Mon, January 24
Blackpoint, Guana Cay
This morning we went into to town to wash clothes and see what the markets had available for provisions. We washed 3 loads of clothes, so that finished up what we had left that we didn’t wash last time. We included some sheet with that. It doesn’t take long for salt water to get spots on the sheets, even though we try to keep the salt out of the boat – it seems that it’s a losing battle. Before we bought provisions, we defrosted the freezer. There was a heavy coat of ice on it – so now there is room for more meat to buy. Charlie of S/V White Seal, who we met in Charleston, SC visited us in his dinghy. He rows his dinghy all over the place and very well too. They are planning on leaving to go to Cambridge Cay tomorrow, so will take a rain check on the invitation to play cards. There are dark clouds west of us and the wind had picked up to E 13-14kts with Gust 17-20 kts. Good thing that we have good protection from the east! I made spaghetti for supper and we have enough left over for another meal. I have started reading the ebook “Knitting for Dummies”. I have been knitting for a while, but decided to read what they had to say. Then I took the time to type a few of the instructions for items to knit into my laptop for future use. With the ebooks I get from the Library, I have them only for the lending period and then I can’t access them any more, so wanted to take the chance to get what wanted while I still could. Then I started reading the 4th book in a series called “Happy Ever After” by Nora Roberts. I think Katie checked it out for me so thank you Katie, as I’ve been waiting for this book a long time. I was tired from the long day and went to bed at 930pm.
Tuesday, January 25
Black Point to Cambridge Cay, Exuma Park
Distance Traveled: 23.67 nm
Total Distance: 2497.05 nm
Chris Parker says that there is a cold front that is expected to come through tomorrow afternoon with winds clocking S to SW to W to NW – all directions that are not comfortable in the Black Point anchorage, so we have decided to go to Cambridge Cay in the Exuma Park. They said the winds in the squalls could be 30-50 knots! Charlie had showed us on the chart the best way to enter the mooring field so that’s the way we’re planning to go which is around Bell Cay. So as soon as Chris was finished with the weather, Phil started the engine at 740am and we raised anchor at 757am. By 805am we let out a reefed head sail as the winds were E 16-17kts and by 820am were E 20-23 kts. The wind angle was 150-160 degrees to starboard, so we were almost down wind. I started steering at 825am as usual, it’s hard for the autopilot when we have quartering seas. By 905am we were once again able to engage the autopilot as we had changed course so that we could stop at Samson Cay for diesel (17 gals), water (20 gals) and SHOWERS ($4/ea for 8 minutes). I would say this is our first shower that we had with continuous running water since Chub Cay when we first entered the Bahamas. Phil just washed up and didn’t use his full 8 minutes, but I did. It was wonderful but it didn’t last long as we were sprayed with salt water when going upwind getting to the channel to get to Cambridge Cay. We were trying to get to Bell cut before the tide starting going out. For a lot of the cuts here between the islands, the current is strong when ebbing (going out from the Banks to the Sound) and the waves really kick up when you have a east wind (the tide and the wind are against each other), which is what happened when we had to go 2/3 of the way out of the cut to the sound before we could start turning to go around a rocky bar. Changes is built like a tank, so we weren’t worried or afraid, but once we got the mooring ball and talked to friends, they said that they were able to see most of the keel when we went over some of the 8’ standing waves. They said that we didn’t need to clean our bottom. J We picked up the mooring ball at 112pm N 24 18.196’ W 76 32.481’ The mooring balls here are on a first come first serve basis and there were 4 left. By the end of the evening, all the mooring balls were taken. Unfortunately, we don’t have cell phone signal here and no internet so have turned off the cell phone to conserve energy and will turn it back on again once we have cell phone signal again. We decided to take a walk to the sound side of Cambridge Cay and by 2pm were landing the dinghy on the beach. We walked to the Exuma Sound side following a path lined with conch shells and it was beautiful with the waves crashing. It must have been even better at high tide. I took some videos – so will look to see how they turned out. There is a path up the hill to the Bell Cut so we decided to take it after we had our fill walking on the beach. I’m glad that we did it then, because who knows if we’ll get back to the beach again during our stay. It was pretty windy there on the bluffs and we can just imagine how dangerous it would be if the wind was 30-40 knot up there. There isn’t much to hold on to so you don’t get blown away.
Once we were back at the boat by 4pm we were hungry, so I made smoked sausage, rice and pigeon peas in the pressure cooker. I have been trying to use the dehydrated food that I brought, so put 2 pkts of dehydrated stewed tomatoes in with the mix. I have to say this was not my better concoctions. I should have put in more water for the tomatoes than I did. We ate most of it and have enough left over for one person. We spent the evening reading and Phil made popcorn for me. We’ve paid for 3 days mooring so will be here to leave Friday if the weather stays good. After the front goes through, it looks like Thursday through Mon or Tuesday has N to E winds max 10-15 knots – good weather to start going to Georgetown. Phil wanted to be there in February and February is almost here. We’ll see how the weather forecast goes before making the final decision.
