Mar 09 to Mar 13, 2012

March 09, 2012

A busy day!! While I went to shore for my walk, Steve helped Bruce fuel his boat. The fuel/water dock was damaged in the hurricane last year so we have to cart the fuel/water in jugs from the gas station – to the dinghy then onto the boat. The guys got it all done in four trips – big job! I filled up the cooler with ice, did a little laundry on board and some pre-passage cleaning.

The four of us then went to lunch where we were joined by Sabrina and Brad from Joint Venture. Lunch turned into a few hours of chatting and storytelling over cold beers – fun J It was almost 4pm when we finally peeled ourselves from the restaurant and headed back to the damaged dock for water.

All topped up, we said our goodbyes to Sabrina and Brad, Bruce and Jan and wished each other safe travels. This could be the last time we see each other so we made sure we had each other’s contact info and promised to keep in touch. Both couples are hoping to be out of Long island by then but the weather doesn’t look all that great for where they are heading. We may run into them on our way back after all.

Once back at the boat, Steve lashed our newly filled water and fuel cans down. I folded laundry and stowed our things away. We put a reef in the main as tomorrow is supposed to be windy – 15-25kts from ENE.

The weather for the next few days is supposed to be consistently windy from the ESE 15-25kts. We will be following the itinerary posted on March 07, 2012 as close as we can.

Our guide describes the Ragged Island Chain/Jumentos as an unpopulated wilderness with only one tiny settlement where cruisers must be totally self-sufficient as there are no services. Steve and I are due for an adventure. We have been in Long Island WAY too long and are looking forward to some sailing. We have been craving secluded anchorages and good fishing. These little uninhabited islands should deliver both. This will be the most secluded we have been on this trip so far. We will also be incommunicado for the entire time – no internet – no phones. We have heard there are many boats out there so not to worry, we won’t be completely alone. Needless to say, there will be no website updates until about the 22nd of March.

We will be leaving around 0600hrs tomorrow morning. Oh and did I mention the Jumentos are one of the largest spawning grounds for sharks in the Bahamas - let the adventure begin!   

March 10, 2012

The alarm actually went off this morning and we were on schedule!! We were underway by 0600hrs, just as the sun was coming up. (In reality we hadn’t realized it was daylight savings so it was actually 0700hrs…so I’m going to be an hour off all day)

The weather is wonderful with ESE winds around 15-20knts. We are VERY happy to be underway and ready to explore the Jumentos. On our way out, we calibrated our new autohelm, aptly named Ottotoo and it worked perfectly J

We had a couple unexpected visitors follow us out of the harbor as we made our way to the Comer passage - dolphins!! They jumped and danced all around the boat bidding us fair winds. They stayed with us for about an hour playing around and then, just as suddenly as they had come, they were gone. Very special morning!!

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Steve at the bow checking out the action

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One of the dolphins riding our bow wake…there were three riding it together at one point!!

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Two more trying to race Diana…hands down – they win!

We motor-sailed most of the day to get our batteries all juiced up. Steve had his fishing line out as usual and got a big hit!! He reeled in his first barracuda!!

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It was at least a two-footer with a face full of teeth

Steve was able to retrieve his lure minus the hook and set him free. We can’t eat barracuda because of a poison they can carry that is very dangerous to those of us who aren’t used to eating them. The locals eat the barracuda and are told they are very tasty but it’s too risky for us, so we throw them back.

Steve put out his line again with high hopes for a mahi-mahi. He gets another big hit within the hour but it lets go. The day rolls by and we are quickly realizing we will not make it to Flamingo Cay today so we set our sights on Water Cay. Steve releases the line again and about a mile to our anchorage he gets another hit and this one is a big one!! He wrestled the bloody thing for 20 minutes only to discover it was another barracuda – a bigger one – about a three-footer!!

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Steve reeling in his catch…

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Look at those teeth!! I think Steve made it mad….

