Zoomin’ Exumas

View of Highbourne Cay and marina from Oyster Cay

View of Highbourne Cay and marina from Oyster Cay

At first the goal was to speed down the Exuma chain to George Town then over to Long Island for some serious early season beach combing. The weather had differing ideas, feeling that zooming was best left to those wishing to anchor in “their spot” off Stocking Island in Elizabeth Harbor, otherwise known as George Town. After Thursday, Dec 5 the extended forecast for the northern Exumas read: East to ESE 16-22kts, gusting 24kts. Ugh. Ok, if the wind isn’t going to play nice we can work with that, and thus we went to Plan B and moved slowly down the chain. Daily high temps would be 80 with lows in the mid 70s at night. The evening temp often sat comfortably at 77 for several hours. Ignore the wind humming through the rigging when it hits 21kts 🙂

First stop: Oyster Cay by Highbourne- very near Elf Cay where we spent Christmas last year. We’d hoped to get further, to Shroud Cay (inside the Land & Sea Park boundary) but the wind died so we made water instead and ended the day early.

We weren't too unhappy to see rain over Shroud Cay in the distance

We weren’t too unhappy to see rain over Shroud Cay in the distance

Second Stop: Warderick Wells and Mooring ball #13.  Can you say, “only boat there?” Gee, guess we are early.

Lonesome Ortolan at Warderick Wells north mooring field

Lonesome Ortolan at Warderick Wells north mooring field

Andrew was holding down the fort at HQ and we talked with him on a variety of Bahamian topics. As dark was falling a sailboat entered and fortunately (but not unplanned) Andrew’s Gulfstar 42 (motor) sits on mooring #10 so he was able to direct s/v Rocinante to a mooring. Earlier that day a boat announced that they’d lost their dinghy near Norman’s Cay; no fun that. Never heard if it was retrieved.

I’ve decided that Warderick Wells is the most beautiful place we’ve visited in the Bahamas; others come close and that’s why we ooh and ahh every time we are in the beautiful Bahamas.

This cairn was built with a viewing window that I took advantage of.

This cairn was built with a viewing window that I took advantage of.

For the first time in five visits we enjoyed the attentions of a nurse shark along with her attached and unattached remoras. One remora was larger than the others and seemed to be in search of an appropriate-sized host; we hoped not Ortolan! Remoras are known to attach themselves to ships, people, turtles; not just sharks.

Nurse shark hangs around the boat with her closest BFs

Nurse shark hangs around the boat with her closest BFs

Russ got a great overhead shot of the largest remora- look at the sucker section!

Russ got a great overhead shot of the largest remora- look at the sucking disk on top!

I almost touched her but she was able to keep an inch away from my finger tips

I almost touched her but she was able to keep an inch away from my finger tips

At dusk we went in to the beach to search of those shy, nocturnal hutia- the only mammal native to the Bahamas.

Captured! An entire hutia who ventured out alone.

Captured! An entire hutia who ventured out alone.

They venture out at night for food scraps left by boaters who use the picnic tables. I sat on the bench seat which was very close to the bushes and waited. Sure enough, one slowly makes his way, stopping at the “tree line”. My camera was going to be useless so Russ used the iPhone to get a decent shot.

Third Stop: Staniel Cay- anchored near Thunderball Grotto. Saturday night we treated ourselves to dinner at the SCYC. Met a couple of guys from NY who are here for a 5 day rejuvenate vacation. They mentioned that some Pitbull-Kesha video had been filmed in the club and in and around Staniel Cay. Laughed and said we were too old to know who he/she/they were but we’d check it out.  So yes, a YouTube video is out there; haven’t watched it due to limits on our wifi here. Dinner: Lobster Chowder, coleslaw, grilled grouper with parsley potatoes and green beans and chocolate bread pudding for dessert. You’d think they knew I was coming.

And so, here we are. We could leave for our net stop 11 miles south at Blackpoint but with no good window to jump into Exuma Sound for George Town, we remain- not in a rush. Sunday was spent on board tending to those small and annoying projects that accumulate with each passing day. For one, the wind had managed to get the bottom of our flag caught on the knob that holds the flagpole in place, which resulted in 3 tears.

Jill of All Trades: today I impersonate Betsy Ross

Jill of All Trades: today I impersonate Betsy Ross

We still had some tears in our sail cover that needed patching as well as loose Velcro at the bottom of the front Strataglass zipper cover. Our fake candle was misbehaving of late, the stove and burners stopped igniting without the use of the grill igniter (again) and (JOY) the Christmas lights needed to be strung along the stern rail. Add to that some hand laundry, proofing a letter for SSCA and we had a full day; and we didn’t get to the entire list!

A very frantic s/v Petite Cordelia announced they’d lost their dinghy in the two miles between Big Major and Staniel. Fortunately another sailboat who’d just left Staniel, heading for the better protection of Big Major, found the wayward dink and an exchange at sea took place. We watched boats come and go, including the island transport, m/v Legend II  and s/v Vision360 who we thought behaved way more hardcore than the boat looked, when they headed out the cut in 22kt winds and 5-6ft seas in Exuma Sound.

Crazy cruiser or Salty Sailors? They head out into Exuma Sound

Crazy cruiser or Salty Sailors? They head out into Exuma Sound

Made a dump run and checked out the ocean beach on Staniel’s east shore. No beach combing there. 😦  Lunch on the porch at the YC was a nice treat and our first YC lunch and outside too- in the lee of the still boisterous wind of course.

Photos from the early days of SCYC

Photos from the early days of SCYC

Another Rum Punch- even better than Sat night's.

Another Rum Punch- even better than Sat night’s.

Bunting at the protected dinghy landing beach next to the YC.  Ortolan in background

Bunting at the protected dinghy landing beach next to the YC. Ortolan in background

A sad footnote: a couple of days ago we heard from SeaSparrow friends that Stella the wonderdog was diagnosed with cancer (took at least 4 vet visits over several weeks to determine) and had to be put down in Marsh Harbor, Abaco. She was laid to rest in Green Turtle Cay overlooking the lovely Sea of Abaco. Two 1/2 yrs old. So young. R.I.P. Stella

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Zoomin’ Exumas

Please share any thoughts or questions.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s