I’m happy to report that our weather is calm and clear for the foreseeable future! Great news, as its been howling like mad for too long and we have lots more exploring to do.
March 15, 2016
Today was (yet another) experience of waking up too early (2AM). This time, it was the sound of the dinghy chain bumping against the rail of the boat. It threw me for a loop, almost like someone was trying to break into the boat. Once I was up, I was up. That stinks. It took me a couple of hours to fall back to sleep, so when I woke up again at 8AM, I was still pretty tired.
That being said, we actually took a pretty leisurely morning. The norm is to get up early and go, when we plan to move. But not today. We were in no big rush as our next stop is only 20 miles north. Chef Challis whipped up an incredible raspberry sweet potato pancake and [the last of] our sausage AND maple syrup. OH man it was so freaking good.
Once cleaned up, we meandered on deck and got things organized to get moving. It was near 10AM when we pulled anchor at Emerald Rock and heading for Shroud Cay. Winds were light so we didn’t bother to raise sails, just motored the entire way. It was a very mellow and easy journey.
We got to the anchorage at 1PM. We opted to go as far north and toward the beach as possible. Since we only draw 4-feet, we inched up REALLY far, in a completely deserted spot. We were in about 5.5 feet of water and extremely close to the canals of camp driftwood. Plus there was no one else in sight. PERFECTION!
We wasted no time and donned the snorkel gear. We saw on the charts that there were several small coral “garden” patches scattered throughout the area. Figured we would go scout them out via dinghy. The nearest coral garden was only about 40-50 yards fro Bosco. It wasn’t huge but very beautiful. I saw a sea turtle swimming with 2 remora; a bit too far to get great footage, but still a treat. Also saw loads of other goodies; angels, snappers, tang, parrots, wrasse, butterflies, grouper, spadefish, and so on. All of your typical Bahamian flair. I’m in love with them all and probably captured wayyy too much of it on video:
Meanwhile, Jake was still getting his gear situated and a dinghy came by. It was another young couple (or rather, the first young couple we’ve met since we started cruising). They were on a boat just up the way and were asking us about snorkeling and sharing their experience about camp driftwood. They are on a boat called Gaija, from Sweden. They only stayed around for a few minutes before heading off, but we told them to call us on the radio if they wanted to hang later.
And sure enough, later came and we got a call from Gaija, inviting us over for some brew on their boat. That beats our original plans of just sitting around doing nothing haha. We made our way over around 5PM and were welcomed with frosty cold brewskis. Plus our new friends, Alfred and Tove, were so charming. They too are in their mid-30’s and told us all about their adventures in cruising. They bought their boat in Panama and are working their way up past Central America and Cuba and now Bahamas and eventually up to the U.S. and across to Sweden, where they live. Quite the travel plans! Made us think about maybe taking a visit to Cuba, ourselves…hmm.
We had a blast hanging out with them, getting a tour of their boat and giving them lots of tips for places to visit in the Bahamas. I guess now we’re the experts? (which feels kinda weird and cool at the same time). Their boat has tons of charm and character – and its HUGE – a 40-footer. It has loads of knick knacks all over. They were joking how whenever they make passage, stuff goes flying all over the place and is kind of a disaster to clean up. It makes our boat look so barren and minimal, albeit a lot cleaner 😉 But I guess we all travel differently. They are in love with sailing, have been doing it their whole lives up to now and plan to continue to do it forever. Good for them!
The night passed swiftly and we made our way back to Bosco boat in the full moonlight of the evening. The ride felt like forever, though I guess we did have to go about a mile. In the dark it felt really far. Good thing it was perfectly calm and our little outboard gives us ZERO trouble.
It was a perfect night other than the fact that we skipped lunch and dinner for all the fun we were having! Ooops. At least we came away with an awesome day of fun and some new friends!
March 16, 2016
We woke up early today and with a mission: to kayak camp driftwood. It was just before 6AM when we both rolled out of bed and got to it. Jake attempted the SSB and Chris Parker weather report while I worked on coffee. After that fun, we somehow hit the slow down button because it seemed to take forever to get a move on. We were pretty starving from lack of food yesterday so we had to make a decent breakfast and then clean it all up. It was after 8AM before we actually got ourselves in gear to prep for our day of adventures.
Slack tide was around 9AM, and it would be a low slack tide. As we got in the dinghy and started on our way, we both noticed how dead calm and flat the water was. Something we have not experienced since we left the Darby’s to go to William’s Bay. It was GORGEOUS. We could see EVERYTHING. It was like looking through glass. We dinghied passed several banks of coral, saw a gigantic porcupine fish among several others.
We dinghied along, towing the kayak behind. Once we entered the mangrove channel, thats when things got REALLY shallow. There is a sand bank that is almost exposed at low tide, which is now. We managed to clear it okay, and then opted to park our dinghy in the mangroves at the start of our desired creek. Then we loaded all snorkel gear, camera, water bag and paddles over on the kayak and off we went.
