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FEBRUARY---Hog Cay (Ragged Islands), Bahamas back to George Town (Great Exuma), Bahamas
Most of the month anchored at Hog Cay in the Ragged Islands. Most people refer to this area as "The Jumento Cays". Technically "The Jumentos" are two areas.....the Jumento Cays and the Ragged Islands. The Jumento Cays/Ragged Islands Chain is 110 miles long at the southeastern edge of the Great Bahama Bank at the Crooked Island Passage. The Nurse Channel separates the Jumentos Cays from the Ragged Islands. Hog Cay is about 7/8 of the way down the chain (on the south end). Hog Cay has great holding and little to no surge when the wind is northeast, east, or southeast to south. Duncan Town is about 3.5 to 4 miles from the anchorage. The cay has beautiful beaches on the bank side (no trash) and fantastic beaches on the Crooked Passage side with lots of trash. While trash is unsightly....it is where you find sea beans and other beach treasures. There are three great spots to collect sea glass. The cay has lots of goats that sometimes are harvested by the locals from Duncan Town. The cay has four groomed hiking trails that cross the cay from the banks to the sound. Cruisers built a little shelter that has been named "The Hog Cay Yacht Club" and Maxine has built another shelter next to the yacht club. Hog Cay like everywhere else is changing but it is still very quaint and I just love it there.
DISCOVERY at sunset and just another beautiful starfish in the sea.
Duncan Town is the only settlement in the Jumento Cays/Ragged Islands Chain. Unfortunately the town is dying. Young people have to move away to find jobs (a few stay to fish). The people from Duncan Town are so friendly and truly different from any Bahamian you will meet. The locals say that everyone is related. The town still has an All Age School. The streets are paved and there is a good landing strip at the airport. The plans to build a Defense Force Station has been abandoned. At one time, the population was close to 1000 and is now down to around 70.
This is the first year that mosquitoes have been a problem.. There has been a lot of rain this winter so there are pools of water where the devils breed. The Ragged Island mosquito is much smaller than their distant cousins from Michigan but their bite is more viscous then their northern cousins. On calm days.....you will be ambushed by mosquitoes when walking the trails or hanging around the beach. One hot, calm day, Karen and I were returning from the sound side of the cay. What a miserable walk .....I had a stone in my sandal but I did not want to stop because my body was covered with mosquitoes. What next?? I tripped over a stump falling on my face. Did not have time to lick my wounds with those devils biting me. Hopped up at the speed of lightning and walked as fast as possible trying to ignore the rock in my sandal and bumps from the fall. As soon as I hit the beach, I plopped into the water. Damn mosquitoes.
Great sail from Hog Cay to George Town. The first leg was a 7-hour run from Hog Cay to Flamingo Cay. Wind 110 degrees at 18 gusting 20 knots. Passed through Nurse Channel about 30 minutes before low tide so the current was opposed to the wind waves resulting in a stacked wave at frequent intervals. Had been blowing between 20 and 30 knots from the east for several days so the swells coming in Nurse Channel from the Crooked Passage were fairly large. It is hard to estimate wave height (believe wave height is often exaggerated so tend to under-estimate them). Ten boats anchored at Flamingo Cay that night--8 of them were headed north. Invited over to WIND LASS for Happy Hour along with POCO LOCO.
The second leg ......a short run to Water Cay provided two hours of good sailing. By departure time, the winds clocked a little more to the south to 130 degrees and picked up just a little more than the previous day. . The point of sail--a close reach.to a beat. It was only 11 nautical miles so having the boat healed over the entire leg was not a big problem. Ten boats in the anchorage---not the same ones as the night before because some of us are going north while others are going south. Barry and Susan (NIGHT HAWK) came over for Happy Hour and a game of Sequence.
