Barracuda's Blog

The adventures of Kate and Graham and our OVNI 395.

18 April 2018 | Warderick Wells Cay, Bahamas
17 April 2018 | Warderick Wells Cay, Bahamas
17 April 2018 | Staniel Cay, Bahamas
17 April 2018 | Staniel Cay, Bahamas
16 April 2018 | Staniel Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
14 April 2018 | Staniel Cay – Exuma Cays, Bahamas
12 April 2018 | Cape Santa Maria, Long Island
10 April 2018 | Clarence Town, Long Island, Bahamas
09 April 2018 | Lady Slipper Cay, Aklins Island, Bahamas
08 April 2018
07 April 2018 | Myaguana, Bahamas
05 April 2018 | Turtle Cove Marina, Provo, T&Cs
03 April 2018 | Turtle Cove Marina, Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands
02 April 2018 | Beautiful Big Sand Cay, Turks and Caicos Islands
31 March 2018
30 March 2018
29 March 2018 | San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA
26 March 2018 | San Juan. Puerto Rico, USA
24 March 2018 | San Juan, Puerto Rico

Nature Watch

16 January 2019 | Highbourne Cay, Exumas
A busy day keeping track of the flock.

Following an early morning swim in our secluded bay, we went ashore to check in on the iguanas of Allen's Cay. The beach we went to had another boat on it: a very high-speed power boat that had come down from Nassau with two passengers on a special day out, to do all the Exuma 'attractions' in a one-er (when we take a week to do them). Apparently they get across here in an hour, at 38 knots. You are not really meant to feed the iguanas, but clearly all these tour boats do feed them for the benefit of the passengers, who have paid lots of money to see iguanas. So we had iguanas running everywhere and they were getting quite close, hoping we had brought some grapes.

Then we headed down to Highbourne Cay. Last time we were here we found a reef with stunning corals and we wanted to revisit this with Ailie. It did not disappoint - great corals and loads of fish. Today's photo includes a Parrotfish we spotted on the reef. We are trying to improve our fish identification skills, following the tuition we had from Kerrie last week. We did spot six big Ocean Triggerfish on the edge of the reef, which were fun to watch along with all the usual Grunts, Sergeant Majors, Butterflyfish, Queen Angelfish and Squirrelfish (amongst others). Must start on trying to learn our corals next.

Writing this as the sun sets with some gentle waves lapping on the hull and a light warm breeze drifting over the boat. Happy place.

And then there were three

15 January 2019 | Allen’s Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
Yesterday we said our goodbyes to Andy and Kerrie after a really fabby trip with them – lots of fun, great sailing, fine snorkelling, exploring new places and more games than we can remember. Until the next time…..

After a quick turn around on the boat, Ailie (G’s daughter) flew into Nassau and joined us at Palm Cay. The last time Ailie sailed with us on Barracuda was in Turkey about 4 years ago. Wonderful to have her back on board.

Today we sailed gently south to Allen’s Cay (home of the indigenous iguanas) using our usual route to the west of the Yellow Bank. Allen’s Cay anchorage had more yachts in the bay than we have seen before so it took a little while to find a suitable spot, in a perfect shallow horseshoe inlet edged with a white sand beach. We caught up with one UK boat that we have not seen since the Chesapeake Bay and met another friendly Canadian boat (fellow-OCC members) with whom we have a circuitous link through sailing friends in the UK – the boaty small world thing. Tomorrow we will start our next exploration of the Exumas with Ailie.

North of the Yellow Bank again

13 January 2019 | Palm Cay Marina, New Providence, Bahamas
Catching up on a couple of days. From Highbourne Cay, we moved up to Allan’s Cays to pay our respects to the iguanas. The wind stayed fairly strong through the day and night, but it is reasonably protected in the lagoon created by the various islands that make up the group of cays so we had a fairly comfortable night. We visited two of the islands – one with iguanas and one without. We are interested to know how they travel between islands and why they are on some and not others.

There were some fishermen living in the lagoon on their boat, so Graham and Andy did the hunter-gatherer thing and went out and haggled for a bag of lobster tails. Whilst haggling with the fishing boat from our dinghy, it was hard to not notice the nurse sharks hanging around the back of the boat for the fish waste. Dinner was an overload of lobster – well enjoyed by all. Plenty left over for today’s lobster lunch.

Today we set sail north, back over the Yellow Bank, aiming for Palm Cay which seems to have become our default change-over destination. Kerrie and Andy will be leaving us here and Ailie will be joining us. The wind was perfect for our first ParaSailor run in many months.

And I can only add what a wonderful time we have had, with every day bringing a new, exciting and memorable experience. Graham and Kate have been the most generous and wonderful hosts and Barracuda an absolute joy to live aboard for the – brief - fortnight we’ve been here. We head east tomorrow with batteries fully recharged and fond memories of friends and times together that will tide us through the remains of a Scottish Winter, and beyond. Wishing them fair winds and following seas for the rest of their time in this amazing place. (Andy and Kerrie)

Taking the rough with the smooth

11 January 2019 | Highbourne Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
A question from one of our readers - are lion fish good to eat. We are not sure but will report back if we manage to eat one. They do serve them up in various places.

