On March 30, we set out in the car to discover more of Cat Island. We had seen the Hermitage the day before (see previous post). This time we wanted to go as far north as we could get. Our cottage is at the very south end.
We had heard about a place called Shanna’s Cove, which is a resort at the northern tip of Cat Island, so we drove there. The drive along the West coast has some beautiful views of the crystal clear blue waters here. The last 2 miles were very hard on our borrowed car: unpaved, huge potholes, average possible speed 5 mph… And it was SO worth it! We got a warm welcome from Maria and Gregor, the German couple that has been running this resort for a year (yes, they bought it during Covid!). The resort is absolutely stunning!
And as it turned out, Gregor used to own 2 restaurants in Rosenheim, Anya’s home town in Germany! We had a wonderful pizza (Pesto Shrimp Pineapple Pizza!) and then decided to walk to the very north tip of Cat Island, a 2 mile hike along a narrow trail, to Man-of-War beach. The walk was fun, and the beach was spectacular!
We will be back here, and are already making plans to stop here on Ronya. There is a beautiful bay (Orange Creek) in front of the resort, and Gregor says it is a great and protected anchorage. We looked it up on our nautical chart, and it is perfect!
After the 4 day charter ended on March 25, we had a one day charter with 10 people in Georgetown. They were celebrating a 40th birthday, and were determined to party as much as they could. Anya made appetizers and then Fish Tacos for lunch. After we unloaded them at 5:30 pm, we headed over to anchor close to the Monument, to get a nice starting position for the 45 mile sail to Cat Island the next day.
That evening, Cath and Dave from the S/V Ketch 22 came over to the Destiny III for dinner. We had met them in Great Harbour in April of 2020 when we all got stuck in the marina there because Covid was starting. We were “neighbors” for 6 weeks in Great Harbour Cay, and we had not seen them since! It was a wonderful evening of catching up over dinner and a few drinks, and we both enjoyed sitting and eating and having fun in the “guest seats” rather than being the servers!
On March 27, we lifted anchor at 8 and headed for Cat Cay. Because of the angle of the wind, we had to motorsail, but it was a pleasant 7.5 hours. After a day of rest and petting cats, we wanted to do some exploring of Cat Island, so we headed up to the “Hermitage” in New Bight. This is the highest point in the entire Bahamas, at an elevation of 206 feet!
Mount Alvernia, also known locally as Como Hill, is the highest point in The Islands of The Bahamas at 206 feet (63 meters). It was named Mount Alvernia by Monsignor John Hawes, a Roman Catholic priest. It is said to be reminiscent of La Verna, the hill in Tuscany that was given to St. Francis of Assisi as a place where he could peacefully contemplate and is reportedly where Assisi received the Wounds of the Cross. Monsignor John Hawes, known to Cat Islanders as Father Jerome, was a skilled architect and sculptor, a self-described contemplative and admirer of St. Francis of Assisi. Using local stone, he built The Hermitage on the peak of Mt. Alvernia in 1939, a small medieval monastery where he could get away from the world. The way up the hill to the monastery is via a stone staircase on a steep rocky incline. You can see Father Jerome’s beautiful and detailed hand-carved stone reliefs of the Stations of the Cross along the way, and the 360-degree view around the lush island from the top is awe-inspiring. Father Jerome is also known for building cathedrals and convents throughout The Bahamas, including on Long Island and New Providence. He died in 1956 and is said to be buried somewhere on the site of The Hermitage.
March 21, 2022 Georgetown – Exuma Sound – Moriah Harbour
Our new guests Cortney and Brent, with their teenagers Ella and Cooper, came on board around 10:15 am, after Rob picked them up at the dinghy dock. The dinghy motor dies on the way back to the boat, so they got a short tow from a good Samaritan from a boat over. Rob was able to fix the fuel leak as soon as he was back and had the tools, but this family’s adventure started out really adventurous! After some snacks, drinks and the boat briefing, we sailed off the anchor to head out into the Exuma Sound and sail south towards Three Fathom Channel. We had a wonderful sail, with both sails up, and everybody enjoyed it immensely. After coming through the Cut, we headed straight into Moriah Bay, and set anchor there around 1:30 pm. A lunch of Cheddar Jalapeno Cornbread and “Guacamole Salad” (lots of Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Onions, Avocado and Lime) was served. And then it was off to the beach! The beach in Moriah is so beautiful, and a great time was had by all!
