Moving up the chain
20 March 2019
Picture is the entrance into the Pipe Cay anchorage with WS in the background all by herself. Tip of Compass Cay is on the left and the tip of Pipe Cay on the right. The anchorage looks wide, but it is not, only a strip of deep water in the middle the rest is sand bars.
Sunday we did move over to Staniel Cay AND the forecast was back to water spouts, squalls to 50 knots raining cats and dogs, you name it. Figured we would stay in Staniel (well Big Majors is where we anchor off of Pig beach) for Sunday night then move to Pipe Cay early Monday to hopefully beat the rush in there as it doesn't look like a very big anchorage. Great sail up to Staniel and anchored just about in our old spot after a slight disagreement on the spot. Capt'n didn't want to be close to the iron shore and I didn't want to be anchored directly in front of the 150' Mega Yacht equipped with giant water slide and numerous water toys behind it. That's the last thing I want to be near let alone if the wind swings and it ends up directly in front of us. So we squeezed in, not too bad beside a sailboat and trawler. Well turns out the sailboat was one of the boats we just met at the laundry and had lunch with waiting for propane in Blackpoint, Circe and Raven who are somewhat traveling together.
We dinghied into Staniel filled our jugs with diesel and gas and stopped for a cold one at the Yacht Club and ran into Circe and Raven again there and talked for a while. St. Patrick's day party and $3 green beers, well Kalik bottles with a shot of dye in them so we passed on the dye. Met Donnie an older local musician that says he played with Clapton and a couple others, not sure about all of his stories though, but he was interesting and had fun. Back to the boat for dinner and to our dismay the stove did not light on the newly filled tank. Capt'n put on our small bottle and no problem, but again we have a problem with our propane.
Monday morning we now had to dinghy into Staniel general store to see if we could get the spare tank filled and stopped to talk to Circe, the boat from Blackpoint. Raven was also there and they mentioned the valve being stuck and just banging the tank on a hard surface may unstick it. Uh really, I don't think so. Either way, it now gave the Capt'n an idea, but we still headed in to get the tank filled. Dropped it off at the general store and got some final supplies and told us to come back after lunch to pick up the filled tank. Ok, when's lunch, but didn't get an answer she just said call us. Did pick up two more little propane bottles just in case and really glad they had them. Back to the boat and Capt'n wants to run the generator for a bit, which is fine, but running it in the cockpit where he now wants to "bang" the propane tank. Well to me that didn't sound like a good idea gas, spark, propane? Checked on line and sure enough there was a post about someone doing that and it working, plus they mentioned the tanks are built to be safe if they fall off a truck so shouldn't be a problem. Ok, Capt'n "bangs" the tank a few times on a piece of wood and puts it back in the locker, hooks it up and amazingly it works. Great we'll now have two full tanks and if anything goes wrong with this one again, no problem. Well no such luck - when we tried to call about the tank, no answer so just dinghied over only to find our tank sitting there still empty around 12:30 and no one around. Finally, found a police boat guy that got one of the owners for us. He said he couldn't fill the tank since it was gravity feed, which made no sense to me since I thought Blackpoints was also, not to mention we had it filled right there in Staniel 11 years ago. He said well that was 11 years ago and things have changed. Really leave it to the Bahamas to go "backwards" after 11 years, so much for new technology. We have a lay down tank exempt from OPD and I'm just not sure he knew that, but didn't ask and just said he couldn't fill that type of tank. So now we have stayed here much longer than we wanted and no propane in this tank and the other tank is iffy. So purchased more tiny bottles so we now have 5 extra at $10 a pop, giving us 5 lbs of propane for $50 vs. our 20 lb. tank being filled for $40, not very happy about that, but we have enough to get back with if we need it. To make things worse it is a long dinghy ride and our dinghy motor just refused to plane with no additional weight in there. Skies were getting black over Staniel and you could see squalls all around, great! Made it back to the boat and hauled anchor ASAP and got the heck out of there, neither of us were very happy at this point. Pipe Cay was only 7 miles up and motor sailed up to Conch Cut a wide channel that eventually leads to Compass Cay, luckily leaving all the squalls behind us. The channel into Compass Cay is not wide and at one point there are channel (well kind of) markers and gets a bit shallow. We saw 8'8" at mid tide, not good since the tide was up 2.5, we'll have to go back out at mid tide for sure. Compass Cay marina is a Mega Yacht haven and I can't believe they bring these things in here. So we passed on the marina (at $4+ a foot) and headed for the anchorage. Got tucked in at the southern end in front of two cats and there is very little room here, but we were all anchored nicely.
