Having arrived on the same plane taking Ted and Jane Bispala up to Nassau, Stan Cory and Linda Jerlow now joined us for the next segment of our travels … Mayaguana to Nassau. This leg, although one of our longest, would involve several day hops including some longer ones of 10 or more hours, intermixed with shorter passages and, once in the Exumas, very short hops between favorite harbors for some exploring. Scully took us for a short car tour around the Abrahams Bay settlement before stopping at Regies for a round of Kaliks prior to our taking the dingy back to the boat. Over late afternoon sundowners we reviewed our course options, deciding to stick with our original plan for a short starter hop of a little over 40 miles to West Plana Cay on Thursday.
4/3/2014 – Abrahams Bay, Mayaguana, to West Plana Cay
After negotiating the over 4-mile circuitous track around reefs and coral heads to exit Abrahams Bay, we set sail on a broad reach in perfect 15-17-knot ENE winds for the Plana Cays. Our first passage of the Mayaguana to Nassau leg was delightful, capped by rounding the shoal on West Plana’s southern tip and easing our way up into the relative calm of Plana’s west shore, where we dropped the hook in Plana’s beautiful sand bottom (see Stan and Linda on board against the backdrop of West Plana and its beautiful turquoise waters).
Although well sheltered from the east trades and swell, West Plana can offer up a bit of a roll as the swell, although seriously diminished, rolls around the island and toward the anchorage. Making up for the slight roll were the beautiful turquoise waters and mile-long sand beach. We were the only boat there that night. One other boat arrived Friday morning just as we departed our own exclusive-to-us uninhabited tropical island the next morning.
4/4/2014 – West Plana Cay to Attwood Harbor on Acklins Island
Thursday night was again decision time … should we take a very short hop on Friday or depart Plana before sunrise and sail directly for Long Island. The decision was to take a short hop to Acklins Island to break up our longer days with shorter days. It was a good choice.
The Plana to Acklins leg started in 15 to 17-knot easterlies dropping to about 14 knots as we neared Acklins, making for a pleasant sail off the starboard quarter. On the reciprocal trip from Georgetown to Puerto Rico Bill and Wayne LeBlanc had considered anchoring in Attwood Harbor, but decided to pass it up for the Plana Cays since they had approached Acklins too early in the day to stop. Today we would not pass it up, and instead enjoyed a marvelous overnight there.
Attwood Harbor is almost impossible to spot from the water, but thanks to GPS and chart plotters it was as easy as pie to enter. Once inside there was no sea and only the mildest of surges. And after the bouncy Abrahams Bay anchorage on Mayaguana and the slightly rolly night at Plana Cay, Attwood was peaceful as could be.… and it was beautiful. The harbor is almost encircled by a marvelous sand beach which we walked after taking the dingy ashore. We again had the anchorage to ourselves … our own little private cove. Life aboard the Jubilee was about as good as it can get!
4/5/2014 – Attwood Harbor in Acklins to Clarence Town on Long Island
Clarence Town was an almost 70-mile jump from Attwood, so an early departure was in order. We would need to average about 6.5 knots to make Clarence Town by shortly after 5:00 p.m., but the winds were not cooperating. With ten knots or less true wind out of the ESE we had no other option than to motorsail the distance in almost no apparent wind. Thanks to our trusty Yanmar diesel we arrived in Clarence Town right on schedule at shortly after 5:00 p.m.
We hadn’t had Jubilee on a dock since the Turks and Caicos, so a stop at Clarence Town’s Flying Fish Marina definitely sounded appealing. A marina stop promised hot showers where you could simply let the water run, good water to fill the tanks, and a restaurant meal to give the cooks a night off. Unfortunately, the Flying Fish Marina would fulfill only one of those promises. On the weekends the showers are closed after 3:00 p.m., and we were advised not to drink or fill our tanks with dock water, which was a mix of R.O. water and cistern water. That said, we did enjoy a wonderful meal at the marina’s restaurant. After showers on board we enjoyed fish tacos, shrimp tacos, shrimp, fresh cracked conch and conch fritters, all beautifully prepared with choices of two sides each. The marina’s restaurant here is highly recommended.
