A Way Overdue Adventure Update

It has been almost 2 months since I last posted an update, so I want to catch up!
Since the last post, we ran over a month of charters on Destiny III in the Exuma, with the last one ending on June 28th. We then sailed Destiny II back to Cat Island and moved directly back to Ronya, only picking up Miss Sushi and Miss Wilson on the transit, and started sailing up Cat Island the very next day. That day we got a late start and only made it round the western bend into the Bight, but we were determined to keep going and get Ronya back up to her former glory, so we cleaned and fixed and then anchored at Rolle’s for a good night’s sleep.

Our first sunset back on Ronya, in the Bight at Cat Island by Rolle’s

We then slowly sailed up to Shanna’s Cove to reunite with our friends Maria and Gregor (from Germany of course, they even lived in my home town Rosenheim for many years!), and had a great time with them. They own the IMHO most beautiful resort in the Bahamas:

View from Shanna’s Cove Resort, Ronya anchored in the Cove
One of the Shanna’s Cove Resort cottages
View from the balcony of that cottage
A fun dinner on Ronya with Maria and Gregor

On the 4th of July, we lifted anchor in Orange Creek / Shannon’s Cove to head over to Eleuthera. We were able to sail all the way to the southern tip past the cruise ship island of Little San Salvador.

It is not allowed to be here in Little San Salvador when there is a cruise ship, so we didn’t stop.

We went up a ways in Eleuthera and decided to pull into Davis Harbour Marina. Our solar converter was in and out, but mostly out :-(, so we wanted some battery recharge on shore power. This quaint marina was so fun! We had dinner at the local restaurant (amazing cracked conch!), and I did laundry in their laundry room (Miss Wilson had gotten a little seasick on our comforter). The laundry was full of locals, and I met so many people! I gave away all of our granola bars, chocolate, and even my fish hook necklace, and it was so worth it!
The next day this was instantly paid forward, as Kiki the bartender at the local restaurant offered to give us a ride into Rock Sound (the next town) to provision fresh veggies and beer(!). She also took us to a local guy who sold us unwashed eggs straight out of his chicken coop, and a blue hole right there. It was awesome! (And we also gave her a nice care package ;-).)

The next morning we left Davis Harbour Marina and headed around Cape Eleuthera. We had awesome wind, so all sails were fully up. Once we turned northeast around the Cape, we got a bit overpowered doing 8.2 knots and heeling down to the waterline. Normally not that big of a deal, unless all your weight including the dinghy motor is all the way to port and that is where you are heeling to, and you are in a tight channel where you can not head up- or downwind. Needless to say, we made it!
After that we had a great sail all the way up to Governor’s Harbour, the original capitol of the Bahamas. Our anchor was down at 4:15 pm, and we walked around town, had a beer at Ronnie’s and then dinner on Ronya.

Ronya anchored in Government Harbor, view from Ronnie’s on Cupid Cay

July 7 we cleaned the Ronya top and bottom and then walked all over town. Lots of history in Government Harbour!

Old church and graveyard
Second ever library in the Bahamas
Maybe not too historical, but cool shoot of very bent piling at government dock
Old settlement house
Government Harbour typical street

On July 7th, after a wonderful day day walking around Governor’s Harbour, we returned to Ronya to find out or fridge was dead and at 70 degrees F. All attempts at reviving it were fruitless. Very frustrating, but fortunately we had our small portable Engel freezer that we could turn into a fridge, we just had to eat everything that was currently frozen. There went all our “going out for dinner” plans!

The next day we lifted anchor and headed for Fleming Channel on the north end of Eleuthera. We sailed all the way, jibing to get a better angle to the wind, and managed a 5 knot average. After going through the channel, we headed west and had our anchor down just west of current cut right before sunset. The cats slept all day, and then were very tired when we got there:

Sushi is tired after a long day of sleeping

A perfect anchorage, and some really good sleep! In the morning, we took our time and sailed the last 7 miles over to Spanish Wells. We tied Ronya up to a mooring ball and took the dinghy over to Spanish Wells, where we found Destiny III on haul-out and Dave underneath painting. After a long chat we headed up the hill to the Buddha Bar for a cold beer, where we ran into our mooring field neighbors Sam, Carrie and Amanda on “Sammy Don’t”. Turns out Sam is a fridge technician and offered to come over and take a look the next day.

That night we took the dinghy up to the north end of Spanish Wells for the big Bahamian Independence Day celebration. It was good fun, and they even had some small fireworks!

On Sunday July 10 (the actual Independence Day), everything was closed and the town was deserted. Dave and Trish had a golf cart and took us over to Russell Island to “The Sandbar Restaurant” for a nice relaxed brunch and some catching up. In the afternoon Sam came over to look at our fridge, but the verdict was he couldn’t fix it without the right tools and to contact a local guy. We had done that, but they were all too busy. So we had our neighbors over for a nice dinner to help us eat all the food… Monday was the observed holiday, town deserted again. We had a quiet day on Ronya, and then took a long walk all over Spanish Wells. What a cool place! Tuesday was spent trying to chase down another fridge guy, no success. We treated ourselves to a dinner out anyways, and the food at Shipyard’s was very good, only topped by the view!