Tuesday night and into early Wednesday is supposed to be the worst of the weather. Tuesday the cats left and we were here all alone for a bit to enjoy the beach by ourselves. Another sailboat came in then a huge cat and anchored where the other cats were far enough away from us. Cruising guide says it's big enough for about 4 boats, well try 6. Pretty late in the afternoon, right when we were getting ready to take a dinghy ride a Moorings charter boat comes in. Sorry, but charter boats are always scary esp. when they come up and anchor right in front of you. So, I kept my eye on him, ready to use the bitch wings on the bow if I had to, but he stayed far enough away. Not as far as we'd like, but reasonable for a charter boat. Now it's like after 5 pm and another big cat comes in and goes in front of him. Okay, enough 5 boats, then probably around 6 pm a 40' power boat comes and starts to drop anchor literally beside us, I'm like I don't think so. We are swinging with the current and not the wind and we'll be way to close not to mention he'll swing very close to the shallows. So didn't take much to convince him to not anchor there and he moved to the other side of us well enough away. So now we have 3 boats really close by, guess we forgot to take that sign off again that says "anchor on top of us, please"! The two other boats that came in early were up there sitting pretty all alone, oh well...
Luckily Tuesday was nice all day, during the night we had some rain, but relatively calm conditions, no waterspouts or squalls, but they are still forecast for today, Wednesday so we are staying put. The 3 late comers have left; yay and we are back to a quiet spot here, for now. West winds are forecast through Friday so we will either have to sit here another day (Capt'n already tired of it and he thinks I'm the one who always wants to keep moving, hum) so I suggested Warderick Wells if we can get a ball there. I have the VHF on and Exuma Park is going through the reservations and I'm asking the Capt'n, who indecision may or may not be his problem, if I can get on the list for tomorrow. Well finally got on it, but after about 5 or 6 others, so doubtful if we'll get one, but we'll see. You have to get on the list the day before and they'll let you know at 9 am the day you want it if there are any available. We're not far only about 10 or 15 miles so we'll either go there or stay here until Friday. Correction - Capt'n just told me he wants to leave tomorrow either way, so either Warderick Wells or Hawksbill, hopefully Warderick Wells as they are protected from the west, Hawksbill is not. CP is forecasting W winds late tomorrow night, Windfinder is not. Windfinder was right on the wind speed for the last front, hopefully they are again.
After that we are thinking of heading to Highborne, then West Bay, New Providence, then either Chub or Great Harbour to wait for a weather window to cross back to the states at the end of the month.
Cat and back
17 March 2019
Picture is the fish fry village area on Cat Island. It's a cool little row of shacks selling local food and all run along the beach so you can just land your dinghy close by.
Well to my surprise Capt'n managed to keep himself all day on the boat on Wednesday without being annoying wanting to get off. It was pretty windy, anchorage was comfortable, but really ugly out so we just didn't go ashore. Managed to keep busy on the boat all day, but don't remember what the Capt'n did all day - probably fixing something.
Thursday was beautiful, still windy and a little choppy, but definitely we both wanted to go ashore. Figured we would walk the road south to the other liquor store and pick up a few things. Well we got there and it was closed - hours said 9-6 Mon - Fri so go figure, but this is the Bahamas. So on the walk back a truck passed us loaded with cases of beer and we knew he had to be going to the store so contemplated walking back, but decided not to since we really didn't need anything except maybe some dry vermouth, which we can live without, I think. In the end, glad we didn't, we found out later from Simplicity that they had made the walk down there later on and while they were open, they told them they were now closed for inventory - come back tomorrow. Turns out the supply boat had come in and when we were there they were up picking up their supplies and then brought them back, but weren't selling anything until they counted stuff, interesting, but this is the Bahamas!
Well on Tuesday, we had ducked into Hidden Treasures during the rain for a couple kaliks and some awesome sweet potato fries. Denise runs the place and we promised we'd come back to taste her other delights on Thursday, but our plans had changed to have dinner there since Corsair was having a party/HH on their boat at 4pm. So to keep our promise we went for lunch (which we normally don't eat) and ordered the jerk grouper dinner to just split. Needless to say it was awesome and she is a really cool lady. Her elderly mom helps her when she gets busy and a super sweet lady too. Of course, everyone else had the same idea so they were pretty busy, but she kept it all under control. We met Privateer while we were there, super nice on a Krogen 52, which is a trawler made by Kadey Krogen. For those who don't know that boat is like living on the water in your house, to say the least. Anyway, very nice and they were going to Corsairs party later too. Well the party/HH was amazing, Donna and Matt are on Corsair and Donna had made a ton of food, plus we all brought a HH dish to share. If I remember correctly there were 9 dinghies tied to the back of their boat and something like 18 - 20 people. Privateer's dinghy cleat came undone and was sailing off into the sunset when luckily someone noticed it. People jumped in to a dinghy to go retrieve it and in the meantime untied the wrong dinghy and that was sailing off now too, yikes. All is well though, dinghies were brought back under control and tied up again. Privateer is somewhat lucky the cleat let go then and not under other circumstances when they might not have seen it happen. Anyway, we had a great time, as did everyone else - we left around 8 pm along with Privateer, so not sure if the others stayed much longer or not.
