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JANUART---Thompson Bay, Long Island (Bahamas) , Back to George Town and Down to Hog Cay (Jumentos)

Sailing:

Moved to Thompson Bay from George Town on the day of New Years Eve to wait for weather to sail to the Jumento Cays. After waiting 8 days for the winds to move from the southeast to a favorable direction for sailing, finally gave up and returned to George Town. What a great sail to George Town---wind east (080 degrees) at 15 knots. Sailed primarily on a broad reach with a single reef and a little head sail. Shook the one reef out of the mainsail about half way to George Town. Waves started to build as we approached George Town (waves leftover from a big blow the day before and lots of squalls around). DISCOVERY rolled around in the cut. Carl stood at the companionway with hands on the mainsheets and the traveler in case of an unexpected jib! The rolls only last about 5-10 minutes and then we were in protected waters. This sail started at anchor in Thompson Bay and continue all the way to Volleyball Beach when the sails came down, started the engine and headed over to Kidd Cove to anchor.

Chart for Thompson Bay anchorage. DISCOVERY always heads for that anchor on the chart in the northeast corner. Seems like this spot is always available for us. Water is about 2 meters at low tide.

 

Left George Town on January 19 headed to the Jumento Cays. Planned to anchor at Water Cay. When we left George Town, the wind was 020 degrees at 17 gusting 23 knots. Fast sail down the Exuma Sound with one reef in the main and just a little headsail out. . By the time we reached the Comer West waypoint to make the turn to the Drier waypoint, could see squalls (dark blue-black skies) to the northwest. Put a second reef in the mainsail---still making way at 8.5 to 9.0 knots! The wind backed from slightly east of north to the northwest during the day and picked up to 25 knots with some gusts to 30 knots. Waves started to build but since we were on a beam reach it wasn't too bad. The anchorage at Water Cay were we planned to stay was untenable (big waves crashing on the beach). Continued on to Flamingo Cay. By the time the anchor was down, the winds clocked from the northwest to north. Tucked into the anchorage known as Two Palm Beach (only one palm there now). Wrap around waves made the anchorage rolly and noisy initially (transon was slapping)---by midnight the wind moved to the north northeast so it quieted down considerably. Given the conditions, it was a fairly comfortable night. Keeping our dinner plates on the table was a challenge. In the morning, the coffee cup I set on the table rolled off the table spilling coffee everywhere so it was still a bit rough in the anchorage!

Chart for anchorage at Flamingo Cay. DISCOVERY anchored at Two Palm Beach (west side of Flamingo in the northern most anchorage) while MOOSE TRACKS was anchored at the southern anchorage. DISCOVERY was laying north to south in that small bay.

 

Sailed from Flamingo Cay to Buena Vista. Still had the double reef in the mainsail.(a good thing). The waves still big and the wind was north northeast at 20 knots. Carl normally takes us directly from the Flamingo Cay waypoint to Man of War waypoint. Because of the size of the waves---went from Flamingo Cay to the Northwest Man of War waypoint. to avoid the shallower water. The wind was down to 15 knots when we reached Nurse Channel. John on SAM THE SKULL saw DISCOVERY approaching Buena Vista (he was on the beach with his handheld VHF radio)---hailed us. John encouraged us to anchor between Buena Vista and Low Water Harbor Cay for the strong north winds that were forecasted for the next 3-4 days. Had never anchored here---took John's advice.

Normally DISCOVERY goes through the channel between Man of War Cay and the first reef. This time, because of the waves, went way west of Man of War Cay (west of the reefs in 6 meters of water). On the right is a chart of the anchorage between Buena Vista Cay and Low Water Harbor Cay. Anchored in 1.8 meters just above where it says "Poor Holding". Dropped our anchor in a big patch of sand. Holding was not a problem for us.

 

Sailed from Buena Vista to Hog Cay. Wind from the northeast at 16 gusting 18-20 knots. The second reef still in the mainsail. Managed to sail all the way. Moved out of the anchorage before putting up our sail because of limited room to maneuver. The last leg of this trip was a close reach---a squall helped us point even higher.

