We left Long Island at 2:30 am on March 4th for the trip to the Jumentos. It was our longest trip so far—87.7 miles. Both Lady of Lorien and Bonnie Lass (Valerie and Graham) traveled with us. The three boats arrived at House bay on Raccoon Cay around 4pm. We sailed 2/3 of the way there. The trip over deep water after passing through Nurse cut was almost on a run and very rolly. It was difficult to keep our jib full without a whisker pole. Once we came back through the cut into the Sound side of the Jumentos, it was a brisk sail on the beam. We also kept a close eye on a waterspout forming in the clouds ahead of us.
Raccoon Cay is almost at the bottom of the Jumentos Cays; about 8 miles from the largest settlement called Duncan Town and only 76 miles from Cuba. Many (non-American) cruisers jump off to visit Cuba from Duncan Town. We are now 993 miles from Annapolis. BTW, there aren’t any raccoons on the island, only goats.
We took Bailey to the beach, cooked a quick dinner and fell in bed by 8pm—it was an exhausting day! The anchorage was a bit rolly but not awful. I don’t think I would have felt a hurricane passing over!!
We awoke Thursday (3/5) to sunny and windy weather. The anchorage still had a good roll going so we were all anxious to get off the boats for a while in the afternoon. We walked along the shore and looked at some ruins of a cottage that had conch shells as part of its building materials. We grilled a turkey breast for dinner on Moondance and everyone enjoyed Skip’s guitar playing. Later in the evening we noticed that our stand-alone icebox wasn’t running and the temperature was climbing. After reading the manual (not very helpful) we finally figured out that the battery monitor on the icebox thought there wasn’t enough voltage for it to run and shut itself off. We hadn’t run the engine yet since the solar panel was keeping up with charging. After running the engine, the icebox started up and continued to run all night to cool itself back down. We had noticed the temperature fluctuations before but never really knew why it was doing that—now we know!
The wind was still blowing on Friday but from a more easterly direction so it was a little less rolly. When I say that the wind was blowing, I mean really lively – a steady 15-20 knots with gusts close to 25 and above. Just the thought of conditions like that in the Chesapeake would keep me safely at the dock. Most people tell us that it’s usually not like that here in the winter. To have so many continuous days of strong winds is getting very tiresome—I want to swim and snorkel!!
In the afternoon, we found the path to the Atlantic side of the island and trekked across on rocky paths marked with assorted footwear hanging in the bushes. At least some people made use of all of the shoes that wash ashore on the beach! The other side was very rough and we couldn’t walk along the shoreline due to the amount of wind and spray.
In the evening, Skip and I enjoyed a game of dominoes and then watched a movie on the laptop. We regret not getting a DVD player for our TV and put that on the list for things to add. There’s something about watching “Master and Commander” on a rolly boat that adds to the experience!
Saturday (3/7) has a promise of the weather abating. We haven’t been listening to weather on SSB because Chris Parker is off this week in Georgetown giving a seminar. So, we are getting weather reports second-hand from Lady of Lorien since they talk to Merlin and others on their SSB. Merlin and Onward are still in Georgetown and are planning to meet us here next week. We are looking forward to exploring the Jumentos as we make our way back towards the northern islands. As we approach the time when my brother Alan comes to visit (3/30), we’ll make sure we’re back in the Exumas—most likely Staniel Cay to meet him.
Well, the wind didn’t slow down until late Sunday. Whew—enough of that for a while! We spent the afternoon on the beach Saturday, swimming and playing boule. Valerie and Graham on Bonnie Lass hosted dinner—a delicious turkey chili. We enjoyed seeing their boat—a Morgan 38 with classic custom woodwork down below—a beautiful boat.
We had a cookout on the beach Sunday afternoon along with burning our paper and plastic trash. It made a big difference as there aren’t any places to dump trash. I took my snorkeling gear ashore and swam around the small rocks near shore. There is a small sunken wooden boat (possibly Cuban?) near the rocks that had so many colorful fish swimming around it. In the evening, Skip and I played Farkle and he even humored me with a game of Scrabble (he hates it but I love it!) We watched a movie – The Hunt for Red October. The wind actually died down to only 10 – 15 knots—what a huge difference!!
Bonnie Lass headed out Monday morning for Hog Cay. We’ll probably head down there tomorrow. Merlin and Onward will arrive late this afternoon along with some other boats we met in Long Island that we heard via radio are headed this way. Now that the weather is more favorable, boats are starting to move around again. We hiked across the island and found lots of seabeans–finally! Three new boats arrived who we had met on Long Island: Far Niente (Jay and Diana), Veranda (Christy and Bill) and My Destiny (Judy and Greg). I went swimming in the afternoon and took Bailey along. I held him and he rested his front paws on the noodle. I think he liked it because he didn’t seem anxious. He sure was heavy when he got out and I had to rinse off the salt water.
Merlin and Onward arrived late in the afternoon and all of the boats went ashore for happy hour. It was a clear sunset and I actually saw the green flash!
On Tuesday, we walked back to the beach and found more seabeans (I think I have enough now.) Ed took Tina and I snorkelling off some of the reefs near where we were anchored. I saw lots of colorful fish and coral. The water was exceptionally clear.
We left Racoon Cay on Wednesday for Hog Cay and anchored near 8 other boats already there. The cruisers had developed a new trail across the island that we followed to the other side. The beach was covered with interesting plastic trash but picked pretty clean of seabeans. I went snorkelling again with Ed and Tina along the beach and saw a lion fish. It a large, colorful and venemous fish that was imported from the Pacific. There are warning signs posted all over about keeping away from them. We heard that a cruiser got stung recently and had to be airlifted to Nassau. After getting out of the water, I saw a shark swim by–yikes!
In the evening we attended another cruiser’s party and burned trash. Today we took a long dinghy ride to Duncan Town for lunch and wifi. I’ll write more about it next time. Sorry about not adding pictures but Skip is clammering to use the laptop and I’ve hogged it too long!