So Friday being the last day we thought we could sail back to Dotham Cut, we decided to up anchor around 7 am after bringing the dingy up since it was too late the night before. We'll miss the rake and scrape and have very mixed emotions on leaving, but gotta go sometime. We just loved Cat Island and probably should have stayed longer, but it is what it is. So sail back, even with 20 knots of wind was a motor sail. The wind was directly behind us and we needed to maintain at least 6 knot average to make the cut before dark AND hopefully at slack tide, it wasn't happening under sail alone. We got to Dotham Cut around 4:15 hoping to have got there on slack tide. There's no good information on tides for that area, but places around were showing high tide at 3:45 - 4 pm. Well obviously, we miscalculated that one - as we got closer to the cut we could see it was wind against current and the tide was running out. Dotham cut is one of the better cuts, but still a nail biter in rough conditions. With 15-20 knot winds facing an opposing current - it was rough. Capt'n steers best when the boat is getting tossed around like a ragdoll so he took over. I looked back at one point and thought the waves were going to break over the stern, but they never did even though they were furiously trying all around us. Luckily got through there with no problems and it didn't last too too long. Right around the bend is Blackpoint so ducked in there and got a nice anchor spot around 4:45. Anchorage is packed with people heading back north now, think Capt'n counted 40 boats, but I'm guessing it'll thin out quickly.
Sat was nice and laundry day, so you'd think the Capt'n would know what that means - well he does, but still complains that I rush to get in there. So, my best laid plans again were sidelined when I got up early to make breakfast & listen to CP at 6:30. Started the coffee and noticed it wasn't perking and had been on there awhile. Oh no, propane is out, so got the Capt'n out of bed to go change the tank. Well after 45 minutes we're back in business only to find out he's got the grill tank hooked up to it, our spare tank is completely empty. We had been running on the same tank for years and didn't make sense to me - I had asked him a couple weeks ago if he's positive the other tank is full, there's no way we could run on a tank that long esp. going to the Bahamas last year. No, it's definitely full - so I'm like are you sure you didn't change tanks while I was gone last year and forget, NO. Well turns out I think that was the case and we now have 2 - 20lb empty propane tank bottles. Luckily, right after we got in last night we hear Emerald Sunset - a new restaurant overlooking the water, say they could fill propane tanks. So, besides filling water, Capt'n has another job while I'm at the laundry, digging out one of the propane tanks to get filled, which should be enough to get us back home. So he got rushed into launching the dinghy so I could still get to the laundry by 8 am. Laundry was good only a couple people there and got machines right away. Actually, had a good time there - finally met Donna from Blue Jacket, which we know the name since friends of ours used to travel with them all the time. Couple other people there too and we were all talking - seems we all had something in common - sailing the Great Lakes years ago. Anyway, Capt'n came back to get me and we went over to inquire about the propane. They said they could fill it so back to the boat to drop off the laundry and get the tank. Couple other people waiting when we got back and they told us about an hour - so what else could we all do, but go get a couple Kaliks and some good conversation. Turns out it was probably more like almost 2 hours and we all ended up getting wings - then thought, hum I guess that's their plan filling the propane there - getting people to sit at the restaurant while you wait - good idea! Tank was a bit pricey to get filled, but we were desperate and very lucky to run out here, so kind of glad we did leave Cat when we did. Worst case scenario Staniel is right around the corner so we should have been able to get it filled there too.
Sunday, St. Patrick's day no CP so got to sleep in - not really, but... Think we are moving to Staniel today, but hoping after a quick jaunt into town. The two tiny stores were light on supplies and she told me to come back after the supply boat comes in. It came in late yesterday so I'm hoping to get a little more in the way of meat if possible. There are no good stores all the way to Nassau and only if you rent a car in Nassau, so I'd like to get a few more things and not have to break into my frozen meats for another week or so. Lorraine's is having a St. Patrick's day HH, 3/$10 Kaliks and a buffet. I'd like to stay for that, but Staniel we can get fuel to top off our tanks and be more than good to make it back home at that point. So off to Staniel soon...
We heard another boat that left this morning through Dotham cut and missed the slack tide also her reply back to the boat asking how was the cut, she said I'll let you know as soon as I can get my stomach out of my throat, yikes!
