Towards Staniel Cay
12 December 2016 | Big Majors
Dec 7 - Dec 12 This morning we joined up with Bill & Helen on Alembic and took our dinghies a mile up the coast to a beach past a place called Oven Rock. Somewhere inland from there was reported to be an entrance to a large cavern with a cool pool inside. It was an adventure trying to find the trail and at one point we had scattered ourselves about the low hill looking here and there, about to bail out, when I checked my cell phone marine navigation app and it showed a spot where the pool cave was located. It was a pretty amazing cavern with limestone formations and a good sized pond with deep water in parts. We were all happy to take a swim in the super clear cool waters since it had been getting quite warm under the midday sun outside. I learned later that this cave has extensive underwater chambers that have been explored by SCUBA divers. Once back to the boat we left Farmers Cay area and headed north along the banks side of Great Guana Cay to just past White Point. The weather was more calm than we've seen to date and the sea was flat and glassy. Anchoring in this area was problematic as the bottom was just a few inches of sand over hard limestone, and normally I'd have given up and moved on. But the forecast was for another day of virtual calm conditions so we stayed put, lying mostly to the weight of our chain on the bottom anyway. In the evening in the moonlight it seemed as if the boat was sitting in a kiddie pool of water 12 inches deep, and the sponges and starfish on the bottom seemed just right there even though we were floating in 10 ft of water.
Thursday we just motored a few more miles up the coast of Great Guana Cay to a cove just south of Black Point. This was near the site of another abandoned resort project, the beginning of which was a mini "castle" like structure that seemed in good shape with newish paint, but all boarded up. Nearby was a long beach with a single condominium like unit at one end that seemed actually lived in. Friday we headed up the coast another 10 miles or so to Staniel Cay, a favored spot for cruisers some of whom make this area their base for the winter. We tied up at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club to take care of things such as grocery shopping and laundry. The bar restaurant was a lively place Friday night and the dining was the best so far on this trip. The place has its own collection of "pet" nurse sharks patrolling the waters of the marina waiting for fish cleaning remnants that may come their way. It was a bit unnerving at first to see these dozen or more large sharks (nurse being the tamest of sharks though fairly large) just hanging out below the docks, but they will swarm at the steps when someone approaches just to be petted on the head--something we decided we didn't need to participate in! This location also had the advantage of a very close cell tower for phone & data access, something we needed while we tried to sort out a solution to our generator failure. It turned out getting parts from the US was pretty easy, just have them sent by UPS to a specialty shipper's spot at an airport in Ft Lauderdale then it will appear at the marina a day later via one of the twice daily direct flights they run. But alas, the parts I received did not fix the problem...and after another call to a trusted mechanic back home, the solution remains elusive. In his experience, the diagnosis may be some rare occurrence of a part failure deep in the workings of the diesel engine itself, and may not be resolvable without removal and disassembly in a shop. I'm still hopeful that it doesn't come to that, but getting ready to deal with it if it does.
In the meantime, we enjoyed our stay on Staniel Cay, including a tour by golf cart one afternoon to see the sites--which really only took about 90 minutes. One morning we took the dinghy over to a small rocky islet that had passages at low tide into a good sized cavern--actually known as Thunderball Cave from the James Bond movie of that title. So we anchored the dinghy just off of the islet and snorkeled our way into the entrance amidst an amazing array of reef fish--that are used to being fed by humans, so they are very friendly! It was a really amazing place with shafts of light penetrating from a few holes high in the ceiling and several other side underwater entrances.
Monday we left for a nearby favored anchorage known as Big Majors Spot. One of the features of this place is a beach with a family of swimming pigs. People come to feed the pigs so when they see a dinghy coming ashore they swim--or at least wade out to greet the people, hopeful for handouts. Mama pig must have been a good 500 pounder and obviously the most experienced at this process and the entourage included a dozen or so cute piglets that seemed happy to be living on such a nice beach. Where they got fresh water to drink was a mystery to us.
Where we go from here will depend on our need to communicate about getting repairs made to the generator in the next few days. Cell coverage becomes sparse as we go towards the Exuma Land & Sea Park which we plan to take time to visit.