Nassau, Highbourne Cay, Warderick Wells and Cambridge Cay, The Exumas
18 June 2012 | Nassau, New Providence, The Bahamas
Sylvia very blustery
05/19/2012- 06/03/2012 Nassau - And so we spent some time in Nassau waiting for weather again. The one constant in all of our cruising. It was either very hot and muggy (we are even considering getting air conditioning for those marina stays in the future) or very rainy almost all of the time. We did get around some in spite of the rain and in a couple of cases in the rain. Dinner at The Poop Deck with Donna and Paul was doable one day as well as a dinner at the Chinese restaurant just down the road from the Marina. Another day was dinner at the Two Brothers at Arawak Beach with Donna and Paul and Hans and Gail on the trawler, Jawbones. Hans and Gail had been in Nassau a month waiting for an engine part to be sent from England and then installed. The part finally came and the repair man finally came and they were overjoyed to be able to start heading toward the US coast. They are residents of Panama and the boat is new to them. They have to get it out of FL soon or they will have to pay FL taxes on it. So they are heading to GA. Hopefully, they will still be there when we finally arrive.
With Paul's knowledge we soon learned to get around on the jitney's (buses). Numbers 11 and 19 got us to the Marathon Mall (where we actually took in a movie one afternoon) and the grocery store as well as downtown. We them so often we recognized where we were on the route. Fun to see and meet so many of the locals who are almost all very friendly. Standard practice is to greet everyone with a Good Morning or Good Afternoon when entering the jitney. We also found the local marine supply stores. We wandered downtown in the rain one day and found an Indian restaurant which we went back to later in the week.
Right across from the Nassau Harbor Club Marina is the Harbor Bay Shopping Canter with a Subway, DQ, Starbuck's, computer store among other shops. The Starbuck's gives you an hour free WiFi with a purchase and it has air conditioning!! We have been there to just sit and read in the cool and even for lunch. Donna and I spent a long afternoon there playing backgammon. It is so American but it is convenient as I said COOL.
Although we missed most of the parade we did get to see the last band in a Junkenoo parade. There were only a couple of folks in full costume but it gives you the idea and what fun it would be see a fully rigged up parade of folks. It was just pure luck that we got to see even that. We were taking a taxi over to Paradise Island and the taxi driver suggested we try to catch the parade. Sure am glad we did. We will just have to try to get over to Paradise Island while we are here in Nassau again.
Peter, the manager of the marina, is a good friend of Bill Hooper at Hopper Yachts back in the Twin Cities. It was great to meet Peter and to give him and the rest of the crew hugs and greetings from Bill. Again it is the people that you meet that make this such a nice life style.
06/03-06/2012. Highbourne Cay, Exumas. The weather finally broke and we were off to the Exumas. The wind what there was of it was on the nose as were the seas but at least we were moving on. There is a straight route to Highbourne but it goes directly over the Yellow Banks with its numerous coral beds. We didn't want to play that game with our deep draft so we took a dog legged route that took us between the White and the Yellow banks. We never did see any coral beds on that route and it was only a few miles longer. The whole trip only took about 6 hours from cast off in Nassau to anchor set at Highbourne Cay. After so many long trips, this short one and the ones to come in the Exumas were a joy.
Well, at least we thought the anchor set. We discovered the next morning that we had dragged some with the stronger winds at night. But a dinghy ride and a look through our glass bottom bucket should that we were finally set which was good. The winds continued fairly strong the whole time we were there.
After so many days in marinas it was nice to just hang at anchor and enjoy the wind and the views. There were several other boats anchored in the north anchorage. It was simple entertainment to watch them come and go and to watch the big cruisers off load their water toys and then buzz around the anchorage.
This was the first time we had spent several days on the hook and so we were busy figuring out low long we needed to run our auxiliary engine in order to charge the batteries. The noise certainly is a pain but it is a necessary thing. At least we didn't have to run a generator all of the time as the BIG boats did. But then they had air conditioning and other fancy things to keep powered up.
06/07-09/2012 - Warderick Wells: Exuma Land and Sea Park headquarters. We left Highbourne and motored the 4 hours to Warderick Wells via the Exuma Sound rather than on the banks. We were assigned the very first mooring ball because of our depth. It was one of the 3 they use for the big boats. We were at the beginning of the mooring field and not as well protected as we would have been further around the corner of the island but we were more comfortable with the depth there. This was only the second time we had picked up a mooring ball and it only took us 5 times. There was a good 1-2 knot current and we should have had our head phones on so we could have talked to each other more easily. A lessoned learned.
