Barracuda's Blog

The adventures of Kate and Graham and our OVNI 395.

20 January 2019 | Warderick Wells, Bahamas
19 January 2019 | Warderick Wells, Bahamas
18 January 2019 | Hawksbill Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
16 January 2019 | Highbourne Cay, Exumas
15 January 2019 | Allen’s Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
13 January 2019 | Palm Cay Marina, New Providence, Bahamas
11 January 2019 | Highbourne Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
09 January 2019 | Shroud Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
08 January 2019 | Hawksbill Cay - south, Exumas, Bahamas
07 January 2019 | Hawksbill Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
06 January 2019 | Pirate’s Lair, Exumas, Bahamas
05 January 2019 | Warderick Wells Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
03 January 2019 | O’Briens Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
02 January 2019 | Compass Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
01 January 2019 | Pig Bay, Big Spot Majors, Exuma Islands, Bahamas
29 December 2018 | Staniel Cay, Exuma Islands, Bahamas
27 December 2018 | Shroud Cay, Exuma Islands, Bahamas
24 December 2018 | Shroud Cay, Exuma Islands, Bahamas
23 December 2018 | Allen's Cays, Exuma Islands, Bahamas
21 December 2018 | Palm Cove Marina, Nassau, Bahamas

Boo Hoo Hill

20 January 2019 | Warderick Wells, Bahamas
Just a quickie Blog today to post some pictures from the top of Boo Hoo 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.

Storm’s a-Comin’

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 �" 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 �" 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 �" 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 �" 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 �" all alone. And then the charter cat arrives in the bay and decides it needs to run its generator for hours �" why? But all has been made better by a perfect sunset.

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!
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 - Turkish Meanderings - August 2012
Photos 1 to 14 of 14 | Main
Moored in ilica Bucu.
Kate brings her home in 30 knots of wind.
Barracuda back in bed for the winter.
Wild boar on Karada island.
Bodrum castle.
At Knidos.
At Knidos. Pretty cool having an amphitheatre beside your anchorage.

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