Southern Exploration

Hello all,

We have spent a lovely few days down in the southern cays of the Bahamas chain. Our trip to Flamingo Cay was un-eventful and we sailed the whole distance. Once there, we tried four or five times to get the anchor to hold. Finally, we switched to our Bruce anchor and that did the trick. The bottom was shallow sand over marl ( hard packed clay ) and we were just not getting a bite with the plow.

When secured, we putted off in the dinghy to explore. Several other boats were anchored here as well, along with a fishing boat from Long Island. Bull sharks hovered around that boat as they were cleaning fish. Not a good day for a swim! The dinghy motor developed a surging problem and starting to cut out on us, so back to the boat for us.

The waves wrapped around the island and the boat rolled from side to side all night. IT was time to move on and we did so bright and early the next day. Wind was blowing strongly from the ESE but we were able to sail the course. From waypoint to waypoint, down the chain we went. In areas open to the deep water, waves bashed us and tossed the boat around like a toy. A lookout was necessary as there was a smattering of coral heads to avoid. Mostly the water was quite deep except for one section. Here, the waves were 4 feet and we only had 6 feet below us. I worried about being bashed into the bottom in deeper waves.

Don Wilson, on Next Exit from our home port of Port Stanley, was in touch and recommended we head to Double Breasted Cay for protection from the strong southerly winds. We took his advice and anchored here shortly after 2:30 – we had sailed 41 miles in six hours, into waves. Not bad.

Murray resolved the outboard problem – it was a worn out hose – and, after a lovely dinner, we retired early. The daylight found us planning a beach walk, looking for beans. This is the place to find lots or so we have been told. But, we are many months after others who also search. The walk was successful, with beans, fishing floats etc filling our bags.

Yesterday, during a dive expedition, we managed to pierce our dinghy with another’s spear. Yikes! Limping back to the anchorage, we went to shore, beached her, repaired the hole, cut each other’s hair while the glue dried and got fried by the hot sun. The patch seems to be holding and the new do’s look good.

Last evening a beach party was held, with much food, a bonfire and Dave from Dyad strumming his guitar while the rest of us tried to sing and come up with more than the chorus lines to vaguely remembered songs. Great fun!

Today, Murray is off diving with friends. Maybe some lobster for the pot. It isn’t safe to shoot fish here as the blood and thrashing about attracts the sharks. So far, we haven’t seen any and I would like to keep it that way.

The radio is very quiet, with none of the chatter heard further north. Anchorages are seldom crowded, unless two or three boats is a crowd. This is lovely and we will be back next year.

How long will we stay down here? It depends on weather and supplies (running out of, that is). Not much is available down here and our stash is limited. But, I expect 10 days or so to pass quickly.

Hope all is well with everyone. Stay warm and March is just around the corner. Hugs to all,

Heather & Murray

Jumentos

Hello everyone

We finally broke loose of the tether holding us to Staniel Cay area. I cooked a bean stew for all of our land-based friends in Little Bay, near Black Point and we had a lovely evening on the deck of O’Brien’s Landing, a house on the beach overlooking our anchorage. The next day, we sailed north just a mile or so, to Black Point and did the HUGE bag of laundry that had been building for three weeks. Shortly after lunch, we hauled anchor and sailed south to Little Galliot Cay.

Nearby is a sandbar that extends approx a mile and is sometimes a source of lovely shells. Bouncing and banging on the waves, we bashed our way to windward. And found…..nothing. Just before we gave up, a boat approached with chairs, umbrellas etc etc. It was the crew from Mosha Cay, setting up for lunch for 25 guests. I imagine the guests would love it, with the shallow, aqua coloured water on all sides and a curving, private beach.

The anchorage at Galliot is bumpy and rolly at times and this was one of those times. But,we stayed three nights. Today, we hauled anchor and headed…. west! We are going to the Jumento Cays but down the back of Great Exuma Island. Tonight we will anchor near Cokely Cay and tomorrow we will be in Flamingo Cay, Jumentos. The weather is supposed to be quite settled for the next week or so and, hopefully, we will have time to explore this remote area this time.

