Thursday, February 27, 2020

Our Southern Most Point

Today we completed a 9 hour passage from Staniel Cay to The Marina at Emerald Bay, just north of Georgetown.
It was a glorious passage.
It was a tricky one to plan with various moving elements to it: wind that was not the same strength nor from the same direction. And tide and current, which affects which cut to go through and at what time.
A cut is a break between two land masses, usually islands, that a boat can pass through as long as the tide is high enough and the current isn't against the wind (or else get the bucket ready!)
Going between these cuts allow you to go back and forth between the Bank side of the islands (west) or the deeper Sound side (east).
The Exumas Banks have much shallower waters so you have to be very careful when going through coral heads and sand banks, especially at low tide. However, they are often more protected from the big Atlantic waves. Normally you can find good anchorages on the Banks side, although hiding from westerlies can be tricky.
On the other hand, you can choose to sail down the Exumas Sound where you are in the deep blue Atlantic ocean. Choosing this side allows you to sail with little worry about running aground or hitting coral heads because it is hundreds of feet deep. However it has very little protection and if there is big swell or a long fetch, you are in for a real ride. Again, get the bucket ready.
This morning we left at first light and entered Galliot cut right at high tide, 10am, crossing over to the Atlantic side. It was easy-peasy, thanks to all our planning and research.
Besides one squall which descended upon us and had us scrambling to reef the jib and mainsail VERY quickly, we had a really gentle sail all day with 9-15 knots on the beam and very little swell.
After having done so many passages together now, each of us have our own roles which we do better and better every time.
We are like a well-oiled machine and we all know what we are responsible for, depending on the situation (ie docking, anchoring, leaving a dock/mooring/anchor etc).
It feels good to work together and when it goes off without a hitch, it feels REALLY good.
Also, I've finally discovered what my trigger is for sea sickness: caffeine and sweet baked goods.
Every long passage we do now, as long as I don't drink coffee and eat a cinnamon bun or something equally sweet before we leave, I'm all good. Amazing it only took ten months for me to figure this out!!
Anyway, today's passage is monumental because it is the furthest south we will be going on our cruising journey.
After a few weeks here, we will point north and start the trek back to Florida where a new chapter awaits.

This is basically what we saw for 9 hours on passage today.

Hello from Thunderball Grotto in Staniel Cay.

Nurse shark just inches away from Tai!!

Inside the cave - amazing light!

Looking up inside at Thunderball Grotto.

Proud of the kids who really couldn't swim independently when we started this journey and now snorkelling through underwater sumps and not panicking when a shark cruised by as we explored the cave featured in the James Bond movie, "Thunderball".

Underwater Tai.

Coral at Wardericks Bay.

Tai's journal. Gotta work on those capital letters!

Tai's journal continued.

Aila is actually thrilled to be eating her Mac and Cheese but 
yes she hates her picture being taken.

After doing some laundry and having a SHOWER, we treated ourselves to dinner out.

Playing Exploding Kittens in the exploding heat.

Thank you Sheree Ng Nikkanen and Matthew Nikkanen
and kids for the marine wildlife treasure hunt! We've been tracking what we see!

Tai will whip through at least one book per passage. 
Thank goodness for book exchanges at marinas and with other kid boats!

Roald Dahl books are the latest addiction.

Homemade pizza, a beer and Shaun the Sheep!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Delightful Warderick Wells

Warderick Wells continues to delight us.
We hiked up to the hill to see, feel and HEAR the impressive blowholes, left our driftwood signature on top of Boo Boo Hill and snorkelled numerous times on the coral reefs.
Tomorrow the weather is in our favour as we make our way south to Staniel Cay.
There is the famous Thunderball Cave that was featured in a James Bond film. Apparently it's absolutely magical if you snorkel it at low tide. Gotta see what all the fuss is about, now don't we?
From Staniel Cay, we will point towards Georgetown where Gramps and Gail will be flying in to join us for a couple of weeks!
Excitement is mounting...
This sperm whale washed up on the beach. 
He died due to the amount of plastic he had ingested. Awful.

To get to Boo Boo Hill, you cross a mini desert landscape.

Onwards to Boo Boo Hill. Not very high up, but pretty high for Bahamas standards.

Can you spot the lizard?

Feeling for the next big blow at the blowhole. The power and roar is tremendous!

SV (sailing vessel) Anjulia Sue amongst all the other cruising boat names.

Adding our driftwood name to the pile. Neat to recognize some
of the other boats we have met throughout the year.

On top of Boo Boo Hill, Exumas Cays on the left and Exumas Bank (Atlantic Ocean) on the right.

Warderick Wells anchorage. This is definitely one of my favourite 
anchorages in the Bahamas so far.

Up until very recently, Tai hated the feeling of sand on his feet at the beach and would never even consider the thought of putting his head under water in the shower, much less the salty ocean. All the other cruising families we met swore that their kids became little fishes and mermaids while cruising, even those who could barely float before they left. I was doubtful our kids would be comfortable swimming like that without intensive swimming lessons.
Fast forward to today and I am pleased to say they are definitely much more competent in the water. But more than that, they have a deeper understanding and respect for the Big Blue. 

Pancake chef!

Making Rice Krispies :)

Thursday, February 20, 2020

A Perfect Day

Rare as it is, when the stars align, there are perfect days.
Today is A Perfect Day.
For once, what you see in these pictures is precisely what you get.
Gentle warm breeze, no no-see-ums (this in itself is a God send!), sun-kissed, salty and happy children.
We arrived here yesterday after a 5 hour sail from Cape Eleuthera Marina after dropping Gong Gong off at the airport.
We are at Warderick Wells Cay in the Exumas Cays Land and Sea Park. It is a 176 square mile area national park that protects all land and marine life here in the Bahamas. It is heaven on earth.
There are no services for electricity, water, diesel, gas or removal of garbage.
There are no cafes, restaurants, bars or grocery stores.
We have to hoist our little BTC My Island Wifi egg up to the top of the mast to get two bars of scatty signal.
Everyone must use the mooring balls provided ($35 USD/night). Anchoring is only available in one outlying area.
I swear when we were coming into the mooring field yesterday I couldn't believe how gorgeous it was.
To be honest, I'm getting a bit blase about beaches and turquoise waters (I know, shame on me!) so take my word for it. If I say it's gorgeous here, it really truly is.
This morning we went snorkeling with nurse sharks, barracudas, eagle rays, colourful coral and a variety of fish.
We forgot to insert an SD card into our GoPro so no pictures unfortunately. Oh well, I told the kids to take lots of 'mental pictures' instead, that way we'll all dream in technicolour tonight.
We watched the documentary 'Mission Blue' on Netflix last night. So appropriate and timely for the life we're currently living and how relevant it is to our blue world.
Today is A Perfect Day.
Whatever tomorrow brings, at least we had today.

Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park Mooring field.

Tai eating his homemade chocolate muffin after our snorkel.

Chore for the day, scraping barnacles off the hull and rudder. Could be worse. Matt scrubbing the hull. Aila directing from up on deck. :)

Aila and Matt running on the nearby sandbar at low tide.

Siblings who love to Minecraft together.

Goodnight world. Thank you for a perfect day.