Saturday, December 9, 2017

Deja Vu on Anchor Watch

It's Saturday at 11:30pm, we're at anchor near Staniel Cay "between the Majors," and it's deja vu all over again. We're here to ride out a norther (i.e. a cold front), which is the only real reason to anchor between Big and Little Major when you have a delightful anchorage in prevailing conditions, with great holding, right on the other side of Big Major. Last time we anchored here was in March, when we came down from the Exuma Park to Staniel Cay to ride out a norther while waiting for my parents to fly in. Today we came down from the Exuma Park to Staniel Cay to ride out a norther while waiting for my brothers to fly in. Last time I spent a sleepless night on anchor watch thanks to the strong current-against-wind making Windbird sail back and forth across her anchor, trying to rip it from the scoured bottom with sea grass (e.g. not great holding). We made our riding sail (which we love) for this exact reason, and it did calm down Windbird's sailing-at-anchor tendencies, but the current is so strong in this anchorage that we still have some funky things going on. We're almost to high tide, though, at which point wind and current will be aligned and Windbird should settle right down and let me grab a little sleep.

Not everything is quite the same. On that last sleepless night here we shared this anchorage with 20-some boats all dancing around in close proximity to each other. Tonight the only other boat in the anchorage is over a half-mile away; the three other cruising boats at Staniel are on moorings near Thunderball Grotto. It's been quite odd to see the Exumas so empty compared to last spring. Back then we assumed we were late in the season, as we didn't cross until mid-February, but there were a ton of other boats crossing at the same time and later. I guess I figured everyone hopped over here as soon as hurricane season is over, the better to enjoy the whole winter in the islands. That's definitely not the case. The weather hasn't been nearly as nice as in the spring, with a lot of wind, cloudiness and squalls; I assume that has something to do with it.

So, we've been cruising without an alternator for our house bank, making due with wind, solar (which I still don't have quite up to snuff, with some big changes planned), and a Honda 2000 generator we borrowed for two days from our new friends Ken and Tracy on S/V Makana. We ordered a new Balmar AT-SF-165 alternator from Cruising Outfitters; it's been delivered to my brothers Jon & Steve and they'll be carrying it down here Monday (arriving Staniel Cay Tuesday morning, unless they get into Nassau early and can stand by on the last flight Monday). Once consequence of our limited electrical power has been no blogging (this MacBook is a real power pig), though now at Staniel Cay I can plug in at SCYC. Another is no water making, and we're starting to get kinda low - just before having two guests on board. This cold front is giving us a nice shot of wind generator power so we'll probably do some water making tomorrow, and once the alternator is installed (and further solar renovations made) we'll be making water more or less nonstop until our tanks are topped off.

After arriving in Highbourne Cay last Sunday, we moved to Shroud Cay on Monday, then Warderick Wells north mooring field on Wednesday, and Staniel today. We were hoping to do one or two nights at Cambridge Cay but strong southeasterlies before this front had us sitting tight in Warderick. That's ok, it's one of our favorite anchorages, and we have high hopes of visiting Cambridge with Jon and Steve. At Shroud we did our usual dinghy exploration up the mangrove creek and walking up to Camp Driftwood; in Warderick we snorkeled all our favorite spots and ventured up to Brad's Reef just off of Long Cay, which is a new favorite. We also hiked a few trails we hadn't been on before. Other than that we've putzed away on boatwork and hosted a few happy hours on Windbird, getting to know Ken and Tracy as well as Larry and Cindy on S/V Boundless Adventure II. Our last night in Warderick we did happy hour on Makana. They're headed the same direction as us this season, and we hope to run into Ken & Tracy more on our way south.

As for our other cruising friends, most have just crossed to the Bahamas this last week. Erin and Kara on S/V Vela crossed on Wednesday and sailed all the way to Green Turtle Cay in the Abacos, arriving Thursday. John and Trina on S/V Next Place crossed to West End last Sunday and then hopped through the western Abacos, arriving in Green Turtle Cay on Thursday as well. They met Erin and Kara through us at Annapolis, so the two boats are hanging out together in White Sound during this blow. A cruising family we met in Georgetown SC, Heywood and Ainsley and their two kids (boat name escapes me at the moment) also crossed to West End on Thursday. Our friends Ernie and Betty of S/V Iemanja are currently skiing in Colorado but will be returning soon to Little River to get Iemanja headed south.

I'm really excited for Jon and Steve to sail with us. Steve has been onboard before; he sailed from Lauderdale to the Berries to Nassau last season, along with a number of sailing adventures we did before buying Windbird. But Jon is the only sibling who's never sailed with me on any boat, owned or rented, and he's a hardworking guy who doesn't take many vacations, so I'm really looking forward to spending some time with him and sharing our cruising life with him. Our itinerary isn't set yet and will be completely dependent on weather; we just have to be to Georgetown by Dec 20th for the boys' return flight to Minnesota (Dawn and I will stash the boat and follow on Dec 22, partake in Christmas festivities, and fly one 3-day trip). Ideally we'd get back up to the Exuma Park for a few days and then sail overnight to Georgetown, but we'll only venture back that way if we're assured of a good weather window for going SE.

Well, it's almost high tide, the current has died down, and Windbird has settled nicely. I should have seven hours of sleep before she resumes her dance, at which point it'll be light. We'll likely move on over to Big Majors Spot in the morning. The wind has already gone NNE so it should be quite comfortable in there.

No comments:

Post a Comment