Thompson Bay/Salt Pond

March 9 – March 16.

Looking northwest from the regatta center past the government dock at Thompson Bay. Most of the bay is over ten feet deep. When the eye of hurricane Sandy passed over residents could walk out to the small islands.

We are currently anchored in Thompson Bay, Long Island near the town of Salt Pond. This bay is probably one of the prettiest bodies of waters I have seen in during our journey this season. These dazzling blue, steady waters stretch out seemingly endless past Indian Hole Point into the Great Bahama Bank. From almost any location on the hilly main road that leads to town you can see its brilliant azure waters like a reassuring constant. But ask any local about the bay and you will no doubt hear about hurricane Sandy and how she swallowed up all of the water and drained the bay, leaving the few boats left in the harbor tilted on their keels on the muddy bottom. It is a sight that is hard to imagine looking at this vast beauty stretched out before us today.

They call Long Island the Friendly Island. This moniker seems to be pretty fitting. Mike, at the Long Island Breeze Resort and Yacht Club, runs the morning VHF Cruiser’s Net. He starts the program by turning it over to one of visiting boaters for the weather report, then proceeds with announcing all of the Cruiser need-to-knows – where to take trash, when and where to get propane, when the mail boat arrives with fresh veggies, what local businesses are in town, and location and time of happy hour. Next, he opens up the Net for an open mike and question and answer session before signing off with some kind of funny anecdote. Wednesday a cruisers rally of around 40 boats arrived from Georgetown. Mike has been spending all week busily arranging an island tour and other activities for the ralliers and anyone else interested.

Up the road from Long Island Breeze is Sou’ Side, a cozy open air bar and restaurant. Tyrone, the bartender, helped us out with finding two local caves (only one of the caves was listed in our guide books). Later when we saw him at the market and he wanted to know had we found the caves and whether we enjoyed them.

It isn’t just the people who stand to benefit from our patronage of their businesses that are so friendly and helpful. Everyone here smiles and waves as you walk past. A local garage has opened up their dock for cruisers, cutting in half the distance it takes to get from the main anchorage in the upper part of the bay to the shops in town. And you can’t get very far walking down the main road with out someone stopping to ask you if you need a ride. I talked to a cruiser who had hitched a ride to the next town where he ran into a local who apologized for passing him on the road and not picking him up.

Today we are going on the bus tour of the island with the Georgetown ralliers. Long Island is 90 miles long and much of it is not accessible to us by boat, so we are excited to have this chance to see more of the island. We will be heading back out towards the Abacos soon, but hopefully we can come back next year and spend a few weeks in this beautiful bay and explore the island by walking down the main road until one of the friendly Long Islanders stops and offers us a lift to where ever they happen to be going.

Looking south from the regatta center at Salt Pond. Hurricane Sandy caused damage to the roof of this building and the roofs of many homes. The thatch on these tiki umbrellas is still intact.

St. Joseph’s Anglican church. In the far background Indian Hole Point defines the northern end of Thompson Bay.

It’s about a 1.5 mile walk from the heart of Salt Pond settlement to the northern dinghy beach. The Sou’ Side open air bar conveniently marks the halfway point. Impossible for Greg to pass without stopping for a break.

Long Island Breeze upper and lower restaurants. In addition to the pool there are a book exchange, laundry and shower facilities, and rooms for vacationers.

Looking out the entrance to the southern cave at Salt Pond. The location of this was not specific on our charts. To find it go behind Grotto Bay resort (closed now), down the path, then wade past the private beach on your left. Let us know if you want GPS waypoints.

At one time there were over 30,000 Lucayan Indians living on Long Island. They lived in the many caves found here.

View in southern cave. There is enough headroom to stand almost anywhere in here, but part of the cave is under a private driveway. I wouldn’t linger there.

It was easy to get close for a shot of this cave dweller. There is no light this far back in the cave. Don’t know if he lives here or was just visiting.

Just right of center, a bat comes toward us. It’s hard to get a shot of these guys with autofocus and a one second delay.

View looking out of the northern cave. Tyrone, the owner of Sou’ Side, told us how to find this one.

View inside northern cave.

The northern cave has two levels. This is in the lower level.

Lower level of the northern cave where the roof is about five feet high.

Another view in the northern cave at Salt Pond.

Rock formation at beach on Long Island.

Even on a calm day it’s too intimidating for Greg to walk out to snorkle. He might slip and mar his pretty face in these rocks.

Rocks on the Atlantic side of Long Island.

Mesmerizing.