Thursday, April 17, 2014

Music Jam Session, Long Island, Bahamas

Jam session at Long Island Breeze
     The highlight of our winter sojourn in the Bahamas capped with the collaboration of cruising musicians at Long Island Breeze Resort in Salt Pond, Long Island, Bahamas. The music jam, organized by Mike the owner of the resort was well attended by a corps of cruising musicians, other cruisers in the anchorage and even a few tourists visiting the island.
Julie, Michele and Diane


Bentley Smith and Jim Austin of Salty Paws
     With the arrival of the Salty Paws crew Jim and Bentley in the Salt Pond anchorage a lively recipe
for Friday night's Jam Session became a sure bet. The session was sprinkled with several other talented musicians' styles and the evening became a veritable gumbo of musical merriment.


Ted from MEKHAYA and Michele
     The evening began when the charismatic crew of Salty Paws roused the crowd with a few familiar sea chanteys. I played back up percussion of the Bodhran (Irish drum) while witnessing the growing interest of the happy hour crowd. Was it the drink or the entertainment? It didn't matter. They were actually listening! It wasn't long before other musicians mustered the courage and stepped up to the mike. Mark from Rachel electrified the audience with his voice and expertise on mandolin. Ted from MEKHAYA fueled the flames by adding his warm voice and guitar talents. The enthusiastic Sarah from Mirador sang back up and harmony on a few tunes along with Salty Paws, MEKHAYA, and the captain of Indigo who performed some fine down home bluegrass on guitar and ukelele. The session was an all around rousing success that bordered on a healthy endorphin high.
Mark from Rachel on mandolin


     As a side note, I would like to take this opportunity to promote professional photographer Jim Austin's of Salty Paws new book titled EYE BAHAMAS. Where eyes and islands meet… The book EYE, Bahamas: Who Is Bahamian is Jim Austin's new PDF eBook. It explores personal stories of Bahamians and touches on their music, history and culture. This downloadable book is a fundraiser for the Cat Island High School students' learning lab on Cat Island, Bahamas. The goal is to raise $1000 in charitable donations to the school. All contributors receive a copy of EYE, BAHAMAS available for download. Please follow the link to download Jim's fantastic new book and to make your charitable contribution.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Long Island, Bahamas

Cape Santa Maria, Long Island, Bahamas
Photo by Joe Boulay
      Long Island's prominent white cliffs and often turbulent seas at Cape Santa Maria in the north are in sharp contrast to its tranquil, shallow bays along its western shoreline at the Thompson Bay and Salt Pond anchorages. Areas south of the Salt Pond settlement are typically lower lying hills descending to mangroves and salt marshes.

Simple Life at anchor St. Peter's Point near Cape Santa Maria


The world's deepest blue hole at Deans, Long Island

     The world's deepest blue hole at Deans on the eastern shore plunges to a depth of 663 feet and leads to the eighth largest underwater cavern. Next November an international free diving competition has been scheduled at the site where elite free divers will gather to test their mettle for large cash prizes.


      Not all contrasts on Long Island are topographical. Some happen to be a bit more subtle such as an ad placed by a local business in the island's Ministry of Tourism map. It read, Treco's Meat Mart and Building Supplies, Hamilton, Long Island. Specializing in Meats, Produce, Grocery, Soft Drinks, Lumber, Cement, Plumbing & Hardware. I found it interesting that meat could be sold alongside plumbing supplies. Evidently, Long Islanders know the meaning of diversification when it comes to making ends meet, no pun intended.
     Thompson Bay and Salt Pond are both centrally located anchorages. For those cruisers who don't mind the inconvenience of moving to more protected areas in the harbor these anchorages offer the  opportunity to make Long Island a winter base. Most shuffle from the shallower Salt Pond anchorage to Thompson Bay as the wind clocks around.

Three "girls" Julie, Michele and Diane at Long Island Breeze
jam session
    The relatively new upscale, Long Island Breeze Resort on the waterfront at Salt Pond is a hub for cruiser get togethers. The owners Mike and Jackie run a daily informational cruiser's net on VHF channel 18, provide a dinghy dock for shoreside access, organize Friday night happy hours with music jams, offer Wifi and an onsite laundry. I managed to get two loads of laundry done in the nick of time before the island's water supply truck broke down. There's no RO (reverse osmosis) water on the island. The water supply is rainwater that is collected from roof and stored in cisterns. Since it rarely rains during winter water for the resort's cisterns are trucked to the site. As of press time, the truck won't be repaired until parts arrive from the States. That could take awhile.

Pearl simple life email
Photo at Long Island Breeze by Jim Austin
     While spending more than a week at Long Island we caught up with cruising friends Jim and Bentley from Salty Paws, Mark and Julie aboard Rachel and Pete and Diane from Pearl whom we met while cruising the Bahamas ten years ago. With friends nearby in the anchorage cruising takes on another dimension. We get together to play music, share impromptu beach happy hours, share stories and always a few laughs.

Beach party with "repurposed" plastic flotsam and jetsam
found washed ashore on north side of the beach


      Now that we have the magic of the internet once again I'll be posting a follow up blog on Long Island in a few days featuring the Friday night music jam and a road trip to the blue hole at Deans. Be sure to check it out.