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22 March 2011 | Duncantown, Ragged Island
Beth / VERY windy / warm days/cool nights
We had envisioned a week long trip down through the Jumentos but that hasn’t happened quite the way we planned. Hmmmmm - I think I’ve been saying that a lot lately!
We left Thompson Bay on Friday and had such good sailing winds that we came all the way down to Flamingo Cay, bypassing Water Cay - our first stop last year. There were several boats in the little anchorage by the two palms, but just like last year, we opted to anchor in the next little bay. We covered 56.2 nautical miles and had the engine on for less than an hour (just to get us out of one anchorage and into another). While we were tired after 11 hours of sailing, it was so much better than having the engine roaring away.
We dined on a new recipe I invented, and named Chicken Quatro - for the 4 C’s - coconut, curry, cassava and chicken. I must say, it was very tasty! I had never cooked cassava before but the farmer who sold it to me told me to cook it till tender, then peel it and add it to a stew or whatever I was making. It has a texture somewhat like the Bahamian potatoes, (firmer than the ones we are used to) and it worked well with coconut milk and curry powder - with a dash of the hot seasoning salt I bought at the same market. I sauteed chicken pieces with onion and tossed it all together to simmer for half an hour. Mmmmmmm.
I’ve mentioned “perfect moments” before, and that evening was one of them. The moon was full or nearly full and shining brightly across the water. Madcap had just the gentlest of rolls happening and we were full after a tasty dinner and pleased with our day’s sail. CBC was coming in loud and clear on the radio. As we sat in this lovely anchorage among the most southerly of the Bahamian Cays, we listened to Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe - recorded at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium in Halifax, Nova Scotia - about a 20 minute walk from our home. It seemed to link the two parts of our lives so very well.
We listened to conversations among the fishermen on the 3 boats off Flamingo Cay, and passed several more anchored at Jamaica Cay while their dinghies scattered through the area to fish. Scott had explained to us that there will usually be a crew of 6 to 8 people plus a cook. The cook stays on board while the dinghies with a diver and a driver go off fishing. The men own their own dinghies and pay a percentage (plus their gas and groceries) to the captain of the big boat. The Captain C - the mailboat - was anchored off Flamingo Cay for a while in the evening too, before heading off across the Lark Channel. We smiled when we heard the radio call from the Captain C to one of the fishing boats, “Have you got any snapper?” and we watched as a dinghy went flying off to the mailboat.
The next day was a good sailing day too, and we moved on down to Buenavista Cay where we were the only boat on that lovely long stretch of white sand. This is the first time in months that we’ve had an anchorage to ourselves, and we made good use of it. We dinghied ashore and walked down the beach to the trail that leads to the southern end and another beach. I gathered some palm fronds for weaving, we swam in the clear blue water, and dried out as we walked some more. The house up at the northern end didn’t seem to have anyone around this year - although we didn’t go up close to investigate because our legs were tired of walking in the deep sand. Last year, we took cans of vegetables and beer to the two gentlemen staying there - an elderly fisherman who still rowed miles back and forth to his fishing grounds, and his son (I think).
We kept moving south and made the difficult decision to bypass both Raccoon and Hog Cays and come straight to Ragged Island’s Southside Bay on Sunday. I remember Raccoon as being a really pretty little spot - and there was only one boat there. Hog Cay is a cruiser favourite and there were several boats we’ve met in there, but we had weather coming and we decided Southside was where we’d prefer to ride it out. Once again it was a fine sailing day - although a more “vigorous” one than the last two. We had the main and the Yankee up and were flying along at close to 7 knots, but eventually switched to the stay sail as the wind built to a sustained 18 - 20 knots. Eventually we had to furl in the stay as well and motor sail as we headed up into the wind for the last 45 minutes.
We went ashore to the beach and walked to town - take the trail to the road and then walk past the dump, across the airport runway, up the hill and around the corner. The runway is finished now and the roads are all smooth black asphalt. The crews were here working on them when we were here at just about this time last year. This is a very small little settlement - fewer than 100 people and it is so amazing to see such roads! It being Sunday, there were few people about, but we did find a working payphone - a most unusual thing. After a hot and dusty walk back, we stopped to say hello to the folks on Jubilee - the only other boat here and then enjoyed a quiet evening. Our Sunday dinner was stewfish - made of snapper I had in the freezer, onions and Bahamian Sweet potatoes - spiced up with some of the hot sauce I bought at the market.
We have been experiencing more of that eau de sewer lately and so we spent Monday morning dealing with that. We took up the table and the floor boards once more, wondering if it was the vent again, and discovered that the macerator pump had not been pumping. The tank was absolutely full. I will not describe what happened when we disconnected hoses to see if there was a blockage - lets just say I used lots of javex afterward. (And kiddos - you’ll be impressed - your dad did not throw up or even gag!) Back in the fall I questioned whether we really needed a $200 spare macerator pump on board, but Jim took the old one out and installed the new one and it worked a charm. Thank goodness! No more smell and an empty holding tank. We poured buckets and buckets of water down into the bilge, pumped that out too and disinfected everything in sight. (You’d be proud MB) (and Alain - I didn’t have to come to close to any tubing!!)
The predicted high winds and squalls arrived about noon and lasted all afternoon and evening. The highest I happened to see on the wind indicator was 29.2; the wind generator has been working hard enough to divert some of its energy over to the hot water tank and that hardly ever happens. Our anchor is well dug into one of the sandy bits here in the bay. We are in 7 ft of water at low tide and Jim put out about 100 feet of chain so we have lots of rode to hold us securely. I am always amazed that we can possibly stay in one place with such a wind - but we do!! (Knocking on wood here). We spent the afternoon with books and charts - of Cuba. Because yes - I really think we are going to get there this year. We’ll deliver our boxes of books to the school on Tuesday and wait for the seas to calm. We’ll visit with our old friend Phicol and then we’ll be Cuba Bound.
ps - We have just delivered books to the school - 10 students this year - after Percy (from the house with the plane on top and goats, pigs,chickens in his yard - and pigs on the beach too!) drove us to town. We missed Phicol somehow and are now going to find him.
We are still on track for a 3 am departure to Puerto de Vita, Cuba - a trip of about 60 nautical miles. I hope we’ll find an internet connection there to let you know how it goes. We are excited!!!