Washed up on the beaches of Normans Cay we found this SeaDoo, a fiberglass dinghy, an inflatable dinghy, and two motorboats. All looked great from a distance, but close up, all were wrecks.
While we were at Shroud Cay, the wind blew from the southwest calming the usual surf on the ocean side beaches. We used the opportunity to visit some that we had never seen before.
Bill patrols the beaches of the Bahamas for “good stuff”. He was looking for two milk jug crates and found them. He does look happy with his find, doesn’t he?
The interior of Shroud Cay is a maze of creeks winding through the mangrove swamp. This camera does not have a wide enough lens to show it all, but here is just a little bit. We spent three days slowly traveling in the dinghy through these creeks.
Earlier this year several of the pigs at Big Majors Spot died either from dehydration or from being fed large amounts of beer and booze. They now have this partially completed shelter to get out of the sun, signs saying “no booze”, and an old cooler for a water trough. I wonder if the pigs miss the beer.
Pirate Beach has been improved with a picnic table donated by the crew of the motor yacht Pirate and treasures left behind by others. It is quite the resort.
I live in the Tennessee mountains, so having a real sunset every evening is a treat. No two are alike, every one is different.
Hello from Big Majors Spot in the Bahamas, home of the famous swimming pigs. We have now been in the islands for three weeks. On March 20, our refrigeration was fixed, our laundry was done, our groceries were bought, and our fuel and water tanks were full. We untied our dock lines from the slip at Crandon Park Marina and sailed out into Biscayne Bay to anchor off No Name Harbor at the southern tip of Key Biscayne. Crandon Park Marina turned out to be a nice place to stay before heading to the Bahamas. If the anchoring and dinghy-tying-up laws in Miami Beach get any stricter, Crandon Park may replace Miami Beach as our last US port of call.
The Gulf Stream weather forecast for the next day (Tuesday) sounded good for crossing over to Bimini. Wednesday’s Gulf Stream weather would be even better, but the following two days would be impossible. We needed a total of three days of good weather with the wind from the right direction, not too strong, not too light, and with no rain to get all the way to Highbourne Cay in the Exumas. Bill and I debated whether we should leave on Tuesday or Wednesday. We decided that Tuesday would be the better day. The Gulf Stream would be do-able, Thursday would be a good weather day to travel across the banks, and Thursday afternoon’s bad weather would not catch up with us until after we were in Highborne Cay. Both of us were ready to go. We set an alarm for 3am. After a quick breakfast, we pulled up the anchor and headed out in the dark. Bill dealt with the anchor while I steered in the moonlight around the other anchored boats and past the tip of Key Biscayne to the Florida Channel and out into the ocean. I am not a big fan of steering in the dark, but with Bill watching the radar and GPS and calling out the compass courses for me to steer, I got us safely out of Biscayne Bay and into the ocean.
The crossing was sort of comfortable, motor-sailing with 3-4 foot in waves in the Gulf Stream, but the seas dropped to less than a foot as we approached Bimini. We arrived in Alice Town at Weech’s Dock at 2 pm. With no one in sight at the marina, we tied ourselves up. Captain Bill went to Customs and to Immigration to clear us into the Bahamas. I remained on the boat because as crew I am not allowed to leave the boat until we are cleared into the country. He returned with our cruising permit, stamped passports, and a mixed case of Bahamian and Haitian rum. He gave Mr. Weech $20 for the use of his dock, we untied ourselves, and we were gone. We sailed north around Bimini then east across the Great Bahama Bank. The wind died, and we motored on. Bill did his sums and determined that if we kept motoring, we would arrive at the rocky Highborne Cay Wednesday night – in the dark -- not good. If we anchored for the night on the shallow banks, we would arrive Thursday in the afternoon but after the forecasted 30 to 35 knot east winds started – also not a good plan especially since we would be traveling straight into that strong wind. The solution to the dilemma was to anchor on the banks for a few hours to delay our arrival until after dawn. We moved about a mile south of the route that most boats use as they travel between Bimini’s north rock and a place called Mackie Shoal. We anchored just after sundown, ate supper, went to sleep, woke up at 3 am when the moon rose, and continued motoring east. The sun came up, the wind filled in, and we sailed on toward Nassau taking turns napping and steering the boat. The sun set again, the wind went light, and we re-started our engine. We changed course away from Nassau to pass south of the west end of New Providence Island. While I slept, Bill and the boat did a mile-long dance in the water to avoid a collision with a south bound oil tanker that altered course ahead of us as she turned to run toward the power plant on the southeast corner of New Providence. The incident left Bill a little unnerved. The tanker either did not see us or did not care. Without any further incident, we arrived at Highbourne Cay as the sun rose at 7:30am. Fifty-four hours out of Florida, the last leg of the journey to the Bahamas was over. We both took a long morning nap.
As predicted the wind picked up to 25-20 knots with occasional higher gusts late Thursday afternoon. We stayed onboard Irish Eyes reading, knitting, doing small boat chores, and resting up. We watched a 70’s Gardner McKay movie, “How I Sailed to Tahiti with an All Girl Crew”. It was a hokey movie. The six girls mostly smiled and posed. None of them ever even got her hair wet.
Finally, on Monday, March 27 the wind had settled down, and we were rested up and ready to move on. It was a long trip that day, about 5 miles. We anchored off Norman’s Cay for the next few days. Norman’s Cay was being developed with a marina, hotel, and airport all under construction. We dinghied around the island looking at the excavators at work. I checked the beaches for shells while Bill looked for “good stuff”.
Our next stop was Shroud Cay. Shroud is part of the Exumas Land and Sea Park, and except for some trails, the island is untouched. The creeks leading over to the ocean side beaches are great fun to explore in the dinghy. We saw lots of fish and sea turtles swimming in the warm creeks, and we walked along the beautiful beaches. Since we first arrived in Miami, Bill had been looking for two plastic milk crates to hold his project supplies. He was lucky and found two milk crates in perfect condition, one blue and one black, washed up on the shore. After cleaning the sand off them, he put them on the boat. The blue one was from Scotsburn Dairy in Nova Scotia, and the black one was from Hood Dairy in Portland Maine. It had written on it, “If caught stealing this case, you will be prosecuted”. I guess the milk crates were just gifts from the sea. I’m not too worried.
The wind once again had a hand in where we went. The normally strong southeast wind was broken by one day of light easterlies. We wanted to go southeast, so we raised our anchor and headed 30 miles southeast to Big Majors Spot, just north of Staniel Cay where we are now anchored.
Since we have been here, we have watched the swimming pigs, we have watched the tourists feed the swimming pigs, we have had our first Bahamian restaurant meal with a Kalik beer, and we have seen and chatted with several people we have meet here in previous years. The sun is out, the weather warm, the water clear, and the sky blue.
There is a cold front expected to pass over us early Friday morning. This one has caused some havoc in Alabama and Georgia. We should have some squalls and west wind, but it should not last long. Wind from the west is not a great thing here because the islands offer only a few places with protection from that direction. But, it’s not supposed to be very strong and should shift around to the north quickly. Our plan is to just stay where we are anchored and ride it out. Our friend, George Brown, will arrive at the Staniel Cay airport on Tuesday, April 11. We will not go too far from Staniel Cay before then.
A Happy Easter to you all.