G'day to all,
Well ... I just got back from a 4 day vacation to Eleuthera. I have been to this island now about 15 times and it is my favorite. I went with 18 other people from work and we took the company plane. We all stayed in Palmetto Point which is just to the south of Governors Harbour. While we were there, we took two road trips.
The first one was north and our final destination was Harbour Island. This was once the capitol of the Bahamas. We had to take a water taxi to get to it. This place is really beautifull, a quaint town with mulit colored houses, and a three mile long, wide, pink sandy beach.
The second trip was to the south and our final destination was Cape Eleuthera. This is at the very south west part of the island. There is a sheltered marina there and some nice beaches. The snorkling was excellent.
We spent the last day snorkling around Palmetto Point. There were some nice coral heads and rocky islands which we explored and we ended up swimming about three miles. I felt like a fish.
Next trip, Cat Island (I hope).
Cat Island
G'day to all,
I just got back from Cat Island, Bahamas.  The company plane took 16 of us over last Saturday morning and we returned the following Monday afternoon.  We flew into the New Bight airport and most of us stayed in New Bight.  14 of us stayed at the Bridge Inn and another couple stayed in Fernandez Bay.  We rented cars for a couple of days and did some great exploring.
Cat Island is south east of Eleuthera and to the north of Long Island.  It is about 45 miles long and is between 1-5 miles wide.  The east part of the island is on the Atlantic while the west part is on the Caribbean.  The winds are a lot like they are on Andros - from the northeast during the winter and from the southeast during the summer.  There are many old, abandoned buildings on this island including old Plantation houses that used to be owned by the Loyalists, and slave quarters.  The population is about 1200.  Every Bahamian we met was super nice and they spoke superb English.  From talking to the locals, I think they have a very good education system on that Island.
On Saturday, we made a road trip up north.  We first stopped in Fernandez Bay and touched base with Kenny and Christine.  Fernandez Bay is unreal!  This place has it all: a big beautiful bay with a sandy beach, crystal clear water with some little islands off shore and very nice places to stay.  It seemed that most of the places were 2 bedroom and they go for about $220 per night.  This isn't too bad when you split it up 4 ways.  We left Kenny and Christine there and headed up north.  We stopped for lunch at Bachelors Rest.  I ordered cracked conch and Muffy ordered conch salad.  They must have pulled the conch from the water when we called our order in - the meal was excellent.  After we ate and drank some beer (Kalik and Guinness), we continued on.  
Our next stop was at the Industrious Hill caves where Carrie and Speed Bump (Cole Miller) went spelunking.  They were both on their bellies crawling through a nice size cave.  After they came back, smelling like bat crap, we were on our way again.
Our next stop was Pigeon Cay.  We pulled in and, once again, were amazed by the beauty of this island.  Like Fernandez Bay, this place was right on the water (the Caribbean side) and the beach, water and view were breathtaking.  They also have 2 bedroom places to rent for about the same price as Fernandez Bay.  The people who run Pigeon Cay are from Telluride, Colorado and are friends of some of my friends who also live in Telluride (Stu and Pam McCreedy).
Our final stop, when we ran out of road, was at Man `O War Point.  This was also a very nice place, wide-open sandy beach, yada, yada, yada.  After some time beach combing, we all made it back to New Bight and had dinner at the Blue Bell restaurant.  Most people had Lobster (which were very big) and I had Cracked Conch again because they didn't have steamed Conch.
The next day, we picked up Kenny and Christine and we went south.  Our first stop was the Hermitage at Mt. Alvernia.  Father Jerome built this place on Mt. Comer, which is the highest point in the Bahamas (206'). At this height, Muffy had a nosebleed.  This was his place to worship and it is very interesting.  There are about 4 small-interconnected buildings - chapel, reading room, room with a fireplace and his bedroom.  All is made from stone and mortar.  His grave is also right there.  Even I felt holy in this place and I am not a holy person.