The last leg from Water Cay to George Town was better sailing than expected---thought we'd be motor sailing most of the time instead we sailed almost all the time! The wind was forecasted to drop below 10 knots then go light and variable. When we left Water Cay the wind was 140 degrees at 13 to 15 knots. DISCOVERY was the 4th boat (of 10) out of the anchorage in the morning about 15-20 minutes behind the first two boats and 5 minutes behind NIGHT HAWK. . Shortly before the Dryers way point (about 6 nautical miles out of Water Cay), DISCOVERY was ahead of the pack. DISCOVERY performed well in these conditions......saw 8.0 knots of speed a couple times. Had to motor sail from the Comer West way point to the Comer way point (about 6 miles) when we had enough wind to sail to Comer East and the rest of the way to George Town. Turned the engine on again just before arriving at Volleyball Beach.
Most of the cold fronts exiting the Eastern US in February either stalled or dissipated in the Northwest Abacos or the Northern Exumas. About the only affect in the Jumento Cays/Ragged Islands was the strong northerly wind after the front. Had a pesky trough that stalled around Great Exuma/ Long Island/ Jumentos/Acklins for 3-4 days bringing some mild showers and squalls. The trough would slowly move south and east but then regress back north.
The weather on Super Bowl Sunday was interesting. That trough hanging around the South Bahamas caused the wind to back on Sunday from the east to the north and then back to the northwest (northwest was not in the forecast) and the velocity increased to 20-25 knots gusting to 30 knots. Had arranged transportation to to Duncan Town for a Super Bowl Party but the party was cancelled because most of the cruisers were uncomfortable leaving their boats with the wind and big waves. Carl and I had to re-anchor because the northwest winds pushed our stern into skinny water (at low tide we'd be touching bottom). The wind did diminish around 5:00 PM. The big party in Duncan Town was replaced with smaller gatherings in the anchorage. Several boats had TV's so they invited others over to watch the game. We joined Lynn and Peter on FIRST EDITION. Lynn served chili and fresh baked bread. I brought over some quesadillas. Watched the first half of the game .....mostly interested in the commercials. Watching TV on a boat in strong wind isn't easy---as the boat swings the television looses the signal making it hard to "get" the entire commercial and follow plays. Returned to the boat after half-time. The next day I asked Lynn how much of the game they watched after we left----they quit watching when we left!
On February 6 and 7---saw a couple waterspouts. Carl and I were sitting in the dinghy in the cut between Hog and Maycock Cay line fishing . Saw a huge waterspout east of Double Breasted Cay and perhaps just south off Raccoon Cay. The next day we saw two waterspouts over Hog Cay in the morning and another one west of Hog in the afternoon. (FYI---waterspouts are the counterpart of a tornado. That is, tornados form over land while waterspouts form over water. The conditions required to form either one are similar. Waterspouts are less dangerous....they form under a cumulonimbus cloud and grow downward to the sea. They normally only last about 10 to 30 minutes. The upper part of the spout travels at a different speed than the lower so it becomes bent)). The first waterspout we saw was fully established.....the two we saw over Hog Cay and west of Hog Cay the following day did not drop down to the water.
Two cold fronts in February brought clocking westerly winds. The first front came on 2/16 when we were anchored in Hog Cay. Moved DISCOVERY from Middle Pen Bay anchorage to an anchorage between Pig Point and Hog Point (in the cut between Hog Cay and Ragged Island). Shared this anchorage with 9 other boats. The front came through around 11:15 PM when the winds picked up to 25 to 35 knots and clocked abruptly from the west to the northwest. When the front arrived we woke up because the rigging started to sing. DISCOVERY had its second anchor out to help control "sailing at anchor". POCO LOCO on our starboard side started to drag......Jery is a single handed sailor. What a nightmare to have to re-anchor is 30 knots of wind, in total darkness and by yourself. He managed to get the anchor down. The second cold front with westerly winds arrived on the last day of the month in George Town The westerlies with this front were nothing but the one coming in a few days will be something else if it turns out as forecasted. . Cold fronts with westerly component winds can be a challenge if the winds are of significant velocity and duration because there are not that many anchorages that offer protection from the west and if the waves build up over a long fetch then it can be pretty uncomfortable on the boat.
