The Berry Islands - Frazer’s Hog Cay (N25*25.782 W077*49.871)
Martha and Dave (he's Australian - nice accent) from the yellow boat dinghied to the beach near us to clean the 4 conch they'd caught for dinner and I got a lesson on how to get the critter out of the shell and cleaned for cooking. They put a hole in it between the second and third whorl on top of the spire, with a sharp pick hammer then push a sharp knife through the hole and put the blade point along the surface of the columella - pressing it forward then across severing the muscle from the columella in a scraping motion. Turn the conch over, reach inside, and pull the critter out by the operculum (claw), then skin, cut & gut it... As they were getting ready to go back to the boat, Denny dinghied over to see what the secret to anchoring here was. They were still dragging and resetting. Martha said to be sure to visit the Berry Club Bar - beer here is only $3 (and they have internet access?).
We discovered that the sand here is a thin layer that coats hard pack layers of limestone (coral). So anchoring here isn't very good. That's probably why they have moorings further back. Dave said that he always dives on his anchor and pounds it in. There are a few good patches of sand here and there but for the most part it's poor holding. They pointed out several areas they thought would be good, and Aurora ended up going a little further down near the point to the north. Most boats try and anchor and catch the grass then end up dragging. I noticed that there are grass patches marked on the charts. Great - while we haven't drug, now I'm going to be on guard all night.
After that, we didn't explore much but went back to the boat to keep on eye on things. I made some hot pork sandwiches and corn for dinner and finished it off with some pudding. Anchor lights on, wind generator off (making to much energy with nothing attached yet to dissipate the excess) and I'd bet another sleepless night for me. David said it was supposed to calm down tonight but that's not what we'd heard. Hope Den & Brigid have settled in for the night...
Frazer's Hog Cay
02/20/2009, The Bahamas Bank (N25*27.010 W078*19.114) to The Berry Islands - Frazer’s Hog Cay (N25*25.782 W077*49.871)
Friday, February 20, 2009
Got up around 6:30 and put on the coffee and watched Sooo Fine 2 pull out of our anchorage pretty close to 7am. I tried to hail him on the VHF to wish him a safe speedy trip to Nassau but got no response. Sat and drank my coffee, enjoyed my sunrise. This was a really bouncy anchorage last night. It was another night without a lot of sleep. I'd just gotten used to the rocking motion and dozed off, when it switched motion and started rocking us side to side instead of front to back - a most uncomfortable switch. I noticed that Aurora and Sooo Fine 2 were bouncing quite a bit too. I think more so than us - Wayne said it was because they were lighter boats? I was surprised but not so surprised at all the rocking/pitching, if that makes sense. It's shallow enough here that the waves can't grow that large, but the fetch is such that because there's so much open space, they can build to their maximum ht with the all wind.
The winds are predicted to be from the N - NW 10-15mph today and they were pretty nice. We sailed the entire way and Aurora motor sailed. I wasn't sure if they were going to continue on to the Berry's or head to Nassau for a new sail, but Brigid hailed us a little after 8 am, and we went over the waypoints so they're still heading for the Berrys. I know they had to be back home by April 1st but after blowing out the sail, Nassau would be the place to put in for another one or for a professional repair. I'm glad we're heading to the Berry's together.
The water colors here are incredible. I've never seen so much variation in the colors and hues anywhere else. It changes from a pretty coke bottle green when there's sand below us to a dark jade when there's grass or coral rock at a depth from 10-20 ft. Then the next minute it changes to an aqua and then sapphire blue as you get into deeper water.
The only marine life I saw during our travels today was a flying fish. They are sooo cool to watch. They come shooting out of the water with their fins fluttering like a humming bird and travel through the air close to the water for fairly long distances.
