Thursday, January 31, 2013

Berry Islands

YAY!! We finally have Internet again!

We left Little Harbour at 7:00am just as the sun was coming up and headed for the Berry Islands.  The forecast was for 15-20 knot winds from the ENE.  We ended up with 0-4 knot winds.  This led us to motor all day.  We put the sails up a few times but the wind was not strong enough to fill them.  We had the fishing lines out all day and around 2:00 we had a BIG one!  We saw it jump out of the water 3 times and it was really fighting Preston until it snapped the line and we lost it and our $10 squid.  The rest of the day was just motoring with nothing in sight until around 7:00 just as the sun was setting we could see land.  The plan was to pull in between 2 islands and nestle our boat up behind the point of one of them.  In the guidebook this is supposed to be the best holding most protected anchorage.  Around 8:00 when we were coming up on the islands even with the full moon we were not comfortable navigating the thin channel between 2 rocky islands.  We opted to head north around 2 islands to the wide open back side where we could anchor in the Grand Bahama Bank.  This took another hour and by 9:00 we were coming around the point and getting ready to set anchor.  We dropped the anchor in what looked like sand, but soon found out it was solid rock.  It wouldn't grab anything and so we pulled it up moved the boat a little further and dropped it again.  It immediately grabbed something and we were kind of in the middle of the traffic channel and wanted to move further away.  Now the anchor is so stuck we can’t get it off whatever it has grabbed.  We tried for an hour with no luck and decided we would call it a night and wake up early dive in and unhook the anchor.  We were caught in a strong current all night which went perpendicular to the wind.  This made for a very rolly night as the current was stronger and kept our boat sideways in the waves. 

Got up early, dove in the water that was warmer than the air and unhooked the anchor then we were off to town to stock up on groceries.  Once at Great Harbour we tied up and had 3 staff waiting to tell us what to buy and ready with their personal vehicle to take us to the store.  We jumped in Herbie’s Jeep and off to the “store” we went.  We pretty much cleared the shelves with our 2 grocery bags full of: 1 dozen eggs, 1 onion, 6 packs ramen noodles, 2 bags of chips, 1 six pack of coke (thanks Aaron), and 3 bananas.  We will be running low on supplies until we reach Chub Cay at the bottom of the Berry Islands.  I hope we can catch some fish!  As we left town we commented on how the employees were more than helpful and decided they were just excited to have something to do.  So far every person we have met in the Bahamas has gone out of their way to help us. 
We anchored the boat just around the corner of the marina and jumped in the dingy to do a little exploring.  On the GPS it shows a shipwreck just off where we anchored so we went and checked that out.  We also noticed what we thought was a rock and after a closer look in the dinghy found out it was a crashed plane.  We snorkeled the plane wreck and went back to the boat to try and catch dinner. 
DOLPHIN!!! DOLPHIN!!! Dan was yelling and I ran outside to find 3 dolphins swimming around our fishing lines trying to figure out how to eat the squid we had out chumming some fish.  They swam around a while and then took off into the sunset.  This whole trip every time we are out sailing I always say, “Where are all the dolphins?”  Now we see them anchored in some tiny bay in 8 feet of water.  Go figure.    

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Little Harbour

We are snuggled in a small bay filled with 25 mooring balls and the cutest town of Little Harbour.  Little Harbour is a bahamian hideaway.  A Smith College professor and sculptor moved his family here over 55 years ago and lived in caves while they built their home.  The town is filled with bronze statues from his work and his 3 sons still live here and maintain most of the town.  The beaches and waters around Little Harbour are part of the Bahamas National Trust and therefore have great snorkeling and beautiful sandy beaches.  We hiked to an old foundation of a light house that used to be on the island and watched the waves crash on the sharp limestone rocks.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Green Turtle Cay

We left Crab Cay early morning again with only 3-4 knots of wind coming directly behind us.  We could only gain 1/2 -1 knot of speed so we ended up motor-sailing the 16 miles to Green Turtle Cay.  We anchored right in the bay, dropped the dingy and headed into town.  Small, pastel homes and shops is all this town is made of.  The streets are just big enough for a golf cart and we walked the whole town in 15 minutes.  We stopped at the store and got some bread and headed back to the boat.  The next day we hiked to the south end of the island to look for sand dollars in a sandy bay.  The sun was out and everyone swam all day including Lucy.  The weather is supposed to be windy and overcast the next few days.  We will be trying to get as far south as we can for the next few days.

