15 March 2011
In keeping with our recent pattern of very short travel days, we leave Black Point and sail about two hours to Big Major (Pig Beach). Recall that this is just north of the very popular Staniel Cay. We need a few provisions including water and fuel and could go to Staniel Cay but the "mail boat" which brings the provisions to the merchants and residents is not scheduled in until tomorrow so we don't bother going into town. We do, however, have a pleasant night in the company of quite a few boats, including many trawlers, just off of Pig Beach.
The next morning, we hear on the radio that the mail boat is coming in today and expect that cruisers will be flocking to the stores so rather than compete for what would be the approximate equivalent of the Black Friday sales in the US, we head north to Sampson Cay Marina which has a small but relatively well stocked store and to which the mail boat delivers before and on its way to Staniel.
We anchor off of this upscale marina and take on supplies. Things are very expensive here (I can't bring myself to pay $35.00 for a bag of frozen shrimp so I sheepishly return it to the freezer) but we get what we need and spend the night at anchor.
Next day we head to the Pipe Creek/Sampson Creek areas. This is a very complex area of cays, sand bars, beaches, creeks and other topographical feature. There is a front coming through so we need to get an area with good protection and we end up anchoring in a small area between Pipe Creek and Little Pipe Creek in front of an impressive private resort. There are only three boats including Sea Sharp and Audacious at thi anchorage and while it is a bit bumpy though the front, it is secure and pleasant.
When the wind settles down a bit I explore in the dinghy and find a perfectly secluded beach in a small cover on the deserted Pipe Creek Cay and take Judy and Chopin for shore leave. Or course, Judy can't resist skinny dipping here and Chopin who doesn't much fancy the water sunbathes in the nude; I keep my clothes on!
Our next destination Cambridge Cay, where we spent a wonderful few days on the way down. We follow Audacious out of our anchorage, a tricky path around and between shoals. I note that Audacious appears to have touched bottom so I steer off to where I hope is deeper waters. But no, we feel that horrid bump as we graze the bottom (which fortunately is sand) and soon our forward progress I halted and we're aground. The tide I rising and we're about mid tide so if we're patient we'll gain a foot depth over the next two hours bug we are also anxious to get to our destination on the rising tide so we try our best to get off by goosing the engine and trying to find deeper water. Soon, a good Samaritan likely from one of the private resort, comes out in his skiff and the combination of his pushing and pulling and our goosing as well as the rising tide, allows us to bump our way to deeper water and eventually out the deeper water channel. No harm done!
Cambridge Cay is part of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park and there are moorings here at a modest daily fee. There are various way into this anchorage and we opt for the southern entrance which is not marked and is very tricky with coral and rock on either side. But we make it fine and pick up moorings in this splendid spot. Recall that this area includes a number of private islands including Bell Island owned and occupied by the Aga Khan.; another by Johnny Depp. There is amazing snorkelling here and we go to one sea aquarium with a huge amount of colourful fishes and splendid coral.
There are many beaches here and Judy and I and Chopin go to one directly in front of our boat. As is her habit, Judy swims back to the boat. At about this same time, the folks who look after taking the payments for the mooring come to our boat to collect. They inform me that there is a bull shark (the Bahama equivalent to a great white) in the area and in fact has been spotted in the very area Judy has just transited!
We spend two pleasant days at Cambridge Cay and leave for Wardrick Wells to spend a few days.