All four of us slept the sleep of the dead Saturday night after our long transit in the hot sun earlier that day.
4/6/2014 – Lay Day in Clarence Town, Long Island
We had hopes of renting a car to explore Long Island on Sunday, but that was also not to be. Unfortunately the car rental in Clarence Town is not open on Sundays. The settlement’s local “True Value” convenience store was open, however, so we hoofed it over there (about a 10-minute walk) to purchase some bread and a few other supplies. Activity within the relatively new and very squared around marina was in contrast to the extremely small Clarence Town settlement with its total population of only about 125 souls spread around the area so that no one would guess even that number of people lived there.
Overnight the wind switched to the SE, gusting cross-wise cross-wise to the docks the next morning. The forecast called for those conditions to remain and intensify over the next several days. We definitely felt pinned in, having been assigned a slip behind a tight breakwall and well into the marina near a rocky downwind shoreline leaving little room for maneuvering between docks, pilings, rocks and other boats around us (the accompanying photo shows Jubilee in her slip before the winds piped up). Not wanting to stay pinned here several days, Bill decided it best to try to get out of dodge while we could, so after putting 15 gallons of diesel in our tanks and re-filling our spare diesel jerry jugs we made our break.
Thanks to the dockmaster who jumped in a dingy to help serve as a tugboat if need be, plus several other boaters in the marina who helped handle our lines, we were able to warp our stern around using both engine and dock lines and then muscle our way out of the marina with selected bursts of power. Thank goodness for the powerful and responsive Yanmar engine which replaced our old Perkins 4-108 several years ago! We were also thankful for that big Max Prop spinning on our prop shaft, ready to supply plenty of either reverse or forward thrust … something we definitely needed in the heavy cross-wind and extreme small confines of Flying Fish Marina. While providing some exciting “Harbor TV” for boaters in the marina, we managed to get out without hitting any docks, pilings or other boats. Whew! It was good to be out of there.
We found the anchorage in Clarence Town almost ideal that evening, with a nice wind to keep us comfortable but little sea running in the harbor … what a contrast from that worrisome marina. The anchorage also offered an easy and fast exit for our sail along the east coast of Long Island the next morning.
4/7/2014 – Clarence Town to Calabash Bay, Long Island
Long Island is aptly-named for an island about 56 miles long SSE to NNW and a maximum of four miles wide. Our Monday trek would take us about 50 miles north along the island’s eastern shore, then up around Cape Santa Maria (where Columbus lost that ship on a coral reef), and finally south about three miles to a lovely protected anchorage at Calabash Bay on the island’s leeward NW side. Our sail that day was about as good as a sail can get, with SE winds at 15-17 pushing us along in the mid-6’s to low 7’s all the way. This off-wind sailing can definitely grow on a person!
Calabash was a perfect anchorage for the evening, providing excellent holding in sand behind a beautiful beach just a tenth of a mile to windward for another peaceful night at anchor.
4/8/2014 – Calabash Bay on Long Island to Sand Dollar Bay in Elizabeth Harbor, Georgetown, Great Exuma
Our trek today was to be a relatively short one at approximately 25 miles. We slept in a little, took our time with breakfast, and didn’t get the anchor raised until just after 9:00 a.m. With another 15 to 17-knot SE-wind day and us broad reaching (sailing perpendicular to the wind’s direction), we decided to fly only the jib and take it easy, still making excellent time.
The one fly in the morning’s ointment was our genset shutting down with an overheat warning again. This had now happened for the 2nd time in only three weeks. Did we have another damaged impeller, a heat exchanger problem, or worse? Whatever the problem, we decided to let it be until reaching Georgetown, although we did use the satellite phone to order two more spare impellers sent to a marina in Nassau we were planning to visit in ten or so days. In the mean time we still had one new spare and a couple of lightly used impellers from previous preventive maintenance replacements.