Oh, forecast has changed somewhat for the front coming in on Wed, it is not supposed to be as bad as expected, but the following weekend will bring high winds out of the N then veer E. Capt'n still wants to check out Pipe cay so guess we'll still head for there for a couple days, probably on Monday or Tuesday.
One more thing, we are now crossing back over our old anchor spots. To get the map to show the blue (current for sail blogs) anchor spot you just need to zoom in and it should eventually appear in the center.
Escape to Cat Island
13 March 2019
Well we were supposed to leave Georgetown for Cat Island on Saturday, March 9th, but Capt'n had other ideas. For one, he wasn't really relishing the idea of going, but couldn't think of another option to override me with. It's a bit of a long sail and pretty out of the way, but I've been wanting to go there and this is our chance. Another cold front to move through on Wed, March 13th , but again it'll bring no westerly winds with it only strong NE to E and we will be protected from those by the island.
So, I'm looking at wind and seas on Friday and notice one site says 8' seas near Cat so I suggest leaving Sunday instead, but Capt'n then trumps that with, but the Indy car race is on and we can watch it at St. Francis like last year. Hum, okay that was fun and Monday still looks okay for sailing, winds are supposed to die off later in the day, but we would avoid the 8' seas too. So Friday we went to the heritage festival in Gtown, got last supplies, more eggs, water and fuel. We are topped up and ready to go.
Sunday, after beach church, we did catch the race at St. Francis resort and had a nice time. George, the owner is somewhat a race fan, he and his wife Jill come from South Africa and were from the same town as the retired Formula 1 driver Jody Scheckter. They left South Africa on their boat years ago due to political reasons. George mentioned that a few years back the Andretti's were interested in buying St. Francis and turning into a private compound for themselves and their drivers etc. He said Michael Andretti had sent a bunch of his lawyers down to try to work out a deal, but they didn't want to sell. Interesting to say the least - it would make an awesome private compound, but ruin a lot of stuff for the cruisers. St. Francis hosts a lot of events and is a major meeting place for cruisers, esp. ones trying to escape the tourists now being bused (or ferried) over to Chat n Chill. When we were here 11 years ago it was all cruisers at Chat n Chill that has changed drastically now.
Monday at 7 am we picked up anchor and motor sailed out of the Georgetown anchorage into Exuma sound. It was pretty rolly with some left over seas from the higher winds on Sat / Sun (oh we hiked around the bottom of Stocking Island on Saturday and the seas were ugly on the Exuma sound side - glad we didn't go that day!) with winds out of the E and almost too close to sail. Luckily, winds shifted a bit to the south and we shut down the iron genny and we off sailing close hauled doing 7 knots. We sailed that way most of the way over then the winds started dying a bit and seas had settled down a lot making it a pretty nice sail. We got close to the bottom of Cat Island where we would now have to turn even more E and figured that was it, we would have to motor the next ten miles into the anchorage. To our amazement the winds shifted even further south right then and picked back up to almost 20 and we were again flying (for us) into the anchorage under full sail. Well a cat did pass us, they were doing 8.3 at times, while we were in the 7's. It was the perfect picture and I was hoping they took one, but just got a wave. We got anchored in New Bight around 4 pm, a lot earlier than we had expected so that was great. It's at least a 54 mile sail so we made very good time. Had our anchor beer(s) and watched a few more boats roll in. There were two boats anchored when we got here and now a total of five.
Tuesday, we decided to head into New Bight and check out the Hermitage on top of Mt. Alvernia aka Como Hill the highest point in the Bahamas at 206 ft. It was built by Father Jerome in 1939 as a place he could get away and retire to. It's said he is buried there and we heard from Cookie Monster, a boat in Gtown, that it was verified by a catholic priest on the island recently. Either way it's a little hike just to get to the bottom where there is a somewhat paved road, then a turn to the stone steps to go up past the hand carved Stations of the Cross along the way and then very steep steps (I crawled!) passed a small replica of Jesus grave with the stoned rolled away. It is definitely a must see place with a small chapel, cooking room, overlook tower, one tiny bed room and an area attached to the cooking room that I'm guessing was for dining. It looks huge from a distance and we can see it from our anchorage, but it's super small when you are there. We also found the cave behind it where it is said that Father Jerome would take his animals to hide during a hurricane and also hide there himself. There's an easier dirt road in the back to head back down - I took that route - while Capt'n had to go down the steep side again, just because! There is a disclaimer at the bottom, placed by the Catholic Church in Nassau and if you visit there and climb the steps, you'll know why. After that we took a walk to the fish fry area, row of colorful shacks that some were open selling food and some were not yet. Ended up meeting Simplicity (who passed us) and Corsair and talked with them for a long time. Simplicity commented on how beautiful our boat was under full sail and said oh geez I should have taken a picture for you. Oh well, maybe we'll get a good one someday. We took a walk further down a mile or two to the grocery store, but started raining, which was not forecast. Local stopped and picked us up and took us to the store. They are super nice here similar to Long Island. With no tour boats heading here, Cat has retained the Old Bahama charm and is a really cool place. We did walk back and it wasn't too far, but started raining right before we go to the fish fry so we ducked into one of the little shacks and ordered a couple Kaliks. I mean what else could we do? Finally, got a break where we could get to the dingy and back to the boat before it completely dumped again.
