Jalan-Jalan Yacht

Adios Bahamas 7 th April

Posted: April 23rd, 2013 under Cruising.

Adios Bahamas

We have finally lifted the anchor from Georgetown on Exuma Island and headed south. Our stay became extended when our daughter Joanna, discovered she was going to have 3 weeks holiday to take. So it was just wonderful to get the chance to ‘hang out’ with her.

Prior to her arrival we had been taking part in the Georgetown Regatta as I think I mentioned in an earlier post. The fun and socialising continued for a few weeks post regatta. We had done the Elizabeth Harbour race in a catamaran which is much more suited to the shallow waters of the bay. It was a day of very light winds and created many a frustrating moment for anyone taking part. Our near miss came at the leeward mark at Goat Cay when we were almost t – boned by another cat which did not seem to know the rules of racing. Was pretty heart stopping. We managed to take avoiding action and continued on our way. However it was not to be our day. Nonetheless a pleasant time was had by one and all.

Out here your dinghy tends to be your mode of travel. Some folks buy really big hard bottomed ones, with huge engines and they dash from bay to bay as they please. On our case we have a small soft bottomed dinghy which thanks to the storms of the other week has a significant patch on its rump not to mention a very leaky floor. The engine is tiny at 2.2 hp so in a big swell it is a wet ride anywhere and usually that is never too far. As a result of this we have been lifting the anchor up each time we needed to go to different bays for supplies, to go walking etc. Some days it has just been too windy to go anywhere. Note to self for near future – get a decent dinghy! Especially noted after taking our daughter ashore for her taxi to the airport. We all had to wear wet weather gear otherwise we would have been soaked good and proper.

We went for a few snorkels at Fowl Cay and enjoyed some fish life but mainly sergeant majors which were looking for food as they are normally fed by passing tourist boats from Sandals etc.

We also managed to meet up with some old friends from St Lucia days which was great. There was a ‘rake and scrape’ on so we met there and experienced some local music and of course ‘wining’.

After toots left we filled in Easter Monday by going to an Easter bash on Coco Plum Beach. It was very buggy and the BBQ food tasted of kerosene so all in all it sucked. The bus ride up and down the island was interesting though – so much of it is scrub land with little pockets of developments, some complete and others incomplete and rotting in the harsh Bahamian conditions.

We left Elizabeth Harbour and headed out through the cut which was a little bumpy but not nearly as wild as it had been over the time we had been on anchor in Georgetown. It turned into a motor very quickly as the wind was on the nose as we headed towards another cut known as Hog Cay. We had to drop anchor and wait for the top of the tide as the depth under the keel was 0.5. Some tricky navigation saw us safely through. When I looked back I was glad I had been downstairs reading the chart directions up to John as I am not sure I would have had the guts to go with the seascape. Then it was onto Grand Bahamas Bank and a heading to Water Cay which we would hopefully get to before sunset. The water is constantly shallow and you can see rocks and coral heads underneath but it is difficult to be sure you are reading the shade of the water correctly. Thank goodness for depth sounders.

Water Cay was busy with two other yachts and a fishing boat. Just at sunset the tender from the fishing boat crept up beside us. So quietly was the approach Liz almost jumped out of her skin when they hailed her. Did we have any ‘tobacco products we wanted to barter?’ They apologised for surprising her and went away empty handed.

The Ragged Island chain is one of the most remote parts of the Bahamian chain of islands. Most of the little islands you pass are uninhabited. You easily see why. We stopped the next night at Buena Vista Cay in a beautiful stretch of glaringly white sand and there was no one else around. Nothing on the land, no fresh water – nada.

Next day we went round to Man O War bay on Raccoon Cay to get away from some bad weather and met another boat. We had a bonfire on the beach with them, did some snorkelling together and shared some stories. They were from Alaska and it was fascinating to hear from them about their lifestyle there. We were also all treated to a phenomenal thunder and lightening storm which had us rushing to put the electrical equipment into the oven – just in case we got hit.

Snorkelling and diving is so different from the Georgetown area. There are so many reefs and rocky outcrops that the fish live in you are spoiled for choice. We saw a couple of beautiful lion fish, tangs, hogfish, groupers, damsel and a new one which we think was a durban.
The one worry was the sharks. There are very many of them in the waters around here and the prospect of having to get back in to the dinghy before losing any of our bits is a tad worrisome. Still it was fun and the corals were beautiful to see.

Today we had a short passage in a 30 knot easterly to bring us right to the end of the Ragged chain. Duncanstown is the only community in the Ragged Chain and it is the one place where you can make a phone call and buy some basic stuff e.g. fuel for the engine, if they have any to spare. It was a good sail. The jib carried us over yet more shallow waters and sandy banks at a steady 6.7 knots. As usual an ever watchful entry into the anchorage which sported a wreck, just to make you even more nervous, and a couple of unsuccessful attempts to get the anchor to bite in 30 knots proved challenging. However we are now sitting patiently waiting for the wind to drop in order that we can make a night passage to Cuba. Hopefully we will get there tomorrow morning. Everyone we have spoken to says it is a fascinating experience. It will be good to get away from the constant solitude that is on offer here. Sometimes it feels a bit like the remotest parts of the west coast of Scotland with its harsh headlands and barren rocks. The stormy weather is also similar except it is usually still pretty warm. Hopeful of giving up the fleeces by the time we get to Cuba though. Bring on the salsa – what a way to hit 60!!!!


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