As you can probably tell, we are not dawdling quite as much as we typically do. Even though it feels like we just got here, it’s actually been a few months and we need to start thinking about the timing for sailing back to Connecticut. We would love to stay longer, but we also want to spend some time in Connecticut and in the Chesapeake as we go south again. As Jeff pointed out, it took us so long to get down here that in order to get somewhat back on track, something was going to have to get cut short.
We decided that a maximum of three months in the Bahamas was going to have to suffice this time. We’ll make up for it next season. We need to get back to Connecticut by the end of June for doctor appointments, so as a result we’re skipping up the Exumas with an eye towards crossing back to the United States by the end of April. However, we are definitely taking notes on where we’d like to spend more time when we return at the end of the year!
One repeat visit for us already on this trip was Little Bay on Great Guana Cay. Looking at the forecast we were going to be getting some westerly winds in the mid-teens for half a day before the wind clocked to the northwest and around. One thing that the Exumas lacks are an abundance of anchorages with westerly protection. Little Bay was only 10 nautical miles away from Little Farmers Cay, and while it was open to the west, we could tuck in and get protection once the wind turned to the northwest. Bonus points for it being a lovely anchorage and a 45 minute walk into Black Point, which is a settlement where we hoped to be able to pick up a few provisions.
We had a nice, lazy, jib-only sail of 12 nautical miles from Little Farmers to Little Bay. Although the wind was supposed to be light, it started turning west and picking up speed as we approached Little Bay. By the time we anchored we already had two to three foot swells in the anchorage. Good times – not. Tom and Anita from S/V Lone Star pulled in a few hours later and although we had planned to get together that evening we decided to postpone until the next day given the conditions.
As the evening progressed the wind started to shift, but the wave direction didn’t. This put the waves on our beam with Pegu Club rolling side to side, side to side, around 20-30 degrees at a time. It was an absolutely sleepless night for both of us. I wanted to set a swell bridle but we had never done it before and Jeff didn’t want to set it up in the dark. While in hindsight this was obviously the right decision, it didn’t make the night any easier. Finally we both fell asleep around 4:00 a.m. The rolling hadn’t stopped, but we were so tired it didn’t matter.
The next day Tom and Anita came over and cheered us on while we rigged up a swell bridle. The relief from the swell was immediate, and we won’t hesitate to do that again in the future. Tom, Anita, and I decided to walk into the settlement while Jeff opted to stay on the boat and rest, feeling especially tired from our sleepless night. I was on a quest to buy some bread from Mama, who reportedly made the best bread in the Exumas.
Once we arrived in the settlement I asked the first person I saw where I could buy Mama’s bread, and we were given directions to turn right at the mustard and red colored house down the street. We found the house but still weren’t sure where to go, so I asked again and we were pointed in the right direction with instructions to go to the white house. There were several white houses, but we finally figured out that it was the one behind Lorraine’s Cafe. However, there didn’t appear to be anyone there, so I went into Lorraine’s and asked if I could buy some bread. Asking random people where I could buy Mama’s bread felt a bit surreal, but every person I spoke to knew exactly what I was looking for, including the woman in Lorraine’s. She went into the back room and then poked her head out and gestured for me to go around the back of the building.
It turned out that Mama had left twenty minutes earlier and wasn’t going to be back for several days. Oh no! BUT, she had made several loaves that morning and there were still a few left. Oh yes! I bought some coconut bread, Tom and Anita bought some cinnamon and raisin bread, and with the mission accomplished we walked back to the anchorage. And yes, we all agreed the bread was absolutely worth it. Mmmm.
After a rousing card game of Oh Heck that night on Lone Star and a good, solid sleep for Jeff and I, we woke up filled with energy and ready to go find the blow hole near Black Point. I had read about it and it seemed like an excellent time to go check it out, given the way the wind had been blowing over the past several days. Typical of what we have found in the Bahamas, the directions were vague but we had a rough idea of where to go so the four of us began to walk into town.
A pickup truck came driving by in the opposite direction of where we were headed, loaded with people and suitcases. I joked that maybe he would give us a ride. A short while later we heard a vehicle behind us – it was the pickup. I joked again that maybe this time we’d get a ride, and sure enough he stopped and asked us if we wanted a ride! Yes, please!
What followed was a Disneyland E-ticket ride down an unpaved, uneven dirt road with no speed limit. I thought it was pretty funny. It reminded me of a few cab rides we’ve had in Manhattan! He took us to the fork in the road and told us the blow hole would be to the right. We all piled out, expressing our thanks and offering him a few dollars, grateful that we had been spared a minimum of a mile walk in the heat.
There was a sign down the road pointing towards the blow hole, but we still weren’t sure where it was until tall Jeff spotted mist spurting out up ahead. We all had a blast at the blow hole. As hoped, the wind had really kicked up the waves allowing the blow hole to provide quite the show! I could have watched it for hours!
On the way back we stopped briefly at the market so Jeff and I could pick up a few items, and then we began the walk back. It was hot and we were tired from our long walk the day before. Unfortunately there was no ride back this time, and a few jokes were made about it turning into a death march. Eventually we were at the anchorage though, and we all agreed that the blow hole was worth the long trek.
Since our friends on Lone Star were going to continue north the next day while Jeff and I planned to stick around so we could go to the beach, we enjoyed one last get together for movie night before parting ways for a few weeks. We were supposed to bring over brownies but we were so tired from our two days of walking that we completely spaced out and forgot. Anita came to the rescue by making them instead. Thanks, Anita! In recognition of Jeff’s and my next destination, we watched the James Bond movie “Thunderball.” Everyone had seen it multiple times except me, and we had fun interjecting comments throughout.
The next day we waved goodbye to Lone Star, but it wasn’t as sad as when we parted in Beaufort, NC because we’ll be sharing an anchorage again in Eleuthera or the Abacos before we each head back to Connecticut. Cruising with friends adds so much richness to this lifestyle, and we always have so much fun with Tom and Anita.
After Lone Star left Jeff and I spent the morning doing a quick boat repair. The galley cabinet had started pulling out of position a bit, so Jeff put in a larger, longer screw in an attempt to put it back into place. He also drilled out one of the bungs and tightened the screw underneath. It worked, but then a few minutes later we heard a new creaking sound. We looked at each other with dismay. Damn. Guess we’ll have to add a few more screws to try to fix that later.
The rest of the afternoon was spent floating on our noodles in one of the prettiest beaches we’ve seen so far. The water was absolutely clear, and the sun angle was such that the deeper water looked electric blue.
There is no doubt that we will be stopping at Little Bay each time we’re in the Exumas from now on.
Next stop: Thunderball!