Tuesday, we managed to rent a car. The car rental company dropped it off near the harbor. I filled out a paper with my name, address, and license #, gave them $80 and they gave me the keys, no credit card deposit or pitch to sell insurance. Granted it was an old Ford Taurus that had seen better days, but it was roomy enough to hold all of us, as we shared the rental with Tom and Sue. By 10:30 we were headed towards Nicholl’s Town as we wanted to show the fellas how far we had biked on Easter Sunday. The odometer showed it was 7 miles.
Next we headed towards what we hoped was Fresh Creek. Unfortunately we didn’t have a map, but since there was really only one main road, The Queen’s Highway, we felt fairly certain we wouldn’t get too lost. A couple of miles down the highway, we spied a sign for Uncle Charlie’s Blue Hole. Supposedly Jacque Cousteau explored this blue hole and couldn’t find the bottom. I spun the car around and we made our way down a narrow dirt road. About 2 miles in we found a spot to park, picnic tables (a bit overgrown with weeds) and the blue hole. It had a rope swing hanging from a nearby tree, and a rope ladder for climbing out. Coleen had to climb down the ladder to check the water temp. She was all set to swim, but the boring grownups decided to keep going and maximize our car rental dollars.
A few more miles down the highway we saw a sign for Red Bay. It’s a settlement on the western shore known for its basketry. The inhabitants are descendants from Seminole Indians who somehow managed to paddle canoes across the Straits of Florida back in 1821. It was a long drive to Red Bay from the main highway with absolutely nothing but pine forests alternating with mangrove swamps. Finally, we saw the settlement which was comprised of a few cement houses, a small school, a very small store, a takeaway restaurant, and a small house with baskets displayed on the front porch. We drove past the settlement as we first wanted to see the western shore. It’s not accessible by cruising boat as the water is less than a foot deep for at least 2 miles out from shore. The road dead ended at a broken down pier, and we found a place to have a quick picnic lunch. We stopped to look at baskets on our way back through town and I got a nice one for $15.
Soon we were back on the road again. All of a sudden our nice road turned into pothole hell. I’ve never seen so many huge craters in a road. It went on for miles and miles and we had to drive slowly so as not to damage the car, as who knew if even had a spare tire, and we were quite certain there would be no roadside assistance. Still the country side was lovely, and eventually the road improved a bit. We stopped in all the little settlements on our way to the Fresh Creek settlement, which was the end of the road for us. From there you can only go a little bit further before needing to take the ferry over to the southern part of Andros. We didn’t have time for that.
Fresh Creek actually had a tourist office where we finally got a map. It has a very small marina and an even smaller anchorage. Fresh Creek got its name from the fresh water creek that runs 40 miles inland. We stopped at the Androsia Factory where they make a batik that is sold throughout the Bahamas. We enjoyed the little self-guided tour. In one room someone was imprinting fabric by dipping big, carved stamps into wax. In the next room, the fabric was dyed leaving only the areas with wax uncovered. And finally in the 3rd room women were busy sewing the colorful fabric into clothing, bags and other items. Coleen used her money to buy a beautiful blue Androsia dress and has been wearing it ever sincFe.
It was time to head back and we enjoyed the scenery along the way. The water along the eastern Andros shore is some of the most beautiful we’ve seen and the beaches are just lovely. The coral reef is the 3rd largest in the world and we are looking forward to snorkeling on it.
We stopped at a Mennonite farm where they produce almost as much as all the rest of the island farmers. We got broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, cucumbers, and green beans that had been picked that day, all at a super price too. Interestingly enough, the Mennonite’s we met were from Missouri and had only been on the island for a short time. It seemed like a good gig if you were Mennonite, to be sent on rotation to Andros.
Tom was driving on the way back and missed a turn. He quickly turned the car around, right in front of a car coming the other way. Amazingly instead of flipping us off, or yelling obscenities, the other driver slowed down and asked if we needed directions. Andros Islanders are just the nicest people!
Next morning I still had a couple of hours left on the car, so I took some of the other cruisers shopping. We stopped at yet another farm. It was operated by the local high school science teacher. He had quite the place. His wife took their order and said he would drop it off at the beach after school. He was growing bananas, coconuts, tomatoes, peppers, melons, broccoli, lettuce, carrots, herbs and limes.
The rest of the week we spent hanging out with the other cruisers, relaxing on the boat and beach. Not much to tell as it was uneventful until this morning.
I woke up as always listening to the 6:30 am Chris Parker weather forecast. He’d been talking all week about some really bad squalls headed our way on Friday. They were coming from the south/southwest and although the squalls would possibly have 50 knot winds we’d be fine in the anchorage as it was protected from every direction but north. Last night I set out a second anchor, only because everyone else was. I woke up in the middle of the night thinking, that it had been a bad idea as if the wind shifted the boat would be swinging on the secondary anchor and not my super-duper primary anchor, a 45 pound Rocna with 150 ft of chain.
Anyway, during the updated morning forecast Chris said the squalls might not come from south/southwest but could possibly come from any direction. Not good. Just a few minutes later the boat swung around hard enough to knock over a few things. I got up and popped my head out the hatch and yep you guessed it we were pointed north. The waves started rolling in, small at first and getting progressively larger. The boat began to pitch up and down like being on a seesaw with the neighborhood bully. I carefully made my way to the bow and sure enough we were swinging hard on the secondary anchor. About the time I got back to the cockpit, the boat turned sideways and rolled a bit after being hit broadside by a wave. That was super scary! Sideways meant the anchor was dragging. I had the engine in gear ready to use it, but we quickly turned north as we came up on the Rocna. It held incredibly well and although we were still on a terrible seesaw I wasn’t too worried that we would be washed ashore.
Poor Coleen was quite scared, especially when we were sideways, and Prince threw up, but was very quiet. I told her we would cry after it was over, but that for now we needed to be strong so we could make good decisions. She dried her tears quickly. I sat in the cockpit, wearing my rain gear, with my arm around Coleen, holding the dog, while watching our boat and all the others. We had some fierce wind, waves and rain for about 30 minutes and then it was over. Slowly the waves began to die down and then all was flat. I decided it was time to raise anchor and head into the small, but protected inner harbor where I should have gone last night.
The rest of the day was quiet, but we had more squalls this evening. Several islanders came to check on us as they were worried, but all was fine. Perseverance and the boat from BC toughed it out in the anchorage and it didn’t look like fun. We were very thankful to be here as instead of another seesaw ride, we had a nice dinner and Coleen read poetry aloud while I did a couple of little chores.
We’re headed out somewhere tomorrow as the wind should be from a favorable direction for a nice sail. Not sure where just yet, either Nassau or possibly down the eastern coast of Andros to Middle Bight. Guess we’ll decide in the morning…….