FEBRUARY---Jumento Cays to Georgetown on the Great Exuma Island

Sailing and Fishing

As he did in January, Carl continued to hunt for lobster and reef fish. Happy to report he shot his first, and so far only, lobster on February 3rd! Have been told by experienced hunters that it takes a time (sometimes a season) to get the hang of "it"----correct amount of weight on the weight belt so that you don't waste energy going down, seeing the lobster (after all they are hiding from predators in rock crevices) and then shooting them with a pole spear before running out of breath. I am confident that next year he will do much better. He can hunt again when we get to Rock Sound, Eleuthera (season ends April 1). Fellow cruisers shared some of their lobster with us so we did not go without.

Below on the left is a picture of a "Happy Hunter" who shot his first lobster of the season. The lobster is in the pail on the right (along with two other fellows shot by Chris).

Carl went hunting with Chris (SYNERGY) at Flamingo Cay. When they had been swimming a while, Carl told Chris there was a huge bull shark behind him; Chris told Carl there was a huge hammerhead shark behind him. Both quickly exited the water climbing into the dinghy---decided they would not hunt with the spears. Karen and I asked them to bring something home for dinner so they picked up 12 conch off the bottom (you don't kill conch in the water so there is no blood to attract shark).

Enjoyed some great (albeit short) sails between the various cays in the Jumentos. You don't sail directly from cay to cay because there are reefs and shoals off most of the cays. When you move between cays, you often have a downwind or broad reach leg followed by a leg beating and finally motoring directly into the wind. The best sail was from Buena Vista Cay to Flamingo Cay in 20 knot winds beating all the way (26 nautical miles).


Hog Cay anchorage offers good protection from the prevailing easterlies, little to no surge and good holding. The cay has dense plant growth with lots of wild goats roaming around. Saw lots of baby goats. There isn't a source of fresh water but these guys survive somehow. Don't know if they drink saltwater or not. There are quite a few ruins to visit and a great pasture rock wall. In the 1970's and 1980's, the area was used for raising cattle. The ocean beaches are great places to search for treasures.

Great hiking on Hog Cay. The top row of pictures were taken when we hiked the northern end of the island. By the way, we pick up bamboo sticks on the ocean side to use as walking sticks. Top left is Roger, Bonnie, Carl, Fred, Jerry and Conrad. Top right is me, Mary, Sally, Bonnie and Elaine. Boats represented in the top row are MON AMIE, KOKOMO--the trawler, FOOLIN' AROUND, BLUEJACKET and IT's ABOUT TIME. The middle row was taken during the hike to the southern end of the island. Middle left, way off in the distance, is Mary, Bonnie and Dave making their way up the cliff. Middle right taken at the turnaround point is Roger, Mary, Dave, Bonnie and Carl. The bottom left is "someone's artistic statement" made from beach trash---a crate, an old doll and a bunch of heart beans. I have named this "Hog Island Bennie Baby". Bottom right is the Hog Cay's ocean side.

Beach Parties! Top left is a photo of the chow line. Top right is Jerry and Karen (PERSEPHONE). Middle left is a photo of the trash burn pit. Middle right is the night's musical entertainment--John (FREEBIRD), Karen (PERSEPHONE) and Allen (NAUTI NAUTI). The last picture is a group shot of Donna (BLUEJACKET, LEYDA (KOKOMO- the ketch), and Murray and Heather (WINDSWEPT IV).

One night the commercial fisherman from Nassau (owner is Stanley) invited cruisers in for a fish fry. It was short notice but a great meal was pulled together. The following are photos of the fisherman. They cooked up grunts, snapper, mutton snapper, triggerfish and conch.


Duncan Town, on Ragged Island, is the only settlement in the Jumento/Ragged Island Chain. Duncan Town is named after a Loyalist, Duncan Taylor, who built the salt ponds in a natural bay of shallow water using slave labor. Ragged Islanders are not dependent on tourism---mainly fishing. Until the 1960's, Ragged Island relied on salt trade with Cuba and Haiti--trading salt for fruits, vegetables and other goods they could not produce. When Castro came into power, the salt industry went into decline (currently no production today other than for personal consumption). An interesting tidbit----there are three photos hanging on the wall in the government building---Fidel Castro, Raphael Castro and John F Kennedy! Duncan Towners are friendly, helpful and proud. There is a new government dock under construction and the roads are being paved (watch out for fresh tar on boat shoes).

