Exuma IS Sweet Like This!

Around Islands Race the day we left GT- as we head out the northern cut- Conch Cay Cut

Sunday, March 11 dawned one hour later than the prior day! And we almost missed the weather on the 8am Net, but our own sources still promised low winds out of the south with a reduced chance of thunderstorms; only 10%. The Regatta “Around the Islands” (Stocking and Elizabeth) sail boat race began at 9am so we waited until all the classes had started, since they were first heading north past us and out Conch Cay Cut too.

Good thing we waited because very soon after entering Exuma Sound, thunder rumbled far north and the sky was not clear blue and pretty. I looked at the satellite picture on Storm app and wow, just wow. Maybe we should have checked the weather forecast for Staniel Cay too. A massive rain/squall blob (blob is a technical term you know) was up thata way moving from west to east with a smaller tail-piece hanging down that could affect us.

Fishing lines out and moving slower than usual, we slowed down more and figured it might completely pass through by the time we got near Rudder Cay or Cave. Well, the fish still weren’t biting, not even a lousy barracuda and once we neared the darker clouds, Russ brought the lines in. We managed to avoid all but some light showers but the squall had brought strong winds and confused waves, making for a very lumpy, bumpy, hobby-horse ride. I’d skipped lunch but Russ had eaten while the waves were still behaved (uh oh- bad decision).

We decided to leave the Sound using Rudder Cay Cut rather than further up at Galliot and the relief was immediate; the cut was calm and flat especially since the current, the wind/waves and Twins were all heading in the same direction.

A slew of boats were anchored by Rudder Cay and snorkeling the Mermaid Piano placed by Musha Cay owner illusionist David Copperfield. We did it once in Ortolan; think that was my last time snorkeling. Our destination was Big Farmers Cay but then we’d backtrack a bit to Cave Cay the next morning to hide out for a day and a half.

From Big Farmers anchorage.

Strong-ish winds were due in for a couple of days and with enough of a westerly component that we needed more protection than “next to nothing”. Cave Cay Marina, aka Safe Harbor Marina is another one of those never completed Bahamas development stories. The only phase that appears complete, is the marina and quite honestly that’s all we care about. 🙂

Floating docks, fuel only sold to slip customers, a laundry room and several paths to guest-only beaches. I’d heard the shelling was very good on one of the ocean facing beaches, so I was rather pleased about a couple of marina nights.

Cave Cay Marina entrance- a very protected basin, but anchoring in it is not allowed

Plane arrives to Cave Cay- another bonus- watching for planes

Back to Big Farmers-this time to go ashore and walk the beaches –maybe see some goats and the baby rays that enjoy the protection of the tiny creek at one end of the beach.

The goats at Big Farmers didn’t disappoint

Goats made one appearance that I detected with my excellent hearing. But not a single ray of any size in the tidal creek. Hardly any young conch either.

Ty’s was on our must-stop list this time and we had one possible afternoon calm enough for a lunch stop, then move up to more protected anchorage for the night. Mission completed!

We have it all!! Ty’s, the beach, our dinghy and Twin Sisters!

Tys- we really like Ty’s Sunset Bar & Grille: the view, the great food and we always meet new peeps and the occasional Potcake.

Delicious lunch at Ty’s on Little Farmers: Coach’s rum punch, cracked conch, slaw, peas & rice and a Cheeseburger in Paradise for me

Potcake at Ty’s. “You lookin’ at me?”

Little Bay, aka Castle Bay has become more well-known over the past six years since we first discovered it. Small but still able to hold more than 25 boats easily, the two small beaches are lovely to look at and fun to explore at low tide. For beachcomber me though, the best part is the easily accessible ocean-facing beach loaded with shells, coral pieces, sea fans and sea glass.

The days of very rough ocean while we were still in George Town really did a number on sea fans. Many more than usual are washed up on the beaches and it took a few beach walks to realize the likely cause.

Others have discovered this gem of a beach and I worked harder than usual to collect sea glass but I did pick up a larger, older piece, which is something I always find on this particular beach. While sea glass is always washed up on the beach, at low tide large amounts of glass would collect in a shallow shelf at the water’s edge; just reach in and grab it. Not this time- not a single piece. Again, I’m sure that those large ocean swells had a hand in making it disappear.

Crooked sunset at night, means?

 

The well-known castle along the anchorage south of Black Point ( Little Bay)

Emerald Sunset View Restaurant, Black Point-why no working on Friday 11am?

