With all of the pictures of sandy white beaches, coconut trees swaying in the breeze, tropical fruit drinks, and water so blue and clear that boats seem to be floating on air, you might think we have been cruising the tropics on High ZZ’s since retirement. But, not so fast, my pasty white, northern clime, friends. The truth is that we really only ventured far enough, just this winter, to actually claim reaching a tropical paradise.
You see, the true tropics are only those latitudes between the Tropic of Cancer, in the north, and the tropic of Capricorn, in the south. Being as I sport no earring, we have never ventured across the equator with High ZZ’s, so our latitude of record is 23 degrees, 26.223 minutes – North: the Tropic of Cancer. As you can see in the accompanying photo of High ZZ’s chart plotter, we reached that latitude, sailing south, from Georgetown, Exumas, to Thompson Bay, Long Island on March 9, at 10:20 off Pinkston Cove. An accomplishment worthy of a cigar, and a tropical fruit drink (had I not been driving High ZZ’s at the time). Long Island was a long-awaited destination for High ZZ’s, having twice before left Georgetown to go north instead of south; Admiral Deb was anxious to return stateside in 2016 and 2017, forcing an about face.
Long Island is, is…well, aptly named, really long; over 80 miles, so we did not get to see it all. But what we did see: Thompson Bay/Salt Pond and Calabash Bay by boat and from Cape Santa Maria to Clarence Town by car, impressed us as most Bahamian! Unlike the Exumas, Abacos, and New Providence, Long Island is not overrun by US and Canadian cruising boats. You feel more like guests in a foreign country, rather than being in some Florida east coast port. Locals seem more friendly, life laid back a bit more, just, well, more Bahamian. As a way of saying thank you, the crew of High ZZ’s helped paint St. Josephs Anglican church with a group of cruisers on a volunteer-work detail.
The island was originally called by the Arawak name “Yuma”, but it did not look anything like Arizona! For one thing, it is surrounded by beautiful blue water. There are cacti, but they are the minority plant on Long Island. Christopher Columbus must have liked the green lush island. He named it “Fernandina”, after the Spanish King who sponsored his first voyage in 1492, but that name only stuck until the island was resettled by Loyalists in the 1700’s. The only things seemingly left from the Loyalists occupation were ruins of cotton plantations, and “sheep”. Long Island sports a Mutton Festival each March. But, touring the island for four days, we saw not a single sheep; but we saw many, many goats.
And, much to Shep’s chagrin and Deb’s delight, we had to leave Salt Pond before the “mutton” (or whatever mystery meat) was served. Although we did not get to sample the goat…er, I mean sheep, we can report that Long Island had the best conch salad we have had to date!