January 5, 2019
On Saturday, we took off from Rose Island around 9a for the 6-hour sail to Allen’s Cay, which is best known as the first stop for those wanting to explore the Exumas. In Allen’s Cay, there are prehistoric iguanas inhabiting the islands and lots of sailors pass through here for the day or a night or two. We decided to make this home to have some time to unwind from the ordeal at Rose Island and to space out the time before my vacation coming in mid-January. Our thinking is that we should plan to be in the remotest parts of the Exumas for the 2 weeks off, if at all possible.
We sailed very easily and averaged around 7.3 knots, with a beam reach. In the crystal clear waters of the Bahama bank, we made 80 gallons of water to top off our tanks. Can I just say how good fresh water tastes? Straight from the dual filtered bladders of our water maker and into our 5-gallon clean water container, we tasted it directly, without the benefit of the Pur water filter we have on board for the drinking water. Trust me, you don’t want to drink out of pipes on a boat.
Here’s how that went down:
Erik: “Smell this.” He hands me a cup.
Me: “Not your finger again.” I laugh.
Erik: “Good one, now smell this.”
Me: I smelled nothing. “Ok, I don’t smell anything, what is this?”
Erik: “It’s water… From our watermaker… Taste it.”
Me: “You first!”
Erik: Takes a sip, smiles. Hands me the glass, “your turn.”
Me: Puts maybe a drop in my mouth. “I didn’t taste anything. Hang on” I took a mouthful and swallowed. “This is OUR water?? This is good. No, really good. It’s like how water should taste – clear, clean, refreshing. No ammonia smell, no bleach like aftertaste. Wow honey!”
To make water, we have to run our house generator, which coincidentally allows me to charge up all electronics that aren’t setup for 12V. Win-win. We make 40/gallons an hour. Our house generator uses about ¾ gallon of diesel per hour. So if you do the math, and assume we will buy diesel here in the Bahamas at a staggering $6/gallon, it cost us $9 to make 80 gallons. At Harbour Towne Marina, they sell water at $0.75/gallon. Although math is not my strong suit, that would have cost us $30. #score
As we neared the Exumas, Erik gleefully announces “Land Ho!” and we see the dotted ridges of land identifying the northern most islands in the Exumas chain. They are very low lying so from this distance, they look like a chain of shells dotting the horizon. Getting closer, it’s time for me to go on lookout for bombies, or coral heads or rocks, that predominate the waters here. I grab my beanie and headset and move to the front bow and take a seat.
A beanie, you ask? In mid-70s temperatures under full sun at that? Why yes, I have found that wearing a beanie serves three purposes. A) it blocks some of the wind noise, B) it keeps my sunglasses on my face, and 3) it makes my headset fit my teeny tiny head. Fun fact: I had to buy a “special” snorkeling mask because my freaking head is so small.
Under constant conversation, mostly involving our depth and where I suspected there was a bombie, we zig zagged our way through the proverbial land mines of the Yellow Bank. About an hour later, we motored between the rocks that mark the entrance to Allen’s Cay and turned port into the bustling anchorage. We dropped hook along the west side of the lagoon, which isn’t where we wanted to be, but given so many other boats had already called shotgun on the eastern side, with its shallower waters, we were just happy to be settled.
Donning masks and flippers, we happily jumped in the water and swam toward the anchor to check its position. Underwater, with the 4:3 magnification, it sure seemed like we had only let out 20 feet of anchor (not true, because I let out 45!), and it was a welcome relief to see the entire anchor buried in the soft white sand below.
Over the next several days, boats would come, and go, and we settled into routines of morning snorkeling, beach exploring, afternoon naps, and crazy eights (yes, the card game!)
On New Years Eve, we visited the 4 remaining boats in the anchorage and invited them to come join us for a sundowner to celebrate the new year. S/V Delfina, S/V Jubilee, Charlie’s boat, and S/V Private Island arrived with good cheer, good food, and broad smiles.
I hope our paths cross again with these fine folks. In an Instagram post I joked that sailing brings together more people from different countries and cultures better than the United Nations ever could. And I stand by that. Canadians, Germans, Americans, and Australians coexisted beautifully, despite our nations differing politics, because we all have something in common, beyond the obvious.
Days blended into nights into mornings. The stars appeared brighter, bigger, and with more detail. The breeze is balmy and cooling at the same time. I am most at peace with peaceful conditions, and yet my soul is looking forward to a little adventure.
Next up: Provisioning at Highbourne and on to Cambridge Cay to ride out the next front