Thursday, March 13, 2014

March 12, 2014.

Laundry was the first thing we did when we arrived at Black Point. While it was agitating we walked over to Lorraine's mothers house for a loaf of coconut bread. With the loaf of bread secured we pretty much just sat at the laundromat while the clothes cycled. It might sound boring but it was anything but.

The place was packed with cruisers doing laundry and getting haircuts. One woman was even getting her hair colored. We listened as several people expressed concern about where to hide from the upcoming cold front.

I can remember having similar conversations with other boaters years ago. There was always that more experienced couple nearby that didn't volunteer any input unless asked. It turns out that we're now that grizzled couple. The forecast is calling for a slow clocking with wind bumping the low twenties. There’s also possible squalls in the forecast which might pack 40 knots of breeze.

There was discussion of possible hidey holes. Everyone was throwing out possibilities. The marinas at Compass Cay and and Staniel Cay were both already full. The moorings at Little Farmers Cay and the Exumas Land and Sea Park were full as well. The anchorage at Black Point was sure to be untenable and there were close to 40 boats still sitting here. Between the Majors was talked about as were the various anchorages in Pipe Creek.

The spot between the Majors is an issue for me.
Between the Majors will do in a pinch but as the wind clocks at some point its gonna suck.
There’s plenty of room and you can get in there all nice and safe until the winds gets up above 20 knots. When the wind gets above 20 knots from the west the Staniel Cay Yacht Club kicks everybody off their dock. So now in the middle of a blow you have several boats being forced to go out and find a spot to anchor. I like to have my neighborhood a little more settled before the blow starts. Nobody wants a bunch of new guys trying to anchor nearby when its blowing stink.

The rap against Pipe Creek is that the charts make it look a little bit intimidating.
Pipe Creek has 360 degree protection but can be current ravaged
Some boats might have to play the tide to get in so for that reason a lot of people won't even try. One couple was expounding on the virtues of Pipe Creek as they had been there before. Boats had been leaving the anchorage here when we arrived and continued to do so while we did our wash. I knew Pipe Creek would be a prime spot and it was high on our list of choices as well.

We left the group chatting while we took our newly clean laundry home. The first thing Christy said to me once we were out of earshot was “Christ, they're all either greenhorn newbies or Frenandians”. It was 1500 hours and we debated getting underway but it was just too late to do so safely. Our first choice was a small strip of deep water just south of Compass Cay.
A convoluted entrance, "fair" holding...I think we'll wait for a nicer day to try it.
We have friends that we haven't seen since Charleston staying at the Compass Cay Marina and that anchorage would leave us with a short dinghy ride in to see them.

The wind was forecast to be out of the south in the morning and Compass Cay is 14 miles to the north. We've never anchored there before and if we arrived and found it full or not what we expected we would have to backtrack to Pipe Creek. We're one of those that needs some extra water to get into Pipe Creek so the tide was an issue. High tide was at 0700. So if we found the anchorage full at Compass Cay then by the time we backtracked we'd arrive at Pipe Creek just before low tide falling. Unless of course we got up and underway at 0500.

So thats what we did. The wrap around swell started in the anchorage at 0400 so that made it a lot easier to get up and about. We silently pulled the hook and ghosted away into the pitch dark early morning leaving the 30 boats riding at anchor behind us. As soon as we cleared the anchorage we found the worst sea state I think we've ever seen on the banks. 15 to 20 knots over our shoulder with the boat rolling from side to side in a ridiculous swell.

I realized that if we got to Compass Cay and found the anchorage lacking we would have to turn around and bash into this shit back to Pipe Creek. So we revised the plan and turned in towards Pipe Creek as soon as we could. We were the only boat underway so we had time to do a little exploring. 

We were so worried about getting in that I never considered being able to turn it around to get out...yikes!
There’s a huge religious retreat on Little Pipe Cay. The chart shows an inviting strip of lovely sand right along their manicured beach. The entrance to that area is VERY intimidating so I figured we could have it all to ourselves. So just after first light we turned towards the gap at Little Pipe Cay. There’s a stone pylon marking the port side of the entrance while a wall of ironshore denotes the opposite boundary. The gap is probably 60 feet wide with swirling, choppy very tumultuous waters. By the time we could see what we were getting into we were committed. It looked scary on the chart, you shoulda seen it in person.

It was a bit tense with several semi submerged sections of ironshore lining the starboard side of the channel. Once inside it was as serene as we had been hoping for but we wouldn't be staying. There were 3 docks jutting out from the shore into “my” anchorage. There were 2 places we could conceivably drop the hook but smack in the middle of one was a floating dock set offshore for swimmers to sun themselves on. Strategically placed in the second spot was a 3 piling mooring dolphin. Crap. I guess we'll have to go elsewhere.

Its about this time we picked up a 2 knot current pushing us down the dead end strip of deep water. And, oh look, its not wide enough to just spin the boat around. Backing and filling 180 degrees with 2 knots of current behind us aided by 15 knots of breeze put a cramp in my sphincter. The new engine really paid for itself this morning.

We ended up dropping the hook behind the Mice as we have in the past. There’s at least 30 boats already here but there's only 2 of us here behind the Mice.
Deep water intersected by ribbons of shallow sand and hard bars make the dinghy ride challenging.
Its only a 2 and a half mile ride in the dink to visit with Tokkie and Gail. Hell, we've gone further to kill lobster. Hmmm, If we bring a spear we could probably do that too on the way....


Deb said...

Just reading this put a cramp on my sphincter...and hey be nice to us greenhorns and newbies oil.

S/V Kintala

S/V Veranda said...


Pat and Joan said...

We always had an interesting time getting the new pilots and Navigators to look out the window to see current conditions instead of into another scope. Yes back when they had real navs on real planes. I don't know yet what 15 knots looks like from our boat or how the boat reacts. If we were in the laundry mat and I was watching the discussion I'd see you not saying anything and you'd be the person I'd want to talk to. Yes be nice to us newbies we have to start somewhere!

S/V Veranda said...

Its hard to get people to get their eyes "outside" the boat