After a week in Great Harbour Cay, we were READY to get a move on. We scouted an anchorage just 11 miles south of our position, that falls in-between several small cay’s including White Cay, Fowl Cay, Hoffman’s Cay, Little Gaulding Cay and Saddleback Cay to name a few. It looked as if it would be a great place being almost completely surrounded by land, and boasted some great white sand beaches, snorkeling and the infamous Bohemian “Blue Hole” phenomenon.
Saturday, January 9, 2016
It was a morning of firsts for us – first time we saw a “morning” rainbow, first time we had our anchor line get caught in the rudder and Jake had to dive down to retrieve it and the first time we left anchor under sail. The winds were perfect too – around 10-15 knots.
The 11 miles took us about 3 hours and we sailed at 3 points today (close hauled, beam reach and broad reach). I (Jill) manned the helm and jib the entire way so Jake could just sit back and relax. When we neared the entrance to the channel, we did have to power up the engine (after struggling to get it to start since we didn’t prep anything before leaving – doh!). The entrance was tight AND right next to breakers. It was nail-biting going through.
Our first-choice anchorage was packed with boats. I think there were 13 boats in here, and it probably only should have room for maybe 5 or 6 tops. We made an attempt to go all the way to the northern part (on our charts it showed good depth) but we ran aground and had to turn tail. We ended up anchoring behind the “ideal” anchorage so we were more exposed to the west, but it was still decently protected from all other directions. Plus we had more depth so that was good.
Once we dropped the hook, Jake dove down to make sure that it was set in the sand. It looked okay and once we turned off the motor (We only motored for about 15 minutes today – not bad!) we got right to work on an Indian feast for dinner, complete with yellow curry veggies, madras lentils, basmati rice and homemade Naan.
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday (Jan 10-12)
We woke up early the next morning after a bit of a restless night. There was some swell in the anchorage, not as bad as before, but not great. It definitely got worse as the morning rolled on… plus, it looked like our boat had shifted – like maybe we are dragging. Its so hard to tell with strong current rolling through. But either way, we weren’t comfortable.
Several sailboats pulled out of the “good” anchorage, so we jumped at the chance to move Bosco to a better spot after Jake whipped up breakfast (megacake – basically 1 gigantic pancake that we shared). We were the first of 4 other boats with the same idea, so we got first choice of anchorage and dropped hook in 6 feet of water. It seemed protected from all sides even though it was open to the north east there was a line of breakers to minimize wave-action. It definitely felt much less rolly than the other place though, so we were happy with it.
After soaking in the new anchorage sites, we scoped 3 other nearby boats including Hug (Norway), Bel Canto (Denver) and Draco (Canada). We recognized all of them from Great Harbour Cay marina, though we hadn’t met them yet. Per swung by on his dinghy (he is on Hug) to introduce himself and ask if we would watch the other boats while they explore Hoffman’s Cay. In return, they would watch our boat when we went off. Good deal to us! Its always good to have people looking out for your boat when you leave it, especially in this area which is known to have poor holding.
We took our kayak over to White Cay island and explored the beach and rock outcroppings on the ocean-side. The cay is so tiny, it only took us maybe 15 minutes to walk the entire thing, but it was shockingly beautiful. There were tons of hermit crabs all over and really cute lizards running about. It also looked like there could be some great snorkeling over here if conditions are more settled.
Once the trio of boaters were back from their adventure, Jake and I went on our own little adventure. First we rode by to talk to Bel Canto and Hug (introducing ourselves) and they gave us good insights to where to go and how to get there. It took us maybe 30 minutes to paddle there (we had wind and current against us) and the weather was pretty overcast by now.
We turned the corner on Hoffman’s Cay and a tiny little beach came into view. This is supposedly the start of a trailhead to the Blue Hole. It was completely deserted except for us and nature. Mosquitos were buzzing and the trees were a thick, dense cluster – so so pretty! The trail was very skinny and with the thickness of the foliage, we had to duck most of the way there. It was short though, less than 10 minutes and we were there!
The Blue Hole! It looked more like a lake but when the sun hit it just right, it was a stunning violet-blue color. That only happened for maybe a minute before thick clouds rolled in making it look less brilliant, but still pretty cool. I found a trail that led down to the base, inside a cave-formation (reminded me of the old climbing days!). It was really cool, but the water did not look super inviting. It was just too dark and calm, pretty eerie. I made Jake stick his head in the water to see if it was worth swimming, but we opted to sit this one out. It was so cool to see this natural phenomenon in real life!
We didn’t hang out too long, maybe 30 minutes. I was getting eaten up by mosquitos and the thick clouds made it hard to appreciate the true beauty of the blue hole (I am glad we got a glimpse of it in its glorious blue state though). We hiked back to the kayak, and paddled back to Bosco in much less time than the trek here. The water was crystal clear the entire way back.
