The Exumas is a chain of islands in the Bahamas – it’s about 130 miles long and consists of 360 islands or cays. Some are inhabited, some not, but ALL of them make up a giant playground for cruisers. For our two week trip, we decided to head south to Staniel Cay and island hop our way back up to Nassau. Our trip included stops at: Rose Island, Allen’s Cay, Hawksbill Cay, Staniel Cay, Compass Cay, Warderick Wells Cay and Highbourne Cay.
We experienced so many really cool things that it’s hard to pick out the highlights. There is a beach at Allen’s Cay where about 50 iguanas surround you once you set foot on land. They back off once they realize they aren’t getting fed, but it was quite a sight. We saw the SWIMMING PIGS at Staniel. They really do swim right out to your boat …again looking for a handout. The snorkeling has been outrageous. We swam through Thunderball Cave (James Bonds reference) with hundreds of neon fish. And the water….I won’t try to describe it. I keep saying it looks like pool water, but that’s not quite it. Every time I hop in and get salt in my mouth I am a little surprised. The best part of the trip so far has been Logan’s spearfishing. I will never get tired of seeing him swim up to the side of the boat with dinner on his 5 foot long metal spear. We have had several kinds of fish AND lobster. We met some fellow young sailors and had fun swapping our “I can’t believe we did that” stories while we had a cookout on the beach with our freshly speared catch. Geri and John turned out to be “Small World Part X”: they quit their jobs in San Francisco, went to the same sailing school we did (OCSC) AND used the same boat consultant to find their boat Tanqueray – I’m not making this up! Seriously, giant playground.
Sailing has been awesome and challenging – so pretty typical. The winds blew hard out of the southeast making for some uncomfortable sails to get south. Sailboats can’t sail directly into the wind, so we have to tack back and forth to make headway. Not only does this take a while, but the waves and boat heel can wear you out. We are learning to read the shallow water – differentiating between depths and grass bottom vs coral (and cloud cover!). We lost some bolts out of our jib furler a few days ago. (We didn’t know that was the problem until we calmly investigated at anchor. Out in the elements, all we knew was: “The jib won’t come down!” “What do we do?!” “Is it broken?!”) We fixed it with help from fellow boaters at Staniel and now we know about one more piece of equipment on our boat. Deteriorating weather conditions caused us to cut our trip short by a few days to ensure that we made it back to Nassau in time to make our flight down to St. Vincent for my brother’s wedding. So we concluded our trip with two days of big winds and waves, but once again learned how much our boat and its crew can handle. It turns out that I love to take the helm when the conditions are “exciting” and power through. It’s an amazing feeling of power and connectedness.
Now it’s time to focus on that (in)famous boat maintenance and get ourselves cleaned up a bit before we head south. All this sun and salt are creating two very ragged looking sailors