After negotiating Elizabeth Harbor’s almost 5-mile-long twisty & shoal eastern approach our hook was firmly set in sand at Sand Dollar Bay just opposite Georgetown. We expected to lie there for the next few nights as a front passed through the area.
Oh yes … the gen set. Stan and Bill launched into the cooling system and water pump with a vengeance, finding several large pieces of impeller blades nearly blocking the hose downstream of the raw water pump. They also found several tubes in the heat exchanger blocked or partially blocked by scale. The impeller blade pieces must have been from a long-prior impellor problem but not found until being dislodged and moved further downstream in that section of hose, causing significant blockage. Those pieces now removed we next cleaned the heat exchanger tubes, first by poking a straightened wire coat hanger through the blocked tubes to open them up, and then by soaking the exchanger in boiling hot vinegar water before flushing with fresh water. For good measure we also replaced the impeller with our last new spare and buttoned everything up again. Voila … the genset exhaust was back to normal, spouting water out the exhaust in spurts like nobody’s business. We were back in operation.
4/9/2014 – Lay Day at Sand Dollar Beach
Now back in the central Bahamas we had again entered the world of clocking winds from fronts coming off the US East Coast … quite the contrast from the reliable trades of the Caribbean. We had anchored the prior evening to a 10 to 12-knot SE wind, but between 8:00 a.m. and noon the wind clocked through SE to North while increasing to just over 20-knots. As the wind clocked we progressed from little up-wind shelter to lying just two tenths of a mile off Sand Dollar Beach in Stocking Island’s lee. Plus the wind was projected to clock further to the east so that protection would even improve.
Protection notwithstanding, it wasn’t a great day to go ashore, walk beaches, check out volley ball beach, visit Georgetown, or explore any of the many other enticing spots around here due to the day’s mostly grey skies, occasional misty rain, and lumpy conditions for the dingy. Instead our first day in Elizabeth Harbor was spent catching up on reading and telling tall tales.
4/10 and 11/2014 – Exploring the Georgetown Area
Although the Thursday morning skies were still a bit gloomy from the frontal system, the winds did cooperate to allow for some Georgetown-area exploration. We started with a dingy trip across to Georgetown to check out the shops, have lunch at the Peace and Plenty, replenish some of our stores, and fill our four 5-gallon jugs with water to partially refill our tanks.
After the trip to “town” our trip back to the boat was upwind against a chop that had developed while we were ashore. The combination of overloading our dingy and motoring against the chop made for an extremely wet ride back. Quite a bit of water was splashing into the dingy over the bow, plus some was even splashing in over the transom. To top things off, for some reason we had taken our bailing bucket out of the dingy a week or so prior and not put it back. While Stan motored slowly into the waves to minimize the water coming over the bow, Bill began bailing using a couple of plastic grocery bags. He was just able to keep up with the amount of water we were continuing to take in. As we closed with the Stocking Island shoreline the waves moderated and the bailing began gaining on the water level. We all came back to the boat soaked to the bone from salt spray and ready for fresh water showers.
Lessons learned: 1) never, ever, head out in the dingy without your bailing bucket, 2) don’t forget that no matter how much water you may ship over the bow, an inflatable dingy will not sink … even though it may seem like it could, and finally 3) a little excitement during a trip to town isn’t always a bad thing. That’s what good stories are made of.
Friday dawned grey and threatening again, but rain never materialized. After breakfast we launched the dingy and headed for shore near the Chat-n-Chill for a hike over to the ocean-side, west up the beach, and finally up the trail to the hilltop monument near Hamburger Beach. After exploring we retraced our steps back along the beach to the St. Francis Resort restaurant for lunch, followed by a stop at volleyball beach and the Chat-n-Chill. Grey skies or not it had been a good full day.
