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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.