Sunday, 8th May 2005 - Staniel Cay
We are half way down the Exumas. It has been a wonderful experience. As we make our way further south the scenery gets prettier and prettier.
We left April 30 and stopped first at Allan’s Cay for 2 nights. Our companion boat, Integrity, had engine failure on the way there so we spent one night anchored on the 5 fathoms bank. It was okay but a bit rolly there. Our Delta anchor has proven itself now time and time again. Integrity got her clogged engine filters banged clean and we set off for Allan’s. We visited the iguanas on the beach – a bit scary -and did some snorkeling.
3rd May we left for Norman’s Cay. We explored the atolls and found some nice shells, did some more snorkeling – big barracudas here. Jus caught a small Blue Runner Jack and a couple of Horse Eye Jacks (inedible however, due to their size). Abi and I watched and learned the art of gutting and cleaning the Blue Runner and feel capable of cleaning the next one. We put him in the freezer until we catch some more fish to go with him – he’s a 10 incher. We visited the sunken drug plane and went to the local restaurant, MacDuff’s. The kids were thrilled to have cheeseburgers and French fries! They’re so deprived!
After 2 nights in Norman’s we moved south to Warderwick Wells (5th May), home of the Exuma Land and Sea Park – no fishing or conching allowed. We hiked up the “11 minute walk” to Boo Boo Hill (more like 45 minutes with 2 small kids!) We left our mark – everyone leaves a plaque or painting or piece of driftwood with their boat name and year up there. Abigail painted a conch shell and Aaron painted a rock to leave. We visited the museum and book exchange and got some great kid’s books from them. We spent an afternoon at Butterfly Beach – an exquisite beach with sand like talc and absolutely no rocks or shells! It was so calm Aaron now asks to go back to the swimming pool! Justin changed the engine oil while we were here.
Regretfully we pushed further south today with the hurricane season lurking we don’t have much time to waste. We put a line in the water as soon as we were out of the park boundaries to no avail. I have high hopes for the Sound side of the Exumas. The best sail we’ve ever had was today – a beautiful beam reach with 10-15 knots of wind – no motor and we cruised at 5 knots.
We arrived in Staniel Cay early afternoon and jumped in the dingy to have a look around. Got some fuel from the Marina and got to see nurse sharks and stingrays feeding on the fishermen’s thrown out fish guts and carcasses. Luckily found pay phones to call our Mom’s for Mother’s Day – the first one’s we’ve seen in the Exumas. (I did try for 30 minutes and the line was engaged Mom!) They shut down the generator at 5pm or something because there was no more dial tone after that time. We then dingied over to Thunderball Cave (where the James Bond film was made) to have a look but due to strong current and high tide couldn’t have a snorkel. We found the famous pig beach. Everyone told us there would be lots but we only saw one big fat one so we figure he ate the rest. A wonderful way to spend Mother’s Day. We are so very blessed.
Monday 9th May
Justin caught a fish last night! But he got away! He flopped around on the deck so much that he flopped right out of the boat! Unfortunate. We have lines in again for today and hopefully will catch something trolling to Black Point. He also caught a crab – a big enough one to eat – the little pest kept pinching off the bait for the longest time and eventually met his fate – the blue cooler box on our deck!
Integrity had generator issues to resolve so instead of moving south to Black Point Settlement today we stayed put in Staniel Cay another day. We spent the morning catching up on school. Abi hasn’t forgotten a thing and is moving right along learning new letters and making new words. We also updated our animal log book with the sharks and rays we’d seen.
We spent the afternoon at the beach and snorkeling a bit. Jus caught another crab – a giant hermit crab – and he is a giant! We think it’s edible but have yet to find any info in our books for sure. I really want his shell. It is a big triton shell I have plans to make into a horn. We also went back to feed the hog but were surprised to find four more piggies! They were really cute and gobbled up the dog food we gave them. Thunderball Cave we gave a miss since we’ve seen so many sharks around and don’t fancy the idea of being in a cave trapped with one.
Sunday 15th May, 2005 - Blackpoint Settlement
Have been holed up in Blackpoint for several nights now. Nick & Merle come over and we assess the weather reports together (translation -look at the weather fax and have coffee, a chat, fly kites etc.) Northerly after northerly has been pushing through. We have explored the town and met some locals and cruisers alike.
Visited Lorraine’s Café – a wonderful Bahamian restaurant and Lorraine is really nice. Her mom bakes bread and we ordered some the day we arrived on the VHF. It was nice to get here, go ashore, locate her house and pick up fresh bread! There is a school here – they have uniforms and look very smart. Our kids like to play with the locals after school if we are on shore. We did laundry at the sparkling new laundry mat here. What a treat! The town is very quaint and best of all is abundant with butterflies. We actually had a little visitor to the boat one day!
