Friday, May 8, 2009

Perry Marine Research Institute

It’s Thursday, May 7. The Research Institute announced on the VHF radio that the tour would begin at 11:30 today. They require at least 6 people and we had 10—so we are on for the tour. Todd and Brenda picked us up in their dink and as Poncho (Cisco the Kid’s riding buddy) used to say, “Let’s went”.

What a place—well worth the wait. It’s a nonprofit institute that hosts research scientists and grad students from various universities in the U.S. Peak research time is summer when the universities are on summer break. The institute has a full-time staff of 4 people and up to 30 researchers at any time in the summer months. We saw experiments on the effect of water temperature on coral bleaching, the effect of nutrient runoff on the growth of sponges and algae, and the effect of pollution on the gender of gobe fish. Experiments are done in labs and outdoor tanks on the institute grounds and also in the waters off the surrounding cays. Lots of air tanks for diving, including nitrox and re-breathers for dives up to 300 feet. The institute has a hyperbaric chamber for treating divers afflicted with the ‘bends’. It’s one of the sites that Divers’ Alert Network can use – divers can be helicoptered or flown into the landing strip or helipad on the island.

The institute makes its own water, generates its own electricity, and has a dump where the garbage is burned. Fuel for the generator and the 11 boats is delivered by a fuel barge and pumped into their tanks. A large order of groceries for the busy summer season is delivered by ship. Guest students/scientists are evacuated to Atlanta if any hurricane threatens. But, the staff says put up to Level 2. They have a shelter to use is such cases. Pretty cool.

Our Southern-Most Exumas Cay

Subtitle: Un-reunited Again

Our DeFever Group partially split up after Staniel Cay. We said good bye to the Shipps, aboard Silver Boots and the Rohrs aboard Lucky Stars as they started the journey back north. September Song, Gypsies in the Palace, Rickshaw, Life’s 2 Short and Tide Hiker continued south to Black Point Settlement on Big Guana Cay. After a couple of days at Black Point, we said good-byes to September Song and Gypsies. They went to George Town. Life’s 2 Short, Rickshaw and Tide Hiker went to Little Farmer’s Cay. After a day there, Tide Hiker and Life’s 2 Short continued south to Lee Stocking Island—our southernmost Exumas cay. Rickshaw returned to Black Point to wait for us. We will not make it to George Town which is another 30 or so miles south. We’re OK with that because the last thing we need is a big town. We much prefer the smaller settlements.

Black Point Settlement
Black Point Settlement is the oldest traditional settlement in the Bahamas. It has 55 permanent residents, according to the cruise guides. Black Point has a huge, anchorage in plenty of water just off shore from the “government dock”. Black Point Settlement is also known for Lorraine’s café and bakery and internet and bar. What a one-stop treat. Lorraine’s mom makes delectable coconut bread that is well known throughout the cruising world. We ordered it and after toasting in the morning, discovered why. It has a coconut and brown sugary and secret ingredient swirl throughout that is to die for.

Todd and Brenda were celebrating their 10th wedding anniversary, so that was just what the group needed to hear to…….. PARTY!! Lorraine cooked up a plate of fresh grouper and beef ribs along with Bahamian mac and cheese, rice and beans and potato salad—for $18. Plus she baked a chocolate pineapple cake for Todd and Brenda which we all shared. Feasting again! Lorraine had no bartender, so she put a sheet of paper on the bar, said help yourself and mark down your drinks—Beers for $4 and mixed drinks for $5.

Black Point also has one of the most modern Laundromats. Or as it is spelled here—Laundermat! Our Laundromat owning friends in Delaware, will get a kick out of that! Aside from all the joking about the spelling, etc. we have discovered that the Bahamian’s are the friendliest, honest, helpful, kind, family-oriented people. We just love being with them and look forward to each and every person we meet.

We stayed another couple of days to recuperate and take advantage of the great beaches in the area—one of which was the scene for our second bonfire. Brenda is known to be the group’s pyromaniac—followed very closely by Doug aboard Gypsies. They love a big fire and there was lots of dry wood in the area to burn. This was the last night for all to be together, so it was good bye to September Song and Gypsies—until the next time.

Little Farmers Cay

Rickshaw, Life’s 2 Short and Tide Hiker cruised south to Little Farmers Cay—home to the famous Ocean Cabin Café and Bar. Terry Bain, the owner, also manages some mooring balls in the harbor which we used. Check out Terry’s sign on the front of the restaurant.

Life’s 2 Short met up with some friends there and we dined with Rick and Lynnie aboard Rickshaw. Lynnie cooked up a fantastic linguini with clams and a salad. Vicki made a “French silk Pie”. Needless to say—another feast. Then Vicki got her “Dancing with the Stars” addiction fixed since Rickshaw has a satellite TV system.
On Tuesday at slack tide, we departed for Lee Stocking Island and the Perry Marine Research Institute.