4/12/2014 – Georgetown to White Point, Exumas
After a few smatterings of rain early in the morning we awoke to yet another grey day. Oh for the nearly consistent sun of the Caribbean.rather than the repetitive fronts of the Bahamas. But grey skies notwithstanding we upped anchor at about 8:30 and headed out the long, 5-mile, circuitous west channel route through Elizabeth Harbor and into the Atlantic, running northwest off shore toward Galliot Cut. With only 4 knots of true wind the trusty diesel did its part while we unrolled the jib to help steady the boat in the leftover ocean swell. Today’s run would be a long, slow, day under the engine.
Once onto the banks at Galliot we proceeded further northwest up the banks a few more miles to Hetty’s Land, a small point and anchorage just short of White Point on Great Guana Cay. After a Boston Whaler with a couple of folks on the beach left for the evening we had the anchorage to ourselves as the skies cleared to reveal a shoal of stars. We were again experiencing the best of the Bahamas.
4/13/2014 –Great Guana Cay to Big Majors Spot & Staniel Cay
Our Sunday travels took us the relatively short, 15-mile hop up to Big Majors Spot near Staniel Cay. Staniel with its airstip, Staniel Cay Yacht Club, other restaurants, and three small grocery “stores”, is always of hub of activity. To join in the fun we jumped into the dingy to bring Madeline Island Yacht Club Commodore Stan Cory into town for an “official” visit to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club.
In Staniel we made all the obligatory rounds … out to see the airport, walking past the “grocery stores”, checking the waterfront with its several rental homes and cabins, and of course lunch at the Yacht Club. Stuffed to the gills from the Yacht Club we were finally ready to return to the boat, our four 5-gallon jugs filled with R.O. water plus a stash of new tee and polo shirts plus Linda’s new visor on board.
When Pigs Fly
Well … maybe they don’t really fly, but they do swim. On the way back to Jubilee we headed in toward shore at Big Majors to experience the pigs swimming out to dingies to beg for food. Linda thought they may have been looking for their uncle Albert after smelling bacon on her breath from her BLT lunch! Luckily we escaped without any porkers boarding us.
4/14/2014 – Big Majors to Cambridge Cay via Conch Cut
With plenty of time for a relatively short 19-mile mostly downwind sail in light following breezes we headed northwest on the banks side until turning hard to starboard and proceeding to the Atlantic side via Conch Cut. From there we went a short distance north and back inside via the Bell Cut to Cambridge Cay. Cambridge, close to the southernmost boundary of the Exuma Land and Sea Park at Conch Cut, is one of our all-time favorite spots in the Exumas.
After settling in on our mooring ball we took the dingy over to Cambridge Cay to hike and explore some of the trails there with Stan and Linda. As the accompanying photos show, the hiking there was, as usual, tremendous.
4/15-16/2014 – Warderick Wells
Warderick Wells is the headquarters for the Exuma Land and Sea Park, and most certainly a spot not to be missed while cruising there. The above picture is of Warderick's beautiful Emerald Bay - in every direction one looks the scenery seems as magnificent as this.
On each of our prior Exumas trips we’ve spent several days here. This year time we would compress that to two concentrated days of exploring.
We were lucky enough to reserve a mooring ball in Warderick’s north anchorage, our favorite spot in the park (see bakground of photo at left). Shortly after registering with the park office we hiked across the island to show Stan and Linda BooBoo Hill and the blow holes, and to capture more Exuma Park memories on camera. The park did not disappoint (see assorted photos in this section).
Our last visit to BooBoo and its pile of cruiser’s plaques at the top of the hill, was back in 2011 while heading south to Puerto Rico. Unbelievable as it may seem, after about 45 minutes of searching we finally found our own plaque buried down in the pile, as well as the more recently updated plaques from friends Wally and Connie on Summer of ’42, Bob and Judy on Greenstone, John and Nora on Saber Tooth, and Mark and Jan on Seas The Day.
