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.