We’d heard about a new restaurant in Black Point and Ida gave us directions any navigationally-challenged person could follow: up the road, past Regatta Park. The tour boats bring in loads of tourists for an authentic Bahamian lunch every day. Apparently business is so good that three places aren’t enough, so this will be a fourth. Located too far up the road for most cruisers to even wander by and find it, I’m guessing it’s more for the boat loads of untanned/sunburned tourists who visit the Bahamas for a vacation getaway.

Palm weaving to make baskets.  I wonder how much she gets paid per foot.

In a perfect world, or maybe if this was May, we could plan our days and keep to that plan which contained only one requirement, Russ birthday lunch or dinner at Staniel Cay. We accomplished this in past years, but wasn’t looking promising this time so we planned to settle for an early birthday lunch on Sat March 17, St Paddy’s Day. Festive at least and live music too!

So spiffy- the yacht-y attire matches the tender- of course dahling

Staniel- the small, dinghy tie-up beach at the YC that is a PIA at low tide.

The Captain gets into the Irish spirit- one strand we kept, the other two went to two very blonde youngsters 🙂

Anchorage number one was off the YC and an easy dinghy trip in to shore.

Russ gets artsy with a sunset shot at Staniel Cay

Remember back in St Augustine I wrote about m/v Bumfuzzle? We’d been following their blog back before blogs were born, probably for 12 years we figure. News of them being in the Exumas heading south (past Bahamas south) was met with eager anticipation that’d they’d surely get to George Town during our long stay. Sure enough they did but the stars didn’t align well enough and we never came closer than seeing the boat at anchor or Ali and the kids heading the other way in the dinghy- felt just like the experience we had back at St Augustine’s Camachee Cove Marina.

Luck and patience happened to be our friends during our earlier than hoped for stay here – see?

The Bums in paradise- we didn’t want to anchor too close- that’s not a polite thing to do

We’d learned about transmission trouble on board Bumfuzzle which while not good at all, is at least not as bad when you have two engines vs. one. Russ offered assistance in getting the rebuilt tranny (yes, another techie term) placed back where it belongs since our revised itinerary would place us near them when help would be needed. How great would that be?- meet these famous folk and help them! I dared not even begin to count on it happening, but Russ did need a birthday gift of some sort, right?

After the early birthday lunch at the Yacht Club, we left our “swing with the tide” anchorage and anchored behind Big Major; a first for us, but for many it’s a long-term winter hang out place. From mega yachts to the smallest of cruising boats, you’ll find them around here. Pig Beach is nestled in one corner, we chose the other hoping to be out of the tour boat lanes but there’s no such thing.

Sunset from Big Major anchorage

The wind has shifted to SW and laid down to 2 kts. Russ heads over to help drop and slide the transmission into place- back in 3 hrs

The morning would be transmission time! I have to say I hope it’s never our turn. While Russ was away I held down the fort, fending off large delivery barges and speed boats! I also got us on the next day list for a Warderick Wells mooring.

M/V Legend II slides right by us on its way to Fowl Cay

m/v Legend II slides up to the dock at Fowl Cay- Isn’t Bumfuzzle anchored in a great spot?

After the longest “I’ll be back in an hour’s time”, Russ returned with proof that it takes three guys, a woman and 2 kids to get a transmission back into place! Pat still had plenty of work ahead of him but at least the darn thing was back in.

Nick, Pat and Russ- relax after the transmission ordeal. Photo credit to Ali who emailed us 🙂

Now to dinghy around and see the sights!  Nick had heard that by one of the small cays behind Fowl Cay could be found many large rays, so that was our first stop. A little bummed to not see a single ray, but the exquisite watercolors with an underlay of beautiful sand more than made up for it.

The Birdcage on Fowl Cay- private residence of founders Libby and Stewart Brown before they sold the Fowl Cay Resort

Just past those tiny cays straight ahead is Exuma Sound- very calm in barely a breath of wind

Somewhere behind Fowl Cay as we search for the promised huge rays

We dinghied past Pig Beach just so I could show you what it looks like. The pigs are cute little pink piglets when they are babies but as they grow they become more feral; hairy, small tusks and snouts that are very upturned. Pig beaches can now be found throughout the Bahamas- a tourist attraction that we hope fades some day.

Pig Beach- a very popular attraction for the tourists who come by small rental boat or via the plethora of tour boats from Nassau and Great Exuma- many miles away

And then we needed to depart to our next anchorage off Pipe Cay- one of our favorite spots. We are often the only ones there.  Lovin’ our Exuma Life!  If you missed the Exuma song in the prior post, you just gotta hear it- go back and click on the link. I’m hoping the blog that has the song, never goes away.

Yep, taking the shallow draft route again

 

 

 

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