03/17/2012, West Palm Beach, FL
After talking with weather router Chris Parker and looking at the grib files it looked like a nice window to sail all the way from the Exumas, through Northwest Channel, North of Bimini and across the gulf stream straight to Lake Worth Inlet. Well we were right. It was a great sail, mostly on a beam reach and some of it with reefed sails but it was a great 36 hour sail back to the states. The amazing thing was how close Mon Amie and Early Out stayed together. When we approached the Lake Worth Inlet, Mon Amie was only a mile ahead of us. That is pretty incredible. We also caught a small Spanish Mackerel coming off the banks, yum, yum.
03/16/2012, Hawksbill Cay
After several days of Staniel it was time to move further North. We had never been to Hawsbill Cay which is uninhabited and part of the Exumas Park. It was beautiful sail with winds coming out of the East and sailing closely behind the Exumas Cays in protected waters. If only they could all be like this!
Once we arrived we were surprised to see they had moorings available. Not a lot of boats there so we grabbed one and got ready to go exploring. There are some ruins to visit along with another nice beach on the Eastern side of the island. It was a nice walk and interesting to speculate how these people survived on this island.
Since it is part of the park it is a not fishing/hunting zone which made me want to get in the water and see some huge fish and lobster. There were only a few small reefs near us and after visiting a few we did find on lobster sticking his tongue out at us. He was huge!
03/13/2012, Staniel Cay
Just a short hop of 6 miles or so is Staniel Cay. This is a little more developed island but still has the small Bahamas island charm. The anchorage is a little over a mile from the dinghy dock so it is preferred to go in settled weather but we do it less than perfect conditions as well. We have been using the stand-up technique in the dinghy for rougher conditions more this year. After our dinghy crash on the reef in Rum Cay two years ago we have been a slow to go back to this method. But traveling this way is a lot dryer than sitting if there are any kind of waves.
In Staniel we went for a long walk the first day with Dave and Mary and ended up on the East side beach. It had been washed away some by Irene but still a good destination. We also stopped by Isles General grocery store near the airport for some ice cream. Always an important stop after a long walk.
What was unique about this visit was all the mega yachts in the area. There we several in the anchorage, a couple at the dock and two huge ones about a mile West of the anchorage. We watch a helicopter land and take off from one of them! All we can figure was it was around spring break and parents were using their yachts to entertain the kids and there friends. The funny thing was how fascinated they were with pig beach. One beach in the anchorage has several resident pigs that people bring scraps to feed. Lots of dinghy trips full of people from the big boat to visit the pig beach. Go figure.
On one settled day we went for a long dinghy ride to explore some of the nearby islands like Sampson Cay. As we motored around we came across a new development on a private island that looked very impressive. Everything from the small marina with statues and entrance terminal to the the football field sized solar array and large wind generators looked impressive. We went in for a closer look and wandered into the marina which had only one small but very expensive sail boat. We saw some guys doing landscape work and asked if we could walk around the island. Not sure he spoke English but he agreed and of we were for a tour.
We could not believe the money that went into just the stone walkways that were about 12 feet wide and had statues periodically along the very neatly kept grounds. They even had some plaques ever so often that gave background on some of the natural flora and fauna. It a beautiful beach with beach house and what look like a nice spot to watch the sunset that cost a lot more than my house.
We followed the paths to an inlet with another gazebo and some sandstone furniture. Not sure how they made it but it came out looking like it had a wood grain.
After about a half hour walking around the security people finally found us. Apparently is was not OK for us to walk around this private development that just went operational 4 days before. They were very nice but did make sure we went straight back to our dinghies and out of the marina.
03/11/2012, Black Point, Exumas
We arrived in Black Point late in the day and we were not sure what to expect in the anchorage. It ended being far more boats than we had ever seen in there with an estimate of 50. Luckily there were a couple of good spots for Mon Amie and us in good sand on the North side of the bay.
This is one the favorite stops for cruisers in the Exumas since the locals are very cruiser friendly and have built their businesses around us. Loraine has really lead the way with her cafe that provides good food and wifi along with the added bonus of her mothers coconut bread. We bought loaf like usual and as always it was fantastic. Next time we might try the cinnamon raisin!
03/10/2012, Black Point, Exumas
After sitting out the blow it was time to move. With the winds mostly coming out of the Eastern quadrant it was easy to make a decision to go West to the Exumas. The Black Point settlement seemed like a logical place with a great laundry facility, wifi nice place to hike. It was a light air crossing and no luck on the fishing. Worked hard all day removing weeds from the lines but no luck.
We went into Dotham Cut for the first time ever. It's a wide cut but has a pretty strong current. We hit it on the incoming tide and got about a 5 knot push going through. I would hate try and go against that current. Good planning once again pays off.
03/05/2012, Fernandez Bay, Cat Isand
Along with Mon Amie there was only one other boat in the anchorage which made us happy since there is not a lot of room there. The first day we hunkered down on the gray windy day. We even had to shut down George, our wind generator, for while since he was complaining is was too windy.
Over the next few days we took some walks on the beach with Dave and Mary and even had lunch at the resort once which was a nice treat. A unique feature of this resort was the "honor bar". There was a full bar outside under a thatched roof that you helped yourself to whatever you wanted and then wrote down what you had and settled up later. You are always guaranteed good service and you don't have to tip. How do you beat that!