January 7, 2020
It is difficult to highlight all of the interesting and exciting things about our first trip to The Bahamas, but as we sit at ‘anchor’ in a really weird place, I have to do something to pass the time . . . so here’s more of the story.
Yesterday we opted to stay at Highborne Cay. Most of the other boats left, but Jinhee was so relaxed and happy there, we stayed to enjoy the environment, walk the beaches, read in the sun and just hang out. It was quite relaxing.
We also got some really cool drone footage of us walking on this beautiful, almost secluded beach.
We did a lot of walking, explored the island on bike/scooter (it’s only about 5km long), and also chatted with other boaters, etc., etc. It was a great day.
Now that we are a bit more organized I have been riding my bike on the boat deck. I still intend to ride a 24 hour bike race in the first week of February, and I am in no way ready for that ride but at least I can prepare a bit!
Yesterday morning I posted a video of the Highborne Cay area and some of you might have noticed that ‘thing’ swimming in the bay of the marina. Yep, that’s a shark. Apparently a nurse shark, which is quite harmless unless you step on them or otherwise threaten them. They hang out in this area and are quite plentiful. Here are some that were hanging out near the boat last night. We have a bunch hanging near us this evening as well (we are anchored out this evening).
People who know The Bahamas tell us that the weather has been unusually bad this year so far. This is in line with some of the unusual weather we have experienced elsewhere, but that craziness means that our vacation, at least on the boat, is essentially over.
Beginning tomorrow evening the winds will be piping up to 20-30 knots from the North again, and the wave heights will be getting up to 7-8 feet. Now normally that wouldn’t be such a big deal. Not exactly comfortable boating but possible. Here, that is not the case. Between where we are now (near Highborne Cay) and Nassau where Jinhee needs to be on Saturday morning, there are a few places with only 7 feet of water at low tide (about 9 feet of water at high tide). Now Home Free ‘draws’ 6 feet of water, and if you aren’t familiar with the boating terms, our keel is about 5’10” below the water line. We say that the boat ‘draws’ 6 feet, to be safe.
If there is 7-8 feet of water, and there are 7-8 foot waves, we could be hitting bottom on every wave in a few places. While that is not likely (shallower depths will mean lower wave heights), I can’t be certain that we will be able to make it across these low water areas and so we have to get back to Nassau tomorrow morning before the weather starts to get really ugly.
As we came to the realities of that decision, we made our plans to stay on the south side of Nassau where hopefully it is a bit less hectic, a bit more scenic and we can relax for three days while we wait for Jinhee’s flight out. Today we decided to move just a little tiny bit North, toward Nassau and are anchored in a small bay near Allans Cay (see the featured image above).
I chose this location because there is an ‘iguana island’ and it should be quite sheltered as the winds pick up overnight. Since I don’t know much about The Bahamas yet, I kind of guess at some bits based on charts and various information we get from people, etc. Today I got one thing right . . . there is an ‘iguana island’. While we have lots of photos and video of the iguanas on their island, I found this one humorous. (???)
The day got really strange from there. We packed up the boat and prepared to take off very early in the morning. As we were doing so Paanga, a sailboat pulled up near us and I was sure that I knew the boat, but couldn’t place it. We discovered a family from Mimico aboard (Mark, sorry I can’t remember your wife and children’s names!). Amazing seeing people from Toronto and environs (Yellow Bird, The Grand Banks from Penatanguishine, and so many boaters from Quebec).
After dinner, our boat started to swing around like crazy. The charts said that there were currents here, and of course with tides and our being tucked between two islands, between the Atlantic and the Exuma banks, we understood that this would be reasonable, but this is weird. There are five boats anchored in here (why are they all so close to me, especially the catamarans that only need 3 feet of water!), and we have modest winds from the North. We are all spinning around like crazy with the currents, none of us are pointing in the same direction and none of us is pointed into the wind. Poor Jinhee is trying to figure out whether our anchor is holding or not (and I am trying to get her to relax), and every time we look outside we are pointing a different direction.
We do have a really nice iPhone app that is the most accurate anchor alarm that we have found, and we are watching this progress from the decks, but it is very interesting to watch. For the past four hours we have not once put stress on our anchor and have pointed every possible direction. I won’t be going to sleep until the tide pulls (or pushes us) to the point that the anchor can be rechecked that it is set properly.
That is generally the goings on. Tomorrow it is back to Nassau and we will wait out the storm there and await Jinhee’s flight home. The end of what was supposed to be a far more exciting exploration of The Bahamas. The good news is that we really, really enjoyed what we did see, the people that we met and look forward to coming back next year at Christmas for a longer stay.