Day to Day Activities:
The most frequently asked question when we returned to George Town on 2/24---"What do you do all day in the Jumento Cays/Ragged Islands??" Well......here we go! Carl went hunting for lobsters and line fishing with Chris on SNYERGY. Chris still can't dive because of his perforated eardrum ---Chris drove the dinghy while Carl hunted. If the hunting wasn't good .....we'd buy lobster and fish from the local fisherman from Duncan Town. I went fishing with Carl one day. It was fun until the squalls rolled in---soaking wet by the time returned to the boat.
The best fish is a Hog Fish and Carl shot one with his pole spear. Just enough for the two of us for dinner.
Last month's log included a few of the doodads cruisers made for the Hog Cay Yacht Club (including ours). Everyone used materials that washed up on the beach. Below are a few more. Bottom left (BLACK PETREL) needs just a little explantion. Grant, the skipper, sails by himself--single handed (get it???).
Karen and I hiked for exercise and hunted for seaglass and sea beans. In the evening-- Happy Hour or dinner on another boat followed by a game of Sequence; OR Happy Hour/Trash Burn on the beach; OR a potluck dinner on the beach. Enjoyed some great dinners on SYNERGY. Karen is a fantastic cook. Karen and Klaus (LUCKY TOUCH) invited us over for a venison stew but prior to the main course we had triggerfish pate and pate made from clams from South Carolina. Kathy and Fred had us over for lasgna followed by Sequence. Sharon and Ed (IMAGINE) invited us over for dinner our last night in Hog Cay .....Sharon made spaghetti with freshly baked bread.
Top left is a photo of the best sea glass spot on Hog Cay. This area delivered glass each and every time. On the right is the new spot on the south beach area. To get there, you need to cross over three good sized cliffs. Photos on the bottom left show one of the cliffs and on the right is the top of the cliff looking down at the water. I love hiking to the south sea glass spot.
Find the neatest things walking the beach. On the left is a deck chair. The back was broken so it was sitting on it rather gingerly. The view was from my seat was fantasti. On the right is a little crab that thought it was hiding from me and my camera!
Should explain the Happy Hour/Trash Burn. While cruising the Jumento Cays/Ragged Islands we separate our paper and plastic which we burn in a pit onshore from the non-burnables (aluminum foil, cans and bottles). While the trash burns.....enjoy our drinks and appetizers. At the Hog Cay anchorage there are two firepits.......one for cooking and one for burning trash. Had a trash burn every 3 days or so. Some burner required only a drink others drink and appetizer to share.
Maxine Wallace returned from Nassau early in February riding on the CAPTAIN C from Nassau. Maxine spends a lot of time in Nassau taking care of her daughter who is recovering from a severe stroke. The cruisers were having a Happy Hour/Trash Burn party the day Maxine returned so Maxine joined us. That is Maxine arriving in the white foul weather gear. Melissa was in the skiff with Maxine. Melissa is an American woman who has a house on Ben's Cay. She was taking the CAPTAIN C that evening to Nassau.
I made a couple great dinners---a Mexican casserole for KOKOMO (Leda and Roland); IMAGINE and SYNERGY and Pork Curry for LUCKY TOUCH and SYNERGY.
Maxine Wallace.....the woman in Duncan Town who has a grocery store and does special orders for cruisers wanted a pole-type building erected on the beach at Hog Cay. Rumor had it that she obtained funding for it from the Department of Tourism. While the cruisers did not want the building....they helped erect it. The building project kept the guys busy for about a week. It was not quite finished when we left. Have to admit the building was looking good. It has a thatched roof made from dried palm fronds which helps blend the building with the surroundings. Fred on SCOTCH MIST took charge of the cruisers.
Framing Maxine's building
Concrete work--Monkey Man mixing concrete in his wetsuit.
Almost finished (ran out of supplies)
Watched two DVD (television series) while anchored at Hog Cay----HOMELAND and the PBS series DOWNTON ABBEY. Like both of them Thanks for lending them out Peter and Lynn. Read several books but can only recommend "POISONWOOD BIBLE" by Barbara Kingsolver. Finished reading "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln" by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Started reading "The Worst Hard Time" by Timothy Egan.
