February 2009

Long Island

Hello everyone,

We have finally left the Jumentos after spending 4 weeks in that area. But, our stores of gas, diesel, propane and food was very depleted and more cold fronts were expected. So, we departed Hog Cay on the 21st of Feb and sailed northward, hard on the wind, all the way to Flamingo Cay. Early the next morning, we headed out again but motorsailing most of the way. Of course, we arrived at the shallow Comer Channel at dead low tide but made a successful transit with 0.4 ft of water under the keel at
minimum. That isn’t much to spare and we were glad that it wasn’t a huge tidal difference that day.

Motoring into Thompson Bay, Long Island, our radio came alive with calls from friends with plans to get together. Early the next morning, Murray dropped me ashore to do laundry ( 3 huge bags worth of smelly, salty things ) while he made multiple trips for gas and diesel. At Long Island Breeze, where the laundry costs me $4/load, wash or dry, I was able to use the wireless internet and catch up with our financial information etc. Once all of the clothes were clean and folded and fuel topped up aboard,
Murray joined me and we shared a pizza while surfing the ‘net. Then, off to the grocery to replenish our larder with a few fresh vegetables etc. By 2:30 we were back aboard and ready to put our feet up. Oops, spoke to soon, back in the dinghy and off to shore to meet friends for beer and conversation at Thompson Bay Inn. I told a bunch of jokes and the bartender offered me a job!! Oh oh, don’t give that girl a microphone!!

But, the fun was over and the wind started to blow again. This is now the third day of high winds. The batteries are happy but we don’t venture out too much. Yesterday we did go ashore and took a long walk, made a phone call or two and bought some more veggies. Murray cleaned some conch and trimmed his beard. In the morning, we sanded some spots on the teak in the cabin and re-applied some Cetol which is a marine finish, not a varnish nor an oil.

Tomorrow, if the wind is subsided enough, we will sail the 35 miles to George Town, Great Exuma. Several of the boats from our home yacht club in Port Stanley, Ontaio are there and we want to get together with them. Those boats are Windswept with Bob & Marg aboard, Nice Butt with Wayne and Maxine aboard, Southern Cross with Karen and Dennis aboard and Brandelera with Walter and Brenda aboard. Don Wilson on Next Exit may also be there or he may have already departed to return to the Jumentos. While
there, we will have access to wireless aboard and may try to make some calls with Skype. So, if your phone rings and you don’t hear anything, hang on a minute as it may be us with a bad connection!

From George Town, we will head north, back to the cays of the Exumas for a short while, on to Eleuthera and then to Abaco. It is time to turn the nose northward as we plan to be in the US by the end of March.

Heather & Murray

Staniel Cay New Years Race

Murray and Heather participated in the Staniel Cay New Years Race this year and Windswept IV placed third in the monohull division. Check out this article for some more details.

Valentine’s Day on the Beach

Hello everyone,

We hope that your winter is going well although we have heard that snow and cold is the usual forecast. Currently we are at Hog Cay, Ragged Islands or Jumentos at position N 22 15.68 W 075 45.26 and the temperature is cooler today as a cold front came through last night bringing north winds.

Last Saturday, Miss Maxine from Duncan Town, Ragged Island threw a party on the beach at Hog Cay. Approximately 15 cruising boats made their way down here to celebrate with her and the local children. Maxine had cooked a turkey, a ham, made peas and rice as well as macaroni and cheese. Someone else from town baked two cakes. The cruisers all contributed something to the feast. Everyone brought cold drinks as the day was hot with little wind. The children had a super time in the water and running
on the beach just like children everywhere. It was great to see them. Quite a few of the locals attended the party as well. One of the gentleman was Cletus, the original Captain C which is now the name of the mailboat that delivers supplies to the island. The party started near 1:30 with the food served about 2 or 2:30. There was so much to eat, we didn’t need any dinner later! As the sun drew lower in the sky, the boats loaded up the kids, the pots and our hosts, heading back to town before dark.
The cruisers remained on the beach for the green flash and then separated to their various vessels, tired from the sun and fun.

Miss Maxine had ordered some supplies for us, to come in on Captain C. But, the ship was late and didn’t arrive until late Friday. Early Saturday morning ( 0700 ) we headed to town in the dinghy. The water was flat calm and we flew the four miles, the last mile and half through a dredged cut. Maxine was busy preparing for the party and didn’t want to take the time to calculate our bill. As well, she had misplaced her glasses and couldn’t see her notes. “You’re not going anywhere for a bit” she said
“Pay me later”. Where else can you get a couple of bags of food and walk out with no money changing hands? She is a very special lady. On Monday, we tried to go in and pay her but discovered that she had gone fishing! Oh well!!

The last few days, we have shared meals with Fran and Mort from Aloto, John from Zafu and Karen & Klaus from Lucky Touch. On Sunday night, John had everyone to his boat for a lovely fish dinner. Then last night, Karen & Klaus invited us all over for paella with lobster,conch and fish. She had made a lobster bisque ( from the meat left in the heads and antennas ) as well. Fran brought along a blueberry crumble and I contributed some homemade bread. It has been very nice to share meals and I have been
racking my brain for something that I can make that will feed 7 people. It has to be something that I still have all the ingredients for in my depleted stores!