From there, we went to Greenwood beach resort and had lunch.  This place was a bit different because it's on the Atlantic side vice the Caribbean side.  It is run by Germans and is very nice.  After lunch, we were off to Hawk's nest.  This resort is on the very southwest part of the island on the Caribbean side.  This place also has it all, including their own airport.  While we were their (drinking beers at the clubhouse, of course) the Daytona 500 race was on.  The driver who ended up winning the race will be at Greenwood next week.  
We then went back to Fernandez Bay.  Kenny and I took off and went cliff diving.  I guess it was about 30' from our eyes to the water but it looked a lot higher while standing on a platform on a cliff face.  From the water it didn't look too bad.  We ended up eating dinner at the Bridge Inn and then some of us went back to Fernandez Bay and hung out with Kenny and Christine.  I ended the night by walking into a sliding glass door.
The last day, we went to Fernandez Bay and hung out.  Kenny and I took a canoe and went exploring.  We grounded it at a small hidden cove and then took off on foot.  We just walked around a bit and climbed some cliffs.  I found a couple of sea beans.  At around 1330, the company plane landed and took us back to AUTEC.
I'm finished.  Cat Island is a beautiful place to go if you want to relax (this is what I do best).  If you want lots of things to do and a
wild nightlife, this isn't the place for you.  The next time I go, and I definitely will, I will stay at Fernandez Bay or Pigeon Cay.
Until my next trip report,
The Abacos
G'day to all,
Well ... I just got back from a 4 day vacation to the Abaco's. I have been to this island before but this trip was the best. I went with 18 other people from work and we took the company plane. It took about 35 minutes to get to Marsh Harbour from Fresh Creek. A cold front was making its way accross the Bahamas during this time and we saw a 10 degree drop in temperature from Fresh Creek to Marsh Harbour. Saturday and Sunday night were cold (at least for the Bahamas).
We spent the first 3 days in Hope Town which is on Elbow Cay. The only way to get there is by boat so we took a water ferry from Marsh Harbour. Hope Town is a very cool place. It wraps around a well protected Harbour where there are many nice sailing vessels. Hope Town is somewhat small - you can walk around the town in about 30 minutes. We stayed at the Hope Town Harbour Lodge which is built on a hill. We had a room on the 3rd floor facing the harbour so our view was spectacular! We even had a view of the ocean from our back window.
Hope Town is a very old town, settled by Loyalist who fled America after the Revolutionary war. The buildings are old, small and very colorf
ul while the roads are very narrow. Hope Town is famous for its Lighthouse. It is lit by hand every night and burns kerosene. We spent the first 2 days walking around Hope Town taking in all the sights. We rented bikes on the second day and rode south as far as we could go. We saw some beautiful sights. Looking east, there were beautifull beaches and the ocean stretches uninterrupted to the Western Sahara in Africa. Looking west, we could see Great Abaco. This is a view to kill for.
The third day we rented a boat and went to Green Turtle Cay which took us about 1.25 hours. We docked in New Plymouth where we walked around and ate lunch (Conch burger for me). Green Turtle Cay and New Plymouth is a lot like Elbow Cay and Hope Town - you can get to both only by water, both were settled by Loyalist, the buildings are small and colorful and the streets are narrow. As an interesting note, it seems that white Bahamians make up about half of the Abaco's.
The last day we got up early and took the water ferry back to Marsh Harbour. We rented a car and first went south to Casuarina point. There wasn't much to see around there, so we headed back north and then went west to Treasure Cay. This place was really nice. It seems like this is mostly a resort community with some year round residences. We ate lunch here over looking a well protected marina.
We then drove back to Marsh Harbour and did some more exploring and shopping. We drove up to the Castle and took some pictures. This 'house' was built by Evens Cottman who is the author of 'Out Island Doctor'. This book is a must read, along with 'Wind from the Carolinas' by Robert Wilder which is the best book I have ever read. We finally ended up at the airport for our trip back to Andros. Everyone on this trip had a GREAT time and I will be go back there for sure.
Thats it for this trip. Next trip to Cat Island (I hope).
