21/04/2010/4:14 pm, Royal Island
It was another one of those days - a 7:30 departure from Shroud Cay, a 9 hour engine-on-all-the-way trip to Royal Island and a 2-try anchoring job. Storm clouds were hovering, our ears were ringing, and we were still feeling lingering effects of just plain tiredness. Then we looked around to see who else was here and discovered Cygnus! Our hearts lifted immediately. Just after we "hung up the phone" from talking with Bob, we got a call from Passages (NH) and discovered that Karin and Ed were anchored just around the corner at Egg Island and are headed for the Abacos. And then Judy called from Jubilee (with whom we shared a bumpy day or two in Warderick Wells). They arrived here in Royal Island and will spend a few days at Spanish Wells. It never fails to lift our spirits when we spot old friends in an anchorage.
After the clouds dumped a rain shower, we happily accepted an invitation to dinner aboard Cygnus and spent a thoroughly lovely evening with Mary Lou and Bob, and their 2 Yorkies, Jib and Spinnaker. Mary Lou made one of those wonderful sausage, potato, pepper and onion mixtures that both Jim and I love, and served it with a huge caesar salad. Absolutely delicious. She also shared recipes for English Muffins and her special fudge. Bob gave us a contact for an electronics guy in Marsh Harbour - maybe we can get the SSB going again.
We laughed at the antics of the dogs, talked about our cruising seasons, and learned to our delight that Bob will be crewing on a boat out of Maine, headed to Newfoundland during the summer. We sure hope they plan a stop in Halifax!
It is at times like these that we realize how energizing it is to see familiar faces.
We'll go over to Spanish Wells on Thursday morning to get on the internet, get groceries, visit the bank and download all the things Jim needs to do our taxes! It sounds like there won't be a wind to take us north till Saturday, and then we may have to hustle before the next front!
20/04/2010/3:57 pm, Allens Cay, Exumas
The weather reports have been so confusing lately. West wind/east wind/light wind/possible gales. We hardly knew what to do, but when the wind came up enough from the west to make our mooring at Shroud uncomfortable, and our plan to dinghy up to the north end of the cay to the mangrove creek unrealistic, we decided to take advantage of it and move on. It was a good decision.
We sailed a good part of the way up to Allen's Cay and arrived here to find only one other boat! Last time we stopped here, the little bay was chock-a-block with boats. Jim was pleased to have the Explorer chart on the handheld Garmin GPS so he could tell in an instant whether I should steer to port or to starboard as we rounded the corner and headed up along the shoreline. It has much better detail than the Navionics charts on our Raymarine chartplotter. (Thanks Stephen!)
By the time the sun set, 3 more boats had come in, and we all had a calm night.
On Tuesday, we stayed put, reading our books, dinghying ashore to visit the prehistoric looking iguanas. They are fascinating creatures - all knobbly skinned and webbed toes and beady eyes. A few of them have numbers painted on their backs this year - somebody must be doing a study. We laughed at one big guy who was either a senior statesman or a plain old bully. I tossed scraps of lettuce to them and he did his best to keep the others away, chasing after them on his awkward legs and even swatting at them with his right front foot. Do you suppose they are all right-footed or are there some lefties?
We searched the grassy shoals for conch. Unfortunately, the only live ones we found were too small. Gotta let them live for another year or two. Instead of fishing, we snorkeled around, checking out the bottles and shells on the bottom, admiring our well and truly buried anchor, and getting a surprise from an incoming motor yacht. Jim was swimming the short distance between the shore and the boat when I rounded the end of Madcap to see the yacht heading straight for him. I let out a mighty yell - to alert both Jim and the boat. Fortunately both of them heard me - Jim went into power mode immediately, and the woman on the bow of the boat said, "Don't worry, I see him." That was nice, and it was going very slowly, but it still made both our hearts beat faster to know that it was straight on course for him.
