Central Exumas

Hi everyone,

Life aboard Windswept IV continues at a slow and easy pace.

We sailed into Staniel Cay on Jan 21st, and I do mean sailed. Murray had us tacking into the anchorage! There was one other boat also tacking in – another Canadian vessel, of course. It was Shivaree, with John and Kirsten aboard. We had crossed to Florida with them last spring. In Staniel, we visited the grocery stores. There are 3 stores – the pink store, the blue store, the general store. None of them are very large and none have much stock. We visited all of them to obtain the supplies that we needed. Murray also bought a spear and sling launcher. He thinks that he will attempt to spear fish and lobster. Time will tell.

The larder re-stocked and the e-mail sent and the moms telephoned, it’s time to move again. So, when the tide was right and the light was right, we picked our way into Pipe Creek. It is a area oval in shape with numerous cays protecting it. The larger ones are Pipe, Rat, Thomas and Overyonder Cays. It has many reefs and shallows and is extremely tricky to enter. We made it in with never less than 6 whole inches under the keel! The wind and current gave us lots of trouble, but we managed to get both anchors securely positioned. Now, its time to play again and all of the Port Stanley fleet is here ( except Vertigo ). We spend several days swimming, snorkeling, diving for conch and exploring these lovely islands. We harvested many conch which are in the freezer and saved the shells to make horns. Murray fished off of the boat and caught several small ones.

But, one morning the wind switched directions. Now, the rocks behind us are uncomfortably close. And the wind is supposed to build. Time to move again, and the high tide is also at a good time of day. So, we pull the anchors carefully. When the last one is up, I try to turn to starboard and head out. She won’t come into that strong wind and there is not a lot of room before the next boat and no depth to go around!! So, my heart in my mouth, I revved her up and backed away from the rocks. As soon as I got some space and speed, I quickly cranked her around. Murray hadn’t even noticed that there was any problem, and I guess there wasn’t one as I handled it OK. But, my heart got a work-out that day. We re-traced our path but plowed sand for 200 meters. Luckily, no rocks or coral heads.

Back to Staniel Cay and anchor down at Big Major. And only one anchor needed! So much better than two. The holding here is wonderful. The bottom has been referred to as ” velcro mud “. Now, it is time to dive the grotto at Thunderball Cave. It is called that as it was used in the movie ” Thunderball”. We took a can of squeeze cheese with us to feed the fish. What a laugh!! They would come right to the nozzle as though they were babies after a nipple. I was mobbed by sergeant majors, a small yelow and black stripped fish.! But it is dangerous to laugh while snorkeling – the water runs into your mask. Once we got past the feeding frenzy, we entered the cave. The timing was a little off and the current was running already. So, we didn’t stay too long, but it was lovely.

Since then, we have been in the water most days exploring one reef or another. We have been in the water with a nurse shark nearby, snorkeled on deep reefs and in current. We are getting much braver and better at this. Murray has carried his spear but not shot at anything other than practice shots. I hate to see the fish run from us as they do when you are hunting them. I like to just hang there and watch as they go about there usual lives. But, we may need the skills of the spear sometime. And I would love to find a lobster.

The wind is blowing strongly again and will for a few days.Tundra is close by and so is Vertigo I. More reunions to come! Then we plan to head to Black Point Settlement, Little Farmer’s Cay, Lee Stocking Island and on to George Town. It is now Feb and we need to be moving on. Company’s coming – maybe.

Anyone who wants to contact us quicker, can send a fax to us c/o Exuma Market at 809-336-2645.

Distances between cays are short now. The total from Wardwick Wells to Staniel is only 16 miles! When we went to Pipe Creek it was only 7 miles. To get to Black Point from Staniel is only 5 miles and to Little Farmers only 15 miles. From Little Farmers to George Town is only 40 miles. So, we never have too far to go before we anchor again.

Our best to all up north and hope you are weathering this winter well. When the snow blows hard and the temperature drops below freezing, think of us. If I feel shivers now and then, I will know it’s from one of you up north.

Love to all,

Heather & Murray Rand
aboard Windswept IV
Ham Radio VE3 ZUA