Site 4
I just got back from site 4. I went down there (by helo) at 1230 on Friday and got back to site 1 at 1600 Monday.
As you may or may not know, when Raytheon took over, everyone at site 4 quit except for 1 in-water guy and cookie (the cook). Scotty, who use to be manager of Software Engineering is now the site leader. He has now been the leader of site 4 three or four times. He will stay in this position until Raytheon gets it's shit together (could take a while).
I was looking at the in-water system so I worked till 1800 on Friday. After that it was fun and games.
On Saturday, I went snorkling with Johnny Holland. We had plans to snorkle all the way around site 4 but after I got about 1/30th of the way around I was too cold to continue so we came back. I need to be fatter. Later around 1800, Bob Harper showed up in his boat with a bunch of people including Leslie Pindling who is the son of the ex prime minister of the Bahamas. So Scotty, Johnny, Cookie and I jumped in and we went over to Las Palmas for a couple of drinks. We never really made it to Las Palmas propper because we ended up at a house owned by Pindling which is just north of the motel. It's a really nice place right on the water so we partied there for a while. We then took Bob's boat back to site 4 well after it was dark. It was so beautiful on the water with all of the stars out. It reminded me of the old days when I was on the IX-306.
The next morning everyone came to the site for breakfast. After that we all jumped in Bob's boat again and went to Lisbon Creek. The last time I was there was in 1982 and I was with Dennis Kelly. We went to the Turtle Bar (owned by Stanley Bannister) and looked at his pet Turtles. He has about 10 of them, some weighing over 100 lbs. We hung out there for a while and then we had to go back because Leslie and his friend were flying back to Nassau from Congo Town. We spent the rest
of the day in the shade cause we were all burnt and ended the night drinking beer and shooting pool in the day room.
On Monday, the 0900 helo didn't arrive until 1530 so now I am at work making up hours. Bummer, but worth it!
I had a great, relaxing weekend. Scotty said I can come back anytime so I will.
Until my next trip report ...
Submarine Trip
G'day to all,
Guess what I did for the last 18 hours? I was underway on a U.S. Nuclear Submarine!
I was on a Los Angeles class (688) fast attack submarine, simular to the British hunter/killer submarine. The main purpose of these subs are to sink other subs and surface ships (they also shoot cruise missles). The other type of sub in service is the boomer. The purpose of the boomer is to launch nuclear missles.
I was asked to go on board because the Navigator was having problems installing some software that we supply to our customers. I was on board from 1830 on one day and was off at 1230 the next day. When I was first asked to go, I was hesitant because I didn't know if I would get claustrophobic. I then decided that this was a once in a lifetime experience that I couldn't pass up. I was pretty anxious while riding the transfer boat to the sub but as soon as I jumped on the sub, most of it disappeared.
When we (I was with NUWC person) first got on board, we went to the officers wardroom where we were met by the XO and then the Captain. They both welcomed us and gave us a welcome package which consists of a picture of the sub (I can't tell you the boat name at this time), a decal of the sub, a 'welcome aboard' letter from the Captain and a pamphlet which contains some information. The Captain and I then watched a Hollywood movie while we submerged. He was continuously interrupted by officers and signed a lot of paperwork.
After the movie, I went to 'Control'. This is the part of the boat where the action is. Control contains the navigation, periscopes, fire control, sonar, helms men, etc. The boat is run from this area. While up there, I got a great tour of sonar (remember, I use to be in Acoustics).
After about an hour of this, I went to my berthing area and tried to sleep. The beds (or berths) on a submarine aren't the best. It's like trying to sleep in a small coffin. They are very narrow and do not have much height. I was in the rack for about 4 hours but probably got about 2 hours of sleep.
I was up for breakfast at 0530. The Navigator then found me and I installed our software and told him what what wrong with his computer. I did some maintenance but did not have all the tools necessary to totally fix his PC. At least he now knows what is wrong.