Paddling this morning felt amazing. Plus there was no one else around. We’ve read this area can be very crowded. Many a sport boat or jet ski come flying through here (even though they aren’t supposed to). But we saw nobody. The water was so gorgeous too – absolutely calm and flat. There was no current to speak of and the sun was not yet out in its fully glory so the temps were also very comfortable.
As we winded our way along, there was a split in our creek. We took the path to the right (we should have brought a map or made a note of where to go). And it was so pretty. We saw turtles, nurse sharks, remora, spotted puffers, barracuda and sting rays. There were lots of birds chattering about. It was magical. But we also noticed the mangroves were growing thicker and our little path was getting more narrow and shallow. Maybe this isn’t the right way? And then – dead end. Oops. Okay we made a wrong turn.
We only went about 25 minutes in the wrong direction, but thats okay. We still had slack current and though it was shifting a bit, it wasn’t bad at all. We found our way back on the main creek and continued on. All was well until, yet again, we reached a fork. We turned right (instead of staying straight). If we went straight, we would have reached our desired destination – in fact only a few feet in front of us. But we didn’t even look that way and kept going right, down the narrow and sometimes shallow creek. At times it was so shallow we actually had to get out of the kayak and carry it over the sand. We kept second guessing ourselves, thinking that what we were looking for was just around the next bend. But on the path went and so on we went.
This second wrong path was much farther than the first. And finally, after about an hour and a half, we came to the end of the path, which comes out at the south anchorage mooring field. Definitely the wrong path! Dang. Plus, by now it was really hot. And we were tired. We didn’t plan to paddle this far and were a bit exhausted. Jake was definitely cranky. My arms were killing but I was determined to find our perfect beach we’ve heard so much about. So we turned around and on we went.
Though it was far going back, it felt faster. Not sure if its because we’ve already been here or motivation but either way, we were so happy to see the main creek. And sure enough, just around the corner was our perfect beach. It was a sight for sore eyes. Jake was just happy to stop and I was happy to get in the water to snorkel.
This beach is something out of a fairy tale. Its actually the converging of a few different island’s beaches with a deep waterway cutting in-between. At low tide, some sand banks and ‘mini-islands’ become exposed. We were still early enough to see this. Jake got his deserted island picture (finally).
Everything here was so phenomenal. One of the prettiest places we’ve witnessed in our lives. I was so eager to go snorkeling, I didn’t bother waiting for Jake I just got geared up and jumped in. The coral here was smaller than the other places. Lots of shallow areas with tons of young coral budding and tiny beautiful fish. Some people might find it dull, but I was enchanted. There were tons of shallows amongst steep rock walls, mixed with deep areas, unique rock features and much larger fish. There were gobs of sea urchins everywhere. I was afraid of floating into them (the current was not helping). So much variety and landscape under the water. You’d never even know by looking from above.
The current definitely started to pick up. I played around for a good half hour before deciding to head back to the kayak. Our paddle back felt much shorter than our trek up here. Probably because we didn’t get lost this time – no detours. Plus we managed to have current in our favor so that was really nice too. Our dinghy was right where we left it and before long we were making our way back over the shallows (which were now several feet deep) and back to Bosco.
As we motored along, we passed several dark patches in the water. I made a mental note of their location, as those would possibly indicate coral for which to snorkel. We opted to wait for the next scheduled slack tide (3PM) in hopes the water would be dead calm and flat like it was this morning.
In the mean time, we actually laid out on the foredeck of the boat. Something we NEVER do. Normally we are trying to escape the midday heat and sun, but it was just so nice out today we couldn’t resist. Lunch was very lack-luster camp meal, which we shared. Our fresh food is down to nill so we are back to all dehydrated or preserved food. Thats okay – food doesn’t matter as much when we’re having fun (at least not to me, Jake may have a different feeling on this).
We took a siesta and were back in the dinghy by 3PM sharp. Jake didn’t have much interest in snorkeling, but I was all about it. He happily took me around to a few areas, most of which were just okay compared to the bit we found yesterday. There were several small patches of so-so coral with lots of beautiful fish, my favorite was the triggerfish. It could have been totally crappy and still, I wouldn’t care. I was in my happy place.
We dinghied/snorkeled for about an hour, stopping at any chunk of rock we could see before heading back to the boat. I was having so much fun I actually swam from the last big coral chunk all the way to Bosco on my own. Jake kept tabs on me of course, but it felt so good to swim the far distance. Especially after paddling all day – for some reasons my muscles loved swimming.
Once back onboard, I was cold and exhausted. I decided to work on cleaning all things above deck while Jake secured and stowed the dinghy. We’ve definitely found our routines, which makes life easier onboard.
I enjoyed a very infrequent hot water shower. After spending all day in the water and working my body it felt like a much-deserved treat. But I was still very conservative, probably only using a half gallon of water. I decided to let myself air dry on deck and enjoy the last of our perfect day. I was clipping my nails when a dolphin friend came over to say hi, while hunting for his dinner. HOW COOL!!!
I love that we are finally getting in our groove. Its so nice to take things slow and really embrace this time and place. The nice weather definitely makes it more pleasant too. Life is starting to feel normal out here at anchor. Simple and wonderful.