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FEBRUARY-- Hog Cay (Ragged Islands) to George Town (South Exuma) in the Bahamas

Sailing:

Very little sailing in February--because were anchored at Hog Cay for over three weeks and then almost 10 days in George Town at anchor--only three days of sailing! In fact, sat so long at Hog Cay our knotmeter was "fouled" when we left Hog Cay. Carl had to clean it while underway so that it would log our miles. From Hog Cay went to Flamingo Cay in northeast wind at 16 to 18 knots. Sounds like great conditions for sailing, however, the wind dropped to around ten knots by mid-day and the point of sail was a very close reach . Sailed for two hours but then ended up motorsailing the rest of the way. Certainly not the sail we enjoyed on the trip down to the Ragged Islands.

Left anchorage after SOL MATE and CAMELOT. The following three photos were taken by Steve on SOL MATE while I was passing him!

 

What should we do? Stay in Flamingo Cay or continue on to George Town??? Carl wanted to participate in the HAM license exams in George Town on the 20th The forecast was for fairly brisk winds from north of east for at least 5-7 more days making the run to George Town pretty rough. Plus we were traveling with CAMELOT (Keith and Rose) and SOL MATE (Steve and Karen) who were going to George Town regardless of weather. Decided to continue on to George Town and in hindsight a good decision because the wind the winds did not go southerly for 7 days.

Left Flamingo Cay for Water Cay in 20 knots of wind from the east northeast. Wind and four foot waves on the nose. Very salty ride. Good thing the trip was only 2.5 hours long! The next day we left Water Cay early (first light) so we could go through the Hog Cay Cut at a rising tide. Wind still east northeast but stronger than the day before which made the waves bigger. At times we were motorsailing between 3.8 and 4.0 knots. Steve on SOL MATE called on the radio expressing his concern that he was not making good enough progress to make it to Hog Cay by high tide. DISCOVERY stated making good headway between the Drier Waypoint and Comer Channel West waypoint. In fact, had to circle around outside of Hog Cay Cut waiting for CAMELOT to lead us in. CAMELOT, SOL MATE and DISCOVERY each took a different route to the Hog Cay Waypoint (DISCOVERY being conservative followed the Explorer Chart Waypoints) plus DISCOVERY left 10 minutes before the other two boats.

We have never gone through Hog Cay Cut because of our draft. (NOTE: There are several Hog Cays in the Bahamas---one in the Ragged Islands; one off of Long Island and two on the south shore of the Exuma Chain. Hog Cay Cut in at the southern tip of the Exuma Chain between Hog Cay and the Little Exuma Island). The cut is shallow but it reduces the run from Jumento Cays/Ragged Island by twenty seven miles. Carl has wanted to go through that cut for years while I have been against it. This year, I agreed we could try it IF I could follow CAMELOT through (CAMELOT and SOL MATE passed through this cut on their way from George Town to the Ragged Islands. Ideally, would have been at the cut at mid-tide rising but arrived a little before high tide. Later than planned because the wind and waves slowed us down. Anyway, I followed CAMELOT for about 15 minutes Keith (CAMELOT) said on the radio, "Each turns are about 20 degrees." However, Keith was already three turns ahead of me.so I told Carl that I wanted him to give me instructions based on our charts and GPS. So Carl is down at the nav station guiding me through. I am trying to read the water while following his instructions. It is intimidating for sure. Made it through---lowest reading I saw was 6.2 feet. I love the results of using the cut (cuts close to 3-4 hours off the total trip) but it is hairy to say the least.

Below on the left is a photo of the Hog Cay Cut from Explorer Charts. We want water that is at least 1.8 meters (6 feet)---need high tide to get that!. If you look closely at the chart, you can see the water is 1.2 and 1.1 approaching the cut. 90% of the cut is relatively easy at high tide.......the part that curls the hair (back of neck and even the nose hairs) is the section where the water is 1.0 meters with rocks to the right . Once you pass that it goes to 3 meters and the water is a beautiful dark blue. The photo on the right is a computer screen shot showing our track (in red). Bottom left--- Google Earth photo help you see the channel (the darker color). The channel goes between two little cays--Goat and Polly. The little cays lie between Little Exuma Island and Hog Cay.

