Tag Archives: Chub Cay

Bimini to Georgetown

On January 8, 2016, we left Bimini for Chub Cay in the Berries at 0520, obviously in the dark, arriving at the Chub Cay anchorage in daylight at 1700. We were going almost directly into the wind and made good time, but it wasn’t a comfortable ride. However, we were on the Mackey Shoals portion of the shallow Great Bahama Bank for most of the trip and the water was beautiful. Chub Cay anchorage is not the best, but OK for one night. It is often rough because large fishing boats race in and out of the channel to the marina, which is right next to the anchorage, causing huge wakes. It is close to deep water, where the fishing boats are headed, and often there are uncomfortable swells. Also, Chub Cay is private so we aren’t allowed to take Sailor ashore. Below was our view while sailing on the Bank. 

FullSizeRender 11

Unfortunately we had to stay a second day in the Berries since the sea and wind conditions were still unfavorable for going on to Nassau. Also the wind was clocking and the conditions were getting worse at Chub Cay. In the morning we moved to nearby Frazier’s Hog Cay and while the first part of the trip around the end of Chub Cay was VERY rough, it smoothed out and we spent a comfortable night at Frazier’s Hog Cay. This will probably be our stop in the Berries from now on instead of Chub Cay. We had a nice time swimming off the beautiful beach and Sailor got lots of exercise chasing his ball. The evening ended with a gorgeous sunset.

image

DSCF2142

DSCF2149

image

On January 9, we reluctantly left our anchorage in the Berries headed to Nassau. We heard on Chris Parker’s morning report that the seas were 6-8 ft with over 3 ft swells on the beam and we try to only sail in 3 ft seas or less. However the weather this winter in the Bahamas has been very different than usual with constant storms and poor sailing conditions for long periods of time. This was our last sail on deep water until we go out on the Exuma Sound for one day to Georgetown. The winds were also not great at SSE 19-20 kts gusting 22. It was a rough ride, in fact Mark wrote in our cruising log, “Worst sail by choice ever.” Thankfully it wasn’t a long sail, leaving at 0715 and arriving in Nassau at 1230. 

We had reservations at Nassau Harbour Club and enjoyed a quiet night in a slip. Of course, we had to have our last frappuccinos at Starbucks and visit the Fresh Market grocery store, both right across the street from our marina. The photo of Starbucks below is taken from the exit of the marina. Two years ago, when Sailor was 7 months old, we stopped at this same marina and Sailor, spooked by fireworks (in February!) jumped off the boat, ran down the dock in the dark, and fell into the water when the dock turned to the right as he kept going straight. Mark showed him the very spot this happened, but not sure if Sailor remembered.

image

image image

While our sail from Frazier’s Hog Cay to Nassau was rough, other boats had come in after sailing straight from Bimini or the States over a period of several days, and they had horror stories to tell. A boat in a slip across from us had taken on water. The marinas in Nassau were filled with tired cruisers. We were glad we waited the extra day to leave the Berries even if we still had an uncomfortable sail.  

We try to never stay longer than one day in Nassau. It is not a safe city, and other than crossing the street from the marina to the strip mall, we don’t have anything else we want to see or do there. Boats have even been boarded by thieves at several of the Nassau marinas and it is dangerous to be out on the streets after dark. Paradise Island, where most tourists go, is across a bridge and probably safer. Nassau is on New Providence Island and is where the cruise ships stop. Our boat buddies since Miami on Renaissance II, another Lagoon 420,  decided to stay in Nassau since they had never been there and we left the next morning for Norman’s Cay, our first stop in The Exumas.

On January 11, we left the last marina we would stay at until we return to Sunset Bay in Stuart, Florida, at the end of May. The route to The Exumas is across the Yellow Bank portion of the Great Bahama Bank. We had a great wind angle for sailing although on a long day we always use the engines and sails and at one point were motorsailing at 8.3 kts. We left Nassau at 0900 and arrived at Norman’s Cay at 1445. It was almost full when we entered the anchorage because strong winds were forecast for that night. We anchored southwest of the sunken plane and several boats came in after us but left, probably going south to the next anchorage or mooring balls at Shroud Cay. During the night we had high winds and rain while turning 360 degrees with the strong current.