After the beach it was time to hang out on the boat and chat, and then of course dinner. Tonight was appetizers of brie and pepper jam bruscetta, a mixed salad, blackened Grouper and garlic rice, and for dessert grilled cinnamon bananas over ice cream. It started pouring down rain during dinner, so halfway through it had to be moved inside the salon. It soon stopped though, so everybody got to go back outside and enjoy the rest of the night.
March 22, 2022 Moriah Harbour – Sand Dollar
After everybody emerged at 8 am, a continental breakfast was served, and we lifted anchor around 9 am to head to Sand Dollar for some snorkeling, beach and hiking. When the anchor was down in Sand Dollar, Captain Rob took the family over to the beach by Sand Dollar Rocks to do some snorkeling on the patch reefs off the beach. Everybody really enjoyed that, and came back to the boat in time for a nice lunch of chicken, shrimp and veggie skewers with fresh boat-made aioli and warm pita bread. With a full belly, it was time to rest and hang out on the deck, before Rob took them back over to the beach for a hike across the island to the Exuma Sound side and the beautiful beach there. Everybody came back hungry from the exercise, and Anya served an early “Taco Tuesday!” dinner of boat-baked tortilla chips with Mango Pineapple Salsa, followed by Grouper Tacos with special slaw, boat-made fish taco sauce, shredded cheese, the mango salsa, sour cream and warm tortillas, along with Anya’s special Mexican rice.
The dessert of coconut rum rice pudding had to wait until there was a little room after the pretty sunset, and after dessert family time was enjoyed at the cockpit table.
March 23, 2022 Sand Dollar – Hooper Bay – Stocking Island
We had a breakfast of creamy scrambled eggs, mushroom and tomato medley, grilled bacon and buttered toast in the Sand Dollar anchorage, and then lifted anchor to head to Hooper Bay. Once anchored there, Anya took the family to the beach in the dinghy. They were armed with some pieces of cabbage to feed the turtles, and this early the beach was almost empty, so they had the friendly turtles all to themselves for over an hour. Once more people started showing up, the family headed back to the Destiny III for lunch. This was Greek Salad and garlic pita and garlic bread. Following an after-lunch siesta, we pulled anchor again and headed over to Stocking Island to find a good anchoring spot near Chat’n’Chill. Rob took the family over to this awesome beach bar and dropped them off while Anya started preparing dinner. The plan was for Rob and Anya to join the family for half an hour to listen to a live Bill Rowen concert, but just as the crew was going to head over, it started pouring rain. The text soon came from Brent that Chat’n’Chill was closing due to the weather, so they needed a pick up. Tonight’s dinner was Anya’s Pepper Poppers for appetizers, then grilled Mutton Snapper with creamy butter garlic sauce over linguine, followed by warm fresh-baked brownies with ice cream. After some chatting in the cockpit, everybody fell into a food coma and headed to bed early…
March 24, 2022 Stocking Island – Monument Beach – Georgetown
In the morning after a breakfast of Banana Cinnamon French Toast we headed over to Monument Beach for a hike up to the Monument. The family loved the morning exercise and especially the view! Lunch was Chicken Caesar Salad and a fresh baked batch of Ham and Cheese Bread served with cold butter. After lunch was more beach time, and we then headed over back to Georgetown since the family wanted to have a dinner at Shirley’s. After we picked them up, crew and guests sat together in the cockpit and later on deck well into the evening, with many funny stories and much laughter shared!
