High up that is. Cat Island in the central Bahamas is home to the highest point of all the Bahamian islands – a whopping 206 feet!!! Challenge accepted. Logan and I threw up the sails and set a course to explore another island last Thursday. The 40 mile sail across the Exuma Sound was packed with firsts for us as sailors.
The predicted winds and seas were higher than we usually go out in, but our angle to those winds and waves gave us the confidence to go for it. We double reefed our mainsail for the first time. Reefing reduces the sail area which depowers the sail and helps us heel over less. We didn’t have to sacrifice any speed (we zoomed across at 7 knots all day!), so the extra comfort was much appreciated. We also sailed through a rainstorm for the first time. We have seen sprinkles, but no downpours. It wasn’t a super exciting storm, but it was really good for me to see how the sea behaves in new conditions. No big deal. The third first was a bummer. I got seasick! Sigh, I guess it had to happen eventually. I survived the day and we dropped anchor at the southern tip of the island in time for some dinner and a sundowner.
Cat Island turned out to be one of our favorite places we have visited so far. The snorkeling is absolutely fantastic and the sleepy settlements are full of warm happy people. We anchored in three different spots along the western coast of the island. The Bight was our second anchorage and the only spot where we ventured to land. We spent the morning hiking up Mount Alvernia to check out The Hermitage at the astonishing 206 feet. Great views and great exercise. It felt a little strange to put on real shoes – but they were definitely required. After we survived the decent, we chatted with Grammy Farah and downed multiple bottles of water. Grammy gave us a quick history of the island and a lay of the land. Cat Island is able to grow produce! Not a lot grows here in the Bahamas…the islands are made or coral which makes for less than ideal farming conditions. But on Cat Island there are small fields of corn, watermelon and pineapple! After our chat we set off for the liquor store to pick up some rum and ginger beer for Dark & Stormys (my new fave thanks to Salty Dave back in Georgetown!). Booze acquired, we hitched a ride back to the boat in a pickup truck. Before we could hop in the dinghy, another truck pulled up selling fresh produce. Could this place get any better?! Reverend Carol had great looking stuff and offered to come back if we needed anything else during our stay. We spent the afternoon at Sunshine, a small lean-to restaurant on the beach. We watched Ceedee and her mom cook up lunch…I wanted to try to okra soup, but that wasn’t going to be ready for a few minutes (minutes turn into hours pretty quickly here on the islands). It was worth the wait. We have eaten our fair share of Bahamian fare over the past few months, and we deemed this to be our favorite.
Next we spent two nights at Fernandez Bay where we snorkeled and cleaned our Stella’s bottom side. I call this chore giving Stella a bath, makes the dirty job much cuter. This snorkeling finally wowed me. Bright colored fans, neon fish… reds, purples, yellows and greens – it was the best yet. We set sail at sunrise to head back to Georgetown. Funny how this place has started to feel like home…
The weather we are looking for to move farther south hasn’t presented itself yet, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have great summer weather here in the Bahamas. We have our charts out and are planning to explore more of the “Far-Out” Bahamas over the next few weeks. Life is groovy here on Stella Blue.