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Black Point - Big Majors - March 21 - March 26, 2009

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  • Skip Gundlach
    Black Point - Big Majors - March 21 - March 26, 2009 As we left you, we had just landed in Black Point. As we came through the cut, we were hard against the
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 11 6:47 AM
      Black Point - Big Majors - March 21 - March 26, 2009

      As we left you, we had just landed in Black Point. As we came through
      the cut, we were hard against the northern rocky shore due to the wind
      coming from that quarter and my preferring to be upwind in such a
      situation. A boat on the inside, where it's protected (and likely the
      route we'll take north, too), just then took our picture as they were
      going north to Staniel Cay, calling us on the VHF to tell us of a
      great shot they'd gotten right up against the rock. Unfortunately for
      us, while they had planned to return to Black Point and deliver it to
      us on a memory stick, they never came back, so we'll have to wait to
      see what they looked like!

      After we threw out the hook in about 8 feet of water, we finished the
      last of the Cat Island baker's bread for breakfast, and went ashore.

      The expected nasty weather arrived, but mostly without rain - just
      very windy. We'd also not seen any other than what turned out to be
      just internal networking for a couple of schools, but a couple of
      local establishments had wifi available for free, if you went there.

      One of them is Lorraine's, a local and area legend of a small eatery
      with an Internet café attached. The Internet café had more room in it
      than the restaurant, and was supplied, free, for donations. With
      several free machines, or a half-dozen ethernet cable connections, or
      your laptop's wifi adapter, you were welcome to use it, kindness of
      the hostess and her husband, Uriah.

      Lorraine's is a cruiser gathering place, and on Monday of our week
      there, we had a banquet of conch fritters for appetizers, ribs, jerk
      chicken, grouper, rice and peas, lettuce and tomato salad, macaroni
      and cheese, and cole slaw. It was nominally a gathering to honor a
      cruising couple's 40th wedding anniversary, so their cake was dessert
      the 15 of us there. Throughout our time there many cruisers (well, as
      many as were in the tiny harbor there) ate lunch or dinner there. On
      our first night, being the weekend, we found ourselves leaving the
      Internet café through a throng of locals. Here, as well as everywhere
      we've been in the Bahamas, the locals have been unfailingly gracious
      and helpful, welcoming us and other cruisers to their home islands.
      While this crowd was overwhelmingly young and male, they were eating
      but not drinking; alcoholism seems not to be a problem in the islands
      we've visited.

      One example of the local graciousness and hospitality, there being no
      gas or diesel on the island, was Lorraine's offer to have a local, on
      their way to work, fill jerry cans at Staniel Cay, just 5 miles up the
      line, returning them the next day. The local turned out to be Uriah,
      who makes the trip each day. He offered to take it to the dock in his
      pickup truck, where he'd loaded it from his boat, but it was out with
      one of their children, taking a grandchild home. Instead, he offered
      to bring it to the boat on his way to work the next day. Sure enough,
      we heard the can being placed on the platform early the next morning.

      In my first visit to the café I saw a computer mouse sitting on the
      counter, with the cord wrapped around it. As I'd brought Lydia's Mom's
      laptop along, not knowing that there were free machines as well, to
      use for my catching up, I thought to use it. I discovered that the
      reason it was all wound up was that someone had damaged most of the
      pins, presumably in trying to force it into the receiver in the wrong
      position. Ever the tinkerer, I straightened the pins, and, sure
      enough, it worked on the laptop. Hallelujah! I let Lorraine know I'd
      fixed it, at which she smiled broadly and thanked me, and I went back
      to work.

      While I was waiting for a page to load, I took a look around and saw,
      also, a couple of hard drives sitting on the other side of the
      flat-screen monitor next to where I was working. Hmm. Gotta be a
      reason for that/those! So, I asked her, and she said they seemed to be
      dead, which explained the non-operational monitor. I asked if she
      minded if I'd take a look at them, and she happily agreed.

      More "cruising is" - but this time, someone else' stuff :{)) Following
      up on those drives, from her answers to my troubleshooting questions,
      I suspected something else, so before I actually took them, I promised
      to do some investigating. Shortening a geeky story, I did lots of
      drive swapping with different computers there, without success in
      making either the dead machine from which they'd come work or proving
      their "life on a known good machine. I finally took them back to the
      boat where I had some utilities with which to check them out. One of
      them was, indeed, dead, but the other appeared fine. Unfortunately for
      the end of the story, the good drive would not load Windows, either
      from their damaged rescue disk, or my original full system. So, 4 days
      later, I finally admitted defeat - but, at least, she knows she'll
      have to send her tower off for repair.

