Monday, March 16, 2020

The Ides of March have come

We are under way southbound on the Exuma Bank. It's good to finally be cruising in the relatively protected waters of the Exumas, after days of bashing into head seas to get here. We are in familiar waters, and it feels comfortable to be here.

After my last post we continued to have a bumpy ride all the way to New Providence. Entrance to West Bay is through a narrow, unmarked channel, and I hand steered to the GPS route line through the skinniest section. Once inside the bay, things quickly calmed down, and by the time we were toward the eastern end we were in flat water. We dropped the hook in ten feet amid a dozen other boats (map); I counted 18 boats total by sunset.

It was a lovely anchorage and we had good high-speed Internet; we could easily have stayed another night or two, and perhaps tendered in to stroll the beach in the tony Lyford Cay neighborhood. And by "tony" I mean a gated community of waterfront homes owned by wealthy white foreigners, and not actual Bahamians. But we wanted to get across the bank while we still had a window of relatively good passage weather, and so we weighed anchor after coffee in the morning for the trip across the bank to the Exumas.

Sunset from our quiet anchorage at West Bay.

We worked our way out a different narrow unmarked channel, a bit wider and deeper than the one we had come in, and crossed a short piece of the deep water of the Tongue of the Ocean to find ourselves back on the bank, just a bit south of where we had anchored on our first pass through here back in 2015. We followed our previous track line around the shallow part of the White Bank.

Three very large megayachts were anchored outside the entrance to the Albany Marina, possibly too large to enter this superyacht facility. Our route had us passing the $180M DreAMBoat fairly close aboard; the odd capitalization is a play on the initials of the yacht's owner, Home Depot billionaire Arthur M. Blank.

Our previous track ran all the way to Highborne Cay, but we had no need of stopping there, opting instead to enter the Exumas further south, at Norman's Cay. When our track intersected the established sailing line to Norman's Stake we made a slight turn to starboard to pick it up. We would have entered the Exumas even further south, perhaps at Hawksbill Cay, except that would have put us in the National Park, where there is a fee of $0.50 per foot per night to drop the hook.

Our lovely anchorage off Norman's Cay.

We had a bumpy trip across the bank, but seas steadily diminished as we got closer to the Exuma chain. By the time we were rounding the stake, the ride was comfortable, but there was still a good bit of swell. We had a planned stop just inside Wax Cay, but instead we turned north along a visual piloting route into the more protected anchorage west of Norman's Cay, where we dropped the hook among a dozen other boats (map).

We had Internet coverage for several hours after departing West Bay, and it disappeared as expected about a dozen miles off the eastern point of New Providence. No worries, because I expected it to return when we came within a few miles of Highborne, and I even plotted a ten-mile circle around the cell tower there. The cell on Highborne is very low power, however, and even at our closest point of approach of just over six nautical miles, we never had a usable signal. We very briefly had low-speed coverage, but with ping times in the several second to over a minute range.

Having no Internet made it impossible to look up what the latest status was on Norman's Cay, which, for as long as we have been coming to the Bahamas, has been in a perpetual state of arrested development. But I saw dinghys heading to the beach from the anchorage, and it was more than just the usual dog walkers. I eventually learned from an offline review on my chart that the beach bar and restaurant re-opened last month. We ate aboard, but it's good to keep in mind for the next time we pass through.

While we were still back in New Providence I had the foresight to bang my head against the wall with the DirecTV web site to get our TV service "refreshed." Thus I at least had the TV to provide some news, weather, and all the movie and Law and Order reruns that I could handle. It was a very pleasant and quiet anchorage, especially knowing there is now a restaurant option there, and we would have spent another night if we could have gotten online.

The massive Bravo Eugenia. Yes, that's an inflatable slide.

As it was, we had to wait until 11am to depart this morning, in order to have enough water under the keel at the entrance. I made the mistake of again turning the TV on to catch some morning news, just in time to see trading halted as the markets collapsed. Hogan's Heros looked like a better option, but instead I turned it off and worked on the pedal for the sewing machine. This way we'll be ready when we have to start making our own clothes out of homespun.

When we finally made it out of the anchorage, we passed the enormous yacht Bravo Eugenia at anchor. The design of this yacht, with a long, featureless bow, belies her actual size, and from a distance you can believe she's just another yacht. In fact she is 360' long, well into "ship" territory. Last night we watched her guests tender ashore for a beach party that included several canopies, a volleyball setup, tiki torches, beach chairs, and a bar, all brought ashore from the ship.

This evening's destination is Big Majors Spot, a familiar and very popular anchorage. It is famously known for its beach with swimming pigs, and is tender distance from Staniel Cay, whose Yacht Club has a nice bar and restaurant. There is also a cell tower on Staniel, and I expect to be back in coverage a bit under two hours out, at which time I will upload this post. I will not be checking the financial news; our defibrillator batteries are only good for a single use.

1 comment:

  1. Defibrillator use indeed. Couldn't help but go look at the trainwreck. Was ready; but still horrified.


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