March by the numbers.

We spent most of this month in Eleuthera before moving to the Abacos as we began our journey north back to Connecticut.

A big driver of our expenses this month (at 27% of the total) was the renewal of our cruising permit for $500.00.  The Bahamian government changed the cruising permit renewal fee structure without publicizing it (or putting it in writing on the customs website).  When we learned through the Facebook Bahamas groups that a renewal was going to be $500 instead of the $150 (for our boat size) like it used to be, we debated going back to the U.S. early since we were only planning on staying for five or six weeks past our renewal date.

But ultimately we decided to pay up.  In weighing the pros and cons we felt it was too soon temperature-wise to start heading north, so we would have sat on a mooring in Vero while waiting for the weather to warm up.  Between the mooring and ready access to a good grocery store, we would have spent more than $500 in a month without the benefit of being able to snorkel or swim in pretty water right off the boat.  Not to mention the zero-to-single-digit daily Covid cases here – something that can’t be said about any spot in the U.S.

So we ponied up the money, but to say we weren’t happy about the unannounced change is putting it mildly.

With all of that said, here we go: Continue reading “March by the numbers.”

Hooked on Eleuthera.

After we waved goodbye to Rock Sound, we had a great sail to one of our favorite anchorages in Eleuthera (well, of the ones we’ve seen so far): Alabaster Bay.  This anchorage is simply gorgeous, and while we would have loved to stay a bit longer, the wind direction wasn’t really cooperating with a southerly component. 

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Before raising the anchor at Rock Sound, Jeff needed to get rid of this squid he found on the side deck, who had obviously seen better days.

Continue reading “Hooked on Eleuthera.”

A fortuitous decision.

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. Continue reading “A fortuitous decision.”

A series of poor decisions.

I think it’s almost inevitable.  If you do anything long enough, you start to get a bit complacent.  The only problem with doing that on a boat is Mother Nature will give you a smack in the face to bring you back to your senses.  Fortunately the repeated smacks we experienced over a a few weeks didn’t do any damage except to our psyche.

Leaving Red Shanks turned out to be the first of a series of poor decisions for Pegu Club’s crew.  After a rolly motor sail to Lee Stocking, we enjoyed a great day anchored in front of “our” beach, doing some snorkeling and swimming.  The water was already warmer than it had been just a few weeks ago which was a welcome development – it will only get warmer as the days go by!

Looking at the weather forecast, the wind was going to clock more to the south-southeast which meant that the anchorage in Lee Stocking would be fairly exposed.  We decided we would ride it out the next day – our first poor decision.  The winds ended up being substantially higher than forecast so that by mid-morning it was honking in the steady low 20’s with higher gusts, bringing 3+ foot waves onto a lee shore.  For non-sailors, that means the wind was blowing towards the land – not good.  We raised the anchor and motored over to Rat Cay – a much better decision.

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A pretty sunset off of Rat Cay.

The next day we took a look at the tide tables and the weather and decided we should move north in anticipation of a front that would be arriving in several days.  It was a long day but a very nice sail, and we ended up back in Pipe Cay where we anchored in our up-to-that-point favorite spot in Pipe where we planned to wait out the front.  Our second poor decision.  We dropped the anchor slightly west of where we had during our previous visits – something that we would find out later was our third poor decision. Continue reading “A series of poor decisions.”

Escape from Red Shanks.

Last year we were stuck in George Town and Red Shanks for close to a month as we waited out cold front after cold front.  It’s not that there’s anything wrong with George Town and Red Shanks per se.  It’s just that it’s not for us.  So what did we do this year?  The strongest front of the winter was coming, we were 25 nautical miles away in Lee Stocking, and we let the siren calls of the most well-stocked grocery stores in the Exumas suck us back in.

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Passing the Three Sisters on the way to George Town.

Continue reading “Escape from Red Shanks.”

Next stop: The Exumas.

We had to settle for a motor sail from Rock Sound, but it was well worth it because after an uneventful day (except for the joy of the dolphins that followed along beside us for ten minutes – they never get old!) we were dropping the anchor in one of our favorite spots: Pipe Cay.  A small blow was predicted so the next day we followed our track from last year’s adventure and slid into our hands-down favorite hidey hole in the back of Pipe. Although we still play the tides, it’s MUCH less stressful being able to follow last year’s track on the chart plotter.

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I never get tired of this view from “our” spot in Pipe Cay.

After the blow we moved over to Staniel Cay (another favorite spot), then proceeded to spend the next week and a half moving between Staniel and Pipe as the weather dictated. We found a great spot to snorkel in Pipe and alternated between exploring and loafing around until we saw a nice stretch of weather to continue farther south.

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We found this lovely new-to-us beach on the northern part of Staniel Cay. Next time we’ll return with our snorkel gear and our swimsuits!

Weather can be so cool.  This picture was off the starboard side of the boat at Staniel one morning:

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And this was the view off the port side of the boat:

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A stop in Little Bay was next, along with a hike to the blow hole (which I find very entertaining) in Black Point:

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Thar she blows!

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We then moved on to Lee Stocking where we snorkeled among plenty of fish and several rays, including one that was literally at least three feet across.

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We absolutely love Lee Stocking.  The water is so clear, and between the swimming, snorkeling, and hiking, we could easily spend weeks there (something we hope to do on our way north now that we have a water maker).  

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The water is so clear. When the wind drops off we could see the marks our anchor chain made.

 

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It’s always nice to be able to glance down and see how deep the anchor is buried.

 

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The dinghy looked like it was floating on air.

Unfortunately after several days a look at the weather for the upcoming week made it clear to us that it was time to skedaddle. After debating whether to head north back up to Pipe or south to Red Shanks, the desire to get more food at a well-stocked and reasonably priced (for the Bahamas) grocery store tipped the scales, so we pointed the bow towards Red Shanks near George Town.

Nine days in Rock Sound.

We spent almost a week and a half in Rock Sound before moving on to the Exumas.  We like Rock Sound quite a bit.  There are some things to see, it’s a very good place to stock up on groceries and supplies, and the anchorage is great – excellent holding, plenty of room regardless of the number of boats, and good all-around protection as long as you’re willing to move your boat depending on the wind direction.

It has been truly amazing at how few cruisers we’ve seen.  When we were in Rock Sound our first year there were probably 30 other boats.  This time we shared the anchorage with two others until a blow came in which raised the number of boats to a whopping six.

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We had one other cruising boat in our section of the anchorage until the day before a blow was forecasted.

Continue reading “Nine days in Rock Sound.”

Our first experience trying to buy parts in the Bahamas.

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They say that cruising is fixing your boat in exotic places, but we have been extremely lucky since cutting the dock lines.  Of course it helped that we did a complete refit on the boat before we left, but so far it’s been easy to find parts for the few minor repairs we’ve had.  Well, our luck officially ran out last month.

Over the summer we, unbeknownst to us, had some water in the gasoline that went into the water maker.  We discovered it over the summer when the water maker engine was coughing, just like the engine on our dinghy outboard did when we had water in that gas last winter in Red Shanks.  So we poured out the gas and proceeded to use the water maker without any issues.  Until. . . .

We went to start it when we were anchored in Royal Island, Eleuthera and saw that gasoline was leaking out of the carburetor.  After doing some inspecting, Jeff noticed that the bolts holding the carb in place were loose, so he carefully tightened them.  Now, Jeff used to be an air frames mechanic in the Marines so he knows how far he should tighten bolts.  So the only thing we can figure is that there was a quality control issue with the bolt, because it broke.

Continue reading “Our first experience trying to buy parts in the Bahamas.”