Here it is Thursday already and we are now back at Black Point, which is just south of Staniel Cay. We arrived yesterday after staying at Little Farmer’s Cay, just eight miles south of here, but we went through some crazy winds that are only just starting to slow down a bit.
After last week’s post we continued to wait in Georgetown for a bit of a better weather window and were able to leave on Monday. That gave us a chance to make stock up a bit on groceries on Saturday and to fill our water tanks and jerry cans on Sunday to be ready. We attended Beach Church again on Volleyball Beach and it sounded like it was the last “official” church service of the year as many boats are leaving. Each morning on the Cruiser’s Net, VHF channel 72, there are many, many boats announcing their departure from Georgetown as people start to make their way typically up north and back to the States. A number of them are heading south, but most start working north into Eleuthera and/or Abacos, such as we are doing.
At the last “official” service of the year it apparently is a tradition for Bill, on the boat Charisma, to sing a song of parting – which apparently is a Navy hymn – and I was able to join the choir to help with the song, “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.” It was a hymn I recognized so it was fun to be a part of it. Bill is also the Cruiser’s Net net controller and “MC’s” the Net 3 – 5 mornings a week. I’m not sure how long they continue to hold the Cruiser’s Net in the morning as probably after a month or two most boats will be gone, but there are others who will be filling in for him as he also left Georgetown to return to VA on Monday.
Monday morning, March 11, we awoke to another sunny day, and the winds seemed to have settled down a bit. On Saturday and Sunday it was a bit windier, maybe in the mid- to high-teens in knots out of the east. We were curious if the waves out on Exuma Sound, where we had to go for the day’s journey, would have settled down, but we also were going to be heading northwest and would be going with the waves so we were not as concerned.
We announced our departure on the Cruiser’s Net at 8:00 am and pulled up our anchor at 8:15 to leave Georgetown. We threw out our headsail before leaving the Georgetown channel and the east wind did well at filling the sail and helping us along. The winds were in the low teens, so very manageable, and once we got out into Exuma Sound, which is on the east side of the Exuma Islands and therefore has no wind protection, the waves were probably only 3 – 4 footers with occasional 5’s thrown in. With the wind helping us and our heading of NW it proved to be a good day for moving north.
We ended up going all the way up to Rudder Cay Cut and anchored once again by Rudder Cay, a move of 31.3 nm. Interestingly, because of the time change on Sunday and the fact that high tide was now an hour later, we ended up going through the Rudder Cay Cut, which is a narrower opening between islands from Exuma Sound (unprotected side from the wind) to the west side of the islands (protected side), about an hour or so after high tide. What this meant is that the current would be coming at us as we went through the Cut. That’s no big deal except that the wind was from the opposite direction of the current and was pushing the water against the current. Thankfully the wind was only in the lower teens, because if it was higher the meeting of the two currents often results in what is called “standing water” and can be 4 – 8 foot tall in the Cuts. Not something we wanted to go through! As we knew the winds were not as big we took a chance that it would be alright to go through the Cut, and even though it did still throw the boat around a bit as we went through, I had enough engine power to make it with no problem.
There were a couple of other boats from Georgetown anchored nearby us as well, including Bill from Charisma, and it ended up being a delightful evening. The next morning was very still and calm, and since we only had planned to move about nine miles to Little Farmer’s Cay, Sharon was able to get her paddleboard out and went for a wonderful paddle. Even Max got out on the paddle board!
At 10:30 am on Tuesday, March 12, we pulled up anchor at Rudder Cay and headed north to Little Farmer’s Cay. This is a small island we had not been to before as in stronger winds there is little protection available except from the East. Many people rave about Little Farmer’s Cay, and since the winds were calm we decided to stay a night. We are so glad we were able to stop there as we had a delightful lunch at Ty’s Sunset Bar and Grill and had a great walk around the island. We had anchored the boat north of the island and had a wonderful afternoon of snorkeling and swimming.
We knew the winds would be picking up the next day and had to go only eight miles back to Black Point. You may remember that this is the place that all cruiser’s go to for the amazing laundromat, and we are certainly in need of it! The winds were supposed to pick up later in the morning, but already around 6 am the wind started blowing. It continued to increase from the east, so at 9:30 am, Wednesday, March 13, we pulled up our anchor and headed north (actually north west) to Black Point. We had decided to tow the dinghy instead of lifting it in the davits, and in retrospect we should not have towed it. We had to go through some shallower spots, but because of the wind starting to build we decided to not wait closer to high tide at about 12:37 pm. This ended up being ok, but primarily because we have a lower draft on our boat of 4’9,” as there were times we were only in 5’3” of water. But we had known that and been through parts of that area before, so it all ended up good.
However, the wind continued to build and about half an hour after we left the wind was in the mid-20’s and for the last half of the trip we were in sustained 26 – 29 knots of wind from the east. Because we were on the west side of the islands now there was not really any room for waves to build as big, but we did end up taking water over the side of the boat mainly from the intensity of the wind. My whole right side of my body as I was steering ended up getting soaked from the spray. Oh well! It was only for a shorter period of time and soon we were able to turn into the protection of the harbor at Black Point where we dropped our anchor at 11:00 am already. And had a beer!
We are now enjoying being here as the winds have only started to settle down a bit this afternoon, Thursday. All night the wind blew, and even though we are in a protected harbor, you still hear it all around. I turned on the instruments last night to see how fast the wind was, and it was blowing 22 – 25 knots here at anchor. Thankfully there are only few waves and we ended up sleeping quite well!
Sharon and Max went for a long walk this morning ashore while I rinsed down the boat from all the saltwater from the day before. Later this afternoon we took another walk ashore and did Happy Hour at the Regatta Point bar/restaurant overlooking the harbor. We are thinking we may actually stay here a while as there is the potential of a huge wind event coming through next week. In the Abacos and north part of Eleuthera, which is where we want to go, there is the projection of 50 – 60 knots of wind. It’s a whole week away, and things change, but we really don’t want to be anywhere near those types of wind if we can avoid it, so we may just end up staying here for a while to see how it plays out. Tomorrow we will do a big day of laundry and boat cleaning, and I would like to start to rebed the rest of the stanchions in the next couple of days. And I need to finish and file our taxes, as we have good cell signal here!