Saturday 8 Feb, BHS day 40: Hike to a cave and watch the Little Farmers Cay regatta.
The Little Farmers Cay regatta is apparently scheduled to start in the afternoon, after a funeral on the island. Such is the tight-knit community here. So after breakfast we dinghy to the nearby beach and walk in land to see a cave that apparently has fresh water pools that you can swim in. The trailhead from the beach leads us up the small hill across sharp limestone outcrops, where we finally find the cave entrance. As we climb down the slope into the cave, we can hear other people also inside.
The entrance opens up into quite a large cavern and the temperature drop is very welcome. At the bottom there are pools, but they turn out to be salty, not fresh water. So after a quick paddle and struggle to capture photos in the dim light, we depart again. Nice cave, but nothing breathtaking.
On the trail back, we take a detour down through thick undergrowth to a half moon bay on the east side. Here, we are ravaged by mosquitoes – just what are they doing awake in the middle of the day? Plus, there is lots of debris and plastic both along the beach and in the undergrowth.
The short walk back to the dinghy is very hot. There is not a breath of wind and it’s extremely sticky. So we are relieved to paddle out to the anchored dinghy. But as I go to start the engine I find that I don’t have the ignition cord. Damn! I left it in the cave 🙁 So off we trot again, back up the hill. Luckily, we ask everyone we pass coming back from the cave and finally, just before the entrance a couple has picked up the cord and has it with them. Phew! Thought we might have lost that to the cave monsters!
Back on Cloudy, after a cool down swim, we chill inside for a while before heading off to the regatta at 1pm. There are about 40 local Bahamian skiffs taking part, all of similar design. They have just one huge sail with short top sprit and a boom that sticks out almost a full boat length beyond the stern. They don’t seem to have any centerboard but they do have sliding wooden seats that the 2 crew can sit out on while the third crew, the helmsman, sits inside. All are crewed by local guys.
We wait quite a while as they sit on their anchors with sails down, in between 2 start buoys. We soon gather it will be a LeManns type start and we patiently wait for the signal. We don’t hear or see any start signal but a sudden flurry of activity tells us the race is starting. On each boat one guy feverishly pulls up the anchor while another raises the sail. Pulling in the anchor as fast as you can is a clear advantage, giving the little boats initial momentum. And while the starting process is happening, there is a lot of shouting and hailing of abuse between the boats. Then a minute later they are all sailing towards the first mark.
While the crews clearly know how to sail the boats, tactics doesn’t seem to be a strong point. There was a huge advantage at the windward end of the line, yet no one seemed bothered to be there. And at each mark rounding there was total chaos. More shouting and swearing as they all run into each other, with no one taking the slightest bit of notice about calls for water rights, and most hit the mark. Others were throwing the anchor to pull themselves along in the light wind, and one boat was even using the sliding seats to paddle with! The front boats were clearly competitive and serious about their race, but it was pretty chaotic. All the same, it was fun and a rather unique event to watch. It reminded Oana and I how much we miss racing. It was a bit of a shame there wasn’t more wind to see how these little over canvases boats can really sail, rather than just drifting around the course.
At the end of the race we go ashore and have a rum punch, where there are big crowds on the beach, boats and dinghies everywhere and little local kiddies playing in the sea. It’s quite a party atmosphere.
But it’s damned hot, plus we can see rain clouds building to the north. So we head back to Cloudy to cool off in the sea and have some lunch. The temperature inside the boat is 32degC, yet it actually feels cool compared to outside. But then while Oana makes lunch the pitter-patter of rain starts, which soon turns into a deluge. At the same time, the wind comes up from the NE and the temperature drops like a stone. We’ve never been so relieved to have cooler weather. An incredible change in just 1 hour.
We had planned to go back to Little Farmers at sunset, but neither us nor Ian & Michelle fancy a 1nm wet dinghy ride there. So we stay on board and relax. Well, we try to relax, as our karma is disturbed by emails from YouTube. Now that we have reached 10,000 subscribers, they want serious money to pay for a license for the soundtrack we use on the drone clips. Precisely $263 for a new license! As crazy as it is, of course we purchase it on the spot so that we don’t risk any conflicts. It’s so annoying. We already bought a license not long ago and now they want more! We could present the drone without any music, but it would be totally silent footage. And again, we wander if all the effort of filming, editing and posting our videos is really worth it 🙁