We went to a potluck supper yesterday for the boats in the area in honor of a single-handed guy’s birthday, Vic on s/v Contour (the other Bruce Roberts in the anchorage). We had fun and ate well. We bumped into a lot of people we’d seen further up the islands. Abi & Aaron were thrilled to meet up with a little boy named Colby again.
Our sailing plans have changed somewhat in that we will probably bypass Georgetown and head directly to Turks & Caicos. Next week we should get our weather window.
Tuesday, 17th May 17, 2005 - Warderwick Wells
Our plans have changed again! Aahh, such is the cruising life! We have decided, after speaking with a family that has been there, that Luperon, DR is not a very good hurricane hole for us. Apparently it is great for a visit but not for a long term stay. The water in the harbor can be a bit dirty as well and many people get sick from coming into contact with it. We reasoned that it would be nigh on impossible to not get wet in a dingy ride and a bit too risky to take the children there now. Our other idea was Guatemala but there is a sandbar preventing us getting into the Rio Dulce unless we make it on a high tide with a full moon. Once in we have to wait for the same conditions to leave and the whole entrance would be completely eyeball navigation and dumb luck to find that channel that we barely skim over in! Compound that with the fact that there is something already brewing in the Caribbean (a tropical cyclone or something) and we just figured we have run out of time to get as far as Guatemala. Trinidad was another option for us but I never felt that this was a great hurricane hole or an easy ride to get there - beating to windward and current is not a favored route for obvious reasons.
So, where does this leave us? We are heading back up the Exuma Chain (what a pitty!) and over to Nassau to sort out some paperwork for Integrity’s Visas and then off to the States again. However, this will be new territory for us as we are headed up the East Coast this time with a view to making Chesapeake Bay our Hurricane Hole.
We left Blackpoint Settlement on Great Guana Cay this morning after some trouble starting the engine. Jus had changed the fuel filter whilst we were there and apparently didn’t bleed it properly afterwards, for there was an air bubble or something. I think it must have belched sometime around 11.30am and, after recharging the batteries, we set off around 12pm. We had a beautiful sail at 6 knots with winds of 5-10 off our starboard aft. We must be getting used to this new life more and more because there are less and less butterflies with each departure and each arrival. Abi even did some school work whilst underway. We threw out the anchor around 4pm and the rain came. Only enough to tease us though. The temperature today must have been 150 degrees and there are few places when even wearing a bathing suit seem like it would be too hot. This being the case we opted for loose t-shirts and only the kids went in the buff.
Sunday, May 22, 2005 - Nassau Harbour Club
We left Norman’s Cay without a breath of wind. Along the way the wind picked up and we got some sail up. Then it picked up some more, 2 knots … 3 knots … 5 knots … 10 knots …. 17 knots… 20 knots … lookout a squall up ahead! It was only a mini squall and we struggled to get the hatches closed before the cabins got a good rinsing. Not sure what the winds got up to as we were to busy getting in the sails etc. Fortunately it was short lived and we put the sails back up and carried on. The Yacht Haven was full this time round so we are now at the Nassau Harbour Club. Docking was a success – we always get nervous about docking. A lovely bonus is the enormous swimming pool here! We were very hot yesterday and couldn’t think of a better way to end the day than with a dip in the pool. The kids were elated.
After a good night’s rest we woke up and cleaned the boat up. Then we tottered over to the Yacht Haven and paid a visit to our friends, Tina, Rick and Madison. Justin made a dash for Winn Dixie before they close today to stock up on all the things we ran out of – namely diapers and cigarettes. I was thankful to have cloth diapers on board for back up. He had rolling tobacco on the boat but no papers so he started tearing away at the Key West Yellow Pages we had on board. I think he made it half way through the A’s before we got here!
Our primary reason for stopping in Nassau again other than the mini stock up is for Merle on Integrity to sort out her American Visa. They are planning to go up to the Chesapeake too. We should be underway later this week.
Thursday, 26th May - We're Outta Here! - We are heading out today. We should arrive in West End tomorrow mid morning. That's where will hop of back to the States. Should be a good sail. Weather looks good and winds are picking up. Witnessed a high speed drug chase/bust last night in the harbour. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter followed a boat with spotlights and cornered him in Nassau Yacht Haven - Yes! The one we stayed at before! Anyway, there was a gunshot and then apparently 2 men were arrested. Not sure if anyone was hurt. Another boat got away and we don't know if the drugs did to - they may have dumped them. This went on from 10pm-2am. Quite a night! Glad to be getting out of this town!