March 8, 2007 - Staniel Cay
We had a fun time last night visiting with our old Coconut Harvest buddies Bob and Sally from Endaxi and a lot of other folks at a happy hour someone organized at Big Majors.
March 9, 2007 - Compass Cay
You can imagine our excitement when the five-passenger Flamingo Air flight arrived almost on schedule that afternoon. We bought the boat into the dock at Staniel for water and fuel (just seven gallons) and then anchored for what turned out to be a windy night at Big Majors. The pigs were quite mellow when we visited them at the beach, and we got to see a mother with about five babies.
Today we came into the dock at Compass Cay and had a fine, exhausting day. Everyone hiked north to Rachael's Bubblebath while I took the dinghy up, then Annie and I hiked back down. Later Robert and I went snorkeling at His & Hers Cay and over in Pipe Creek, then joined Krissy and Laura to swim with the nurse sharks at the dock. I had a slight misadventure with the video camera when the housing leaked. Apparently I did not get the latches sealed properly, but in my defense I had sharks nuzzling against my legs at the time. My legs survived the experience but the video camera did not.
Actual quotes from satisfied participants:
The Hike: "It was so nice I did it twice...the trail was littered with lizards...little hilly for us pregnant women."
Rachael's Bubblebath: "Best bubbles ever...the water was unexpectedly cold...where else can you get up to your neck in water and not be afraid of sharks?"
Swimming with Sharks: "They tickle...don't step on their tails...they were as docile as a park bench."
Photos: (1) Hiking south from Rachel's on Compass Cay. (2) Robert was tickled by the nurse sharks. (3) Laura with her Aunt Krissy and Uncle Robert.
March 10, 2007 - Compass Cay
We left the marina at mid-morning and headed around Compass and out Conch Cay Cut near the Rocky Dundas (there seemed to be plenty of water on this route if you stayed close to Compass) and then out into Exuma Sound for a brief interlude of waves and spray. Then we went back in O'Brien Cut alongside Bell Island, cut around the north side of Pasture Cay, and anchored Seaductress in a big patch of sand just south of the sunken Cessna (alas, now unmarked) about a third of a mile from the Seaquarium. The idea was to get as close as possible since the mighty dinghy would be somewhat overloaded. This plan worked fine and we had a great snorkel.
Once safely back at the dock at Compass Cay, Krissy and I took the dinghy about a mile south to the ruins of the old DECCA Station. We toured the station without ever figuring out what it's purpose might have been. Later, thanks to Compass Cay's high-speed Internet service, I did a Google search and learned that DECCA was a differential radio navigation system that was used from the 1940's until around 1970 when Loran and finally GPS took over. There were stations on Andros, here at Pipe Cay, near George Town, and on Eleuthera.
Photos: (1) Laura was very pleased to wake up and find that her friend Compass, the staff cat at the marina, had come aboard. (2) Tree on small cay west of Pipe Cay. (3) A big Hatteras called Sound Waves had their underwater floodlights on, lighting the entire area, so I couldn't resist a photo of Seaductress at the dock.
March 12 - Bitter Guana Cay
Yesterday after we left the marina we pretended that Seaductress was fishing boat and trolled around the banks, trying to drag the lures across coral patches without dragging the boat, too. It worked! Within a few minutes, Robert had landed a Yellowtail Snapper. Although the other fish we caught was less useful (a Great Barracuda that we let go after taking pictures of his inch-long teeth), we did manage to see some new territory. After we found ourselves just outside Sampson Cay Marina, I decided to continue our route behind Fowl Cay, then between the Majors, so we ended up sneaking up on Staniel Cay from the other side. You definitely want your Explorer charts handy and your polarized shades on for this route. After a debriefing at Pirate Trap beach, we snorkeled Thunderball where everyone saw new and amazing things.
Following our guest's departure, we went down to Black Point to do laundry, finding that about three dozen other boats had the same idea. With the laundry complete by late afternoon, we went north to Bitter Guana Cay, about halfway back to Staniel, where we now have a beautiful anchorage all to ourselves. We took a walk ashore on a magnificent beach with its towering cliff and were greeted by a three foot rock iguana.
Photos: (1) We anchored just off a lovely beach at the north end of Bitter Guana Cay. (2) The beach reminded me a little of the California coastline. There was another very cool little beach on the ocean side where a SCUBA cylinder, still full of air, had washed up.
March 13, 2007 - Compass Cay
Ironically, the only problem we had came just as we reached the edge of the deep blue water. "We're going to make it!" I exclaimed, by coincidence just as the keel started dragging the bottom. We were still moving, so I gunned the throttle and we plowed through the last foot of a sandbank to pop out the other side. Looking back with the light in our favor, it was obvious that I had gone to the wrong side of a channel marker. Yes, after an hour of threading our way through coral heads, I went on the wrong side of a colored channel marker...this is why I'll never get that promotion to second mate.
We've been in and out of Compass so many times now that I guess we just got tired of going the easy way.
March 14, 2007 - Warderick Wells
We took the mooring intending to stay for just one day but will probably stick around until a front comes through this weekend. The plan is to get back to Florida by the end of the month, but the winds will be strong for several days after the front, so we may be in the Exumas for a while longer. Yeah, it's a tough world.
Photo: One of the sailing inflatables leaves Warderick Wells (click on it for more pictures).
March 15, 2007 - Warderick Wells
Photos: (1) We had to bring our sign down from Boo Boo Hill for maintenance. Here's the sign repainted with fabric paint that should last a lot better than the water-based stuff we used last time. (2) I'm not exactly clear how the crew of Hum 2 trained this lizard (just to clarify, that's the lizard in the foreground, Annie in the background) to sit on top of their sign all day, but it sure looked cool.
March 18, 2007 - Warderick Wells
One thing that Krissy commented on while she was here is that the wind never stops. You know, she's right. The wind blows constantly this time of year, rocking the boat, rattling the track up our mast. Of all the things I would do differently when outfitting the boat, I think a wind generator tops the list.
Photos: (1) A day of hiking at Warderick Wells is a part of a well-balanced cruising diet. (2) Laura likes climbing down in Murphy's Hideaway, one of many deep holes in the island's limestone. (3) We called this big hole on the trail to Butterfly Beach the "tiger trap."
March 21, 2007 - Shroud Cay
A year ago, we were anchored off Mayaguana and Annie wrote, "Sometimes I think briefly about what we will do when we are 'through' cruising. But that seems so distant from where we are now, that I can't really make sense of it." Today, as we wait for a window to cross back to Miami, our return to the American version of reality is focused all too clearly in front of us. This year we encountered several couples our age with children, all of whom had gone cruising for the same reasons we did, all of whom said they had no idea what they would do when they returned.
This afternoon Annie accused me of deliberately delaying our return (as if I had had any control of the 25 knot northeasterlies we've had for a week now!) but in truth I am only trying to make the best of what we have left. After we hit Florida we have talked about trying to visit the Dry Tortugas, then making a beeline up the Gulf for home. I wish I could say I was coming back a better person. Tonight, anchored off Shroud Cay on the first day of spring, it's cruel enough just to say I'm coming back.
Photo: This spot on Shroud Cay, near Camp Discovery, is one of my favorite places in the world, and sometimes I can't for the life of me remember why we don't just stay here forever.