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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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It's a hot one...
04/11/2009, Ship Channel Cay (N24*48.665 W76*49.779) to Royal Island (N25*31.001 W76*51.007) off Eleuthera - the Out Islands

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Man it was a hot one today. 88 with a heat index of the upper 90s and it felt like it too. We had a great sailing day - 10-15 knot winds, but they were warm winds that were blowing. I was itching to jump into the water once we got in, but once we got in, the water wasn't too inviting.

We got into Royal Island a little after 5pm. Wayne sun showered up on deck and I showered below. The pump to the drain isn't working again. I didn't feel like being on display to the security guard on shore or to the power boaters. 1 other sailboat was in here that we anchored behind.

Made Chicken Salad for dinner and watched the security guard drive from one spot on the water to another spot 50 feet away then back to the original spot in a newer black ford pickup. He'd sit for ½ an hour then move back. Interesting. He must be paid to watch both areas on the construction site that is building a marina - due to open in 2010. Wayne says that truck will be worth a lot of money in ten years when it only has 1000 miles on it. The island is quite small and the pickup truck totally looks out of place.

This is a small harbor that can be shut off from the ocean if they wanted to put a chain across it. There are ruins on one part, and I can see where the island could be privately owned by the marina - hence they can keep people from anchoring in this small spot by just putting in 4 mooring balls plus the marina...

43 miles traveled today; Low tide 2:45pm High tide 9:09pm; Moon rise: 9:44pm

Good Friday
Winds ESE at 10knots (at 7:30am). High tide 9:32am, Low tide 3:40pm
04/10/2009, Shroud Cay (N24*23.664 W76*41.452) to Ships Channel Cay (N24*48.659 W76*49.784)

Good Friday, April 10, 2009
18.2 nm traveled; Anchor dropped at 1:55pm

The full moon was beautiful last night. Blood red one moment, orange and golden the higher up in the sky it climbed. I was reading in our berth when Wayne called me up to check it out. Unfortunately my camera couldn't catch it in all its glory. This morning it was a beautiful ivory; quite large as it was setting against a royal blue backdrop of sky and turquoise water. Sometimes I get the pictures. Sometimes I don't. These would have been spectacular shots if I'd had my old manual camera. Do they still make film?

A little info about Shroud Cay - It's an uninhabited archipelago of cays and rocks that surround a shallow mangrove area. Most of Shroud's interior is composed of mangroves that serve as a nursery for birds, a wide variety of fish, crawfish (lobster), conch, and sea turtles. It has shallow tidal creeks that flow through the island (only navigable by dinghy on a rising tide) bringing nutrients through this unique habitat/nursery. The shallow sand bars are plentiful, many visible at low tide so that you can walk on them and explore the tidal zone. The coral heads near the moorings are visible and you can see quite a few species of fish. Unfortunately I can't name them - except for the barracuda.

The Tropicbirds are flying above us again, teasing me to take pictures as they fly into the morning sun. I took the bait twice and was unable to capture them with my camera so I'm going back to my morning coffee. Later...

I made pancakes and sausage for breakfast while Wayne dinghied over to pay for our mooring, then we had breakfast and released our mooring. There was another Bayfield 36 that came in and anchored quite a ways out last night and we both released our anchors at the same time. It looked like they went in to Highborn Cay though. We motor-sailed until about 11:00 then cut the engine and had a downwind run, then a nice beam reach until we got to Ships Channel Cay and turned in to the island to anchor. It was a beautiful sailing day with winds ESE 12-17 knots. Somewhere after leaving Shroud Cay I noticed that the water changed back to the emerald green and coke bottle green colors. I'm going to miss those fantastic blue hues of Warderick Wells.

We anchored off Ships Channel Cay on the Banks side and then went looking for some conch in the dinghy along the shore. There was a real nice reef that I followed along and in one of the holes/ledges - saw a lobster. His little (not so little) antennae were waving at me. Hmmm wonder if he'd have waved if he were still in season. My first one and I couldn't take it - lobster season is over now until July. I found a couple of conchs that were 8" and 10" but no pronounced lip on either of them. The 10 inch one had a good size muscle too. I tipped him over to see him try to wrestle back upright in the sand and thought hmmmm.... There's a tasty meal and a horn all in one. We conferred over both of them and decided that with no lip they were illegal to take and let them both go. I looked through a lot of the old conch shells on the beach, seeing if I could find one that I could turn into a horn, but they were in sad shape - Maybe at the next stop. No conch for dinner tonight so we had left over spaghetti and salad. Reading time.

