The catch up.. so this will be long
I have some catching up to do on my blog. I have resorted to dating our travels and hope to get you up to speed on where we have come and where we are now…..Georgetown, Exumas!!! (and where we may be put for about a week).
9 December , 2016 Great Guana Cay, Black Point Settlement
We are sitting in boat’s cabin listening to the wind blow at 20-23 knots. It whistles through the halyards (ropes for all the sails), whirs with the wind generator (J), and hums around the mast. The boat rocks a bit to starboard and port. This is the first “norther” we are experiencing. That is, a very strong cold front, that has dipped far south from the Great Lakes to the Bahamas, which only occurs in the Winter.
It is cause to stay put, waves and wind in open water could prove to be quite large and challenging. Oh, I must say that “winter” is relative as we sit in shorts and t-shirts with the relative temp at 75. We have listened to weather on SSB (single side band/HAM) every morning for the last 5 days predicting this and have positioned ourselves in an anchorage where we hope to have less effect from the east-northeast strong winds. We do expect this to last for 48-72 hours. This will prevent us from moving on further South, as our departure would be on the ocean side of the island exposing us to high winds and some predictably high swells. (This will be come a pattern now for us, waiting for weather…in paradise). And this is why we made a point to download and save movies onto our computers, brought 60# of novels and guidebooks.
Two days ago we were at Highborne Cay. A beautiful location for the day. There was a beach to the East and of course endless water to the West…. We were accompanied by other sail and motor yachts of extremely varying sizes (some quite enormous, from all ports of call: Canada, St Louis, MO, and UK). After anchoring that afternoon, we had enough time to venture offshore snorkeling a bit and find a great reef filled with fishes and corals in all forms. It was delightful to spend an hour swimming and enjoying the underwater scenery. Mike did find a grouper that could have been dinner, but he was also being eye-up by a few barracuda (the grouper not Mike!), so he left him alone.
On our travels further southeast, we were in an anchorage just about 7 miles north of here yesterday, Big Majors Spot where the water was just as turquoise and the beaches as white. ( I have commented on several occasions that it is like sailing in a swimming pool..until you see the waters of the Bahamas you can’t imagine the clarity and color!) We were aware of the fact that on one of the beaches there are pigs roaming. (we had seen YouTube videos of this ) They come out of the bush when they know there are visitors who will feed them. We happened to find the right beach about 4pm and many cruisers and tourists were there feeding the pigs: fruits and beer. Yes, BEER. And Yes, PIGS! Those pigs held up their snouts and guzzled from the bottle like some college freshman! One guy told me he was here the day before and got his foot stepped on, pretty painful. I didn’t let them get that close. We watched as a group of piglets came out of the bush, grunting and squealing. How surreal! We are how many thousands of miles from continental farmland and find pigs on the beach???!!!
Not to mention the rooster, which incidentally decided that at sunset he would crow until dark…along with the mornings. We had a quiet night, as we had for 2 nights in anticipation of the approaching cold front.
We have settled into somewhat of a routine on board. I have an alarm set for 6:25 so I can listen to the 6:30 weather report for the Bahamas. I transcribe the info so we can evaluate for our days sailing or motoring. Coffee is a priority every morning. Following which we proceed to weigh anchor. For the longest time, Mike was at the wheel and I picked up anchor, and then had to get him to hoist the anchor to its bedding on deck. We have since found out that I can navigate to the anchor, and have him hoist much easier and we are more efficient that way. We usually decide our destination that morning after the weather report and mark waypoints on the electronic maps. The decision to raise sails is dependent on the wind velocity and direction. There is also the possibility to use the sails to enhance our speed with the motor, should we encounter light winds. During the travel one of us is responsible for navigating and watching for other vessels while the other may undertake a task. Today we spent time polishing the chrome, and reorganizing the freezer. We look forward to anchoring, which today was early. Once we know we have a good hold in the sand, one of us usually heads in the water to check the anchor( followed by the other who is just as warm on deck, and ready to jump in). Today we spent more time than usually checking our anchor scope to make sure that we have a good hold in the sand and that we have enough anchor chain out to hold us if we get expected gale force gusts.
We anchored off of Great Guana Cay, in the middle Exumas. As we needed gasoline for the dinghy we headed into the little town of Black Point. We found none. We did get drinking water, to top off our gallon jugs and found a bit if WIFI at Lorraines Café (the first in a week) and dropped off our laundry with Lorraine’s mother , who lives behind the café. She bakes bread and does laundry. It is a bit cheaper to have it done than to pay the coin-operated machines, plus it adds to the economy of the little community. We download weather maps and make quick contact with some family!