Photo on the left shows Little Exuma Island....Goat and Polly Cay....Hog Cay (from west to east). Photo on right shows Long Island and the Exuma Chain. You can see Hog Cay at the southern most tip of Exuma Chain. You can get an idea of the distance that is cut when you use Hog Cay Cut.

A beautiful sail from Hog Cay cut to Elizabeth Harbor (George Town). On a broad reach with a large ocean swell. Sailed directly through the Channel Rock Cut all the way to Volleyball Beach where we dropped the hook and stayed for the rest of the month!

 

Anchorages:

Generally around 10 boats at Hog Cay until right before the Valentine's Day Party when the count went up to 32. Walked the beaches in search of treasures---this year the hamburgers beans were quite scarce and not as much seaglass as last year (either less glass or more seaglass hunters). Late afternoon there was generally a gathering of fellow cruisers for a "wallow"---sit in the water with your Happy Hour drink and shoot the breeze. Two or three nights a week---burn trash after the wallow. Fred and Kathy (SCOTCH MIST) and Bess and Bill (ALIBI II) played Sequence with us a couple times. In past years, there were more Happy Hours with appetizers but did not have many of these because of the rat problem on Hog Cay. Maxine did put out poison----killed some rats and make some goats sick. This year, very careful not to leave food "out" to attract the rats. Best to minimize the food---in the past leftovers would be tossed in the fire and crumbs (sometimes large crumbs) brushed from the table to the sand floor for the hermit crabs to eat. One morning noticed the Duncan Town Police Boat towing in a sailboat full of Haitians. There were almost 60 people on that small thirty foot boat. The people were taken into Duncan Town, searched and then put on a plane to Nassau for processing before returning them to Haiti. A US Coast Guard helicopter was flying overhead to support the local police. Heard a call for the Bahamian Defense Force but did not see them arrive.

Beautiful Hog Cay which is my favorite place in the Bahamas.

On the left is the Hog Cay Yacht Club built by the cruisers. The supporting structure is bamboo poles found on the oceanside beaches. The furniture is also made from items found on the beach. Cruisers have made a doodad using beach trash---ours is still there. On the right is Maxine's building which was also built by cruisers under the direction of Edward Lockhart.

CAMELOT (Keith and Rose) and SOL MATE (Karen and Steve) made their first trip to the Ragged Islands. Had both boats over for heavy appetizers and a game of Sequence.

 

Took dingy into Duncan Town to attend the Red Cross Fundraiser at the School. The welcome sign is not an indication of the hospitality Duncan Town has to offer to visitors! Photo on the right is the fisherman's dock.

Shopping at Maxine's grocery store. On the right is conch drying on the line. When dried, it is shipped to China where it is ground into a powder and used for who knows what???

On the left, I am asking Marjorie if she is planning to open her boutique. I am just amazed.....on a day that about 20 cruisers are in town, her shop is closed for renovations. This is a very small shop with baskets, purses, Andros fabric and other items. It was made out of leftover shipping crates and materials. I wish it would have been open for people to see what she has to sell but more importantly she had the opportunity to make some money but missed it. On the right is a photo of the salt ponds. Families on the island still have a pond that they manage. This year , too much rain for the salt ponds so there was doubt they could harvest any.

Chow line!

Photos taken outside after eating. Everyone was just sitting around visiting or using their computers.

Percy Wilson---who had plans to build a resort on Jamaica Cay. Percy also had a DC-3, Percy's Eagle's Nest, a unique bar but it is no longer open. Percy also took possession of the Haitian sailboat.

