Before leaving the Abacos we still had a few items on the list- like lunch at Hope Town Inn & Marina. A few years ago they completed a major overhaul, adding pretty villas, a resort-like dining area and a swim-up pool bar.
As with all resort dining in the Bahamas, the food quality and service is generally excellent. Some places even have reasonable prices, and of course easy access by dinghy.
Tuesday found us in one of our favorite places, Little Harbour. Pete’s wasn’t open (maybe that was a good thing). They celebrate their 50th birthday later in January. Wow- everyone will have a blast I’m sure 🙂
The channel into the harbor from the Sea of Abaco (see photo of chart in prior posting) is narrow and shallow. Many boats can’t enter even at high tide. We happened to get there right about high tide just ahead of a sail cat, trawler and a couple of monohulls who were traveling buddies. One comes in no problem but I looked back and saw the other sitting in the channel, then goes sideways. Uh oh. Turns out the towed dinghy misbehaved; the long painter line getting wrapped around the rudder when the captain slowed way down. One reason we never tow ours.
Several – ok 12-15 salty sailors headed south on Monday Jan 16; seas 6-8ft, ENE 15kts+. They had an exhilarating sail for sure; we heard later it was quite the ride. In our compact power kitty we like much smaller numbers, so we and others (all sails) headed out Wednesday in 2ft swells that diminished to nothing as the day wore on.
The fishing report for Wed: Nadda. No nibbles no sightings.
The forecast promised 4, count them, FOUR days of benign traveling conditions, one day of moderate south winds, then a nasty sounding Low pressure system would arrive. If we averaged 53nm/day, that’d get us to George Town Saturday afternoon. Totally doable and we could even stop for fuel at Highbourne Cay, then for laundry and Mom’s coconut bread in Black Point.
Day #2: Thursday Jan 19. Fishing report: one too large to keep barracuda early on before reaching Fleeming Channel. In the spirit of full disclosure I have to admit we made a error in that we came to a stop which allowed the active fish to get tangled around our rudder. Sound sorta familiar? All ended well thankfully, but a line tangled around a prop would ruin our day. We then discussed how to do better next time- cuz what if it’s a fish we want!?
Precious few boats along the way, but naturally we had to alter course to allow the trawler to continue on his chosen path.
By 4:30 we reached our intended destination: Shroud Cay in the Land and Sea Park. Room to anchor with good holding in 6-8ft. A calm and pretty anchorage we shared with one other shoal draft boat.
Day #3- Friday- another picture perfect day. Shroud Cay to Black Point.
I love being underway when the wind barely whispers and allows the water to lay still. The visibility is awesome and if you are looking and lucky you might be rewarded with underwater views without having to be in the water! We came over a section that looked like a sea star nursery; 30-plus orange/red small sea stars scattered about on a bottom that looked a little different –must be the right nursery environment.
Black Point and what we call Little Bay, aka Castle Beach immediately around the southern point are two “must-stops” for me. The harbor looked rather empty, likely due to the impending weather, yet one vessel anchored near Rockside Laundry caught our interest. Why yes, another PDQ family member!
The laundry is an excellent place to meet other cruisers and this time was no exception. We still wanted to beach comb (Ok, I did) and when Soulstice came later to Little Bay we got together to finish learning as much about one another as humanly possible. Oh don’t worry, we did not leave Black Point without Mom’s coconut bread!!
Day #4- Saturday Jan 21st: Amazingly the forecast held for low SE winds. This was a good thing, since we planned to trail a line when out in Exuma Sound after leaving the banks side at Farmers Cut. Speed just shy of 7kts, and less than one hour in the Sound- zzziiiinggg!!! The yellow/green color screamed Mahi and so it was. But just not aboard our vessel. The photo below proves we did hook her.
She jumped and zoomed around, mostly toward our port side. We did well, Russ calling out, “Neutral, forward (throttles just in gear, with no speed), go right or straight” as required, to get her reeled in and not wrapped on that prop! With fish of a certain size, my help is needed at the stern, so I leave the helm, throttles in neutral and this is why I want to fish on calm days. Russ has her gaffed and the hook is still in. He’s got her pulled up to the lifelines and has me pour in some rubbing alcohol. Another lesson learned: don’t pour a drink until the guest is fully on deck! She acted like it was a firecracker; jumped off the gaff, dislodging the hook and flung herself back into Exuma Sound. That would have made a fantastic video, but as you can see we often need a third person for the good stuff. 🙂
A short time later Russ landed a SkipJack tuna, ensuring at least one fresh catch dinner. Still only half way to George Town, let’s keep fishing! Sigh.
One easy chore needed doing so I sent Russ below so he’d get a break from helm duty. I hear a loud splash and look left, about 50ft off our port side. A flash of yellow/green streaks toward our stern just below the surface. I rush into the salon to warn Russ of a possible “Fish on!” and then ZZZIIIIINNNNGGGG. I’m starting to feel like Pavlov’s darn dog: hear the sound, shout Fish On, take the wheel, (being sure to stop Autopilot) and follow instructions. I now “get” the excitement of catching dinner, plus gotta get our money’s worth buying the rod, reel, line, lures, hooks, weights, gaff, net, hook puller, gloves. Sure beats the Cuban yoyo we used to have; I’d always worry we’d catch more than we could handle. We still have one yoyo and sometimes we attach it at the port stern for two lines in.
This guy puts up a good fight and we spent at least 15mins getting him aboard. This time when Russ had him on the gaff and pulled up we undid the top line of the side gate and very slowly pulled him on to deck. We skipped the booze for the fish; but we sure wanted a celebration libation! I mean I never imagined we’d be so successful at a time when the Mahi aren’t schooling. Come March the Mahi are schooling and you can easily catch several all about the same size. We saw that last March at Staniel Cay when there for Russ’s birthday.
Once tucked in at RedShanks, Russ began the next step, but did he need help? Nah, just go for it
Above is our anchor drag alarm app in use. You set it using the “anchor down” symbol when you drop the hook. Then set the alarm distance and that’s your circle. If the boat goes out of the circle, the alarm sounds. So far the only times it’s sounded is when we forget to turn it off when leaving an anchorage. Our Ultra anchor has been worth every penny so far.
Once the winds backed down we expected another 4-5 day stretch of near perfect weather, just the thing to allow us to move up and over to Monument Beach on Stocking Island. And who might we meet there?? Stay tuned.