So, with Tuesday being a no wind day and calm seas, everyone on earth has come over here. There are now almost 30 boats in the anchorage and, of course, a trawler anchored on top of us. I just don't get that - the anchorage is huge and this guy acts like we're in Gtown where you have to squeeze in. Oh well, the generator is now running and our halyards are clanging in the high winds - so hope he's enjoying being so close. Anyway, the front moved in early Wednesday morning so we now have very cloudy conditions and high winds from the NE and E. Which is fine, it gives me a chance to catch up with things on the boat, but I can bet the Capt'n will want to venture in later, we'll see. Front will pass today so tomorrow should be a nice day here, just a little windy. We'll probably be here until Friday then head back to the Exumas to try to find a good place to hide from the next front. Corsair had invited us to a rake and scrape they set up for 5 pm in town Friday to celebrate their 40th anniversary, but so far it looks like Friday's the last day for sailing back before the winds go light for a few days so we may have to go that day. All In was supposed to be here this weekend, but may change their plans due to the next front. Either way we'll probably miss them unless they move up their plans and get here Thursday instead, which would be nice. Next front is forecast to be pretty bad and have west winds, which are hard to hide from on most of the islands. We "think" we may be able to squeeze in somewhere near Compass Cay, Pipe Cay, not sure though since everyone else will have the same idea. Capt'n definitely doesn't want to head to Gtown again and I don't either at this point. We'll just keep an eye on the weather and hope it isn't as a bad as predicted.
Same ole Gtown blues
06 March 2019
Get a load of those mugs! So I have too small of a head for the helmet, guess I should have gotten a children's so it would stay down! Makes sense as I've had to buy my eyeglasses from the children's section in the past... Kinda looks like a bonnet eh!
So we've been in Gtown almost a week now and pretty much not a lot going on except boats, beaches, bars , HH's and add in some shopping. Sat, March 2nd was the BBQ fund raiser at Peace and Plenty in town. Ended up running into Southern Cross on the way over and sat with them for the most part. After they left we joined Below 40, who we had met on All In for a while. Definitely had some good food and a fun time. Everything else is pretty much a blur, like I said boats, beaches, bars & HH's for the most part. Oh, except we did rent out a scooter on Tuesday to drive around the island. We made it down to Little Exuma and stopped at Santanna's at the end of the island - cool place and they host a drop dead gorgeous view. Then it was a stop at Tropic of Cancer beach and next the new resort February Point resort for lunch. Capt'n forgot and went in the right side of the gate, ooppss they drive on the left here. Guard had to take our name and I recognized her, she is one of the laundry ladies. She had mentioned the one day having to go to another job after, guess that was it. She was laughing when I told her I remembered her from the laundry definitely a much easier job as guard. Nice lunch - then a ride to check out Emerald Bay marina at the top of Great Exuma. While there we ran into Capt'n Ron from Below 40, seems Barb has gotten sick from something and they needed to get her to a spot she can get on and off the boat. Not sure what it is, maybe from a bug bite, but hoping she gets better. I heard others talking on the vhf about diagnosing some problems, hopefully it is not something going around. He said it's like she is severely seasick, but she doesn't get seasick at all and it was dead calm yesterday. Ride back was exciting; we had stopped at Prime Meats, but didn't find anything exciting to buy. Left there and the scooter sounded like it scraped on the 1st left hander. I asked the Capt'n if the kick stand was down and he said no it's definitely up. That's something that is definitely automatic for him to do so positive he put it up. The next left hander wasn't pretty as it really grabbed the road that time and Capt'n couldn't get the scooter to turn left. Luckily no cars coming as he fought to keep control and we headed off the side of the road on the other side (oncoming) of the road. I couldn't do anything, but hold on and hope for the best trying not to unsettle things more. Capt'n managed to get the bike stopped without incident, but was a little scary for a couple seconds there not knowing where we were going to end up. We looked and the kickstand was up and nothing dragged so not sure what happened. It must have come loose and the got kicked back up hitting the road, but we'll never know. All I can say is Capt'n did an awesome job keeping things under control. Glad to get the scooter back after that and pick up some fresh caught hogfish at the Beauty Salon for Ash Wednesday dinner. Yes, at the beauty salon... Gotta know where to buy things here!