There will not be any phones or food supplies available here. There is only one village, Duncan Town on Ragged Island and it is almost at the south tip of this island chain. The Jumentos are also called the Ragged Islands, if you are looking for them on a chart. Very remote, barren, small islands almost all the way to Cuba. In fact, some cruisers use these islands as their route to Cuba.

We will keep in touch. Hugs to all,

Heather & Murray

PS after an hour and a half, we were out of sight of land, as the islands are so very low. At 10 am, we turned SE and at that point, were only 8 miles from the deep water, the Tongue of the Ocean. The shallowest water we have seen so far was 10 feet. Soon, we shall see Great Exuma Island, but from a different perspective.

Fish and Lobster

Hello to all from the sunny Bahamas,

The last message said there wasn’t any excitement. Well, that changed quickly.

Shortly after I wrote, we went to Staniel in the late afternoon to try once more to call my mom. A friend noticed that the nurse sharks and rays, normally near the docks at the Yacht Club, were all huddled in a corner. Then she spotted a quick-moving large form. It was a hammerhead shark about 8 to 10 feet long. The locals got extremely excited and eventually chased it down, shot it with a bang stick ( a pole that fires a shotgun shell ), tied a rope around its tail and dragged it ashore to be butchered. It was a scary shark to see, with its strange shaped head and fast acceleration.

The next event was the Super Bowl party at Club Thunderball. That was lots of fun and we even had a bet on the game. Not sure exactly how the system worked but, needless to say, we didn’t win. It was the only time we have been “out after dark” since we arrived in the islands. It is just not the safest thing to be motoring around in a dinghy at night. In fact, two boats of Bahamians had collided just a night or two before. Everyone was rescued but many were flown to Nassau for medical treatment.

Last Monday, we sailed north to Norman’s Cay to meet Al and Ann on Calypso Poet. They had brought us a new serial port to USB adapter to resolve, hopefully, my computer problems. Other friends, Harold and Angie on the trawler Halagain, from Parry Sound, also headed to Norman’s the same day. The three boats joined together to dive daily and our larder got steadily fuller. Murray hooked a mutton snapper one day and then shot a 10 lb margate the next. Angie shot a large yellow-fin grouper and, through a community effort, we managed to haul him aboard. Harold cleaned the grouper and shared it with all of the boats as it took a group effort to get that big fish. Many lobster were shot, cleaned, cooked and buttered. Some were even frozen to share with friends up north. One was a slipper or Spanish lobster that looks like a prehistoric bug. He was just walking along the bottom when Murray spotted him, dove down and picked him up. Not a happy lobster but sooo sweet to eat.

The computer problems seem to be resolved. The external antenna enabled us to get a wireless connection in Norman’s and we had a chance to make a Skype call to Jeremy and Cynthia, with video. It was so nice to see the kids and see how much they are growing and changing while we are gone. We tried to make a few phone calls but the connection was not great, with extreme delays. Thanks for putting up with the try – Linda & Kuyler& Don & Lena! Maybe someplace later, with a stronger wireless signal, we will try again.

Now, on Sat, we are on the way southward. Motoring this time. Another cold front is coming in tomorrow and we will have several days of strong winds, over 25 knots with gust to 35. It will charge our batteries and we will have time to play games and watch movies. Many friends are gathered in Staniel, awaiting our arrival. Cocktail parties await. Our larder is very bare, with no fresh veggies left. The supply ship was into Staniel a few days ago and the stores may be cleaned out by now as well. We will get whatever we can or make do with canned stuff. There is little danger of starving aboard this ship!

Hopefully all is well up north and the snow hasn’t gotten too deep. Much love to everyone and write when you can. We love to get your messages aboard.

Hugs, Murray & Heather