We moved over from Southside, Ragged Island to Hog Cay when the winds were predicted to go hard from the North and the North East. We moved over with Roam, and anchored to the north of the popular beach with the Hog Cay Yacht Club tiki hut.
We dropped the hook in 2.5 meters of crystal clear water, I could see patches of turtle grass, but the bottom was mostly a white sand bottom. The cliffs were higher here, made of sandstone that descend abruptly to the blue water. The sparse vegetation is green, and from a distance the island looks lush.
Wild goats live on Hog Cay, their bleeps travel from the brush out to our boat on the still windless night.
A beautiful white sand beach lies to the north of our anchorage, it stretches out and widens to the remains of a salt pond, now dry.
We visit by dinghy the popular Hog Cay tiki hut, very well constructed and in the lee of a tall hill of sandstone. It survived the huge hurricane that destroyed Duncan Town, Hurricane Irma, last season.
The residents of Duncan Town build the tiki hut for the cruisers to enjoy the beach. There are tables, and chairs, a fire pit, and a BBQ. It is very comfortable and civilized.
One morning, we took the hike from the Tiki Hut to the windward side of the island, with Clark and Michelle, with whom we are exploring the Raggeds. We journeyed across the crest of the island, up a nicely marked walking trail to the other side. The windward side of all of the islands are piled with ocean litter. Mounds of plastics are piled on these otherwise pristine Islands. We walk and look at all of the debris, plastic bags that used to hold drinking water are everywhere, plastic bottles, oil cans, 5 gallon plastic buckets, old polypropylene rope, and plastic shoes are everywhere.
I wonder where it all comes from. We were told the water bags were from Haiti, potable water for drinking shipped to Haiti for the earthquake relief efforts.
It brings on a real sadness to see the environment so overcome by human created plastic litter.
We are invited to a beach BBQ and bonfire one night at the Tiki Hut. We enjoy meeting the sailors off of the other boats anchored off of Hog Cay. These are almost all Americans, and mostly are on Catamaran sail boats. Many have come to these out islands for many years, a few like us are exploring for the first time.
We talk to the sailors on a Voyage Cat, named “Endangered Species” who have circum-navigated the globe. We talk about New Zealand, a place they loved when they were on that side of the world.
We have our story pretty well down pat now. We are full time live-aboards and are slowly taking “Southern Star” back to her and our home in New Zealand.
It was a good night sharing food and stories with the other cruisers. I continue to be surprised how much more social our sailing is than it was in New Zealand.
We journey to Duncan Town one afternoon before the cold front arrives. It is a pretty long dinghy ride, through a very narrow and very, very shallow channel through the mangroves and into Duncan Town. We tie the dink up at the government dock, where we see two other dinks from cruisers.
We walk up the hill toward the township. The devastation of Irma is everywhere. Almost every building shows damage. I see where there was once two story buildings are now one story, with the top floor and roof blown off. Concrete block constructed buildings, their roofs are gone and their walls are in rubble.
The police building is abandoned, the medical clinic the roof is gone and the walls down. Maxine’s Store is also missing the second story. Wooden power poles 12” in diameter and lying on the ground splintered at ground level by the horrific force of the hurricane winds. God, what a nightmare it must have been to have experienced such a biblical storm.
We find our way over to a pub, where we find 3 other parties of newly friended cruisers. The bar is dark and cool inside, and we walk past 3-4 Bahamian men sitting in the porch in the shade. I nod and say good day.
We order nice cold beers from our lady bar tender. She seems to enjoy the loud stories of our cruiser friends. I know that she must enjoy having some commerce in the bar in the almost derelict town.
Unfortunately there is no food being served, so Jenny and I had a beer and then headed back to the boat. The tide was up since we came in, and the channel was an easier passage than earlier.
There are only about 40 people living on Ragged Island, Duncan Town post Irma. There were over 200 prior. They still have no running water, and have a water maker set up to make potable water in the centre of town.
These are a hardy bunch of Bahamians.
Once on the boat, one of the fisherman stopped by to pedal some crayfish or conch. We already have a freezer full of crays; I said I did not want to clean the conch.
“That’s my job mon.” And so I agreed to purchase 2 conchs, $2 each. I slipped him a fiver and a couple of beers and Jenny made a great conch salad for our dinner that night.
The winds picked up that night, and yesterday even though we had out both flopper stoppers, the roll was very uncomfortable. We were hunkered down, having a rain day. I finished reading Hemingway, ‘To have to have not.’
Roam called us to report that in front if the Tiki hut, further to the south, the wind was the same (25-30 knots) but the roll did not reach that far. And so we move over to the more crowded anchorage.
We have 9 or 10 boats around us today. The wind continued to blow all night, with the port holes open we had to cover ourselves to stay warm. When the boat shifted against the anchor chain, the wind would stop coming into the cabin, and I had to uncover to cool down. All night I tossed the covers on and then pulled them off.
Today, we still have 25 knots, but the boat is much quieter now. We did a few chores, I fixed the leaking cockpit shower connection, while Jenny cleaned and made spotless the forward guest cabin and head and shower for the arrival of one of her besties from the UK, Elizabeth and her daughter Elise.
We plan to head back north in the next day or so, trying to time the relief of the winds as the cold front moves out of the area. We should be back in GT by the week end.
I am thinking of spending some time in the Tiki hut, with a few beers and another book may be the order of the day.