Ragged Island Chain and leaving the Bahamas

After returning from our run to Staniel Cay to pick up a new watermaker membrane and a few odd parts we had flown in, we returned to Georgetown. It’s amazing how busy this place is. We hired a scooter for a dentist visit and change of scene, a great way to see Great Exuma Island for a day. Some nice views from the land side.

P1070882

On the social scene, this time in Georgetown, we caught up with Our Rose (Richard, guest Michael & Jen), Kairos (Fiona & Graham), No Rehearsal (Annie & Daryl) and many others we have met along the Exumas BUT It was time to head south and away from the 290 odd boats in the harbor.
P1070879

 

Celebrating Annie's birthday

Celebrating Annie’s birthday

 

We headed out of Georgetown with Our Rose to the Jumentos Cays and Ragged Islands in the south eastern chain of the Bahamas. This chain of islands and cays is largely uninhabited, a place to get away from it all. There are no marinas, no place to provision and few boats, just natural beauty so you must be self reliant when coming here. We had a great down wind sail and even got our screechers out. Nice!
P1070890

Our new screecher

Our new screecher

Our first stop was at Water Cay where we walked the beaches, enjoyed the peace & calm of empty bays and our own anchorage. We went out to see the blue holes, even managing to hunt out lots of lobster for dinner. At last, Yum!

At Flamingo Cay we got the kayaks down and visited some caves, walked across the island to a beautiful u-shaped beach where we found the wreckage of a plane on the shore. Lots of pretty beaches for a beach BBQ so of course, why not!
P1070898
P1070899
P1070905

Sausages on the barbie

Sausages on the barbie

Man of War Cay was a good stop for a little snorkeling but as the wind was changing we decided to move on to Jamaica Cay where we would get better
protection. It proved to be a beautiful spot with rocks and small cays all around it. Some local fishermen gave Jen & Richard some fish so that was a bonus as we were invited for fresh fish dinner.
P1070914

On our way down to Buena Vista Cay we tried our luck at fishing but all we caught were the big teethed barracuda. A front was coming through so we tucked ourselves into a couple of different bays on this Cay. On our walk along the western beach we met Edward a local Bahamian who is in the process of building a new home on the beach. Brett helped him fix his generator and he showed us around his small farmstead. Looks like a tough way of life here. I think he gets a lot of visits from cruisers.

Raccoon Cay had some beautiful beaches along its western shore. Snorkeling nearby we caught a couple more lobster for dinner and then enjoyed the beaches.
P1070926 P1070927

At Johnson Cay we found a beautiful horseshoe bay and walked all over the rocky island. The wind was turning to the SW and so by dusk we had 3 more boats arrive to seek protection here from the apparent strong winds that were going to arrive. There’s not a lot of places in the Raggeds to seek out protection from South or West winds.
P1070933

Plastic rubbish is something we see on many windward beaches. While the Bahamas has been reasonably clean you do still see a lot of rubbish and the eastern beach here at Johnson had rubbish. Shame! I’m not sure why but there are sooo many shoes found on beaches.
P1070935

We decided to take advantage of some NW winds and did an overnighter to Hogsty Reef, a large circular reef in the middle of the ocean, on the way to Great Inagua Island. The weather was to be settled so perfect for such a place. There are a number of wrecks sitting on the reefs which you see from a distance. We tried some snorkeling on various bommies but were disappointed with the coral and fish life here. The reef comes up from over 1000 metres to 7-8 metres so there are crashing rollers from the swell hitting the reef and couple of Cays on the reef. Very pretty but a little rolly in the reef even with calm conditions.
P1070948P1070949

Our final stop in the Bahamas was Great Inagua Island at the SE end of the Bahamas. It was a motor day as there was minimal wind. Oh well lots of odd jobs can get done including washing and cleaning the inside of the boat. Yes it’s not all fun!

Our headsets or marriage savers for anchoring needed fixing

Our headsets or marriage savers for anchoring needed fixing

 

Engine oil changes

Engine oil changes

 

Great Inagua Island’s claim to fame is the pink flamingos and the Morton Salt Company. The huge salt piles can be seen for miles.

