The weather was very uncooperative, with high winds preventing us from doing very much in George Town after dropping off our most recent guests. We did have one last lunch at Chat and Chill, filled up a gas can for the dinghy, and decided to “hit the road” (seas?) on April 13th, beginning our slow journey north back to Florida. The ride again was rough, this time with following seas. We did a 7 hour cruise up to Great Guana Cay, anchoring in an exquisite, isolated area called Isaac Bay, not at all far from where we had anchored last time, but so wonderfully isolated. We took the dinghy to explore the coastline, stopping at a beach to get some wonderful sun. We then went back to Oven Rock, anchoring the dinghy in calmer waters, and hiked up to the cave with fresh water pools and amazing stalagtites and stalagmites. This place is amazing, with clear fresh water, sounds of dripping from the ceiling as the salt water makes its way through the rocks, filtered, and dropping onto the area below, building these cave creations over the years. We heard something else too – small squeaking noises. After scanning the ceiling, Neil turned on his cell phone light and sure enough, loads of (actually very cute) bats were hanging upside down, sleeping. We left them to their slumber soon after.
Back on the boat we had lunch and a bit of relaxation, then went in search of some coral to dive. We found a beautiful spot not far from our boat, with many structures to explore. The water was uber clear – Kathleen thinks it’s the clearest we’ve ever dived in. Tons of fish, coral, even a beautiful conch shell – and a kind creepy attendee – a three foot long barracuda was VERY near us. It seemed very interested in us, but as in past encounters, did not come too close (although it did come pretty darn close to Neil). Kathleen had read that they hang out around humans as they are used to us fishing and they wait for scraps – or to steal any fish that may get speared. We were not fishing (or spearing), but it just never went away. We had no shiny objects on us (which apparently draw them and can cause “mistaken” attacks), so we explored carefully the area, enjoying parrot fish, angel fish, a grouper, and tons of other tropical fish and coral. Still. After about 45 minutes, we had both seen enough, and Neil’s hands were getting cold – a good sign that it was time to wrap up our dive. We got back into the dinghy with no mishap with Mr. Barraculda – perhaps he was disappointed that we didn’t get any fish for him…
Friday was a day for relaxing, with Kathleen doing extended Pilates, getting caught up on this blog, and Neil putting together the photos for our most recent post. Our journey north continued.
On April 16th, we left Isaac Bay for Sampson Cay, an anchorage just north of Staniel Cay and the Bay of Pigs. Less crowded and prettier, we very much enjoyed our stay here. After anchoring, we got the dinghy down and explored the area a bit. There are many little inlets to visit, beautiful small islands to marvel at and generally just a nice place to play. On Sunday, we went to Staniel to dump trash and to go grocery shopping, only to realize too late that it WAS Easter Sunday and all shops were closed. We were happy to see some friends and their boats (Booke End and Puffin Quest) anchor near us. At Staniel Cay Yacht Club, where we stopped for lunch, we had the unexpected surprise of meeting up with old friends from Vero, Mike and Judy on One September. Neil and Kathleen found time to do some snorkeling in the area, which was gorgeous, as usual. More flats than condos, but lots of fish and bursting colors (and no barracuda which was a plus). On our last night, we met up with Sam and Cindy of Booke End and Paul and Renee of Puffin Quest for sunset on a sandbar, enjoying the uniqueness of standing out a few hundred feet from shore on sand, watching the sun go down – we knew it was time to go back as the waters started coming back in. Just another beautiful aspect to this place.
April 19th: From Sampson Cay, we cruised two hours north to Hawksbill Cay. We picked up a mooring ball closer to the beach than we had ever been, lowered the dinghy and went to the island to explore and swim. We tried to find some ruins (fail), but did find paths to the other side of the island, and enjoyed spectacular views. We came back to our anchorage side and snorkeled and sunbathed on a deserted beach, reveling in being the only humans around (lizards outnumbered us, but that’s ok). We then took a dinghy ride to the south side of the bay we were in, finding super yachts at anchor. We cruised around the south point and went as far as we could towards open water, but the water over the sandbank at this point was way too shallow. When we got back to the boat, we noticed that it was actually touching the bottom. The tide had gone out and we ended up resting on the sand. We also had a really cute remora on the bottom of the boat that we both spent some time swimming with, and Kathleen tried to get pictures and video.
As the mooring was too shallow, we left the next morning on rising tide, and cruised to Norman’s Cay, where we waited out high winds and rain and did some of the never-ending maintenance and care on our girl. On April 24th, we cruised up to West Bay, New Providence to anchor overnight. We had a VERY rolly ocean with following seas. The anchorage was good; not too crowded and well protected from the crazy winds.
From West Bay we cruised up past Chubb Cay and anchored on the Great Bahama Bank, a large, shallow area that we needed to cross. It was AMAZING – no one around us, basically dropping anchor with no land in sight. THIS is what we really love about cruising – the peace and calm are amazing balms for any stressors. This was our first time anchoring like this – and we highly recommend it, but only in light winds!
We raised anchor at sunrise the next morning, and traveled to Bimini – our last stop on our amazing trip. We had mixed feelings about leaving – we absolutely love the Bahamas, but we were looking forward to modern amenities and better food selections. But we knew we were going to seriously miss this place – it is magical. After we checked out with with Immigration and Customs (which Kathleen had done on line, and apparently did not have to visit their offices – even though the online instructions explicitly stated that we did), we had dinner at Big Game marina. We didn’t get to explore the area much, so we’d like to come back again to check out the sights.
April 27th found us raising anchor at 7:00 AM for the 80 mile run back to reality. We had a beautiful, calm crossing the whole way – it’s hard to believe this was the same ocean we had bounced across 2.5 months before. We anchored in Lake Worth, cleared customs using CBP Roam app. We planned to be in this area for 3 weeks or so, getting new electronics, cleaning and waxing the boat all over (good times in 65-80% humidity, 85-90 degree weather), doing some dockside maintenance and re-acclimate to the US. We met up with old and new friends during this time and really enjoyed ourselves. We rented a car and went back to Vero to see friends (and get requisite dental cleanings done). After the work was completed and the boat provisioned, we turned our sights to the north and began looking for a good weather window. The Bahamas keep calling us back like a siren’s song – and we hope to head back in late January/early February for an even longer visit!
Next we head north, hopefully as far as Maine and Nova Scotia