As we approached Frazer's Hog Cay I hailed Aurora to see if they'd lead going into the anchorage area. I'd noticed there were a couple spots that read 1.3m and 1.7m on the charts, which concerned me since we're about 5'8". So they took the lead (they have a shallow draft) and we followed. We dropped the hook near a yellow sailboat from Minnesota around 1:30pm (my kind of time!) at 8.3 ft and swung out to 9.6 ft. The water color here is a light peridot color - beautiful with patches of jade where the grass is.
Aurora got their sail unfurled and down. They have another sail that they put back up (a storm sail). We dinghied over to see how things looked. They said it turned out to be torn and shredded as well as the sun protector coming apart so it appears we won't be able to help out much. They appeared to be dragging and reset their anchor a couple of times and needed to stay to make sure it set, so we went to shore to investigate the beach area. There's a ton of old conch shells, seaweed and basic trash (bottles, plastic, etc...) washed up all over the beach. I found a little conch shell I was going to bring back to the boat but a crab inhabited it. We walked in a bit and noticed a dirt road/path and on the other side of it - what appeared to be a lake? As we were doing this, I noticed a dinghy approaching the beach and thought it might be Aurora and came back to the beach. It wasn't them.
On the Banks Part II
SW winds 20mph seas 2-4 ft 64.9 miles today
02/19/2009, Bimini (N25*43.473 W079*17.858) to… anchoring out on the Bahamas Bank (N25*27.010 W078*19.114)
Thursday, February 19, 2009
A little after 2pm Aurora hailed us to say they blew their jib and were slowed up a bit. They were going to motor back up and motor sail so we let some of the power out of our sails so they could catch up. I told them we'd keep an eye out for them, but it was rough letting the wind out of the sails. Kolibrie still wanted to go 6 knots but Wayne got her to slow down to 3-4 knots until Aurora passed us. The winds are still blowing from 15-20mph and we've sped back up a bit to 6.0 knots now that Aurora has gained on us. We're talking about stopping around 5pm but we're so far behind Sooo Fine 2 that we'll probably still be sailing until 7 until we catch up to him LOL. Waves are still in the 2-4 ft range at 4pm. It's an amazing view - looking in any direction all you can see is blue-sky meeting emerald water. No land in sight anywhere. White capped waves of green and blue sky and looking down you can see the sand beneath the water.
After thinking about it, I was wondering if Aurora's sun protector separated from the sail like ours did. If so, it's repairable... So I hailed them on the radio to see if that was the case. They weren't quite sure but I told them if that was the case we had our sewing machine with us because we'd done that last year. If we could find a quiet anchorage to pull it out and look at it, we might be able to repair it. We'll see at the next anchorage - I think we're heading to the same place in the Berry Islands - around the Chub Cay area. The one today won't work because it's all water on the banks.
So Fine 2 picked out some coordinates for us to meet at to anchor for the night and called to verify that it was okay for Aurora and us. It shows 9-10 ft depth so we said okay, then I checked it out, as far as distance, and it was a little over 10 miles, which meant getting in about 6 - 6:30. Wayne cranked on the engine to get our speed up so we could make it in before dark. We pulled in at 6:09 and dropped anchor at sunset. It was almost a 12-hour sail today. 64.9 miles. Depth here is 13 ft. Position: N25*27.010 W078*19.114 It's weird to anchor in such shallow depths with no land in sight anywhere... Feels like "Water World" (the movie). We're anchored 2 miles off of the route to make sure that we're out of the "traffic lane" if there are any boats traveling through the banks tonight. The charts show suggested routes to follow for those unsure of the depths that have 6 ft drafts (I for one appreciate that!).
Salmon in a ginger, soy, garlic, lime and honey sauce with salad and Bimini bread for dinner. Then up top to see the stars. It should be a terrific view of the sky. The only lights are our three anchor lights (Sooo Fine 2, Aurora, and Kolibrie). The moon hasn't risen yet and won't until after midnight. When it does rise, it will only be a waning
crescent. I think the new moon is around the 24th. I think the other two boats either ate during our sail or skipped dinner - there are no lights on other than their anchor lights. Long day without much sleep last night either.