After listening to Chris Parker’s report the next morning, we decided the weather was settled enough to head south to Big Majors/Staniel Cay. This meant we were going past the entire Exuma Land and Sea Park, something we would never do if we weren’t planning to return on our way north in April. The park has the best hiking, kayaking, beaches, and snorkeling in the Exumas. Our goal was to get to our mooring ball in Georgetown as quickly as we could safely move. Friends who were already there told us the balls were being taken quickly, perhaps in part due to the 100+ kt storm they had while we were safe at a marina in Bimini.  We left Norman’s Cay at 0740 and dropped the anchor at Big Majors at 1230. We made very good time, outrunning a squall coming from the ENE as we left Norman’s Cay followed by a sunny day. Big Majors is a large, excellent anchorage, unless the wind is from the west. We will be returning here in mid-April to pick up good friends Carolyn and Ed (S/V Sharkitecture) so we didn’t mind missing snorkeling at Thunderball Grotto. We did go ashore for a walk and Sailor got to visit the nurse sharks who hang out at the marina waiting for someone to drop discards from the fish cleaning station. Of course we had to bring him to see the famous swimming pigs also.

image

DSCF2173

image

image

The next morning we made the short trip to Cave Cay, where we planned to exit the cut to go out on Exuma Sound to Georgetown. We knew we would have several days to wait for calm seas and favorable wind. We left Big Majors on January 13 at 0825 and arrived at 1130, the only boat in the anchorage outside Cave Cay Marina. It was a very pleasant sail and after dropping the anchor, Sailor and Mark headed to a beautiful beach near our boat. The shore has some interesting caves and there are many more on the cay, thus the name “Cave Cay.” Mark and Sailor also took the dinghy into the very protected marina at Cave Cay. He reported that it is a hurricane hole marina with excellent docks, but it seems to only get boats in its slips during very bad weather. During the several days we were in the anchorage, two boats joined the one that was already there.

image

Houses and caves were next to the beach where Sailor played.

image image

Sailor checked out the marina at Cave Cay.

image

We spent three nights at Cave Cay waiting for the Exuma Sound sea state to calm down. On the first morning we had a BIG surprise. We got up at 0630 to listen to the Chris Parker marine weather report and saw a 160 ft long tanker named Tropic Breeze headed right towards us. (We have AIS and checked the info about the tanker.)  We saw her anchored on the deeper south side of Cave Cay Cut the night before and early that morning she was coming to our shallow anchorage.  Tropic Breeze motored straight for our starboard side, then turned and went a few feet off our aft, turning again passing us on our port side. A short distance past us, her anchor dropped. Next, we saw a small boat with a diver in it next to the tanker. The diver brought a large fuel hose from the tanker to the shore and for several hours fuel was pumped into the Cave Cay tanks. We weren’t worried about the “close call” because we have seen these Bahamian ships often and their captains are very good at maneuvering in tight spaces. The reason the ship went around us was to get downwind so they wouldn’t be blown into us. However, we were surprised that this was a marked anchorage on the Explorer Charts but there was no indication that tankers would come here to transfer fuel to the cay. We have anchored here before but this was our first close encounter with a big ship. 

image image

image

The fuel hose is visible floating in the water in front of the small boat.

image Sailor seems to be a bit amazed at what he just saw.

image

For the next two days, all was quiet in our anchorage, mainly because we were the only boat there, and by January 16 the sky was clear, seas were 2-3 ft, and winds were from the southwest at 8-12 kts. It was time for the last leg of our journey to Georgetown. Even Sailor stayed out in the cockpit all day, which he only does when it is very calm. Otherwise he insists I get in one of the beds with him where he feels safe. We left at 0730 and were on our mooring ball in Hole 2 at Stocking Island, across the harbour from Georgetown, by 1230. There were only two balls left in Hole 2 and a few days after we arrived the last one was taken. We were very happy to reach our destination for the next few months and are looking forward to our stay here until the end of March.

This was our view of Exuma Sound on our way south to Georgetown. It is rarely this flat so it was well worth the wait.

image Sailor was in this position all day long.
image

Entering the turquoise water of Elizabeth Harbour. The city of Georgetown is on the right and Stocking Island is on the left. 

image

Finally we are on our mooring ball in Hole 2.

