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Day 46 – Big Majors (West)

Today we had a decision to make about our anchorage. We had intended to stay put in Big Majors (East) until tomorrow afternoon when the NW wind was forecasted to veer NE, then we would move to the other side of the Island -Big Majors West- and benefit from its excellent protection from any E wind. This morning’s forecast broadcast the unwelcome prediction of yet another big wind event (30Kts+) coming this way on Monday night. Since all that wind would be from the NE it was imperative we secure a spot on the other side well ahead of time. The problem was that there were now almost 30 boats anchored on our side of the island, in our anchorage or the neighboring Between the Majors anchorage, all of whom came over just after we did to seek shelter from the big W wind event we just experienced yesterday. We knew each of these boats heard the same forecast as we did (we all listen to the same forecaster at 6:30AM each morning) and would now be seeking shelter on the other side just as we’d planned to do. So we decided to move today, even though it was still a little rough on both sides of the island at this time, just to make sure we got a good spot before boat traffic into the anchorage became chaotic and crowded. The look of the morning sky cemented our decision (featured picture). We waited until the tidal current was running in the same direction as the wind and then picked our way through all the anchored boats and a tricky cut called “The Crown of Thornes”. Paula piloted the whole way and did great.

What a different anchorage it is here on the other side of the Majors. The natural surroundings are similar- rocky ledges and hardy vegetation. We can even see the same buildings on Fowl Cay resort albeit from the other side. Like our old anchorage there are short stretches of sandy beach, although there are pigs the size of Labrador retrievers running on the largest one here! There are some fantastic looking caves as well, made of the same limestone as the rocky shores of both anchorages.

Some cool looking caves on this side of the Island.

The biggest difference though, is the neighborhood. On Big Majors East we had a tight-knit little boating community of 10 well-spaced boats of similar size all sharing an isolated anchorage off the beaten track.

We met Otis and his family in Palm Cay and they were one of the boats with us in our cozy tight knit anchorage the last four days.

Here in Big Majors West there is a metropolis of boats of all shapes, sizes, and makes, tightly packed. Paula counted over forty.

Glad we got here early because it became crowded quick all around us. Once the parade started, everyone followed.

All day long boats were arriving and dropping anchor, sometimes squeezing in tightly between other anchored vessels. Also, other boats were pulling up anchor and leaving. We could hear music, dogs barking, people talking, people laughing, people shouting at each other as they anchored. Dozens of dinghies and small speed boats of every type meandered, buzzed, or rocketed across the anchorage. A menagerie of pets were seen being ferried back and forth to the shore for relief and exercise.

Really gotta go!

As Paula cooked dinner she caught sight of a man showering buck-naked on a neighboring boat’s swim platform right outside our  galley window. Later we saw him all dressed up climbing into his dinghy with his boatmates and speeding off, presumably into Staniel Cay for dinner. Paula preferred his dinner attire.

The wind is still brisk, but the swell is less, and we expect a break and some calm conditions late Saturday afternoon and Sunday before the big predicted NE wind event arrives on Monday. We hope to get a chance to snorkel and visit Staniel Cay this weekend. We have now been 10 days at anchor, and would welcome the chance to stretch our legs, provision for fresh produce, additional flour and sugar, and offload the one leaf-size trash bag of refuse we have accumulated.

Tonight’s dinner was a repeat of the jerk boneless pork, a tuna and shrimp ceviche, green beans, canned mango and the new mainstay, Johnnycake.

Day 45 – Big Majors (East)

Today our Bahamas adventure has arrived at the same number of days as our ICW cruise lasted. A lot of today was spent listening to, thinking about, and planning for the forecasted weather, which has been changing hourly. We had strong west wind today as expected. Then a front which was supposed to move through this area in the early evening got here but has stalled almost right over us. No rain, but unexpected strong NE wind for the moment (not good for our anchorage) which we are hoping will turn back to NW as was forecast. More high wind tomorrow and Friday. So far, our overall assessment of the weather for this time of year in the Bahamas is mixed. We’ve been very pleased with the temperatures and primarily dry conditions. However, the wind patterns have left a lot to be desired. Days of very strong wind from almost every direction but east, making many of the favored Exuma anchorages untenable. Next time we may chose a different time of year to visit this part of the Bahamas.

