Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Little Farmer’s Cay ( 23 57.2 N 76 19.5 W) to The Marina at Emerald Bay (23 38.0 N 75 55.0 W)

But first a phot from our Explorer Chartbook showing our cruising grounds this past several weeks from Nassau to Emerald Bay. Click on pic to make bigger.

But's a link to my daughter's take on their one week sailing vacation with us. Leah takes GREAT pics. Give it a look.

Our plans to make Georgetown by Saturday 3/31 went out the window with the persistent 20-25 knot winds. Actually we can and have handled that wind but now we need to go out onto Exuma Sound (hundreds of feet deep) where the seas are 7-10 feet in that kind of wind. So we wait and moved a little bit at a time down on the banks side (a few feet deep!). It is funny what you get used to. I used to always try to anchor in 10 - 15 feet of water. Now we are happy when we get 6 or 7 feet of water leaving a foot or two under the keel! When I snorkel around the boat it looks totally wrong to have this big boat in this thin of water but there just isn’t any deep water here! So, you adjust. We haven’t grounded out yet...give us time though. Anyway, it’s all soft sand.

We decided to leave Little Farmers after only a day. The place was a little disappointing. You really have to watch out for 3 year (or more) old charts and cruising guides. This place was billed as a real is if you like your gems with old washing machines and bags of garbage strewn along the side of the roads. There was supposed to be a ‘yacht club’ with fuel and water that took credit cards. No, no and NO! That's the bridge to the yacht club below. At this point we are nearly out of folding money and nobody takes plastic. Ocean Cabin was the one nice and clean place but not all that friendly. I asked to use the computer and the lady set it up for me and just walked away. I had just come from two places in a row where the internet was free for customers but I should have asked. This lady says nothing to me but tells her waitress that after one o’clock my bill would be $20+ as the secret rate is $5.00/half hour. I whiled away 2 hours on the last blog and other projects. If you are going to tell your waitress why not tell me? Well, I guess I can think of a reason. So...we left the gem and went on to...

Big Galliot Cay (23 55.5 N 76 17.3 W)

Actually, we were going to anchor a little south of this by Cave Cay but at this point there were about 6 boats on anchor here at Big Galliot and no boats to the south. Hmmmm....what do they know that I don’t know? I always hate crowding in to a tight anchorage but I just wondered what the deal was. There was a pretty big hole between boats to anchor so we did. Not long after that 3 of the boats hauled anchor and anchor south. Well we stayed and it was fine although it got pretty rolly in the morning. We weighed anchor then and moved just a mile south to anchor off of Cave Cay where we hoped it would be a little calmer. Note that we are in the lee of these islands but there are many inlets to the sound around here and when the tide runs it can make for uncomfortable anchorages.

Cave Cay (23 54. 3 N 76 16.2 W)

This is an interesting place. A guy named Steve Cone purchase the entire island (I bought a car once and didn’t sleep for a week!) He has since put in a power plant (which includes solar panels and wind generators), air strip, dredged the big anchorage area and the channel into it, put in about 12 slips, fuel dock, restaurant, guest cottages and a huge home for himself. It’s nice to keep busy! The whole place is not really done yet but they say it will be in about another year. They are not really advertising yet although they are open for fuel and for renting slips even though there are no boats there yet. The pic shows the restuarant on the left, some 'cottages' and the owners home on the right. This is probably a brilliant project as there are really NO places to put a boat in a marina between Staniel Cay and Emerald Bay 15 miles north of Georgetown. We went in by dingy sounding our way with our lead line as we went because it sure didn’t look deep enough. It is though. About 7 feet all the way in even at extreme low tide. The next day we took Enee in and got fuel and water. I’m so paranoid about fuel. I have no working fuel gauge on board but have carefully kept track of how many hours I get per how much fuel. worry that right at a crucial time you will have miscalculated and run out. We have a 75 gallon fuel tank...I filled up...20 gallons! I really have to calm down! I don’t think I’ve EVER bought more than 25 gallons. Still amazes me how efficient these diesels are (We use about .5 or .6 gallons per hour of running time at around 1500 - 2000 rpm).

From the marina we moved just a little south of the marina entrance to get away from the noise from the diesel electric plant. Actually a very pretty anchorage with another one of the millions of little beaches that dot these coastlines. Of course nothing and nobody there the way we like it! But come our good friends Jay and Jen aboard Rum Runner to join us. That’s a good thing! We hung out at the little beach together and watched their dog try to fetch conk shells. That’s pretty funny. What would Gracie have thought of such crazy behavior?

