Sunday, March 16, 2008

Touring the Northern Abacos

Adair walking on the beach at Sand Cay in the Double Breasted Cays.

The Signing Tree at Allens-Pensacola Cay where Bill added his fishing floats to the collection.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

It is the Bahamas and it is gorgeous.

We were up early to get out of West End with the tide under us. It is shorter to enter the Little Bahamas Bank through Indian Cay Channel than to go farther north to Memory Rock. The only problems are the water depth and the tricky navigation. Three feet of tide would solve the depth problem and the GPS/Chartplotter would make the navigation much simpler. A quick shower for both of us (first since Titusville - nice), breakfast, topped off the water tanks, and we were away.

It is 50 miles from West End to Sale Cay. The entire trip was in water 6 to 20 ft deep; a big change from the 2,000 ft in the Gulf Stream. The other big change was the waves; it was near flat. Broad reach – perfect sailing, autopilot on, navigation engaged, the boat sailing itself, nothing in sight except blue sky, blue water, and a few smudges of land on the horizon. Peace.

Since the wind was from the south, we anchored on the north side of Sale Cay (the word is key) and did nothing for two days. We just vegetated. It had been a month of moving the boat, and it was nice to read the January editions of Time magazine that had gone unread for the two months while we worked the boat south.

All good things must come to an end. A cold front came through, the winds changed direction, and we moved to the harbor on the south side of the island to escape the north wind and waves. Neophytes as we are, we were the last of the three boats to move. It was wet going around the island. Well, we took two days to recover from that adventure. What better excuse to do nothing? We did get out the dinghy and went to explore the mile or so of nearby beach on the uninhabited cay, checked out the ruins of some failed commercial enterprise, and walked on an abandoned road across the island. A few boats came and went while we were there, all in a rush to get somewhere I guess.

With the winds from the east, we took the opportunity to run up to Grand Cays, a collection of rocky cays, one inhabited by 400 or so people. We anchored off the town bulkhead and walked the roads in town which are 8 ft concrete golf cart paths taking in the school, two churches, and several shops that people keep in their houses. At Rosie’s (mostly a bar and pool room but with a few rooms for rent and a restaurant (the biggest business in town except BaTelCo) we made dinner reservations and placed our orders for supper. At the appointed time we dressed, took the dinghy over to town, and had a very nice meal in the restaurant as their only guests for the evening. Their conch and lobster are both delicious.

With all that excitement behind us, we pulled up the anchor in the morning and motored down to Double Breasted Cays. He says it would go for $100 in any gift shop in Myrtle Beach. I just say it needs to go. I found a Florida fighting conch shell. It is nice.

The wind changed direction, so we went back to Sale Cay. We were entertained by TowBoatUS towing a 70 ft motor yacht off the rocks then leaving for a 75 mile overnight towing trip to Green Turtle Cay where the boat’s props, shafts, and struts could be repaired. Big bucks at work.

From Sale Cay we sailed to Allens-Pensacola Cay. They are two uninhabited cays joined together by a hurricane years ago. Allens Cay has an abandoned missile tracking station left over from NASA’s pre-moon days and a “Signing Tree” on the ocean side beach. The tree is gaily decorated with mementoes left behind by sailors who have visited the island. Bill thankfully wrote our names, date, and boat name on his fishing floats and left them swinging from a high branch on the tree. If only we had had a WLSC burgee to add to the collection! The guidebook says the holding is not the best, so after two days anchored in the grass and sand bottom and with the front that destroyed Atlanta on the way, we moved the boat to the marina on Spanish Cay where we are tonight.

We are having lots of fun, getting in some reading, and I am knitting up a storm since we will be grandparents for the second and third times this summer. Julia and Josh are expecting June 24 and Ann and Michael August 30. The water continues to warm up so I will be swimming soon. Robert, I can learn how to spear fish. Bill saw a big fish in Allen Pensacola when he was underwater checking the anchor, but it was a shark, and he did not want to try to spear that guy!

We are headed south to meet Bill’s brother Haynes and his wife Laura in Marsh Harbor as well as James and Sandra Little on Easter Monday. Wish you were all here and a very Happy Easter to you all.

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