13 January 2018 | Portsmouth, Dominica
12 January 2018 | Portsmouth, Dominica
11 January 2018 | Portsmouth, Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica
09 January 2018 | Portsmouth, Dominica
07 January 2018 | St Pierre, Martinique
06 January 2018 | Saint Pierre, Martinique
05 January 2018 | Anse Mitan, Martinique
02 January 2018 | Grand Anse D’Arlet, Martinique
01 January 2018 | Petit Anse D’Arlet, Martinique
31 December 2017 | Petit Anse D’Arlet, Martinique
30 December 2017 | Rodney Bay Marina, St Lucia
28 December 2017 | Rodney Bay Marina, St Lucia
27 December 2017 | Rodney Bay Marina, St Lucia
26 December 2017 | Approaching St Lucia
25 December 2017 | Bequia, SVG
24 December 2017 | Bequia, SVG
23 December 2017 | Chatham Bay, Union Island, SVG
22 December 2017 | PSV, SVG
21 January 2019 | O’Brien’s Cay, Bahamas
The front came through last night. It is a sequence that we are getting to know in this part of the world as they drive the weather systems here. The wind clocks round from the east to the south and then does a fairly rapid turn to the north west, accompanied by a big burst of wind and rain. The wind then blows fairly hard from the NW for a period before clocking round to the NE where it will stay for a while ... and then the sequence repeats itself. At this time of year it seems that these weather systems can come through quite frequently. The biggest issue with the Exumas is that there are very few places to hide when the winds are strong in the SW to NW quadrant.
In any event, we had a settled night aboard Barracuda on our sheltered mooring, and then headed south this morning towards our next stop. We are very fond of Warderick Wells and are not sure if and when we will be back. It's a special part of the world that is looked after very carefully by some dedicated people. We need more places in the world like this.
Today's 12-mile downwind journey under headsail took us south to O'Brien's Cay for some snorkelling at the Aquarium reef site. The visibility was a little low due to the high winds that have been blowing, but there's still lots to see. We finally caught sight of the Fairy Basslet - a tiny fish with a purple head and an orange tail. Ailie had her first in-the-water Barracuda sighting but he just sauntered on by in their usual way. The fish at this site are either tame or brazen - or both. Great shoals of sergeant-majors; they literally swarm around you. Great fun. Another windy night ahead but once again we are securely moored, thanks again to the Exuma Park.
Boo Boo Hill
20 January 2019 | Warderick Wells, Bahamas
Just a quickie Blog today to post some pictures from the top of Boo Boo hill where we went to leave our mark for Barracuda's visit. Wind is beginning to blow and we are nicely tucked in behind an island. Hoping to head south tomorrow once it goes through.
19 January 2019 | Warderick Wells, Bahamas
There’s a big weather system coming in, bringing strong winds, and so all the conversation for the last few days has been about where to find shelter. We booked ourselves a mooring buoy at Warderick Wells which is the centre of the Exumas Land and Sea Park. We wanted to arrive at slack water noon, so it was up with the gulls for a lovely sunny windward sail south in flat seas – Ailie on the helm all the way. Our heavy-duty mooring is in the very sheltered central section, where there are around twenty buoys in a horseshoe channel surrounding white sandbanks, with great snorkelling just 100 yards away.
We’d just tied up when we were greeted by a couple we had last seen in St Mary’s GA – lovely to catch up. While we were chatting, a loggerhead turtle swam by the boat and waved a flipper at us, followed by a couple of synchro swimming eagle rays. So it was off to snorkel the reef. A and G reported 8 eagle rays (see photo for half the flock) and another turtle plus great corals and fish. Then a laze on the sandbank for a little bit, before social time at the Saturday evening BYO happy hour on the beach. Turned out there were some musicians travelling on some of the boats who some times play together so a small band entertained the stranded sailors as the sun set. Storm – what storm?
Ray of the Day
18 January 2019 | Hawksbill Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
Catching up on a couple of days. We are now out of phone data range again, so are using the satellite to get stuff out â�" hence the frugality of bi-daily blogs. You can take the boy out of Scotland, but you can't take Scotland out of the boy.
From Highbourne Cay we moved on to the north end of Shroud Cay for a dinghy visit into the mangroves and over to Driftwood Beach on the ocean side. A nice turtle spotted in the mangroves. Quite a few boats using the very shallow water north anchorage including Chandelle â�" had a quick catch up and Ailie met the live-aboard cats.
We woke today to a really beautiful Bahamanian morning with a cloudless sky and a warm breeze. G and Ailie snorkelled a couple of the nearby coral heads â�" some good fish were spotted and we had a visit from a friendly stingray. Then we took a drive by of Pearl of Penzance, an aluminium Garcia owned and sailed by Pete Goss (bit of a sailing rock star). She was sitting just to the south of us and is friends of friends. Then it was time for a short downwind sail down to Hawksbill Cay and a trip ashore for a walk over the coral island â�" winding through the thick jungly vegetation and across the jagged shore-side rocky outcrops, to the plantation ruins in the north. It is pretty special when you are the only boat in a sandy bay and you step ashore on a deserted white sand beach â�" all alone. And then the charter cat arrives in the bay and decides it needs to run its generator for hours â�" why? But all has been made better by a perfect sunset.
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...
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.