DSCF0651

This is Hole 2 with Elizabeth Harbour and Georgetown in the background, We are at the far end of the mooring field, protected on all four sides with a narrow channel running in the foreground of the picture from Hole 1 through to Hole 3.

DSCF0642

Spanish Wells to Stuart

We arrived back in Florida at the end of May. Guess I was a little lazy about writing the last post of the 2015 cruising season, because here it is the middle of October and I am getting around to documenting the end of our last season while we are planning our 2016 Bahamas Cruise.

We left Spanish Wells after a fantastic visit with my son Peter who flew into Eleuthera and joined us for the rest of the cruise. We then sailed from Royal Island, near Spanish Wells, to Chub Cay on May 19, leaving at 0645 and dropping the anchor at 1515. This was Peter’s first opportunity to sail with us in the Bahamas and luckily we had perfect calm seas. We stayed at Chub Cay one night and the next day sailed to Bimini, leaving at 0550 in the dark and tying up to the dock at Bimini Sands at 1650. 

Here are several photos of our crossing from Chub Cay and entering the waters of Bimini. In the third picture, the red rooftops of the condos surrounding the marina at Bimini Sands Resort and Marina are visible. Sailor had been there before and I am fairly certain he recognized it, or at least he said to himself with a smile, “Land Ho!”

image

image

image

We stayed in Bimini two days and enjoyed the north and south islands. Peter snorkeled on the beach from Bimini Sands to the southern end of of South Bimini. He saw some fantastic underwater scenes, so next time we are there we’ll have to try it ourselves. Oddly after many visits to Bimini we had never snorkeled the reefs. Of course, we had to show Peter The Dolphin House in North Bimini, and he was impressed. He said he hopes to go back someday and rent a room from Mr. Saunders. We saw Mark’s last Minnesota license plate from his Corvette on one of the walls.  We donated it to Ashley Saunders’ collection of many car license plates two years ago. In his museum, we read the famous quotes he had mounted on the ceiling. To see more photos of The Dolphin House from our previous website, click here.

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

One of the prettiest views in Bimini is from the Dolphin House. Mr. Saunders told us that a man from China recently approached him about buying The Dolphin House. Of course, it will always be in the Saunders family as it is a labor of love which he will no doubt continue working on until he can’t physically do it anymore. We will visit every time we go to Bimini to see the latest additions.

image

When we stay in South Bimini, we take a very short water taxi ride to North Bimini. We always look for two white Golden Retrievers, who live outside by the water and fish for their food! Yes, we have seen them dive for fish and bring them ashore. They seem pretty healthy so perhaps the locals provide them with other food. We especially like watching these dogs because Sailor’s grandfather is a white English Golden Retriever.

image

On May 22, 2015, we left Bimini Sands at 0610. Sailor was glad to spot land as we neared Lake Worth  that afternoon and  entered the channel.

image

At 1410 we dropped the anchor near the Lake Worth Inlet after a very calm crossing.  We dinghied over to the park on Peanut Island to stretch our legs. The next morning at 0630, we left the Lake Worth anchorage with a beautiful sunrise in the sky, and started up the ICW to Stuart. We love being able to go under the 65 foot bridges and through the lift bridges while looking at the gorgeous homes along the route. We do not like being waked by speeding powerboats and fishing boats, and as always we seem to end up going on this leg of the trip on a dreaded South Florida weekend when they are out in force. As we entered the ICW, numerous fishing boats were ready to race out onto the ocean.  Later in the day, Sailor seemed to be a little bored, but Peter had a talk with him and they relaxed for the rest of the trip.

image

image

image image

image

image image

Finally, at noon we pulled into our slip at Sunset Bay Marina, where we have spent hurricane seasons for the last four years. It’s called Sunset Bay for a reason. (That is a power cat in the next slip, not Seas the Day.)

