Tuesday, March 24, 2009

March 16, 2009

When we arrived in the Bahamas we have to attest to the good health of the vessel and her crew. Fortuantely, we had no cases of plague, cholera, yellow fever or small pox during our ten hour voyage from Florida.

Sailing north around Bimini. The covered jugs are diesel and gas.

Bill thinks the iguana will come over and take the grape from his hand. The iguana plans to bite hell out of him, make him drop the grape, then pick it up. Bill does this twice before setting the grapes on the sand for the iguanas to pick up.

The view from the driftwood bench at the top of Allens Cay west over the Exuma Bank.

Greetings from Allens Cay, Exuma Cays, the Bahamas.
We left No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne Monday morning March 9 in the dark headed for Bimini. I have such poor night vision that getting out of the harbor and through the shallow Cape Florida Channel between Biscayne Bay and the ocean was scary. I was steering and Bill navigating. It didn’t help that the full moon set an hour before we left, that we had to go around some anchored boats, and that one of marks that was supposed to be lit was not. We cleared the last of the marks about 6:10am and were in the deep water of the Gulf Stream until we got to the channel into Bimini. This was our third crossing of the Gulf Stream. It was the middle one; not too rough or windy but not dead calm either. Four or five ships crossed our path heading south as we went east. We had a pod of the small spotted porpoises with us for about half an hour as the sun rose. We can’t ask for anything better than that.
Around midday, we heard a dive boat, Pirates Lady, calling the US Coast Guard from near Cat Cay which is just south of Bimini. They were reporting a missing diver. There was lots of radio talk about the search which involved two USCG helicopters and a number of pleasure craft. A large ship finally reported he could see something in the water. The heavily accented captain said he could not get close enough to make sure what he saw was the diver and was having trouble getting smaller boats to go take a look. We listened to the radio until we got to Bimini around 3pm, then switched it off. Bill was filling out the paperwork for the customs and immigrations while I breathed a sigh of relief that we were out of the Gulf Stream and firmly tied to Weech’s Dock. Ahead of us on the dock was Dot’s Way, a sailboat we had seen on and off in the ICW since Savannah. I was enjoying the warm temperature, clear water, blue sky, and a well deserved sundowner while Bill was meeting with officialdom ashore when Pirate’s Lady pulled into Weech’s. Pirates Lady is a 60 foot sailboat from Turk Island. She takes people out for a week of sailing and diving. Bill had finished with Customs and was on his way back from the Immigration Office when he saw a crowd of Bahamian police and rescue workers arriving at our dock. I think Bill was afraid I had gotten into trouble while he was gone and that Irish Eyes was about to be searched! Very regretfully they were there to retrieve the body of the missing diver. It was surmised the fellow had died of a heart attack. It was a fairly sober evening for us and probably a long week to come for the charter party on Pirates Lady.
Irish Eyes and Dot’s Way left about the same time both headed toward Nassau, and we were in sight of each other most of that day. It was a beautiful day with good wind for sailing in the morning before we turned east into the wind and started the engine. It was calm enough on the shallow Bahama Bank for me to make a loaf of bread. The sky was perfectly clear and at sunset we saw our first green flash. As the sun dropped below the horizon, the very last bit turned from the usual red-orange to a very bright pure green for the final second or two before disappearing. Spectacular! Bill had convinced me to sail overnight to Nassau, but Dot’s Way decided to anchor overnight ‘on the bank’. They dropped anchor in the middle of nowhere around midnight as we plowed on. Skipper Bob’s guide “Bahamas Bound” says beware of the 20 foot waves kicked up by an easterly wind in the much deeper Northwest Channel leading to Nassau. He wasn’t kidding. There was very little wind but lots of waves coming straight at us. I thought we would never reach West Bay on New Providence Island, but around 10:30am almost exactly 24 hours after our departure we did arrive and finally got our anchor down. A flying fish had landed on our deck during the night, and after tossing him overboard, both of us immediately took a much needed nap.
Anchored with us in this bay were two motor vessels and one large sailing catamaran. One of the motor boats was what we call a spaceship; white, sleek, fiberglass, lots of art deco windows, 60+ feet in length. This one was flagged (no doubt for tax reasons) in the Marshall Islands. It had an ultralight seaplane as one of its toys. The plane landed behind the boat, the pilot tossed a line to the deck hand and stepped off onto the yacht. An hour or so later he got back on the plane along with a passenger. They had a difficult time taking off, making several attempts, but finally after briefly returning to the mother ship they made it and flew off towards Nassau’s nearby airport. Shortly afterwards the boat pulled anchor and followed. I think I need a seaplane and pilot to take me to the next stop so I don’t have to sail over night.
We left West Bay around 9:30am and sailed southeast on the wind till we were past all the shallow spots around New Providence, then we turned dead into the wind and motored east across the Great Bahama Bank to Ship Channel Cay, another long motoring into the east wind. Sunset brought our second green flash every bit as spectacular as the first. We didn’t get to Ship Channel Cay ‘till after dark which does not make me comfortable, even with Bill watching the radar. But now we are in the Exumas and can go from anchorage to anchorage most of which are less than 5 miles apart. I like that! We spent two nights anchored behind Ship Channel Cay just resting up. The next day we went to Roberts Cay about a half mile south and spent the night. Yesterday, we sailed the 5 miles down to Allens Cay and into the anchorage between Allens Cay, Southwest Allens Cay, and Leaf Cay.
The Allens Cay area has iguanas. They are creepy looking big lizards some as long as three or four feet. We came here last year so the novelty is gone. The iguanas are just as ugly as I remember. Bill insisted on feeding the beasts grapes and got his finger bitten twice in the process! Does anybody else, other than Ann and Julia, remember the black racer snake that bit his finger? The iguanas got the same one. I really hope he doesn’t get some dreaded tropical iguana disease. We walked over the top of Leaf Cay, where most of the Iguanas live, to the ocean side beach. The water is so blue and the sand so white; can't beat that! I found a West Indian Top Snail shell. It was very pretty. I have vowed not to pick up just any shell, only the really great ones. We shall see how long that promise lasts!
When we anchored here yesterday it was high tide and we were closer to a sand bar than we wanted to be last night. There was not much we could do about it then because at low tide the boat would not float over the anchor so we could not retrieve it. This morning we picked up the anchor and moved a few feet to a better spot. Later, we took the dinghy to a small beach on Allens Cay itself and walked up a path to the high spot on the island to take in the view. Bill found a dead iguana, a decayed bird, and a large rotting bird’s egg, but the views were nice from a well placed driftwood bench someone had built. Two Canadian couples joined us and we talked with them for a while before returning to the boat.
All is peaceful tonight with us. We feel very fortunate to be here. God has been good to us! Hope you are all well.

1 comment:

Margaret said...

Well and glad to have your upate. Tell Bill that wild things are not supposed to be friends with humans and eat out of their hands!
I'm in New Orleans for a short hello with both of my kids. Flew in last night and out Thursday morning. Lent is not a time to be away for me. Good seafood, though, for dinner last night and more to come!
Happy sailing. I can't say that I like the sounds of sailing all night. Probably not any street lights to help you, eh? ;-)