Raccoon Cay

We departed Salt Pond, Long Island at 10:00am on a Saturday morning; our galley shelves overflowed with fresh produce from that morning’s Farmers’ Market and our hearts were filled with well wishes from Penny, John, Cathie, and Gary. We set the main, hauled the anchor, and caught an easygoing easterly breeze bound for the Ragged Islands. During the daylight hours we would sail the Comer Channel and then at the top of the Jumentos Cays we would exit the banks and sail overnight through the deeper, ocean water. Below on the screen shot of our chart you can see our route. Waypoints 0029, 0030, 0031, and 0032 directed us through the Comer Channel to our exit point between Stony Cay and Arturo Cay at the top of the Jumentos Cays. Waypoint 0027 marked our entrance onto the banks in the Ragged Islands.

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We sailed on a tack through the night, not our most comfortable sail. But the sky was clear, stars were shining, and there was not another ship in sight. Since the first night is always the most difficult to stay awake, and we were only sailing overnight, we changed shift every two hours. Just before sunrise we were making good time and decided to continue sailing all the way to the southern end of the Raggeds where we could round Little Ragged Island and arrive at Hog Cay. But a shift in the wind later that morning reverted us back to our original plan. We entered the banks through Johnson Cut on the southern end of Raccoon Cay. At 10:00am on a Sunday we dropped the anchor at Raccoon Cay, 24 hours from the start of our trip, and settled in for a few hours of sleep.

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Rested and fed, we began our exploration of Raccoon Cay. We kayaked north of our anchorage at House Bay in search of a blue hole and on the way stopped to chat with our only neighbor (in the next cove) s/v First Look. Bob and Vicki shared some great info about Raccoon Cay and sent us in the direction of the trail to the blue hole. Once ashore we followed the shoes…

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…along a narrow path…

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…all the way (not more than 200 feet) to the blue hole. Or should we say, greenish-brownish hole. No diving into that!
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I prefer the view across the banks.
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Our next stop brought us to an old foundation and cistern. We didn’t pause there long. Although we enjoyed the singing of several songbirds near the fresh water cistern, we did not enjoy the abundance of no-see-ums and mosquitoes. We set out once again in the kayaks and returned to our anchorage at House Bay where we found a trailhead at the north end of the cove. The trail brought us to a salt pond.
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We followed Bob’s directions and continued around the salt pond to reunite with the trail. It led us over the top of Raccoon Cay to the ocean side. We’d arrived a bit too early in the season for snacking on the not yet ripened sea grapes, but the view at the end was pretty as ever!
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Mind the sharp objects in the bush!
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Brian did plenty of spear fishing during our time at Raccoon Cay. I even got into the water with him to observe. For the very first time I watched Brian spear a fish! The victim was a bar jack. I heard the spear pierce the fish then watched the fish scurry away with a spear in it’s side as Brian swam to retrieve fish and spear. It was exhilarating! I remembered hunting once with my brother and feeling a bit grim as a squirrel fell from the tree (my brother has fantastic aim); apparently I am less fond of fish because my only reaction toward this hunt was, “Mmmmm, supper!” And of course, “Wow, that husband of mine is a mighty hunter!” I might ease my way into spear fishing…but don’t hold your breath. On the menu at Raccoon Cay were also lionfish and grey snapper. Even though the fishing was plentiful, Brian couldn’t resist casting his rod off the side of the boat. Too much is never enough! He caught a record, biggest fish yet on the lightweight rod, a yellow jack. I had to help with that one too, but since we already had supper the jack was released.
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We ended our visit to Raccoon Cay with a campfire on the beach beneath a nearly full moon. There was not another person in sight that evening. We gazed into the mesmerizing flames with rum drinks in hand and Jimmy Buffet tunes playing from the iPad. Welcome to the outer islands of the Bahamas!

Salt Pond Farmers’ Market

One of the many highlights of Long Island is the abundance of fresh, green produce – a rare find in the Bahamas! Each Saturday morning, the local farmers and artisans gather to share their crops and crafts. The market attracts locals and cruisers for quite the social event! This year’s crops were not disturbed by hurricanes; it was a mild season. There have been rain showers that have unusually extended through January which have also contributed to the crops’ production. Brian and I are very appreciative of the farmers’ and happy to buy locally here in Long Island.

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The selection includes: sweet potatoes, sour oranges, coconut water, collard greens, calilu greens, basil, thyme, rosemary, green peppers, okra, pigeon peas, sweet corn, bananas, papayas, plantains, pumpkins, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, watermelons, and fresh eggs.

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We bought a bit of everything. Now if we only had some fish to add to the table…while Brian is off hunting I’ll be juicing sour oranges for a tasty orangeade.

Indian Hole Point, Long Island

Brian and I have finally recuperated from our on-the-go travels and guests. We were blessed with excellent weather with which to leave Georgetown, Great Exuma and sail to Thompson Bay, Long Island. Ahhhhh…it now feels as though we are really in the Bahamas! At Thompson Bay and nearby Salt Pond we’ve reunited with dear friends, John & Penny of p/h (private home) Fairhaven, as well as several other familiar and friendly Long Island dwellers. It’s great to be back at this home away from home!

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Our first few days at Long Island were cloudy, breezy, cool and rainy (I’ll refrain from the word “cold” because I know family and friends who are experiencing actual “COLD” back in the Polar Vortex we once called the Northeastern United States). We hunkered down for two days of rain and set to work creating a checklist to prepare for our next venture toward Panama. After a review and few additions to the ‘Boat Projects Checklist’ it was set aside and the ‘Panama Priority Checklist’ was created. Many of our priority items required use of the internet, and since our data plan had expired and we were two miles via dinghy away from the nearest internet source at the Long Island Breeze Resort, we decided a few more hours…or days of hunkering and relaxing would suffice.

As soon as the sunshine reappeared, we were off scampering about the island! (Well, we did some long walks along the ocean side beach during the intermittent rain showers.) We headed to the “cruisers beach” at the northeastern end of Thompson Bay. Here, we resurrected the campfire ring; the conch shells had been buried and scattered in the sand. And then…onward to the trails!

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Beyond the campfire ring is a trail that leads to Indian Hole Point Road. Along this short trail you’ll also find a freshwater well; I’d not recommend it for drinking but the thought of laundry has crossed my mind… At the end of the trail, we turned left onto Indian Hole Point Road and walked along trying to avoid falling to our doom down into the monstrous potholes.

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There are several private homes along this road, a small bungalow-style beach resort, and several lots for sale. Many of the unfinished lots have driveways leading back to the shoreline on the Thompson Bay. We side-tracked along a driveway and meandered our way along the shores of the bay.

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A Willet (thanks, Mark S.!) on the hunt along the shoreline.

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This was no Compromise, the beach won.

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Tiny coral bits along the shoreline.

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A natural footbridge to bring us along the bend.

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Indian Hole Point was a rocky, limestone ledge leading around the point just above the water with caves to poke into and explore.

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Footing was tricky…as the ledge became narrower…

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We had a fabulous walk around the point onto two other small, sandy beaches and back onto a trail that led us to Indian Hole Point Road for a smooth walk home.