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