Started February in the Jumento Cays (A.K.A. Ragged Islands). The Jumentos are a chain of cays (islands) stretching over 110 miles from the west point of Long Island and forms the southeast boundary of the Great Bahama Bank. These islands are wilderness with one tiny settlement, Duncan Town, at the end of the chain (population less than 100). Cuba is only a day sail away from Cuba! The draw for us was the abundant coral reefs for snorkeling and fantastic beachcombing for shells and sea beans. Our travel companions are FERAL CAT (Rich and Nancy) and KOKOMO (Bonnie and Roger)--two PDQ 36 catamarans.
Sailed down to Flamingo Cay---winds out of the NE at 18 to 20 knots. Totally lazy sail with only the big jenny out (our maximum speed was still 8.2 knots). Carl caught his third barracuda (yesterday he caught two of them). Each barracuda was bigger and meaner looking than the previous one--I begged him not to catch any more (as if he could had any control over what kind of fish would bite his lure). KOKOMO caught a big fish on the way to Flamingo Cay. FERAL CAT didn't catch anything. Found ANANIA (Tom and Sandy) anchored at Flamingo Cay.
Once the anchors were down, Roger and Carl went hunting for lobsters while Bonnie and I went beachcombing. I had read in the cruising guide that the Jumentos may be the location of illegal drug activity and innocent boaters could be caught in the middle of a dangerous situation. The guide also said that the drug running is suppressed by nearly daily flights of DEA/USCG helicopter flights. Why am I telling you this? When Bonnie and I were beachcombing we found clothing--an assortment of women's, men's and children's clothing all in good condition. Next we found a duffle bag and then toiletries. At first Bonnie and I concluded that perhaps someone's laundry blew off their boat but we changed our mind when we found the duffle and the toiletries. Then my imagination kicked into gear---Is this a drug deal gone bad? What happened to this family? Both Bonnie and I were spooked almost simultaneously suggesting we return to the boats!
KOKOMO invited all of us over to eat their catch. Before dinner we had drinks in the cockpit so we could watch the sun set and watch for the green flash which everyone saw that night. Had a great fish dinner. Played Mexican Train dominos and talked about cruising the Bahamas. Bonnie mentioned she thought someplaces had an ominous feel to them. Bonnie and I told everyone about what we found on the beach.
The next day, Roger, Carl and I went hunting for lobsters. I did not spot any lobsters but I did see lots of beautiful fish. Tried to ignore the big barracuda that was following us around the coral head. Roger, found and shot three lobster--gave us two them. That night, there were 3 nurse sharks and a big barracuda swimming under the boat---eating the food that was washed down the kitchen drain and the lobster shells we threw overboard.
After two nights at Flamingo Cay, we need to head back to Thompson Bay, Long Island to sit out the passing of a strong cold front. Enjoyed 4 hours of sailing before the winds dropped forcing us to motor sail. Carl decided to fish inspite of my objections (I don't want another stinking barracuda on board). All of a sudden, Carl caught something. As he reeled it in we could see it was red so it wasn't another stinking barracuda. At last, our first keeper and a beautiful red snapper.
The following picture is of Carl and his first "keeper".
Watched the Super Bowl Game at Thompson Bay Inn. About 20 other cruisers were at the bar watching the game. Most of the crowd at the gathering were Colt fans. Carl and I were both hoping the Bears would win but our hope was not realized! The following night we had Bonnie and Roger on KOKOMO over for red snapper.
Had another great sail from Thompson Bay all the way to Georgetown. Stayed in Georgetown for a little over 2 weeks. Went to a farewell party for Tom and Rose on SOJOURN. Tom and Rose are headed further south down to Venezuela. Tom was apprehensive about going (was the weather right???) while Rose was apprehensive about staying. Anyway, it was a fun party and they were on their way the next morning. Went to St. Francis Marina for Karaoke--Carl roped me into singing (which I can't do) so I rounded up female friends to help me with "Bobbie McGee". The Karaoke party was lots of fun. Met a neat couple from Ohio, Jeri and Glenn on LIBERTY.