P1070970

We went ashore for a walk around the streets of Matthew Town area after finally sorting our dingey at the harbor. There is a sunken boat in the harbor entrance, which is a bit frightening to see as its big and as you proceed further in the rocky ledges and other wrecked fishing boats does not make you feel good about docking here. The town itself has approx 1000 people most of which are employed by Morton Salt company. Everyone we met on our walk was so friendly stopping to see if we needed a lift or giving us directions. We stopped at Heathers bar for a few beers, then on to her cousin Idels for lunch and finally to Heathers brothers bakery for fresh bread right out of the oven.

Felt like we were in someone's back yard under the sun-umbrella

Felt like we were in someone’s back yard under the sun-umbrella

Off to see the old world of Cuba.

Exumas, Bahamas with friend Doug

The Exuma chain of the Bahamas is an area with beautiful white sandy beaches, turquoise shallow waters, lots of cays to stop at & enjoy and beautiful sunsets.
P1070675P1070688P1070763

With having Doug aboard we tried to hit all the hot spots down the chain

Snorkeling for Lobster along the way.

Snorkeling for Lobster along the way.

Allen's Cay to see the prehistoric iguanas.

Allen’s Cay to see the prehistoric iguanas.

 

Snorkeling the plane at Normans Cay where drug lord Carlos Lehder smuggled drugs in the 1980s before being caught and sent to jail.

Snorkeling the plane at Normans Cay where drug lord Carlos Lehder smuggled drugs in the 1980s before being caught and sent to jail.

Kayaking at Shroud Cay up the rivers

Kayaking at Shroud Cay up the rivers

 

Enjoying the beaches at a Shroud Cay

Enjoying the beaches at a Shroud Cay

Our piece of driftwood at Boo Boo hill, Warderick Wells Cay

Our piece of driftwood at Boo Boo hill, Warderick Wells Cay

Visiting the Swimming Pigs at Big Majors Spot

Visiting the Swimming Pigs at Big Majors Spot

Dinner out at Staniel Cay Yacht Club; very tasty

Dinner out at Staniel Cay Yacht Club; very tasty

Admiring the view to Williams Bay our anchorage from Perry's Peak, Rudder Cut Cay

Admiring the view to Williams Bay our anchorage from Perry’s Peak, Rudder Cut Cay

At the Chat & Chill beach on Lee Stocking Island

At the Chat & Chill beach on Lee Stocking Island

Volleyball at Lee Stocking Island with friends from Grenada

Volleyball at Lee Stocking Island with friends from Grenada

You see all sorts of wildlife some of which surprise you.

Checking out the Ramorays that came with us from 1 Cay to another

Checking out the Ramorays that came with us from 1 Cay to another

 Walking a trail and we came across this snake resting in the tree

Walking a trail and we came across this snake resting in the tree

Sharks at the dock, but they are also out in the Sound, Eeek

Sharks at the dock, but they are also out in the Sound, Eeek!

Christmas for us was spent at Warderick Wells Park at the wardens house enjoying a pot luck Turkey dinner with other cruisers.

P1070782

For New Years we were at Black Point on Great Guana Cay where the Scorpio Inn put on a great party with food, music and dancing.

image

But it’s not all play when guests come to visit.

The hull needs to be cleanned

The hull needs to be cleanned

Engines inspected & maintenance made

Engines inspected & maintenance made

 The heat can make you very sleepy. Looks a little uncomfortable Doug...

The heat can make you very sleepy. Looks a little uncomfortable Doug…

 That's better

That’s better

Enjoying a ride on a Hobbie cat with cruisers in the area. What a cool toy to have on board.

Enjoying a ride on a Hobbie cat with cruisers in the area. What a cool toy to have on board.

Doug has left and of course we catch 2 Wahoo fish on a trip North to Staniel Cay, once again filling our freezer.

P1070874P1070877

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s to a great start to 2015. We are heading to the a Western Caribbean so internet will be intermittent for us. I’ll update when I can.

Bahamas and a friend from Canada

We are back in those glorious crystal clear blue waters and white sandy beaches of the Bahamas. We cleared in at the Berry Islands just off the Grand Bahama Bank and had had a great sail across from Fort Lauderdale.
P1070614
Upon entering Nassau we saw Atlantis in the distance with all the cruise ship tourists out enjoying the beaches. We came into Nassau to tour the island and pick up Doug a friend from Calgary.
P1070624Of course we had to stop at one of the local conch salad bars for a beer and food.
P1070628P1070634

Wow wish this was us taking home our lobster for the night

Wow wish this was us taking home our lobster for the night

While in Nassau we went to a few rather busy beaches and the famous Atlantis hotel. Even managed to wander around the aquarium, which was amazing.