Wednesday we rented a golf cart to explore some more. We went everywhere reachable and were done within 2 hours, so we spent some time shopping for non-fridge groceries and beer, then tried to find a car rental in North Eleuthera for an adventure-filled exploration across the sound (a ferry runs between Spanish Wells on St. George’s Island, and Gene’s Harbor Dock in North Eleuthera).

July 14 (Thursday) we took the ferry over.

Ronya to the left, Spanish Wells to the right

“Poncho” from Bain’s Car Rental was waiting at the dock with our rental car. We hopped into the Jeep and headed for the “Saphire Blue Hole”. Google Maps does not work well in those parts, so we ended up driving up a dirt road through a local village, which of course was very cool. In the end we found the Blue Hole:

So beautiful!
We did not jump in, since this was the only way out.

Next on the adventure list was “Preacher’s Cave”, where the original settlers took refuge in the 1600s after their ship sank on Devil’s Back Bone Reef.

From Preacher’s Cave we walked over to the beach, where we found a family trying to get their beached motorboat back in the water. We went over to help, and made some new friends!

We then took the car further south on Eleuthera and to the east coast, where a ferry takes you to Harbour Island, which is famous for its Pink Sand Beach

Pink Sand Beach on Harbour Island

We walked around the quaint town of Harbour Island for a while and had lunch, then took the ferry back to Eleuthera. We headed further south to sea the Glass Window Bridge, where you can see the dark blue water of the ocean on one side, and the light blue water on the other.

Glass Window Bridge

From there we headed a bit further south to see the Queen’s Hot Tub, a collection of pools in the rocks:

Further south, we found another cave called the Hatchet Bay Cave. It was difficult to find, a small trail through the tall grass, and then a hole in the ground. We climbed down, and it was too dark inside to venture very far without a flashlight, bats flying all around us. A very cool experience though!

Inside Hatchet Bay Cave
Bats and more bats

Further south we circled around Alice Town, a small settlement by the water, and started heading back up to Gene’s Bay Dock to catch the ferry back to Spanish Wells and Ronya. A fun-filled day of adventures!

Today (July 15) was the day we would start heading back to the Berry Islands on our way to the Florida Keys. It rained all night and into the late morning, so we are waiting out the rain to run some errands and then head out to anchor before our long passage across the Northeast Providence Channel to Whale Cay in the Berry Islands tomorrow.

An Update

It has been about a month and a half since the last post, and we have ben working hard running charters on Destiny III. We’ve had quite a few week-long charters, 4-day charters and day charters. In between charters, we go “home” to Cat Island and our cats if there is enough time (it takes us a day to get there from George Town), and when we have shorter breaks we stay in George Town and hang out with friends or explore the area.

On one of the stays in Cat Island, we explored the ruins of a plantation from the 18th century in Port Howe. Trees had grown inside the ruins, it looked really cool.

On the way back to George Town for the next charter, we had a big storm follow us, and the lightning came as close as a mile and a half. Pretty scary stuff!

In George Town, we reconnected with our friend Mareike who runs the Catamaran “Moana”. We had met her last year in Shroud Cay. We had a really fun night with her and her friend Christopher!

This week between charters we went on one of our exploration trips around George Town and found an uninhabited island called Pigeon Cay, with a huge beach. It was an absolutely stunning day off!

We also did lots of hiking on Stocking Island, and of course lots of R&R.
On May 18th, we had a day charter with a group of 10 people celebrating a 40th birthday. It was a blast!

We were going back to Cat Island the next morning, so we anchored in Kidd Cove in front of Georgetown after the guests left. Suddenly there was a call on the radio that a catamaran was on fire, and you could smell it in the air. It was the catamaran anchored directly upwind from us. We made sure there were enough helpers on the scene and then quickly hauled anchor to get out of the danger zone. A terrifying experience, and the second boat fire we have witnessed first hand. Luckily no person was hurt, but they did lose their 2 dogs in the fire. Those poor people!

We are now back in Cat Island for a few days to make repairs and get Ronya ready for sailing her back to Florida at the end of June. We won’t have time to come back here for a whole month, and when we come back, we will grab Sushi and Miss Wilson, hop on board Ronya and start the trek. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to take our time going back before there are any storm warnings – we really want to take Ronya to some of the places we have not yet visited in the Bahamas.

Charter Work

We are keeping a charter logbook, so if you want to read about each charter, you can go to Blog -> Bahamas 2022 Charters, or click here.
As for our adventures off charter, keep reading below…

The Discovery of a Cat Island Gem

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!

Maria & Gregor

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!

Trail to Man-o-War Beach
Man-o-War Beach
Endless Man-o-War Beach

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!

A Georgetown reunion and a Cat Island excursion

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.

Across the Bahamas to Cat Island

Anya got our Dinghy Chaps done in time for our departure, and we put them on our dinghy before we pulled it on deck :-).

Putting on the new chaps

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.

Sunrise in the Gulf Stream

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.

Sailing down the Exumas Islands

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!

Blackpoint Anchorage

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!

Blackpoint Jail

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!

View from the Cottage Patio, Port Howe, Cat Island

Our 2022 Adventure

Hey friends!

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.

Destiny III

Trish will take care of our cats while we are out on charter on their boat – a perfect arrangement for us!

You can see what Anya will be cooking and serving to guests under “Food on Board”.
You can see infos about the charters at https://www.calvertcatamarancharters.com.