Sorry this is a day late, but for the past two nights we have not had any cell service at all, so I couldn’t post anything. We also couldn’t check weather, social media or emails, but it was ok in not having to deal with all of that. We don’t spend a ton of time checking things, but it was ok to not be able to do it at all. It did help that we had an idea of the weather for a couple of days so we knew we weren’t going to get caught in anything bad. I should also add that we do use an InReachExplorer+ satellite unit that allows us to send and receive texts via satellite so we are always in touch with our kids. They also can track our route when we are moving so we’re not totally unconnected.
We are currently anchored at Staniel Cay, which is maybe halfway down the Exumas chain of islands toward Georgetown, which will probably be the furthest south we will get for this year. We spent a little while this afternoon exploring the island and even treated ourselves to a Kalik beer, which is a Bahamian beer, at the Staniel Cay Yacht Clubt. This evening we experienced another spectacular sunset, while commenting to ourselves that “We are There.” It’s not the final “There,” but for so long we have been looking forward to being There, and here we are!
We stayed at the Rose Island anchorage, which is just east of New Providence Island where Nassau is, for four nights before we headed for Allen’s Cay, which is one of the northern most islands in the Exumas chain. We stayed that long as the weather was just not conducive for traveling south east, although the last two nights at anchor at Rose Island were quite rolly because of a heavy east wind. We were somewhat protected from east winds, but not as much which resulted in us bouncing around. On one of the days we traveled about 7 miles to Palm Cay Marina to refuel and top off our water supply to make sure we were set for a while. (Still seems strange to pay for water!)
Finally, on Sunday, Jan. 13, we headed south east toward Allen’s Cay, a run of about 35 miles. Chris Parker, the weather guy we listen to, kind of suggested we not go then as we would be heading into the wind, again!, all the way there and instead wait for Monday when the wind would be quite calm. But we were tired of rolling at anchor at Rose Island and decided to go for it anyway. The forecast was only for winds of 13 – 15, with gusts up to 18, from the SE and we knew we could handle that. The prediction was pretty much correct, but we probably had larger waves than we thought. They ended up being pretty steady 3 – 4 footers with occasional 5 footers in there, and because it was so shallow, only 20 feet at the deepest point, they were closer together resulting in a choppier ride. But it wasn’t anything we haven’t done before, and it was manageable. And we knew the end goal was to have the next day be calm and wonderful at anchor at Allen’s Cay, so that pushed us on. (The next day was calm!)
We arrived at Allen’s Cay about 2:00 pm, and once we were anchored our jaws almost dropped at how amazingly beautiful it was! The water was so blue and clear, and the islands we were anchored between were lined with sandy beaches and palm trees and looked like there were a part of a movie set. This was probably the first time we sat with our obligatory “anchor down” beer and said, “We are There!”
As we traveled to Allen’s Cay we passed our 3,000th mile of our trip! We think that’s kind of a big deal. Another big deal is that Max is now “going” on the boat! We basically just stopped taking him ashore, and he is now doing his business on a semi-regular basis along the port side of the boat where it is very easy and convenient to wash off. He has adopted the very bow of the boat, on top of the anchor locker, as his place to poop, but that’s fine as it is very easy to dump it over board and use the wash down pump to finish cleaning. Nice! It makes it a whole lot easier in the islands here to not have to always take him ashore.
Back to Allen’s Cay: Come to find out, the Allen’s Cay anchorage is right beside the popular Iguana Beach, which boasts huge amounts of very large, medium size and small iguanas. Unfortunately it has become a huge tourist spot for lots and lots of people to come zooming in on excursion boats and feed the iguanas and leave 20 minutes later. We don’t really get it, but they love to see the iguanas scurrying about scrambling for the food they throw out. It only creates a dependency for the iguanas and seems to be a strange activity to do. We did end up going to the beach in hopes of finding a walking path to give Max some exercise, but all we did was to drive Max crazy trying to get at all the iguanas that we soon returned to the dinghy to get away.
But other than the Iguana Beach, our stay at Allen’s Cay was incredible. We spent two days swimming, snorkeling, lounging and having a wonderful time! The sun was warm and bright during the day and the winds were light and calm at night allowing us to sleep very well. And each morning we were able to enjoy our morning coffee in the cockpit looking at the beauty surrounding us.
We invited a fellow cruiser couple onthea boat next to us for Happy Hour on Monday evening and they were able to share some potential places for us to go once leaving Allen’s Cay. They suggested Shroud Cay, a place we had not really heard about, and then a stop at Warderick Wells before we head to Staniel Cay. So on Wednesday, Jan. 16, we headed to Shroud Cay, a distance of only 16.2 miles.
We were tucked into the west side of the island just south of a bit of land jutting out which seemed to help protect us from the NE wind, allowing us a pretty calm anchorage. Apparently the island of Shroud Cay is known for its mangroves, and we were able to dinghy quite a ways up a small, shallow river (with the motor in the shallow tilt position) to see the beauty of the mangroves and shoreline. It was so beautiful to glide past, and at one point it looked almost too perfect, making it feel like we were on a water ride at a Disney Park. We were able to see some small fish, and even a fairly large turtle swimming by before we turned around to head back to the boat.
After another great night of sleep we left Thursday, Jan. 17, for Warderick Wells, a distance of only 19.1 miles. Unfortunately it ended up being more of a rainy, dreary day and it really didn’t get any better as the day went on. Warderick Wells is known for their great hiking trails and Boo Boo Hill, a place where cruisers can leave a memento (typically the name of their boat on a piece of wood or driftwood) on a large heap of other boat mementos as an offering to King Neptune. However, it was difficult finding out where to come ashore with our dinghy, and we then found out dogs are not allowed on any trails which meant we couldn’t do any hiking. We also were told there was a huge waiting list to get one of the nicer moorings up by the office, and that even though we were anchored out a long ways away (meaning a long, wet dinghy ride in because of the weather) we had to pay $20 a night even to anchor. There also was very, very limited cell service and to connect with their weak WiFi would be $15 for 24 hours. All of this ended up in Warderick Wells not being a good, welcoming place to stay at all. So we quickly returned to our boat and decided we would only stay one night there.
This morning, Friday, January 18, we took our anchor up at 8:15 am and gladly left Warderick Wells. The wind had picked up during the night and was coming out of the NE at around 15 knots, so by 8:45 am we had the headsail out, the motor off and we were actually sailing! We were headed SSE so it was a perfect direction for us to sail. The winds continued in the mid-teens, occasionally gusting to 20 knots, and we had a great two and a quarter hour run with no engine and speeds of 6.5 – 7.0 knots at times down to Staniel Cay, a distance of only 21.1 miles.
Staniel Cay was bit trickier to get into and find a spot to anchor without hitting bottom, but we managed to go past the “town” and head north and then back west to just past the Thunderball Grotto cave where we are now anchored. The Thunderball Grotto was made famous in a James Bond movie in 1964 and apparently is a great cave to snorkel into. Maybe tomorrow. The Staniel Cay area is also known for its Pig Beach. This is a beach where there are wild pigs roaming around that feed off food that tourists throw to them. Lots of tourists. See any corollaries between the Pig Beach and the Iguana Beach? Strange. We may dinghy by it just to see, but don’t count on us stopping to feed any wild pigs. Just sayin!
As there is a stronger wind system coming in this weekend, into the first part of next week, we may end up staying here for a few days. We’ll have to wait and see how it goes.