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The Voyage of Spectacle Beaches

The Voyage

Spectacles

Andy and Melissa are sailing around the world on their 48-foot sailboat, Spectacle.

The Position

Bali, Indonesia

The Pictures

The Voyage of Spectacle

Archive for the ‘Beaches’ Category

Treasure Cay

Posted by: melissa

After several days of boat projects and just getting settled, we decided to have a tourist day.  We are in the Bahamas after all and we had yet to see any good beach time. 

Treasure Cay is 30 miles northeast of Marsh Harbour on a peninsula of Great Abaco (not its own island as Cay would suggest).  Unfortunately, the scooter rental establishment denied us scooter rentals due to our lack of a motorcycle driver’s certification, so we opted for a compact car for the day.  As if the late 80′s Chevy Citation wasn’t scary enough, Bahamians drive on the left, and rather crazily and lawlessly to boot.  However, most cars are not outfitted to be drive-on-the-left cars … that is to say, the steering wheel is also on the left which makes for an incredibly difficult driving situation (i.e. imagine trying to Keep Leftpass the slower car in front of you on a two lane road, just checking for oncoming traffic is harrowing!).  Luckily for me (the designated driver in foreign lands), a stark reminder was plastered in full view.  It came in handy several times when the compulsion to veer right was strong!

Also luckily for me, the drive itself to Treasure Cay was terribly uninteresting (and would’ve been awful on motor scooters by the way) so I was left to concentrate on staying on the left.  We passed a huge gulag-looking school, a burning landfill that looked like it belonged somewhere like Mogadishu, and a spooky cemetary with its equally spooky adjacent shanty town.  And then voila … the paradise called Treasure Cay!

 After clearing the guard gate, we drove to the top of the peninsula through small Beautiful Beach on Treasure Caystreets lined with beautiful homes.  We parked and headed out to a beach so picturesque, it was almost corny … crystal blue water, powder white sand, not a soul besides us, late afternoon sun and billowy clouds floating by in a cool ocean breeze … okay, that’s sufficiently corny now!  More Pictures

Hopetown, Elbow Cay

Posted by: melissa

Andy’s middle brother, Erik, arrived Tuesday, December 12, and we are so excited to have our very first Spectacle visitor!

On Thursday, after a leisurely breakfast, the three of us walked east from the Conch Inn toward the far point of Marsh Harbour, past the ferry dock and out nearly to the end of the point, past some beautiful homes and beaches.  Then we hopped on the 12:15 ferry to Hope Town, Elbow Cay (about 4 miles away and a 20 minute ride).  Six miles long and one quarter mile wide, Elbow Cay is surrounded by a huge The View from the Hopetown Lighthousebarrier reef and has a protected natural harbor.  Hope Town is very charming with clapboard houses, white picket fences, petunia-adorned window boxes, and small winding pedestrian streets.  We wandered aimlessly for awhile, had a mediocre-bordering-on-bad lunch, and ended up at the famous lighthouse (that’s right … To The Lighthouse with Ms. Woolf).  Built in the 1830’s, the Hopetown lighthouse alleviated the treachery of navigating through the many shoals and reefs in the area, not to mention providing a fabulous view of the town and surrounding cays.  More Pictures 

Great Guana Cay

Posted by: andy

On Sunday, December 17, the three of us ventured out to Great Guana Cay for a visit to the infamous Nippers and its weekly Sunday pig roast. 

The Rainbow Bulldozer Marks the Path to NippersAs beach bars go, it’s pretty tough to top Nippers, and getting there is half the fun.  After the ferry (about 30 minutes), one follows the signs on a Candyland-like adventure — turn left at the fence, right at the graveyard (complete with picture of the grim reaper on the gate), left at the rainbow-colored bulldozer, steer clear of the poisonwood tree, up and over the hill and you are there (we managed to avoid Molasses Swamp).Nippers Beach Bar at Great Guana 

Nippers itself is a multicolored, multi-tiered, cacophony of wood planking and American tourist jackassery.  It appeared to be South Carolina day at Nippers, as evidenced by the number of sun-burned necks protruding from Clemson and University of South Carolina tanktops. 

The pig roast was pretty good (alas, the pork was already carved and in trays, so there were no porcine rotisserie displays), the “Nipper” (a frozen rum punch concoction) proved excellent, the weather was perfect, and a good time was had by all.  We took a long walk along the beautiful beach, returned for a final round, and got ready to head home.