Our afternoon went by quickly, we showered, cleaned the boat a bit and then had a movie night (something we haven’t done in a LONG time). Its always such a treat for us to do something “normal” for a change. That was our best day by far in this anchorage. We went to bed pretty early and conditions were calm, until about 2AM.
Monday January 11, 2016
We just can’t get a break from swells. And there was no room to build a swell bridle for our anchor based on the space we had. The current and wind conditions were so shifty it made it pointless to bother, so we just had to endure.
Today was a first for us…we had nothing to do, nowhere to go. The weather was crummy so exploring was out of the question. We didn’t want to leave because the strong weather was yet to come and we felt pretty good about our anchorage (despite the rolling).
All of our entertainment was on the VHF radio today. We learned that all cruisers use Channel 16 as their hub of communication with one another. We would catch conversations about weather information and sail conditions from nearby boaters (some might call it eavesdropping but its common in the boating world for people to listen to one another’s conversations). But it was so entertaining!
We felt like we were part of the group. Some boats were heading to Nassau and others to Eleuthera (we were still on the fence about where to go next). We followed a conversation about someone who lived on Chubb Cay (just south of us) who had been robbed and caught 3 people breaking into their home for fuel (at least that’s what we heard). They jumped in their boat and actually chased them towards Nassau. Tons of other boaters got on the radio in pursuit and I’m not sure how it ended up, but we think they got em. It was like a radio show but real life!
Bel Canto and Hug were both staying in our anchorage for a few more days. We all ended up discussing weather and plans. Hug invited us over for “Norwegian Beer” and appetizers at 5PM on their boat along with Bel Canto. We were so excited for the prospect of doing something socially with other people (we haven’t been around other people much since we left Florida).
We ended up paddling our kayak over to Hug (since they were only about 10 boat lengths from us). The water was pretty choppy but we figured we’d be fine, if a little wet. Hug is a really beautiful, 40-foot Tartan. Per and Alva (not sure how to spell their names) were so sweet and charming. They planned to sail Hug to Norway next year (Jake and I were thinking of doing the same so we had a lot to talk about!). Bel Canto (Dave and Sandy) came by soon thereafter and the party began.
Per pulled out all the stops with “Norweigan Beer” which was really a bottle of Aquavit called “Linie”. It tasted more like a fine cognac but probably similar to whiskey. It went down smooth, that’s all I have to say! Linie actually has a history in boating (part of how its made). Ships would carry barrels of this liquor to far distances and found the motion of the rocking boats made it taste better. We also enjoyed yummy Norweigan treats (cheese, fruit, crackers, meats). I think I had 5 or 6 shots before the end of the night (8PM) and was feeling no pain.
That nights we all enjoyed company of one another and some very yummy Norwegian treats including cheese and fruit and crackers and cookies and breads and meats. It was really lovely and the aquavit was like licorice and had a very smooth after taste (dangerous for me haha). Strong like whiskey but much more mellow and easy to sip like a fine cognac. I think I had 5 or 6 shots by the end of the night.
Jake and I had one heck of a paddle back to Bosco. It wasn’t very far but we were both wobbly from drinking too much, making it hard to balance and get off the kayak. I managed to whack my shin between the swim ladder and the kayak which left a HUGE bruise on my leg and hurt a lot (well not so much at night since I was boozed up but I felt it in the morning).
Tuesday January 12, 2016
I was a complete zombie today. The boat was rocking so badly last night that neither Jake or I got more than a few hours of sleep. Plus we were both pretty hungover. I couldn’t sit up for more than a few minutes before I had to lay down again. I didn’t feel sick but just a deep and profound exhaustion that steeped into my bones. I even ate breakfast (the last of my Hertiage Flakes) 🙁 laying down.
I didn’t expect much out of the day. Hug and Bel Canto invited us to lunch, but we passed trying to recover. I barely moved until mid-afternoon for a late lunch. The weather was awful and I was happy to just lay around and sleep / read. I barely even noticed the boat rocking so much (probably would have made any mortal super sea sick – especially a hungover one!). My leg was throbbing from the night before but I was too tired to dig up tylenol.
We decided our next move would be to Nassau and stay in a marina for a week. We could recover, do boat projects and wait out the next stint of crap weather. The only day of so-so weather is tomorrow (Wednesday). Good enough for us. It will be 45 miles to Rose Island, just east of Nassau. Then we can pull into Palm Cay marina on Thursday.
Traveling like this can be enjoyable, but the last few weeks have been all about running from weather systems. In retrospect, its amazing to think of how long we have been in our self-contained universe. We haven’t even hooked up to power since we left Oriental, NC. We’ve managed to conserve enough water for another 2 weeks at least. We are well stocked with food for 4 months. If weather conditions were better, we’d be in heaven.