Wednesday, January 26
Exuma Land and Sea Park
Turns out that the cold front is going to be a bust for us – Small chance that a squall will go through and if it does, it won’t be as strong. The disturbance ahead of the cold front is affecting the NW Bahamas – but now us in the central Exumas. When we woke up, the anchorage was glassy – near low tide so good for going snorkeling. But when we got dressed, had breakfast, the winds had increased to 9- 12 knots and a chop in the anchorage. WE want to wait to see what happens with the weather and keep an eye to the SW, which is where a squall will come from today. The sole was dirty from salt water and sand so this is a good time to clean it. While I cleaned the sole – Phil worked in the cockpit sawing off the end of the conch to make the horn. There was a lot of dust in the cockpit, but he used the dirty water left over from the floor to wash it down. As he figured – there was a lot of sand in the cockpit so why should he go to the foredeck to do this? After lunch, we decided to try our luck at snorkeling. Meg and Charlie from S/V White Seal where there. This morning when it was calm, we had removed the 4hp motor and put on the 8hp motor. We raised it with the main halyard on the port side, and it worked much better being able to use the main sheet self-tailing winch and also to be able to maneuver it through the gate. The plastic handle used to lift it up off the mounting block is broken, so we had to tie a line through a metal loop instead. I’m sure that once we get the hang of it, we’ll have an easier time getting it on and off the dinghy. We left at 130pm to Conch Cut to try to do snorkeling but we left too late and had a very strong current as the tide was ebbing. We’ll try another day.
Charlie, Meg and their daughter, Mary, are coming for dinner and cards afterwards at 530pm, so after we were back at the boat, I started working on supper. I made Dried Scalloped Asparagus casserole and a dried peach upside down cake. I’ll cook the ham where they get here. They are bringing potatoes and canned green beans. They live on their boat with no refrigeration or ice box! Brave them. Their instant potatoes were delicious; best I ever had. They like my asparagus dish, but I didn’t. The dessert turned out well though. Mary went to visit her friends at S/V Sisu and Charlie and Meg stayed to play 10 Penny. We had a great time and Phil beat out Lorraine with the wind by 5 points. Charlie and Meg went back to the boat shortly after 9pm as they had to get Mary and are leaving tomorrow morning for Blackpoint.
Phil and I read some more – finished up the last 2 pieces of dessert so that Phil could wash the rest of the dishes. I’m currently reading this e-book “Wendy Knits” and she has some good patterns in there that I have been working on typing into M. Word. She has a instructions for socks that you knit from the toe up – so of course I typed that. It’s really different from the socks directions that I have used, so will have to give that a try when I next knit another pair of socks.
This evening was pretty warm as the current from the tide is keeping us at right angles to the wind – so not much gets down below. We had another humid day and most everything is damp. Phil and I did a mini wash up (I said that shower we had yesterday didn’t last long) and then tried baby powder to sock up some of the moisture. It’s really hard for me when our bedding is damp and for some reason, it is especially damp at the feet. Tonight I got up and put a towel down on top of the sheet. Wasn’t too long until that was damp too! Phil says I need to ignore it – but I can’t seem to do that. Now I know why Rodney and Sue have a dehumidifier on their boat Glenlyon. I want one too J though I know that’s one thing I won’t get. But I shouldn’t be complaining as it seems likes it’s been a hard winter up north.
Thursday, January 27
This morning it’s cloudy with the cabin temperature (CT – inside the boat) and air temperature (AT) both 78F with the wind from 30degrees 8-9 knots. The current is slow enough that we are actually pointed into the wind. Yesterday, I pushed a button that caused it to try to sync with the satellites – which didn’t happen and it reset my watch to 1-1-11 12am – so now I don’t have the correct day, date and time. This has happened to me a few times and the sync feature didn’t work last night - so I still don’t have the correct information. For some reason, it doesn’t want to sync up today. I’ll have to bother Phil until I can get it fixed.