Had a great time celebrating Klaus'74th birthday. Cruisers brought "heavy appetizers" and/or desserts.. Music provided by Jim and Bentley (SALTY PAWS), John (FREEBIRD) and TED (MEKHAYA). Karen and Klaus brought salmon that they smoked at their cabin in the woods (Ontario). Karen also brought her triggerfish pate that was a big hit last year. A great party for a great man.
Photos taken during Klaus' birthday celebration. Tossed the candles in the firepit after Klaus blew them out. The hermit crabs who hang around the firepit for anything that is edible took a liking to the candles. Bottom two photos show two different crabs running off with the candles.....there were 6 crabs carrying away the candles. I'd like to direct your attention to the middle right photo...the Bahamian mna--Edward. Edward lives on Buena Vista by himself. He grows a garden from which he hopes to sell produce to the cruisers next year. He has a bunch of animals like goats, ducks, chickens and a peacock. Edward is related to Maxine so he has attended the Valentine's Day Party every year. He is an interesting character that all the cruisers like. Edward worked with Fred to build Maxine's building. Edward is so handsome and has lived a colorful life. Besides the animals and his garden he plays the guitar and loves rum.
Made arrangements with Phicol for a Super Bowl Party at his Bonefish Lodge in Duncan Town. Phicol agreed to pick up the about 20-22 cruisers at the anchorage and take us into Duncan Town in his big center console boat. Cost for transportation, use of the lodge and food was $20.00 each plus we'd buy drinks from Phiicol and and his wife Erika. Well, the weather on Super Bowl Sunday was not cooperative so the party was cancelled early in the afternoon with the agreement that we'd come in on Monday for food and drinks (special food was ordered). Philcol picked us all up Monday shortly after noon. Had a great time riding to Duncan Town in Phicol's boat and then having lunch with everyone.
A quick ride into Duncan Town on Philcol's open console boat. About 20 people onboard. Philcol does not slow down in the channel for small vessels. Notice our wake.
On February 8, a huge dark cloud was hanging over the Ragged Islands and remained there until February 15. Julian Wallace, Maxine's son, was missing along with two other persons. Julian and his two passengers left Nassau Friday, February 8 headed home to Duncan Town on Ragged Island in a 22 ft skiff with a single outboard engine. The trip would take him between 5-10 hours depending on conditions. Julian sent a text message on his cell phone around 10:30 PM saying he should be in Duncan Town in a couple hours. After the text message .......nothing was heard from him for 7 days. The Bahamas Air Sea and Rescue organization (BASRA) and the U.S. Coast Guard were contacted and had an active search for him. Additionally, the Cruisers Net placed a boat watch for Julian on their Cruiseheimer's Net. Chris Parker our weather forecaster also had a boat watch for Julian. Maxine never gave up hope although she was pretty stressed out waiting to hear something. Finally word came on February 14th. A commercial fisherman from Long Island found Julian, the two passengers and the boat. Oh Happy Day! All safe and sound. The engine gave out and the boat drifted from east to west and west to east with the current at Seal Cay on the north end of the Nurse Channel less than 30 nautical miles north of Ragged Island. In fact, some local fisherman from Duncan Town went up to Buena Vista looking for Julian .....Julian was only 12 nautical miles further north of Buena Vista. Julian said he and his passengers would get in the water to tow the boat closer to Seal Cay. By the way, Seal Cay is nothing but a tall rock! The CAPTAIN C was on the way to Duncan Town on 2/14 so the ship deviate from its normal course to pick up Julian, the two passengers and tow the boat into Duncan Town.
John on FREEBIRD and Ted on MEKHAYA organized a night of music the night of Valentine's Day for about 30 cruisers. Ted is such an entertainer .....I just love listening to his songs which aren't something you sing along with but need to listen carefully to the words. I guess he is a singing poet. Everyone was delighted that Julian had been rescued.
