Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bahamas June 2 thru June 7

Great sail to Great Sale Cay    

Wednesday June 2- Thursday June 3

We have an easy 8:30 departure from Old Bahama Bay, beautiful blue sky with a few scattered cumulus clouds that could form into some thunder storms later in the day. We have light winds behind us as we have to head north to avoid the shallow reef area before we can head east. We have the main out to help keep the rolling down from the 1-2 foot swells from the southwest. At 10 we make our turn to the east, from sapphire blue deep water to emerald green shallower water. The winds have picked up to 15 apparent so the jib comes out and the motor is off and we are sailing at 7+ knots. As we travel east for most of the morning we do not see any other boats, it is such a beautiful sight we can see nothing but emerald green water in every direction. We do finally see a few other boats heading west, and by 1 as we approach Mangrove Cay (pronounced key) thunderstorms are forming up ahead. The winds are up to 17-20 so we put a reef in the jib just in case we get hit with a gust. We are moving right along at 8+ knots thinking maybe we can skirt between the storms. No such luck, we do get the tail end of one storm but after 30 minutes of rain, the sun is back out. Another storm up ahead dissipates before we get to it but we are still enjoying the extra wind boost in speed. By 3:30 the wind has now died down, we roll up the sails and are now motoring in flat/calm seas. So smooth we get the backgammon set out for a few matches. By 4 we spot land off in the distance, we have not seen any other boats since 1. As we are approaching Great Sale Cay we see two other sail boats anchored at another anchorage from where we are going. As I am on the bow getting ready to drop the anchor a power boat is coming up behind us to anchor nearby. We are still amazed at how few boats we have seen on this day. We are anchored by 5:30 and go for a swim to cool off and check the anchor. After surveying the boat’s bottom in the clear water, Steve sees some areas that need attention, and spends another hour scraping baby barnacles and scrubbing plant life off it. At 7 we get another 30 minute shower that cools the evening off and brings a nice breeze to keep us comfortable thru the night. It is REALLY REALLY dark out here in the middle of nowhere with NO lights. The moon has not come out yet and the few stars showing between the clouds do not give off much light. Just our anchor light & the other boats, we know the island is close but we sure cannot see it, we can’t even see the front of the boat. We are awoken early the next morning with the sunrise shining in our windows. Steve gets up to go listen to the weather net on the SSB (single side band radio) while I go back to sleep. Later we have papaya & banana with lime for breakfast up in the cockpit. The seat is already getting hot so we get the sun screens out and put them up. WOW it cools things down right away. We then go about getting the dinghy out, blowing it up, and getting ready for a late morning excursion to explore the Island. Turns out not to be a lot to this little Island other than being a great place to anchor as you cross the Little Bahama Bank. Glad we are not on the move today as there is no wind, you could water ski on the water it is so still. We do see a couple of small sand sharks, one in close to the mangroves the other close to the beach when we are walking along shore. We find a place to snorkel but not much to see on this side of the Island. Back to the boat for some shade, lunch, and to plan what Islands we will be visiting next. During the afternoon 8 other boats come into the anchorage. We hear & see thunder storms off in the distance wondering if they will head our way. We need to charge the batteries so at 6 Steve turns on the generator & we close up to run the A/C while the generator is running. I put things away in the cockpit just in case we get some rain. By 7 it is raining a little but by 8 we are in a full blown thunder storm with lightning all around us. Good timing for the A/C, because it would be a sauna below otherwise with everything closed up. We have dinner hoping that the strikes just look close and that we do not get hit. By 9 it is all over and we have survived, all is quiet, calm and DARK. Just 9 little anchor lights out on the water; you cannot even see the dinghy hanging on the back of the boat 10 feet away. Two more thunderstorms come during the night with 20 – 25 knot winds, but they don’t last long and the anchor holds.


