Friday, March 05, 2010

Bimini to Staniel Cay ...

We are two days out of Georgetown, resting at anchor at Staniel Cay in the Exumas.  We've had three days of almost pure sailing since we reached Alice Town in Bimini, and we've spent a lot of time at anchor in winds of 25-30+ knots waiting out weather fronts.  Frankly, we're getting tired of that part of it, and we're waiting for it to warm up.  We can't believe that we are further south than Key West, Florida, and the temperatures are barely reaching into the low seventies.  It is crisp, indeed!

In Alice Town we met Jerry and Richard, who were berthed next to us at Blue Water Marina, and we enjoyed their company very much.  Our last night we had them join us for dinner on Alizee, and told sailing stories and other lies.  Sadly, they were waiting out weather to go back to Florida ... we wish we could have continued on with them to the Exumas.  Anyhow, we also connected with three other cruisers heading toward Chub Cay and on to Nassau, shared a dockside happy hour with them and then ended up crossing the Great Bahama Bank with them in sight most of the time.  We all anchored out on the bank for the night (it's shallow all the way across) rather than go on to Chub Cay or Nassau at night. 

The crossing on the bank was gentle.  Winds were light and we flew the spinnaker for the first time.  It was incredibly peaceful and pulled us along at 5 knots or more in under 10 knots of wind.  I'm looking forward to such sails again!  But we ended up motor-sailing to the spot we all anchored the first night.  Then, next morning, the winds picked up and we headed out early to make Nassau by nightfall.  This was a ride across the "Tongue of the Ocean" which separates the Great Bahama Bank from New Providence, and we had an "exhilarating" sail in 20-25 knot winds.  We did put in a single reef in the main and the genoa, and we arrived well before sunset in Salt Bay.

We spent a night at anchor in Salt Bay and had winds reaching 30+ knots.  It was an uncomfortable night, so the next day we went in and treated ourselves to a marina and got fuel.  Problem was that all the cheap (well, reasonable) marinas were full up, so we ended up in Hurricane Hole Marina, a "yacht" marina and paid a lot of money for very little.  I suppose it was worth it to get some fresh produce at the market (had to take a bus and then a taxi back) and to do our laundry. 

The next morning we departed for Allen's Cay, famous for the iguanas that live on that and a couple of adjacent cays.  We had to motor the entire way with a light wind on our nose, but it was comfortable enough.   Once there, for the first time, we felt we were in the Bahamas.  The afternoon was warm, the water crystal clear, the winds light.  We went ashore to see the iguanas, dinghied about in the sheltered waters, and enjoyed a nice dinner on Alizee.  Then the weather front started passing through, and we spent the next two days at anchor waiting it out and watching the people on the other boats ... the long-haired biker dude (he should have been on a Harley) and his partner on a really nice cruising boat (a Pacific Seacraft, I think), a catamaran with eight (count them ... eight) people aboard, "the boys" (we fantasized they were a gay couple) who had troubles with their dinghy engine and had to re-anchor during the night, and "Semper Fi" and his wife, an older couple on a little 27+ foot sloop with hank-on sails and only a two-person kayak who spent most of their time down below with the hatch boards in.   We cruisers are an interesting lot.

We left Allen's Cay after a couple of lovely sunsets and after the front passed, but the waters were still mixed up.  Going out the channel and on to the Bahama banks to head south, we both wondered if we were making an error ... it was rough, but once we turned south, the wind of 20 knots was good enough to push us along on a broad reach at 6-7 knots and we arrived 40+ nautical miles later at Staniel Cay by 1545 in the afternoon.  Here we anchored, enjoyed a cocktail and appetizers in the cockpit, and then settled down for dinner, a nice lamb and spring vegetable stir-fry (the last of our fresh vegetables).  Alas, the tidal currents acting against the wind started pushing boats around in odd directions and we shortened up our anchor chain in concert with another boat next to us.  Mid-way through the night, we realized we were slowly dragging into the boat channel, so we were up re-anchoring ourselves.  I think this is the first time we've ever dragged, and I'm sure we wouldn't have if we hadn't shortened chain earlier.

Anyway, here we are.  Today we'll push about 18 miles further south to an anchorage near Case Cut, and tomorrow we head out to Emerald Bay Marina, north of Georgetown, where we are meeting Ruth and Neil Cowan, who decided to take their spring break in the Exumas.  This will be great fun!

Alizee's geotrack
More photos


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