I then went to control again. While there, we surfaced and I was allowed to go up on the bridge. The bridge on a sub is at the top of the sail. I went up and the view was unreal. It was a real nice day and the water was rushing over the bow as we made our way north.
I was then taken on a tour of the sub. I was able to visit all areas except for the radio room (top secret) and the aft portion (nuclear reactor). I was really amazed. I have been helping to test subs now for over 13 years but I had no idea how one really looked from the inside. There is so much equipment in such a little space. I can now see why they cost so much.
The people on board work 6 hours on and 6 off, 24 hours a day, everyday. After their 6 hours on, they do paperwork. After the paperwork is done, they study. It seems everyone is always studying to advance in rank. I was told the average person gets about 4-5 hours of sleep per 24 hour period. Not enough for me!
While on board, I was treated like royalty. I ate in the officers wardroom and all the officers called me Mr. Hinkamp. All the enlisted men called me Sir. Everyone was super friendly. In fact, when I was in control, I was in everyones way because control is very cramped. People were always squeezing around me and the only thing I heard was "excuse me, sir". Unreal.
Well, thats about it. I hope you enjoyed my latest adventure.
Leaving AUTEC
G'day to all,
This is my last trip report from the Bahamas.  As you may or may not know, Bobbie and I are leaving here 02/22/02.  We will move to our new home in Holiday Island, Arkansas.  Bobbie is pretty sick and she will live out her life there.  So, this trip report covers the 18+ years I've been living on Andros Island (and what a trip it has been).
I first came here in 1980 and began my work in the marine department as a deck hand on the love boat (WB-69).  After awhile I was transferred to the IX-306 as a deck hand and I worked my way up the ladder to second mate.  Those were the good old days for sure.  I met lots of great people and had lots of fun.  Some of those people are life long friends.  Some still live here, others have moved on.
In 1982 I had somewhat of an early mid-life crisis.  I was looking for my future and figured electronics or computers were the next wave I should be riding.  After talking to my brother-in-law, I decided to leave the island and go to college, majoring in Computer Science.  In December of 1985, I received my BSCS degree from Rollins College.
In early 1986, I was taking graduate level classes at Rollins College while handing out resumes and looking for a job.  To my surprise, AUTEC called and wanted me to come to the island for an interview. I really never planned to go back to AUTEC and I had a really nice girlfriend (Shorty) but at the same time I was looking to put my new skills to use.  I interviewed for two jobs and was offered a programming job in Acoustics which I took.  Within a week of returning to Andros, I was offered another job in Cocoa Beach which I ended up refusing since I was already committed here.  That's fate and my life would have been different if the other job would have been offered first.
I was only planning to work here until I saved a bit of money and then I would return to the states and to Shorty.  Well, it's funny how things seem to work out.  It's said long distance relationships don't work and I think they're right because Shorty and I drifted apart.  At this time I met and became friends with Bobbie.
I worked in Acoustics from 1986 to 1990.  This was a pretty exciting time and I got a lot of great experience - both coding and electronics.  Lee L and I pioneered getting away from big iron (CDC) and moving to HP signal analyzers and PC's.  Good times!
In 1990 I was offered and took a job half way around the world in Kwajalein.  That didn't work out so I left after about 6 weeks.  I took some time off in Maui to enjoy the sights and then came back to AUTEC in the Software Engineering department.
I've been in Software Engineering since 1990.  I've seen companies and people come and go.  My job has also changed as technology has changed.  I've gone from VAX administration to NT administration.  I've gone from FORTRAN 77 to Visual Basic.  I've gone from just software to software, hardware and networking.  I've gone from being with Shorty to being with Bobbie for the last 12 years.  During my 18+ years on ASD, there have been good times and bad times.  You learn to cherish the good times and to get through and maybe learn something from the bad times. I've made many friends and probably an enemy or two but such is life.  There are some who will always be in my mind and heart and there are many who I am proud to call my friends.
One of life's journeys now ends and another begins.  Thanks for the memories.
John Hinkamp’s Bahamas Trip Reports