Sailing South

S/V Mariah with Trish & John Billings

15 January 2017 | Tropical Mexico
27 November 2016 | Mazatlan
25 May 2014 | Mission Bay, San Diego
04 May 2014 | Isla Mujeres, Mexico
05 April 2014 | St. Maarten
17 February 2014 | Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, DR
31 December 2013 | Thompsons Bay, Bahamas
20 December 2013 | Long Island, Bahamas
01 December 2013 | Exumas, Bahamas
01 December 2013 | Exumas, Bahamas
11 November 2013 | Marsh Harbor, Abaco
31 October 2013 | Grand Cay, Abacos, Bahamas
21 October 2013 | Folly Beach, SC
15 August 2013 | Folly Beach, SC
17 July 2013 | Charleston, SC
14 June 2013 | Hilton Head, SC
14 May 2013 | Key West
18 April 2013 | Key West
25 March 2013 | Venice, FL
06 March 2013 | Orange Beach, AL


01 December 2013 | Exumas, Bahamas
How time flies! Our last few days in the Abacos were wonderful. We did not go to Hope Town after all and instead opted to stay in deserted anchorages with our friends on Carefree as we waited for a weather window to cross the 50 miles to the Exuma chain of islands. We anchored in a cove called Lynard Cay that gave us nice protection from the Easterly trade winds. It was blowing between 20 and 25 knots and while we were quite calm inside, the ocean waves outside were reported at 9 to 13 feet. Ugh! No way we could venture out there to cross to the Exumas, so we sat for a couple of days. On one of the days, we took a dinghy ride to Little Harbor to see the bronze museum and check out the town hoping to find a grocery store at least. All we found was a Tiki Bar/restaurant and the museum which had beautiful "lost wax" bronze sculptures made by the father and son of one of the original inhabitants of the island. On our way back, we visited some people on a catamaran who had hired an instructor to teach them to sail for a week while cruising the Bahamas. Another way to do it.

We crossed from the Abacos to Eleuthra a day earlier than we really should have done and experienced 20-25 knot winds and only 6-9 foot swells. Again, ugh! It was a long 50 miles but when we got to Eleuthra and anchored in a small cove in the lee of the wind, we experienced the clearest water we have ever seen (see picture). It was as clear as a swimming pool and such a beautiful color. Totally amazing!

We had another crossing to do from Eleuthra to the Exumas, 35 more miles, but at least the weather was calm. We have been trying to sail as much as possible rather than use all that diesel, but not this day. It was just too calm. Oh well. But a beautiful day it was and we arrived quite tired at Ships Channel Cay where we just pulled up to the island and dropped our anchor, being too tired to work our way into the bay. There are so many islands, all shallow (14-20 feet deep) that you can just drop your anchor anywhere and go to sleep. I believe that one of the reasons that the Bahamas were never overtaken by the Spanish was because they lie in such shallow water (even when we go out to make crossings, we are always in less than 20 feet of water). Of course, there was no gold either…

From this anchorage, we decided to take our dinghy to explore some of the surrounding islands thinking that we would just check out one or two of the close ones. But it was such a lovely ride, in such beautiful water, driving between islands, around them, into tiny coves, over shallow coral, that we just kept going. Before long, we found that we had gone past three cays all the way to Highbourne Cay (about 6 miles) where they have a grocery store…whoo hoo! It is more like a scaled down version of a 7-11, but we were able to get eggs, apples and canned chicken . We won’t starve!

We needed to get to Staniel Cay to pick up our friends from Fallbrook, Buck, Sandy and their 16 year old son, Ricky, so we skipped most of the Exuma Land and Sea Park only stopping in Hawksbill Cay for the night. Even there, we were the only inhabitants, only our footsteps were in the sand, a small cove with a white sand bottom where we could see every inch of our anchor chain while standing on the bow.

Staniel Cay is a great little town with several grocery stores, the Staniel Cay Yacht Club (basically a marina) and even an airfield where we retrieved Sandy et al. Unfortunately, the weather was not ideal for their 4 day stay, but we had fun anyway and gave them a true sampling of some of the more exciting experiences that we’ve talked about previously on this blog site. They got to sample, first-hand, sailing in 30 knots of wind, entering an unknown cove and watching the bottom for a safe place to anchor, rolling at anchor (ad nauseum), motoring and finding an anchorage in the dark. All very exciting. But we did get some snorkeling in, particularly the Thunderball Cave (from the James Bond movie, Thunderball). For places like that, we really need an underwater camera. It was the best snorkeling we have experienced for at least 30 years. Fantastic! Because the tourists go snorkeling there and bring food, the fish come to you. We were surrounded by hundreds of aquarium-type fish, backlit by the underwater cave opening. We were able to swim under the rocks in several places to get to the outside and back in again. Quite magical.

We also fed the wild (tame) pigs at Big Major Spot and visited “Bills Beach”, a place where people, over time, have brought all kinds of amenities to the beach…chairs, tables, bbq’s, umbrellas…for anyone to enjoy.

We have now left Stanile Cay, heading south again. We spent last night at Black Point Settlement on Great Guana Cay where we did laundry (two boats were there also doing laundry. They motored over from Staniel Cay just to do their laundry, then returned. We also went to Lorraine’s Café where she made Bahamian Souse just for us (a lemon chicken stew). We then went to Lorraine’s mother’s house where we bought some coconut bread that she bakes in her kitchen. She uses Canadian flour, so I tried some with NO bad side effects.

Today, we will head south to Farmers Cay and then make our way to George Town. That will be our last stop in the Exumas. From there we plan to jump over to Cat Island, Long Island and then south into the Caribbean. The saga continues…
Vessel Name: Mariah
Vessel Make/Model: Morgan 41
Hailing Port: San Diego
Crew: John & Trish Billings
About: John & Trish hail from Mission Beach in San Diego, are avid body surfers and dinghy sailors. They are in their first year of full time cruising.
Extra: We are cruising the East Coast of the US until November when we will head South again.
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Mariah's Photos -