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The catch!! We were able to retrieve the hook and the lure then let him go too J

No fish tonight but an exciting afternoon. We settled into our anchorage at Water Cay around 1600hrs. Steve was anxious get in the water and was in his snorkel gear within 30 minutes of dropping the hook. He splooshed overboard and did a little tour of the boat to make sure the anchor was set. He was tredding water and telling me about a barracuda in the water watching him swim. When he dunked his face in the water one last time he surfaced with a very excited look on his face and yelling “shark!!...under the boat…shark!!” I quickly helped him get his fins off so he could climb the ladder out into the boat. What a day!! Dolphins…barracudas…and sharks…oh my!! I have decided that I do not need to go in the water here, my courage runs out with sharks. We have now started a shark watch. If one person is in the water, the other is out scouting for sharks (that’ll be me).

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View from our anchorage at Water Cay

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Steve reading in the sunset

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First sunset in the Jumentos

Could this day get any more exciting?!?!? Yes it can!!! After supper, we sat out to look at the stars and boy they are clearly visible from here!! They were breathtakingly beautiful and have made a mental note to learn the constellations. The other amazing things are the phosphorescence in the water. I have mentioned them before as we have seen little flickers here and there but tonight the lights were bright green in colour that flickered intermittently in round green flashes all around us– truly spectacular….a brilliant sky above with an equally brilliant sea below.

March 11, 2012

We left Water Cay around 0800hrs in an effort to get to Flamingo Cay about 13 miles away early enough so we could explore it a bit. We had a really good sail and we conserved fuel as we did not need the motor.

I’m finding it hard to get my sea legs back as I’ve been fighting a little nausea the past couple of days since leaving Long Island. We haven’t really felt any motion since arriving there so I’m finding the rolling motion from side to side is bothering more than usual. I will be staying in the cockpit for the next little bit until I get used to this motion again.

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On approach to Flamingo Cay

We arrived at Flamingo around 1100hrs. There were two fishing boats with several little boats attached. They were all on shore eating lunch. We anchored in the next bay in front of a beautiful beach. Steve didn’t do any fishing today as he was not in the mood to catch a barracuda.

We had breakfast then went for a dinghy ride to explore a cave…a drive-in cave!!

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Cave entrance

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Inside the cave and dinghy resting on the conch floor

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The whole cave floor is layered with conch in various stages of decay

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Another view of cave

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Steve in back window…leading to wonderful views of the island…

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The beach on the left where Diana is anchored and a large salt pond on the right

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Diana at anchor, view from the cave window

We left the cave and continued to explore the south end of the island and when I said there are sharks here it’s because THERE ARE!!! 

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This one is about 6 feet…and it had two other buddies hunting with him along the shoreline.

Steve and I were amazed at how close they came to shore…yikes!!

We rounded the southern tip towards the Exuma Sound side.

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One of two rocky islands

One had a large osprey nest at the top. As we got closer the ospreys would swoop down squawking as a warning not to come any closer.

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Osprey nest

We beached the dinghy in this little area and went for a walk. It also proved to be good conching spot…

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Beach side with the Rocky Islands in the background as the tide is going out

We found lots of interesting things in this little section but most importantly conch!! We found mostly young conch, a little too young to eat and hanging out a little too close to the dry lands. We relocated many of them but mostly because we were curious about them. Some slide right out of their shell and looked at you with their itty-bitty eyes…

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A little guy poking its head out…you can tell the age of a conch by the size of the flare of the shell. This guy hasn’t formed a flare yet which means he’s too young to eat.

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Look how cute they are!! I don’t think I can eat them now…

Steve did manage to find a couple of adults to keep, clean and eat.