A rather crowded Atlantis beach

A rather crowded Atlantis beach

The marina at Atlantis

The marina at Atlantis

The amazing aquarium from above

The amazing aquarium from above

Looking down on a shark, eek

Looking down on a shark, eek

Eagle Ray up and close

Eagle Ray up and close

Sting Rays

Sting Rays

These guys look very old

These guys look very old

Merry Christmas from Brett, Doug and I. Enjoy the festivities.
P1070646
Off to the Exumas.

Abaco Islands, Bahamas

The Abaco Islands are a lot more upscale and built up from the other Bahama Islands we have been to. Such a huge variety in styles of homes. It seems to be a playground for the US, the reappearance of charter boats and lots of motor boats of various sizes buzzing about.
P1060054P1060069

 

 

 

 


P1060078P1060087

 

 

 

 

 

Abaco was settled by British loyalists who came from America during the Revolution in the late 1700’s. A number of the Cays have museums and parks that explain the history.
P1060068P1060091

P1060100

There are marinas on most of the cays. We moored in the bay of a couple to take advantage of the Internet and use of their swimming pools and for protection from heavy winds. Great for all that but…..you can hear everyone talking so yes they can hear us too!

P1060061

P1060074

At Hope Town we climbed to the top of the lighthouse to see the views out to the neighboring Cays. It was built in 1864 to steer ships clear of the reefs in the area. The lighthouse is one of the last manual lighthouses in the world with the keeper having to wind up the weights every 2 hours so it can be seen at night.
P1060058P1060066

P1060063

Most of the Cays have restaurants and bars that communicate their daily specials on a cruisers VHF radio net; so of course had to socialize. Love some of their names eg. Nippers, Grabbers, Tranquil Turtle.
P1060090G Turtle Cay

The water was an amazing colour and there were great beaches and reefs all about for snorkeling. Even came across a golf course that reminded us of our golfing days and friends waiting to start the golf season in Calgary.P1060080 P1060076

Heading to the northern Abaco Islands, which are a little more isolated and then its over to the USA.

Fishing success

Our sail to the Abaco Islands was excellent with us picking up 3 fish; 1 medium size Spanish Mackrel and 2 Mahi’s (8.4 & 10.4 kgs). The first Mahi put up a real struggle as you can see below. I don’t think he liked being held up for a photo op.P1060047
P1060046

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a shower and cleaning the cockpit the line had this beauty on it. What a beautiful colour they are as you reel them in. P1060049

 

Eleuthera Island, Bahamas

Eleuthera was a pleasant surprise with great little harbour’s to anchor in and a real community atmosphere in each of the towns. This island had more people than we have seen in such a long time (from none to some anyway). Every place we went to had something going on and music into the wee hours of the morn. As one of the locals in one town said to us “there’s a party nearly every night”. You better believe it, each community had something to celebrate and music playing somewhere. Maybe Easter celebrations had some part in the activities about but I don’t think so.

image

We entered at the Southern end of the island stopping in Rock Sound first. The folding bikes came out and we cycled about the town and over the hill to see the Atlantic Ocean making sure to stop at the big attraction in the centre of town; the Ocean Hole. You could see the local kids swimming in this great spot. Kids were feeding the fish that were in the hole. Rock Sound had a 5 day party for Homecoming where we enjoyed some local food and for one of us light sleepers heard the music till 3am!
P1050953P1050952

On the pier at Tarpum Bay the locals invited us to join them for beer and fried fish for lunch. It was actually very relaxing sitting around hearing their stories of how they had come to the island and what they did. They said they don’t get a lot of cruisers anchoring because of how shallow the water in their harbour is. We wandered the streets and people waved out and said hello. The town actually looked like it had had a lot of damage from past hurricanes where houses had not been repaired etc. This one house stood out as it had been rebuilt using the castle as its foundation and looked a little on the strange side.
P1050966P1050956

Tarpum seemed like a sleepy little place but alas, no, the music started about 9:30pm and went for hours. Once things cool down they obviously come out to play.