Anchored at House Bay when visiting Raccoon Cay where there is good holding and little surge unless the winds are blowing from the northeast to southeast at 20 knots or more. There are no raccoons on the island---just a bunch of wild goats. While anchored at Raccoon Cay, we helped search for a lost dog. About 12 boats helped MARIBELLE search for their dog, Danny, who took off chasing a herd of goats one evening during Happy Hour. Danny is/was a herder. We searched through the brush all morning. MARIBELLE searched for the dog for almost a week before giving up. Danny was close to 15 years old, mostly deaf and did not normally bark---not an easy dog to search for. I tied precooked bacon to my backpack as I crawled through the bush. It was very heartbreaking situation that did not end well.

The following four pictures were taken the day of the "DannySearch". Notice in the first two pictures how the searchers are dressed (long pants, long sleeves, hats, gloves and eye protection). The bottom left picture was taken to show how thick the underbrush is. The bottom right is some Loyalist ruins that I passed during the search. The dog was not found.

Buena Vista has a long, pretty bank-side beach. Dropped our anchor twice---there are rocks and small coral heads with a few patches of sand. The trick is to get the anchor into that spot of sand! Obviously we missed the sand patch the first time--the anchor skipped along then caught on a rock but we pulled it up to try again. Had 20 plus knots of wind out of the northeast so there was a little surge but nothing that bothered us. There is a fairly well marked path to the ocean side of the island--good shoes required! The ocean side of Buena Vista is very rugged but beautiful. In the middle of the north anchorage is a house that was under construction but now abandoned. Met the owner of the house, Edwin, at Hog Cay the day we were setting up for the Valentine's Day party. It is my understanding that Edwin became ill so his family and friends took him to Nassau. While gone, someone "broke" into his house but it is hard to break into a house without walls.

Stayed only one night at Flamingo Cay (see Sailing and Fishing section for shark sighting). While Carl and Chris went hunting, Karen and I walked the trail to the beach on the north end of Flamingo. The tide was so low (full moon) that we could see the sea fans waving above the water!

It was a short run from Flamingo Cay to Water Cay---about 12 nautical miles. There were 15 boats anchored in Water Cay--10 moving north, 4 moving south and one staging for a run west to Fort Lauderdale. Explored the area by dinghy. Followed a bull shark in the shallow waters off Little Water Cay. That shark would swim on the bottom in about a foot of water with its tail and fin above the water. I suspect it scratched its belly on the rocks. Walked the little beach at Water Cay looking for treasures.

Returned to Georgetown on February 22 which is quite a shock. Having just come from the Jumentos, it is overwhelming to arrive in Georgetown with almost 300 boats. In order to keep things straight ....had to write down dates, times and location for the events we planned to attend. The best thing about getting to Georgetown......a trip to the laundromat with six loads of clothes. Attended the various activities--ARG Meeting (Alcohol Research Group or Happy Hour), Sand Dollar Potluck, the afternoon gathering at the beach for volleyball and visiting. Celebrated Kris' 60th Birthday. Invited to dinner on CYGNUS (Bob and Mary Lou) along with John and Judy (LUNA SEA). Even managed to play a game on SEQUENCE on PACKET INN (Gary and Mary) along with Kris and Craig (TILT)---a night for the girls. Finally, the Georgetown Regatta started the last day of the month with Registration for the various events!

Celebrated Kris' birthday at the Sand Bar (lunch) and on SEA DANCER (Happy Hour). Notice how "shy" Kris was when the party first stated and then how funny she was after a hamburger with a Bahama Moma (middle left)! Mary (PACKET INN) and Val (LA BUENA VIDA) top right. Middle right is Kris on SEA DANCER. Bottom left is Sheri (BAD BOY) and Karen (SEA DANCER). Bottom right is Doug (BAD BOY), Carl and Craig (TILT)



SPECIAL EVENTS--Ragged Island Valentine's Day Party and Georgetown Regatta:

Attended the Third Annual Ragged Island Valentine's Day Party that was put on my Maxine Wallace who owns the grocery store in Duncan Town. The party is held on Hog Cay. Two boats ferried food and people from town including the town nurse and the students from the All Age School. Maxine prepared roasted turkey, ham, baked chicken, curried goat and mutton souc along with potato salad, cole slaw and cake. Cruisers also brought a dish to share (appetizer, side dish or dessert). There was so much food. Maxine's sister, Melanie, tried to arrange for someone from the Tourism Office to attend without success. This year, the party included Junkanoo costumes along with the drums and bells. Allen and Patricia on NAUTI NAUTI showed up in their Carnival costumes from Grenada!