      In the course of my troubleshooting, I repositioned her router so that
      the laptops in the café could see it (the way a laptop gets its
      Internet signal) more reliably. Along the way in our several days
      there, we discovered the other freebie site, a bar across the street.
      In the process (well, as a result of) of my router adjustments for
      Lorraines, we were then able to see it from our boat, and even, one
      day, got the other, Scorpio's. As usual, we helped out our neighbors
      by allowing them to use our internal wifi distribution.

      Lorraine's Internet connection is through a Hughes satellite system,
      with the dish for reception planted in her front yard. One of the
      realities of the Hughes system, only about the level of ISDN
      bandwidth, is that you can't use Skype due to the level of traffic
      needed to support it. We also learned that one can't upload picture
      files, such as to Shutterfly, Lydia's photo gallery of all we're
      doing, as it overloads the bandwidth. The Hughes software shuts down
      as a precaution against a virus that is mass mailing or otherwise
      commandeering the bandwidth. Working through the troubleshooting
      screens with Lorraine showed that there was still communication with
      the satellite, but service wouldn't be restored for a few minutes. So,
      in addition to the hand-made signs stapled to the walls cautioning
      against Skype, caution against large uploads is the order of the day
      for her Internet café. And, being a satellite, even precipitation can
      degrade, or lose, the signal. Still, at "free" (donations and the
      inevitable eating and drinking costs there aside), it's the only game
      in town.

      By the time we left Black Point, we'd made fast friends of Lorraine
      and her family. She presented us with some conch fritter batter she'd
      made up for us without our knowing about it in advance. We enjoyed it
      the very next day, aboard :{))

      While there in Black Point, we also went to see the blowhole fed by a
      choke point in the shoreline, during one of the windier times with the
      waves in the right direction. We've got lots of pictures of it
      spouting and splashing, 20 feet higher than the ocean, and inland far
      enough that you could stand upwind with the ocean behind you, and not
      catch any of the spray. On the other hand, a good couple hundred feet
      downwind was wet from its eruptions!

      Laundry, cave exploring, driftwood hunting, shelling and other
      jewelry-part scavenging rounded out our explorations ashore. Even the
      laundry is a local experience; if nobody's there, hail them on your
      handheld and they'll come and sell you the required tokens for your
      washer and dryer loads. This laundermat, is it's spelled here, is
      widely lauded, and we agree, to be the very cleanest and neatest
      self-wash you'll ever find. A book exchange here and at Lorraine's
      provided us with new reading fodder, as we find ourselves devouring
      books at a great rate.

      Many other enjoyable times and acquaintances were had while we were in
      Black Point, but at 3:30 in the afternoon on the 26th, we sailed off
      our anchor for Big Majors. We had light winds and made a broad reach
      to downwind sail on our first leg. With 5 knots of apparent wind on
      our 150* heading down wind, we were making 4.1 knots on a course of
      310*, but turned the corner at our waypoint onto a beat. With apparent
      wind of 30*, our going upwind turned the light breeze into 15 knots as
      we made 4.5 knots into a course of 45*. All in all a very pleasureable
      sail and we had the anchor down in about 8' of water in Big Majors by

      On the way in, I tested the Internet connection at sea. A couple of
      miles east of Harvey Cay and south of Staniel Cay, I picked up the
      Sampson Cay Club and Marina, again proving the worth of our system
      which, many times, has allowed us to be in internet wifi contact while
      under way. That connection persisted as we pulled into Big Majors, we
      are happy to report, as I got my internet fix and Lydia got to talk to
      her kids on VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) connections through
      Skype and Googlechat, in the middle of nowhere, so to speak.

      As it's getting long, we'll leave you here, as we catch up on our
      internet and enjoy our dinner aboard.

      Stay tuned!


      Skip and crew

      Morgan 461 #2
      SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
      See our galleries at www.justpickone.org/skip/gallery !
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      "And then again, when you sit at the helm of your little ship on a
      night, and gaze at the countless stars overhead, and realize that you
      quite alone on a wide, wide sea, it is apt to occur to you that in the
      general scheme of things you are merely an insignificant speck on the
      surface of the ocean; and are not nearly so important or as
      as you thought you were. Which is an exceedingly wholesome thought,
      and one
      that may effect a permanent change in your deportment that will be
      appreciated by your friends."- James S. Pitkin
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