Since we still have some fresh fruit and veggies left from Nassau, Tom has been able to put together a breakfast shake the last several mornings. Here’s what it looks like before being whizzed up.

Spinach, bananas, avocado, cherries, blue berries, almond milk, apple cider vinegar, flax seed oil, protein powder

Paula did a thorough cleaning of the cabin this morning. Despite the brisk winds and some chop, tourists in large groups could be seen bouncing on the waves on fast boats through the anchorage on their way to scenic spots in the area. Staniel Cay has become something of a major tourist mecca in the Exumas and these super-fast boats carry tour groups all the way from Nassau fora days trip excursions to Staniel.

It was too breezy and choppy for a comfortable fishing expedition in Poltergeist, so Paula practiced her casting from C Ghost. Again, she drew some piscine attention and a few nibbles, but nothing more. One inquisitive gar made an appearance and posed for the camera.

This guy looked at Paula’s bait and laughed. Even now you can see he’s smirking.

Tomorrow will be another day waiting out weather and then we hope to move over to the other anchorage on the west side of Big Majors on Friday if the winds finally shift east as forecast. From there we will have a shorter dinghy trip to visit Staniel Cay.

Tonight’s dinner was marinated tuna steaks, mashed potatoes, cold green beans with dressing, and Johnnycake. Once again, Tommy was very happy. On nights like the last few when it will be windy and we want to keep an eye on how the anchor is holding during the night, we both sleep in the cockpit. Just in case you were wondering what our cockpit sleeping arrangement looks like, here it is:

Note the jar of M&M’s near Paula’s side (right).


Day 44 – Big Majors (East)

Day 44 – Big Majors East

The dawn today was calm and colorful. It continues to be amazing to wake up to this beauty each day we are here.

Just before sunrise this morning.

This morning large fish swam around the boat and flirted with the bait on Paula’s casting and trolling rod (which is just sitting in the pocket as we’re not moving) but ultimately swam off without taking a big bite. They were SO big, that Paula was secretly relieved that she wouldn’t have to land one. Especially since Tommy was lurking nearby holding the gaff in a slightly menacing fashion.

Paula did some prep work in the galley, and then, as the wind was picking up into the teens and the day was sunny, did a load of bucket laundry. Tommy started the watermaker and exercised the generator. We also rested and read a lot.

There are 10 boats in our anchorage now. Everyone is getting set for the big wind that is forecast to begin in the middle of the night and continue through tomorrow. At midday tomorrow, we may also have squalls. We are stretched out to the length of our anchor chain and the anchor appears to be well set.

Multiple sea planes flew low over the anchorage today, capturing everyone’s attention.

This one flew right over the boat.

You get to know your neighbors a bit, even without speaking. Especially the ones with doggies. Doesn’t matter the weather, Otis, Naz, and Pepe must go to shore!  One good boy was seen carrying his own frisbee during the dinghy ride, clearly anticipating a game of throw and catch on the shore. So we see dog-owning folks several times a day. Since so much of boating life is lived outside, one can’t help but observe those close by and this way often learn new ways to do essential tasks.

Gotta have that frisbee.

At sundown  (today’s featured picture), the anchorage was filled with the sound of sailors blowing conch shells, some sonorously, some clearly in the learning stages. The significance of this practice is different depending on who you ask. We’ve been told that it is a call to drink alcohol, a welcome call, a call to show respect for Neptune, etc. It is a somewhat spooky sound when multiple conchs are blown. Tonight, the various calls created haunting echoes punctuated by the calls of herons.

Tonight’s dinner was quinoa mixed with sautéed vegetables and leftover steak and shrimp. There was also a tart canned cherry and dried fruit compote and drop biscuits made with almond milk.

(Tom) It was all delicious, but the homemade biscuits were super-delicious.

Day 43 – Big Majors (East)

Waking up to these striking surroundings was a treat. At first, all was dark and the total sky planetarium show was on. Next, a faint rosy glow could be seen over Gaulin Island. This apparently woke a distant rooster (there is one everywhere!) who crowed almost continuously until sunrise. When we looked over the side (as we feel compelled to do constantly) to admire the clarity of the water, we saw a medium-sized ray cruising the bottom with his own little remora fish attached. Being reminded of fish, Paula made a few attempts with the casting rod. She attracted a few small circling Jacks, who played with the bait and then swam away. Never has not getting a bite been so much fun, since you can see the action clearly!

In an effort to take advantage of the clarity, Tommy decided to dive to replace a zinc on the rudder’s heel strap which the diver who we hired to do a “big clean” of the hull before we left told us was fragmenting. This is usually a painful job in opaque water and can result in lost zincs, Allen wrenches, and patience. In the crystal clear water, the job was done in 5 minutes!

The water around our boat is so clear, it looks just like a swimming pool!

Paula took advantage of the calm water and scant wind this morning to bake yet another Johnnycake. This is number three, and the next time we provision we need more sugar.

About mid-morning, we and the other lone boat anchored here began to acquire neighbors. This anchorage has good protection from the forecast W winds which should arrive early tomorrow and so we expected to see more folks come to anchor. There are seven here now with an hour of daylight left.

Two of the other boats that joined us in the anchorage today. We were very happy to have gotten the spot that we did by arriving yesterday.

Two sailboats arrived together, a single-hander and a couple. The single-hander anchored and called to his buddy that the depth was 8 feet. The other Captain worried aloud that there might be much less by low tide. Tommy called over the water to let him know that we had measured 5.8 feet yesterday at low tide. “Thanks, that’s good enough for me!” He proceeded to anchor nearby. Later, he and his wife arrived by dinghy to introduce themselves and discuss weather and sailing histories. Turns out he, the single-hander, and another boat that had anchored here an hour before they arrived had met up some time ago and were now all traveling together. It’s nice to make acquaintance with the boats nearby.

In that vein, Paula noticed a beautiful ketch with red sail covers and a large dog that had anchored while we were doing boat jobs. It looked familiar, and with binoculars she was able to see the name. It is the same ketch that got entangled with C Ghost while she was in her slip at Bimini! Our first feeling was relief that this young couple were clearly able to continue their trip. We had worried that the money they gave us to compensate for our repairs might have truncated their sailing budget. Now we wonder if they recognize OUR boat and are thinking “Oh, no! Not those guys!” Paula has decreed that in the morning we will dinghy over to say hello and make clear that there are no lingering bad feelings on our side, and to tell them we are glad to see that they are doing well on their trip.

Multiple different shades of blue.

We have better cell coverage here, but not as much as we would have expected, given that we can see the tower! We were able to communicate this morning with a young sailing family who are making their first crossing to the Bahamas today with their three children under 6 years of age. They left at 6 am, and although they may not have cell or wifi when they first arrive, we are still hoping they will find a way to let all their family, friends, and well-wishers know they have arrived safely.

We rested and read a bit today which was relaxing. Off in the distance to the north, we can see three wind turbines spinning. Not sure who they are producing power for, but these are the first of these we’ve seen in the Exumas.

Wind Turbines

Throughout the day our friend the ray and his remora returned to visit periodically, and the two Jacks and a tiny unidentified fish came again to laugh at Paula’s fishing tackle. This is not just imagination. The water is so clear, you can plainly see your lure/bait in the water at the end of your line and watch the fish swim up and react to it. It’s like watching the whole thing on TV. And they were really laughing.

Tonight’s dinner was jerk slow-cooked boneless pork (cooked and frozen before Christmas, thawed and oven-heated today), canned collard greens fancied up with bacon, onions and secret spices, and fresh Johnnycake with butter.

Day 42 – Big Majors (East)

We had a hard time with the title for today’s post. Our chosen anchorage for today, and likely the next several days, is officially referred to as “Top of the Majors”. We are anchored in a cluster of five islands – Big Majors, Little Majors, Fowl Cay, Gaulin Cay, and Staniel Cay. Our specific spot for the moment is just to the east of Gaulin and Fowl Cays and in between the two Majors. The forecast for tomorrow night through to Thursday afternoon is for moderate to strong winds from SW to NW and a squall coming through on Wednesday. While the far more popular destinations in this part of the Exumas are the west side of Big Majors and the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, both of those are totally exposed in any West wind and are noted to be very uncomfortable (Staniel Cay Yacht Club will even ask docked boats to leave if a heavy west wind is forecast). What we didn’t expect is just how beautiful this anchorage would be. We mainly came here for refuge from the west wind and not scenery, but the place is stunning. For the moment, it’s only us and one other boat but we expect that to change sometime tomorrow.

Despite having become somewhat accustomed to the beautiful clear blue water here in the Bahamas, the approach to today’s anchorage seemed majestic and alien. During the approach, we saw mega yachts and mega sailboats anchored in front of mangrove and limestone islands and outcroppings. The differing depths of the water showed in the colored bands radiating from the cays and rocks- deep blue, aquarmarine, greenish-blue over grassy bottoms, and nearly clear/white in the shallows. Our path past the popular anchorages was narrow and periodically full of sudden currents, heralded by short standing waves in our path. Rocky cuts around us held out the promise of a short-cut, but at a price- one could see the water coursing in rapid streams through the narrow rock-bound channels.

Once through this tricky part, the anchorage opened up into a wide expanse of semi-arid beauty. The primary boundaries of the anchorage are limestone rock populated with mangroves and some small trees, and thatch palm. Two fishes swam curiously around our boat- Tommy thinks they were yellow-tail snappers. We anchored and then re-anchored to make sure we were situated in no less than 6 feet of water no matter how we spun on the anchor.

The view looking east out to the Exuma sound from our anchorage.

We took a quick swim (the water was 76.8 F) and then motored around in Poltergeist, visiting one of the sandy beaches-most are rocky. Here we got a great view of the anchorage with C Ghost looking happy to be here (featured picture – C Ghost in the middle).

On the beach off the northern tip of Big Majors.
The popular anchorage on the western shore of Big Majors. If you look close, you can see all the boats pointing away from the island toward the west in the light breeze. We may be seeing some of them come over to our side tomorrow.
Fowl Cay has an exclusive resort, some of which you can see in this picture.

Back at C Ghost, Paula tried her casting rod with some good quality raw shrimp. We had trolled previously while on the bank with a squid lure, but no takers. Suddenly there was a jerk, and the shrimp, hook, and some line were gone. We could make out a few sleek, black shapes in the water, no bigger than catfish-sized. A second shrimp enticed these same fish to encircle the hook, but before we could identify them, they darted away. Maybe next time.

By now it was almost dinner time. Since the wind was light, Tommy grilled steaks, and we had them with shrimp souse and rotini with parmesan cream sauce. We also finished off the Johnnycake (sigh). Paula may bake more tomorrow if all is calm.

(From Tom) – another culinary delight by Paula. Eating “alfresco” in the cockpit with that unbelievable water color all around is something special.

Day 41 – Warderick Wells

Last night as evening set in, Paula got some great pictures of the sunset. We know we take a lot of these, but somehow each one seems more beautiful than the last.

Beautiful sunset last night.

After coffee this morning, we got in the dinghy and went to the north part of the Island to explore some more trails that looked interesting on the map. It’s about a half mile dinghy ride that once again took us through that tricky little cut with a swift running current. Once on the trail, there were several informative signs describing the wildlife, land features, and history of the Island. The trail was also marked very well with orange blazes. It was high tide when we got there, and part of the trail at that moment was under water.

Fording the river on the trail to Boo Boo Hill.

The most abundant wildlife were the little lizards that kept darting in and out of the thatch. Some of them seemed to want to pose for a picture.

These little guys are everywhere, and are much fatter than the ones in Florida. Paula is pointing to one with her left hand.

There were several parts of the trail surrounded by small palm trees and other vegetation that made it look exactly like “Gilligan’s Island”.

I was sure I’d see the professor right around the corner.

The trail we were on went to the top of the highest hill on Warderick Wells to a place called “Boo Boo Hill”. There is a legend connected with this place. It says that a long time ago a schooner sank off the coast of Warderick Wells in a wild storm. All on board perished and no bodies were ever recovered. The locals say that if you climb the hill when the moon is full, you can hear the voices of the lost souls singing hymns. Some time after that disaster, a tradition started when cruisers visited the Island. In order to appease King Neptune in the hope that similar disaster would never befall them, each visiting cruiser would leave an “offering” on the top of Boo Boo Hill (featured picture). The park doesn’t mind, but would like each offering to be principally made of wood, preferably driftwood.

You can see how extensive the pile of King Neptune “offerings” are. There’s evidence this pile has been blown down and rebuilt several times.

Yesterday, we discussed what to bring and decided on an on-the-spot assembly of some spare pieces from one of our Mortmade projects. We found a small piece of driftwood and some palm bark on the way up the hill and put a “C Ghost” pictogram together in a style similar to the other offerings. Hope Neptune likes it.

We were limited on the available pieces of driftwood, but this one seemed to fit. The two pieces were attached to the driftwood with a little glue, and held in place with thread till they dry. Ultimately the thread will disintegrate and won’t show. We put it on the western side of the pile, in the lee of the easterly trade winds.

We had a great 360 degree view from the top of the hill. The sound side of the Island is just as gorgeous as the bank side. We could see our boat way off in the distance We then explored Boo Boo Beach, which was a short walk down hill. There looked to be the beginnings of another shrine to Neptune on Boo Boo Beach, consisting of a pile of colorful ropes that obviously came from boats.

The arrow is pointing at our boat in the Emerald Rock Mooring field.
This mockingbird on Boo Boo Hill was nice enough to stand still for a picture.
That’s Boo Boo Beach behind Tom.

Next, we made our way back to the boat and had a nice lunch. We had intended to go snorkeling in the afternoon, but that got pre-empted by several things. First, and this was Tom’s mistake, we did not have a proven method for each of us to get back into the dinghy once we jumped out in deep water to go snorkeling. Tom tried to rig something up with a little plastic boarding step we had but wasn’t having much luck. As we were testing this, a very nice couple pulled up in their dinghy to mention that they had the exact same model boat as C Ghost and were in the other mooring field. We had a pleasant conversation for a while, discussing cruising plans, our boats, and the fact that they also got their boat in Maryland. After that tiredness set in and we put off snorkeling for another day.

We would love to stay here longer but a strong West wind with some squalls is now predicted for Monday through Wednesday and this anchorage would be very exposed. So, tomorrow we are heading for Big Major, an Island about 24 miles south that has several good anchorages on its eastern side which should provide protection.

Day 40 – Warderick Wells

Last night was one of the best star-watching nights we’ve had. The milky way could be seen and Orion and Sirius just popped out of the darkness at you. We each saw a different shooting star. There was no swell and a light E breeze. The water was flat calm before dawn when we awoke. As we ate and had coffee, a group of Tropicbirds appeared and filled the sky with their chittering cries and tandem swoops across the anchorage. Apparently, they spend most of their lives airborne, snatching flying fish from the waves, and lay a single egg on the bare volcanic rocks of the Cays.


We slipped the mooring at about 8:30am and were able to enjoy our 24 mile trip under full sail for most of the way. We chose to request a mooring at the Emerald Rock mooring field at Warderick Wells Cay. This is a beautiful wide-open area with easy in, easy out navigation. The North field, right in front of the Exuma Land and Sea Park office is more popular, but often has a waiting list. We were also warned that the channel into the North field has narrowed quite a bit and has swift currents that make catching the assigned mooring ball for a full keel sailboat (like ours) something of a crap shoot. Today’s featured picture shows the North mooring field.

Entering Emerald Rock, we saw several mega-yachts anchored just outside the mooring field. One had its own sliding board, seemingly fashioned in imitation of airplane escape chutes.

That looks fun!

When we radioed the Land and Sea Park office, which administers the mooring fields, they told us to pick any mooring we liked, with the exception of 6 that they named as too shallow for our draft. A huge mushroom-like island, called Radar Rock, is a big feature of the anchorage. Today we had adjusted our method of picking up a mooring ball to accommodate the Bahamian style, and Paula was able to catch the one we selected on the first try.

Radar Rock

Next we took the dinghy to the Park office to pay our fee and ask some questions. All the mooring fields are part of the Park and strict rules apply. No fishing, no grilling on the beach (on your boat is fine), and nothing – not a shell, not a bird feather, not a stick-is to be removed from the Park. Violations result in hefty fines and expulsion from the Bahamas within 48 hours.

Exuma land and Sea Park Office.

On the way, we saw a big black ray swimming, apparently fleeing our little boat. We also faced the most taxing nautical challenge of the day! To approach the office from the Emerald Rock mooring field, we had to negotiate a shallow, narrow, passage between two rocks with swift currents that tossed our little craft about. We saw some larger dinghies with a lot more power than ours treat it with respect as they had to lift their engines almost out of the water to make it through.

Fast current through those rocks. What’s amazing is that there are lights posted on the rocks on each side. Transiting this is scary enough in the daylight!

Once through, we found the dinghy dock, which was tall and made of wood, without any ladders. This required you to either fasten your boat to the dock and climb six feet up the side of the dock, or wade through the water and climb stone stairs carved in the rock. We chose the climb.

We climbed up that that wooden façade to get onto the pier above.

While were doing paperwork in the office, which is also a small nature-themed store and display of local flora and fauna, a large live mockingbird trotted in the door, paused, eyeballed us, and trotted back out. We also saw a large painted portrait of Peggy Hall, the first Park Ranger. Returning to the dock, we were made glad that we’d chosen to climb the dock and not to wade to the rock stairs as we saw a large shark swimming under the dock next to Poltergeist.

Back in Poltergeist, we got a great look around at the North mooring field. It is visually stunning. About 20 boats can be moored in a narrow circle of deeper blue water with swift current flowing, while the center of field is a huge shallow bar with clear water over white sand that serves as kind of a “baby pool” where boaters can wade and float. However, any boat larger than a small dinghy would be aground. It appeared pretty intimidating to catch a mooring ball as the moorings were relatively close and the deep channel was narrow. We went into the area with Poltergeist, and guestimated that the current was about 2.5kts, judging from the dinghy’s GPS speed. We also noted a large whale skeleton, one of the famous features of this locale on the shore next to the Park office.

Whale carcass

Back in Emerald Rock, we beached Poltergeist on the beach opposite C Ghost (called Rendezvous Beach) and took one of the many beach trails. This one led to the Davis Ruins, the remnants of a stone house on the hill. The elevation gave a great view.

Emerald Rock Mooring field from atop a hill on one of the nearby beaches. The little dinghy on the beach is Poltergeist and C Ghost is the boat on the far right.

By the time we got back to C Cghost, it was nearly 5pm. Tommy did a few odd jobs, we looked through the pictures we’d taken, and Paula made virgin Pina Coladas for us both, which were very refreshing.

Due to fatigue and a desire to rest and enjoy the cooling temps and nice breeze, Paula is making what she calls a “Weird dinner”. This means that anything to hand that can be easily warmed, or served cool with little preparation is what we’ll eat. Tonight that means left-over pot roast, the last bits of the ham and rice, canned pineapple, kipper snacks (Tommy loves these), and the last of the Johnnycake.

Day 39 – Shroud Cay

It was a windy night last night with 20kt+ gusts in the anchorage out of the NW. This anchorage on the southeast side of Normans Cay proved just the right place to be. While there was a moderate to strong current running through the anchorage, there was almost no swell, some wind protection from W up to N, and excellent holding. We both slept well. The forecast was for the wind to shift direction from NW to NE then E by mid-afternoon today, so we decided to leave after lunch and head for Shroud Cay, only a short six mile trip south.

The sunrise at Normans Cay was beautiful today.

We spent a nice morning reading in the cockpit and evaluating weather while we waited for the wind to moderate a bit and shift direction. The anchorage at Shroud Cay has excellent protection from E wind but none at all when the wind is NW. The anchor came up  caked with a combination of seagrass and lots of sand (we didn’t move an inch during the night). It was an easy exit back out to the bank and a relatively deep water and coral-free trip. Shroud Cay marks the beginning of the Exuma Land and Sea Park which extends 22 miles south and has strict rules against fishing and other activities. We knew the park maintains mooring buoys in several of the anchorages within (1st come 1st served on Shroud Cay) and decided to try and get one if any were free. Sure enough there were, but we ended up having a hard time getting it. The moorings looked fairly new and well maintained but had very short scope. Whenever we pick up a mooring, Paula is always the designated “grabber” and Tom is at the wheel. After three tries this time, Paula couldn’t pull the mooring line high enough out of the water to get our attachment line through the “eye”. We switched positions and Tom also failed on the first try but finally got it on the 2nd attempt. There was still a stiff wind during all this making it that much harder.

The view from our cockpit on the mooring.

The wind finally calmed (as forecast) and we put Poltergeist in the water and decided to go for a swim. The water here is crystal clear, giving us a chance to visually inspect a few things on the bottom of the boat fairly easily. After swimming, we got in Poltergeist and went to the nearby beach. When we landed there we encountered a family of five who we recognized because they were in Palm Cay when we were and also happened to anchor in Normans Cay last night as well. There was a trail to follow off the beach that led to a couple fresh water wells in the middle of the island that apparently were constructed by pirates a long time ago. While walking around the main well, Tommy almost stepped on a snake. Paula was following behind. Displaying total disregard for Tom’s peril in his close encounter with the serpent, she quickly deployed the camera for a good shot.

Standing next to the sign for the Exuma Land and Sea Park.
One of two fresh water wells just off the beach.
Tom nearly stepped on this guy without ever seeing him.

We returned to the beach and swam a little and talked with the other cruising family (Mom, Dad, and three daughters) before returning to C Ghost. In the featured picture for this post you can see Poltergeist on the beach in the bottom left and C Ghost on its’ mooring in the center pointing at the beach.

Back at the boat, Paula prepared dinner (a strange leftover combo of pasta with sausage and the ham and rice) and Tom stowed Poltergeist and evaluated our travel options for the next several days given the longer-range forecast. The wind has calmed a lot now, but there is still some swell in this anchorage. We will probably head for Warderick Wells tomorrow (the main headquarters of the Exuma Land and Sea Park), about a 25 mile trip south. We may stay there a few nights.

One thing we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last two nights (and tonight appears even better) is the view of the night sky. This is one of the best parts of sleeping in the cockpit while at anchor. The sky is full of stars from horizon to horizon.

Day 38 – Normans Cay

Last night ranked as one of our all-time best sleeps out at anchor. The sky was clear and the stars were numerous and brilliant as there was little surrounding light and the waning moon had set. The boat lay to current, so instead of the breeze being on the nose and blocked from the cockpit by our dodger, it blew across us gently.

We were up a little after 6am to hear the weather report and have coffee. Around us, boats began waking and pulling anchor. By lunch time there were only 5 boats left in the anchorage out of 16 that stayed last night. Boat tasks in the morning included Tommy checking the status of the filters on the watermaker, putting on the anchor snubber (didn’t need it last night), and evaluating the weather forecast for traveling tomorrow.

Paula did some meal planning while she had her coffee. Since we had no connectivity to access recipes, she broke out the bible: “The Joy of Cooking” which she considers a must-have on board for recipes, food substitutions, and instructions on how to deal with unfamiliar or unprocessed foods the traveler may encounter. There are even detailed instructions on how to skin and clean a live eel!  This last will likely not be utilized on this trip.

Paula reading the bible.

Paula then gave Poltergeist a badly needed scrubbing with seawater. Next she sewed a secure attachment from Velcro and webbing for the small strobe on Tommy’s life-jacket, as the original holder didn’t function well.

After lunch we put our little electric engine on Poltergeist and explored the anchorage. We walked on the beach and bar looking at the shells of conchs, sand-dollars, and small bits of dead coral. We found unusual tracks winding their way through the sand, especially in between rocky areas. Paula thinks they are from snakes, but they were so numerous that we can’t imagine we wouldn’t have seen any actual reptiles. Plus Tommy points out there almost appear to be little foot marks on either side of the central smooth track line. Frustrating not to be able to Google this! Any ideas?

They almost look like bike tire tracks, which is impossible.
Enjoying the little beach.
Look at the love seat in the background.

We looked at the beautiful roofs visible over the vegetation on Wax Cay, and took in the wreckage of the famous downed plane. Snorkelers seem to really enjoy this spot. It’s hard to see in the picture, but you can actually see the white wings of the plane on the sandy bottom.

You can see some of the fuselage of the plane above the water. We tried taking pictures of the submerged wings but they didn’t turn out.
Homes on the next Cay over.

Back at C Ghost we read, napped and watched the “boat show” as the anchorage filled in with a new crop of boats, including another Island Packet (we all waved to each other), a beautiful schooner, and several charter boats with families aboard.

Tonight for dinner we had baked chicken, canned corn, and “available vegetable salad”. The wind has now shifted, as predicted, to the NW and has picked up to about 15kts. The current is also shifting, so we will soon learn if we will have a bouncy night.

Day 37 – Normans Cay

We were second in the parade of boats leaving Palm Cay early this morning. Once out of the channel, all peeled off on their own in keeping with their differing destinations. At first we wallowed quite a bit in four foot short period swells, but that improved markedly once the steadying mainsail went up. Happily, this morning’s wind, mostly N, and about 15-18kts, was in a direction and strength that afforded us over four hours of pleasant sailing with full mainsail and jib. No motor, no noise except wind, waves, the VHF and our own voices. The most direct (and shortest) route for todays journey would have taken us across an area strewn with coral heads called the “Yellow Bank”. We instead opted to head further south right at the outset to the southern edge of the yellow bank where it meets a deeper and clearer area called the “White Bank”. We never had any trouble with coral and had depths from 11 – 25 feet the whole way. This allowed us to sail without worry and only added 5 extra miles to the trip.

So nice to be sailing again!

Once we approached Normans Cay we furled the sails to make certain we could navigate between coral heads near the island more accurately. Normans Cay has two main anchorages. The first has a pretty beach and is generally most popular but has little protection from a N or W wind as is predicted tonight and most of tomorrow. The second has been criticized in reviews for the noise and sight of ongoing adjacent construction on Normans Cay, but it has much better protection. So we weren’t surprised to see no one anchored at the beach anchorage, but lots of sail and powerboats in the second anchorage. We arrived pretty early and got a nice spot, near enough to the dock to see all the interesting activity there, but not too close. Now the anchorage is really filling in. There are currently sixteen boats with an hour of daylight left.

We came in between the rocks on the right and the small island on the left.

As we entered the anchorage, some sailboat bunnies called to Tommy, “You have such a beautiful sailboat!” He gallantly replied that they that their sailboat was beautiful too. Hmmph. There is a pretty bar and micro-island here and children and adults have been romping on it all afternoon.

Might be some good shells here.

A medium sized gray industrial-appearing boat tied to the dock disgorged and took on passengers, luggage and what appear to be boxes of provisions. Occasionally, a small plane takes off in the near distance from Normans’ small airport. People have been zipping back and forth to the dock and to explore the anchorage in their motorized dinghies.  The dinghy-piloting style here is very big on having the pilot, or a passenger, stand in the front of the dinghy. This person holds the tow rope tightly in one hand, much like the bridle of a horse, and looks straight ahead as the dinghy motors on. This can take some skill and balance, especially when going over wake and waves.

There’s a dock here, but no obvious place belonging to it except to serve the construction site. Apparently you can get to the restaurant from this dock as well.

One couple, clearly in their 70’s, descended into their dinghy in the boating equivalent of summer business casual (island style). They headed for the dock at a brisk pace, with the woman standing regally in the bow in her summer dress with sweater ties around her neck. She appeared dignified and unfazed by small wakes and waves, like a female George Washington crossing the Delaware. Once on the dock, a golf-cart drove up and they got in. Likely they were going to dinner at McDuff’s, the only restaurant on Normans Cay per our cruising guide.

We re-inflated Poltergeist, our dinghy, for the first time this trip, and put her in the davits. Tomorrow Paula will give her a good scrub, and we will explore.

Tonight’s dinner was re-warmed pot roast (always better the second day) with root vegetables (carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes, and turnips) and gravy. And Johnnycake. The night promises to be nice and cool, without threat of rain. As there are many boats in this anchorage, the wind is forecast to shift, and the current is strong, we plant to sleep in the cockpit.

We barely have cell coverage here and our cell signal amplifier has made its money tonight allowing for this post to be published.