Just as we were closing out, Erik attracted … well, let’s just call it what was … a gay stalker.  This guy tried everything – herd separation tactics, inviting the three of us to dinner, etc.  He even invited us to stay at his apartment.  This dude was PERSISTENT.  He was accompanied by one of his co-workers (reasonably intoxicated, not particularly annoying) and a fall-down, Stacey Toran-drunk Australian (there’s always at least one wherever you go) who was some sort of boat captain/crewman.

The six of us sauntered back to the ferry dock (past the graveyard, the rainbow bulldozer…) to await the last ferry of the day.  Shortly thereafter, a very distraught woman holding a very small plastic bag arrived at the dock.  As we came to learn, she was holding her friend’s fingers.  We were told that the friend was building her own house on Great Guana and was the victim of a table-saw accident. Apparently, the owner of the fingers had already been transported to Marsh Harbour, en route to Nassau, inexplicably sans digits. 

Fall-down drunk Australian sprang into action.  Apparently, he’d come over to Great Guana in some sort of small powerboat that was affiliated with the bigger boat of which he was captain/crewman.  He dashed (ok, staggered) off to retrieve his powerboat so that the fingers could be sped to Marsh Harbour. Gay Stalker, apparently in a hurry to get home, suggested that we all hop on the boat.  Needless to say, we declined – we’re not getting on a speedboat, at night, in a very tricky harbor, with a fall-down drunk Aussie driver and the gay stalker co-pilot.  Equally needless to say, the gay stalker then changed his mind and decided to wait with us, and off roared the speedboat at triple the recommended speed. Yikes.  All I could think is that it takes a true friend to hop on drunken Aussie’s speedboat to make a nighttime delivery of your severed fingers.  More Pictures 

Turks and Caicos

Posted by: melissa

Well, Turks and Caicos was not part of our original plan; nonetheless, we are definitely making the most of this unscheduled stop (in work and play)!

With 8 islands and a bunch of smaller cays, the Turks and Caicos Sapodilly Bay, Turks & CaicosIslands (TCI) are located on the southeastern tip of the Bahamian archipelago about 575 miles southeast of Miami and 100 miles north of Haiti.  The name Caicos may have been derived from the Spanish word for ‘cay’ (cayos), and the name Turks is believed to come from the resemblance of an indigenous cactus’ red dome to a fez.  Both Grand Turk and the Caicos islands are low altitude, scrub-covered limestone with huge coral reefs and striking turquoise water.

Our current port, Providenciales (Provo) is the most developed and populous island of the Turks and Caicos Islands.  Local legend says that Providenciales was named in the mid-18th century by the survivors of a shipwrecked French boat called La Providencielle.

Provo’s residents are a combination of native islanders (called “Belongers”), American, European, and Canadian expats, Haitians, and Dominicans.  Even with the diverse cultures, Provo is decidedly Americanized due to the development boom, increasing tourist industry, and rapid decline of other industries.  Throughout our stay, we sought out native food, activity, and entertainment … to no avail.  Though totally Americanized, Provo has no American fast food restaurants, which is quite refreshing.

Tourism is alive and well here as huge resorts and timeshare condominiums clutter the Beautiful Ocean Around Turks & Caicoscoastline.  It is our understanding that TCI is the destination of the rich and famous (evidently home to a Keith Richards lair) and prices definitely reflect that.  After experiencing a lot of what Provo has to offer, we probably would not recommend that you spend your hard earned dollars on the $850 average nightly room rate (with a 10 night mandatory minimum stay) at the big three resorts of Grace Bay Club, The Palms and Point Grace.  Don’t get me wrong, the beaches are fantastic, and some of the resorts are very nice … but I get the sense that most tourist things here are at least 20% overpriced.  From a value perspective, go to the Grand Wailea on Maui, or the Princeville Resort on Kauai … Hawaii may be a more crowded but a lot cheaper for comparable, or better, amenities.

When we were researching Turks and Caicos for trip planning purposes, we consulted Tripadvisor.com (we never leave home without doing so).  Most of the reviews were positive but with two major complaints: prices (which I’ve already talked about) and mosquitoes.  I expected the latter to be a bit silly or the kind of nitpicky complaint that some Tripadvisor.com users get so worked up about … I mean, really — it’s a tropical environment and there are gonna be some bugs.  As it turns out, it’s a valid complaint — the mosquitoes are plentiful and unusually vicious!