Celebrated Valentine's Day by attending the Dance on the Deck at Chat & Chill. The two of us even "dressed up". Carl wore one of his button-up shirts and I wore a dress. Had a great time. Danced a little, enjoyed a Kalik and then visited with cruising friends on the beach....away from the speakers.
Three incidents occurred in February that served to remind us to be careful. In Georgetown, a guy was in his dinghy---fell out and was cut up by his dinghy prop. The DEA helicopter obtained permission from the Ambassador in Nassau to airlift the guy for treatment. To prevent this from happening....outboard engines have cut-off cords that should be worn on the wrist or around the ankle. If you fall out, the cord serves as a kill switch. .
Next, a 46 foot Beneteau named ESCAPE was using their electronic chartplotter to enter Little Harbor on Long Island. The electronic chart was not accurate resulting in ESCAPE running up on a reef. The boat was a total loss. The couple caught a flight home the other day---dreams are over, at least for now. I briefly met this couple at the New Bern Southbound Cruisers GAM last October and then again in Black Point. This was their first year cruising.
The third incident was another cruiser who ran aground on the banks. They had some damage to the bottom because they hit a reef. Unfortunately they were cruising an area that few people travel in because it is too shallow (need high tide).
Carl and I came down with some GI problem while in Georgetown. Carl was sick first for 2 days. He was just starting to feel better when I became ill. Both of us were in tough shape.
Had a powerful front roll through Georgetown with winds at 43 knots. The wind kicked up waves to 3-4 feet in the harbor (some where breaking over the bow). Meanwhile, I was below suffering from nausea from whatever GI thing I had--the waves didn't help my condition.
The following pictures are from Georgetown. The first picture shows Hamburger Beach Anchorage. The second picture shows Exuma Sound outside of Elizabeth Harbor where Georgetown is located. The third picture is of the sign post on Volleyball Beach (made by cruisers).
Carl and I waited in Georgetown for favorable winds to go to Conception. Conception is supposed to be gorgeous---lots of coral reefs. It sits in the Exuma Sound without any other islands around so there is almost always a surge. This means the anchorage will be rolly (you don't sleep well when the boat rolls from side to side and rocks forward and back). The beauty outweighs the inconvenience of the sloppy anchorage.
Well, the right conditions for sailing to Conception did not occur. Meanwhile, Carl wanted to leave Georgetown. He was like a hungry tiger locked in a cage. When we left Georgetown, both of us had second thoughts about whether to go or not. The winds were ideal for sailing to Cat Island but the seas where a bit high. Decided we could always try it and come back if it was too rough. The sail was fantastic. I stayed up on the high side never going down below except when nature called. One wave hit the side of the boat getting me wet from the tip of my nose to my toes. Had a northerly swell on the bow and then wind driven waves on the beam so we were moving up and down and a little side to side. Anchored at New Bight, Cat Island for the night.
Left Cat Island at first light headed for Rock Sound, Eleuthera. Had a fantastic sail in the morning---at times, we were doing 9.2 knots over ground. Sailed briskly for 4 hours before the winds died down (as forecasted). Covered almost 70 nautical miles that day. Anchored in Rock Sound with about a dozen other boats --crowded for this harbo!. Carl changed the oil while I read in the cockpit. Had a quick dinner, one game of cribbage and off to bed. We slept so hard that night that we did not hear the Intra Island Freighter pass by us on its way to the Government Dock!
Freighter leaving next morning:
Carl installed a new pressure regulator and solenoid for our LPG system in Rock Sound. The original one failed in Fort Pierce last December so he jerry rigged a spare until the new parts arrived via Keith on CAMELOT. I included a picture to show how boat projects go on boats. Last activity in Rock Sound---we went out to dinner at Rose's Northside Restaurant with 4 other boats. The restaurant is on the ocean side of Eleuthera (Rock Sound is on the banks side)--we walked the ocean beach looking for shells, sea glass and sea beans before dinner. Dinner was served family style. No one went home hungry.
Boat projects are always a challenge. To repair the LPG system you need to empty cabinets and then crawl inside to do the work.
The following pictures were taken at Rose's Northside Restaurant (one the deck).
March 4, 2007