March 16-April 9
We said farewell to Georgetown on March 16 and started our trip north with two boats, Painkiller and Charisma. Our first stop was Leaf Cay near Lee Stocking. Exuma Sound was really rolling. The waves weren't bad but the rollers were. They were in the wrong direction so it was an uncomfortable sail/motor. We had thought we would show the other boats the pink iguanas on Leaf Cay but we decided it was too rough to depart our boats so we stayed aboard.
Our next stop was Black Point. We had been here already a few times so we washed our laundry at the oh-so convenient waterfront location. Painkiller reported that their alternator was not charging, so Mark helped Scott diagnose the problem. The alternator was shot and they didn't have another one. We had a spare, but it didn't seem to be working either. Scott called his friend, Saber Tooth, who happened to be at Big Majors Spot, and they had a spare that would work. So after lunch, we pulled anchors and went to Big Majors where Mark helped Scott install the new alternator the next day.
We had planned on swimming the grotto, Thunderball Cave, again, but the day was cloudy and overcast so we nixed the plans after going to the cave and seeing all of the tour boats there. Bill on Charisma went later then us and was one of three swimmers and the sun peaked out while he was in there. We will just have to go next season.
Our next stop north was Cambridge Cay to snorkel the Sea Aquarium and do another drift snorkel. Bill on Charisma had not been to Cambridge in 20 years and neither Painkiller nor Charisma had done the drift snorkel. We caught the slack tide and then the outgoing tide and the water was pretty much like glass so we were able to have a really great snorkel experience.
We stayed an extra day in Cambridge. Tempest, a boat we had met in Emerald Bay was behind us so we went over to get a lesson on whipping, which is a string knot art. Then we invited them to hike with us the next morning.
Charisma left the next morning and got grounded on a sand bar. Mark went to his rescue. They were able to throw out Charisma's anchor and pull him off the sand bar so he could be on his way. He is heading back to the states (Virginia) as he has to work his part time job in June.
We went to the island of Cambridge Cay and hiked the trails and the beaches. It was Painkiller, Tempest, and us and another guy from Silver Heels, but he had on flip flops and had to turn around. We found a few shells but since this is the National Park and a no take zone we didn't take the shells.
Our next stop north was Waderick Wells and we snorkeled there right after we got there due to the tide and current. It was slack tide right at arrival so we rushed. I jumped in the water and there was a big brown nurse shark right below me. I had to calm myself and move on. These sharks don't hurt you and just stay swimming around the bottom. It was another good snorkel.
On Saturday nights the park has a meet and greet on the beach for all the boaters in the park. We met a couple from Houston on Grace. They kept it at Waterford Harbour in Kemah and he was another retiree from Exxon/Mobil. They now live in Maryland. The mosquitoes and hutia's came out at dusk so we made a run for the boat.
We were going to leave Waderick Wells for Rock Sound in Eleuthra but changed our minds when we listened to the weather. There was a nasty from heading our way so we decided that if we were going to have to sit for a few days every time a front blows through we were going to have to head north to the Abacos to be able to make it home by May 10 for Travis' graduation from Duke.
So, our next stop was Allen's Cay where we saw more iguanas and walked the ruins and the beach and the next day we came to Royal Island. We dinghyed to the resort on the front of Royal Island, the beach side of the island. It is a very private resort. Our friends looked it up on their phone and said it rents for $12,000/night with a 4-night minimum. I guess we won't be staying there any time soon. It is a beautiful secluded all inclusive get away though. Then we toured/hiked the ruins of what was an elegant 1950's villa. It is really overgrown with vegetation. I guess in the day, it was probably a spectacular place.
Today is March 26, and we are in the midst of the latest front and it is a nasty one with winds exceeding 30 knots. No rain just strong winds. We were lucky that we were able to stay put, but two boats in the anchorage dragged anchor and had to re-anchor in the middle of the night. Why is it the fronts always blow through in the dark? We may get to leave tomorrow since right now the winds are dying down some. We don't want the wind to die out completely as that is the object of a sail boat.
On Thursday, March 27 we decided to call Bandit (the mooring representative) at Spanish Wells to see if we could get a mooring ball since the weather was not cooperating for the move north. Bandit said that three boats were leaving so we could have two of the balls. We were going to wait until the afternoon to move, but Bandit said to come now as boaters had been known to just pick up the moorings without making reservations. He told us the route to come that was safe at low tide so we pulled anchors and left.
While in Spanish Wells, we were going to take the fast ferry to Harbor Island one day and rent a golf cart another day to see the islands. We had to switch days from our planned itinerary as the ferry wasn't running because the winds were just too high. The ferry didn't run when the winds were above 30 knots as the route through the Devil's Backbone (narrow passage through coral) was too risky, so we toured the islands on the golf cart.
St. George's Cay which is the town of Spanish Wells is connected by bridge to Russell Island. We toured both islands with the golf cart. They are hilly and rocky and a refreshing atmosphere from the other Bahamian Islands. Spanish Wells is a community that got its name from Spanish Galleons that stopped here to take on fresh water before setting off for Spain. The community was settled by religious loyalists back in the day. Most of the residents make their livings now (and back then) by lobstering which they call crawfish. Red Lobster gets 75% of the lobster catch from this small island. The lobster was delicious and the season ended March 31. The houses and yards are very well kept and picturesque with bougainvilleas in almost every yard. The houses are painted in bright colors reminding us of New Orleans.
Saturday, March 30, we took the fast ferry to Harbour Island. Harbour Island is one of the top ten beaches to have on your bucket list according to my sister, Jane via Yahoo. I am sure in the sun it is beautifully pink. The day we went was overcast however you could tell the sands were tinged with pink. There were no shells washing up on the beach only seaweed from the storm that had just blown through making it a really nice beach. It is an island for the rich and famous and is evidently the new St. Bart's. We rented a golf cart here too to tour the island to be able to see it all in the short time we were here. It is beautiful too and is well kept.
March 31 we departed for Royal Island to set up for our departure to the Abacos on April 1. There were eleven boats including us and Painkiller in the anchorage.
We departed Royal Island on April 1 for the Abacos, which are the northern group of islands of the Bahamian chain. We left at about 7am and arrived to Lanyard Cay outside of Little Harbor around 4pm. We had to motor sail the whole way but the seas were fairly calm. There were five sailboats and one motor vessel departing from Royal Island and three sailboat that departed from the Spanish Wells mooring field crossing.
Wednesday, April 2 we moved to Hope Town. We had hoped to go to Marsh Harbor but there was no room at the marina we wanted to stay at. We spent three days in Hope Town on a mooring ball. We spent the time touring the island (again by golf cart) and walking the beaches. It is a cute little town but the harbor is small and crowded.
Saturday, April 5 we moved to Man-O-War Cay as we still couldn't get into Marsh Harbor due to the approaching front that is coming. We and Painkiller each took a mooring ball, two of the three that the Man-O-War marina have to offer. The rest of the moorings are private. This is a quaint little town that has made its living from the boating building industry. The people that settled here were also religious loyalists and the houses and yards are beautiful for the most part.
We have spent five nights at Man-O-War due to the weather. I am able to update our blog here as we have the best internet since leaving Black Point in the Exumas. We hope to move tomorrow to Marsh Harbor. If we cannot get into the marina we will anchor for one or two nights and then move on northward spending a night here and there so we can cross back to the states to get on home to Travis' graduation May 10.