For those of you sailors who thought June was not a good month to come over to the Abaco, due to the start of hurricane season, we say it is wonderful so far. Although it may be the height of tourist season for the Abaco it is not the height of the cruising season so the mooring balls are wide open and the anchorages have been empty and beautiful. The weather now seems to have settled into a wonderful steady pace of east to southeasterly summer breezes with daytime temperatures in the 90’s and cooling down to the pleasant 70’s in the evenings. The evenings are especially comfortable now with our new customized wind scoop trapping the soft summer breeze and throwing it down the hatch into our “near” naked bodies. (Thanks Michelle Poerstel for fixing that up for us.)
Once we left West End and it’s tantalizing paradise beach pool we made our way to Great Sale Cay where we were the only boat in the east anchorage for the evening. Umm we ask ourselves “are we really alone or did we pick a bad anchorage?” I think when you are out in the middle of the ocean with no one else in site you question your decisions. Well later into the lonely night we got a random call on the VHF radio looking for anyone anchored in Great Sale Cay. It turned out that there were several boats anchored on the west side of the island, the opposite side as us. Are we on the wrong side? Our weather guru predicted winds clocking to the west so we picked the east side to anchor on. Turned out that those boats were heading back to the states and leaving at 10pm for the long night sail west across the Gulf Stream. Once again weather guru Parker called it correctly and we had a quite night protected from the brisk westerly winds that kicked up that evening. The next morning we only had a short 30nm sail to our next anchorage in Allen’s Cay so we slept in and enjoyed the summer morning breezes and the quiet solitude before continuing eastward.
Allen’s Cay is usually the first stop for eastbound sailors going to the Abaco. It is also an introduction to the keen navigation skills we will need for our journey through these islands. The pathway into Allen’s Cay is shallow and narrow. If you miss time the tide or cut the entrance short you will find yourself hard aground. After winding our way into the cove we dropped anchor and began our “Anchor Down” tradition of celebrating with a bit of Rum. Those pirates certainly knew the medicinal quality of a good stiff rumrunner.
Now we have finally reached the Sea of Abaco. If you remember our very first blog entry last February this was our destination when we departed Cocoa. But Mother Nature had other plans for us back then and we ended up down in the Exumas instead. So here we are and the question is “where to next”? There are so many places we want to visit here. Places we have been reading about for the last year preparing for our journey. So we studied the charts and pick Green Turtle Cay as our next destination. Once again our navigation skills are tested by moving sand bars and shallow reefs in our path and of course a shallow narrow opening to the anchorage.
|Green Turtle Cay|
This one was particularly shallow and if we missed timed the tides we would not be getting in without considerable embarrassment. We happen to be in a spring tide and it’s a “super” moon on top of it so the tides are at the most extreme of the year. We slowly approach the small intimidating opening and at the last minute we chicken out and do a 180. A power boat approaches the opening looking like he has done this all his life so we hail him on the radio and ask him to read the soundings for us as he goes through. 7 feet he calls out, then 6’ 6” as he moves slowly through, then 6’ and he is through. Well we draw 5’ 6” and change so we slowly go through sweating all the way with a mere 6” between failure and success. And we make it through. Once in we picked up a mooring ball and found out it belongs to a local by the name of Rick Sawyer. He happens to be the great-great-great-grandson of Robert Sawyer one of the founders of Green Turtle Cay. Nice guy and he was a little surprised we knew all about his great-great-great-granddaddy. As I said we have been reading a lot about this part of the Bahamas. And once again we celebrate our arrival with a bit of Rum.
We moved on after a couple of days exploring Green Turtle Cay to Great Guana Cay anchoring in Fishers Bay. We picked up a mooring ball from Troy Albury at Dive Guana and we asked him where the good snorkeling was on the island. He indicated, “in the water” was in fact the best place. Best come back line we have heard since leaving our good friends Jeff and Terry on Ariel. In fact we found one of the top snorkeling reefs in the Abaco on the east side of Great Guana Cay which was just out side of the famous Nipper’s Beach Bar and Grill. Good spot for lunch and more Rum after an afternoon of snorkeling.
|Great Guana Cay (east side beach)|
We are now sitting in Hope Town. If you are looking for a storybook settlement setting this is the place. Attached to another mooring ball we stared at the candy-striped lighthouse built in the 1800’s and still lit up by kerosene every night giving sailors a light for safe passage.
|Hope Town Harbon from Lighthouse|
Hope Town is an adorable village with pastel cottages and a short walk over to the beach. We did have an exciting time getting in the shallow channel here and thanks to our new friend Ron on Inherit the Wind who gave us a sounding at 5’ 8” when we draw 5’6” we made it in just fine. Now we are happy with a mere 2” between us and the ocean bottom. Any less and we would be tossing out stuff from the boat to lighten it up. I really must say it is Captain King who makes all our navigating the best. He checks the tides and knows his navigational stuff better than anyone especially the captain on the boat Last Call a Harden that got stuck in the channel at low tide that very day. A barge that needed into the channel with supplies for the island came and towed him clear so he could get in.
|Hope Town anchorage|
Never a dull moment cruising as Ron says, “you are either entertained by the boating show or you are the boating show.” Thank God we have mostly been entertained by the boating show. More Rum.