Finally took "a leap of faith" and had a trash burn with appetizers---reluctant to have one because of the rat problem. No rats were seen but still very careful not to leave food to encourage them.

 

Anchored at Flamingo Cay with CAMELOT and SOL MATE. The first night at Flamingo Karen, Steve, Keith and Rose came over for dinner followed by a game of Sequence. The following day, went to the beach to search for shells. Late afternoon, two fisherman (one of the guys is from Long Island, the other guy from Nassau on the fishing vessel SKY BLUE) stopped by the boat to trade fish for either rum, cigarettes or beer. Traded a partial bottle of rum for a huge grouper. It was fun to visit with these guys who have been out for 6 weeks and will stay out for at least another 6 weeks. That evening, Karen invited both CAMELOT AND DISCOVERY over for dinner. Before dinner, Steve showed us a video he made of DISCOVERY when we were under sail and doing various activities with them.

SKY BLUE arrives to barter......fish for liquor. The young guy, William Johnson, was so cute (handsome and funny). Told us they wanted cigarettes or rum for the evening when they sat around talking and playing dominos.

DISCOVERY at anchor at One Palm Beach (Flamingo Cay) followed by a sunset right before a "green flash".

 

Water Cay was our last anchorage in the Jumento Cays. Did not get together with the cruising buddies----everyone was sort of tired and wanted a good night's sleep.

Arrived in George Town by 2:00 PM (saved at 3-4 hours coming through Hog Cay Cut) on our 37th wedding anniversary. Dropped the dinghy in the water and went over to visit TILT for an hour or so. Returned to the boat.......had a light dinner and then just relaxed. The next day........life cranked up several notches. The day started with the George Town Net, Carl went off to the HAM Exams and did not return until late afternoon. While Carl was gone, I picked up things on the boat and sorted through bags of dirty clothes. Meanwhile, the VHF Radio is going on and on. OVERLOAD. In just a few days, we picked up our pace and started to fill the activities calendar----go to the beach, Happy Hours, dinners and Regatta. The official boat count....277 boats.

On February 21, heard a May Day on the single side band radio while waiting for Chris Parker to start his weather forecast. Several people (FREEDOM, C_LANGUAGE and SCARAMOUCHE) were in contact with the boat, MOYA MARIA. MOYA MARIA was on a reef at 22 .58N and 79.48 W---off the north coast of Cuba. Initially there was discussion that they would abandon ship. Over time, they determined that the boat was not going to sink so they changed their status from May Day to a Boat in Distress. Eventually a salvage boat came from a port in Cuba to their aid. The boat needed some repairs but all in all the story had a good ending. Hearing a May Day is a gut wrenching experience.

One night I had CAMELOT, TILT and SEA DANCER (Ron and Karen) over for dinner. Our table will fit 8 people if 1) everyone has recently bathed AND 2) everyone knows one another!! Usually dinner is followed by Sequence but this night everyone just sat around and talked. Had a great time. The following night, we were invited over to FIVE AND DIME (Kathy and Curt) BUT they are dealing with a bilge full of diesel (hole in the fuel tank) so dinner was moved to TILT. This time, dinner followed by a close game of Sequence (guys won first two games but girls came back to win the next three).

Special Events:

Super Bowl at Silver Tails---19 cruisers made arrangements with Phicol to attend a Super Bowl Party at Silver Tails. Phicol was supposed to pick us up around 4:00 PM. However, he had problems with the engines on his boat so Rafael picked us up with his fishing boat. Rafael thought he could handle the group in two trips. However, when he picked up the first load at LUCKY TOUCH......he stopped by DISCOVERY to drop off about 4 people! The boat was riding very low in the water. Rafael made three run in order to get all of us over to the government dock. Phicol had his pick-up truck waiting at the dock to ferry us into Duncan Town. Let me tell ya, the boat ride from Hog Cay to the government dock was exciting perhaps even scary. Rafael drives one speed---wide open and he drove way to close to the rocks. The wind was blowing 25 knots from the east so when we were in the cut between Hog Cay and Ragged Island......the rollers were BIG! The boat ride was more entertaining than the game.Now for the ride back......in the dark, no moon and no lights at all. Much to my surprise the ride back was less exhilarating than the ride in-.--riding with the rollers AND Rafael knew where he was going however, Rafael had had lots of rum during the game.