Maxine's Valentine's Party was held on Friday the 16tth. About 30 boats and lots of people from Duncan Town. School was let out early so the children could attend. Maxine served some fantastic food---ham, turkey, peas n rice, saffron rice, mac n cheese, cole slaw, potato salad, lettuce salad and a whole slew of desserts. This year there was a lot more mingling between the cruisers and the townspeople. Made $550.00 for the school through the Cruisers Auction. Kathy on SCOTCH MIST won the bid for my necklace and earrings (picture last month's log) The school kids did a Junkanoo for us.
Photos from Maxine's Valentines Day Party. The first two pictures show a cruiser congratulating Daniel on the safe return of his son, Julian, who was missing in his boat for a week. The bottom two pictures are Maxine. Interesting to note that the cruisers thought the party should have been cancelled when Julian was missing. Several people talked to Maxine about it and her reply was "I am not ready to cancel it". Well the party turned out to be the perfect celebrations of Julian's safe return home and a celebration of Valentine's Day.
Below are photos of people hanging around before the food was served. The locals sat up on the rock ledge when they first arrived mostly to enjoy a few tokes before joining everyone else.
This group of photos was taken during the Valentines Day Junkanoo. No school that afternoon so the children could attend. Sheila the elderly lady on the drums is well into her 80's. The last photo is Monkey Man (Derek) who supplies us with lobster, fish and conch. Yes, Carl gets some of his own but we support the local as much as possible.
After Junkanoo.......some good old Rake and Scrape Music. The last photo is LaToya one of the lively young people from Duncan Town. LaToya sometimes fishes with Monkey Man and sometimes helps her mother Sheila at the Fisherman's Lodge as a cook or bartender.
Chris on SYNERGY organized a lunch at Sheila's in Duncan Town for about a dozen cruisers. Choice of cracked conch or roasted chicken. Sands beer 2 for $5.00. Stopped at the school to use internet. Showed three high school girls the video of the Junkanoo. The girls just giggled.
Photos in Duncan Town when we went for lunch at Sheila' Fisherman's Lodge. On the left.....goat skins probably for Junkanoo drums. Guessing those goats were once running around Hog Cay! ON the right is Carl showing the school girls the videos from Valentine's Day Junkanoo.
Stopped at the Ponderosa for beers before going to the Fisherman's Lodge. Bottom left is Cephas the original Captain of the CAPTAIN C (mailboat/supply boat). Cephas' son is the current Captain.
Lois and Kathy on the left. Fred filled in a bartender.
So hard to leave Hog Cay which has to be my most favorite place in the Bahamas. Karen on LUCKY TOUCH called on the radio on our last day to say there needed to be a Happy Hour Trash Burn as a farewell to DISCOVERY. It was an honor for us and hard to say farewell to great cruising friends.
The 33rd Annual George Town Regatta started the day after our arrival. So much going on. Trying to visit with some friends we haven't seen since last year. Carl will be crewing for the races so we will be here for a week or so.
Registration for Regatta.....time to sign up for events, buy a t-shirt, vote on next year's t-shirt design and if your lucky win a door prize. Yes, DISCOVERY won a bottle of wine (Double Dog Dare White Zinfandel).
Opening night show. This year's theme "Cruisers Gone Wild" . Kris (TILIT) is one wild and crazy cruiser for sure, for sure.
Conclusion: I tell everyone "This has been a fabulous February". I find it interesting that most of our cruising friends that like the Jumentos/Ragged do NOT like George Town and vice versa. The Jumentos/Raggeds are like being out west in the US .......desolate, not a lot of rules where the beauty is in it seclusion. George Town is bustling with activities and full of rules just like a big city. I love being on the prairie (Hog Cay) and I love being in Chicago (George Town). They are very different but both are good. Finally did laundry on 2/27. The laundromat we go to outside of George Town is owned and operated by Ricardo and Maxine Curling. The Curlings provide free transportation to their laundry. During the ride to the laundry, found out that Ricardo grew up in Duncan Town! Oh what a small wonderful world we live in.
March 01, 2013