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Big Majors & Halls Pond

The last several days have been some of the craziest wind we’ve ever experienced aboard s/v Bosco. Last night was probably one of the loudest we’ve experienced. Black Point seemed to be in the wrong geography for the big wind, even though on a map it looks perfect. Our last night was miserable. A catamaran came in and anchored just in front of us, a little TOO close for comfort. I was up every 2 hours through the entire night to check that they weren’t getting closer to us or we weren’t getting closer to the boat behind us. Not that I could have slept anyways. Bosco was a bucking bronco all night long and the wind was so loud it was hard to hear my own thoughts.

Big Majors

March 10, 2016
Both Jake and I were up at 5:30AM. It was a bad night and we wanted to get going right away. However, our bodies and our minds rejected the thought of doing anything. So we sat. And we sat. And we sat some more. It was slow going. Jake couldn’t bring himself to make coffee (which is one of his obsessions in life). That’s saying something! So I took the liberty and made it myself, though not as good as he does it. But its something.

After some time, I could feel the caffeine flowing through my veins bringing life back. Jake was struggling. So, I took charge of the kitchen. Normally this is Jake’s domain but I knew that we’d never leave otherwise, so I became Chef Jilly and whipped up a most delicious (if I do say so myself) breakfast scramble with the last of our fresh goods.

Finally…we are ready to go. It was around 830AM when Jake went forward to prep the sails. We decided to put 3 reefs in today to get started. The plan was to move up to Big Majors, which is only about 9 miles from here. Hopefully it would shelter us from this craziness. Plus, I wouldn’t mind visiting the cute pigs again.

Once we were all ready, Jake went forward to pull the anchor. It was a battle. I had to throttle us up hard to get Bosco to ease up enough for Jake to make headway pulling the anchor. It was definitely solid holding. He managed to break us free after almost 20 minutes of hard labor at which point I could turn us around and head out of the harbor.

After the last boat we killed the engine and sailed. The wind was almost behind us, so Jake rigged the preventer (which keeps the boom from swinging violently to the other side of the boat and causing damage). We were zooming along with the tiniest triangle of jib and our 3-reefed main, about 5-5.5 knots.

The waves certainly picked up as we neared Hayward Cay (which is a tiny island that lays far out from the shore). Since the water was so shallow, these waves weren’t giant rollers but short and choppy and horribly uncomfortable. Plus we had to jibe in order to avoid crashing ashore. And in big winds, performing a jibe can be dangerous.

Jake had to go forward to remove the preventer. We were bucking and rolling so much he almost slipped before it was freed. After our jibe (which went off almost flawlessly), we really started rolling. It was hard to tell if we were making any headway as the waves came crashing over our side and throwing us all out of whack. I kept us at this point for about 5 minutes to clear the land, then we could do another jibe and head back up at a more desirable point of sail. Jibe number two was a little less smooth but we managed. We had a wind gust of about 40 hit us making us react a bit quicker than we normally would. But thankfully we had very little sail up and we’ve done enough jibing that we managed okay. I turned us closer to wind at about a beam for the rest of our course and we starting making forward progress again.

Big Majors is a popular spot. We knew it might be crowded but kept our hopes up that we’d find a decent spot. I brought us in as to shore as close as possible, right in the perfect nook, as I call it. It was a great spot and no other boats came up this far, so I was stoked when I could feel the wind drop by about half. We dropped anchor in about 6 feet of perfectly clear blue water.

It was only 1030AM but we were both spent. After our battle last night and this morning, we had no desire to lift a finger. We both slept for the remainder of the day, in-between reading breaks. The sun came out and it was actually quite pretty but we were too tired to care. I did mange to snap a few pictures before going back below to sleep.

March 11, 2016
The next morning we woke up feeling rested and refreshed. Isn’t it crazy that one day we feel like crap and exhausted and the next its like it never happened? We thought we might keep moving north this morning, but after looking at our wind and weather forecast, it didn’t make sense. I was aching to snorkel, and it would be too wild out there for any chance so we decided to stay here another day.

That means we have no agenda other than having fun. We took full advantage from dawn to dusk. Jake did some boat yoga this morning. Then we headed over to pig beach well before the crowds, to enjoy them in their more natural habitat. They were very calm and mellow and let us get close while they napped and strolled along the beach.

They were adorable. We got lots of up-close-and-personal attention from the babies and some of the younger ones. The sound of the dinner bell (aka a dinghy motor) woke the herd and they all came out to say hello to the new visitors. Within another 20 minutes, the beach was packed with tourists, and that was our cue to leave.

We enjoyed some more R&R on Bosco before heading back out on the SUP (stand up paddle board). We paddled around the bay, back to the beach and to the less-traveled parts. There was a lot of animal action, turtles, sting rays, fish and nurse sharks. Besides the nonstop tourist boats, it was truly a perfect day. The anchorage was comfortable and beautiful and we had a great time.

