• sailorstacey

From Hog Cay, we sailed northward along the Jumentos chain, and anchored at Racoon Cay, along with a small fishing fleet. I was hot and wanted to swim, so I immediately jumped into the inviting turquoise water. Wayne and Chad, two of the fisherman we had met at Hog Cay, motored by to chase me out of the water. They had slaughtered a goat that morning, they explained, and the blood had attracted a lot of large bull sharks.

We bought delicious fresh lobster and yellow snapper from them. The next morning we moved to a bay further north, and snorkeled without any shark sightings. After lunch, we had a fabulous, short sail in Southeast winds to Buena Vista Cay. The island recently had a sole inhabitant, but his home sustained a lot of damage in the previous hurricane and is no longer occupied. The long sandy beach is beautiful, and the snorkeling is spectacular, but Christoph didn't find any more lobsters. (Both Paul and Charlie did.)

On February 24, Jonah's birthday, we sailed up to Flamingo Cay, where we shared an anchorage with Ti Amo. Jonah is with me always, and when I lift my eyes to the sky I sense him in the clouds. We walked along the beach and took a wonderful hike across the island to the ocean side, passing several shrimp holes the sea had carved into the lunar landscape of sharp limestone.

From Flamingo Cay we had another magnificent sail in Southeast winds to Water Cay, crossing two ocean blue holes, and snorkeling at one. However, I jumped back in the dinghy upon seeing a reef shark and barracuda nearby. Our fleet of four sailboats anchored at the southern end of the island, where the Great Bahama Bank meets the ocean and waves crash against the cay. We were the only boats there. A boat wreck and numerous reefs provide amazing snorkeling, with lush landscapes of color and thousands of reef fish.

We were sorry to leave the wild and stark beauty of the Jumentos. We left a day before our companions to take advantage of the wind, since we needed to make a day-long passage through the Comer Channel to get back to Georgetown.The 3 other boats with us could go through the much closer cut at Hog Cay, but Delfina draws 6 feet 4 inches, and we can't make it through the shallower cut. We had a wonderful day of sailing, arrived at 4 pm and anchored near town.

We spent the entire next day doing laundry and marketing. It felt strange to re-enter the cruising community of Georgetown after the wild seclusion of the Jumentos. I happened to be at the laundromat during the riveting Michael Cohen testimony and felt like I was watching the Watergate hearings all over again. A harsh re-entry!

Fully provisioned, we fueled up at Emerald Cay, and then sailed to the Old Bight on Cat Island, another full day of passage-making. We took our dinghy to the beautiful beach, and had a wonderful dinner at the friendly and beautifully appointed Rollezz resort.

The next morning, we motored over to Fernandez Cay to snorkel its renowned coral reefs. As we snorkeled, dark clouds gathered. We drove our dinghy through the winding creeks, lined with mangroves. Since the day grew solidly overcast, we moved to the New Bight after lunch. We walked over a mile to the market, for the sole purpose of buying a can opener, and hitched a ride back from a fisherman, who sold us a huge grouper, caught this first day of grouper season. Lucky break for us!

The next day we hiked to the unique hermitage hand- built by Father Jerome, an architect-priest, in 3/4 scale. There are 14 stations of the cross that line the steep stone pathway to the hermitage, which sits atop the highest point in the Bahamas (260 feet). We especially loved the small chapel and the 360 degree view from the top.

After descending, we walked along the beach to the cultural village, where colorfully-painted huts line the road and offer local food. We had a wonderful conch salad at Whitty's and learned that there would be a kids' Junkanoo celebration that evening.

We had missed Junkanoo on both Christmas and New Years, but were lucky to be part of this enthusiastic, family-oriented celebration of music, costume and dance. The Mummers have nothing on the Cat Island Kids' Junkanoo! Serendipity––of the 5 boats anchored in the New Bight, 3 of us turned out to be Hylases! We met onshore and got to know the crews of Exuberance and It's Only Money.

In view of an upcoming front, we decided to sail to Rock Sound, Eleuthera, a very protected harbor. We decided to break up the long sail by stopping overnight at Little San Salvador, a private island used by cruise ships for on-shore amusements. The cruise line provides beautiful amenities on the shore of stunning Half Moon Bay. We had a long swim in the azure bay. At 3:30 pm, the cruise passengers left the island, and things quieted down. However, the Southwest seas made for a very rolly overnight anchorage.

We arrived in Rock Sound, Eluethera, on March 4, my 61st birthday, tired from a day-long sailing in light winds. We took a walk on shore and celebrated with a fabulous fisherman's platter at the Frigate, overlooking the anchorage, beautifully prepared by Chef Colleen.

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  • sailorstacey

We are sailing the most remote cays of the Bahamas, the Jumentos, which are truly the most stunning, with carved limestone hills, long stretches of uninhabited beach and crystal clear waters. We are now at Hog Cay, where we joined the other 7 boats in the anchorage for a music-filled sun-downer at the beach shack dubbed the "Yacht Club."