March 25, 2022 Georgetown
It was good-bye time for this wonderful little family, and everybody was sad to go. After continental breakfast with fresh fruit salad, many hugs and well-wishes were exchanged when they all left Destiny III…
March 11, 2022 Georgetown to Hooper Bay through the Exuma Sound
Rob picked up Jen and Dan and their two 10-year-old twins Blair and Camilla in the dinghy at 10 am. Everybody was really excited to come on board and the girls screamed in delight when they saw their cabins. After everybody settled in, we had the champagne / lemonade reception with some snacks and a boat briefing for the guests. We pulled up the sail at anchor and left Georgetown heading south and out into the Exuma Sound. Once we got around the corner, we had a nice 10 to 14 knot wind to sail up and around Stocking Island. Lunch was served underway and consisted of Indonesian Chicken Satay, Garlic Bread, and a Hot Dog :-). We came back into the inside of Stocking Island and headed straight over to Hooper Bay. The girls had been talking all morning about seeing fish and sea turtles, so this was the perfect spot. Armed with some carrots as turtle food, Rob took the family to the beautiful Hooper Bay beach for some beach time and turtle feeding. There was some turtle food competition as there were other people there with lettuce (which they seem to like more), but a great time was had by all. Upon the return to Destiny III, it was family on the trampoline time, and then dinner was served. A shrimp cocktail appetizer and side salad was the grown-up appetizer, followed by boat-made from scratch Mac & Cheese (a big hit with the girls) accompanied by blackened Grouper filets for the adults. After some more family time playing cards, it was time for the kiddos to go to bed, and the parents to relax.
March 12, 2022 Hooper Bay to Moriah Harbour to Stocking Island
Everybody was up early, and enjoyed a breakfast of Tropical Banana French Toast (sprinkled with Coconut Rum for the adults). We then lifted anchor and went down to Moriah Harbour, which has one of the most beautiful and longest beaches in the Exumas (in our humble opinion). After taking in a meat and cheese board to hold them over for a late lunch, the family spent a wonderful late morning at the beach with no one else around, and loved it! Upon their return, they enjoyed a lunch of greek salad and garlic pita. As there was a very windy night forecasted, we decided to take refuge in the protected cove of Monument Beach in Stocking Island, and our little guest family got to go to the beach again! It was Taco Saturday, so we had Grouper Tacos with all the fixings, Mexican rice, and quesadillas. Afterwards it was game and dance night, and much giggling and laughter was heard around the boat…
March 13, 2022 Stocking Island
It did get very windy early in the morning, and we were happy we were in a protected anchorage. We also got lots of rain, and Anya and Rob did the “rain drill”, running all around the boat to close all the hatches. Everyone was a bit tired in the morning, and already automatically sleeping an hour longer due to daylight savings time starting. We had a big continental breakfast inside the salon, and unfortunately it kept raining slightly and gusting wind, so Dad Dan and the twins went for a hike up to the Monument at around noon. Upon their return, we had a wonderful Avocado-Tomato Salad and a big cheese and charcuterie board – they were planning on going to the Pig Roast at Chat’n’Chill Beach Bar in the afternoon and didn’t want too big of a lunch… After lunch it started raining again, so games were played and books were read out loud until the anticipated dinghy departure at 3 pm to Chat’n’Chill. The dinghy ride over was a “bit” wet, bt that’s all part of the adventure, right? The family enjoyed Chat’n’Chil so much, they ended up staying there until 7 pm! After Rob picked them up in the dinghy, it was rest time for Mom, dinner time for the kiddos, cookie brownies and ice cream, and then game night.
March 14, 2022 Stocking Island – Exuma Sound – Sand Dollar Beach – Georgetown
After a nice breakfast of creamy scrambled eggs, grilled sausage and toast (and lots of fruit loops :)), we pulled up the mainsail at anchor and headed towards Exuma Sound. The forecast was favorable for sailing that day and the family really wanted to sail again, so we were up for a try. Unfortunately, it was very wavy, and the winds were still much higher than forecasted, so for the safety of the family, we turned around. Everybody else that went out also came back, the forecast just did not hold its promises… We motorsailed back into the protected harbor, pulled the sail and headed south to Sand Dollar Beach. Rob took the family to the beach while Anya prepared lunch. They came back to a salad and some snacks, and then hot fresh Cheese-Ham-Carrot Bread straight out of the galley, served with butter on the side. After lunch was siesta time, and then the family decided they wanted to go back to the beach. They had a blast, and the girls came back with lots of sea shells. We moved the boat over to Georgetown, where we had a nice dinner at their last anchorage: Shrimp and chicken in creamy butter garlic sauce and freshly made mashed potato patties. A few glasses of wine concluded their last night on board, and everybody got a good night’s sleep.
