Thursday, March 21, 2013

Through Eleuthera and onto the Exumas

We sat for 3 days in Royal Island with rain and wind and no amenities; it was time to move on. Monday has promise as the winds were supposed to be calming down in the afternoon and we were hoping that people in Hatchet Bay would take this time to move on themselves. We pulled anchor along with one other boat and pointed her south towards Current Cut. After several days of high winds even the shallow banks had pretty good waves and chop on it and it tossed us back and forth. We finally made it to the Cut which is a small opening in the island that allows you to transition south or north without having to go all the way around. They suggest you transit the cut at slack tide and a tide going with you rather than against you. We didn’t hit it at slack tide but we did have the current flowing with us so it was a bit sloppy in the entrance with winds and current opposing but once we made it in the current gave us a nice 4 knot push and the water was calm. Once it spit us out the other side it was like glass as the island had blocked all the winds and we saw a great beach we could have spent our days anchored in front of rather than where we were. Oh well, I will keep it to memory for next time. When we were about 10 minutes from the Hatchet Bay Cut we radioed our friends Dave & Tanya on Dea Latis that we knew were here to check in with them. There still were no mooring balls available and even the anchorage was pretty full. I had never seen as many boats in here. We headed for the northeast shore and dropped the hook only to drag while trying to set. We then picked it up again and tried resetting elsewhere. Dirk got into the dinghy and saw that the anchor was completely buried in muck and mud but that’s all it was so when any pressure was put on it, it just slid through it. This is why we don’t like anchoring here. Even the locals say the holding is horrible. One cruiser told Dirk “You can’t back down on your anchor cause it won’t hold” Well duh…..with another front coming I certainly don’t want to figure out my boat isn’t holding till I’m sliding back onto someone else. We found a spot that would do for the night and then tomorrow we would have to make the long trip down to Rock Sound where we knew the holding was good.  We then headed up to The Front Porch to say hello to Gina & Francis the owners. Every year we come here we always try and get a good meal as Francis is such a wonderful cook. We grabbed a Kalik and sat on the porch overlooking the bay chatting with Francis and just relaxing.
Dirk enjoying the relaxation of The Front Porch

We then headed over to Dea Latis to have some sun downers and catch up with each other as we had left the Abacos after they did.  As we are sitting there another boater came up and said he overheard from another boater that he was leaving the next day and asked if anyone wanted his mooring. We are game, so Dirk headed over to speak to the man and the next morning before he took off he radioed us and let us know he was leaving, Dave hopped over on his dingy sitting next to the ball till we got the anchor pulled and headed over to him where he handed us up the lines. Now that’s better and we wouldn’t have to leave. We decided since we were able to stay that we would take a hike over to the Atlantic side to do some beach combing.

The goats kept a close eye on us as we walked past

Usually this is one of my favorite beaches as no ever visits it so there is always nice sea glass to be found. Wow, we got to the top of the sand dune and looked down, what happened to the beach? Must have been the last hurricane that moved through this past summer but there was very little sand and many many rocks.
The beach is reduced to many many rocks
What a bummer, this use to be one of my favorite beaches to walk. Dirk managed to score me a heart sea bean and I found a couple pieces of sea glass before we made the trek back across the island. After returning to the boat the guys decided to go hunting and it gave me some time to do some cleaning and reading aboard. The following day we took a walk into town and hit the little grocery store on the hunt for fresh veggies. We found a few items needed and I actually scored a bag of romaine lettuce. Ummmm I haven’t had lettuce in a long time. No wonder there was no price on it as I didn’t realize what I paid for it till I was back to the boat. At $6.00 a bag I think I will go a little longer in between buyings. On the 7th we decided it was time to head south. Dave & Tanya were staying a day or two longer as they wanted to explore Hatchet Bay a bit longer. We decided that the winds were perfect for us to try out the spinnaker for the first time. Before we left the mooring ball Dirk had everything on deck prepared, poles up, lines run and even had Dave come by to double check everything. All good…They were gonna follow us out of the anchorage and wait for us to deploy the sail then take some photos while under sail so I gave them my camera and they would speed it back to us before we got to far. We said our goodbyes and dropped the mooring line and headed out the cut. We deployed the sail with no problems other than the line to pull the sock back over the sail and douse it had gotten stuck in the sock and was now about 40 feet up in the air. Hummmm, that would be interesting. Oh well, we would deal with that later, our task at hand was to get the sail adjusted right. Dave & Tanya rode along side snapping photo after photo before passing off our camera and saying final goodbyes. Thanks guys and we will see you down island.

The first time for us to fly the spinnaker

We shut the engine down and had a wonderful 3 to 4 hour downwind sail averaging 6 to 7 knots of speed. It was wonderful and smooth. As we were getting close to our way point Dirk pondered what to do. How do we douse the sail and have it go smoothly. There is an emergency release that releases one side of it causing it to drop the wind but one still has to pull it down to the deck without having it trail in the water. It’s a huge sail and a big undertaking. Dirk decided the easiest thing would be to climb the fore stay. He made himself a harness and I pulled him up as he climbed the jib till he reached the line hanging out of the bag. This as we are booking along at 6 knots. It took a bit as he would have to rest the arms but he got it down and he was able to pull the sock down to douse the sail. Lesson learned; tie the rope off so it can’t be pulled up. We found our way into Governors Harbor and anchored by the north wall as the winds were still coming out of that direction. We were the only ones in the harbor so we picked our spot and for the first time ever, we were able to set the hook on the first try and buried it. Usually the harbor is known for poor holding and it takes a while to find a spot that you’re just not sliding around in. We know where to go now but it is on the other side of the town although we did pick up a great free wifi signal there. The only reason we stopped here was this is the only place around that we know of that has an ATM and our cash was getting low. The next place wouldn’t be until George Town and we couldn’t wait that long. Dirk took the dinghy over to town, hit the bank and found a veggie stand where he picked up some bananas, plantains, and limes. We settled in as two other boats pulled in and followed our lead anchoring behind us. The winds were mild but we had a swell coming in that continued all through the night.( As I was preparing dinner the  words from the song The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald kept going through my head. (When suppertime came the old cook came on deck sayin'. "Fellas, it's too rough to feed ya.")
Sleep didn’t find us much that night as I found myself laying there counting 20 seconds off before the next big swell hit. The next morning as soon as the bank was open Dirk took one more ride into town to score additional money as one can only remove a certain amount each day. It was high tide and basically there are no dinghy docks and one must beach your dinghy. Well with no beach right now he anchored it in the surf and took off. When he returned to the boat the dinghy was a mess with grass and water that was thrown in, what a mess.  

