Little did we know that when we decided to go to Rock Sound instead of George Town it would turn out to be one of the smartest decisions we made this cruising season. We knew that the anchorage in Rock Sound would be excellent if we ended up pinned down for several days due to high winds, and when we left Staniel Cay that was exactly what was in the forecast. What no one could have foreseen at the time, though, was that those several days of winds would turn into almost two weeks with very little respite.
The trip to Rock Sound itself was uneventful once we made it through Conch Cut. That part was “entertaining.” When the wind blows strongly from the east, the cuts between the Exuma cays can develop what is called a “rage” when the wind is against the current. While we had previously experienced sloppy departures, we hadn’t ever been in what we would consider a rage. I think now we may know what people are talking about.
We thought we had timed our departure so that we would have the wind with the current, but it didn’t exactly work out (I think current prediction timing is almost as much an art as a science). As we approached we could see that it was rough, but we couldn’t tell exactly how much until we were in it. Perhaps it should have been a tip off when a sport fishing boat passed us to head out the cut, hesitated right at the entrance, and then turned around!
We ended up in a washing machine with four to six foot standing waves closely spaced together – perhaps three seconds apart – coming from various directions, but looking out we could see where it was going to improve so we just gave the engine more throttle and pushed on through. It was far from fun, but it was over in under ten minutes.
We wouldn’t ever do it on purpose, but it was far from the traumatic experience people have described. It didn’t come close to being as bad as when we rounded Sandy Hook on our first trip down the New Jersey coast, and that experience served us well this time as we plowed through the waves. Maybe it was a mini-rage? Or maybe it was a real rage but nothing compared to our Sandy Hook experience? Regardless, my fingers only left tiny dents on the steering wheel compared to the death grip, full-body stiff-as-a corpse, we’re gonna die experience that I had at the helm by Sandy Hook!
After that bit of fun we raced across to Eleuthera, motor sailing at hull speed the entire way. We would have loved to sail but we had many miles to cover and likely would not have made it in before sunset, so we settled for flying across at 6 1/2 knots instead. Dropping the anchor only a few hundred yards from the dinghy dock, we settled in for just under three weeks – what turned out to be our longest stay to date in one place this entire cruising season.
We did laundry, extended our cruising and immigration permits at the airport, went on many walks, had some mail delivered from West Hartford via Makers Air, enjoyed having regular access to two great grocery stores, ate local food (we give peas and dumpling soup two thumbs up), and hung out with cruising friends, only moving the boat a few times when weather dictated that we switch to the other side of the bay for better protection.
We were SO glad we were able to spend the weather delays in Rock Sound instead of in an isolated anchorage. By the time we raised the anchor we had been there long enough to start recognizing some of the people on the street and in the stores! It was truly relaxing, but eventually it was time to continue heading north.