March 15, 2022 Georgetown, and the crew goes back to Cat Island
After a big breakfast (creamy scrambled eggs with cheese and ham + a big plate of breakfast meats) to hold them over for the flight, we headed over to Exuma Yacht Club where the family got off to catch their taxi to the airport.
We fueled up the boat and headed out, finally a chance to take a break in Cat Island and see our cats! Since we were getting a late start, we had to hustle to make it to Cat Island in daylight – the entrance into the bay in Port Howe is very narrow with reef on both sides, so nobody attempts it after dark. The wind was great, just not enough of an angle to sail fast enough, so we had to motor sail. We did make it back before sunset, unloaded, and rushed over to the cottage, where both cats were sitting at the door waiting. It was so awesome to see them! A nice dinner with Trish and Dave, lots of pets for the cats, and then off to bed for some much needed rest.
After a few days in Cat Island, it was time to take over the Destiny III and sail her down to Georgetown, where we would pick up our first group of 6 guests. That many guests with a crew of 2 is already a challenge, but to have it as our very first charter on the new-to-us boat was an even greater one! We spent 2 days in Georgetown making some repairs and provisioning, and then the guests came on board. Here is the charter logbook:
Feb 26, 2022 Geogetown
Anchored in front of Lake Victoria. The Watertaxi brought Lesley & Wes, Emily & Scott and JJ & Kyle on board Destiny III at 11 am. After a champagne reception with some snacks, we headed over to Monument Beach off Stocking Island for some beach time. After a lunch of fresh Snapper Ceviche that had been caught by local fishermen earlier that morning, it was beach time. Dinner that first night was an appetizer of Brie, Pepper Jelly and Cranberry Canapees, followed by a mixed salad. The main course was Chicken Lazone with Penne Pasta and then a dessert of warm rum raisin sauce over ice cream. After a fun night of much laughter and many libations, the guests retired late, for a peaceful first night at anchor.
Feb 27, 2022 Geogetown/Stocking Island to Lee Stocking Island
Breakfast at anchor consisted of Lobster Scrambled Eggs, toast and local watermelon jam. We lifted the anchor at 8:40 am under sail and had a great day sailing under full sails, doing 8 knots at an average windspeed of 12 knots running north in the Exumas Sound. At 1:30 pm, our anchor was down, and a lunch of Greek Salad, and Olive Tapenade Pita Bread was served and enjoyed by all. The afternoon was spent at the beach, and the guests were the only ones at the beach. They got to see some fun stuff snorkeling off the beach, and came back very hungry to appetizers of lobster, bacon and cream cheese stuffed peppers.
Dinner on the second evening consisted of Grilled Grouper with a Wasabi cream sauce, Basmati Rice and steamed Broccoli, followed by a nice cheese and cracker plate accompanied by Jalapeno Pepper jelly. A very quiet night was had by all, and the attraction was chatting and star gazing on this fantastic starry night with no ambient light around.
Feb 28, 2022 Lee Stocking Island to Rudder Cut Cay to Little Farmers Cay.
