Sunday, 31 May 2015

Black Point, Exumas to Nassau with Ryan and Danielle.


 We love it when the kid's come for a visit and so with much excitement we headed back south to Black Point to pick up Ryan and Danielle.


   It was a quick half hour flight for them down from Nassau, they arrived right on time. We immediately whisked them right back to the boat and up anchored for the quick trip back to Staniel Cay where we wanted to take them snorkelling at the Thunderball grotto. Fortunately the timing was perfect for us and it was low tide.

   Next up, just around the corner from Staniel Cay, was a visit to Big Major's Spot where, yes indeed, pigs do swim!

Apparently , many years ago, local people left some pigs on the Island and they have since multiplied in number. It is hilarious to watch as a dingy approaches the beach. The pigs, who have been resting in the shade on the beach, come swimming out with mouths open wide. I have to say, those are big pigs, and I found them a bit intimidating at first until another cruiser told me to hold the food bag high, apparently they cannot jump.  Good to know.

 Here's Ryan enjoying feeding the pigs.  Then it was back to the boat and a quick change and then dingy in to Staniel Cay Yacht Club  for lunch. It was lunch time too for these Nurse Sharks, being fed off the dock at the Yacht Club. They are shy and placid, you could if desired, walk among them.

 After lunch we set sail heading North. We spent the night at Compass Cay, where we experienced crazy currents which had the boat turning end to end all night.

An early morning exit from Compass Cay on a high tide and we were on our way to Warderick Wells, which is part of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.

 What a beautiful and special spot. Crystal clear sparkling water and deserted white sand beaches.The Park provides mooring balls here, you can also anchor in designated area's. During the peak cruising season you call ahead one day and get your name on a waiting list for a mooring ball but the peak season is over now so we had our pick of balls at Emerald Rock.

There are well marked walking trails on  Warderick wells Cay with views to both sides of the Island.

Looking at the North Mooring field and beyond.

  One of the trails leads to Boo Boo Hill where visiting cruisers are encouraged to leave a namesake ( on wood only please) of their boat.  Thanks go to Danielle for crafting our Zooropa sign.

 The kids went off with the dingy and the  Go Pro and came back with lots of great shots.

  As the tide goes out beaches appear near the moored boats.

   Ryan having a close encounter with a Nurse Shark off the back of our boat.

 We reluctantly left Warderick Wells to continue North. After a fabulous beam reach sail here we are having lunch at Highborne Cay. This is another privately owned Island but cruisers are welcome to dine at the Marina restaurant and permitted to walk the lovely local beaches.

   The next day was grey and rainy and we had a bumpy motor-sail up to Nassau. Here's Zooropa tied up in the Atlantis Resort Marina.

  Ian and I enjoyed walking around the huge resort. They have done a really good job here with excellent aquariums.

 The kids enjoyed the use of the pools and water slides.

  With my two favourite men!

Sadly and all too quickly Ryan and Danielle's week came to an end. We saw them off and the following day headed out for our next stop, the Berry Islands.

Thunderball Grotto, Staniel Cay

  Thunderball Grotto became famous after appearing in the James Bond movie, Thunderball. It is located at Staniel Cay, Exumas and while there we, obviously, went and took a look. The best time to snorkel there is at slack water, low tide. During other times there is a very strong current around the rock where the grotto is located and at high tide, in order to get into the grotto, you would have to dive down under rock,swim along and hope that you came up in the grotto before you ran out of air!!
Here are some pictures that we took of the grotto, underwater fish and coral. The colours are spectacular .  I know, it's a tough life but someone has to live it.

Ian gives the "thumbs up" after a good morning of snorkelling.  

Mayaguana to Staniel Cay, Bahamas

  We had light winds on the overnight sail to Mayaguana, so it was a slow sail with the screecher out. Around 10am we pulled into Abraham's Bay and dropped anchor behind the reef that separates the bay from the ocean. We had a looong dingy ride into town where, fortunately, we were able to check in, all legal in the Bahamas ( we had heard conflicting reports as to wether there would be a customs agent available here).

    Welcome to the Bahamas!  Ian walked in on a dusty dirt road to check in with customs ( in the local post office)  I stayed with the dingy, although there was no one around.    The water here, as we had heard, is amazingly crystal clear and the different colours are stunning.

Our next two stops were Plana Cay and Atwood Harbour on Acklins Island. The anchorages were deserted, we had the long beautiful beaches all to ourselves, pretty sweet!

At Plana Cay, just as the sun was going down, Ian noticed a large moving shadow in the water. Our first sighting of a Nurse Shark. We put on our underwater lights and were treated to the sight of four sharks slowly swimming and resting right under our boat, it was really amazing.

Look who's turning 60!   Yikes, i"m married to an old man!!!  but a good one.   Happy Birthday honeybun.

After another overnighter our next stop was Georgetown in the Exuma's. Apparently, during the cruising season, this anchorage is packed with hundreds of boats. Now, nearing the end of April, most  have headed back North. The anchorage ( Elizabeth Harbour) covers a large area affording plenty of room for swinging boats. Georgetown itself is a pleasant little town with a few gift shops and restaurants and a well stocked grocery store right beside the dingy dock, perfect.

Across from Georgetown, Grand Exuma runs Stocking Island with it's many anchorages. With the weather forecast  of high Easterly winds coming we moved the boat over to Monument Beach at Stocking Island for protection from the wind. We actually ended up with two days of no sunshine AT ALL, cloudy and lots of rain. Unheard of for us, we couldn't remember our last day without sun. Stocking Island has beaches on both sides. Lovely calm protected ones on the west side and wild rocky beaches on the East side. It also has a system of well cut trails along the elevated centre of the Island so all in all a very pleasant place to go walking.

Ian, admiring the view on the East side of Stocking Island  

 Looking down the centre of Stocking Island with the boats anchored at Georgetown far right.


Ian on one of the pathways and the largest termite nest we have seen yet on our travels.  

After several days enjoying the walking paths and beaches here we headed back over to Georgetown in order to stock up again on fresh fruit/veggies, etc before continuing up the Exuma Island chain.  After spending one night at Rat Cay, a private Island so we didn't go ashore ( although we think you can use the beach?), we arrived the next day at Little Farmers Cay. 

 We dingyed in to the settlement, not too much going on here. We did see a police car and the all ages school, the grocery store was closed. There were very few people around but we did speak to one local fellow who informed us the Island has a population of 50! 

In for dinner at Ty's Sunset Grill. Behind the restaurant was the Island airport runway.  Our next stop over was a short distance up the coast off of a long white sandy beach, Jacks Bay. Again, we had the anchorage  and beach all to ourselves. It's going to be tough having to put a swimsuit on when we get back to civilization!!!!  

Crystal clear waters and amazing colours.

Our own private beach.

Ian enjoying the shade on the foredeck.   

Next stop, Staniel Cay.