Chart for Hog Cay anchorage. Anchored at Middle Pen Bay.

 

Anchorages:

Long Island--Watched the Rose Bowl Game and had dinner at Long Island Breeze with Bob and Bev (SAVAGE SON). A sweet victory or Michigan State University fans. A couple days later, Bob, Bev, Carl and I watched North Dakota State University Bison win their third National Championship (FCS) defeating Towson 35 to 7. Very proud of our alma mater. Walked the beaches close to our anchorage. in search of treasures. Bob and Bev found a few beans (I did not find any sea beans). Looked for glass without much success. Stopped at Thompson Bay Club for a cold beer on our way back from the beach. Bob and Bev rented a car for 2 days. Drove to Dean's Blue Hole, checked out the beaches that Michael (Long Island Breeze) recommended for shells and seaglass. Found a few pieces of seaglass---nothing to write home about. Rental Car Day One---lunch at Flying Fish Marina in Clarence Town which was pretty good. Rental Car Day Two lunch at Max's Conch Bar which is near the airport at Deadman's Cay. Lunch at Max's has to be in the top 5 best lunches ever in the Bahamas. Started with fresh conch salad, followed by conch fritters and then cracked lobster with sauteed pumpkin.

On the top left--Stopped at Thompson Bay Club for a cold Kalik after walking the beach in search of sea treasures. Top right--NDSU football fans. Notice a sea of gold and green (mostly gold). Bottom left third quarter action and Bottom right---a happy fan celebrating a Bison Victory.

 

Dean's Blue Hole. This is where many free dive competitions are held. On the right is a memorial to just a few of the divers who died during a free dive.

 

St. Paul's Church in Clarence Town built by Father Jerome ( who also built the Hermitage on Cat Island). When St. Paul's was built, Father Jerome was knows as Jerome Hawes, an Anglican Minister. Jerome Hawes later converted to Catholicism and became Father Jerome.

 

Max's Conch Bar.......the best!!!

 

George Town---was quiet when we returned although boats were starting to arrive..So many cruisers were still in Florida or up north due to the weather. Did laundry, picked up provisions, filled one of the propane tanks and had lunch at Edie's Edgewater and lunch at Peace and Plenty twice. Walked the beach on Stocking Island finding a few shells. Volleyball Beach in the afternoon for some socialization and a Kalik. Got together with SAVAGE SON in the evening for either dinner or appetizers followed by a movie or games. Made a necklace for the Duncan Town Auction that will be held on Hog Cay beach around Valentine's Day. Had Barry and Susan (NIGHT HAWK) and SAVAGE SON over for chili dinner followed by Sequence before we left for the Jumentos.

Time available in George Town to make jewelry for the Duncan Town Auction that will be held on Hog Cay on February 15 (Maxine's Valentine's Day celebration). Fred on SCOTCH MIST provided the hamburger sea bean for this necklace. All the glass and shells were collected at Hog Cay in previous years.

 

Buena Vista---Happy Hour on SAM THE SKULL along with Bernie on COUNTESS COSEL. Bernie, John and Carl went hunting one afternoon while Barbara and I went to one of the beaches. Hunting report: John shot a lion fish and a lobster giving both of them to us. I pan fried the lion fish for lunch---it was delicious. Sauteed the lobster for dinner. Beach report--Barbara and I cleaned one of the beaches. Picked up all the plastic we could find and burned it. Stacked up all the shoes and glass in one spot. While cleaning the beach ......Barbara found a "Message in a Bottle". The bottle was dropped near the Cape Verde Islands off the coast of Africa by a Scotsman. What a great find for Barbara (John and Barbara are from Scotland). Barbara was already making plans to contact the man who dropped the Message in the Bottle. One afternoon, Bernie, John, Barbara, Carl and I walked across the island to visit Edward, the only person who lives in the Jumento Cays. (Note: Duncan Town has about 45 inhabitants but is technically part of the Ragged Island chain). Edward showed us the progress he has made with his gardens. In addition to his gardens he has a pen of Nanny Goats, another pen of laying hens and one pen with a turkey, peacocks and roosters. This anchorage offered great protection from the strong northerly winds in the forecast (25 knots with gusts to 30). However, when the wind moved east, DISCOVERY's stern was in shallower water---one night just when dinner was ready to eat we started bumping on the bottom.Had to take care of that problem immediately--pulled in some of our chain. Did not bump again but it was always on our mind when the tide was low and the wind was east.