As the days get shorter, we try to get back to the boat by sunset and then have a simple dinner (tonight ceviche from walleye we brought from Lake Vermilion), clean up, read or work on the next days navigation plan, and with dark coming at 5: 45 we are usually ready for bed by 9 pm. We recheck the anchor holding and lights out.
The wind is still whistling ….wind velocity: sustained 23 kn. (It will prove to be a noisy night, but we are thankful for no squalls/thunderstorms) …yet.
We have come farther and sailed more days on Lost Loon than we have done before (day 12…seems like forever ago when we left Amery!). We are comforted in her ability and look forward to many more days ahead.
11 December …..Training Day
The winds are moderate and skies are clear. We decide to try to anchor further south in possibly a secluded anchorage along Great Guana, but find that the protection from winds is not as adequate as at Black Point. We did anchor briefly, explore a beautiful beach and relax a bit alone. On our return, we were determined to teach ourselves a sailing lesson. We were headed downwind with both the main and the jib flying nicely until the wind shifted and we had our jib so messed up around the furler . It was crazy for several minutes as the wind continued to build. We successfully got the thing wrapped correctly (without tearing anything) and quietly sailed under reefed main into the harbor to our previous anchor spot like nothing had happened. We did finish our hike off the opposite side of the island and watched huge waves break on beautiful cliffs
It is Sunday and that is as we recall in our land life, football day. We returned to Lorraine’s Café for more WIFI and found that the locals were watching the Green Bay Packers. The bartender says “I like Aaron Rodgers, “with a big smile and we go on to discuss the fate of some of the NFL teams for the year with the other patrons. It was good to get a taste of home. We also received photos from Chris and Jenni of the snow fall in Minnesota. Not really missing that.
12 December 2016
We are at anchor tonight off Cave Cay with nearly a full moon. This is in position for us to leave the Bahama Banks and head to more Atlantic waters of Exuma Sound. Our next major location, hopefully in 2 days will be Georgetown, on Great Exuma Cay. We continue to island hop our way as far East and south as we go. We have had a few days of winds out of the north and now the southeast that have slowed us down a bit.
We left this morning from Black Point after the bread was baked and travelled in choppy seas, but manageable winds still on the nose a bit. We found an anchorage that is empty and head out to explore another close beach. We find turtles feeding in shallow grassy spots and a cool grotto that overhangs the water.
13 December ……Seafood!
After our morning chores, (cleaning the salt and the task of taking apart and cleaning the Windlass, the winch that deploys and retrieves our 25 KG anchor) we decide to venture out for spearfishing and snorkeling. I had made a long swim to shore before lunch and was comfortable operating the dinghy while Mike fished. We found some random coral heads with a small fish population. Against a 1-2 knot current, Mike successfully found and retrieved a lobster and small grouper! We were excited for our surf and turf dinner that night. We had a very well stocked freezer and needed to continue to work our way through that food but excited to be able to live off (or at least taste from) the sea. We had brought venison, chickens, and some beef knowing that the prices would be expensive.
14 December …On to Georgetown!
The morning is cloudy, winds are light and variable. We head out the Galliot Cut for Exuma Sound, deeper waters and destination Georgetown about 35 miles. As soond as we lose depth on the instruments, Mike knows its time to fish. He puts out one rod and a handline. We set out the sails to assist in our motoring effort.
We watch as the seas begin to fill with sail and motorboats headed in the same direction. ..
Long about 935 there is a whining of the fishing rod.. FISH ON! The boat is put in neutral and the reel spins off a quick mile of line. Mike comments…”we have a good one” as he takes hold of the rod it surges and there is more line taken. Did our fish just get eaten by a bigger one? Moby? It takes everything Mike has to hang onto the rod, there is little reeling that takes place for 5 minutes and then the work begins. I begin filming and we are there 35 minutes as we think the fish is closer to the bottom of the boat, the rod jerks and the fish is GONE! With the successful purple lure as well! Just not fair! We put the boat in gear and continue our travels, dejected, and a bit exhausted (Mike). We are lucky to watch dolphin ( the edible ones, Mahi) skipping across the water for their lunch, but cannot intercept even one.
We follow the prescribed course for entering Elizabeth Harbor , Georgetown by mid afternoon and take anchor as other boats as well take their spots for the evening and possibly the week. We anticipate being here more than just a couple of days as the winds will be in the high 20s and gusting 30-35 kn. over 3-4 days. This is a lively community with lots of other cruisers who get together for different events on the island. There are folks who just make it here for the winter and stay.
Hopeful to do some hiking, snorkeling, and of course catch up on boat maintenance while we are here. As I write the last of this VERY LONG blog, we have cruisers coming in by the 2’s setting anchor to brace for the forthcoming prolonged cold front. No we won’t have snow, maybe showers, but we will manage with a bit of wind for a few days. We are in no hurry. We enjoy each day, make plans , change them with the weather.