We spent the night anchored in Green Turtle again and slowly dragged our anchor in heavy winds toward some other boats.  We were up every 1/2 hour checking and by 4:00 the wind changed and we were now blowing the opposite direction.  I got up at 5:45 just to check and noticed another boat was also dragging straight toward us and was about 40 feet from our bow.  I woke everyone up and we pulled up anchor and decided to get moving south.  The winds were 15-20 knots and the water was choppy.  As we were sailing along yesterday I was sitting at the wheel, Dan and Preston were cleaning out the water maker and the depth finder went from 16 feet to 3 feet and was beeping wildly at us.  Then within 5 seconds Dan was outside and had both the sails dropped and we were sitting on a beautiful sand bar!  We put the engines in the water to slowly and painfully inch our way back off the bar as we were being picked up and let back down on the bar by the waves.  As I was trying to figure out why this bar was not on our charts and how big it was to get around it I noticed it was on the charts and it basically took up the whole bay.  DUH.  After we made it around we headed straight for anchor in a small cove just off the privately owned island of Titloo and called it a day as we were all exhausted.

 Sailing wing to wing with the wind directly behind us

 Being smashed onto the sand bar


Monday, January 21, 2013

Crab Cay

We left Allen's-Pensacola around 7:30am and headed 12 miles south to Crab Cay.  It was overcast and winds were 15-20 knots coming from the south.  We tacked for a couple hours and we were there.  Again we had the anchorage all to ourselves.  The water was 8 feet deep and so clear we could see that our anchor 20 feet off the bow.  It was too cold to go outside so we played a game of monopoly until the sun came out in the afternoon.  We showered and swam off the back of the boat for a couple hours then decided to go lobster hunting in the dingy.  We headed toward a rocky point on Crab Cay (pronounced key) and just decided to anchor the dingy and jump in.  Not 3 feet from where we anchored I found a lobster waiting to be caught and at the same time Dan found two next to each other.  Preston had the spear and shot at mine first and he hid deep in his hole, so we swam over toward Dan and Preston speared those two in a couple minutes.  Off we went looking for one more for dinner.  We swam around the point and back almost to the dingy where Dan speared one more, which makes 3 for dinner.  The boys popped the heads off the tails and then headed to shore to find some wood and make a fire pit to cook some smores on after dinner.  I stayed on the boat and prepared the lobster to be grilled and some coconut rice.  We are now officially self sufficient and have some variety with our meals.  While dinner was cooking a big fish was lurking around our boat and we were trying to figure out what it was.  It is 4-5 feet long and it swims really slow and doesn't seem interested in anything, so Dan decided to get in the dingy and spear it.  First shot no luck.  Second shot and Dan was being flung around in the dingy and almost overboard when the spear came out of the fish and back at him.  It all happened so fast and by the time we realized what had happened we were laughing so hard.  Today another one was lurking by our boat agin and we were able to determine that they are barracuda!  After dinner we headed to shore to have a fire and stare at the stars.  Our firewood consisted of coconut shells and palm fronds.  It burned hot and fast.  We cut open a few fresh coconuts and drank the water and chewed on the meat. mmmmmmm nothing like smores with fresh coconut.  We started getting bitten by some mosquitos so we headed back to the boat.  We then noticed the mosquitos had followed us back to the boat and were not actually mosquitos, but some super tiny bug that has a stinging bite.  We tried to brush them all off us but with no luck and spent the night getting eaten alive.  The next day I spent swatting everything in the boat with a rag and ultimately sprayed bug killer to get rid of them.  Nasty little buggers they were.  We still see one here and there but for the most part they are gone.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Allen's-Pensacola Cay

We left Freeport at 7:45am and headed north and got to West End at 11:20 where we fueled up our new tank and all of our gas cans.  We are now carrying 110 gallons of gas.  We left West End at 12:00pm and sailed until 9:50pm where we just dropped anchor and had a very rolly night of sleep.   Sailed 65 nautical miles Wednesday averaging 4 knots.  Woke Thursday morning and headed east again covering another 53 miles and made it to Allans-Pensacola Cay by 5:00pm.  We averaged 6 knots Thurdsay with a new high speed on the Jalapeno of 8.5 knots.  Thursday we fished all day and caught a handful of small jacks, one small barracuda, a mackeral (which we ate for dinner), and had a few big bites and fights that we lost.  It was a great day for sailing, the sun was out and the winds were 12-14 knots blowing southwest.
We have decided we like having our own private bay with pet sharks that we feed our scraps to.  That’s right as Preston was cleaning our fish last night he threw the head and tail in the water and within 1 minute we were joined by a 5 foot shark.  We continued to feed him the skin and guts of the fish when two more sharks showed up.  Really creepy to think that 5 minutes before Dan had dove in to check the anchor.  It was really fun and unnerving to watch them swim around our boat.  I hope the pictures do it justice because it was hard to keep my hand in the water knowing they were eating.  When we arrived at the anchorage we accompanied 4 other boats.  When we woke up this morning 2 had left already and by the time we were heading ashore the other 2 had left as well.  We had our own private bay and island the whole day.  There are some ruins of an old U.S. missile-tracking station on the cay that we wanted to check out.  We started on what we thought was the northeast tip of the island that actually turned out to be the northwest tip and basically hit every explorable place this island had to offer.  We did find the old station and more excitedly found a “signing tree.”  This is where past cruisers leave a message or name of their boat on a tree so all future cruisers can see who has been here.