We started early on day 3, with coffee at 6:30 am and the anchor up at 6:45 am. Since the wind had died completely, we motored over to Rudder Cut Key (one of David Copperfield’s private islands) to snorkel the Piano Site right off of the Key. On the way there we all had an exciting moment when Scott caught an 8-pound Mahi Mahi! A Continental Breakfast (fresh tropical fruit salad, grilled bacon, bagels & toast, butter, cream cheese and jams, cereals, boat-made yogurt, and juices) was served right after the anchor was down at 8:15. The fish was cleaned and prepped, and everybody voted to have Chef Anya’s lunch plan changed to fresh Mahi Mahi Ceviche. There was some fun morning snorkeling off the back of Destiny III with a big Nurse Shark, waiting for the tide to become slack for some snorkeling on the David Copperfield Piano Sculpture and the surrounding coral heads off the dinghy. Everybody had a wonderful time, and spent over an hour snorkeling this site! In accordance with the big catch, a wonderful Mahi Mahi Ceviche lunch accompanied by garlic and parmesan flatbread was enjoyed by all, and after lunch we lifted anchor to head to Little Farmers Cay. There was no wind, flat calm seas, and a beautiful scenery with all the colors the Bahamian waters have to offer all around us. We dropped anchor right off the small settlement on Little Farmers Cay, and after a requested snack of another cheese board, Captain Rob took the whole party over to the settlement in the dinghy, to do some exploring. They took in the sunset from the beach bar there, and Captain Rob ferried them back to Destiny for appetizers and then dinner. Appetizers were Mahi-Mahi Sashimi with Wasabi and Ginger, and since it was “Taco Monday”, there were also Tortilla Chips with fresh boat-made salsa. The main course was of course Tacos: grilled Snapper, grilled Mahi-Mahi, Mexican slaw, cheese, sour cream, more fresh salsa and tortillas, and a side of Chef Anya’s special Mexican fried rice. Dessert was straight-out of the oven hot browns topped with ice cream, and a large pitcher of Margaritas! Everyone slept well that night…
March 1, 2022 Little Farmers Cay to Staniel Cay
We had a breakfast of Greek Omelettes, grilled sausage and toast still at anchor and then set off towards Staniel Cay at 9 am. We set anchor there before noon. Rob immediately loaded up the dinghy with snorkelers, to take advantage of the slack low tide for snorkeling the Thunderball Grotto. Everybody loved it! After the snorkeling adventure, we had a lunch of crab cakes, Caesar salad with boat-made dressing, and freshly shredded Parmesan, and garlic butter toast. After lunch the guests were ferried over to Staniel Cay Yacht Club for their 5-day Covid tests, and Anya got to go to shore to re-provision some fresh veggies. That night was “Dinner off the boat night”, and reservations had been made by the crew for the 4 course meal at the Yacht Club. Getting ready was accompanied by a bottle of champagne and lots and lots of photos!
March 2, 2022 Staniel Cay to Cave Cay
We had a continental breakfast with breakfast sausage at the anchorage. At 8:30 we lifted anchor to head around the corner of Big Major into Pig Bay, where we anchored close to the beach. Captain dinghied everybody over to Pig Beach, armed with some pig food bags Anya had prepared. After that fun excursion, we sailed off the anchor and all the way to Cave Cay, doing 7-8 knots on a 12 knot wind. Lunch was served underway and consisted of a huge Caprese Salad with fresh basil and hot boat-baked ham-cheese-carrot bread. We anchored by the beautiful beach of Cave Cove. Wes and Kyle paddleboarded over to the Cove, and Rob took the rest of the group in the dinghy. The beach is beautiful, and there are many many turtles swimming around in the shallow water of the cove. The group also saw some Eagle Rays and Starfish.
The sunset appetizer of chicken tenders was served at the group’s return, and dinner was a mixed salad, Garlic Butter Lobster over Linguine, and a Coconut Rum Rice Pudding for dessert.
March 3, 2022 Cave Cay to Great Exuma
Breakfast was served at anchor, and today was breakfast burritos and grilled bacon. We lifted anchor at 9 am and headed past the Copperfield islands and out of Rudder Cut into the Exumas Sound. The trip through the Cut was a bit of a roller coaster ride, but Captain Rob confidently got us through safely. After we turned south, the wind was on our nose, and we had a wavy trip south in the Sound. The team caught a big Mahi Mahi – they had to hand-reel it in as the rod was wrapped and the fish was being chased by a shark – and we knew we would have Sashimi and fresh blackened fish for dinner! Another big Mahi Mahi was caught, but it was a smart one, and wiggled itself off our deck and back into the water. At 3:30 pm, we found a good anchoring spot amongst all the boats anchored at Stocking Island, and we were very close to Chat’n Chill Beach Bar, so Rob ferried the guests straight there in the dinghy. A wonderful time was had by all, and the male Destiny III team even won the Chat’n Chill Beach Volleyball Championship!
