Heading back North

 

We are now planning for the return trip back to the states. We need to go back through Nassau to have Jenny’s passport stamped with her B1B2 VISA, before we can take the boat into the US. Jenny wants to meet up with her girlfriend from Dublin who is visiting Orlando in May. So we decided that we would try to make it back to South Florida for that to happen.

Our last night in George Town was spent on board Tabula Rasa, a lovely N55, hosted by Scott and Paula, and we also met Dieter and Christian, from an N40 Sandpiper. We both love the extra space of the N55, especially in the master suite and the separate utility room. The captains cabin and day head are also a real luxury. But we had opted for our N47 based mostly on economy – both of purchase price and operation cost, and we love our boat.

So we left George Town for the last time this season, with winds less than ideal. The weather forecast calls for 20-30 knots for the next week or longer, and we just did not want to sit in George Town for that much time. We counted it up and we have been in GT for 6 weeks. And I am bored of the place.

So with a slight lull in the predicted winds, only 15-20knots NE, we left GT early in the morning. We have done the trip from GT to Rudder Cut Cay (one of our favorite anchorages so far) so we knew we can tuck away from the predicted strong NE trades.

The trip of 30 miles ways pretty pleasant, with the stabilizers keeping the roll on the beam and making it a reasonable ride, and we had some great fishing on the passage. We had 5 Mahi on the lines, one broke off (broke the braid), one was average/small and we put him back, and we kept 3 good sized Mahi for dinners.

We are very lucky as we can freeze the fish fresh and have it later. We have been eating fish at least 4-5 nights per week lately. And we never tire of it. The thrill of fighting these magnificent animals, often they leap and shake the hook, to boating them, and ultimately to having these very gorgeous looking and tasting fish on board is an amazing part of the cruising lifestyle.

We love Rudder Cut Cay. We anchored off of the caves and can hear the echo of the waves as they bounce off the interior of the cavern.

We stayed a couple of nights at Rudder Cay just off the cave, the winds continue to pound from the NNE, making the cut between the banks and the sound very, very rough.

One of the reasons we decided to go to Rudder cut, besides its natural beauty, is that we were planning to stay on the banks side with the winds predicted. 8-10 foot seas with the prevailing winds are already pounding the east side of the islands.

The nice thing about the Exumas, is that you can travel on the banks side once you are inside Rudder Cut or Cave Cay cut, all the way back to Nassau. Downside is that you really cannot fish, as you will only catch barracuda or jacks- reef predators such as barracuda, jacks and even grouper can ingest a toxin that grows on the reefs, its called a ciguatoxin caused by dynoflagulates (tiny zooplankton that live on the reef). The larger or more predatory the fish, bio magnification can amplify the toxin up the food chain, potentially causing good size edible fish to be toxic.

One of the really nice things about catching Mahi or Tuna, are that these are pelagic and not likely have ingested any significant ciquatoxins.

So after two nice nights at Rudder Cay, we plotted a very narrow course around the back side of Rudder Cut, along Musha Cay (perhaps a 10’ wide channel of deep enough water) to take at the mornings high tide.

We have found that the Navionics charts, we use off the IPAD on the flybridge is not very accurate in the shallow banks waters. The C-map or Explorer charts and the chart guides are very accurate for planning the movements along the banks where depth is critical.

We draw 5 ½ feet on Southern Star, but with a high tide we are able to move around pretty well with these charts.

And so the trip around Musha caused a few moments of sucking in your breath to help to lighten the draft. After we passed the Musha Cay anchorage we were in nice waters, and we had been across them before, so we had our bread crumb trail to follow. Jenny stayed in the pilot house reading the charts off the ships computer, which does not come to the flybridge. I like to handle the boat in the shallows from the fly bridge as I have excellent visibility for reading the waters, and can eyeball to the deeper water much easier from there.

The team effort works out nicely, and we are soon heading through Big Farmer and Little Farmers Cay passage toward the west side of Great Guana Cay. We move over to take a look at Oven Rock anchorage, but feel that it does not offer great shelter, from the brisk 30knot easterly winds.

We finally decide to drop the pick at White Point, along another beautiful white sand beach. The first night we have 3 other boats around us. The second night we were the only boat in the anchorage.

We were treated to a fireworks show after dark on second night. We could not figure out where it was coming from. The spectacle seemed to be from Great Guana Cay or offshore it (not likely due to the 10’ seas).

Mystery was uncovered the next morning when a large super yacht moved out from one of the more southerly anchorages and came into view.

We picked up the hook early and plotted a course to Staniel Cay- to anchor off Big Major cay, home of the famous swimming pigs.

2 ½ hours later we were shocked to see multiple boats in the anchorage. We’d forgotten that it was Easter week end, and unknowing that Florida boats take Easer week to head over to the Exumas.

We found a hole between a 60’ trawler, and a 40 Hanse sailboat. We dropped a good amount of scope out in anticipation of the forecast 30 knot winds.

The anchorage swelled with more Florida boats. Super Yachts lay well off the cays coming into the anchorage, but we were surrounded by 75-90 foot power boats, with massive go fast tenders. We were part of the Florida boat set. Staniel Cay Marina was packed with large motor vessels. We dumped trash, went to the Blue Store to buy some bread, finding only hamburger buns, bagels, and a 6 pack of Tonic water for $20. The Yacht Club bar and restaurant packed and declined to go inside to have a beer.

Jenny hates the idea of pigs swimming out to take handouts, trying to climb into the dink. She refuses to let me go anywhere near Pig Beach. It is too windy and rough to try snorkel Thunderball  Grotto, made famous by a James Bond scene filmed there.

We were thinking of moving along a bit further to the north, but were afraid it would be crowded at Pipe Cay, or Cambridge, so we opted to wait out the crowds.

And as we thought the jet ski crowd, off the Miami Vice boats started thinning out somewhat today, Saturday. We anticipate they will be headed back to Nassau this week end to return to Florida.

And so my cabin fever grows, and we are now caught up with the blog.

More later when we forge on after the week end warriors move along.

 

Staniel Cay photos

 

 

 

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