Each cruisers made a donation of $10.00 per person which was given to Maxine along with a card. Additionally, cruisers donated items for an auction to raise money for the school who is planning a trip to Disney World (raised over $600.00). Steve on FINE LION took on the role of auctioneer and was able to get excellent prices for the donated items. C-LANGUAGE donated three backpacks for a raffle---of course the winner donated the backpack to the school.

Below are numerous pictures taken at the Ragged Island Valentine's Day party. Top left is the food arriving from Duncan Town. Top right photo shows the cruisers helping unload the boats. Bottom left shows some of the locals arriving from Duncan Town. Bottom right is the children who attend the All Age School along with their teachers.

The pictures below show the "sign going up" and crowd standing around visiting.

Oh yes, the foodline!

Cruising is about the people you meet and spend time with. This next set of pictures focuses on people both cruisers and Ragged Islanders. Need to say that Lynn (FIRST EDITION) in the first picture had fallen while hunting for Danny the lost dog. Lynn had four stitches for a cut along the "smile line" courtesy of Bob on SAVAGE SON. She had a black eye and a bruised face plus a sore knee. By Valentine's Day...Lynn was looking good!!! Top right is Diane on FAR NIENTE. Bottom left is Sally on IT's ABOUT TIME. Bottom right is Connie on HIGH STEPPER.

Top left is Melanie (Maxine's sister from Nassau). This girl was dancing for hours and hours. So much energy. Top right is Edwin who said he was a Bahamian Cowboy. Edwin started to build a house on Buena Vista. It is my understanding that he became ill so his family brought him back to Duncan Town. What a handsome man. Bottom left is a shot of the drummers having a Kalik before the dancing started. Bottom right is Mary, Conrad and Dave (MON AMIE and It's ABOUT TIME).

Top left is Maxine the party hostess and sponsor. What a wonderful woman and a huge help to cruisers. Top right is Bonnie (KOKOMO). The last picture is Allen and Patricia from NAUTI NAUTI wearing their Carnival Costumes from Grenada. Patricia is even drinking a Carib beer.

This year, Maxine brought Junkanoo Costumes, drums and bells to the party. The top two pictures show some of the drummers. The bottom pictures are of cruisers grooving to the drumbeat. By the way, that is me next to Melanie in the picture on the right! The last picture is Melanie dancing with Allen and Patricia.

Below are Ragged Islanders getting into the Junkanoo beat.

The cruisers held an auction as a fund raiser for the Duncan Town All Age School (for their trip to Disney World). Steve on FINE LION was an excellent auctioneer who managed to raise over $600 for the kids. C_LANGUAGE (Rick and Susan) donated three backpacks filled with supplies. Cruisers bought raffle tickets (all proceeds to the school) and the winners donated the packs to the school. I am one of the backpack models. Finally, Maxine gave each boat a thank you gift....sea salt from the ponds off Duncan Town.

The 31 st Annual Georgetown Regatta is a week long event. Registration took place on February 28. More about the Regatta next month. The following pictures were taken on Registration Day. The photo on the top left is Mary (PACKET INN) and Dorene (DELICIA). Top right shows cruisers studying the tee shirt submissions for the next year's regatta. The tee shirt design is selected based on the popular vote. During Registration, I was watching two little kids who were bent over a kayak. I wondered what attracted them......the kayak had water in it so the two little tykes were splashing their hands in the water. Simple entertainment. The last picture shows Carl getting his free food tickets and look at the line behind him!!!


Listening to the weather forecast the morning of February 1st---an unprecedented winter storm was brewing.back in the US., the eastern 2/3 of the US experiencing ice and snow. No matter what the weather was going to be in the Jumentos--it was better than the weather back in Michigan!

The weather pattern for February---cold fronts pressed the high pressure ridge toward the north Bahamas but failed to dislodge the ridge (cold front could not penetrate). Behind the front persistent easterly trades blew at 20-25 knots gusting 30 knots. For approximately one week, we were positioned between a strong high pressure ridge to the north and a frontal trof to the south of us" in a compression zone". The wind velocity was 20-30 knots with numerous squalls throughout the day. During this period of time, we sat at anchor off Hog Cay with lots of protection from the wind and seas.

February was a warm month---mostly in the mid-80's during the day and mostly sunny skies. No sweatshirts required this month.

Submitted by:

Marilyn Thoreson
March 02, 2011