So it's Ash Wednesday and the front is rolling in now, so far not too bad, we are facing land and relatively protected. Most people are staying put, but Capt'n wants to wander into the beach for a bit. I'd rather keep an eye on the boat, but as noted before Capt'n gets a little annoying if he is stuck on the boat all day.
Long Island back to Gtown
02 March 2019
So, since blog pictures of me are rare - the picture above is from a blowhole at Blackpoint just a reminder that I do exist, at least I existed until Blackpoint (finally remember how to download the pictures from my phone - duh).
We got into Thompson Bay, Long Island around 2pm (sounds like the same time each day, hum). All in all a decent trip over and the water is just such an awesome turquoise color all the way from the comer channel to Thompson Bay. Had our anchor beer(s) and just about to start dinner when we noticed a boat coming in. Here it was Mahi - they had told us they were going south from Flamingo, but had changed their minds and decided to head to Thompson Bay also.
Can't say we are not super happy to be here, as beautiful as the Jumentos and Ragged Islands are there is something about being able to buy groceries again (more eggs!) and normal communications being restored. Plus, with our draft we are limited to when we can cross the comer channel, which literally can have us trapped there if the weather had not cooperated during the good high tide times. So all is well and it is nice to be back.
Stopped over to see Mahi Monday morning and made plans for dinner ashore with them. Next it was just grocery shopping, trip to the liquor store (wine was at an ultimate low) and a walk to the marine store, which was very nice. Dinner was just burgers and fries at Sou' Side grill with Mahi, had a good time and so nice not to cook for a change.
Supposed to go on a hike with Carla first thing Tuesday morning, but Joe stopped over and said she didn't have a good night and wasn't up for it, but he'd drive us and pick us up at the hiking point. They had rented a car for the day while we were at dinner the night before. So accepted the ride and nice hike to the Atlantic side; however the highlight was actually the ride in the car! It's been almost 2 months since we have been in a car and it was like we had never been in one before. We did do the 1.5 mile walk back instead of calling Joe, it was a nice day and nice breeze blowing keeping us cool. Plus, good excuse to stop at Sou' Side grill for a well deserved beer and met some more very nice cruisers. Later that day a cruisers get together on the NW beach around 4 PM which is a perfect time for us. Very nice crowd and had a nice time.
Omg, I forgot to mention the most important part of the day - Capt’n changed the starter right before HH on the beach. Hopefully that is the end of the main engine occasionally not starting when we turn the key.
Well weather forecast is better for sailing on Wednesday than Thursday so decided to head out for Gtown a day early. Had a nice downwind sail, but rolly and downwind is always a handful since, of course, the autopilot refused to work in the 2'-3' swells. With over 20 knot winds forecast we were wing and wing with the mizzen and genoa, which, for any one that doesn't know, it is one sail on one side and the other on another side making it look like two outstretched wings. That being said, the wind needs to stay directly behind us and with the swells it's not easy to do at times esp. when hand steering. We do have a whisker pole we can use with the main to go wing and wing, but it is huge and it tried to kill the Capt'n last time we used it so haven't tried again since then. On the way to Gtown came across a boat called 2 Outrageous coming through Hog Cay Cut and they asked if we knew the other WS. They had seen them in the Jumentos and told us Capt'n Tim had lost his spear. Seems that he was spear fishing and did snag a fish, but a bull shark had other ideas for the fish and he had to drop his spear and give it up. They said Capt'n Tim went back to get it later and the bull shark was guarding it. Supposedly he was going to try again, but that's the last we heard - can't wait to see them again and hear the whole story.
Did catch up with All In in Gtown Thursday and then had a nice HH with them and another couple on their boat. They were heading out Friday for Long Island so I'm glad to have a chance to catch up with them before they left. Friday was calm so got the laundry done in the morning, but not until after our normal laundry day spat when the Capt'n drags his feet to get moving. This time he was lucky "his" waterproof bag of clothes made it into the dinghy and not into the water. I hastily tossed them into the dinghy where they landed fine, but he wasn't happy and yelled they "could" have went in the water - to which I replied - who cares they were your clothes. The shock on his face ended that little spat. I had actually tossed mine in the same way earlier, but they had landed in a little safer spot. Needless to say 24/7 on a sailboat has it's challenges.
Today (Sat Mar 2nd) is a fund raiser BBQ at Peace and Plenty so we'll head over there around noon. Julian had showed us pictures last year (we had just missed it) of it and it looked like a good time.
A cold front (CF) is forecast for next Wednesday, but luckily bringing only high N and NE winds, which we are protected from here. Next weekend will bring back SE and maybe some fair conditions for a week. I'm hoping I can talk the Capt'n into going over to Cat Island, so far he's not interested, but we'll see. Maybe WSC will be back by then and want to go too that would help.