Governors Harbor was the first capital of the Bahamas and you could see that some money had been invested here in the past and even more recently via tourism. The walk over to see this beautiful pink beach on the Atlantic side passed a lot of fancy colonial style homes both old and new. There were a lot of historical buildings in town from the late 1800s. The pink building below is now used as a library, Est. 1897.
P1050976P1050987P1050979P1050985

At Hatchet Bay, we entered via a small cut in the rocks and found a very sheltered bay that was tucked away. Again the bikes came out and we cycled 10 miles to the Glass Window Bridge a very impressive bridge where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Exuma Sound creating a window under the bridge to each side. The original bridge was a natural arch that had worn into the rock, but had been destroyed by a hurricane. Very picturesque. It was a long hot ride but believe it or not we both felt good once we were back.
P1050995P1060001

Spanish Wells is a big fishing town. We decided to anchor off some islands near town that the locals also seemed to enjoy as Spanish Wells was a busy place. Most of the locals drive golf carts to get about so of course we had to rent a golf cart to see town, finishing up at the Shipyard for lunch with some other Canadians.
P1060007P1060011P1060016P1060017

We navigated our way around the coral heads of Devils Backbone to Harbour Island, which is a lot more touristy. We saw the local Junkanoo band perform in the restaurant we were in, went to the Pink Sand beach and wandered about town. Nice place.

HI Junkanoo

Jankanoo originated during the days of slavery when the slaves were given time off to celebrate the holidays with African dance, music and costume. They dance to cowbells, horns, whistles and goat skinned drums.

 

 

 

The Pink sand beach is tinted by crushed coral and seas shells and was powder-soft to walk on. it was amazing there just were not the people about yet it was so beautiful and the water a nice temperature.

P1060026P1060038In the Bahamas the locals gather up the fishing floats that wash up on the beaches and decorate their trees, turn them into planters and do carvings into them.

P1060014P1050992Heading to the Abaco Islands, which are still part of the Bahamas.

Exumas chain, Bahamas – 2

What an interesting area Staniels Cay through the Exuma Cays land & Sea Park to Allans Cay is.
imageimage

The entry in through the cut to Staniels Cay was a little on the rough side with water rushing all around us. This was what we saw in front of our boat as we surfed some of the waves in and the following photo is Our Rose coming in after us. Needless to say not many boats leaving the cut at this time.
P1050715P1050722
Once inside, Staniel Cay was very pretty with lots to see and do. Amazing coloured water.
P1050727P1050743
P1050741

The nurse sharks in the marina not so nice…..
P1050740

Snorkeling with the fish and seeing great coral in the Thunderball grotto, from the 1964 James Bond movie Thunderball, was impressive. We may have to watch this movie again.

image

The wild pigs on the beach at Big Major Cay some of which swim out to meet the dingy for food were entertaining to watch.

P1050756

P1050755

Pirates beach at Big Major Cay made for a great place to have sausages over an open fire and marshmallows. Cruisers have made a great area to enjoy a BBQ and play games.
P1050780P1050788
P1050781

Of course more great sunsets….

P1050752

Warderick Wells is in the Exumas Cay Park and is a no take zone so no fishing. The North Mooring field was so pretty with a small channel that you come up to get a mooring ball. There were great hikes on the island one of which took us up to Boo Boo Hill with terrific views of the area and to a monument made by cruisers where they leave driftwood with their names on it.
P1050860P1050849

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P1050812P1050833
P1050815

The snorkeling in the park was impressive with giant lobster climbing over the coral. We only wished we had caught a lobster as big but I guess they are in the Park so they can grow.

Shroud Cay was a great place to get in the kayaks and make our way through the mangrove rivers to the Exumas Sound side. No motorized vehicles in one channel so Richard rowed the dingy, which was a good effort given how far it seemed to go and how shallow it got.
P1050873P1050864
P1050882

Normans Cay, an island known in the late 70’s early 80’s for its drug smuggling operations. It was here that Carlos Lehder used it as a base for smuggling cocaine into the United States. The DEA set up spies on neighboring cays and gained enough evidence to indict and imprison him. Just off the shore towards the airport runway there is a wrecked DC3 in shallow water a reminder of the drug smuggling days.
P1050907

At Allan’s Cay we went to see the Exuma Iguanas, which came running towards the dingy and stood waiting patiently for food. We counted 18 on the beach.