After returning our weathered plaque to the boat Bill got the Dremmel and a Sharpie out to refresh our weathered plaque plus update it to reflect this year’s visit. The next day, Wednesday, it would be taken back to the hill for, hopefully, another several-year stint officially commemorating Jubilee’s visits here. Wednesday’s hike followed the causeway trail around to the south and across the island, then north up the island’s western beaches and rocks, followed by a return via the BooBoo trail taken the prior day. It had been a short but good visit to Warderick, but hopefully a good introduction to the park for Stan and Linda.
4/17/2014 – Warderick Wells to Shroud Cay
Thursday brought yet another light southeast wind sail from Warderick to Shroud Cay, at the northern-most boundary of the park. Arriving at low tide we decided not to launch the dingy, as it was doubtful we’d be able to negotiate the inland mangrove creeks we had enjoyed exploring in prior years. Instead we simply chilled out on one of the park’s mooring balls surrounded by several other cruising boats and a number of mega yachts.
It being the week before Easter we were seeing mega yachts in almost every anchorage as owners were taking advantage of school vacations to have their kids and grandkids join them in the Exumas. As an example, we spotted and talked with the crew of Twin Cities and national media mogul (KSTP) Stanley Hubbard’s MiMi while in Staniel Cay a few days prior. But as luxurious and spendy as those mega-vessel are, we’re reminded that our cruising experience is every bit as good as theirs … maybe even better.
4/18/2014 – Shroud Cay to Nassau
Our last passage with Stan and Linda as crew brought us to Nassau on yet another roughly 48-mile down-wind leg, this time across the Yellow Banks in moderate SE breezes. Our usual run across the banks follows a dog-leg route that avoids most of the bank’s coral heads. We were happy to miss out on any unexpected groundings this time too.
As a special treat Nassau sent out an ambassador to greet us for this visit. A dolphin joined us as we approached New Providence, staying to play on our bow wave for several minutes to welcome our arrival. Kewl!
Once in Nassau we topped our diesel tanks at the Nassau Harbor Club Marina to ready for departure on our next leg in a few days. After topping the tanks and moving to our assigned slip we were finally ready to begin exploring Nassau.
Many of Nassau’s restaurants were closed on Good Friday evening, even the ever-popular Poop Deck cruiser’s hangout, but luckily one of our other favorites, the East Bay Villa Chinese restaurant (one of the best Chinese and everything else restaurants we’d ever visited) was open. Chef Judy received a welcome night off, plus the Bay Villa was a great place for celebrating 16 wonderful days cruising with crew Stan and Linda on board. But there was still more to come for the crack crew of the Jubilee as we were yet to explore Nassau with Stan and Linda the following days.
4/19-21/2014 – Nassau
Nassau is almost everything one can imagine, ranging from its extremely poor neighborhoods to its bustling and hustling cruise ship docks and tourist traps to its uber-luxurious and spendy Paradise Island hotels and beaches. Over the following three days we seemingly walked every inch of the city … or at least those parts we were interested in visiting. The attached photo of Commodore Cory having an audience with Queen Victoria illustrates just one of the highlights (although Queen Victoria didn't seem all that interested).
All together Jubilee had brought us some 326 nautical miles from Mayaguana to Nassau with Stan and Linda as crew, a trek that took us from the sprawling country’s most remote and sparsely populated out islands, on to visit some of the most beautiful cays imaginable, and finally up to bustling Nassau. It had been a great trip and a wonderful time together. We truly hated seeing them depart for the airport and Minnesota/Wisconsin Monday afternoon.
We think Stan and Linda enjoyed their travels with us too, but we weren’t so sure when we saw the sign on the cab they selected to take them to the Airport (click photo to enlarge). They may very well have been thanking God for finally taking them away from the boat!
With opposing north winds forecast for at least the following day (Tuesday), we decided to remain in Nassau an extra day and resume our travels on Wednesday toward familiar Brunswick, GA, where we’ll be again storing the boat for the upcoming hurricane season. So far we’ve travelled some 967 nautical miles from Fajardo to Nassau, and probably have close to 500 more miles to travel before capping our return trip from the Caribbean to Brunswick. Stay tuned as the saga continues. We look forward to seeing you again with our next post. Cheers!