Friday June 4 – Saturday June 5

Steve goes up to the bow to bring up the anchor and we are on our way by 8 am. As I navigate out of the Harbor we have a way point bearing of 0⁰ as we head north to avoid the rocks and shoals surrounding the Island. By 9 we turn east and the winds are light but right on our sweet spot so sails are up & motor is off moving along at 7+ knots. There are Rock Islands & just rocks scattered all around us, some off in the distance some seem close! It is amazing to think how people navigated these waters before charts & GPS. I find myself rechecking the charts to be sure none of the rocks have moved, as I have not adapted to how they look on the map and how it looks on the water. To me they always look closer on the water. Probably why I got nervous when I could not figure out what looked like some kind of “stick” mark straight in front of us. It was not on the map, and I just knew it had to be a new hidden rock we were heading for. It was always in the same 11 o’clock position and we never seemed to get any closer to it. Finally at about 10:30 we are close enough that Steve can see with the binoculars that it is another sail boat on our same route up ahead, not a mark for a rock. By 11:30 the winds have died down to 5 knots so sails are rolled up and we are motoring. By 1 we are approaching Allan’s-Pensacola Cay, and we are anchored by 1:30. There is one power boat already anchored and another coming in behind us. We go for a swim & check the anchor then decide to swim/snorkel over to a rock “close” by to see if there is anything good to see. Well even in this little anchorage things look closer than what they actually are. I get almost there but decide it is too far, and turn around & come back to the boat. Steve makes it and goes around the rock & reports back that it was okay with some coral & fish including a big barracuda to see. We were beginning to think maybe we would not get any rain, but by 4:30 the 30 minute afternoon thunder storm struck. After the storm I heard someone calling for Ocean Star over the radio. It was the other powerboat that had been at anchor, & we thought we recognized as having been at Great Sale Cay. They had been, but left early in the morning while we stayed an extra day. They had recognized our boat and wanted to say hi & introduce themselves. We make plans to go dinghy exploring the Island the following day together. We enjoy an early dinner up in the cockpit and later in the evening we here more rumblings of thunder. Sure enough we get another downpour, they don’t last long but they come down hard and the winds jump up to 20-25 knots real fast. Saturday we wake to another beautiful day. We talk to Harold & Kay on Idgara and decide to head over to the Island around 9:30. We go around to the Atlantic side of the Island and beach the dinghy’s at a spot that we think is close to a ruin of an old US missile tracking station. We walk down to the end of the Island & around into another shallow cove with a big white sand bar, but no sign of the ruins. On the way back Steve & Harold find the “path” it is very narrow and overgrown with mangroves so Kay & I decide we do not want to see it that bad and wait in the clearing as Steve & Harold make their way back into the trees. We go for a swim at the beautiful sand bottom beach. On the way back Steve & I go look for a place to snorkel. Riding around several out laying rocks & small Islands we do not see any prime spots so go back to the rock Steve went to the day before. Not so far when you go by dinghy. After snorkeling for awhile we go back to the boat, just as we get back on board I hear someone yelling to us. I look around & see Kay & Harold on shore waving & yelling to us. We cannot make out what they are saying, but it is obvious they want us to go over. I’m thinking they must have found something good. So back into the dinghy & over to shore, turns out that they had run out of gas on their way back to their boat, making it as far as the beach by the anchorage. We tow them back to their boat and visit for awhile.

They are leaving this Island today, but we are planning on seeing some of the same Islands so will most likely run into them again. We go back to the boat for lunch, and wave goodbye. Our Dinghy motor was acting up a little on the ride stalling out while in idle. Steve knows he needs to clean the carburetor, so he does that in the afternoon. Motor runs much smother now. A little late afternoon swim & deck showers as we are the only boat at the Island. We have dinner up in the cockpit and NO RAIN today – yeah. Tomorrow we are off on another adventure to another Island.

Moraine Cay

Sunday June 6

Steve lets me sleep late as the Island we are traveling to today is only 7 miles away. We are leaving the anchorage by 9:30 slowly as it is low tide. Even though we have very light winds we are going to sail since we are not going very far and have all day. We have trouble getting the main out, it is stuck, after a few times pulling it in and out and turning into the wind she comes out. The jib is out and with 7-9 knots of wind we are sailing doing 4-5 knots. By 10:45 we are anchored at Moraine Cay. Let the dinghy down and load up our snorkel gear as there is a reef to the southeast towards the channel that we want to check out. But first we go to the Island. We can see two small houses on the Island, one looks open the other is closed up. We first walk along the beach towards the reef end but we cannot get around the Island from there. Walk back towards the house, windows are open but does not look like any one is home at the moment but signs of life. Past the dock that is pretty nice for the location. We go up the path towards the other house that is closed up & has no sign of recent activity. From there we have a good view of the Atlantic, but no way to climb down the rocks to that side.

