Between the Majors
09 January 2011
So, we head back to the Staniel Cay area; this time preparing for a cold front. Instead of anchoring west of Big Major (pig Beach) we opt for the much more protected anchorage "between the majors". This is a narrow but deep passage between two substantial islands with "near" 360 degree protection.
Weather forecasts indicate a significant front but we figure we're in a great spot. There are only a few boats here when we arrive but lots of boats come in as the day progresses 'cause of the inclement weather to come. We find a good spot and dig our anchor in really good and go to the beach. There are beaches galore anywhere here and most are deserted. Don't know who loves this more; Chopin or Judy.
Evening is quite clement and we lull ourselves into thinking that the front will not be significant and that it'll dissipate before it gets to us. It's a peaceful evening and we go to bed thinking that we might get a bit of wind but have, generally, a restful night. Well, around 1:30, the wind starts to howl, the sky is completely lit with lightening and it becomes really scary. We are dancing around our anchor as are our neighbours. There's no possibility of rest and I spent the night in the cockpit reading and fretting. We note that a neigbouring boat starts to drag and spends some considerable time, in the black of the night and in fierce winds trying to reanchor. The trawler behind us seems to be moving further away and in the dark it's hard to determine what's happening.
The boat lurches and tugs at the anchor; picture a vessel which, with it's cargo probably weighs 10 tons being pulled and pushed on an anchor weighing 45 pounds and 70 feet of chain. You've got to have a lot of faith in the engineering of modern boat gear. Our anchor holds fine but I barely sleep. When day breaks around 6, the wind abates a bit and I go below to sleep fitfully for a couple of hours. The wind continues to settle and by this time when we see 20 knots it almost feels calm. we hear that four boats drag in our supposedly protected anchorage. One report showed peak winds of 60 knots but while I think this is exaggerated, we heard many reports of wind gusts in excess of 40 and more.
As the day progresses, the wind abates and it's a lovely day. Roger and I dinghy into Staniel to get our propane tanks filled. It's a bumpy ride over with the wind still coming in from the west but warm and pleasant.
This is a small island and most of the road transportation is by golf carts. There are a few trucks and cars but mostly golf carts and scooters zipping noiselessly by. As we wander to one of the three small stores to get propane we are offered a drive by a local lady. She's quite a character and we find out later is the community police. I don't think there's much crime to begin with but I would not want to have to reckon with her if I was on the wrong side of the law.
We get our propane tanks refilled which is a time consuming process but have a great chat with the store owner and get lots of stories about life on these small islands. On the way back we stop at the two other stores; the pink store and the blue store. They are tiny and sparsely stocked stores owned by brothers (one died last year). We get the sense that there is a very easy rivalry between them if at all. I ask various locals which they prefer and they're to a person careful not to indicate their preference for one over the other.
Things are very costly and not readily available. When the so-called "mailboat" comes in, they have a run on produce and other things and people surge to the stores to get the fresh stuff.
We stop by one of the small bars called Taste and Sea for a cold Kalik (the local beer) and get more stories from the affable and industrious proprietor.
All in all, a very pleasant day...