Our night at Shroud Cay turned out to be a rough one. The wind stayed much more in the west than was forecast and despite our best effort to get tucked in behind a small headland we had a very rolly night. So we were all a bit knackered by morning. Andy has the concept of Velcro pyjamas for such nights when you need something to stick you down to your bed. We have learnt that there are not that many places down here to use for shelter when the wind is out of the NW. We shifted over to Elbow Cay for breakfast and then enjoyed one of our finest sails up to Highbourne Cay via the unsuccessful fishing ground.

We decided to treat ourselves to some pampering with a night in Highbourne Cay Marina and to check out how the other 0.0001% live. It is a super yacht haven and it is very sheltered so no swell and an excellent night’s sleep ensued.

Today we headed all of ½ a mile outside the marina to park ourselves beside a coral garden reef. Not so many fish but some of the best corals we have seen on the trip and in really good condition. The reef runs for about a mile and we managed a couple of good snorkel sessions. Lots of fish and the corals were amazing.

During the afternoon we spotted fellow OVNI S/Y Chandelle coming into the anchorage who we have not seen since Florida. They joined us for dinner on Barracuda. It was really lovely to catch up again. Until the next time….

Meandering in the mangroves

09 January 2019 | Shroud Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
The morning snorkel proved a winner, with a small but perfectly formed coral head that was home to a large number of fish including the Lion Fish pictured in today's blog. These fish are really beautiful to look at but are venomous to other fish (and people) and are an invasive species; so much so that we have seen signs asking people to eat more Lion Fish to help deplete the population in the Caribbean area, which should not be there and is affecting other species.

Then it was time for a short hop up to the southern end of Shroud Cay to explore the mangroves. We took in Guppy and Gnu* for a gentle drift around - very calm and quiet, with beautiful intricate mangroves in clean, calm water. Nature watch included a green heron, a ray and a turtle. Once again, we are all alone on our slightly rolly anchorage.

*Guppy: the dinghy. Gnu: our inflatable canoe, last seen in Greece several years ago...

Exploring Hawksbill

08 January 2019 | Hawksbill Cay - south, Exumas, Bahamas
After the usual early morning swims we headed onshore to explore the trails of Hawksbill Cay. As you wander through the island you are wending your way though narrow pathways between stubby palm trees and other shortish vegetation. You can't see very far ahead - good fun to explore. And then when you think you have the place to yourselves you suddenly hear voices! Our walk took us to the 'Loyalist Ruins'. Note to self: must look up what these are, and who were the Loyalists?

In some ways it is an island of two parts. The beaches on the west side are characterised by flat turquoise water and white sand fringed by the aforementioned stubby vegetation. We assume that bigger trees don't survive when they get hurricanes through here. On the east side which faces the prevailing wind there is quite a lot of plastic rubbish washed up on the rocks and beaches and it is really very difficult to remove it and get it out owing to the conditions. It has been collected up into heaps so perhaps someone is trying to clear it up. You would need a very still day to get a boat in close to gather and offload this - not easy. Most of the plastic was fishing discards - nets, fish boxes, fish barrels, float, and the like. It is a real shame and the worst we have seen on our travels.

On our return to the west-facing beach, after our long hot walk, we had the most welcome swim. In the afternoon we explored the various snorkelling sites in the area, which were fairly interesting with some good corals and a nurse shark spotted from the ding. The trouble is that now we have been spoilt by our trip to the Aquarium site at O'Brien's Cay; we may have peaked early on the snorkelling.

Fine corals

07 January 2019 | Hawksbill Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
An early start today, as we wanted to get back onto the Exuma Bank before the tide started running hard. To explain… when the tide is falling, the water flows really quickly out through the cuts between the cays. With a strong east wind you get a big wind over tide situation developing, which you don't want to get into. SO… to avoid a bumpy ride, the trick is to pass through the cuts on the flood when the east wind is going with the tide, and not making big waves; which is what we did by getting off early.

(Yesterday's bumpy sail, with wind against tide, brought plenty of waves over the deck. Not usually a problem… unless you have forgotten to close the fore-hatch, which is right over K&G's bunk. Yup: duvet, mattress, clothing and books, all a bit wet and salty.)

Once onto the Bank, we enjoyed a really lovely flat water sail up to Hawksbill Cay and dropped anchor in the middle of a turquoise bay (‘what, another one?' I hear you say!). This one has a lovely long white sandy beach with just one group of people, who then left so we had it all to ourselves. Some early scouting suggests some more exploring to do tomorrow.

The afternoon was finished with a snorkel on a small coral head. It initially looked unpromising but in fact it had an abundance of fish and corals. And then, to finish off… a green flash sunset. There’s only one way to cap that: a rum punch. Cheers!

Barracuda, meet Barracuda

06 January 2019 | Pirate’s Lair, Exumas, Bahamas
Very good sundowners last night at the beach tiki hut, next to the sperm whale skeleton. Plenty of cruisers in, and all sharing their plans for the year – most are excitedly heading south for the season.