Other than that - not much in Gtown, but the norm so probably won't post again for a bit.
Jumentos & Raggeds Part 2 - Where'd everybody go?
26 February 2019
Well, Sunday (Feb 17th) we parted ways with WSC they are heading back to Gtown to try to purchase a new dinghy motor, if there are any available now. WS has decided to head to Flamingo Cay for a day or so. Had a very nice sail to Flamingo, got there around 2 pm, did some exploring by the dinghy after and the winds picked up a bit. The boats were now rolling in the anchorage and WS being a monohull was rolling more than the cats. Anchorage notes on the charts said "surge" - no kidding, with the higher winds the surge had kicked in making it a bit uncomfortable for sleeping.
Monday (Feb 18th) had enough of the surge and decided to head further south to Buenavista Cay in the Ragged Island chain. It has a nice long beach, longest in the chain and no mention of surge. With the higher winds forecast until Thursday, it should be a nice place to hang out. Sail down to Buenavista was a little rough/salty, we were hard on the wind most of the time and since we decided to stay "inside" there were a number of spots that we had to get WS through that we slightly nerve racking with reefs and scattered coral heads. We took the outside (of the inside route) going around Man of War, the other route is closer to the island made sense, but has numerous reefs and shallow spots with one area only 6'. Capt'n wasn't happy about taking the long way, but it is what it is. Needless to say, a catamaran followed our same route, so even with their shallow draft they wouldn't go that way either. Sail down there was a lot of 4-6 rollers when there was no island protecting the inside track, but we were able to sail relatively comfortably. Forecast was for 10-15, we got 15-20 gusting 23-25 little rough being hard on the wind, but decent sail. Anchored along a beautiful stretch of beach at Buenavista Cay, four other boats already anchored and 2 arrived after us.
Tuesday, the winds picked up more and will stay that way for a couple days, but there is no surge and very nicely protected from the winds. Capt'n decided he wanted to go out and look for lobster around the outside, which is protected pretty much by another island, but still a bit of a challenge in the dinghy. So we headed out early and found a spot that had a little reef, behind another island. Capt'n was able to snag a lobster while I was able to snorkel a tiny bit. Water is warm now, much warmer than in Gtown, but we are a bit further south, about 50 or 60 miles from Cuba right now I'm guessing. So, next Capt'n brings up a big conch and asks if I want it, YES - conch and lobster for dinner sounds great. Finally decided to get in and snorkel and on the way back to the dinghy I spotted another conch on the bottom, I don't dive down deep so waited until the Capt'n got back and told him about it. So, we now have two big conchs and one very nice size lobster for dinner, life is good. By the time we got back from hunting we notice the rest of the boats left, except the one catamaran that came in after us yesterday. Seems odd to have this huge beautiful beach almost all to ourselves. We'll stay another day and head back to Flamingo on Thursday and Water Cay after that, hoping the winds will settle a bit and the seas won't be too bad on the way back up. After that we'll try to do the Comer channel either Saturday or Sunday, depends on how comfortable Water Cay is with the higher winds. For now, once through the Comer channel our plans are to head over to Long Island for a few days before heading back to Gtown.
Correction - Capt'n went out on a reef right in front of the boat and got another lobster. So Conch salad for lunch and lobsters with cracked conch for dinner.
The catamaran ended up leaving Wednesday instead of Thursday, as they had mentioned, so it's just WS in this huge anchorage by herself. Seems everyone headed over to Raccoon Cay, radio buzzing this morning with all sorts of boats over there, sounds a bit too crowded to be honest. We are as far south as we'll be going and it's very comfortable with the high winds here. Another boat did come in and anchor late Wednesday just around dusk. As nice as it is to be the only one in an anchorage it was a bit odd so it was nice to have someone else there, for whatever reason.
