Mother Nature in All Her Moods
09 February 2023 | Little Bay, Great Guana Cay
Roger Wallace | Windy!
We had a wonderful night at Chicken Cay. Our anchor was set well out of Conch Cut’s current. The length of our rode and the southerly wind resulted in Pathfinder being on the edge of the current which moved us slightly back and forth during the night. Our nice night was followed by a nice morning. However, the clouds were indicating that this was going to change quickly and in a major way.
A short distance to the north is the Exuma Park’s Cambridge mooring field. We headed there with some sense of urgency. The entrance from the south was a little tricky with our current 6-1/2’ draft, but doable. What caught my interest as we entered from the south was the very large (100+ ?) motor yacht entering the mooring field from the north via a relatively narrow channel with a sharp curve. I wonder what their powerful radar was telling them because of the tight entrance and how fast they got two anchors down. The clouds were telling us that a squall line was coming quickly. The squall hit less than a minute after we grabbed a mooring and got two pennants on.
The NE wind picked up to 30+ knots and it poured. The squall passed through in a half hour. We were happy to be on a reliable mooring with all around protection for its passage. Our anchorage at Chicken Cay would have been ugly were we still there. Once we were confident there wasn’t another squall in our immediate future, we dropped the mooring and headed north towards O’Briens Cay and the “aquarium.”
We left the shelter of Cambridge Cay via the narrow windy channel through which the motor yacht had entered earlier. That channel took us to Bell Cut between Cambridge and O’Briens Cays. Mother Nature- round #2. The wind had shifted to due east and there was an ebbing current. We were only in Bell Cut for a short time, but Bell Cut was getting close to being in a “rage.” Rage is a local term for strong wind against strong current in these narrow cuts. The sea state is big and short. Thankfully, Pathfinder was up to the conditions. We came into the cut from the SW and quickly exited to the NW after rounding a small un-named Cay in the center of the cut. The sea state subsided quickly over the distance of a couple hundred yards.
We sailed on our foresail down the channel to a point where we had to turn ~135 degrees to starboard; get rid of the foresail; and pass over a shallow bar back towards O’Briens Cay. These shallow bar crossings are not fun as they have our depth alarm going off constantly. But their worth it. We grabbed another park mooring and were soon snorkeling at the aquarium.
Mother Nature’s better side- The aquarium is a well known snorkeling/dive site and for good reason. It is a miniature wall dive with lots of different types of fish and beautiful coral. The fish are use to being fed and are not afraid of people. We were there with one other dinghy which had four people- no tour boats! However, a tour boat just left and there was an incident before they departed. The incident was a weak swimming getting too far out and into the current. We heard a lot of yelling, but didn’t know why. The situation was resolved when the people in the dinghy we were now snorkeling with gathered up the wayward swimmers. They described the incident when we met up at the aquarium.
We thought our earlier snorkeling experiences were amazing. Mother Nature keeps raising the bar! The number of fish; the variety of fish; the colors; the vertical wall; fan coral moving in the current … they all combined to make for another superlative experience. We saw several, new to us, species of fish for the first time- the most notable of which were adult and juvenile Queen Parrotfish and Spotlight Parrotfish.
The people in the other dinghy came equipped to feed the fish and they were quickly surrounded by 100’s of fish. The fish were within inches of anyone actively feeding them. They gave us the last bits of their food (frozen peas & corn) and we got to experience the fish mob first hand. It was fun to see a wall of fish in front of our masks and feel fish nibbling on our fingers.
We briefly snorkeled at a sunken airplane. However, the current was very strong and we we careful to hold onto the dinghy or the dinghy mooring. The plane wasn’t all that interesting and the site was deeper than others we had been at. That said, the mooring line was attached to the plane and I pulled myself down the line and looked into the plane for the novelty of it. The most interesting detail of this particular snorkeling site was the coral deep below and how it moved in the current.
It was time to work our way back to Cambridge Cay for the night after snorkeling on the plane. We definitely were not going the way we came so it was time to try a narrow channel to the west of Bell Island. The tide was lower than when we arrived and the sand bar crossings were more stressful (more low water alarms), but it all worked out in the end. The large motor yacht was still anchored at Cambridge on our return and we ended up moored just off it’s bow. Susan was disappointed they didn’t invite us onboard for dinner (just kidding).
We left Cambridge at high tide the following morning (Tue Feb 7th) and had a nice sail back down to to Big Majors/Staniel Cay where Susan got a SIM card for her phone and we got propane at Isles General Store (and Klondike bars and coconut candy bars!).
We sailed off anchor at Big Major the following morning (Wed Feb 8th) and almost onto anchor south of Black Point the next day. I regret not sailing all the way to our anchor spot because I wrapped our dinghy painter on the prop just as we were setting anchor. Thankfully, I was quick to put Pathfinder in neutral and the painter was only wrapped. It took five minutes of diving on the prop to clear the line. Well, that was a first.
We’ve had some nice sails over the past several days, but there has been lots of wind. Last night, it was sustained at 25kts for awhile. Susan and I were both ready for down day which we are taking today (Thur Feb 9th). Tomorrow, we head back down to Farmers for a quieter visit and to stage for a jump to Georgetown.