The next day we dinghied into the headquarters to pay for the mooring and get one days worth of internet access. We were due a good check on the various weather resources where we could see charts. etc. We are very happy with the SSB service we get from Chris Parker but it is reassuring to get to look at satellite and weather maps periodically. As we wandered the beach a nice young woman offered to take our photographs. And small world that it is she was originally from WI.
The second evening we were there we got another lesson in mooring ball usage on Eos. Our two bow anchors became problematic. We had run a single line from our bollard on the bow through the towing eye and were nicely attached to the mooring ball. However, unless there were pretty good winds we didn't hang straight off the ball. This was no problem until we had a front come racing through early in the evening. The wind went from nothing to 20 knots in a snap and we ended up with our mooring line hooked around one of the tines off one of our bow anchors. Oops. Not good!! Luckily it was a very short blow - around 20 -30 minutes - and during that time we succeeded in getting the line off of the tine before it chaffed at all. But we did lose the hook tip off of our nice solid wooden boat hook in the process. This system was evidently the remains of the system that hit Nassau with lightening striking two boats on the dock where we had been, one catamaran in the channel that lost everything and had to drop anchor and the antennas at the marina office as well. Paul and Donna were in Highbourne Cay at the same time and even with Paul on the engine they dragged over a 100 feet when the system went through there.
After things quieted down we ran lines from our port and starboard bow cleats to the mooring pendant. Now the tines weren't anywhere near the lines. We were set. Or so we thought. The winds came up again over night after we had wandered around on the mooring again. I went out early in the morning to the cockpit to drink my coffee and wandered up to check the mooring lines. Oops, again. The lines we had out were too long and when there was no wind and we were wandering around, the float on the pendant ended up in the water and floated over and ended up rapped around one of the lines and the pendant line as well. With our aluminum boat hook and some tugging (heavy tugging) and lengthening and shortening of the lines I got things unwrapped except for the final wrap. Bill was up by then and between the two of us we got everything freed. Of course, we shortened our lines so the end of the pendant was much closer to our bow and the float couldn't reach the water. Another lesson learned.
We did get to see a shark swimming off the stern of the boat but we didn't get as much wandering done at Warderick Wells as we would like to have. We had to take time every day to charge the batteries which cut into our days several hours. We just weren't comfortable leaving the Kubota running while we were away. So now we are more convinced than ever that a wind generator and a solar panel to keep things topped off are something we should have. Then it will only be the refrigeration that will be much of a draw on the batteries. That should mean a much shorter charge time. Anyway, next year when we come through we should be able to more wandering.
06/10-12/2012 - Cambridge Cay, Exumas Another short motor trip of a couple of hours got us to Cambridge Cay. This was highly recommended by Paul and Elizabeth on Liesel. And they were so right it is a lovely place. We lost our aluminum boat hook trying to pick up a mooring ball. Now we were without a way to pick up the mooring pendant. So we just dropped anchor there in the mooring field. We were the only boat there until much later in the day. And then one power boat came in and picked up a ball. The next day the park service came by and when we explained about the boat hook they said to just stay where we were anchored since there were so few boats on the moorings. There were never more than 3 boats on the moorings the whole time we were there.
This time we got the anchor well set which was a good thing since we had solid 15 knot winds and gusts over 20 for the three nights and two days we were there. That took care of our plans for snorkeling, drift snorkeling, grotto trips and long dinghy rides. The park recommends settled weather and, of course, slack tide for the snorkeling and grotto trips. But as with Warderick Wells we will spend more time next year.
The weather outlook was becoming very iffy so we tried to get into the marina at Staniel Cay. They were booked up and would be for several days. We decided then that if we were going to get stuck somewhere it might as well be Nassau where we could get off the boat and there were things to do even if the weather was very windy and rainy. In retrospect it is just as well we didn't get into Staniel Cay. It doesn't look that well protected if the winds are from any direction other than the East.
06/13-14/2012 - Highbourne Cay and Nassau In calm seas we motored 3 ½ hours back up Exuma Sound to Highbourne Cay and anchored very near where we had anchored before. There were several other boats anchored there as well. I can't imagine how busy some of these places must become during the busy season. Right now most of the boats from the US have returned to States for hurricane season. We only stayed in Highbourne overnight and then took off the next morning to motor 6 hours in almost flat seas with no wind back to Nassau. This time although we were on the same dog-legged route the tide was lower and we saw some of the coral heads we hadn't seen before. Everyone had told us you would know them when you see them and they were right. They are very dark and very obvious if you keep a good look out.
Now we are nicely docked back at Nassau Harbor Club Marina and will be here until and probably through the week-end. By the way, the water maker is working beautifully.