Wednesday, April 12, 2017

At Home in Joe's Sound

It's hard to believe we've been here almost a week - the days just keep slipping away. We arrived here in Long Island last Thursday after an unbelievably perfect sail from Georgetown - a 12-13 knot beam reach with all three sails flying. It was Brad and Amber's only sail of their visit, and it was a doozy. The only negative was that once again, we didn't catch any fish despite trolling the whole way. We arrived earlier than planned, so we anchored just outside Joe's Sound while we launched the dinghy and used the hand sounder to check out the narrow, shallow entrance. At ninety minutes before high tide there was just enough depth across the sandy bar but the current was still running pretty strongly. An hour later it was down to a half knot and the entrance went quite smoothly. The inside anchorage was quite a bit narrower than the charts showed, so we belatedly decided to put down two anchors. In the middle of doing so I accidentally got the secondary anchor rode wrapped around our prop, and I had to don a mask and snorkel to go down and clear it. A half hour later the current reversed and we swinged right onto the shallow sandbar I was trying to avoid. Grr. I powered off it and considered repositioning the secondary anchor, but the sun was already down. This was our first time trying to set up a Bahamian moor and it didn't go so well. As a consequence I got to get up at 4am to power off of the sandbar a second time.

Our first task on Friday, therefore, was to reposition the secondary anchor and set up a really proper Bahamian moor. This time it went swimmingly: the secondary rode is lashed to our primary anchor chain and the connection point was then lowered about five feet below the surface so that both rode and chain clear our keel and rudder when we swing. We've been quite snugly positioned right in the middle of the channel ever since. Our anchoring job was tested shortly thereafter: we took the dinghy to the Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort just in time for an incredibly strong squall line to blow through. At the resort I would estimate that the winds were 60 knots, accompanied by torrential rain and an impressive lightning display including at least one hit on resort property. It hit a few hours earlier than forecast; I hadn't meant to be off Windbird. But our anchoring job held nicely. Our friends Dave and Leslie on Texas Two Step arrived just before the squall and barely had time to drop their primary before it hit.

On Saturday Brad, Amber, Dawn and I rented an SUV from the Cape Santa Maria resort and spent the day exploring Long Island. At nearly 80 miles long and with much of its coast too shallow to cruise in a boat of our draft, this is the best way to check out Long Island. We visited the Columbus Monument on Cape Santa Maria, hiked the Adderley Plantation Ruins near Stella Maris, had lunch at Max's Conch Bar in Deadman's Cay, snorkeled the incredible Dean's Blue Hole (670 feet deep, and a little eerie...and wayyy eerie once you get about 45 feet down, I will attest), visited the South Cape, checked out Father Jerome's churches in Clarence Town, and made a reprovisioning stop at Hillside Grocery in Salt Pond. It was a quite long day and we didn't do much once we got back to the boat.

On Sunday Brad and I went out spearfishing with Dave and Leslie while Dawn and Amber went hiking on Galliot Cay. Afterwards we got together for an early dinner on Texas Two Step, then went over to another small uninhabited cay with a couple of other cruisers for a full-moon bonfire on the beach. Brad and Amber went back to the boat a bit early with our dinghy to pack their bags and finalize travel arrangements, and Dave and Leslie dropped us off a bit later.

I took Brad and Amber to the docks on the north side of Galliot Cay via the shallow northern portion of Joe's Sound early Monday morning. Their cab was running on "island time" but nevertheless got them to the Stella Maris airport before their plane left. With our guests gone, Dawn and I cleaned the boat and then lapsed into a bit of an exhausted funk. I mostly read all day. Later Dave and Leslie invited us to T2S for dinner and some games.

Yesterday we had been planning to cross to Cat Island but the winds and seas were still too high so I went spearfishing with Dave instead, and finally managed some success of my own. The most productive reefs here tend to be in 30-35' of water and it's taken a bit to improve my bottom time to the point that I can get down, spend some time really hunting, and still have enough air to get back up. Dave was, as usual, fairly deadly. He gave me one of the Margates he speared, which together with several smaller ones I had made more than enough meat for a Fish Taco feast Dawn prepared for the four of us aboard Windbird last night. Again we played games fairly late into the night.

This morning we were hoping to cross to Cat Island but decided to stay put after all. The reason is that Judy Handley is flying into Georgetown on Tuesday, we want some time there before she flies in to take care of practical matters, but it's forecast to blow like crazy Friday through Sunday. So we extended our stay in Joe's Sound and went to "town" in our dinghy, which involves about three miles of fairly intricate, shallow channels that can only be traversed at high tide. Dave and Leslie were close behind, so we waited for them and did our errands together. We went to the grocery store, liquor store, and gas station. Shortly after we got back we all went spearfishing, though the girls soon tired of our hunting seemingly-nonexistent prey to peel off with one of the dinghies for shallower snorkeling. We were both productive today, and Dave speared an enormous hogfish that we'll be having for dinner tonight. Tomorrow we'll be sailing to Georgetown, and then sometime after the 18th we'll start working our way north. We just found out that there's an excellent chance that we'll be able to meet up with our friends Dan and Isabelle on Epiic as they work their way down the Exumas. We're really looking forward to that, as we last saw them in Ft. Lauderdale.


  1. I'm enjoying your blog as a amateur sailor and aviation fan. How about a post on the difference between how you view WIND and WEATHER from a pilot's point of view vs. a sailor's point of view?

  2. LoL, check out the May issue of Flying magazine, should be out within a week or so!