January 27, 2010
Ship Channel Cay, Exumas!
Back in our beloved Exumas after an, umm, interesting night on Monday night. So I’ll start there, shall I?
On Sunday we explored the ocean hole in Rock Sound, a tidal salt water hole (looks like a Vermont quarry, actually) about 1/2 mile from the ocean. You can swim with the fish and feed them (I’ll post video at some point). After we had lunch on board, Jeremy went ashore exploring and found another hole and an amazing cave system. Then we picked up the hook and headed to the south part of the sound – the wind was supposed to blow from the south and we wanted more protection.
Monday was smooth, with south winds making us smug in our non-pitching anchorage as we looked upwind at the boats off of the town, pitching away. The winds during the night were supposed to shift to the north, which would make our anchorage less comfortable – but not until 3 am or so. We elected to stay where we were, preparing mentally for the anchor drill to move the boat sometime after midnight.
Monday night/Tuesday morning, 3:30 am. Wind still southwest. We stay put.
4:10 am. Jeremy gets up, wind is north. He says, “Let’s go.”
4:20 am. I am on the foredeck, wrestling with the anchor chain which was not quite ready to be picked up. I finally resort to clenching a flashlight between my teeth as I work, feverishly waving it up to the heavens when the anchor is off the ground. The rain begins PELTING, and I am soaked to the bone in a matter of 30 seconds.
5:00 am. We are in building seas, motoring towards town, laughing about how this is like the south coast of Puerto Rico. The boat is maybe making 2 knots over the ground, pitching wildly in the steep waves. I make Jeremy a cup of hot chocolate and crawl under a comforter on the starboard side.
5:30 am. Winds have calmed down (or we are far enough north in the anchorage to get some calming effects from the land). I am called up on deck in the still-drizzling rain to drop the hook.
5:40 am. We crawl back into our bunk for less than an hour of sleep before the weather forecasts lure me out of bed.
7:15 am. Anchor is picked up under sail as we slowly make our way towards the open Exuma Sound and our passage to the Exumas.
10:30 am. We are SAILING along under reefed main and reefed jib and staysail, throwing a creamy bow wake and occasionally getting blue water back to the cabin top. School cannot possibly happen today.
2:30 pm. We are back on soundings, trying to tempt a fish as we sail along the dropoff by Sail Rocks. No dice – not even a barracuda nibbled!!!
3:45 pm. We are scraping bottom paint off on a rock in the channel entrance, getting a sharp reminder of the necessity of dinghy exploring before going in some places. Tide is rising, though, and we get off the rock relatively easily. The anchor bites well in sand; Jeremy places the secondary by hand from the dinghy.
Wednesday am – 8 am or so – we emerge from the radio depths and are agape at the beauty here. Yesterday we had enough visibility to see our surroundings and to read the water; today the sun is GLORIOUS. There are absolutely no colors like in the Exumas. Blues, greens, tans and blacks. The dinghy looks like it is floating on air. A goat family bleats by on the nearby hillside (like 50 feet away, maybe); an osprey searches for a private place to eat its catch.