Speaking of which, our time here in these remote cays is limited. There will be a brief respite from the wind this week and we will run to shore and get some more supplies from Miss Maxine. Then, we will look for the right winds to head further north. A good part of the Port Stanley crew will be in George Town on the 25th and we will try to get there as well. Our general plan is to head to Long Island, re-supply, do laundry and then go to George Town. Once the visiting is done, we can head off again.

To where? Well, it will be early March by then and we will work our way north in the Exumas, then to Spanish Wells and on to Abaco with plans to cross to the US before the end of March. By Mid April, we will be back in Tillsonburg.

Until we see you, take care. Hugs to all,
Heather & Murray

Jumento Cays

About 10 days ago, we used the tail end of a cold front to enable us to sail down here to the Ragged Islands or Jumento Cays. Since then, we have had two more cold fronts with high winds and few places to hide. The islands are mostly low and north-south facing, thus offering little shelter from the west to north winds that accompany a cold front.

Initially, we anchored at Buenavista Cay for a few days. There we dove on the coral heads located right in the anchorage and found fish and lobster for our dinner. From a local fishing boat, we made a trade of some Canadian whiskey for 2 fresh hogfish. Man, are they delicious!

There is a trail across the island to a small beach and, donning our crocs, we went exploring. The trail is well marked with beach debris such as shoes, floats, toys etc. The trail started out sand-covered and easy walking but deteriorated rapidly to razor rock. This rock is limestone that has been covered in peaks of sharp rock. Murray’s crocs are very worn and some of the rocks penetrated through the sole of the shoe into his foot! Scattered around were sink-holes varying from 1 foot to 6 feet
deep. Not a pleasant “walk in the park”. In the centre of the island was a salt pond that was mostly dry. There we saw some of the resident goats and heard a rooster crow. After skirting the salt pond, we continued along the trail until we finally reached the beach. The beach itself was very small but there was a lot of debris thrown onto the surrounding rocks. Searching through the flotsam, we found many heart beans and some hamburger beans for our collection. Murray also got some more fish floats.

After a few days, we sailed on south to Hog Cay and met up with friends. A beach cook-out/bonfire was arranged and enjoyed by all. Then, a cold front was coming and, following a vessel with shallow draft, we ducked into a bay near Duncan Town. It protected us from the south and west but exposed us to the north-east. As we needed to have a rising tide to get out of there, we departed before the north wind had subsided and got our butts kicked. The bay where we anchored was safe but the waves were
quite high and we spent about 20 hours thrashing about.

For Super Bowl, a friend had arranged for a local boat to come out a pick up those interested in the game. We are not football fans but needed a diversion about then. Silvertail Lodge, a bone fishing lodge in Duncan Town, put on a party with lots of food and a big screen tv. It was great to meet some other cruisers and some of the locals as well. An exciting game followed by an exciting trip back to the boats in the dark.

Another cold front was coming and we needed a different strategy. This time, we sailed to Johnson Cay to a pretty u-shaped cove with protection from the south and south-west. But, we rolled most of the night due to left-over wave action. As Johnson is open to the north, we moved, shortly after dawn, 1 mile across to Man of War Bay, on Raccoon Cay. This spot soon filled up with seven or eight other boats. Another beach walk gained us more heart and hamburger beans. We also found a fire pit and organized
a beach party for later that night. The afternoon was spent checking out the nearby coral heads where Murray bagged another lobster and several fish. Our freezer is bulging! The beach party was fun as usual and we met some new people. While getting back into the dinghy later, I was tossed by a wave and smacked down hard on the sand onto my knees. Ouch! They were sore for a day or so but the fake one seems to have survived, thank goodness.

Last night, the boat rolled again. I am starting to get used to it and even can sleep some. Today we must move again as we are exposed to the north-east and the wind is due to shift there. But, the anchorage that we want to move to is exposed to the north, so we can’t move until it shifts and the waves die down somewhat. Between a rock and a hard place, the price of paradise.

Probably you can tell from these last few days that the Jumentos Cays have their pros and cons. They are remote so the anchorages are not crowded. The fishing is good. But, there are no places to hide from a cold front with all around protection. The anchorages tend to be rolly and/or rough. You need to have your tanks full as fuel and water are hard to get. The supply boat comes weekly but cannot reach the town due to shallows. All supplies are ferried in by small skiffs, including fuel in barrels.
The one grocery store has very limited supplies, mostly canned dry goods.

The wind is expected to blow hard for the next 4 or 5 days and then the next cold front may not reach us here. Calmer weather is predicted for next Wed/Thurs. We have one tomato and a partial cabbage left. My sprouts are growing and we have canned vegetables. How long can we stay? We are not sure… but will keep you posted.

Stay warm and look after each other.
Heather & Murray

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