We upped anchor around 8 am Thursday and looked over and the other boat was doing the same. Oh good, we are not the only crazy people to go out sailing today. Explorer charts say people end up being stuck here for long unexpected periods, since this passage can get very rough (glad I read that after we got back to Flamingo!). I knew it was going to be a brisk sail and with the high winds lately, seas would be up also. We are on the inside of the islands, but numerous places there are no islands blocking the seas for miles on end and it is just the same as being on the outside. So, pretty salty sail to Flamingo Cay - instead of the forecast 14-20 gusting to 25, we had 25-30 gusting to 34 (like Dennis always says, add 5, but think right here it might be more like 10). Although I was skeptic at first Capt'n made the right sail choice with a full main and the staysail and we were not too overpowered. Seas were very choppy and up over 8' at times, and not far apart, which really made WS a handful since, of course, the autopilot refuses to work in anything more than a 2' mini swell, if that. This is the first time the Capt'n has ever hesitated giving me time at the helm, thinking it might be too much for me. It wasn't a problem, but can't say I didn't mind him taking over the helm again, sooner than later. Either way, we flew up to Flamingo doing 7-8+ knots most of the way. Got anchored around 1:30 and winds have seemed to relax and hoping they continue to do so. Will stay a day or two here then head to Water Cay, I'm guessing on Saturday. Did hear from WSC via SSB/Winlink, they purchased a new dinghy motor - last one, and think they have their water maker issue resolved. Also, heard from All In - they are stuck in Emerald Bay until these high east winds subside, but have fixed their problems too. Hope to meet up with both of them eventually, maybe Long Island, who knows. Looking forward to having cell and wifi again - for now it's just relying on the SSB/Winlink for emails. Oh, not to mention - a meal out! This cooking stuff is getting pretty old...
Flamingo Cay stay turned out to be pretty nice, besides the high winds and some rolling in the anchorage. Mahi who we met in Blackpoint is here along with two other boats. There is a nice hike on a marked trail at the north end of the beach so did that Friday (Feb 22) morning. Then we ended up going conch hunting with Carla from Mahi - Capt'n got 4, Carla 3 and me - 0, oh well. Cleaned the conch on the beach and a friendly little ray was hanging around waiting for scraps. Smart little guy as he definitely got his fill. Later we had a bonfire on the beach with Mahi, Dolphin and Arcadia until sunset and it was a great time. Arcadia has been sailing for years and was out in the Atlantic during the Perfect Storm, but a little further south. They saw a 70' wave - I'm awestruck to say the least. They were very modest and said it was just very big, they are my hero's - unbelievable. Biggest I've ever seen is 15' while sailing and that's big enough.
We are heading for Water Cay today (Sat, Feb 23) to get ready to leave on Sunday for Long Island. Had a really good time and a little sad after meeting such great people on the boats here. So cool to be in such a beautiful place with only 4 other boats and all of them super nice people. Oh, did hurt my one knee (not the one I just had surgery on, but old injury on the other one) a bit. Capt'n had tied the dinghy anchor to the bottom front, instead of the top, while trying to untie in in 3' of water got hit with a big wave that knocked me down only to ricochet off the beach and knock me down again from behind while I was trying to get up. I found myself lying down face first in the sandy water and not a very happy camper to say the least. I'm sure it had to look pretty comical, but don't think I was laughing right then, I was soaked from head to toe. Think the knee will be okay, but might take a week or so to get a bit better. For now, it's wrapped and will stay that way for a few days.
Saturday we headed out for Water Cay around 11 am thinking it would be a nice sail - NOT. We ended up beating into it the entire time and had to motor sail for 3 hours in nice size rollers, but nothing like the trip up to Flamingo the other day. Got there and it seemed relatively calmer once anchored so had our anchor beers then the rest of the conch - Capt'n had to give up one of his eggs (only 4 left after 11 days of deserted islands) so he could have Cracked conch again.
It's Sunday, Feb 24th and we are finally heading back to civilization for a bit. It'll be nice to get back, but we'll definitely miss these islands. Headed out around 6:30 am with winds forecast for 17-20, gusting to 22 well, you guessed it; they were definitely a bit higher, more like 22 gusting to 26. We had the main up with a reef in the headsail and we were flying (not very comfortably either) doing 7-8 knots. Cooking is always a challenge when heeled way over, but managed to get some breakfast sandwiches cooked. Then while trying to bring up the Captn's second mug of coffee, while heeled way over, got hit with a nice size wave and I went flying, swinging from the companion way and landing on the counter by the sink and literally being stuck there still holding the Captn's coffee in one hand and the other hand still grasping the companion way ladder holding on for dear life. Captn finally pried the coffee mug out of my one hand so I could manage to work myself back up off the counter. Good thing is I didn't spill a drop of his coffee, bad thing is they'll be some bruises from that one. Right after that little episode we realized, oh crap - were going to be at the Comer channel too early, which I was thrilled since that meant bringing in the head sail and putting out the staysail. That reduced our speed to 6 knots and also greatly reduced the heeling to a comfortable sail. Tide was up 1.5 when we go to the channel and would be right on high tide at the end where we saw the shallowest water going in. We now had to head ESE and needed to motor sail the rest of the way so Capt'n went to start the motor again and nothing. This time took numerous tries and again I heard clicking like I heard when it wouldn't start in the Berries. So we think it could be the solenoid going bad on the starter. Capt'n says we have a spare starter, but we'll see if he decides to change it in Long Island or maybe wait until Gtown - I'm hoping one or the other at least.
Almost at the end of the channel as I type - so it's Long Island here we come!