Staniel Cay, Exumas

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Miles: 30
Time: 5 hours
Avg Speed: 5.5
Max Speed: 8.4

March 21st, Thursday: Our night at Hawksbill Cay had been quiet, no rolling. We both slept in a bit (until 8 AM) as we were still recovering from the “beaching” earlier this week. Our stress was still high as the “BIG BLOW” was coming tomorrow night and we hoped our plan of staying on a mooring ball would work out.

This morning we found a 4′ baracoda under our boat. He had been around yesterday and Stew had tossed in 2 sausages that were going bad – he downed each in one bite! He is a scary-looking dude!

After a quick breakfast, we headed off to Staniel Cay. It was a nice ride with the sails out and the motor off.

Arriving at Staniel Cay our mooring ball was waiting – thank you to S/V Elizabeth who put us in touch with Solomon and his private mooring balls! We were east of the Thunderball grotto and south of Big Majors Spot Cay and Staniel cay blocked us from the west and south. It seemed like we had protection all around us. The wind was going to move around 270+ degrees – from East to North East – on Friday evening through Saturday morning.

This area is full of current and shoaling. The pull on the boat even on the mooring ball was intense! The ball would get sucked under as we swung (some things are more affected by wind and some by current so the mooring ball was often at odds with the boat) – the ball would make a loud knocking on the hull of the boat – it was crazy!

We settled in and decided not to go anywhere until after the “BIG BLOW”. We did have some visitors: Alex Debski (partner Jess) on S/V Stella Marre… they were on the mooring ball just east of us. They are from Bristol, RI and are taking their boat from Grenada to RI where they will use it as a sunset charter boat. They are a young couple and we hope to get to know them better.

Joe Cooper, S/V Hei Hei, stopped by because he was interested in Freedom boats. He was alone sailing a 32′ Hunter but wanted to find a Freedom boat. We gave him a tour and chatted a bit.

The rest of the night we just chilled and tried not to worry too much about the forecast. This was easier said than done!

March 22nd -24th (Friday – Sunday): Friday morning we made water – we have to do this about every 5-6 days so that the water maker bladders do not foul.

THE BIG BLOW! The winds started Friday around dinner time. Alex and Jess invited us to dinner at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club – but we were worried it would be too difficult to traverse the current to get back to the boat. The Yacht club lost power, as it turned out, and they had to return to the boat – boaters had already been announcing they lost things from their boat – fenders, boat cushions, kayaks… the high wind hadn’t even started! We watched Alex and Jess making their way over their boat picking up floating items as they came across. Waves and spray everywhere – their dinghy was larger than ours – 10′, and seemed to be more stable. I think ours would have capsized.

The wind picked up Friday night and continued through Sunday. We felt Sunday was still a little crazy between all the boaters trying to leave or head to shore for provisions (or with pets that needed the beach) so we stayed put. We found out later that a couple on their way to shore in their dinghy was struck by one of the “tourist taxi” boats (These boats rip through the area with little regard for other boaters) and the couple was killed! Very sad! They were on a catamaran in the anchorage off of Big Majors Spot Cay.

It was a very stressful couple of days and nights with the wind, waves, and currents. Our sleeping had not been good and on Friday we were up most of the night keeping watch. We were so happy when things started to calm down.

March 25th, Monday: We headed into Staniel Cay in the morning to provision. The dinghy area was far nicer than expected. We ran into Solomon (owner of the mooring ball) and paid him in cash through Tuesday. He gave us short-cut directions to the dump so we could take our garbage.

As we returned from the garbage an old man in a large golf cart offered us a ride – we happily took it. He had no idea where he was going and driving a bit faster than the roads indicated he should. We ended up at a little grocery pretty far away from where we left the dinghy, but we checked it out. We decided to wait until we got back to the “main area” where the “pink” grocery and the “Blue” grocery are located.

It was hot but it felt good to walk!

We stopped at the Pink Pearl Grocery first. They had a lot of nice produce and prices were high but lower than the “Blue” grocery. We spent $105 on what might have cost $50-$60 in the states. We did stop in the “Blue” grocery – purchased 12 eggs and 2 tomatoes for $21!

After provisioning we took our time making our way back to the dinghy. It was such a nice day and we were enjoying being on land.

Back on board, we got all the provisions put away and worked on the solar. We have to be more aware of our consumption when we are on anchor or mooring for a few days. We often run the engine for 15-30 minutes to get hot water, if we want to shower, that also charges the batteries a little.

Stew filled the engine with the jerry cans of diesel on board and then took them over to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club fuel dock to fill them. We find this is easier than docking the boat and filling the tank. We carry 20 gallons in jerry cans so we have plenty to fill the tank on board!

The rest of the afternoon we spent snorkeling the Thunderball grotto – This is the one featured in the 007 James Bond movie “Thunderball”. This is a small island that is hollow in the middle – in low tide you can squeeze through a little opening into the grotto area – so we did this at low tide. Once in the grotto it is like an aquarium under water – so many fish of all shapes, sizes and colors. These are all around you – it seems like you could just reach out and touch them. This was a really neat place to go.

Some people also climb up the hill on the island and jump from the top into the center of the grotto – it is estimated at 40′. Jess did this on Sunday. We watched others jump but we were not interested in jumping ourselves!!

It was a beautiful sunset and full moon on Monday evening – things had quieted down and we felt a lot of relief!

March 26th, Tuesday: The sunrise was beautiful this morning. Things always look so nice after a storm.

We spent the morning exploring in the dinghy. We headed to Pig Beach on Big Majors Spot Cay – a local tourist attraction. This is the original pig beach, but now the pigs are cared for – fed and watered. Several little piglets were running around – also a lot of “pig poop” around!

The pigs were pretty funny, if they thought you had food they would run over to you. They chased people down the beach. A few were out in the water swimming – hoping to get the food from the tourists first I think! They would swim right up to the boat or dinghy. It was a lot of fun checking them out!

The next stop was the little cruiser beach on Big Majors Spot Cay. This was really cool and we relaxed here and had a snack. Most of the boats that had been in this anchorage were gone – This area had been packed during the “BIG BLOW”.

Once back on the boat, we hoisted the outboard motor off the dinghy and back on S/V Freedom. We took down our awning, secured Pete and Izzy (dinghy and paddleboard) and decided to head up the Great Bahama Banks to Sampson Cay – just a few miles north. We hoped to stay there for a week or more – to get some video editing done!

2 thoughts on “Staniel Cay, Exumas

  1. Just got to checking in on friends from around the way! Maria, Baby Jack, and I are excited to see your adventures continue. Fair winds and following seas!

    Bay Harbor Marina Neighbors – Hammertime

    1. Hi Will!! Blast from the past!! Baby Jack??? Must be a new addition, congrats!!! Are you on Facebook?? We are “” or just me “Ellen reber zimmer” love to catch up!

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