I always wanted to be a park ranger
Sunny, Winds ENE3-10knots, 76*;
04/09/2009, Exuma Park – Warderick Wells (N24*23.664 W76*41.452) to Shroud Cay (N24*23.664 W76*41.452);

Thursday, April 09, 2009
Traveled 18.8 nm; anchored 7.2 ft

This was one of those mornings I just didn't want to get out of bed. I finally got up about 7:45 so I could get the weather from the park, put on the coffee and had a good yawn to start the day. The bananaquits flew down into the cabin and joined us for coffee.

After weather, then checking out, we headed out at 9:30. I really like this anchorage (mooring). St. John's ranks as my favorite island, Warderick Wells ranks as my favorite anchorage. I love the varying shades of blue in this water, from deep blue to almost a white aqua, and the way they just pop against the white sand and black pitted rock. My pictures, as usual just don't do justice to the beauty here that surrounds our little boat. Funny how two of my favorite places have bananaquits. I wonder if there's a correlation?

The wind was flat and where it wasn't flat, it was against us so we motored the entire way to Shroud Cay. As we got closer, you could see a large amount of motor yachts, mega-yachts and a couple of super yachts at anchor. It looked like a convention of the rich and famous. One 110 footer called the park headquarters complaining about the swell and how they were swaying on the mooring. They wanted to pick up a different mooring and were told that the one they were on was the only one capable of holding them. Their response was "You have all of these other moorings here, why can't we just pick up one of these? The owner doesn't like the rocking here." Judy & Julie at the park tried to explain how the moorings couldn't accommodate their size/weight. They later called again saying that the owner was trapped up the north creek in the tender, because the tide went out and left them high and dry. They wanted someone to come rescue them. I found this interesting, because in every piece of literature it says to only go there around high tide. The park asked why they couldn't just wait for the tide since we were at low, low tide at the time they called, or they could have walked back and picked up the dink later... interesting conversations. The owner was definitely used to being catered too.

We saw some of the long tailed white birds soaring and doing acrobatics in the air as we pulled in to the anchorage. In Bermuda they're called Birds of Paradise, here they're called white-tailed Tropicbirds (Phaethon lepturus) or red-billed Tropicbirds (Phaethon aethereus) depending on their bill color. The ones we saw soaring above us were the red-billed variety.

After settling in on the mooring, we took the dinghy out to explore a bit. They have an honor system here to pay for the moorings. You put the money in an envelope and drop it into a box on shore. What they don't tell you is that you need to climb up some rocks to get to the box, so you realllly need to feel the honor code to do this. Wayne climbed it barefoot to get the envelope and we'll drop it off tomorrow when we go up the north creek to explore.

I've decided that rules aren't meant for the rich. Jet skiers are zooming all over the anchorage & between the boats - it's an idle speed zone here but they're going pretty fast, even in the shallows and tidal areas where the rock and coral are near the surface. We're in the park, which is a "no take" area on land or sea. These power boaters have no qualms about fishing off their boats. One power boat. a couple moorings down from us, has two people fishing off the back. Wayne says they probably catch them and throw them back. Hmmm... Still seems that they shouldn't be fishing - period. It damages the fish and from what I've seen, some never recover and die. I'd be in big trouble if I were the game warden or park ranger here. I'd probably be dead - definitely hated, probably dead though trying to enforce the rules. I wanted to go over and yell at them & Wayne said "vent about it in your blog". The park office is out of my radio range. Okay blog - I'm venting... These type people piss me off.

Saw small queen conch and milky conch, quite a few sand dollars, sponge and baby mangrove saplings in the tidal areas. This is a pretty place on first inspection. We'll have to wait until tomorrow morning to explore the mangrove areas up north creek (high tide).

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