April - Abraham's Bay, Mayaguana
- Colleen awoke me at 0800 for my watch and just in time to
see the low profile of Mayaguana emerging out of the early morning
light off the starboard bow. We made great time through the
night charging along at 7-8 knots under 2X reefed main and 20%
furled genoa in 18-22 knot trade winds on the beam.
about 0830, we approached the entrance to the bay which lies behind
a crashing reef extending for five miles along the south western
coast of the island, dropped the main, and picked our way through
the 200 m entrance slowly motoring towards two other boats anchored
behind the reef. It looked as though the boats were just
anchored in the middle of the sea as the best spot it about two
miles off the beach behind the reef. Huge breakers smashed
just 100 m beyond them.
anchorages in the Bahamas are very shallow (usually 8-12 feet) with
coral heads (bombies) scattered throughout so one has to keep a good
lookout whenever moving around. We have not had to employ
these "reef tactics" since the Maldives.
0930 we too were tucked in behind the reef and riding at
anchor. Its about five miles up the shallow bay to the
settlement and would have been a treacherous dingy ride to get there
so, when the other two boats in the anchorage told us they were
heading up there on the high tide, we jumped at the chance to follow
them. Let them chart the way through the bombies.
1/2 hours later, we made it to the anchorage off the
settlement. In fact, we had 10-12 feel under the keel
the whole way which is more than the chart indicated. Its
still breezy and choppy up here, but a better location to get to
local fisherman "Smokey" provides a launch service for
yachts in the anchorage for US$5 per boat round trip, so rather than
put the dingy in and get all wet in transit, we opted for
this. Smokey gave us the poop on the settlement: 240 people on
the whole island in three settlements, boat comes three times per
month from Nassau with food etc., people pretty much subsist off
fishing and a bit of farming. Not much here. Flat,
sandy, lots of cinder block houses. Smokey is a conch diver
and he gets about 500 to 1,000 per day (he claims) which he sells
for $1 a piece.
was the slowest ever - took two hours for three boats. But
real nice folks here. Nothing to rush of to do anyway.
We had a drink at "the bar" which seemed more like
somebody's rec room, and headed back to the boat to do a bit of
cleaning up and for our post-passage naps.
April - On Passage: Mayaguana to Conception Island
- Windy this morning, but its in the right direction (20-25
from SE). We can smell the sewerage from the settlement.
It's a long wet dingy ride to shore. What's here? Lets
go. There are no fantastic stops nearby with good anchorages
so we have decided to make the run all the way to Conception Island
150 miles up. Venla stopped there and e-mailed us that it was
one of their favorite spots ever.
other boats heading our way are going to wait another day for the
swell and wind to die, but we'd prefer to be sailing off the wind in
this than sitting at anchor listening to the halyards vibrate.
This way we will make good speed all the way under sail and we'll
then be in Conception when the wind dies (forecast for tomorrow)
sitting placidly at anchor and comfortably dinging ashore and
snorkeling on the reefs.
think we are also just predisposed to keep moving at this point as
our passages have been so pleasant lately and its feels good to make
progress North. We have passed a few major milestones lately:
west of New England (about 74 West - we are now at 75 West), and
North of 22 North - where we stared in Hong Kong. Since
leaving Hong Kong, we have put in about 15,000 miles. We have
about 1,500 to go to Maine. Mile by mile, we are getting
there, and enjoying ourselves almost every step of the way.