Waiting for Rafael. On the left is Christie (VERANDA) and Kim (FINE LION).

Vickie and Bob (FIRST LOOK) on the right is Liz (MOOSE TRACKS)

Carl and Kathy before the game started. On the right---the game has the crowd's attention.

Bess (ALIBI II) working on her email during the game.

 

Klaus' 75th Birthday Party-

For the past three years, we celebrate Klaus' Birthday at the Hog Cay Yacht Club. Everyone makes their best appetizers. Karin and Klaus bring a smoked salmon and I always take a picture of them holding the salmon. This year I made the cake---double chocolate rum. What a great time. On the left--most of the girls who attended the party. On the right--the beautiful smoked salmon from Klaus' smoker.

During the party, a hummingbird was busy gathering string for a nest!

The party hat. Several Hog Cay cruisers have had the opportunity to wear this party hat---Jay FAR NIENTE, Bob on Savage Son and others. Recipients write their name on the hat with a marker and then pass it on to the next person to celebrate a birthday.

Marjorie and Rafael attended the party. On the right is the birthday cake and below is Klaus with his cake and cards. Could not keep the candles lit----just too windy.

 

Klaus' Sausage Party

A small group (LUCKY TOUCH, VERANDA, ALIBI II, FINE LION) met at the south end of Jubilee Beach for an afternoon feast---Klaus' homemade sausages. The event started with a wallow followed by the best sausage this side of Germany and perhaps even Germany accompanied by fantastic side dishes.

 

Maxine's Valentine's Day Party

Twin sisters, Sheila (left) and Flo. Playing the drum and singing songs. They are both wearing necklaces I made for them.

Items for the auction that raises money for the Duncan Town School. I wanted Sharon's (IMAGINE) basket....did not win the bid. Bottom photo is one of the high school girls who wore the necklace I made and earrings around during dinner for everyone to see. Kathy (SCOTCH MIST) won the necklace!

Happy people attending the party. Top left Jean (SAND CASTLE in Black Point) with Bob and Vickie (FIRST LOOK). Top right is Edward and Pat Curling.

Maxine at the head of the chow line! On the line--3 different kinds of rice, mutton stew, ribs, ham, turkey, grouper fingers, mac n cheese, cole slaw, tossed salad and potato salad.

Bernie (COUNTESS COSEL)) with Karen and Steve enjoying dinner. On the right ...Klaus passed the birthday hat on to John (Bernie's guest).

Karin, Edward and I on the left. On the right the high school girls were doing some "Dirty Bahamian Dance". It was quite a sexy routine. And bottom left is Edward dancing with one of the girls.

 

George Town Regatta

Photos taken during registration. Top left is Bevy and Arnie (SCANDIA).

Below is NOCTURNE....In Harbor Race on the left (second place in class) and at the finish line Around the Island on left (first in class).

A very popular Regatta event ......Coconut Challenge. Four person teams. No engine on the dinghy. Must wear lifejacket. Each person can have one diving fin to use as a paddle. Whistle blows--a sprint to your dinghy. Go collect as many coconuts as possible within a specified time.

Let the games begin. First toss coconuts over volleyball net into the target for points.

Next game....toss coconut with back turned to the two people trying to catch the coconut in the trash bag. The catchers are wearing helmets this year because last year, a cruiser was hit on the head and knocked to his knees.

Participated in the Regatta Arts and Crafts Show.

I usually cover the weather but the log for this month is long enough. Basically.....good weather except for 2 fronts which were not bad!

Submitted by:

Marilyn Thoreson
February 01, 2014