2nd - 7th April 2013 - Long Island, The Bahamas Part 1

Sun 7 Apr 2013 09:36
Rather than staying in Georgetown for nearly 4 weeks and waiting patiently for the start of the Family Island Regatta, we decided to depart this friendly island and explore some of the “out islands”.  On our return we would meet up with friends who were joining us for the Regatta.  So it was an early morning departure with a tricky exit with numerous shoals and coral heads to avoid. These were successfully negotiated using a succession of waypoints plotted into the PC and after a fabulous 40 nm sail in beautiful azure blue seas, we arrived at the entrance to Thompson Bay, Long Island.  As was usual for Nimue’s deep keel, we had to anchor about 1.5 miles away from the dinghy dock outside the Long Island Breeze Resort and Yacht Club in Salt Pond and even then we only had 0.4m under the keel at low water!  Anyway we were looking forward to going ashore, as we had heard Long Island was very unspoilt and the people were some of the friendliest in The Bahamas!
   Long Island
Satellite view of Long Island (displayed in red)
A great sail to Long Island in clear blue, crystal clear seas...............and looking up to the bright blue sky
............with Blue Yonder in the distance (far left)
We had decided to hire a SUV with David and Marti off Blue Yonder plus Steve and Marja off Motu for a couple of days. Michael volunteered to do the driving and although the Bahamians do drive on the left (like the UK), the steering wheel was also on the left...ummm....no worries?  As the name suggests, the Island is “long” and is nearly 80 miles in length, but is only 4 miles at its widest point! We had also taken advice from the extremely friendly tourist lady, as to some of the best sites to visit on our 2 day tour. 
Day 1 we headed south and the first stop was The Bight, where we visit the ruins of St Mary’s Anglican church, said to be the oldest church building on Long Island.  Followed by a very informative visit to the Long Island Library & Museum and onto Deans Blue hole, the world’s deepest known blue seawater hole, which plunges to 202 metres (663 ft)!   As we were pulling into the dinghy dock earlier in the day, we met a guy called Ren, who advised that he taught pupils to dive at Deans Blue hole.  We also met his wife, Ashley, who had recently gained the world title for the deepest dive without fins!  Once we had walked around the cliff edge to look down onto the impressive blue hole, Michael and David took the opportunity of snorkelling around it.  They were able to see the white bubbles of one of the pupils re-appearing from the darkness.   Unfortunately, as I write this blog, a US free diver lost his life in November attempting to set a new American record!
The hire car, more than comfortable for the 6 or us.  First stop, the ruins of St Mary’s Anglican Church
The warning sign highlighting the dangers of Deans Blue Hole
The divers mentally preparing themselves whilst sitting on the floating raft above the ‘hole’ (note the dark blue water)
Ren, (the teacher), making his way out to the floating raft.  Michael and David having a snorkel around the ‘hole’
After a visit up the twin towers of St Peter’s and St Paul’s church in Clarence Town, we made for the Flying Fish Marina for lunch and ended up having our ‘best ever’ fish tacos.   On our return journey to Thompson Bay, we couldn’t resist nipping into “Max’s”, famous for his fresh conch salad, which we washed down with a couple of Goombay Smash’s.
The twin towers of St Peter’s and St Paul’s Church designed by Father Jerome. A view of Clarence Town from the top of the towers
The quaint and unusual interior
Lunch stop at the “Flying Fish Marina” (thinking this may be a good picture for the OCC, as the flying fish is their logo!)
Managed to get across to see the beautiful coastline
Max, making us his delicious conch salad