Staniel Cay/Thirtieth Week Update!


Happy Thursday from the Exumas!  It’s not often one gets to be able to say that, so we are enjoying being able to, and we are enjoying being able to share a bit with you what we are up to. 

We left the Staniel Cay area this morning and headed straight into the winds, again!, to Black Point, which is only about 9.4 nautical miles south of Staniel Cay.  It obviously wasn’t a big move, but the winds finally died down enough to be able to move, which was a great thing. 

In last week’s update I mentioned we would be getting some high winds, and we did!  Chris Parker, the meteorologist cruisers listen to and who has provided routing advice for us, said it was slated to be the highest wind event of this winter so far for the Bahamas, and it sounds like it proved true as we definitely got high wind.

We arrived at Staniel Cay last Friday and found a spot to anchor right off Thunderball Grotto, the grotto made famous in the James Bond movie, Thunderball.  There were four mooring balls there and we anchored just west of them in only about 6 feet of water at low tide (we only need just under 5 feet).  But we seemed to hold well as the tide swung us the customary 180 degrees throughout the rest of Friday and Saturday.  On Saturday afternoon, at low tide, we took the dinghy over to the Grotto to snorkel in and I threw the dinghy anchor out to hold the dinghy in place.  It seemed to hold well, but when I dove on it I could feel the sand was actually very hard and the anchor tip could not dig in hardly at all. 

That got me to thinking of our big Rocna anchor holding our boat in place.  I had not dove on it but when we would dinghy over the top of it it just didn’t look right – almost as if too much anchor was showing.  To make a long story short, I did dive on the anchor and it seemed apparent it was not dug in very far, even though the sand under it was softer.  I took the GoPro down with me to the anchor and in looking at the video we just didn’t feel comfortable so we moved on Saturday about a mile and a half north to a more protected area for the winds that were coming.

And what a good thing that we moved!  The winds picked up out of the SW on Sunday, which offered no land protection at all, and we noticed that other than the four boats on the mooring balls by where we were there were absolutely no boats anchored anywhere in front of the main Staniel Cay area because of the direction of the wind.  At the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, where we took the dinghy ashore, we heard they also kicked all the boats off their docks because the direction and strength of the wind on Sunday.  I am sure we would have drug our anchor, and where we were we only had about 100 feet behind us before we would have been in water less than 4 feet.  Not good!  We actually just heard this afternoon, from one of the boats that was on a mooring ball and is now beside us here at Black Point, that another boat did try anchoring there and did drag their anchor in the middle of the night.  Yikes!

Anyway, we moved to an anchorage area between Big Majors and Little Majors Cay and it was delightful until Monday night.  There were probably about a dozen boats there and when the wind from the NE started to pipe up on Sunday all was good as we had plenty of land protection to block the wind.  The problem came, which was projected, when the wind started to clock around to the ESE on Monday.  Four or five of the boats around us left the anchorage for places unknown and only until later did we realize why.  We were still protected from land to the SE of us, so we thought we were good.  However, there was a cut, or opening to the ocean, farther down on the SE side of Little Majors Cay and what happened was that we ended up getting a surge, or wave swells, from the south that hit our boat directly from the side resulting in our rocking back and forth side to side all night.  Not comfortable! 

So on Tuesday morning, Jan. 22, we moved to the west side of Big Majors Cay over to the Bay of Pigs (just can’t get rid of them!) where we were so much more protected from any kinds of swells or surges.  We still had the high winds, but we were not rolling around, so that was ok.  The winds were pretty much steady in the mid-20 knots range with gusts of up to 34 knots, which is about 38 – 39 miles per hour.  But we were fine as we were then pointed directly into the wind.  And our Rocna anchor held so well!  Kudos to it!!

I should also add that where we anchored in the Bay of Pigs there were probably at least 50 other boats all anchored there as well.  I’m sure on Sunday there weren’t as many there with the wind coming from the SW as it is totally open to the sea from that direction with no protection, but as it swung to the N and then NE and E, it was the place to be. 

What we learned from these moves is that you really have to assess your anchor’s holding ability based on wind direction, and that you just may have to move a couple of times as the wind changes direction and intensity.  We made moves at the right times for the right reasons, so we feel we did well with the wind.  And, we’re glad we made it through the high winds and that we can get back to moving south!

I don’t want to forget to share the things we did at Staniel Cay, as it feels like I already spent way too much time talking about the wind and weather.  (In my defense, when you live on a boat the wind and weather is all-consuming, which is why it’s such a big deal.)  We did have a great time doing things at Staniel Cay, including going into the Thunderball Grotto. If you don’t know what it is, Google it and you’ll see it’s an amazing place to snorkel into and see the sun reflected off the water and walls.  There’s also a lot of colored fish swimming around as you enter and leave that makes it even more spectacular.

We also spent a lot of time walking around the island of Staniel Cay and it was interesting to see how the residents live.  We also purchased some eggs from a local super market called the Pink Pearl.  It isn’t like any super market in the states as it only had three or four aisles, but it did have some basics, albeit at high prices.  Sharon also attended the local Baptist church on Sunday while Max and I explored more of the island.  And we did take the dinghy past the Pig Beach, where people feed the wild pigs that apparently live there, at least to see them.  We are not interested in pigs really at all, but the ones we saw were absolutely huge! 

That all brings us now to Black Point and to a spectacular day we had today.  We walked around Black Point and stopped for Happy Hour at a local pub.  (We did make a toast to Sharon’s Mom who passed away a year ago today.  She would have loved being here and this lifestyle!)  Black Point is also known for its great Cruiser’s Laundromat, and Sharon is planning on doing our laundry there tomorrow – Yay!  We will hang around here tomorrow getting some things done on the boat – does anyone know how to effectively keep isinglass, the plastic in our dodger, clean from saltwater?  Because it ends up getting sprayed a lot it always seems to have a fine film on it.  I hope to clean it a bit tomorrow. 

Maybe on Sunday we will move again to somewhere south, possible Little Farmer’s Cay, on our way to Georgetown.  Our youngest daughter, Kristi, is planning on flying to Georgetown on Feb. 7 to stay with us until Feb. 12 (Cannot wait for her to get here!!), and our good friends, Jason and Patti, are planning on flying to Georgetown on Feb. 12 to stay with us through Feb. 25.  It will be so great to have them!  We had done a BVI week long charter with them a few years ago so they’re pros at this!  J  So it will be good to get to Georgetown and case the area out a bit.  There are a couple of other boats we know that are there already, so it will be good to reconnect with them as well.

Adventures Await!!

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