I am writing this post anchored securely in higher winds in Rudder Cay, Exumas. The past week has been pretty much windy all the time so we have had to time when we would move with where the wind was coming from, how high it would be, and what type of protection we would find along the way. But it has all worked out and we had a delightful day today. The weather was mostly sunny with a high of about 80 degrees and a brisk wind all day. Despite it being windy it still beats being back in Michigan as they have been having a cold start to the winter so far. Sorry to our family and friends back in Michigan!
Despite the weather we have had a pretty good week. It’s interesting that on nights such as tonight when we are very secure on our anchor that the wind outside still continues to be a bit unsettling. All is good, but when you hear the wind, which was probably in the mid-20 knots/hr. for a little while and now settled down to probably 13 – 16 knots/hr. it just sets you a bit on edge. It’s probably because it’s a sound that is always there, the boat is moving around and you just never get away from it. Oh well. We are glad that even in the higher winds we have found places that reduces the swell so we at least aren’t rocking violently side to side like we did last week.
After leaving Ship Channel Cay (remember, in the Bahamas, an island is called Cay) we made it to the Shroud Cay anchorage area. We anchored initially closer to Shroud Cay but the swell we were feeling from the NW wind wrapping around a point on the island made us take up our anchor and move about three miles to the lee side of Elbow Cay where we didn’t have the swell. It actually ended up being a great place to anchor and Sharon was able to break out her paddleboard and we spent some time snorkeling around the small island. There weren’t a ton of fish, but the ones we saw were beautiful.
The next morning we went to the Warderick Wells area. We anchored off a small set of islands called Malabar Cays and were able to snorkel all around there. We saw way more fish as we went from coral head to coral head and it was just delightful. Later that afternoon we dinghied over to the park office to pay our anchorage fee (Warderick Wells is in the Exuma Sea and Land Park and charges $0.50/foot to anchor there) and met up with Stewart and Jamie on their boat, named Scotland. This was the boat that had gone aground a couple of days ago at Allan’s Cay so it was good to catch up with them again. They shared a horrific story about John and Mary Beth on their boat, Benedica, they were traveling with. Benedica arrived at Warderick Wells before Scotland and proceeded to tie up to a mooring ball there. In a flash of a second somehow John got tangled up with the mooring ball line or something and was thrown off the bow of his boat into the water. It was there he realized his left pinkie finger had been severed off and he had broken his arm in two places. Wow. They ended up going out a bit and just anchored to be able to get John medical attention. A number of things fell into place and he was eventually whisked on a small plane to Nassau and ended up having surgery. It also sounded like they are now working on getting a crew to get their boat back to the States. This is a huge reminder of how quickly things can happen and of how we need to be constantly on our toes in thinking safety.
The next morning, Saturday, we lifted our anchor and headed south once again and eventually anchored at Pig Beach in the Staniel Cay area. On the way we stopped and anchored at an area by O’Brien’s Cay. In this area is a designated protected underwater aquarium, and a submerged plane that had crashed into the water a bunch of years ago. The aquarium was absolutely incredible to see! Once we jumped off the dinghy we were instantly surrounded by fish. There were so many kinds to see and the colors ran the spectrum of the rainbow. We spent a lot of time there snorkeling around and looking at the variety of the fish as well as the beautiful coral. So cool!
We then went over to the submerged plane and thoroughly enjoyed snorkeling around it. It sounds like there are a number of spots throughout the Bahamas where small planes that were typically running drugs crashed into the water, and I think this was one of them.
We pulled up our anchor after having a bit of lunch and soon we arrived at the Pig Beach by Staniel Cay. The past few times we had anchored there the whole anchorage was full of boats. Because we are still somewhat ahead of the majority of boats to the Bahamas there were only a handful of boats anchored and it looked strange to see the area so empty.
We ended up staying there for two nights as it was an area that offers great protection from the heavier east winds we were experiencing. We were able to get a few groceries and one night even went to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club for Happy Hour!
Monday morning we took up our anchor and headed about nine miles to the south to Blackpoint. This is a great anchorage known for their fabulous laundromat as well as a place where you can get free R/O (Reverse Osmosis) water. Unfortunately, and probably because it’s not the busy season for boats yet (it will be after the first of the year!) there were only a few other boats there and the laundromat was actually in pretty bad shape. Most of the machines were out of order and the dryers just didn’t seem to do well. And the wind was constant again of 15 – 20 knots and it just made for a not as comfortable stay. I was able to get two loads of water, for a total of 50 gallons, and I was reminded how heavy water is in having to lug them in the jerry cans!
After a not-so-pleasant stay at Blackpoint we moved to Cave Cay on Wednesday. We wanted to get to Rudder Cay, where we are now, but because we left Blackpoint later in the morning the tide was too low for us to get all the way there. This meant the short stretch between Cave Cay and Rudder Cay would be very shallow and we just didn’t want to risk getting stuck. Cave Cay is only two and half miles short of Rudder Cay, so we moved here this morning at high tide and it was no problem. Friends of ours on their boat, Santa Julia, have the same draft as us, five feet, and they went all the way to Rudder Cay a few minutes after we stopped and told us they thunked the bottom on and off for about a mile in that stretch. Yikes!
I should also add that we ended up sailing with both sails and no motor for a bunch of the way after leaving Blackpoint until we got to the shallower areas. The wind was 15 – 19 knots from the east and we were headed south so it was a spectacular sail! So fun to do again!
We moved the last two and a half miles this morning (high tide was at 8:09 am) to where we are anchored now nearby Santa Julia. Onboard Santa Julia is the family of five that we met at Allan’s Cay – Joe and Leila and their children Megan, Tristan and Nathan. We have seen them other places along the way as well, so since we were headed to snorkel the underwater piano and mermaid sculpture, “The Musician,” commissioned by David Copperfield and they wanted to go too, we stopped at their boat and they all piled into our dinghy for the short ride to the site. (Just picture the seven of us and all our snorkeling gear – and Max – in our dinghy!) But it was a great expedition and was so cool to see the sculpture again! We tried to hit it at slack tide so the current wouldn’t push us around but I’m not so sure we did so well with that. They loved seeing it and it was a great afternoon!
Tomorrow morning we will leave again at high tide, which will be at 8:52 am, and go about 12 – 14 miles to Lee Stocking Island. The route to Lee Stocking is by far the absolute shallowest part of our entire journey so it’s critical we time it well with high tide. We have done it before so we hope we will do well once again without hitting bottom. We’ll see if we make it!
The wind is supposed to finally settle down a bit and switch around to the north on Saturday so it looks like a good day to try and make it the rest of the way to Georgetown. It will be good to be back there!