HELLO EXUMAS 2.4.2018
We finally left Spanish Wells after 10 days and I must admit I was a bit sorry to leave the safety of the Yacht Haven Marina. I had become fond of the people, the beaches and the restaurant. We probably should have waited one more day but after 10 days we were anxious to move south.
We timed leaving the marina so that we would arrive at Current Cut, the cut into the Exuma Sound at slack current. The current can run up to 6 knots through the narrow passage making it very hard to make progress if you are going against it or control the boat if you are going too fast with the current. Trekker and Her Diamond were joined by 3 other boats as we approached the Cut and we were in the lead. None of us had been through the cut before so it was the blind leading the blind. As we approached the cut which is known as the Eleutheran Panama Canal, an opening only 300 feet wide, we felt our speed pick up. The waves were not too bad and we cruised through with as much as 3 knots of current pushing us along. We reported back to the other boats and everyone got through without issue.
Approach to current cut.
With the cut behind us we were looking forward to a great sailing day. The forecast was for 15 knot winds with gusts up to 20 from the Northeast. With the forecast wind behind us, we anticipated a pretty smooth ride. What we didn’t count on was the wind clocking to the east and the 5’ to 6’ waves hitting the boat on the side –throwing a continuous spray of salt water up over the bow.
The next couple of hours were a bit tense. We changed our destination from Alabaster Bay (which would have required us to sail almost directly into the wind) to Rock Sound. Rock Sound was much farther away but with the southerly course we were able to average 6.5 knots, so we were confident of making it before sunset. During the trip we experienced three waves that threw a wall of water over the boat and completely obscured our view. We thanked the former owner of out boat for investing in a great cockpit enclosure that kept us bone dry. We arrived at Rock Sound around 4:30 PM and found a quiet, sheltered bay with room for lots of boats and calm water. All’s well that ends well. We arrived safe and sound – if not a bit exhausted at the anchorage. Hook down and beer opened, we sat back and watched a beautiful sunset.
We spent three nights anchored at Rock Sound and totally enjoyed it. We did all of the following:
Had a dinner at Rosie’s.Rosie is a Bahamian widow who has a restaurant but only cooks if you make a reservation in advance.You also have to choose your entrée in advance.I had snapper and Bob had Conch.There is a beautiful view of the ocean from her porch. Rosie comes to the dock to pick you up and drops you off after dinner.You can BOYB and seven of us had a fun evening. Tony from Tryst; Madeline and Roy from England and Karen, Hugh, Bob and I.
The group at dinner. top row: Hugh and Karen, Tony; Bottom: Bob, Sheila, Madeline and Roy
Walked to the Ocean Hole which is a very deep hole inland on the island that is fed from the Ocean. There were lots of fish and we brought bread to feed them.
Sheila feeding the fish.
Walked to a second Blue Hole and Cave formation – beautiful walk but we didn’t go into the cave because the ladder leading down looked dangerous.The next day, one of the cruise lines came and replaced the ladder with a platform and stairway so they could bring cruise guests there.We were one day too soon.
Cave at rock sound
I took the dinghy for a ride to visit other boats in the mooring field all by myself.I started the 6 horsepower outboard engine multiple times on my own for the FIRST TIME!!!A great sense of freedom.
Had time to sit in the air-chair and read
I learned to enter the water from the dinghy with mask, fins and snorkel by rolling backwards off the edge of the tube
After rolling off the dinghy and swimming next to Her Diamond, I encountered a barracuda shading himself under the boat. I quickly returned to the boat and scrambled up the ladder to the swim platform. After Bob convinced me the barracuda was as frightened of me as I was of him, I reluctantly returned to the water – only to discover that the fish had invited a friend. Two barracuda was just too much. I returned to the boat and hung out in the air chair – reading.
Bob often says that “the definition of cruising is fixing your boat in exotic places”. While in the anchorage he rebuilt the bracket that holds the dinghy’s outboard motor on the stern rail while sailing off—shore.
Gift shop at Rock Sound where I bought a bracelet made from the top ring of a beer bottle. The ultimate in recylcing.
We left Rock Sound for Cape Eleuthera Resort and Marina to refill our water tanks, and stage for the jump to the Exumas. It was only a 12 mile run and we had an idyllic sail. We have really done a lot of sailing since we arrived in the Bahamas and have not had to spend too much on diesel. This is a good thing because we have spent way more on dockage than we had ever intended. While at the marina, we met Josh Senior and Josh Junior, a father son Bahamian fishing team. They were cleaning their days catch at the marina fish cleaning station. We bought some fresh fish from them. He showed us his new hookah (compressor driven breathing apparatus) that he uses for spear fishing.What was most interesting was that there were around a dozen sharks swimming back and forth in the water adjacent to the cleaning station, waiting for the scraps to be thrown to them. We saw a number of nurse sharks (pretty benign) and several large bull sharks (don’t want to go anywhere near these guys!).
Josh and one of the many fish he caught.
Sharks waiting for fish parts.
We left Cape Eleuthera early this morning and motor sailed to the Highbourne Cut which separates Exuma Sound from Exuma Bay.There are a number of cuts that can get you to the west side of the Exumas and this was supposed to be one of the easiest to navigate. After catching the tail end of a squall (25 knot winds and a bit of rain) that was not forecasted, we arrived at the cut.We slowed down so that the sky would clear and we would have sunshine while we went through the cut.Having the sun out helps you read the water and see where there are shallow spots or reefs that have to be avoided.Reading the water is still something we are learning.The cut was very narrow and there were numerous rocks on either side that made it a little scary going through.But again, we made it and finally could say we were in the Exumas.
I wasn’t sure we were going to go this far south – but we did and the water here is a beautiful shade of aqua!