This morning we are going to the Sea Aquarium in the Exuma Park off O’Neills Cay. Low tide is 811am so we left a little after 830am to get there when the current is less. It’s was still cloudy, but maybe some of the clouds will dissipate by the time we get there. This is the time that the 8hp motor comes in handy. They had 2 dinghy moorings there and we timed it right as there wasn’t much of a current when we were there which is good for me. Boy was this beautiful. I took photos, and not sure how they will come out as the water was a little murky and the sun wasn’t out. The coral reef went down the sides of the small island and I bet that is was at least 20’ deep. The sergeant major fish came right up to our faces. There were many fish there and much coral. This is definitely the best snorkeling that we’ve had on this trip! Too bad Katie couldn’t see it – maybe next time. Once we had our fill, we went back to the boat and got there in time to see White Seal, SiSu, Adanaco, and Maggie M let loose their mooring balls and head out Bell Cut to head south. Now there are only 6 boats left on the mooring balls, and we have decided to go to the mooring ball closest to shore. We are running the engine and then plan to go to honeymoon beach on the south end of the island to take the trail to see Conch Cut. While the engine is running, I downloaded my 145 photos and videos and typed up the blog so that when we get internet I can easily post these messages. I’m sure everyone is fine, but I don’t like to be out of both cell phone signal and internet too long.
We are planning to go south tomorrow. We’re go to Blackpoint and then continue south. Tomorrow the winds are to be N 12-14 knots, Saturday N 12 decreasing to 10 knots, 070degrees 12-13 on Sunday and Monday. So that gives us 4 days to get to Georgetown before we have to start worrying about the next cold front that may or may not get that far south. Next Friday is the regatta at Farmers Cay which is always a big event. We are interested, but we’ll have to see how the weather is. The anchoring isn’t good there and the mooring balls were iffy last time we heard. Maybe we’ll get the chance to use our cruising shoot that Colin sent to us and that we haven’t used yet. I hope so!!
Friday, January 28
Cambridge Cay to between the Big Majors
Distance Traveled: 14.1nm
Total Distance: 2511.25
We woke to cooler weather and continued clouds. We decided that we would leave but where to? Samson Cay, Staniel Cay or Blackpoint? I started making bread in the morning about 830am and after I had set it to rise, we decided to leave Cambridge Cay. It was calm going out O’Neil Cut, unlike when we came into Cambridge Cay and were sailing mostly downwind. After passing conch cut leaving Exuma Park, I put out the trolling fishing line with the Cedar Plug. The winds were 10-13 knots to start and then started building to 15-17 knots, which was fine as the winds were coming off the lane so on Exuma Sound it was still relatively calm. But with the increasing, we decided to stop between the Majors instead of going to Black Point. They don’t have protection from winds from any W direction and we heard on the radio that it was pretty rocky anchorage. We hadn’t anchored between the Majors before, but it’s the best place when the winds are from any Westerly direction. I don’t know my log book with me for precise info – but we anchored early afternoon and set the anchor well. There were about 4-5 other boats there and the anchor set very well. This was a good choice as it was very calm here as you can see if you use the satellite view on the GPS spot page. I worked on knitting and Phil was reading a book. It would be rocky on the dinghy to go to town so we didn’t put together the dinghy. As I was looking through a locker for something else, I found what I think is the last jar of homemade sauerkraut – so cooked it for supper with smoked sausage, potatoes and canned corn. I continued knitting in the evening, trying out different patterns and Phil read until we went to bed at 11pm. It really cooled down this evening (for us) and we got out one of the quilts. Most of the bedding was dry so I hope we’ll have a good night for sleeping.
Saturday, January 29
Between Big Majors to Black Point
Distance Traveled: 8.1 nm
Total Distance: 2519.35
This morning it was 68F outside and 72F inside the cabin. The humidity was also down – 74% in Georgetown. It was cool enough that both Phil and I put on sweatshirts or fleece to start off the day and pants. We raised anchor a little after 9am and was through the Cut 15 min later. The current was strong in the cut and we have 2-3ft standing waves, but it wasn’t anything like we had just experienced. We started sailing with the wind angle 120degrees off Port and then went to 130degrees. We put out the head sail and left the engine on idle to charge the batteries. I put out the trolling fishing line and then a little later, Phil attached an sinker to it where we attach the leader to see if it would help it get down deeper. We got to Dotham Cut about 1015 and were anchored by 1030am. I rolled in the fishing line – no lucky today. The anchorage had calmed down as the winds are from the north now and we went to our typical area that we usually anchor in. There are about 14 boats now, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we got more later today. I fix lunch using the bread I baked yesterday and then we went into town to get internet. There were some Bahamians that had fish and lobster at the dinghy dock, but when I asked about buying lobster, then wanted $20 ea which is too much for us. Too bad!! I was glad to chat with my sister Robin and Katie on Facebook. Can’t Skype or anything similar to that here. And check email too.
We plan to be here a few days and then go to Farmers Cay south of here for the Class Bahamian Boat Races next weekend. They are expecting a cold front, but if we're lucky it won't go past the NW Bahamas. Then we'll go to Georgetown for a few weeks.