Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Update from Exumas

Thank you Jill for covering the blog for us while we were without the internet, the further south we get the less reliable and available the internet is for us. Nassau is not the place I want my friends or family to come to visit us for the cruising life on our boat or to visit a nice Caribbean location, no sir. We’ll find and did find better places. (More on that later) What Jill is saying about Nassau is the story of refueling. The marina we were at didn’t have a fuel dock and the price of fuel ½ a mile away, the need to move the boat in shallow waters with strong current and LOTS of boats dictated that I refuel across the street at the “On the Run” Store as so many do. Of course I couldn’t drive the boat there but I was able to take the fuel tanks on deck, put that fuel into the boat and then get the cans to the store. So the way they do it is a grocery cart, yes sir you can get four or five cans in a cart, push it across the traffic and right up to the pumps. A nice gentleman will help you, a small tip was greatly appreciated from and the nice man and on my second trip there he made sure I came to his pump not the other guys set of pumps. I didn’t even have to pump the fuel which was good because the pumps were slow pumping diesel at about ½ gallon per minute, do the math. So I buzzed the door to get in, went inside sat next to the armed security guard, used their WIFI, had a beer and made a few calls. Of course it took like 4 hours for 2 trips to refill the tanks and tie the tanks down again, what else was I going to do, gamble at Atlantis, right?

We left Nassau early on Wednesday and had a six hour motor sail across the Northern edge of the Great Bahama Bank heading for the Exuma Islands. During that time the average depth was 20 ft but one part had only 14 ft with reported coral heads to watch out for so Arline was on the bow looking for them. No close calls. That only lasted an hour then off to sailing again. We anchored by Normans Island in some really beautiful water with a couple other boaters near a wrecked plane. You really couldn’t tell it was a plane until you got up close to it in the dingy and saw a wing with an engine and propeller on it. I would guess it was an old DC3, sorry Jill no pictures on the way down, I’ll try for the same spot on the way home to get some with our new viewing bucket. Anchoring was a little tricky because there was a strong current there from the tide, but in 8 ft of water at low tide we could see the anchor in the morning. We were right over it at slack high tide. On shore the sand was very course, a couple of buildings that were old restaurants that Robin Williams in “Club Paradise” would have bought into. It really was very pretty there. We were underway before 8 am trying to get to the Exuma Park on Warderick Wells. They have mooring balls, we couldn’t get to the most protected area so we settled for an evening in the area of Emerald Rock which is open to wind from the west, so we were good for the night at least. Getting a mooring ball in the protected area is like getting a beach chair at a resort. You have to be pushing and aggressive on the VHF in the morning, but chances are you’re not going to get one. We went ashore with the dogs; they could only go ashore at a beach, had to be on a lead and couldn’t go on the trails. The beaches were the cleanest so far and fantastic. The following morning the wind shifted around to the west and picked up, the mooring field was not the place to be, so off before 8 am again. The wind was right on our nose (of Course) so we tacked out a couple miles allowing us to make our waypoint under sail and we did. By noon we were taking sails down to get into Staniel Cay. The water is in the 10 ft range coming into the area and about 2 hours from low tide and at max ebb, meaning it was ripping though this little area or cut we had to go. By ripping I think it was moving at about 2 or 3 knots, carrying us along with it. I was only trying to move at 3 knots to maneuver into an opening of 100 ft around a point and before the rocks, rounded the point and opened it up, full RPM and slowly we made ground but really had to Fly Kasidah sideways throught the small opening. Way to go Auntie, (remember that’s the engines name now) It was still ripping in the area we wanted to anchor. We were still a few hours away from low tide and dropped anchor in a nice sandy spot a little shallower than I would have liked but lots of boats were around, so prime spots had been taken already. After setting the anchor in some nice sand and settling down for a while I took the dingy over the anchor and saw that the chain had fouled around the shank of it, trying to pull it around in the dinghy didn’t work so a swim was in order at slack tide. It must have been a good idea because several other boats were checking theirs too. No suit was needed it was very warm. The bottom here is mostly sand and it is ripped across like snow drifts (You all know what those look like). As I looked back to Kasidah I saw her keel, she had settled down onto one of these sand drifts with deeper water on both sides by at least a foot. It really was a very pretty sight, even from 100 or 150 ft under water I could see as clear as could be. It’s one of those moments or sites that will stick with me for quite a while. First day Sara and Blue meet Nelson and played a lot on the beach. We offered up some tools to help fix an outboard on another boat of new friends. Back to the boat late afternoon we found that the full moon meant extra low tide, leaving Kasidah sitting on the bottom again. It wasn’t heeled over bad or even stuck by that much, it’s just that we hadn’t been swinging like every one else and we had gotten close to one boat (50 ft) he had his engine running and was very nervous. Tide was coming up but darkness and a front with winds of 30 Knots was coming soon. They suggested we move NOW, I would have liked to wait because I knew our anchor was set right and the next low tide would be up by at least a foot, but,…. So Frank from “Fat Chance” pulled the top of the mast over with his dingy (it didn’t take much) and off we were. But the anchor had been compromised so a reset was in order, and the wind is now picking up, !@#$&*. We got a good set first try and rode out the night on almost 100 ft of chain in the cockpit as did many other people. 2 or 3 boats dragged and got tangled up doing minor damage to each other as early as 11pm. It was a long night, the over sized anchor and chain held great and our distance from other boats was ok. Checked the anchor in the morning and only the smallest part of the top could be seen. It was a bit of a fright when we found that one boat that dragged right by us and we didn’t see him till he was trying to get back to his spot to reanchor. So with a good anchor set we’re staying put for a couple of days. Oh yeah most boats left this morning for the other side of Majors Island to get away from the 10 to 20 mph wind, but they’ll have to come back here by Wednesday, we’re staying put and will settle on a bit of a roll. But knowing the anchor is set an extra cocktail at night and I’m out for the night. We’ve fired up the water maker and charging battery’s, I think a walk about town is in order shortly.

Staniel Cay is indeed one of the places that we would want people to come. All you do is buy your round trip ticket to Nassau from the states for the time you have. And then check out Flamingo Air, it's $99 one way from Nassau to Staniel, Black Point, or Little farmers, the same flight twice a day, and you just get off where ever you what to. Then when ever you need to you just hop back on and go back to Nassau, and catch your flight back to the states. Of course in Nassau you’ll have to do the check in and security thing so leave time for at of that. Check the Staniel Cay Yacht Club’s web site, they have a couple of cute beach huts that are on the beach to rent and there are other rental cabins too. Cheeseburger in paradise is the only caption I can think of for this place. Of course we'd need to see your return flight ticket to the states before we let you and your luggage onto the golf cart to the dingy dock. Or you better pack light because we might have to carry the bags to the dock, the 2 golf carts might be rented out already.


Jill & Bud said...

Glad to hear from you, we've been watching. Still in Grand Bahama, hope to start Friday to skip down through the Berry's to the Exuma's. Worried about anchor size now, 45 lb. CQR w/ 200 ft of chain. We'd upsize if we could find an anchor.

Jon and Arline Libby said...

Hi Guy's glad to see you made GHC. Tell everyone we said Hi and will see them in a few weeks on our way back. If you have internet and you go on our blog you can hit the "spot" and it will show where we are at the moment.