Florida looms on the upper left hand corner of our current passage
chart. It's only a few hundred miles away.... Our recent cruising has been as advertised in Cruising World:
fast comfortable passages, interesting and beautiful anchorages, no
boat problems. It seems weird not to have anything that needs
doing on the boat apart from scraping a few barnacles off the
waited till 1/2 hour before high tide and left the anchorage at 1200
again picking our way through the reefs in Abraham's bay towards the
Western entrance five miles away. No problem. Always had
at least 10 feet of depth. Off and beam reaching towards Plana
Cays by 1330 at eight knots, banged a left as we rounded them, eased
to a broad reach, and plugged in the waypoint for Conception 125
miles away. Sailed right by a huge whale. Others
spouting all around. Beautiful moonlit night, sailing under
genoa alone making 6-7 knots in 15-20 knots of breeze.
male cat (still can't decide on names) is getting bold and kept
coming out into the cockpit and trying to explore the decks for fish
- he found a little one. I really have to follow him around
though as I am not sure if he really grasps the danger of falling in
yet or what the water is. Eventually, I closed them down below
as the stress was too much of trying to watch them all the time and
grab them ever time they put their paws up on the toe rail.
April - Conception Island
- The wind eased of in the early morning hours of our sail
with the last few miles to Conception Island. We motored the
last 2 hours. Some believe this is the nicest island in the
Bahamas, and some even claim the world (of course, that's a hard
subjective claim to make). It is truly lovely though.
Crystal clear light blue water, snow white beaches, lined with
greenery. The water is so clear, we can see every fish looking
down from the boat perfectly. We arrived and dropped anchor
around 10 a.m., with only 3 or 4 other boats in the bay. Aaron
was taking a shower, when I noticed the female kitty had diarrhea.
In the new "rock" system kitty box she was having an awful time trying to hide it, and it was all over her, in her
whiskers, on her paws, etc.. She was heading downstairs, so I grabbed
her and passed her through the bathroom window to Aaron to clean off
in the shower.
was her first shower, and she was traumatized. We felt bad and
gave her lots of TLC afterward. It wasn't long before we all
fell asleep for a very long afternoon nap catching up after the
awoke around 5 p.m. I didn't feel like getting cold by jumping
in the water but it just seemed so crazy to be in one of the
loveliest places in the world to swim and not swim today. So I
donned my snorkel and mask and swam for shore, about 5-10 minute's
swim away. There was a family playing on the shore. As I
emerged from the water, one of the kids yelled
"shark". The father looked through the water from
atop a recent sailboat wreck on the beach and confirmed the shark
sighting, telling the kids to get out of the water. The water is
so clear, you can easily see the shark's dark body slither through
the light green water 100 meters away. I was like "Oh
great timing for my swim..." The family offered to dinghy
me back to my boat as they were leaving the beach
anyway. I was a little tense about sharks anyway as a
guy in Mayaguana told me he was attacked by a shark on four separate
occasions in the Bahamas while spear fishing. The sharks are
attracted to the killed fish after they have been speared.
Later I was told that it is generally considered a good idea not to
swim in the morning before 9 a.m., or evening, after 4 p.m., as that is
shark feeding time in the Bahamas.
at the boat we decided it was time to put the litter box outside
permanently, which meant the cats needed to finally be exposed to
the dangers of the water so they wouldn't cavalierly fall in while
they were out there unattended in the evenings. Aaron brought
them into the dinghy and put them on the ropes hanging from the
stern that were there permanently for them to climb up if they went
overboard. The female cat in a panic fell trying to jump from
the dingy to the boat and splashed into
the water. In shock she swam away from it, until she swam to
the swimming ladder. Perched on the bottom rung, she cried to
be rescued. Aaron grabbed her, and tried her on the rope
again, she made it up alone. Aaron then gently dunked the boy
kitty in and he swam to the
other side of the boat right by both ropes. Eventually Aaron
grabbed him and put him on the ropes.
|| The cats were very upset
after their experiences. The poor female was pretty devastated
to get a shower twice in one day. Here they are cleaning up
after the trauma (see photo). So again, we gave them lots
of TLC for the evening.
the sun went down, Joe Cool and Sambuca II sailed into the
anchorage. We spent a year moored next to Joe Cool in
Barcelona, and we had met Sambuca II briefly in the Canaries.