Dinner on board was of course Sashimi, a salad followed by blackened Mahi-Mahi, fresh steamed vegetables, and hot fresh-baked bread accompanied by garlic butter. The cheese plate made everybody groan as they were already so full… Then another fun evening of chatting and chilling and sharing adventures, and some great sleep at the anchorage!
March 4, 2022 Stocking Island, Georgetown
It was sleep-in morning, and then a continental breakfast. Afterwards everybody got ready to head into Georgetown for their pre-flight Covid test and to walk around Georgetown a bit. After that was done, we had a nice lunch of Balsamico Chicken, and then the group headed back to Chat’n Chill for another round of beach drinks and volleyball.
It was their last night on board Destiny III, and for the Captain’s Dinner the guests had requested lobster, so a full lobster dinner (lobster in the half-shell, sweet potatoes, cole slaw and spicy corn) was enjoyed by all, including Captain Rob! Many stories were told that night, and it was a wonderful last evening!
March 5, 2022 Georgetown
The last few hours on board were spent with an Egg Shakshuka (runny eggs on a bed of vegetables) for breakfast, and packing and getting ready to go to the airport. The water taxi was a no-show, so Captain Rob decided to take the guests to the dock in the dinghy two by two. It was a wet ride, but the guests took it with great humor! Needless to say, we will be using a different water taxi service next time…
Anya got our Dinghy Chaps done in time for our departure, and we put them on our dinghy before we pulled it on deck :-).
We cast off on Sunday, Feb 6 2022 at 4 am to head across the Gulf Stream towards Bimini Island in the Bahamas, and were at the edge of the Gulf Stream by 5:30. By 11 am, we still had 3 to 5 foot swells, but they were pretty easy to handle as they were fairly far apart. Think a slow up and down with only the occasional splash over the deck ;-). By 3 pm it had calmed down quite a bit, and we pulled into Bimini at 4:30 pm on a gentle swell. The crossing had taken us 12 hours, which we had expected.
We chose to dock at Brown’s Marina so we could check into immigarion and customs the same night (they are open till 6 pm on a Sunday!). Having used the Bahamas online Click2Clear system, it was a pretty easy process. The staff at Brown’s were extremely friendly and accommodating, and after ckecking in we settled down for a cold beer and and early night. We were exhausted! The next morning (Feb 7) we headed out of Bimini at 8:30 to cross the Bamas Banks as far as we could/ wanted to go towards Nassau. It was flat calm, no chance to sail, but a very pleasant motor across the Banks. At 6:30 pm, more than half an hour after sunset, we set the anchor on the Banks. We thought we had a good spot off the beaten tracks, but had 2 big scares when several hours apart, 2 big ships headed straight for us and then turned off at the last minute. We’re not anchoring in that spot again! After a fairly good nights’ sleep (up at 4 to close the hatches because it was pouring down rain, and run the generator at 4:30 because the batteries were too low due to us running the AIS, the radio and the deck lights so we could be detected), we lifted anchor at 7 am for our last 55 nm leg to Nassau. It was still raining, but started clearing up to the most fantastic rainbow we had ever seen.
We still had almost no wind, and what we had was on the nose, so we cleared through North Cut on bare poles easily and headed into the super-deep Northwest Channel, referred to as the “Tongue of the Ocean”. It was a bit more choppy there, but it was still a pretty smooth motor to New Providence / Nassau. At 5:30 pm (after 10.5 hours) we had the anchor down in West Bay, just in time for a major downpour that lasted for several hours. February 9 (Thursday) we headed out of Nassau towards Highbourne Cay in the Exuma Islands. The wind was on our nose again, so we had to bite the bullet and motor yet again. It took us 10 hours to get to Highbourne, and we anchored in the Bay. It was pretty choppy, and we had an uncomfortable night. The next morning we set out to sail further south. There was bad weather coming, so we didn’t have as much time in the Exumas as we had hoped, especially because were getting really tired of eat-sleep-go! We were trying to make it all the way to Blackpoint south of Staniel Key, from where we would cross the Exumas Sound to Cat Island, our destination. The wind gods were with us this time, and with 13 – 18 knots on the beam, we sailed at a steady 6-8 knots.
