On Sunday the 13th we left Bimini to head to the Exumas. Even though we were in Bimini for 10 days waiting for a weather window that would give us a safe crossing of the Bahama Bank, it was sad to leave. We had met so many wonderful people, both cruisers and locals. We look forward to seeing the cruisers in the Exumas.
Our sail across the Elbow Bank to anchor at Northwest channel was pleasant and uneventful. Joe aboard “Gemini” sailed along with us, and we were jealous that he caught a Mahi Mahi on his boat as we sailed. For those of you who would like to know where we anchored, check out 25 degrees, 25.320 minutes N, and 078 degrees, 10.000 minutes W on Google Earth.
Sailing across Elbow Bank at sunset.
Ginnie settling into retirement!
The next morning Gemini and Firecracker weighed anchor at 7 AM and set sail through the North West Passage for West Bay at the west end of New Providence Island where Nassau is located. Once through the North West Channel we entered the deep water, over 6000’ deep in the Tongue of the Ocean. West Bay, our destination was a beautiful protected harbor where Peter Nygard has an incredible resort that reminded us of Mayan Civilization and the Swiss Family Robinson complex on steroids. At night it was lit with multi color lights that were fantastic. I tried to get photos but the boat was moving around too much and they were out of focus. He rents this resort for $42,000 per week, but it does accommodate 24 people, we’re starting a list – interested? Joe joined us for dinners when we were in West Bay and one night he dinghied over with a plate of cooked fish that he had caught, a little rum, a little wine. It was a wonderful meal. Friends Dave and Michelle on board their boat that they sailed from Nantucket arrived in West Bay the day before we left for Allens cay. We had met them in Bimini.
On Wednesday morning we left West Bay and set sail for Allens Cay, at the north end of the Exumas. Allens Cay is a remote area but we ended up anchoring with about seven other boats. This island is home to prehistoric iguanas. We understand that Devon”s mom is an iguana groupie so I’m sure she will enjoy these photos.
As we tried to leave Allens Cay on the morning of the 17th, the engine wouldn’t start. Iturned the key and nothing, nada, no way. It turned out to be a wire that came loose between the solenoid and the starter. I reconnected the wire and the wonderful sound of our trusty diesel was heard once again. Joe aboard Gemini had gone to Highborn Cay to get fuel and decided to join us for one more night in Allens Cay.
Ginnie felt that this was close enough.
The morning of the 18th we left for Warderick Wells, one cay of many in the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park. We picked up a mooring there as no anchoring is allowed. The channel is very narrow with very shallow water on either side. We hiked up to Boo Boo Hill, a spot that is supposedly haunted by souls shipwrecked on the nearby reefs. Cruisers traditionally leave the name of their boats on a piece of drift wood, the pile of driftwood up there is impressive. If we do this cay again we will be prepared to leave a more elaborate marker. There are many miles of hiking trails on Warderick Wells and the other islands, in some places it looks like you are walking on the surface of the moon. The snorkeling here was good, but you had to go at slack tide due to the strong currents.
Boo Boo Hill, Warderick Wells
Firecracker on the mooring in Warderick Wells.
Sunday morning we left Warderick Wells and sailed to Staniel Cay docking at the dock at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. This is not really a yacht club, rather a resort/marina. There are many resorts/marinas in Florida and the Bahamas that are called “Yacht Clubs”. We snorkeled in the Thunderball Grotto, the one used to film the James Bond movie Thunderball. You can only snorkel during slack tide, due to very strong. Around the corner of Big Major Spot were the swimming pigs. These pigs are famous for swimming out to your dinghy to beg for food. We were warned to not feed them as they could get aggressive. These were big pigs but were only hungry.
Sailing to Staniel Cay.
Ginnie in Thunderball Grotto
Swimming pig at Big Major Spot, OK mostly walking on the bottom.
Sharks that were under the boat at Staniel Cay Yacht Club.
The weather forecast was for increasing winds starting on Wednesday the23rd, so we reluctantly left Staniel Cay on Tuesday the 22nd to sail to George Town, the furthest south we are heading. Our sail to George Town was “outside” in the ocean, 55 nautical miles. We did this in 7 ½ hours. Leaving to arrive in George Town on Tuesday was a good decision, it started blowing 15 to 20 knots with gusts to 25 knots after we arrived. We are in a good anchorage here in Elizabeth Harbour in the lee of Stocking Island just off Monument Beach.
The trips back and forth to George Town by dinghy were exciting to say the least. On a number of occasions we were drenched because of the high waves in the harbor. George Town is an unusual place in the Bahamas. Cruisers have good supplies and services here and many spend the winter anchored off Stocking Island. The grocery store here is the best we have seen, having just about anything you would need. The prices on some items are very reasonable. But paper goods are very high, $38 for 12 rolls of Bounty paper towels, and beer is $40 to $50 a case. Ginnie did find a good chardonnay for $7.50, and it was really good wine!
The cruisers community here is well organized with a cruisers net on the VHF radio at 8 AM daily. Arriving and departing boats are announced, daily weather is given, activities for the day are announced, daily weather is given, activities for the day announced, and locals get to promote their businesses. Cruisers can request help on projects or repairs needed or try to get rid of items no longer needed. Selling or bartering goods without paying duty is not allowed, so no one ever says anything is for sale, just that they have the item.
Well it’s now Friday, the wind is still blowing and not many boats are arriving or departing. Bob and Brenda on Pandora emailed us that they are in Warderick Wells waiting for the winds to subside so they can sail to George Town but they may have to wait until next Tuesday for milder winds.