The winds were just starting to build as we entered the approach to Cambridge Cay. There was an anchorage to our left, a mooring field to our right, and a large sandbar and reef to negotiate. We had a relatively severe weather event approaching, with unusual westerly winds predicted of over 40 knots. For this reason, we had decided to take a mooring if one was available. As we rounded the point we were surprised to see only 3 moorings taken, so we nudged up to one that Ted thought would give best protection from the west, and picked up the line.
A short time later, we were hailed on the VHF radio by Sea Turtle, an N50 who had been following us down towards Cambridge. We had met Michel and Caroline with Robbie in North Palm Beach, and had been told by Houmana that they were close by. They had chosen to anchor rather than pick up a mooring, but visited us later on their dinghy after walking their dog on one of the beaches.
We were also visited by the Park Ranger who we paid $90 for three nights on the mooring.
I hopped in the water and was immediately swept backwards by the current which we hadn’t realized was so strong. Later, after dark, Ted put the underwater lights on and we were able to watch fish circling our boat including two good sized nurse sharks.
The bad weather wasn’t predicted to come till Sunday night, so Sunday morning we launched the kayak for the first time and each went for a paddle. The wind was building so we used the crane to retrieve the kayak and secure it back on board. We then hopped in the water and did a quick scrub of the waterline. We couldn’t remove the yellow stain from her time in the ICW, which will require more work. We are in the middle of the Exuma sea park and it occurred to us that there might be restrictions on cleaning your boat here.
The one other downside of the location was that there is absolutely no cellphone coverage. Not only did this mean no email or internet in general, it also meant that I was completely out of touch with any news of the outcome of Championship Sunday. We had an earlier email from Shalaylee saying they would be at Emerald Bay where they had good dockage rates, and they’d be watching the game there. I was gutted to be missing it, but with the storm approaching we had no choice but to remain where we were. I still didn’t know who had won until I got a text from our old neighbours in NZ confirming that Patriots had reached the Superbowl. We will definitely be located somewhere in two weeks time to see that game.
The wind continued to build through Sunday, but the real stuff wasn’t due to hit till Monday around noon. That morning we listened to Chris Parker’s weather report which advised that the front would be even more severe than we had thought, with winds possibly up to 60 knots. Ted called him on the SSB to get a specific prediction for our immediate vicinity which confirmed the general report, although he did say that the front may be partially broken by the time it reached us, and we might escape the worst of it.
We spent the morning securing the boat and waiting. Right on cue at noon, the first front rolled across us from the west with winds of around 30. But it passed quickly, as predicted, and the afternoon calmed down until around 4pm, when the second front came in with more winds and by this time we were positioned with opposing wind and current – pretty uncomfortable all night. Ted slept in the wheelhouse to monitor our position relative to the other boats around us. But the winds never got over 35 knots fortunately, so we avoided the worst of it.
By Monday morning, again as predicted the worst had passed and by noon winds were down to 15 which felt positively light. There was other excitement however that morning. We were sitting in the salon when a seaplane flew immediately overhead, circled and landed within a few hundred metres of us. At the same time, two large tenders appeared and we heard VHF chatter between them and the plane, which had moved to be almost right in front of us. The tenders were from a boat called Legend, and we could see the superstructure of a superyacht on the other side of the Cay. A number of passengers moved from the plane to the larger of the tenders, and were taken away towards the superyacht. The second tender then offloaded the luggage, which was covered to make it waterproof, and they also departed. The plane fired up the propeller and took off, again right in front of us. With no access to the internet we couldn’t investigate who owns SY Legend but it did make us feel for a moment like we are sharing the lifestyle of the rich and famous.
Tuesday we dropped the mooring and moved over to the free anchorage off of Bell Cay. There were only about 3 boats there. There had been about 15 boats here for the storm. We worked our way into the gently shoaling anchorage, until we dropped the hook in about 2 metres of water. The water so clear, you could count the ripples in the sand, and the past anchor drag marks from the past weather event.
We launched the dinghy with the crane, as set off to do some exploring. To snorkel the ‘aquarium’, the guide book listed as beautiful snorkeling spot. We tied off to a dinghy mooring with the dink and dropped into the water. We were a bit disappointed with the condition of the reef, with a lot of bleaching (due to the water temperatures) and the fish life was sparse. The visibility was a bit murky as the water had yet to settle.
We stayed overnight one more night and then left in the morning for the short run to Staniel Cay about 9 miles. We planned to do some fishing as soon as we left the Exuma Marine Park.
Venturing outside the cut, we had massive currents and standing wave where the wind was against tide. We put our nose into the 2-3 short chop that was running from the South. The ride promised to be a bit bumpy, as a coffee cup full of coffee was launched across the flybridge.
Never a dull day out here, and never really know what conditions you will meet once you get out there.
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