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They are nice ones too – notice the huge flare of the shell

With his catch we made our way back to Diana to attempt to clean these two guys. I broke out my cook book with the cleaning instructions as Steve got his tools together when two fishermen from the nearby boat came by on a smaller boat asking if we wanted any fish. We had heard that fisherman will come by cruisers to see if they will trade fish for beers or liquor. I only had rum on board so they were happy and we made a deal. They introduced themselves as Sean and Munroe. They headed back to their boat to get the fish and came back with their Captain; Ross, with the biggest piece of grouper I have ever seen!! We did the trade for a mickey of rum and got to chatting. They are a fishing boat from Nassau but the Captain is originally from Long Island. We started sharing stories and it just happened that we mentioned our engine repair in Georgetown with Enoch. Turns out, Cpt Ross is Enoch’s brother!! As we were all getting to know each other, Cpt Ross noticed a black fishing boat anchoring, he said they were from the Dominican Republic and that the Bahamian fisherman are having problems with foreign fishing boats stealing catch from their traps. They seemed discouraged as they feel they have no protection out here and are left with less catch (less money) as a result of their thievery with no option for recourse other than running them off which can be dangerous. We could definitely feel their frustration. We got into a little politics and shared some similar world views. They are a great group of guys and easy to talk to, we could have hung out much longer but the sun was setting and they needed to get back to the main boat and we still had to conch to clean!!

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After Steve punched a hole in the bottom and he is slicing the tendon attaching the conch to the shell

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Got him out …now where to begin and what side is up ?!?

He managed to get two nice pieces. He then beat them with a hammer until tender then I made an attempt at Cracked Conch. Cracked conch is basically fried breaded conch. Well, I over cooked it and the potato salad I made to go with it was undercooked and the whole things tasted terrible together, so we threw most of it out in the end ha!!

Conch is a lot of trouble for a little amount of meat and I think Steve is happy to have done it but doesn’t need to do it again. We can go out for conch!

March 12, 2012

It’s a cloudy day with rain on the horizon. It’s a good morning to relax and read a book.

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Clouds full of rain…Steve on deck taping our mast boot in place. The hill in the background is a hike we want to go on when the weather clears up.

The fisherman stopped by this morning to say goodbye as they were leaving to go inspect their traps which was super nice!! Their boat is called Sweet Angeline.

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The crew and Captain on Sweet Angeline giving us nice waves

It cleared up after lunch so we took the dinghy to shore and went for a hike up the hill.

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A cool lizard we saw on our hike – there are lizards everywhere in the Bahamas!

The trail led to a light which we climbed to take in more spectacular views of this beautiful island.

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Exuma Sound on the left and the Bahamas Banks on the right

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The bay where Diana is alone at anchor (she is the black dot on the right)

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Where we took the pictures…aaaahhhhh…

We made our way back to the boat to prepare the grouper we got yesterday. Steve trimmed up the fish to get rid of all the bones.

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Look at those HUGE filets!!

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I poached the grouper in white wine, water, onions, carrots and herbs then served it with pigeon peas and rice (another Bahamian specialty). It turned out delicious – I redeemed myself J

March 13, 2012

Great day for a sail!! The winds are about 15-20knts from the ENE. We left Flamingo Cay around 0900hrs in an effort to make the Nurse Cay Channel at a slack tide around 1600hrs. The guide told us this channel can be nasty if the winds oppose the current – so fingers crossed we get the timing right.

We could not have asked for a better sailing day. We had all the sails up, the motor off with the winds in the right direction it was a fun ride all the way to Buena Vista Cay. We saw only one other boat.

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Only other boat on the water besides a couple of fishing boats

The Nurse channel was no big deal. We even got there earlier than expected. There were 4-6 foot waves but again we were headed in the right direction as not to be uncomfortable.

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Me at the helm…a rare occasion so I wanted my picture taken ;)

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Steve being a diligent Captain – looking out for dangers…check out that water!!!!

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Buena Vista on the horizon!!

Buena Vista has a HUGE beach almost two miles long. We anchored on the north end as we noticed what looked like a ruin of a house in the middle of the beach. We went for a little dinghy ride to scope the place out for potential walking areas for tomorrow.

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Diana at anchor

We took the dinghy by the house to take a closer look and turns out there is a man living here!!! We made a plan to stop in on him tomorrow. He could be very interesting…

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The house on the beach…turns out to be inhabited!

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Shoreline leading out to the Exuma Sound at low tide lined with silver buttonwood trees

 

We headed back to the boat to enjoy our first night all alone in the Bahamas.