Hello from Lee Stocking Island, again! We just returned there from being north a ways and are headed back now to Georgetown this weekend as Patti and Jason, who have been with us since Feb. 12, fly back home to snowy Michigan (ugh!) this coming Monday. The winds have picked up again so it has been an issue to get back to Georgetown, but we hope to get there tomorrow or Sunday. The waves out on Exuma Sound are reportedly 5 – 7 footers, and the last 17 or so miles to Georgetown have to be out on Exuma Sound, instead of inside on the Banks, so we are waiting for them to settle down a bit.
But I get ahead of myself… Last Thursday, Feb. 14, we headed to Lee Stocking Island, a trip of about 27 nautical miles, in calm winds and sunny skies. On Friday, Feb. 15, we celebrated Sharon’s 59th birthday, and then moved 1.4 nautical miles to Leaf Cay, just north of Lee Stocking Island, in the hopes of finding better places to snorkel. It was great to celebrate Sharon’s on the boat and just to be here in the sun and warmth on her birthday instead of in snowy Michigan (sorry to all of you who are in Michigan now!). Between Jason, Patti and myself we even managed to give her the day off of meal preparation! And we celebrated with birthday brownies after dinner with our coffee!
Unfortunately the spots we snorkeled didn’t have any great fish to see, but we did get the opportunity to once again see a bunch of iguanas on Leaf Cay beach nearby. Just can’t seem to get away from them!
Our goal was to try and make it to Staniel Cay with Jason and Patti during their visit, so on Saturday, Feb. 16, we pulled up anchor in Leaf Cay and headed north again to Rudder Cay. We were able to head “outside” on Exuma Sound, as the winds were light and by 11:30 am already we were anchored. This is the area where David Copperfield, who owns the island named Musha Cay just north of Rudder Cay, commissioned “The Musician.” It is a replica of a Steinway grand piano with a mermaid sitting on the side of the bench and is underwater in 10 – 14 feet, depending on the tide.
On Sunday, Feb. 17, we were able to snorkel on The Musician and it was so cool to see! I got some video on my GoPro, but unfortunately don’t know how to get it on this blog update, so it will be in some upcoming video I put out. The tide was higher when we snorkeled on it so we had to swim down further, and it was not at slack tide, so there was a pretty hefty current when we were there. It didn’t allow us to as much time to dive down to it and sit on the bench for photos because it took so much breath to get down there, but I was able to touch it a few times before I had to surface again for air.
We snorkeled other places near our boat at Rudder Cay and even got Max ashore for a short while. He was happy! We had a second beautiful night at Rudder Cay and spent the evening playing cards and having a lot of fun! We use a solar Luci light in our cockpit to provide light after the sun goes down and it is just so comfortable as it only gets down to 70 or 71 at night. The high during the day is probably only about 80, although being in the direct sun at times feels a lot warmer!
On Monday, Feb. 18, we pulled up anchor and set off for Staniel Cay. This was a trip of about 27 miles, and the wind was behind us and very conducive to actually sailing – a novel idea! We left at 8:30 am and by the time we cleared the shallow areas and headed west onto the Banks, we were able to roll out the headsail and shut the motor off by 9:20 am already. How fun! Because the winds were from behind us, and only in the 12 – 14 knot range, we were only able to maintain a 4.2 – 4.6 knot average, but we were in no hurry so we sailed on. About 11 am we fired up the motor and motor sailed to help increase our speed a bit and by 1:40 pm we had our anchor down at Pig Beach off Staniel Cay. We were surprised at how many fewer boats were there this time than when we were there a couple of weeks ago. Pig Beach is a great spot for protection from an east wind, and since the wind wasn’t as tough we presumed there weren’t as many people needing protection.
We took the dinghy to Staniel Cay that afternoon and had a chance to do some walking on land. There are a couple of smaller market stores in Staniel Cay, and we were in need of bread. We found out the supply boat wouldn’t be there until Thursday, so the only thing we were able to find we needed was spaghetti noodles. You can’t be picky when traveling by boat!
The next day, Tuesday, Feb. 19, we had another enjoyable morning on the boat with Patti and Jason. Sharon and I always have coffee and devotions first thing in the morning on the boat, and it has been wonderful to continue with this tradition with Patti and Jason. Their faith has been inspiring to us throughout the years, and it has been a delight to have them be a part of our morning devotions. We were then able to spend some time reading and lounging about the boat, and just prior to low tide we jumped in the dinghy to go snorkel again in Thunderball Grotto. Jason and Patti thoroughly enjoyed seeing this and are now excited to go home and watch the James Bond Thunderball movie.
After snorkeling we headed to shore to attempt to get propane and gas for the dinghy. They were also out of propane until the supply boat on Thursday, and the attendant at the fuel dock was missing in action so we left after waiting about 15 minutes. In returning to the Pink Pear market store we were able to get a loaf of bread as one of the locals brought some in to sell, so we felt successful with that.
We left Staniel Cay on Wednesday, Feb. 20. We were getting low on water onboard so we stopped at the fuel dock to fill our water tanks and get diesel. We hold 151 gallons of water and took on 104 gallons, so it was good we stopped. It would be a major crisis if we ran out of water and couldn’t make coffee!
After leaving the fuel dock we headed to Blackpoint, a trip of only about 11 nautical miles. The wind had definitely picked up, however, and was blowing 18 – 22 knots right on our nose for the entire trip. The waves were in the 4 – 6 foot range so we did some bashing over waes and took a fair amount of water over the bow at times, but we reached Blackpoint, a very well protected area from east winds, around 12:15 pm already.
Sharon was able to get some laundry done at Blackpoint, you may remember that cruisers from all around rave about the laundry here, and later that evening Patti and Jason took us out to Lorraine’s restaurant for an amazing buffet dinner! We got back after dark, probably the first time we have done that in over two months, but the food and company were amazing. Thanks, Patti and Jason!
Thursday morning, Feb., 21, we left Blackpoint and headed to Rudder Cay via the “inside” route on the Banks. The weather is still very, very windy out on the Exuma Sound, so we took the more protected route to Rudder Cay even though it was quite a shallow route. The winds were once again 20 – 22 knots from the ESE, but as we were closer to land the waves were only in the 3 – 4 foot range making it a more comfortable ride. We had a great afternoon enjoying the sunshine on the “hook” (anchor) and Jason was the definite winner that evening in a rousing game of Uno!
This morning, Friday, Feb. 22, we left Rudder Cay headed back to Lee Stocking Island via the “inside” route through the Banks. The waves “outside,” or to the east of the islands, were predicted to be in the 5 – 7 foot range so we didn’t want to head out there. What it meant is that we had to go through a very, very shallow route with charted depths of only 1.6 feet at times. We draw 4’9” so that would be a problem, except that we went at a rising tide, an hour just prior to high tide. We also knew the reported chart depths were low, so we figured we would give it a try. Because we left on a rising tide we made it the distance with absolutely no problem. The lowest reading we saw was 6.4 feet, so it was good. However, prior to leaving we were plenty nervous because if we got stuck out there, there is no Boat US to call on!
We arrived safely at Lee Stocking Island, as I mentioned above. We have to figure out how to safely get back to Georgetown in the next couple of days so Patti and Jason can make their flight out on Monday, and the only way to get to Georgetown from here is to go “outside.” So we may try going out tomorrow to see if the waves are as bad as predicted, and when are they ever not!, or we may wait until Sunday when the waves are predicted to only be in the 4 – 6 foot range. It would be great if we can get back there tomorrow, but we’ll see. It’s about 27 miles from here, and most of that would be “outside,” so we’ll see how it goes. And we’ll let you know!