Around 4:00 or 5:00 p.m., we usually head out on the frightening dirt road towards the super fancy Grace Bay.  We’ve crashed just about all of the swanky resorts and since there’s really no such thing as the traditional “hotel lobby” here, we have peeked in the windows of ground floor rooms and condos to gauge how each swanky resort actually compares to the others (we think Point Grace might be the winner).  Plus, we’ve been to almost every restaurant in Grace Bay, from the swanky restaurants at the “Big Three” resorts down to the Irish Pub (where not a single Notre Dame fan was available to be taunted by Andy during the Sugar Bowl), Bella Luna (a decent Italian restaurant with a highly coveted taleggio appetizer), and the very cute Barefoot Café located below the yoga studio.

Jost van Dyke

Posted by: andy

We decided to leave Tortola around 2:30 p.m. yesterday and head for Jost van Dyke, the nearby “out island” that is home to two legendary beach bars – Foxy’s and Soggy Dollar Bar — and very little else.  The thought was that we’d get to JvD around 4:30, anchor the boat, dinghy ashore, check out of BVI customs and immigration, have dinner and a few drinks at Foxy’s, dinghy back out to the boat, and sail overnight to St. Martin.

We actually managed to get off the dock just after 2:30.  It was strange saying good-bye to three different boats we had encountered in multiple locations already, knowing that, this time, we were unlikely to see them again.  I suppose we should get used to that.

Having FINALLY gotten our batteries replaced, we now no longer need to be tied to something hard – we can finally “anchor out” like proper sailors.

Anchoring is surprisingly difficult for many, many sailor – it is probably the one thing that most boat owners are slightly afraid of, and for good reason.  People often times make complete … well … spectacles of themselves as they attempt to park the boat.

I am pleased to report that our maiden anchoring was absolutely flawless.  We planned it out well and executed it perfectly.  This was a strong point for each of us back in sailing school, and, apparently, we remember what we were taught.

Our maiden post-anchoring dinghy ride, however, was not so flawless.  We managed to get the dinghy to Foxy’s dock right at 5:00.  Melissa jumped off and sprinted for customs.  Alas, we had missed them.  So, we’d have to stay overnight – no big deal.  St. Martin can wait one more day.

Foxy’s might be the single most-famous beach bar in the entire Caribbean, if not the world.  We felt like we “needed to do it” but expected to be put off by excess commercialism in the vein of Hard Rock Café.  Boy, were we wrong.

The Infamous Foxy's at Jost van Dyke, BVIYes, it has a very large T-shirt shop/boutique, and they do a very brisk business.  But Foxy’s puts out a tremendous product.  The bar is great.  The drinks are creative and tasty.  The staff is fantastic and professional, and the food was surprisingly delicious.  We were a little bit hesitant to pay $28 apiece for a “Beach BBQ,” but this was fantastic food – ribs of near-Twin Anchors quality, the best jerk chicken either of us have ever had, corn that was downright memorable (now that’s saying something).  It was a bargain at twice the price.  Foxy’s certainly doesn’t need me to tell you how great it is.  The word is already out.  But it isn’t popular by accident.

“Several” (ahem) Dread Fox cocktails later, we walked down to the dock to get on the dinghy and head back to the boat.

It was sinking.  Seriously – it was SINKING!  The left pontoon was basically flat and submerged.  We got into the boat, thinking we might just be able to make it back to Spectacle.  Totally wrong.  All we did was make it worse, instantly.

Melissa jumped back on the dock, losing a flip-flop, grabbed the waterproof bag, as we prepared to “save” the outboard.  I jumped into the water … which, thankfully, was only about four feet deep.  I managed to wrestle the outboard off the boat and onto the dock, and we eventually retrieved the boat as well and dragged it onto the beach.  However, it’s pretty clear that we’ve got a fairly meaningful “slow leak” in the dinghy (and not that slow, apparently).  Add that to the list of repairs.

We caught a ride out to the boat, slept pretty well (no paranoid middle-of-the-night dashes on deck to check the anchor), and caught a ride back in the next morning.  After reinflating the dinghy and checking out of customs, we marched (sans dinghy) over the hill to Soggy Dollar Bar.  This was quite a hot, steep and lengthy shlep, but it was worth it.  The bar is not really the allure – it’s just ok.  The beach, however, is fantastic.  We put away a few Painkillers, opted for a cab (pretty tough to find on a tiny island) back to Foxy’s, and managed to get the dinghy towed back out to Spectacle.  Then we put the dinghy on the davits, pulled up the anchor, and headed off for an overnight sail to St. Martin.  More Pictures


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