Today we headed round the back of Warderick Wells Cay to the Pirate’s Lair to investigate the stomatolites there, which as all our readers will know, are formed by the growth of layer upon layer of cyanobacteria. Very interesting, in a geological way. Where’s Steve Rainey when you need him! Then we had beautiful swimming on a deserted beach. We are in a sheltered cut with a ripping tide, between the small island of Hog Cay and Warderick Wells, on the only park mooring – and as anchoring is banned here, this spot is totally ours. We are the only boat and the only people here – very special.

When we got back from our swim and snorkel there was a really big (4ft?) barracuda beside us, using Barracuda as a sunshade (today’s photo). I should be clear that no one had to get in the water with him/her to get this photo.

We also had a walk around the south end of the cay, working our way through the stubby palm trees to various beaches. You need to be very careful where you put your feet as the limestone is really rough to walk on.

(And I was tinkled pink when we came upon a little, palm edged pool of sweet water that – reputedly – was used by pirates to refresh supplies. Not so thrilled when both my sandals gave up, not capable of withstanding the rigours of the jagged limestone underfoot. Still, found our way back to Barracuda thanks to Graham’s skilled trail-finding. Andy)

Nature watch at Warderick Wells

05 January 2019 | Warderick Wells Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
4th Jan
It was a real struggle to tear ourselves away from O’Briens Cay. But suddenly three yachts moved in on our lovely quiet spot and we were no longer alone so decision made. We sailed east for a while out of the Land and Sea park boundary and into the Exuma sound to try & catch some supper but no luck – so pasta it will be for supper.

We were aiming for a hopefully deserted bay on the south east side of Warderick Wells fringed by gorgeous beaches. We wended our way through some very tight tidal gaps between islands to get there but it already had a boat on its sole mooring so we headed round to the main bay on the cay which is a nearly enclosed area with access to great snorkelling and excellent onshore walks. We will probably stay here for a while. Lots to see and do.

5th Jan
What a day. Kerrie started the day with a swim with a turtle. Then we had a drift snorkel on the Rangers Garden where we spotted 6 spotted eagle rays and a nurse shark plus other fish and corals too many to mention. Then a walk onshore to enjoy the island trails including a swim at Butterfly Beach – deserted, turquoise, what to say…. On return to the boat we had a visit from a nurse shark who came to say hello very close up. Oh and we saw a snake on the path on the island.

There is a sun-downer on the beach tonight at Warderick Wells so we will head in there for some social to meet our fellow cruisers.

Ever tried swimming in an aquarium?

03 January 2019 | O’Briens Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
Yesterday we enjoyed a cracking sail out on the Exuma Bank, with Andy at the helm getting Barracuda up to over 8 kts. Beam reach winds, warm blue water, sailing in the lee of the islands so relatively flat water: what’s not to like? Early in the afternoon we worked our cautious way in between a reef and a sandbar through a charted gap, not much bigger than the boat, to reach O’Brien’s Cay. On our way in we were listening to radio traffic between the coast guard and a super yacht about needing pumps and salvage assets – we think they got it sorted out, but it’s a good reminder to keep our eyes open.

We are now back in the Exuma Land and Sea Park where fishing of all sorts is banned, which creates some great snorkelling sites. Most of the tiny islands just here are private, but there are some sites that we wanted to visit. We managed to find a very sheltered park mooring to tie ourselves to, which always helps in getting a better night’s sleep. Then we were up early today to visit the Coral Garden Aquarium snorkel site at slack water. Gosh, what a total treat; as soon as you dropped into the water you really felt like you were in an aquarium with fish of all sizes and colours absolutely everywhere. Nature watch today included masses of Caribbean reef fish plus a ray, a barracuda, a reef shark and a turtle.

After the aquarium we snorkelled on a sunken plane sitting in the middle of the bay, which was also surrounded by some pretty good coral heads.

As we write, we are having afternoon tea and scones in the cockpit. Just amazing, the civilising influence of guests.

Generally, this has been voted as a pretty good day by the crew of the good ship.

(I can whole-heartedly concur with the above. Who knew that tea and scones could be improved on by having them whilst sitting on a yacht in the glorious surroundings of the Bahamas? Andy)
Vessel Name: Barracuda
Vessel Make/Model: OVNI 395
Crew: Graham and Kate
About: Learning as we go....
Extra: Look to this day for it is life...
Barracuda's Photos - Main
81 Photos
Created 30 April 2016
60 Photos
Created 16 September 2015
a pre-retirement holiday
19 Photos
Created 21 June 2015
some shots from our lovely trip around the Aegean with Ailie
8 Photos
Created 16 January 2015
9 Photos
Created 19 July 2014
2 great weeks with Steve and Bibi Rainey.
11 Photos
Created 18 July 2014
A long weekend with Catherine and David.
4 Photos
Created 18 July 2014
4 Photos
Created 18 July 2014
14 Photos
Created 18 July 2014
Barracuda, K & G head south to a new home.
14 Photos
Created 18 July 2014
Barracuda does the Western Isles of Scotland.
12 Photos
Created 18 July 2014
Kate and Graham Chillin'
7 Photos
Created 18 July 2014

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