We jumped at the chance to join a group of 3 boats whom we had met in Joe's Sound to sail here. All professed that the Jumentos are their ultimate destination in the Bahamas. We had initially thought that the Crooked and Acklins Islands would be our turn-around point, but decided instead to take advantage of upcoming settled weather to explore these special islands. So after enduring another round of strong east winds in Crooked and Acklins Islands, we bid farewell to Lost Shaker and Jubilee and joined 2 Outrageous, Ti Amo and Grace V, bound for our staging anchorage at Salinas Point, Acklins Island.

We set out with trepidation across the super shallow Bight of Acklins, grateful for scouting assistance from Grace V. It was a nerve-wracking journey, with skinny stretches where we had only one inch of water beneath the keel. We safely reached Salinas Point, hitting bottom only once! Our passage the next day to Ragged Island was a 13 hour grab bag: we left at 5 a.m. and encountered big sea swells and winds out of the south- southeast at 15 to 22 knots. We sailed through two squalls with driving rain and wind gusts, which were followed by several welcome hours of sailing on a broad-reach before the wind got lighter and eventually died. We arrived just after sunset, with enough daylight to anchor in Southside Bay at Ragged Island.

Christoph joined a few lobstering expeditions with seasoned lobster hunters, Paul of 2 Outrageous and Charlie of Migration. The rest of us snorkeled in gorgeous, healthy coral reefs teeming with thousands of species of brightly- colored reef fish, giant sting rays, and of course, sharks, which are plentiful in the Bahamas. We have seen many from land and avoided a few, including bull sharks, reef sharks, nurse sharks and lemon sharks. They generally keep to themselves, but it's advisable to not hunt anywhere near them and to swim away if they are near. One upshot of snorkeling in the vicinity of sharks is that I have figured out how to pull myself into the dinghy on a moment's notice. Christoph finally speared a couple of lobsters, which we grilled with garlic butter for our best island meal yet.

We were dismayed to see the extensive hurricane damage at Duncantown, Ragged Island. There are no government services, and the 40 residents are slowly rebuilding. Still, we were glad for the provisions we were able to buy at Maxine's and cold drinks Jolly served up for us at the bar.

We will continue up the Jumentos chain of cays over the next few days, reveling in the gorgeous weather and unique beauty.

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  • sailorstacey

Updated: Feb 2, 2019

A few days aboard Delfina waiting out strong east winds allowed time for cleaning, cooking, reading, maintenance, and chess. However, after two straight days on board at anchor we were anxious to set sail again. When the wind turned to the southwest, we left Thompson Bay for Calabash Bay, a northern bay near Cape Santa Maria. Our Canadian friends on Horizon 360 and Asana joined us in the anchorage. We set out together in our dinghies to snorkel the nearby reefs, which were filled with lush, colorful coral and a kaleidoscope of reef fish. We also had another aim––to catch spiny lobster, which have no claws, but are nevertheless formidable in their own right. Christoph carried our newly -purchased spear gun, which is a long stainless steel spear sent flying by a sling shot. It turns out to be very hard to: a)find the spiny lobsters, who live deep within holes under coral formations; b) to dive down long enough to aim and release the spear; and c) to retrieve the spear with the lobster attached. Fortunately, the others had better luck, so they contributed the "surf" and we contributed the "turf" to our shared feast. We also took our dinghy around the Cape to see the Columbus monument from the ocean. The magnificent cliffs dwarf the underwhelming monument.

We had hoped to leave Calabash for the wild and unique ecosystems of Conception Cay, but another front set in motion clocking winds that called for a change in plans. We decided we'd work our way north to Cat Island, after waiting out strong northwest winds in George Town. This gave us another chance to boogie to the Rake and Scrape music at Eddie's.

We also took a wonderful tour of the Exuma Foundation ( which is committed to advancing the educational development and welfare of Exumians through a variety of development programs. Young Foundation employees led our group along a nature trail, past habitats they created based on permaculture principles. The Foundation runs a sustainable farm, and we were thrilled to buy its fresh eggs, arugula, kale and honey.

The winds caused us to abandon the idea of sailing to Cat Cay, and instead we sailed southeast, back to Long Island, with the eventual aim of sailing south to the Acklins when wind permits. Along the way, we passed through deep blue Atlantic waters, and finally caught a Mahi-Mahi ,which provided delicious sushi and enough fillets for two dinners.

For now, we are completely protected from the squalls and east wind blowing at 20 knots in the unique habitat of Joe's Sound. The water inside the narrow cut is just enough for the eight boats that sought shelter here, and the two moored vessels that are permanent residents. Pat, the "Mayor of Joe's Sound" lives on a moored houseboat during the winter season. We were grateful for his expertise in guiding us and two other vessels through the entrance cut at high tide. Such is the benefit of local knowledge.

Boaters like to meet up for "sundowners," so last night all the boats in the anchorage took their dinghies to the beach for a crackling bonfire, delicious appetizers, drinks, and live guitar music. We hooked up again with our friends on Jubilee, and another boat called Lost Shaker, with whom we hope to sail South to the Acklins when weather permits, likely on Super Bowl Sunday.

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