That's them swimming with their trusty poodle, Kona. Knowing we were just about out of provisions, Jay and Jen had us over for a yummy dinner of pork tenderloins and salad followed by lessons and a game of dominoes. They are really fun and we look forward to running into them some more.

Speaking of running into...the other day there was an announcement on the SSB radio that two boats had collided on the sound. One power and one sail. The sail boat lost there rig as a result. The crazy part is that it was broad daylight on basically the Atlantic Ocean! The reporter called it a case of dueling autopilots. Everyone uses the same Explorer Charts (they are great!) and punches in the same waypoints. Now you’re on opposite courses and steering by GPS is plus or minus 10 feet. CRASH! I’ve seen people sitting in their cockpits with the auto helm on reading a book and facing sideways. Don’t get me wrong. I’m anxious to get a new autopilot for Enee for those long passages. Even with an auto pilot somebody has to be AT THE HELM paying attention.

On to The Marina at Emerald Bay

Well, maybe we should have waited one more day but we were already overdue to report in to Leah by 3 days so we easily motored through the cut at Cave Cay. As usual we head out reefed. The wind was nearly on our nose so we tried motor and main. With the waves building up to 4+ feet our speed was down to about 3 knots. At this point we tried something that used to work on Catalina Enee. I led the jib sheets inside the shrouds and then just unrolled enough of the jib to bring it back to the lower
forward shroud. Now I can haul this little sail in pretty close and get closer to the wind. Additionally I tightened the lazy sheet which pulled the jib even closer. All together we were able to motor sail at 5-6 knots and tack the ever elusive 90 degrees! Pretty bouncy but a lot better than it is when you go bare poles. I got a little seasick for the first time ever but that may have been due to little breakfast and left over rum in my stomach!

The Marina at Emerald Bay is one of the best kept secrets in the Bahamas. This is a totally invented place. They are building all kind of condos here and putting in fancy restaurants and golf courses. It is not mentioned in the cruising guides (yet) or charts we have and we only learned about it from other cruisers. It’s a pretty good deal. A very nice marina and you can have full service (electricity and water) for $2.25/foot/day. Less if you just want to tie to a pier. There is free wifi, free laundry (unheard of), a lounge with tv and a pool table (no money here either), a nice casual restaurant ($$), and free shuttle bus to the local grocery, bank, liquor store. We hope to get our re-provisioning done here rather than Georgetown. The shuttle bus is a BIG deal to those without cars! We’ll be here today and then leave for Georgetown tomorrow. We have some boat issues (always) that we hope to take care of there.

For one thing, I think I’m DONE with this Nissan outboard. What a hunk of crap. We know that it will suddenly flood itself while motoring which is really fun. Now it has taken to making a really bad humming, vibration, metal on metal type noise from the base of the engine. I don’t know what this is but I know engines are NOT supposed to make this noise. I’m sure this is a BIG deal to investigate and fix and not worth the money. I was happy to have a 4 stroke engine but I don’t think these things are as dependable (yet) as the good old 2 stroke. I hear that about all that is available is 2 stroke in the Bahamas because they love them for their dependability. I’ll be looking for one in Georgetown and then I can use the Nissan as an auxiliary anchor! Other small projects include replacing the roller reefing line and maybe the jib halyard. Other small stuff like that.

This just in...the people at Emerald Bay Marina are very nice...and insane! The power went out here and stayed out for several hours. I asked when it might be on and they didn’t know. I said, I figured I paid for a full price slip which basically meant it has electricity. Right. So...I just looked at her and she at me. I went on to explain that I was paying a premium for something that wasn’t being provided. She told me the problem wasn’t theirs but was up the line at the power company. I tried to explain to her nicely how much that didn’t matter to me because either way I was paying for a service (it’s metered on top of it!) that was not being provided. She said if I would like to move to a basic slip with no power (75 cents/foot!) that I could do that. I said that I was already in a slip with no power so why bother moving me? No, she would have to charge me $2.25/foot if I stay in that slip. I started laughing at the insanity but I was the only one who thought it was funny.

Wait...there’s more! There power posts are only 50 amp the sockets of which don’t fit a 30 amp cord so they loaned me an adapter. This was yesterday. So, I went back to the slip and disconnected the cord and brought back the adapter. I told the lady that now I really do have a slip with no power because there was no way for me to plug in. Nope. That slip is $2.25/foot no matter what. Now I really laughed...alone. I suspect that there is no way to make the computer come up with a charge of 75 cents a foot for that slip so we’ll move the boat and I’ll only pay one day at $2.25 and one day at 75 cents. People are so funny.

Tomorrow on to Georgetown...anchoring is still free!

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