April - Conception Island
- When we awoke the bay was perfectly peaceful and
calm. We decided to row ashore for some exploration. We
walked along the lovely beach, and found a path cutting over to
another bay, which was even nicer yet. On a our way back, a sea
plane landed in front of the beach to let a family off. The pilot
was very friendly. He said they were based in Nassau doing
charters for US$1,200 per hour of flying time. The family only
stayed for about two hours then flew off again. After lunch we
took the dinghy up "Conch Creek" which is recommended for
turtle spotting and conch collecting. However, its only
possible at exactly high tide as some spots go almost dry, even too
shallow for a dinghy. We arrived a bit too late after high
tide to get too far.
then went out snorkeling along the northern reef. Very
took the dinghy about a mile or two north of the island looking for
the recommend dive site in the reef. The water was so clear it
was spooky looking below. We could see perfectly 30 feet down.
We watched a 10 foot shark move below us through the water.
the afternoon Aaron caught the Red Sox/Yankees game on the radio
which made him happy. Whenever we dropped the cat box over the
side for cleaning, tiny fish were attracted to their feces. We
caught the little fish and gave them to the cats to eat live.
They had fun! After dinner we had four boats over for drinks,
Sambuca II, Joe Cool, Sea Gypsy, and Odetta.
April - Conception Island
- Happy Easter! The male cat awoke us by urinating on
us in the bed. I guess this is his way of rebelling against a
litter box arrangement he's not the crazy about and the fact that
the litter box needed to be cleaned since last night. Sambuca
II came by with Easter chocolates for all the boats in the
anchorage. We were planning a pot luck Easter dinner on Joe
announced on the VHF that he was going diving if anyone in the
anchorage wanted to join him. A large boat we hadn't met, Oz,
responded back yes. They also asked if they could do the pot
luck with us. They offered to host it on their boat as it was
larger than any others.
took out the dreaded dive tank compressor to fill the diving tanks
with air. I arranged to be off snorkeling with others while
this happened (its really loud and disturbing!) The cats were
probably horrified with the noise of the thing. Aaron went
diving around 2 p.m. on the reef with Chris from Oz. The wind
started to change direction, coming southwest directly into the
anchorage and picking up. This made us all a little tense and
the wavelets built up. But knowing the wind was not
forecast to go above 15 knots, we decided it would be fine to stay
in the anchorage.
a Nova Scotian boat we met at Myaguana (we followed them in across
the bay) came in and we invited them to the join the pot luck.
At five we dinghied over to the beautiful boat, Oz. What an
Easter treat! Oz was recently purchased by Peter and Alice (Peter's
adult son Chris went diving with Aaron) who are from Maine.
The boat is almost 90 feet long, and seemed like an absolute luxury
palace coming from all our other boats. The boat was purchased
with everything on it, linens, china, crystal, posh
silverware. So we really enjoyed our Easter feast in style.
16 - Conception Island
- All of the boats left the anchorage in the morning except for us
and Oz. Most headed for Georgetown, many wanted to get out as
winds were forecast to be coming from the West/Southwest, directly
into the bay. Aaron wanted to fill the dive tanks again, so I
arranged to take Alice from Oz snorkeling. I enjoyed the
snorkel very much. Afterwards Alice and I pulled the dinghy up
onto the beach and walked across to the other bay. We had a
nice time talking as we walked. When we returned to the dinghy
on the beach we were a little alarmed to see the wind had picked up
(15-20 knots) and waves were breaking on the beach. We had an
adventurous time getting the dinghy out again in the surf and a
rough and wet ride motoring into the wind and waves as we went back
to our boats.
and I were getting ready to move the boat over to the East side of
the Island, in the lee of the wind, but we overheard a VHF
conversation between two boats over there. They said they were
also experiencing rough conditions on that side, as there is some
southwest exposure there. Figuring the wind would go no higher
and calm down for the evening (night effect) as it did yesterday, we
decided to stay and stick it out.
invited Oz over for dinner. Aaron and I enjoyed a lovely
evening with Peter and Alice.
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