Back to our dinghy on the beach and we go over towards some rocks where we can see the waves breaking over the reef. Anchor the dinghy and get ready to go snorkeling when Steve realizes he forgot his snorkel. He goes back to the boat to get it, while I start swimming around. There is a pretty good selection of coral and fish to see and we enjoy the morning in the water, feeling the cold Atlantic waters mixing with the warm Bahama Bank as the waves come over the reef. Go back to the boat for lunch and a read in the cockpit. We are awoken from a nap around 2 with the sound of a boat motor as another sailboat comes into the anchorage. We watch as they go thru the familiar routine of anchoring, putting the dinghy in the water, and swimming. They go off to check out the Island and stop by on their way back. They are Roy & Margrit (sp IS correct) from New Zealand on Barnstorm. They have been cruising for 7 years now, and just recently came across the Atlantic to Grenada and have been coming up the Caribbean. They are heading to Florida & up to the Chesapeake, then will fly home to see family returning in November to head to Cuba and then down to Panama. Around 4 as they are leaving to go back to their boat 3 big power boats are approaching, big satellite domes on top of 2 of the boats. They also anchor nearby and I refer to them as Papa Boat, Mama Boat & Baby Boat, as one is about 90 feet and then an 80 & 60 footer. It has been a windless & hot afternoon and the water is glass smooth. We go in for another swim to cool off and Steve gets things ready for dinner. As we are having dinner in the cockpit a small boat comes by & goes to the Island the family makes their way up to the house, not sure if they live there or just using the place. It did not look like they would have running water, or long term facilities, but we are in the Bahamas so they could live there, and commute to school & work by boat. With nightfall we go below and put the generator on to have A/C during the night to sleep. Shortly after midnight we are awoken by the sound of rain, glad that we don’t have to run around and close all 24 hatches on the boat. By 12:30 we are in the middle of a full blown thunder storm with lightning and the wind howling at 25-30 knots. Steve turns on the radar and anchor alarm to stand watch, making sure we do not drag and that the other boats nearby do not either. The heavy stuff dies down after about 45 minutes but the rain & cloud lightning hang around till about 3. Such is life on the water.

Spanish Cay

Monday June 7

We have another short travel day only about 15 miles to Spanish Cay. The morning starts out cloudy & grey but with some nice WSW winds. Roy & Margrit come over by dinghy to discuss the evening storm. They decide the winds are good for them to make a break and head over to Florida, going out the Moraine Channel to the Atlantic and turning west northwest. We are leaving the anchorage by 9:30 sailing at 6.5- 7+ knots, and by 10:45 we are anchored by Spanish Cay and the sun has burned off most of the clouds. 

 Let the dinghy down and head into the marina, no real dinghy dock so we have to climb up onto the pier. Walk around and go in for lunch, check out the store & get a map of the Island. The Marina and Hotel and condos are run by the same owners with a few private homes scattered around the Island, and an airport for charter & private aircraft, and some beautiful tropical plants and of course some beautiful beaches. We stop at the marina store on the way back and pick up a few things. Getting back into the dinghy the tide is up so it should be easier but I misstep & land in the water. It felt good to cool off, & other than some sea grass sticking on me I survive and Steve pulls me into the dinghy. It had to happen sooner or later. Back at the boat even though I am wet & cooled off, Steve changes into his bathing suit and we go for a swim. During the afternoon the winds stay steady from the southwest and we are on the windward side of the Island so the boat is rocking some from the small waves that are forming. Steve decides to head over across the Sea of Abaco which is actually only 3 miles wide at this point, to anchor in the lee of Little Abaco Island. We pull up anchor and motor across and are re-anchored in calmer waters in 40 minutes. Just after the anchor is set we are greeted by a pod of dolphins, the first we’ve seen in the Bahamas. So far the rain has stayed away although we have seen some questionable clouds and have heard & seen some distant thunder & lightning. We are hoping for a nice quiet night BUT as a write this at 11:30 pm we are hearing thunder & seeing lightning again, and just before midnight it starts to rain. Not as heavy as the night before but it rains almost all night. I think I am seeing a weather pattern here, but rain during the night is better than during the day. Tuesday we head for Green Turtle Cay and this Island actually has people & a town and things to see & do & INTERNET access so I will be able to post this update.

Link to Pictures;

1 comment: