After four trips, we’ve found our Exumas winter base.

The Exumas offer beautiful cruising grounds, but they aren’t perfect. Protection from westerly winds when winter fronts arrive is hard to come by. More than a few cruisers base themselves in Georgetown or Red Shanks and do what’s known as the “Georgetown shuffle”, moving as necessary depending on the wind direction. But long-time readers of this blog know that we have spent enough time in Georgetown and Red Shanks to realize that those spots are not for us.

I forgot to put this picture in my last post – the big boat towing the little boats (they remind us of ducklings) – is always so cute to see.

In the past we’ve kicked around the idea of basing ourselves out of Staniel Cay, but always found ourselves being sucked down to Georgetown (“Maybe this time it will be better!”) and getting pinned down there. This time, my best friend and her husband were going to be vacationing in an Airbnb in Black Point in mid-March, so we decided to avoid going farther south than Lee Stocking until after they leave. And that’s how we discovered that Staniel Cay is definitely the winter base for us.

But before we arrived in Staniel for the first visit of the season, we upped anchor on our second morning in the Exumas and spent several lovely days at Shroud Cay, even sitting out a mild cold front.

We love Shroud – it’s so scenic.

We would have stayed longer at Shroud but the trash situation was getting critical, and we needed to replenish the snacks and the booze which was even more critical. So off we went on a beautiful sail to Staniel.

Staniel Cay is a regular stop for us, and typically we anchor right by the settlement. But since we were last here the Staniel Cay Yacht Club (i.e. marina) has installed moorings along our preferred anchor site, so we decided to round the bend and try Big Majors Spot – a place we had previously stayed for one night.

This nurse shark came by to say hello as soon as we dropped the anchor at Staniel.

Being sure to anchor far away from Pig Beach (too many go-fast power boats with tourists who want to swim with the pigs), we tucked ourselves close to land and were VERY well protected from the strong easterly winds. Yes, there were more boats than we prefer and it was a wet dingy ride into town (more on that in another post), but it was comfortable and had a good “feel.”

Having several boats in the anchorage isn’t as bad when you’re in the front row.

Between the number of boats in Staniel and nearby Black Point, I was surprised that there wasn’t a cruiser’s net. So I took the script that I had from Vero Beach and started one up, which was a lot of fun.

The first morning I was concerned I’d be like the person who invites everyone to a party and no one shows up, but to my surprise there was good participation. Encouraged, I kept it up for the next 8 days, including while we were tucked away in Rat Cay for a cold front. I had a lot of fun with it, and by doing it we met several cruisers.

It was when we moved to Rat Cay for the cold front that we were convinced that Staniel would be our winter base in the Exumas. While Rat isn’t the PERFECT spot for a cold front, it’s good enough. Great holding, and it’s a short hop from Staniel.

A beautiful view from our anchorage in Rat Cay.
And we only had to share it with one other boat.

While we waited for the weather to improve, we relaxed, baked bread, and even had a visit from Joyce and Matt who we met at Shenny back in 2017 when they bought their first cruising boat. We hadn’t seen them since New Year’s Eve in Miami, right before Covid hit, so it was wonderful to catch up.

English muffin bread has become a breakfast staple on Pegu Club.

But once the front passed it was time to go explore. I couldn’t get any volunteers to take over the net, so it went silent until we planned to return. But we were definitely planning to return – we had to pick up our new outboard that was going to be delivered on the mailboat! More on that in the next post.

13 thoughts on “After four trips, we’ve found our Exumas winter base.

  1. best one yet guys. We sit here refitting our yacht, torn between the desire to build an art project and a functioning touring vessel (our desire for both). Our love of the dock seems to be waning and being on anchor is waxing (moon reference). Each year that we have had a boat, each season has been very different. You know how you think things are going to be a certain way because that is how it has been, but then everything changes? That has been every year for us. We both have an overwhelming feeling that things on the boat are changing again this year. I think it may mean that we will be spending a lot more time away from the dock. Rose took a new position that gives us Thursday night to Saturday night…maybe this year we learn to really sail.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Brian! I completely understand what you mean. When we did our refit on Pegu Club, the winters were for projects and the summers were for sailing. Without that balance it would have been much more of a grind.

      Glad Rose has a better schedule now. That will really help when it comes to getting off the dock. We LOVE being anchored out. There’s nothing quite like swinging on the hook. See you two in a few more months! Kimberly


  2. Hi Kimberly,
    Sorry we didn’t see you on the way down. Your Shroud Cay comment struck a nerve. When we were down that way sailing north from Staniel to Highbourne we stopped for the night at Shroud Cay. It was great until the wind started picking up from the east. And picking up. We were in the area where there were moorings. Due to the impending squalls that were coming through we declined to pick up a mooring with a short scope. We paid out 200′ of chain in front of another cruiser (lots of room) who picked up a mooring. Squalls came through during the night at 65 plus. We were fine but the poor guy behind us spent all the time of the squalls on the bow checking his mooring and bobbing about frantically. Waves breaking on the sea wall about 150 yards to the east of us. Quite a night. There were reports the next day that squalls of 100 plus came through Eletheura. quite a mess for them. That was about 7 years ago. Stay safe and enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Norman – we were sorry to skip St. Augustine and miss you two, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for that rocket launch. Hopefully this fall!

      Yikes – sounds like it was quite a night in Shroud! I wonder if that was the same time as the derecho in Georgetown? The timing sounds about right. We would have done the same as you two. We definitely trust our anchor more than a mooring. It’s funny, before we started this adventure it was the exact opposite. 🙂 Hope you two are loving life in St. Augustine! Kimberly


  3. I have been following your posts for a few years off and on, but as you know, life can get in the way. Did I read somewhere that you sold your water maker? If so, is there a post you can refer me to? We are going to begin our adventures this coming winter and a water maker is on the top of our list. Would love to know more. Thanks,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Life definitely gets in the way – I can totally relate! We did sell our watermaker but we have since purchased another one (I’ll do a post on it eventually). They are both Rainman watermakers – the first one was their petrol version, and this one is the 110 powered by a generator.

      We really liked the Rainman (obviously) which is why we stuck with the brand, but we went with the 110 version this time because it was quite a bit quieter than the petrol version. It was a bit of a leap of faith based on the decibel specs, but the difference was absolutely noticeable. We have installed this one so the only thing we need to take out of the lazarette is the Honda, then we connect the hoses and fire it up. It definitely performs to spec – we are getting about 18-20 gph out of it.

      Where are you guys planning to go this winter, and where are you starting from? Let me know your boat name when you get a chance, and hopefully we’ll cross paths! Kimberly


      1. We have a Seaward 32RK named LaVida. We plan on cruising around FL and The Keys. Maybe make the jump to the Bahamas. We’ll see. It’s a big deal for us newbies.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Pretty boat! We had one in the slip next to us last summer.

        Some cruisers feel like they’re “doing it wrong” or are “lesser” in some way if they don’t go to the Bahamas (or farther), but my philosophy is as long as someone is having fun, it doesn’t matter where they’re cruising. There’s no one way to do it. 🙂 Enjoy! Kimberly


      3. Wise words for sure. We did a 5 week trial run last year from Ft. Myers down the west coast to Marathon and back. Loved every minute of it. We’ll hope to see you out there!


  4. Great post! Sounds like you guys are having an good trip. New outboard ??
    We’re still at Donny’s. Docks and moorings full with at least a dozen boats anchored outside. Going to head further down the chain next week when Whale channel looks good.
    Maybe we’ll make it down to the Exumas next season!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep – we picked up a two-stroke 4hp from Nassau to give ourselves a bit more speed on longer trips. I’m glad you’re having a great stay at Donny’s! We loved it there. It’s definitely easy to spend an entire season in the Abacos. Have a great time, and I’m sure we’ll share an anchorage up there when we make our way north. We’ll probably be in the Abacos in late April/early May. Kimberly


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