|Earendil, hanging out on the ball. You can see the shallow parts that end up above water at low tide.|
|Glenice on the other side of the low-tide "beach".|
After that bit of adventure (and an hour wasted going the wrong way), we looked to see how we could cut off some time. As we passed the east end of Warderick Wells, there was a big shallow sand bar, but the chart indicated a slightly deeper path cut through the middle of it. We decided we would try to find it. Using only our eyes, we managed to find the deepest path through the sandbar. We saw nothing less than 7', and cut off a mile or two! Yay for visual piloting! After that small victory, we looked for more "VPR" routes (shallow routes where you have to use your eyes to judge the depth and keep from running aground). We ran across another one to cut over toward Hall's Pond Cay. We had no idea what the depth was, just that it went from dark green to pale, pale blue. We turned the boat and ran across it on a tilt. Zoom! And we were over it, with 6' under us. Sweet! Then on to bluer and deeper water. The we ran down the inside coast of Hall's Pond Cay, but the current was against us again, so we only made 3 knots. The water shallowed, and it was time for more excitement. We cut across another bar (5' under us) and headed toward Little Hall's Pond Cay. This was where the water got really skinny. We managed to pick our way through the shallows and kept 4' under us at all times. We hit deeper water as we rounded the Snake Cays and scooted down the coast of Little Hall's Pond. The anchorage shown on the map was less than impressive, so we went back up and around the Snake Cays. Did I mention it was low tide? Yep, we navigated shallow water at low tide. We are awesome! We anchored just north of the Snake Cays in 5' of water. Pretty protected and good holding. Then we donned our swimsuits, gathered the snorkel gear, and headed down to the Sea Aquarium!
We heard from many people that the Sea Aquarium was a must-see in the Exumas. We dinghied down there, getting passed by bigger dinghies many times. There are only 2 dinghy moorings, so we tied up to a boat that was already there. And over we went. Gorgeous coral from little soft corals to big coral heads. Hundreds of sergeant majors hang out just under the surface to greet snorkelers. We saw at least half a dozen queen angelfish (my favorite fish in the sea, unbelievably beautiful), lots of snapper (they looked delicious), and a wide assortment of other reef fish. We estimate the water ranged from 10-25'. I dove down a few times to take pictures, and I'm pretty sure I made it to 20 feet. I'm getting pretty good at this skin diving stuff (go me!). Then we loaded up and headed back to the boat.
We saw a couple of people (and a couple of dogs) on the beach of Little Hall's Pond Cay. Though we didn't get close enough to see (hate to intrude on their privacy), I'm pretty sure one of them was Johnny Depp. Fun with celebrity-stalking! The island is gorgeous, with a couple of houses and quite a few nifty bridges connecting hills. If I were an eccentric millionaire (billionaire?), I'd want to own an island like that.
I made oatmeal cookies that afternoon, comparing methods of "baking". I cooked some on the grill and some in a skillet. All the cookies turned out pretty good. And we had a pretty awesome sunset, too.
|Sunset at Snake Cays|
Big Majors Spot is an interesting place. It's an excellent anchorage, very sheltered from east winds. But everyone knows about it. There were a ton of boats there! And quite a few of them were megayachts. Megayachts themselves aren't a problem, but the swarms of jet skis, tenders, and dinghies that fly out of them are. They zoomed through the anchorage, kicking up wakes and going entirely too close to the boats anchored. I got all stressed out thinking about them running over our anchor line. All it takes is one boat coming too close, cutting our anchor line, and sending us on our way to Andros. I then remembered reading about using a kellet to drag the anchor line lower in the water. It increases holding power and, in this case, keeps the line out of harm's way from inconsiderate boaters. So I took my diving weight belt, loaded weights into it, and put it through a loop in the anchor line. It did the trick! Our line sat about a foot lower in the water, and it eased my mind considerably.
We went in to Staniel Cay to do some grocery shopping. The prices were absurdly high in Sampson (though we didn't know it until we checked out, because they don't put prices on their groceries, very sneaky and evil). I got soaked going to shore against the wind and into the waves. But we pulled the dinghy up on shore and went shopping at the stores in town. Grocery stores here are very different from those in the States. They're small buildings, sometimes just additions to someone's house, with a small selection of goods. But the people are nice and helpful, and we got some more essentials.
That afternoon, at slack tide, we dinghied over to Thunderball Grotto. Yep, from the James Bond movie. It was a very cool snorkel, with a cavern overhead and lots of fish below. There are a few holes in the "roof" that let in shafts of light, dramatically lighting the water below. I took a whole roll of pictures, and I hope a few come out. It was pretty dark in there, so the pictures may be terrible. We won't know until we're back in the US and get them developed. Film. So inconvenient. :)
After Thunderball, we dropped our gear on the boat and went to the "pig beach". There are pigs on the beach. People come in from their boats and feed them, so they come right up to you in your dinghy. A big one tried to get right into our dinghy. Yikes! It was an odd thing to see pigs strolling on the beach. Not what you think of when you think of the Bahamas.
The next morning, we were very happy to leave the megayachts and their hordes of obnoxiousness behind. The wind was picking up quite a bit, so we raised the main and zoomed downwind. We rounded Harvey Cay and made a beeline for Black Point with the wind on our quarter. We made it in to the anchorage and moved closer to shore than the rest of the boats. We're shoal draft, so we're used to parking in front of everyone else. The holding here is excellent; our anchor has never been dug in so deep. Our friends on Glenice and Amata Marie are also down here with us, waiting out the winds. There were Easter weekend festivities here in town all weekend, and we enjoyed some of the local food. These people are excellent cooks. And there's internet here!
The wind is going to keep blowing pretty hard for the next few days, so by the time we leave, we'll probably be here a week. But there are definitely worse places to be "stuck". There are no megayacts here, just real cruisers. It's a nice change. Less traffic, less noise, and everyone is considerate. The way things should be.
|Stormy clouds moving in. Trevor snorkeling over the anchor.|
|Overlooking the anchorage at Black Point|
|They have random "let's stand around and hang out" buildings all over town. Such a fun community.|
|Trevor, enjoying some sunshine.|
|BASRA dock at Black Point|
|Janice (from Glenice) playing basketball with the local kids|
|Cruisers hanging out and eating.|
Our original plan (as much as we "plan" anything) was to turn around at Black Point and start making our way home. We're running very low on cash at this point, and we won't be able to get more until we hit Eleuthera, if then. The group we've been traveling with is heading down to Georgetown once the wind eases. After much discussion, we've decided to head down there with them. There are several reasons for this. One is the need for cash. Also, it's beautiful here. We're afraid that when we get back to the States, we'll be so let down that we won't want to cruise anymore. Part of the reason for leaving the Bahamas is the expensive food. But we have money saved up for a reason. If our travels end quickly once we leave, we hate to have money left over because we were so hasty. We'd rather burn through our cruising kitty in paradise than mope through the muddy waters of the ICW and wish we'd stayed here just a little longer. Once we're in Georgetown, we'll be mere miles away from the Tropic of Cancer. Taking the boat across that line is a pretty impressive feat, and we'd love to get there while we're so close!
So we'll still be in the Bahamas for a bit. Have I mentioned it's amazing here? Because it is. We'll come back to the real world eventually, but we're not in any hurry.