We got to Blackpoint by 4 pm, and decided to go on shore (finally!) and also spend an extra day in their beautiful anchorage and get some rest (finally!). Since our dinghy was on our deck and the motor was attached to the stern of the sailboat, we decided to just put the dinghy in the water and row it to shore. A very funny attempt by each of us, going in zigzags all the way! At our favorite bar in Blackpoint, we got a big hello from our local friends from last year, and met some other sailors we had been talking to on the radio on the cruise down. Next day was sleeping in and Anya making a nice big breakfast!
After breakfast we relaxed, and then rowed to shore again for a walk. This time we had it figured out – by rowing together side by side we could make the dinghy go straight (as long as we were coordinated haha). We went for a nice walk across the island, chatted with some locals, and took in the beautiful view of our anchorage. There were lots more boats in it than last year, which is great for the local economy!
We also walked past the local jail again, which I had forgotten to take a picture of last year. You don’t want to get locked up in Blackpoint!
We had a quiet and early night, and set out early on Saturday morning (Feb 12) to cross the Exumas Sound to Cat Island. First we had to go through Gotham Cut to get to the Atlantic side of the Exuma Islands, and that was a crazy wild ride! Once we got through Anya had almost no nails left to bite off :-). The crossing was really rough, and (you guessed it) the wind was on our nose. We had to go 60 miles that day, so we had no choice but to motor again. It was pretty rough in the Sound with 4-6 foot waves one directly after the other. Once we got closer to Cat Island, we decided to sail and tack into our overnight stop to save on fuel, before we collapsed into our bunk after 12 hours travel time! On Sunday the 13th, we left on our final leg to get to Port Howe on the southern tip of Cat Island. The wind was blowing up to 28 knots and Anya had hurt her hand and couldn’t hold anything, so we ended up motoring in 5-7 foot waves coming from the side. It was miserable! 3 hours later, we arrived in Port Howe and picked our way through the reef into the anchorage, where Destiny III (the catamaran we will be running charters on) was already waiting. We hauled some things to shore to the Cottage we will get to stay in during our off times (and where our cats will live), and then went back for the cats. It was so rough in the anchorage that we didn’t want to take the cats on the dinghy, so we spent another rough night on Ronya. The next morning was better, and both cats went to shore to their new home for the next 5 months. We also moved into the Cottage (we have about 8 days until we have to go to Georgetown to pick up our first charter). It is very cute with a kitchen, living area and bedroom, and a bathroom with a real shower! The best part is the view – the Cottage is right on the beautiful white sand beach, and it has a patio overlooking the ocean!
Rob and I have taken on a new adventure for the 2022 season: we will be running a 46 foot Leopard Catamaran for charters in the Exumas! We will be leaving Key Largo ASAP to sail Ronya to Cat Island, where we will pick up Dave and Trish’s catamaran and start running charters in the Exumas until June.
Trish will take care of our cats while we are out on charter on their boat – a perfect arrangement for us!
On June 22, we sailed to Nassau from Hawksbill Key on the genoa sail, 58 miles in 9 hrs (it would have been 43 miles without tacking). We anchored in West Bay, on the western tip of Nassau. Since we were staying 2 nights, we had time to reprovision the boat and decided to walk to Solomon’s Fresh Market 5 miles away. Needless to say that turned out to be too much of a hike, but after about 45 minutes, a car that was going the other way stopped and the very friendly lady offered to take us there. She had just been shopping there herself, and went back just to take us. That was so nice of her! In the shopping plaza we had a nice lunch and then shopped, and the free Solomon’s car took us back to the beach. Great service! Back at the boat, we hoped for a sunset, but the clouds covered it again.
