Tues. Feb. 8, 2011 (Week 19, Day 127): Destination: Staniel Cay to Sampson Cay Club Departure: 0845 hrs. Arrival: 0950 hrs. Mileage: 5.9 SM/5.13 NM Weather: warm & humid, sunny with some cloudy periods Winds: W to NNW by night time & 6K increasing to 12K
A calm night as far as wind was concerned but the current caused a significant slapping of water against the hull of the boat. C.P. at 0630 hrs. had a very poor transmission, in fact incomprehensible. Dinghy motor up & we were ready for an earlier than planned departure. It looked as if the anchor raising maybe a challenge with the strong current & our anchor close to 90 degrees to starboard of the boat, but of no consequence. We were motoring west out to the Bahamas Bank in a west wind; you got it, directly on our nose so no hope of sailing. And also we only had a short jaunt to Sampson Cay Club for $2.00 Tuesday, their first ever-->$2.00 per ft. (yikes!) but $2.00 beer, shot, coke, pizza, wings, burgers & FREE water on Mon. Tues. & Wed. We tied up on Dock 3 behind the Morrows; extremely calm, nearly windless & very well protected from all directions. A most beautiful resort! Well kept gardens & grounds, nice & clean washrooms & showers ($4.00), laundry facilities (2 washers--> 30 min. & 2 dryers--> 45 min.) at $4.00 per load X 5 loads = $20.00 & a laundry tub where I rinsed out my salty foul weather gear. Unfortunately when I was retrieving more laundry soap from our storage area we call ‘the garage’, the seams of the plastic bags seemed to be affected by the laundry soap & tore away as I lifted them & thus I had a fine mess to clean up in the afternoon in the heat & humidity. Graeme purchased more fuel & hosed down the deck, windows, enclosure, cockpit, cockpit cushions, transom & dinghy with FRESH water. A late lunch of pizza & Kalik (beer)= $4.00. I had WiFi by hooking up to the Morrows’ router who purchased a day for $10.00 or 200 MB & sent a few emails out. Since Lynn was able to make arrangements for a dog sitter in Marsh Harbour for the week of March 13 for their departure to their son’s wedding in Las Vegas on March 17, she was also successful in booking flights for this special event. Pam & Greg emailed Lynn stating that they arrived home safe but still at the scheduled very late time. Our bed was remade with fresh linen then each of us took longer than normal boat showers, topping the water tanks afterwards with FREE FRESH water. And unfortunately we missed the sunset. Since we could not purchase food for $2.00 we decided to dine out for supper as well-> burgers & drinks= $14.00 total! A NNW wind picked up since sunset; thankfully the boat cooled down. A clear night with ¼ moon & stars, not as bright as when we have been anchored away from land lights.
Wed. Feb. 9, 2011 (Week 19, Day 128): Destination: Sampson Cay Club to Pipe Cay (lunch) then Cambridge Cay, southern part of the Exuma Cay Land & Sea Park Departure: 1050 & again at 1350 hrs. Arrival: 1245 & 1450 hrs. Mileage: 10.2+ 4.5 SM/8.84+ 3.97NM Weather: few droplets of rain from an overhead dark cloud while sipping coffee in the cockpit in the early am; dark clouds at dawn dissipated to brilliant sun & blue skies; low temp= 68F & high= 82F Winds: during the night winds increased & shifted to E at 13-16K; SE 12-15K after nightfall
Check out time at this beautiful location was noon, therefore a leisurely am--> small breakfast, walking the grounds & taking photos, internet via ‘Twomorrows’ 24 hrs. connection with Exuma WiFi, actually a good connection so sent off a few emails & posted part of my blog (Week 16) until my Word composition would not copy & paste (Week 17) to my blog--> another adventure of frustration. We were assisted off the dock by a club staff member & motored out into the Bahamas Banks to Twin Cay Waypoint, Pipe Creek Waypoint, Fowl Cay Waypoint to Compass Cay Waypoint. Next was an intricate passage to red markers #1 & #2 then white markers #3 & #4, a near 300 degree turn to starboard following the Compass Cay shoreline to port & fluorescent buoys to starboard then another near 300 degree turn to starboard close to Pipe Cay shoreline. At 1300 hrs. the anchor was down but the current was stronger than the east wind & we were never really sure the anchor dug in; the current was pushing the 60 ft. chain & boat in almost a complete circle back to the position of the anchor. We sat on it for lunch wondering ‘what if’ in this tight anchoring area with rocks on one side & shallows on the other & observing the ominous grey clouds filling in that were not in the forecast. In hindsight we should have anchored instead on the west side of Thomas Cay. Prudently we up anchored & set out for Cambridge Cay via cutting across Conch Cut which leads out to Exuma Sound; mandatory to pick up a mooring ball as it is in the southern part of the Exuma Park. The dark clouds dissipated, only sun & blue skies. Connie & Roger were the volunteer hosts for this anchorage; they registered us giving us pamphlet info & shared their knowledge & recommendations for this area. Four boats in anchorage. Our social time over sunset was here. Unfortunately the sun hid behind clouds before sunset; there was a crimson sky that followed. Supper= pork chops with sweet & sour sauce & rice. No rough water despite the 12-15K SE winds; bright near ½ moon & stars.
Thurs. Feb. 10, 2011 (Week 19, Day 129): Destination: Cambridge Cay Weather: sunny, blue skies, few clouds, fresher & drier air Winds: SE to S 15K down to 12K decreasing to zip
We had good reception of CP this am unlike yesterday; Lynn expressed the same comment so perhaps the many masts in Sampson Cay harbour was the problem; 20-15K NE winds + ? squalls on Sat. but next 2 days are to be good. Delicious coconut bread, lightly toasted for breakfast; thank you Morrows! Graeme finished his project from yesterday of installing a new anode on the dinghy motor, while I did floor & rug maintenance & finished my photo log. We dinghied to one of the many beaches on Cambridge Cay & walked the path to Exuma Sound; photo shots of Bell Rock & walked the beach looking for neat shells, coral, sea glass, sea biscuits & sea beans but only small or broken shells, old conchs, sea grass & debris. As we left shore we was a ray fly a good 8 ft. in the air! We then dinghied across to Bell Island which is privately owned by an Eli Khan, sheik or king or prince, carousing the shoreline all the way around to the deep water passage between Bell Island & O’Briens Cay. Hopefully tomorrow it will be calmer because we want to snorkel the Sea Aquarium Coral Gardens off O’Briens Cay + the Rocky Dundas reef & entrance to 2 unique caves with both stalactites & stalagmites. Home for lunch & reading in the sun & wind on the deck finishing another good novel. At 1430 hrs. Graeme dinghied me to shore & I walked the spine of Cambridge Cay--> fantastic views of the Sound & the Banks, the anchorage & the boats. I built my own little cairn + added a rock to the large cairn at the northern most end of the path for each direction, N, S, E, W, dedicated not only for myself but for friends who have died since I left home--> Art, Darin, Barb, Andre & Taylor + a rock to the last cairn at the end of my hike. A transom shower for each of us followed by a wonderful social on Connie & Roger’s trawler ‘Down Time’. The wind ceased, a lovely sunset obscured by a rocky cay & a red evening sky. Seven boats in anchorage tonight. Supper= toasted tomato sandwich; socials are late & then not hungry. Very bright ½ moon in a clear sky filled with stars galore.
Fri. Feb. 11, 2011 (Week 19, Day 130): Destination: Cambridge Cay Weather: brilliant sun, warm (about 27C), less humid, blue skies & an occasional cloud Winds: E to SE, calm 5K or less especially evening time & the wind direction was back to E
CP confirmed again that this weekend especially tomorrow will not be nice, followed by 1 day reprieve then 3-4 days of high N, ENE & E winds. Therefore our communal decision was to move today but where & jeopardize snorkeling in the calm waters of today. Head & heart won out--> we stayed here till now Sun. & maybe Mon. I insisted that we snorkel 2 sites today: (1) Rocky Dundas, (2) Sea Aquarium at O’Briens Cay, back to back & therefore an early start.
Rocky Dundas-> southern most part of Exuma Cay Land & Sea Park; dinghy mooring; 2 caves with stalactites & stalagmites; stand up; mauve & pink coral lining rock edges of caves; vibrant purple fan coral, bright yellow, green, orange + staghorn coral + fish of every imaginable colour. Sea Aquarium-> dinghy mooring; fish swarmed on arrival especially sergeant majors; look bucket very advantageous; again great colourful coral + fish ie trigger fish, snapper, grouper to name a few as unaware of the names of many fish.
We swam around the island part of which was swimming against current. I am so happy I have a wetsuit & have used it on every snorkeling dive. A short distance across or west of Soldier Cay & O’Briens Cay is Johnny Dieppe’s Bahamas retreat on Hall Pond Cay. With a look bucket we also viewed a plane wreck lying close by on the bottom of the sea, probably a drug plane from the early ‘80’s; also with a dinghy mooring. Nearing our boat we sighted a ray leap in the air--> 2nd day in a row! Lunch & an R&R afternoon. A Sunset Happy Hour on the mailbox sandbar at near low tide with 14 people in attendance. Small conchs adhering to the rocky east shore of this sandbar island. Clouds at the horizon but a beautiful setting sun nevertheless + a crimson sky thereafter. It is hard to believe that tomorrow is predicted to be so nasty. Lynn unfortunately slipped getting into the dinghy for our trip home & suffered an unpleasant dermal scrap to her arm. Supper= ham, pineapple slice & rice with sweet & sour sauce. A clear night sky, bright ½ moon, stars+++ & flat calm water.
Sat. Feb. 12, 2011 (Week 19, Day 131): Destination: Cambridge Cay, a great place to weather the storms Weather: although the sun made a brief appearance at sunrise, the surrounding sky was not a nice one; in no time we were surrounded by black clouds that continued to lighten & darken all day long with only a few drops of rain; cool temp necessitating more substantial clothes than the usual bathing suits Winds: flat calm, mirror like while the apparent wind was E to SE on rising; by 0900 hrs. steadily increasing winds from ENE to NE at 10-12K, climbing to gusting & howling NE to N at 20-25K
C.P. was very late this am--> 0645 hrs. His predictions were unfolding as day progressed. We may have a weather window Mon. & 1st half of Tues. before the weather closes in again for the rest of the week. Therefore there is no possible crossing to Eleuthera till the weekend. Three trawlers picked up mooring balls early this morning; total of 10 boats. Graeme spent part of the am re-doing a cracked hose in the engine compartment while I cleaned rust spots on the transom & stanchion bases with a tooth brush & paste of bar keeper--> best product thusfar. By noon the howling winds had settled in, a bit of rocking motion & bit of dancing on the mooring ball; the dark clouds persisted with surprising little to no rain. An afternoon of reading. No social gathering as everyone was hunkered down in their boats. Supper= hamburg patties with fried onions & potatoes. No sunset, only clouds. At night time no moon, no stars, only darkness & clouds & howling winds.
Sun. Feb. 13, 2011 (Week 19, Day 132): Destination: Cambridge Cay still Weather: just plain cloudy, although not as grey as yesterday Winds: NE blowing & gusting 15-20K
Feeling real lazy this am & remained in bed till 0745 hrs. dozing on & off. Since no CP today Graeme played around with the SSB radio & a little after 0745 hrs. got Ham Radio Waterway Net on channel 7268 (good) & Cruiseheimer at 0830 hrs. on 6516 (weak at times but interesting as well). The NE winds are to persist today then slightly decrease tonight & tomorrow. So what does one do for entertainment on days like this? Make French Toast for breakfast, wash floors or some other form of housekeeping to stay on top of things, bath, wash hair, read & listen to VHF 16 then eavesdrop on conversations--> sometimes you really get some helpful &/or interesting information, bake tea biscuits & of course reading. I wonder how Dave (Firecrest) & Karen & Patric (Artful Dodger) are & where they are. Days like this also make one think too much of sad personal thoughts, how very far away we are, how many months we have been away from home & simply how homesick I am. Then I look down at my yellow bracelet which reminds me to LIVESTRONG. And how fortunate I am to be able to do this adventure. The NE howling winds did not let up although the dark clouds were less grey & thinning by afternoon; a definite drier air & cooling trend was felt. Supper= Chicken Thai Pod with rice. Groceries are certainly diminishing, especially bread. We watched a DVD (Sorcerers Apprentice) as a distraction from the howling winds. No sunset, no moon or stars, just cloud & wind.
Mon. Feb. 14, 2011 (Week 19, Day 133): Valentine’s Day Destination: Cambridge Cay to Shroud Cay (most southern to most northern cay of Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park) Weather: picture perfect sunny Bahamas Day glistening off the turquoise water, blue sky, dry air & temp about 20C Winds: NE to ENE 18-->10K with 1 ft. whitecapped seas
The strong NE winds persisted all night but did clear the skies so near ¾ moon & stars visible at 0315 hrs. CP made the weather sound doable to move northwards today & tomorrow, but then no crossing to Eleuthera till ?Fri. & Sat. We said our good-byes & thanks to Connie & Roger, slipped off the mooring ball & wound our way out to the Bahamas Banks. We unfurled the jenny first, then as the wind decreased & thus our boat speed to <5K, we unfurled the main to maintain a reasonable speed (5-7K) to reach our destination. The fickle wind increased again & we reefed both sails towards our destination. We anchored on the west side of Shroud Cay just south of the mooring field. Then it was exploration time with the dinghies into the mangrove canals on the north end of the island on a necessary rising high tide. Even at that with a long shaft dinghy motor, we had to row some sections of the canal & Larry ended up pulling us before the turn around point. We saw a few rays, a turtle & a shark, but not as much sea life as expected. We did not choose the canal that exits out into Exuma Sound; further north to the one long canal we took. We did locate the fresh water well. Graeme made popcorn for us all for snacks as we watched a fabulous sunset with the perfect conditions for a green flash that did not happen. The Morrows hosted a most scrumptious Valentine Supper= chicken & artichokes in a white wine sauce with wild rice, salad & Larry’s cookies for dessert; very special. A bright night sky because of a bright ¾ moon with stars & partial cloud cover.