Top left is the lobster John gave us. I sauteed it in butter and served it with big, baking powder biscuits. On the left is Bernie, John, and Carl at Edward's place. Bottom left is Barbara with Edward.

 

 

Hog Cay---Finally arrived at Hog Cay on the 25th which is probably my most favorite place to be in the Bahamas. At anchor---ALIBI II, FINE LION, MOOSE TRACKS, CARINA, VERANDA and SCOTCH MIST. SAM THE SKILL dropped anchor about the same time that we did. Trash burn that first night so had a chance to say hello to everyone. LUCKY TOUCH arrived just before the trash burn. Fred and Kathy (SCOTCH MIST) came over for appetizers and Sequence one evening. .Invited MOOSE TRACKS (Devin and Liz) over for Happy Hour. Devin and Liz will be heading to the Eastern Caribbean so we talked about our time in the E. Caribbean with them. Hit the beach for sea glass three times. Not as much seaglass as there was last year. Finally found a sea bean! Carl went hunting with Devin one afternoon---Dev in shot two lobsters. The guys decided the lobsters would go to DISCOVERY---in return, I would make dinner for the four of us. Had dinner on LUCKY TOUCH with Karen and Klaus ......mushroom soup, leg of venison, red cabbage, potatoes and gravy. I made a chocolate rum cake for dinner on LUCKY TOUCH. The Bahamian Defense Force boarded us for a routine inspection. They were very friendly and professional but it is a little disconcerting to have a guy standing in your cockpit with his hand resting on his automatic rifle. The Defense Force looked at passports and did a brief search below. Asked about firearms and if we had bleach.

On the left are the two lobsters shot by Dev in. I made them into a great pasta dish (vodka sauce with sauteed lobster) served with salad and baking powder biscuits. On the right is my first bag of sea glass.

 

Weather:

In my monthly log, I probably say this every cruising season so here it goes again......the weather this cruising season has been very different! According to our weather source (Chris Parker), the weather from November to the first ten days or so in January was an "amplified jetstream pattern" with strong features (Highs, Lows, Ridges, Cold fronts, etc) including Lows diving southward over the eastern half of the US then turning eastward producing frequent and significant cold fronts followed by strong high's on both sides of the front. The second and third week of January brought a "zonal pattern jetstream" with features moving west to east but these features were unusually far south with a high in the Gulf of Mexico bringing north wind between fronts and west winds (don't like west winds in the Bahamas because there are only a few anchorages that offer protection from the west0. The last week of January, there was continuous ridging in the Central Atlantic across Florida into the Gulf of Mexico which supports intervals of eastern component wind. Also the sub-tropical Ridge was stronger and more persistent so the progression of systems north of Ridge track west to east at a higher northern latitude (farther north) producing more persistent easterly trades. The fronts were not strong enough to erode or displace the Ridge which is good news for those of us staying in the Bahamas but bad news to anyone who wants to move east from the US or to the Eastern Caribbean.

Saw a couple waterspouts---no camera for a photo. The first one was in the rental car----returning to the boat from the south of Long Island . Could see huge towering clouds moving from the east to west with a big waterspout. It looked like it was over our boats in the anchorage. As we got closer to the anchorage we could see the nasty stuff was still east of the island but moving west. By the time we were back on the boat.....no waterspout just nasty squalls that passed over us. The second waterspout was between Ragged Island the Hog Cay. I was returning from my seaglass hunt when I saw it. Again, the spout pulled back into the cloud before the cloud moved over the anchorage at Hog Cay.

Below are photos of the clouds that earlier carried a waterspout with them.

Submitted by:

Marilyn Thoreson
February 01, 2014