Several more boats came in, including a giant yacht that anchored, opened its "garage door" and slid a fancy dinghy and a seadoo into the water. They roared around for a couple of hours, then slid back into the "garage", the boat weighed anchor and headed off. There is something a little head-shaking about a middle aged guy in skimpy bathing suit and pot belly zooming in and out among anchored sail boats on his seadoo that got spit out the back of his multi million dollar yacht. It takes all kinds, I guess.
Dinner was BBQ steak, potatoes, cole slaw, washed down with a bottle of pinot noir freshly unearthed from beneath the berth in the aft cabin, and topped off with a handful of chocolate chips. We really need to replenish our sweet supply!
18/04/2010/3:49 pm, Shroud Cay
So what are we doing for fun?
At Little Bay, Bruce taught us to clean the conch that Rich plucked from the sea so the next time we find 'em, we can clean 'em. We got caught in a furious downpour and by the time we all got back to our boats (from the conch cleaning lesson ashore) we were soaked and thoroughly desalinated! Marilyn makes wonderful conch fritters, and we gathered on Reflection one night to eat some - along with Madcap's Peas'n'Rice and New Horizon's decadent brownies.
When we got to Big Major's Spot on Monday, we spotted Moon River with a big Nova Scotia flag flying from the mizzen mast in our honour, and Gratton blew his conch horn. These two know how to mark arrivals and departures. When we left Iroquois Marine in Ontario in June, 2007, it was to the accompaniment of Gratton's harmonica. We had a wonderful catch-up conversation later in the evening and though we regret that in all the commotion of the "Troubles", we didn't see them again before they left, we'll meet them in the Abacos.
We hitchhiked from Big Major's Spot over to Staniel Cay aboard Katmandu! We were enjoying a visit with Stephen and Nathalie and the kids before heading around the corner to the yacht club when they suggested that we make the trip on the catamaran. Chris (Star of the Sea) was travelling over with them too, so we tied our dinghy to the stern, (both ours and Katmandu's looking like garbage scows) sipped coffee and stayed dry as Nathalie skillfully handled the helm. How civilized!
Jim and I enjoyed our last Yacht Club lunch of the season - a whopping big club sandwich and fries (split between us!) We picked up a few supplies from the store and took our last look at the nurse sharks snoozing beneath the docks.
We left Big Major's Spot on Saturday and went to Bell Island where we anchored on the west side of the island. It is privately owned and a fellow came out immediately from the luxurious looking shoreside facilities to tell us that we were not allowed ashore. When we saw him approach Katmandu, we figured he was telling them we weren't allowed to anchor there and Jim was marshaling all his arguments about why we were not going to go elsewhere. He was a chatty guy and had many questions about where we were from and where we were going. Was he checking us out? Or was he just making conversation? We don't know who owns the island (should have asked - does anyone else know?), but it is pretty spiffy! Nathalie and Stephen (Katmandu) came over to Madcap for a Spaghetti dinner - not exactly spiffy, but enjoyable anyway. We wouldn't bother stopping here again - much better to go on into the Cambridge anchorage.
Weather reports have been so confusing lately that we didn't know whether to move in there on Sunday morning, or keep on going northward. In the end, we opted to go on to Shroud Cay, and it was a sound decision.
We managed to sail part of the way, using the dratted "Iron Genny" for the rest of it. A few boats were anchored at Shroud and several came in after we did and took moorings. We dinghied ashore to put our $15 in the drop box and then cruised up and down the shoreline a bit, stopping to say hello to fellow Canadians, Rick and Doreen (Breathless).
After we cleaned ourselves up, we joined Rick and Doreen (Breathless) and Nathalie and Stephen (Katmandu) on Star of the Sea where Chris and Peaches were hosting a fine happy hour. I guess we need to clean up more often because we got some ribbing from Stephen about our appearance! It's amazing what a difference shaving, combing our hair and trading raggedy T- shirts for dressier ones can make!