The Art of Easting
30 March 2012 | Chub Cay
Richard in perfect weather
Three blokes on a boat once more. I dropped Jules of at Freetown airport for an emotional fair well after what was a full on month of prepping the boat and sailing the first passage. Hey Jules, that was a beat month.....especially the Sunday session when I fell off my bike....4 times. I'm missing you. We spent the last two days in a nice hotel in Lucaya Bay while the boys rocked and rolled at anchorage in 15 to 20 knot winds. Free diving for lobster kept them busy. Grand Bahama island doesn't appear very prosperous with same USA scourge of closed down restaurants and shopping centers. Lucaya is like a make believe village...a little fake but very colorful. The people are wonderful...but the opposing getto blasters on beaches and markets does get to you after a while.
After seeing Jules off Mark picked me up in the dingy. I arrived back at the boat all wet but ready to sail. The dingy doesn't like the chop very much and will be upgraded when we find a better one in the islands. windfinder.com is proving to be our best navigation source and we knew from that we had about 12 hrs of 20 knots to get us at least part way to the Berry Islands enroute to Nassau. These islands are supposed to be the best pick for beaches, bays and diving in the whole Bahamas.
I was lucky enough to get first watch and so tacked into the SE winds at speeds of over 10 knots. I tacked after 20nm into both current and waves that gave the sleeping boys a rough time. For another 10nm we cruised at 7knots. I had to make some adjustments to avoid a cruise ship that passed about 400m across our bow. I passed over to Mark at midnight and at sometime after that, as expected the wind died. When I woke at 6.30 this morning (Thursday 29th) the GPS showed only about another 10nm was added to the trip in the previous 6hrs. Frustrated with the sailing Oli was rewarded with another sunrise. With no wind we are motoring the final 20nm to the islands. ETA 10am.
"Easting" is all about edging as far east as possible into the prevailing winds. If we fall west we will end up with a terrible time of trying to sail to the likes of Dominica and Puerto Rico, and onto the Virgin Islands. That is why Cuba isnt on our agenda. Once that far east however we have the prevailing winds to take us right through the Caribbean. Bragging rights goes to the sailer who "Easts" with the least motoring and most comfort. Unfortunately with guests coming and going we have to make good our passages regardless of favorable winds. Once Charlotte boards that will no longer be a priority...we will play in the sand and sea and wait for the wind to take us onwards.
On our way into anchor at Petit Cay at the north most point of the Berry Island, we caught two barracuda (both released) and a Yellow Tail. Then when anchored Oli got the first Lobster and Mark the second...followed by Mark spearing a massive Hog Fish....and she is going on the BBQ whole....if she fits. More lobsters came latter.
This bay is all white sand and turquoise water. You can see fish on the bottom at 15m. We anchored in 2 meters just off the beach with only one other yacht in site. This island has the highest per capiter millionaires in the world. 700 residents all well healed and invisible - perfect.
No wind and so the water is glass. It looks like Ooroo is sitting right on the bottom. Too shallow to dive in. But it's 2 m deep. I had my first skinny dip, soap up and rinse. I may have to change into fresh boardies....one day.
24hrs latter, swimming, cleaning and a few running repairs and we are off. Leaving our first pristine bay of what shall be one of hundreds when we return. Oli, Mark and I agree that it is the clearest water any of us have ever seen. Thats saying something when you consider the places we have collectively visited.
Once again tacking into the SE at 7-8 knots.
FISH....was the call only 10 mins ago. Oli had a big one on and so the drill is to pull in the jib and turn into the wind. The fish dragged Oli right down the port hull. Before he gained control and dragged it back to me waiting on the swim deck with a gaff. Oli won....just. We hauled in a meter long Barracuda....which bit me when we released her. We are avoiding eating Barracuda due to Ciguatera. A disease none of us want to get that is prevalent in large fish that feed off smaller reef fish. You can be violently ill for a week and then have symptoms that can last for a year or more... Google it....not nice.
That was the third fish we caught since we left the bay only two hours ago. The first, a 3kg tuna like fish, just came off the BBQ (our first BBQ at sea). The second was another Yellow Tail..we ate that already. Filleted and served raw with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy. Very nice.
We are following the crescent shaped Berry Island chain...destination Chub Cay. We will overnight there and head to Nassau tomorrow for a Saturday night in the big smoke.
Now approaching Chubby (??) with the sun setting (19.30), we had several more fish hooked...all lost due to the size of the things. One I tried to land leap skywards several times before shaking me off. We will be eating well wherever we go. Mark cooked up the last of the Lobster ....as toasted sandwiches. Sacrilege...you may say. Mark says we will have so much lobster that we will be continually finding other unique ways to cook them. I'm thinking Lobster Roast with Yorkshire Pudding for Sunday....with Champaign Gravy.
We started to clean Charlottes room for Sara's stay. I installed some LED mood lights. It's been the tool room for so long that we needed to get it femanised (sorry Dakota) for such important guests.
Anchored in darkness at 20.30...the boys are washing in the dark water (Oli stinks).
We are thinking.....shall we motor in and see if this Friday night in Chubby has night life? Oli smells ok now so we go.
We went. Found an air conditioned bar....didn't like it but was directed to the 'local'. And met a local with 26 kids, another with 9...they know a guy who had 270....all different mothers. He is also a fisherman so maybe he exaggerated. But at least we now know why they call it Chubby.