P1050936

The sharks at Highborne Cay Marina were huge and hungry! Eeeek.

P1050914

Public transport not as efficient by the look of things.
image

We had a delicious meal out at Highborne Cay Marina. We were celebrating a surprise early birthday for Richard and our final dinner out with Jen & Richard.

P1050945

See you in the US Jen & Richard….lots of good times were definitely had. They are heading towards Florida, so West and we are heading East to Eleuthera Island.

P1050898

The Exumas chain, Bahamas – 1

Well there’s not a lot of Internet about, hence the reason I have not been able to update our blog. These islands are pretty much uninhabited.

You access different Cays or islands through small cuts so we need to make sure that its either a wide cut or its calm to see the reefs as you enter. The currents can be very strong going through the cuts too so can make for things being interesting. We first entered at Rat Cay Cut below.P1050666

The inside passages are well protected with lots of Cays and little anchorages along the way to stop at. We are still buddy boating with Jen & Richard from Our Rose and having lots of fun.P1050686

P1040888
At Rudder Cay we snorkeled on a sculpture of a mermaid playing the piano in a bay at 23.52.162N 76.14.162W, supposedly put there by David Copperfield who owns islands in the area.

DCIM100GOPRO

At Lee Stocking Cay we stopped at a now abandoned Marine Research Centre and went hiking on the many trails on the island finding our way to the highest point at Perry’s Peak of 123 ft, with great views along the coastlines. Amazing looking into the crystal clear waters from the cliff top and seeing sting rays etc below.
P1050668P1050670At Little Farmer Cay we were all wanting to get off the boats and enjoy a meal ashore. We started out at Ty’s on the balcony overlooking the ocean but unfortunately his cook had gone Missing in action. Great place, real shame.
image

So it was on to Oceans Cabin for dinner. Terry who owns the restaurant came down from his house out when we walked up the walkway, to open the restaurant.

image

At Great Guana Cay we enjoyed a fire and marshmallows on the beach at White Point. This has got to be the calmest anchorage we have had. The water is crystal clear right up to the sandy beach.
P1050694P1050699P1050702
Till our next Internet location….

IMG_1383

Georgetown, Exumas, Bahamas

We spent 5 days anchored off Stocking Island opposite Georgetown. It’s a pretty area and well protected with a huge cruising community so yes lots and lots of boats. Someone had communicated that there were 200 boats in the harbour. Hmmmmm….
P1050655
We found ourselves at Volleyball beach trying our skills. I think Brett could have stayed here for months!
P1050646

The Chat & Chill was a busy place with dingeys galore parked on the beach, great food and lots of socializing. Sting rays hang out on the perimeter of the beach looking for food.
P1050644P1050637
P1050640

Even caught up with Judy, Bob and Leo from Grenada on the beach.
P1050653

Stocking Island had some great walking trails which we had to take advantage of to see the views around the island including our anchorage. Someone had made some great trails with interesting things to look at along the way. This huge crab was the best.
P1050659P1050658
P1050662

Heading up the Exumas chain.

Long Island, Bahamas

We spent a week anchored in a number of places around Long Island.

Little Harbor was a reasonably calm harbor that protected us from some Northerly winds that decided to blow for a few days. There were turtles all about, some sand roads to go investigating the very remote area we were in and reefs to go snorkeling around for lobster.
P1050605
P1050607P1050601P1050604
Clarence Town we hired a car and went to see the sights on this very very long island. We passed by lots of small towns all of which had lots of churches.
St Peter and Paul Church in Clarence Town was pretty impressive with its 40ft towers to climb and see the 360 view.
P1050625P1050627

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dean’s Blue Hole the worlds deepest blue hole, which plunges 200 meters to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean with the oval at the surface ranging from 25 to 37 meters. The platform in the middle is for free diving competitions, to me a crazy sport. P1050623

The Outer Edge Grill at the Flying Fish Marina was a great place to sit back and chill in the evenings.P1050636

Our final anchorage on Long Island was Calabash Beach at the Northern end of Long Island, which had a lovely white sandy beach and a nice looking resort. We awoke to a very flat ocean and so motored over to Georgetown in the Exumas.