Dirk and the mess he returned with. Its an optical illusion but the dinghy isnt that small
Today was Dirk’s Birthday and we would head to Rock Sound in hopes of a better day. We flew the spinnaker again, this time tying the line down and had a nice day. Pulling into the sound there were several boats anchored on the northwest shore due to the winds that had come the previous days. There was only one boat anchored in front of town so again we got to pick our spot. Dirk ran into Dingles motors and picked us up a card for internet and then we changed and went out to the little restaurant on the water so we could celebrate Dirk and his day. We toasted the day with a specialty drink, had some wonderful burgers and fries. We then headed back to Renegade and had a piece of Key Lime Pie that I made underway for his day.

A quiet early evening and a great night’s sleep was had and the next day we made a trek into town in order to hit a grocery store. It was nice to have a nice sized one that actually had a decent selection to choose from. With us having two freezers on board now I was able to pack them with all sorts of stuff before leaving the states and between Dirks hunting and that I have yet to buy any meat. After heading back to the boat and putting groceries away we had a relaxing day on board do a little bit of nothing. Since we had gotten internet we were able to download the weather and see that the following day would be good for making the trip over to the Exumas and we readied the boat for an early departure. We talked briefly with a single hand er gentleman from s/v Cloud 9 that was heading that direction also so we decided to make the trip together. Seems everyone else in the anchorage was heading north. After an uneventful trip, including the lack of catching any fish we made it to the Highborne Cay Cut, made our way out to the anchorage and set the hook. Dirk couldn’t wait to put his wet suit on and hit the reefs so I stayed behind and let him do his thing as I tidied up the boat a bit. That evening we hailed s/v Triumph whom we knew should be in the area at the time and actually got a reply. He was the next island up and plans were made for him and Dirk along with Steve on Cloud 9 to go on an early morning hunt. We met Bill and Elaine several years ago while we traveled on s/v Tybee Time and have stayed in contact ever since meeting up where we can here and in the states. Small community this cruising life offers, that’s why we love it so. After one Lobster and one Queen Trigger fish was nabbed by Dirk everyone returned to their boats picked up anchor and we headed to Normans Cay to wait out yet another cold front. There we hailed s/v Marylee whom we had met 4 years ago in Marathon and kept in contact with since. They were in the anchorage so we had them over for sun downers to catch up. There’s that small world again. They would be leaving the next day heading back to the states so it was nice to be able to catch up and he gave us some pointers on a few places to go while in Long Island. We have never been and are hoping to make it that far south this season. The following day Dirk went on the prowl again and returned home with another Queen Trigger fish and 2 Lobsters. I landed myself another hamburger sea bean thanks to John on Marylee missing one on the beach. That evening Steve from Cloud 9 came by for sun downers and Trigger fish fingers that Dirk fried up with some curried dipping sauce. The next morning we decided to make the trip down to Staniel Cay for, you guessed it, another cold front. What a season this has been, one front after the other has made this one windy, cold season thus far. I put my bathing suit on once so far as you usually find me wearing a light jacket right now. It was a long day motoring down to Staniel but we made lots of water and charged the batteries up nicely. The anchorage by Big Majors was crammed full of boats. I had never seen so many there before and I really didn’t want to have to fight to find a spot in there. We elected since the winds were due to come out of the North to go on the other side of the island and found a spot in about 9 feet of clear water to drop the hook in. There was only one other boat with the same idea so it was quiet except for the wakes of all the power boats and dinghy's flying by. We knew that would taper off as the evening wore on. Not 30 minutes after setting the hook you could see the front approaching with its gray cloud wall leading the way. Soon the winds and rain hit and we sat back comfortably in the cockpit with the side curtains down enjoying the rain and relaxing. We made it to Little Farmers Cay yesterday and are making the decision on how far to move south tomorrow as it depends on how large the sea state is.
Sailing from Staniel to Little Farmers, pretty pretty water

Looking from Little Farmers out to Renegade

We must leave the sound and travel on the outside at some point to make it down to Emerald Bay which is a stop that we always make. It is usually the only marina we stay at while here as they offer $1.00 foot per day on the non service docks. Non service means no electricity but that’s never been a problem. The great thing about it is that they offer free laundry with the huge front loaders and it pays for us to stay there when I have so much laundry to do. The last time I did any was when we were in the Abacos staying in Hope Town. They have great facilities as it is attached to a Sandals resort and the cruisers lounge is great with the pool table and large screen TV’s and a huge sitting room. The staff is wonderful and they greet you at the docks helping take your lines with all your paperwork in hand to sign. If you need to make a trip to the store they will take you in the golf carts if someone is available. Just don’t know what we will do when they ever finish the resort and start charging real prices. We won’t be able to afford it then so we take advantage of it now. After that our plan it to head to George Town before trying to make it over to Long Island. When and if I have internet I will update you.

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