Halls Pond

March 12, 2016
The next day, we were up early and moving. After breakfast, we silently crept out of the anchorage under sail. I LOVE THIS! Its so fun to wend and wind your way through boats because normally in cruising, you don’t often get to change course and perform maneuvers. Its usually the same position all day.

And sailing was really good too. The wind was still up in the mid 20’s but far nicer than yesterday. We kept 2 reefs the whole way up. We also tried our hand at fishing again. Our friends, Beans, were so generous in giving us a package of large fish hooks that they had sitting around when we last saw them at Rudder Cay. And within just about 10 minutes, we got something big. Too big. And of course, it was a barracuda (AGAIN). It managed to break free of the hook and slip away. That was the only action we had so I guess its just rice and beans for dinner.

It was a beautiful day, despite the wind. The sun was shining and the water was absolutely gorgeous. Once we got in the lee of the land, we had to motor through some very winding and shallow spots.

Then we pulled up to the first anchorage selected and it just wasn’t happening. The wind and current were opposing and there was a weird spot in the middle that was pushing the boat oddly to keep us from pulling on our anchor. So we were jumping around a lot and it was just uncomfortable. Plus there were way too many rocky areas all around us. So we bailed and went over to the larger anchorage.

Even this was a struggle. There were two other boats here already. The area was inundated with random shallow spots so it was a challenge to find a decent place that wasn’t already taken. We found a spot but it wasn’t in the best location. But at this point, we were really frustrated and just wanted to be done.

It was still early when we stopped. I was dying to go snorkeling here. Halls Pond is known for its snorkeling AND its got a sunken sea plane. Its also the start the Exuma Land and Sea Park, so all of the snorkeling spots are protected and have mooring balls for dinghies to easily tie up. It should be super easy and accessible!

But we still had some nasty wind ripping and the conditions were just not that great for snorkeling. So we decided to wait it out and hope that tomorrow would bring something better. So instead, we laid around reading books and playing card games. This simple life is pretty nice.

March 13, 2016
The next morning we were up very early. Today boasted the first calm day in a week and I was not about to waste any part of it. I was ready to jump in the water as soon as I got up. Jake had to reel me in since slack tide was not until 10AM. We had a quick breakfast. I wasn’t even paying attention to the fact that it was boring oatmeal, I just wanted to jump in the water already.

I convinced Jake to get going around 9AM. We were about 300 yards from the plane. There was a yellow mooring marker to indicate its location. We tied up and I jumped in. I didn’t even care that the water was really cold. The plane was SO COOL! My first underwater sea plane experience. I wish I had the scuba gear because it was down about 30 feet. But it was calm and clear so visibility wasn’t a problem. I just wanted to get in close. There was a bit of coral around and lots of larger fish. They were so cool (as always). A few huge snapper swam through the plane.

After about 30 minutes of this, Jake dragged me away and back in the dinghy. There were several other coral garden areas to explore around here. It took us a bit to actually find them. There was a large sign that indicated their presence, of course we were totally oblivious until after we explored all the other areas around here.

As soon as I jumped out of the dinghy, it was like being transported into an underwater paradise. The water was dead calm (since it was nestled in a very protected bay). It was picture perfect. There were hundreds of sergeant major and yellow snapper swimming all around us. They weren’t afraid. They swam right up to us (probably expecting food). Once we got past all the fish, I noticed the coral gardens that were all over. The terrain was beautiful and the coral looked richly colored and healthy. It was amazing. There are literally no words. Paradise.

We spent a good hour here before heading back to Bosco. It was still very early in the day, not even 11AM yet. And we figured that we wanted to get a move on, since we explored everything here. So we packed everything up and motored out of the winding shallows. A little video of our experience:

Next stop: Emerald Rock & Warderick Wells.


3 comments on “Big Majors & Halls Pond

  1. Hi, In the future take a dinghy ride north ( when anchored on west side of Big Majors ) especially in windy conditions ,and go thru the narrow deep cut ( great stuff on the bottom of that cut ) to the area north of there and you can certainly find wind protected parts of the many small islands there to check out the bottom,( one of which there are or were hundreds of sand dollars in knee deep water), that area leads to ‘ between the Majors’, and a Marina, and actually is another back way from the banks to between the majors. Also in the park the best all weather anchorage is west of Cambridge Cay ( area called Bell Island), where there are lots of shallow snorkle spots and excellant spots east side of Cambridge in good wx. One warning; don’t try to get to that anchorage from the south –or conch cut area. Either from banks NE towards Bell and then clockwise around Bell to the north entrance; or from the Ocean side to the north side which has you go south towards a mark on shore and then 90 deg right turn keeping fan area to stbd until you can make the left turn into the anchorage. Sorry if I’m telling you stuff you’re already aware of. Good sailing . Bob


    • Haha – thanks Bob – no worries -this is great insight. Will definitely make note for if we venture that way again. 🙂

  2. This blog is great! We love to read about your adventures. It is inspiring us to plan our own trip like this one day.

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