Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Another snapper and more exploring...

Today we are sitting at anchor inside Lynyard Cay, close to Little Harbour, just a few miles as the crow flies from Hope Town.  We left Hope Town on May 2, after having a beer at the Hope Town Harbour Lodge and stopping for key lime pie at the Harbour's Edge.  We then motored 2.37 nm to Aunt Pat's Bay on Elbow Cay near White Harbour.

White Harbour is home to a Sea Spray Marina, which appears to cater to power boaters who come over to the Abacos for the fishing outside the Sea of Abaco.  We skirted the marina and went over to the Abaco Inn, where we had a drink and thought we might catch the Kentucky Derby on TV.  Alas, the derby was two hours from starting, so we bagged it and went back to Alizee for the night.  Next morning (May 3) we dinghied over to Cracker P's, a bar and restaurant on Lubber's Quarters famous for its full moon parties, had a nice lunch of fresh Wahoo, and then decided to sail to Tilloo Cay.

The anchorage we were aiming for was only a mile away as the crow flies, but the channel was narrow and the water thin and we wanted to sail.  So, we sailed out and around Lubbers Bank, a sand bank that stretches a couple of miles into the Sea of Abaco from Lubbers Quarters.  It was a nice downwind sail, and we turned port around the end of the bank to head back toward Tilloo Cay.  In our turn we confronted a 120-plus-foot power yacht, who saw us coming and then decided to stop right in our path (so he could pull in his tender).  We came within 50 meters of her, and I wasn't too happy about the encounter (nor was the yacht's skipper), but we waved and exchanged no epitaphs.

Going back toward Tilloo was mostly very tight on the wind, and we tacked two or three times and were always at a close haul.  I managed (much to Pen's joy) not to hit a sunken barge on the route, and 13.7 nm of sailing and three hours later we drifted into our anchorage at Tilloo Cay, where we settled in for the night and grilled a wonderful small rack of lamb.  It was the very best.

The winds in this part of the Sea of Abaco force you to either motor or do a lot of out of the way tacking.  We're really enjoying sailing, so the next morning (May 4) we sailed across the sea to Snake Cay, anchored and dinghied into some inlets to progue about for whatever we could see.  We found a lot of fish in and around the mangroves in the inlet, and then returned, had a sandwich for lunch and weighed anchor for a new anchorage further down Tilloo Cay, near a spot called Tilloo Pond.  We literally had to sail almost back to the point we departed, but the wind had shifted, so we got a nice broad reach down the inside of Tilloo Cay to our anchorage.
As we sailed this day, Pen commented that we'd run out of fresh fish and we wouldn't be able to have sushi appetizers at sundown, so naturally I threw out the fishing lure.  Seems like we catch an awful lot of grass, and I must have cleaned it off two or three times.  Just after we turned down the inside of Tilloo Cay, I removed some grass, threw it back, and as I became resigned to no fishing luck, we had a strike.  Pen couldn't reel it in at all, and I had a hell of a time, but gradually I eased a eight to ten pound Mutton Snapper to the boat, where Pen helped me land it with the gaff.  We sedated it with some cheap gin, and since it was much to big to put in the freezer, Pen proceeded to fillet it while I sailed Alizee to the anchorage, took down the sails and anchored us.  We are still eating on this wonderful fish, both sushi and baked snapper.

Yesterday (May 5) we sailed to a snorkeling spot at Sandy Cay, which meant sailing full downwind across the Sea of Abaco to get around the Tilloo Bank, an extensive sand bank.  Following Steve Dodge's Cruising Guide to Abaco, I thought we could take a route through a deeper part of the bank, but it turns out his recommendation was wrong.  As the water became thin, I turned back, but, alas, I was too late.  We found ourselves going downwind and aground in 2.9 feet of water.  I couldn't motor out nor turn Alizee, so I got in the dinghy, Pen lowered the anchor to me, and I took it out to set it for a kedge.  After one failed attempt, we set the anchor on the second try, and then I had to get the sails around so when we pivoted just a little we could start getting help from the wind to heel us.  We worked really good together as a team, Pen bringing in the anchor with the windlass, me at the helm and powering her to turn.  After about 25 minutes we were out, and most pleased that we didn't have to wait for five hours for high tide. 

Once back underway, we finished the sail through a deeper channel and anchored at Sandy Cay.  After lunch we dinghied over to the "coral garden" reef, moored the dinghy on a small boat mooring, and snorkeled for about 45 minutes.  The surge and current was pretty strong, so we didn't stay as long as we'd hoped, but it was really beautiful and fun to see a couple of large Mutton Snappers like the one's we'd been feasting on, as well as multitudes of other fish.

We finished our day by weighing anchor again and sailing down to our anchorage on Lynyard Cay.  All told, we sailed about 9 nm in 8-10 knots of wind in about three to four hours.  And despite the fact we were pretty worn out, we decided to dinghy a mile over to Pete's Pub in Little Harbour for a couple of drinks.  It's a great spot with lots of local color, and with an annual fishing tournament just starting the next day (today), there were lots of sport fishermen there already beginning to tell tall tales.  But we had fish to cook and a steak to cook, so we didn't tarry too long and returned to Alizee for surf and turf.  We are certainly eating well!

Today, by default, I guess we're just staying at anchor.  We've both done a bunch of crosswords, Pen's reading now, and I'm about to post this blog entry. We did make some sushi rice (12 hours of soaking, then steaming it), so we'll have sushi tonight ... but, darn, without nori, which we've used up.  Tomorrow we are going to start our way back up to Marsh Harbour rather than go on down to the Eleutheras.  We're really enjoying gunkholing, and We decided we want to crew for Brain and Sheree on the schooner William H. Albury (which, by the way is for sail).  So we'll get back to Marsh on Friday or Saturday for the Sunday sail with them.


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