Lee Stocking Island
Little Farmers was a one-stopper for us. Rickshaw decided to stay another night and try the restaurant. But, we moved on to Lee Stocking Island—home of the Perry Marine Research Center. Life’s 2 Short went to Rudder Cay. Just after arriving on Tuesday, Vicki and Norm hiked to Perry’s Peak—the tallest point in the Exumas at a whopping 123 ft above sea level. Here are some shots from the peak.

We had a nice dinner outside on the cockpit. Norm grilled up some red potatoes, beans and salmon. We watched the sunset and blew the conch to put the sun to rest for the day. We danced to the 70’s music playing of the XM satellite radio and reveled in the peace. A wonderful respite.

The Marine Research Center here offers tours on Thursday’s, so we are waiting for today’s tour. On Wednesday, we snorkeled some of the coral reefs in the area. We got directions from the Research Center to dink over to the weather stick in the channel and tie up to a buoy there. We did that and saw some really nice coral heads and many different fish on a very shallow reef. We had to swim around some of the coral heads that were above the water surface. “Wicked cool”, as Tammy would say. There was a pretty strong surge there, so we swam against the current first.As we were getting out of the water on to the dinghy, Todd and Brenda were just rounded the bend on the channel on their way to our anchorage. They honked and we waved. After they got settled and we explored some more, we all ended up on Perry’s Beach for an afternoon of tanning, storytelling and cocktails. Vicki made a batch of margaritas including glasses with the salted rim. Ummmmmm! It was early to bed after dinner—again on the cockpit with the sunset; and this time, a symphony of conch horns from a few boats. Good night!

Monday, May 4, 2009


Subtitle: Good Bye Colleen and John!

When we left Useppa Island and the DeFever Rendezvous, who would have thought there would be a follow-up mini-rendezvous in Staniel Cay, Exumas, Bahamas? Yes, I did not make this up. Six DeFever and one SOB (Some Other Boat) celebrated at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club on Tuesday, April 29, 2009. The stars aligned and everyone we have been talking with on the VHF radio all just happened to convene at Staniel Cay for lunch. Jim and Pam Shipp donated a used but in good shape DeFever burgee which was hung from the ceiling rafters along with hundreds of other burgees. Who was here?

Dan and Carol aboard Lucky Stars from Illinois
Rick and Lynnie aboard Rickshaw from North Carolina
Bob and Stephanie aboaard September Song from Georgia
Todd and Brenda aboard Life’s 2 Short from Colorado
Doug, Tammy, Colleen and John aboard Gypsies in the Palace from Maine
Jim and Pam aboard Silver Boots from Tennessee
Us abard Tide Hiker from Delaware

The mini-rendezvous was followed by happy hour at the Club Thunder Ball just a short dinghy ride away, which in turn was followed by a pizza and pasta buffet. Does Thunder Ball ring a bell? It might because it was at this location that the James Bond 007 movie Thunderball was filmed. Magnificent spot with great scenery and a great anchorage just a short distance around the hills. And the sharks are real!!

There is grocery shopping to be done here at Staniel Cay. There’s the Pink Store, the Blue Store and the Iles General Store. Of course the Iles General Store was the best spot and was the furthest away. Rick and Lynnie rented a golf cart and toured the island. We just hiked it. Nothing was really too far. But, to Vicki, Lynnie and Tammy’s delight, there was a library that allowed book exchange. After finding the hidden key on the front porch of a home, they had to walk a short path to another unsigned building—the oldest building on Staniel Cay. They were instructed to leave the door open for light. But, there were two Pulitzer Prize winning novels on the shelves. In fact, this library book exchange was one of the best we have seen at any port.

After the book exchange, we stopped at the grocery stores and stocked up on some fresh vegetables—you see the mail boat came in today with provisions. So everyone storms the stores when they learn the mail boat arrived. Very expensive however--$5 for a head of lettuce is a good example.
Not having seen Jim and Pam since the rendezvous, we traded visits on each others boats for dinner. It was great just the 4 of us getting caught up in a relaxing way. That ended the next day however. We all decided to have pot luck appetizers and roast weenies on a bon fire on a local beach. But not before we visited the famed “Pig Beach”. Wild pigs live on this beach and are looking to be fed. They reportedly swim out to your dinghy and swarm the beach when you land—looking for food. We’ll tell you about this in our next update.

Unfortunately, it was also a sad day. Just when everyone got reconnected, John and Colleen, aboard Gypsies in the Palace left today for Ft Lauderdale and eventually to their home in New Hampshire. Doug and Tammy will continue to cruise alone. We will miss Colleen and John very much and are looking forward to seeing them when they return to “Gypsies” in August on the Chesapeake. See you then, guys!