When we left Georgetown we sailed north along the Atlantic side of the Exumas up to Rudder Cut Cay where we navigated our first cut on to the Exuma bank. Our interpretation of the timing for slack tidal current proved to be good and the ride through the cut was relatively smooth. We anchored for the night after a couple failed attempts and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.
The next morning we had plans to continue sailing, but first had to dinghy to the next cove over and check out David Copperfield’s Stainless Steel Mermaid and Piano sculpture, conveniently located an island down the chain from his own private island (I wouldn’t put a tourist attraction in my back yard either). While neither Chrissy or I can hold our breath for long, we did make it down to rub the mermaid’s tail for good luck.
The other attraction on Rudder Cut Cay is the cave. We had watched a couple of tour boats pull in for a quick photo opportunity while we were having our breakfast, so we figured we too should take a look so we dinghied in and cooled off in the refreshing water.
The charts showed the water was a little too thin to navigate north on the banks, so we sailed out through the cut back to the Atlantic at high tide and jumped back onto the bank a few miles north. Then we continued sailing along the Exuma bank in the beautiful shallow, turquoise water. Needless to say it was a bit of an adjustment sailing in 9-12′ of water and we did keep the jib furled while we worked through a shallow spot, but after that we cruised along briskly at 6+ knots with one eye on the depth sounder and the other watching for any change in the bottom colour of the water.
This must be some of the best sailing around. Beautiful water colour, an island chain to break the Atlantic waves, and best of all the islands are low, so they don’t alter the winds!
When we tucked into White point for the night we realized just how small the world is. Shortly after anchoring, the couple from the other boat dinghied over on their way to the beach to greet the other Canadian boat. As they approached they realized they knew our boat quite well. Turns out couple aboard Liesel, are friends with the previous owners and had sailed on Altera back on Georgian Bay! We later had a nice chat on the beach. Definitely a surprise considering how big and remote the Bahamas are.
Mom, I know you said you wanted to see more pictures of me on the blog, so when I found a nice backdrop and a rocky beach that I could perch the camera on I gave it my best. Here I am, too slow stumbling over the rocks for the automatic shutter.
Oops, better timing, but….
Crooked horizon and too much shadow on my face… I can do better with the flash.
That is if my eyes were open, I was in focus and not standing in front of the boat…
Oh well, still not great, but it will have to do. Maybe I should dig out the remote control for the camera. I guess I better not quit my day job to become a photographer.
After an overnight stop at Black Point we carried on to Big Majors Spot for a night. We dinghied over to Staniel Cay to wander around and then the next morning felt a Sunday drive was in order, so we piled into the dinghy for a circumnavigation of Big Majors Spot.
Thunderball grotto was the first stop to snorkel in the cave. Lots of fish and a very cool spot to swim.
Then a view of Staniel Cay in the distance.
A beach stop for a photo, a swim and of course frisbee for Magnus.
Then onto the big attraction of Big Majors, the swimming pigs. This guy was coming right out for our dinghy expecting to be fed. Unfortunately we couldn’t get any closer as Magnus did not approve, so we quickly backed up until the pig turned around.
I think during this week, we used more gas in the outboard than we did diesel on Altera.
While we had been making good progress and moving each day, a morning trip to the beach for Magnus put an end to our streak. The tide was in the final stages of going out when we landed on shore and by the time we had left the dinghy had come down a few inches to rest on some conch shells. I gently tried to pull it into the water but didn’t lift the stern high enough and then I heard the rush of air out of the tube. I quickly got the dinghy afloat, Magnus aboard and we scurried back to the boat as fast as we could watching the port tube go limp as we went.
Chrissy and I took the motor off and pulled the dinghy on deck so we could assess the damage and I went to work on the repair. For those who said I would regret not having a hard bottom dinghy, I will kindly point out that in this case it didn’t matter, it was the tube and not the bottom that I punctured. However, I did find the source of the small leak through the floor (that I wouldn’t have had with a hard bottom dinghy) and fixed that too.
With our dinghy back in operation the next day, we set out to snorkel on a plane wreck.
And the Aquarium at O’Brians Cay which was really cool. While we had seen better coral in other spots, nowhere else have the fish been willing to swim so close. Dozens of fish within arms reach. Although if you reached out they would move a foot or two out of reach.
Now, here is the kicker. This beach was the same distance from where we anchored as the beach that holed the dinghy. If only I had known what was tucked around the corner….
From there we carried on to Warderick wells for a rolly night of sleep, following the break down of the outboard motor on Magnus’ bedtime run to shore. Why it had happen when we were anchored a quarter mile out, I don’t know, but that adventure is a story on its own. The next morning I rebuilt the carburetor and we headed off snorkelling near the Land and Sea Park office. Chrissy took her turn first and after a while made a quick straight line back to the dinghy. When she climbed aboard she noted that there was a small shark, but not to worry he didn’t show any interest and there were lots of fish to see. Uh Huh. I went anyway and watched the shark lying on the bottom while I kept my distance. For some reason I didn’t see all the fish that Chrissy had mentioned, but the coral was different and the water pleasant and the lack of fish seemed to prompt the shark to carry along.
Hawksbill Cay was the final stop in the Exumas and we joined an Australian boat in the anchorage and shortly after another Canadian boat came in. The Aussies invited us all over that evening and we had a pleasant social outing with everyone sharing stories of our travels and plans.