Swing Set

Jul 16, 201310:07 AM

Swing Set: Cruising Full Time

Rum Cay

On the northern tip of Long Island is Cape Santa Maria and Calabash Bay. We pulled into Calabash Bay, sheltered from the prevailing easterly winds, and lined with some nice homes, a first-rate resort and a fine white beach. We dropped the dinghy in and went exploring.

A creek that leads inland caught my eye, and we entered a narrow spot in the reef that guards the entrance to a shallow bay that eventually narrows down to a creek that runs down to Joe Sound and then back into the southern end of Calabash Bay. Had the tide been up, we could have taken the dinghy around Galliot Cay, but we were only able to cruise around in the deeper water of the bay, but we saw sting rays and one nurse shark.

We ran along the beach that fronts the Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort, where there were a handful of summer tourists taking advantage of a sunny day. One such tourist was a lone female wearing a skimpy bikini. I felt it necessary to ask her a few questions about the resort.

Dana, as she introduced herself, was on vacation with her husband. It was the second time they had visited the resort and they really like it. Her accent sounded familiar, so I asked her where she was from, and she said her and her husband lived in Springfield, Missouri, practically next door neighbors from where we used to live if you consider our current location. We learned some things about the resort and were getting the impression it was a quiet, family-type resort, and a bit upscale. Not really a place we are attracted to. We're from a different part of Missouri.

We went back to the boat and made a nice dinner, with plans to stay in Calabash Bay for a couple more days, but while looking at the charts the next morning, I suggested to Rosie that we take advantage of some calmer weather and head east to Rum Cay and then on to San Salvador. Rosie liked the idea, and our second cup of coffee was taken at the helm, on our way around Cape Santa Maria, the northern tip of Long Island.

We were soon out in the Atlantic Ocean, hitting three footers head-on until we arrived on the lee side of Rum Cay, three hours later. It was a fairly rough ride, but we kept our speed down to lessen the impact with the waves, so our movement was more see-saw than side to side.

Like many of the islands east of the Exumas and Long Island, Rum Cay doesn't have many protected anchorages. We were headed to the only marina on the island, Sumner Point Marina, on the southeastern end of Rum Cay at the town of Port Nelson. The southern route along Rum Cay is shallow and lined with reefs. Coral heads are numerous, but a zigzag course is marked into the small entrance to Sumner Point Marina.

I hailed the marina on the radio and got no response, not really unexpected because it was a Sunday after all, and the marina is not officially open for business. In fact, there is no charge for slips, water is free when they have it, but there is no electricity. Unfortunately, the place is also a major dump.

There were a handful of boats tied up, mostly in disrepair, but there were two very expensive sport fishing boats, offering some optimism to the situation. We circled around to the back end of the marina basin, where there was one nicer home with another big sport fishing boat at a dock out front. The front drive also was home to some dump trucks, two bulldozers and an earth moving machine. A nice view if your appreciation is only what equipment like that costs.

 

We were motoring past the marina again, trying to decide where to tied up our boat, when three Bahamians came down to the dock to direct us into a slip. Billy, as one of them was named, was directing us into a space on the dock where I had already decided we were going to tie up anyway, at least until someone complained. It appeared that things were going to work out.

With the wind blowing us away from the approach alongside the pier, Rosie tossed Billy a line and he helped pull us in. Another fella, Scoobie, took a stern line. They both proceeded to tie us tight to the closest piling, leaving no slack for the ebbing tide. Both Billy and Scoobie knew nothing about tying up a boat, but they, and their third cohort, Hartley, were obvious in their desire for a tip, but they didn't push the issue. Good thing.

I let them know we would come see them if we needed anything else, and then we set to work tying the boat up for real. I had a discussion with Rosie about relinquishing lines to dockhands; it's OK to toss a line if the situation requires it, but the responsibility of the line stays with Rosie, whether she is securing the line herself, or directing someone else to do it.

Once Swing Set was secure, I saw two crew members of the larger sport fishing boat out washing down the decks, so I went over to ask them some questions. They had been at the marina for a day and had gone into the town of Port Nelson, where they said there wasn't much. They had gone to a sand bar, which was open on a Sunday, by the way, but they said it wasn't much either. They also said they were chased by two feral dogs when they were in town and that it may not be a good idea to take Holly.

I returned to the boat and made my report to Rosie. We decided to get showers and walk the half mile to town, but leave Holly to guard the boat. Locked up, of course.

Our walk to the town of Port Nelson was hot and dusty along a gravel road. Trash and debris lined the roadside, and when we finally reached some buildings, we wondered if we had made a wrong turn. Nothing was open, and the one person we saw barely looked at us, let alone gave us the impression that he would have welcomed any questions.

We took a side road back toward the beach and passed a woman on her porch feeding some birds. We asked her about Kaye's Place and she said that we had passed it, "just over da bridge," but there was a party and the place was closed. We thanked her and decided to just go back to the boat and have dinner. We passed Kaye's Place and saw that it was just a house, actually appeared to be abandoned, but had a few rusty chairs under a big tree, all for your dining pleasure.

Hartley came by on his four wheeler on our walk back to the marina and asked us if we wanted a ride. I took a long look at the dusty road, another look at the rusty luggage rack on the back of his Honda, and declined his generous offer. He asked at least twice if we were sure we didn't want a ride. If I was sure then, one look at the numerous scars on Hartley's face told me that he might not be the best driver on Rum Cay. It appeared that his head may have had some close encounters with a palm tree or two.

Arriving back at the marina, we heard what I knew was dogs barking and running towards us, actually snarling, and galloping was more like it. Remembering the tale of the feral dogs chasing the crew members of the sport fishing boat, I reeled around and yelled "GIT!" As I was reaching for my knife, I yelled again, "Git on outa here," and those two dogs spun around and ran off from where they came from. Rosie said she almost had a heart attack.

As we stepped onto the dock and were rinsing the road dust off our feet, a young woman walked over and introduced herself as Gro, the owner of the two dogs. She apologized for their rude behavior, and I told her that apologies were not warranted, but she was lucky I didn't stab either one of her pets in our defense.

I calmed down some, and we learned that Gro was running the marina with her boyfriend, Bobby. She was from Norway, which was interesting in itself, but she went on to tell us about the feud between Bobby and the owner of the earth moving equipment who was trying to run them out of business. He was the "enemy."

We know there are two sides to every story, but you have to wonder about folks whose business plan is to not charge customers for dockage for a whole season, just to piss off the neighbors.

We also found out that Billy, Scoobie and Hartley don't work at the marina, or have anything to do with it actually, but I suspect they may have more business sense than either Bobby or Gro.

We retreated to the boat and saw the rest of the gang that live at the big house adjacent to the marina. Had this been 30 years ago, we would have sworn these folks were running a commune of some kind. It's what it looked like, anyway. We decided to leave first thing in the morning.

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