On June 24 we set sail for Andros across the “Tongue of the Ocean”, as they call the deep water between Nassau and Andros. We were determined to sail again (even without our broken main sail), so we tacked. 3 to 5 foot swells made this a very uncomfortable sail, as we cannot balance the sailboat without the main sail, so the waves keep throwing us around. 8 hours later we pulled into Morgans Bluff on the northern end of Andros and anchored. Robbie, the owner of the only other boat there came to say hello on his dinghy, and we joined him and his mate for a beer at the bar on the water and Donovan, a local friend of Robbie’s, promised to organize a rental car for us for the next day. We then walked along the extremely busy harbor, the huge mailboat had come in that day.
There we met Shelton, who ended up taking us in his car to Nicholls Town, where he knows a locals bar with good food. The lady there cooked up some very good cracked conch, and we had a nice dinner together with Shelton. Robbie showed up a little later too, and we all had a really fun night. We got back to our boat just in time to see the mailboat leave.
The next morning we went to the dock to get fuel, and Virgil approached us. He had been sent by Donovan to drive us around. Not what we expected (we were expecting a rental car), but this was just fine. He offered to take us 40 miles to Fresh Creek, where the Androsia factory is, a local Andros clothmaking company that produces local batik. The drive took us through the freshwater marshlands, but there was not much to see. When we got there an hour later, the factory and store were closed. It was Friday, and they weren’t going to open again until Monday, so we drove all the way back. We stopped at the Mennonite farm to get some local produce and eggs, and got there at 12:15. Needless to say they are closed from noon to 3 pm. We stopped along the way for a visit with Shelton, and next up was lunch at a locals place that Virgil recommended in the Lowe settlement, “Melly’s Place”. All along the shore, we saw large piles of conch shells that had done their duty as local food.
Over lunch we looked at the weather forecast, and decided we had to leave the next day for out 3 day trek back to Florida. This was very disappointing as we had hoped to see more of Andros, but it was more sensible to use the weather window we had. After all, we were a full month into hurricane season already. We called the customs office about checking out of the Bahamas, and they asked us to come to the airport which was a 20 minute drive away. So, back to the boat to get our paperwork, and Virgil took us to the airport. When we got there, they told us a customs officer was waiting for us back in Morgans Bluff (where our boat was), so 20 minutes back there. What a wild goose chase! We managed to clear customs, and went back to the boat to prepare for the early morning crossing of the Bahamas Banks and the Gulf Stream, which would take 3 days.
On June 26, we left Morgans Bluff on Andros to sail across the Bahama Banks towards Castle Rock. A beautiful rainbow was our Bahamas goodbye.
We sailed 50 miles for 11 hours. We anchored on the banks and had a really rough night, but we were too tired to keep going. The next day we sailed again, this time 38 miles in 8 hours, and anchored in our spot from last year behind Castle Rock.
A huge Loggerhead Turtle swam right up to the boat, and stuck around for about an hour. The yellow thing next to the turtle is a big Ramora, a fish that sticks to big ocean animals for a free “ride” and feeds on their leftovers.
We had a good nights’ sleep until the alarm woke us at 4:30 for our Gulf Stream Crossing. Five minutes later the anchor alarm went off too and showed us dragging. We started pulling the anchor, but soon realized it was completely stuck under something, so we couldn’t leave. We decided we would wait until sunrise, and then Rob would scuba dive down to anchor at 30 feet to see if he could get it loose. We were very happy when that worked (it was stuck under a metal piece of wreck), and we finally set off at 6:45 am.
About an hour into the trip (we were now motoring as the wind was directly behind us and we did not want to tack across the Gulf Stream), a big squall with some heavy wind and lots of rain hit us, so we got another free deck wash :-). Here it is behind us.
The rest of the ride was fairly easy, we dodged a few more squalls, and the last 2 hours of crossing we had 5 – 6 foot swells, but Ronya rode them nicely. We checked into the US with the CBP app, and at 8 pm we had our anchor down in Key Largo, after more than 13 hours and 78 nautical miles. And Miss Wilson radioed Sea Tow to let Steve know we had arrived safely: