Thursday, February 4, 2010

January 27, 2010.

Guess who? That’s right, the Verandas. Guess where? Right again, Hog Cay in the Jumentos. We spent several days hunting, hiking and sunning while at Raccoon Cay. For 2 of those days we were the only boat there. It was a notch above fabulous.

On our last evening there we had a local resident stop in for a bit just before sunset. An 8 or 9 foot Hammerhead shark. It’s the first one we’ve seen while in the Bahamas. They can be extremely dangerous and it was a little disconcerting to see him here.

Raccoon Cay is about 3 miles long so imagine our surprise when we woke one morning to see 3 boats headed our way. I mean EXACTLY our way. The island is over 5000 yards long but they all deemed it necessary to anchor within 70 yards of us. Put on your clothes honey, its time to get on outta here.

We were thinking of heading outta there anyway, but I just couldn’t believe that with all the room they had, they thought they should snuggle right up to us. Our next stop was to be Double Breasted Cay. There was less than 5 knots of breeze but the trip was less than 5 miles so we sailed off the anchor and headed south.

We were doing between .5 and 1.2 knots as we VERY slowly sailed along. We’ve had a Barracuda living under the boat and we just happened to look back and there he was ghosting along staying in Veranda’s shadow. He probably didn’t even realize that we were moving. I can just hear him explaining to his toothy friends “I dunno, I passed out in Raccoon and woke up in Double Breasted”

We spent a couple of nights at Double Breasted catching up with some of our friends. We went hunting a couple of times and were rewarded with 4 lobsters one day and a lobster and a pair of Hogfish the next day.

We had to leave Double Breasted because of a front headed our way. We could have gone back to Raccoon and been safe but the promise of internet lured us south to Hog Cay.

Hog Cay is about 60 miles from Cuba. At this latitude we’re actually about 60 miles further south than Havana, Cuba. The anchorage here is shallow with high cliffs to the north and east, there’s also good protection about ¾ of a mile to the south. The nearest settlement is Duncan Town, about 3.5 miles away by dinghy. About a mile and a half of that trip is through unprotected waters and should only be done on a calm day. Unless of course, you’re the type of person who enjoys getting their ass kicked. The next nearest settlement is back on Long Island, about a hundred miles behind us. So this is about as out in the sticks as you can get.

We dropped the hook at about 1000 hours after the 8 mile trip down from Double Breasted Cay. The weather was supposed to deteriorate as the day went on with the world going to shit by tomorrow morning. The blow was supposed to be from the north through east for about 60 hours. So we’d be well protected, but there would be no chance to take the dinghy ride into town unless we did it before the weather hit. We’ll try and beat the weather for $400 Alex.

As other boats arrived from points north we all seemed to have the same plan. As soon as the anchor was set we dropped the dink and headed out for town. The heat was oppressive and there was not a hint of breeze, henceforth known as “the calm before the storm”.

We ran down along the west side of Hog, out across the open water and down the mile long mangrove lined channel into town. This channel is so shallow that nothing but small outboard boats can get into the towns protected harbor. When the mailboat shows up they anchor offshore and everything has to be ferried in via small open boats.

The town’s “grocer” was away in Nassau so we went down and knocked on her niece’s door. The niece has a key and opened up for us and the 3 other couples that made the trek into town. The 2 room grocery store is smaller than my Mothers kitchen. These people depend on fishing, goat hunting and what little supplements that arrive on the mailboat for survival.

Once we arrived, we found out that the internet has been periodically unavailable for the last 2 weeks. Fortunately for us as soon as we sat down at the open air internet patio it came back on. We were able to read our Email and post some replies before it vanished once again. We were sweating like crazy while we attempted to reconnect. Several of us commented on the wispy cool breeze that blew through every now and then offering some relief. Ut oh. A little breeze inland usually means alotta breeze offshore, the wind was building, we had to get outta there.

We walked back to the dinghies with our friends from Don’t Look Back. They had a little problem with their dinghy engine just as they were getting into town. It would only run at a high idle so they could only plod along at 6 knots instead of the 15 knots or better that most dinghies prefer to travel. We didn’t know what was wrong with it, and the weather was definitely building so we couldn’t take the time to try and figure it out. We stuck with them to make sure it didn’t crap out all together and made sure that they get home safely.

It was eerie calm as we followed the Don’t Look Backs dink out the mile long shallow channel. As soon as we hit the open water we found that the wind was already above 15 knots and pushing a nasty chop right at us. Crap. They were relegated to plodding along with one wave after another driving spray into their dink. Been there, done that, got the wet tee shirt to prove it. We opted to blast ahead riding over the tops of the waves. It was a very rough ride but at least we were dry. About ¾ of the way across the open section there was a tiny cay about 30 feet in diameter. We pulled right up into its lee to hide from the wind and waves. We watched the Don’t Look Backs make progress towards the anchorage. As they caught up to us we blasted back out ahead and home to the boat. By the time we got to the Veranda they came around the corner and finally made it home albeit drenched to the bone.

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