, because the nylon will conduct the elctricity right through you. This important 'fact' was learned from the scolars on "GIGI's ISLAND", assuming that the lightning itself doesn't kill you, of course..................................
This monster piece of rusted steel, probably the remnant of some sad ship's engine that came to grief on the rocks, was found high up on the dune. The water-bottle shows its size by comparison. The bottle content is very warm 'iced-tea', in case you thought it was drinking water, or a rust stain.