image

Thus ended our fourth Bahamas Cruise and our seventh year living aboard S/V Seas the Day. We spent the other three winters in Corpus Christi, the Florida Keys up to the Gulf Coast of Florida, and one season in Miami and Ft.  Lauderdale as we waited to have our hybrid catamaran converted to twin diesels. 2015 was a very different cruising season as we visited new places in the Bahamas and spent three months on a mooring ball in Georgetown. We boat buddied with good friends Tom and Cathie (Interlude) meeting up with them and spending Christmas together in South Beach, Miami,  then sailing together all the way to Georgetown, The Exumas, then back north with stops in Long Island, Cat Island, Little San Salvador, Eleuthera, and finally to Spanish Wells where Interlude continued to Abaco and we stayed in Spanish Wells.  We learned to play Texas Hold-em in Georgetown and played three times a week! We met a lot of new friends and hope to see most of them again in 2016. Sailor, of course, met his BFF, Portuguese Water Dog Zorro aboard M/V All In (Vivian and Chris). He’s never enjoyed playing with another dog this much and hopefully they’ll reunite this season. As we love doing, we spent the last month in Spanish Wells, renting a golf cart and staying on a mooring ball. The highlight of that month was having my son Peter visit, which added to the excitement and caused us to enjoy some new experiences.  He almost didn’t make it though, because after taking the Red Eye from San Francisco, at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport he wasn’t allowed on the plane to Eleuthera without a return ticket to the U.S. When he called us as the plane was loading (thank goodness he knew our Bahamas phone number), we were able to email a copy of our cruising permit to prove to the airline people that he did have a way back to the States. In Spanish Wells, a definite highlight was when we hired James, owner of Spanish Wells Bahamas Ocean Safaris, for a phenomenal day on the water, snorkeling, diving, swimming, finding conch and shells, watching James spear our fish for dinner, and playing on a huge sandbar.  Having Peter sail back to Stuart with us also added to the uniqueness of our 2015 Bahamas Cruise.

image

Happy New Year From Nassau

We left Bimini at 0540 in the dark two days ago on December 29, 2014.  The early start is because it is about 80 miles from there to Chub Cay and daylight at this time of year lasts less than 12 hours. We arrived in the dark at 1850.  The day couldn’t have been nicer with smooth blue water.  I am never sure how to describe the color of this water and often there are various shades in stripes, but I can’t believe there is more beautiful water anywhere.  

image

image

We left Chub Cay at 0805 today and arrived in Nassau at 1415. Again, there was little wind and the seas were smooth. The above photo is on the Banks which are shallow. Today we were back on the deep ocean which is dark blue. There are several views that always welcome us to Nassau: the lighthouse, the cruise ships, and the Atantis.  We don’t really like staying in Nassau because we are anxious to get to the Exumas, but we always stop here for fuel and a night’s stay. Then we have an easy day’s sail to the Exumas. We’ll spend most of our time there on a number of small islands with gorgeous beaches, friendly Bahamians, and of course the phenomenal water.

image

image

image

We are staying at the Nassau Harbor Club Marina in Nassau which is across a busy street from a strip mall that includes Starbucks, Fresh Market, a Batelco phone store, and much more. We made our usual stops, first at Starbucks where Cathie (Interlude) and I had our last drinks until we return to the States. We didn’t need much at the grocery store but did purchase a few items since this is the last real grocery store that isn’t in someone’s house until we reach Georgetown. Tomorrow, January 1, is the official start of the 7% VAT in the Bahamas.

image

Tonight is a big celebration in Nassau with Junkanoo and fireworks beginning at midnight. The Junkanoo parades are held on all of the Bahamian islands on Boxing Day, December 26, and New Years Day.  The people dress in colorful elaborate costumes and march to the beat of drums and horns. There is a competition between various groups on each island. We will enjoy a few hours with Cathie and Tom tonight with some wine and snacks, go to sleep, and no doubt be woken up a few hours later when the noise begins. On January, 2010, we were in Bimini for Junkanoo.  Below are a few photos of that celebration. We won’t be out there taking pictures tonight in downtown Nassau! However, we have heard that Junkanoo here is much larger than what is done on the less populated islands. Junkanoo had its beginning during the Bahamian slavery days when the slaves got three days off a year and celebrated by dressing up and partying.

imageimage

image

image image image

The Motion of the Ocean

Yesterday we moved from the Spanish Wells Mooring Field about an hour away to Royal Island where we anchored for the night to make today’s trip a little shorter. This morning we left that anchorage and a little under eight hours later arrived at Chub Cay in a string of islands called The Berries.   We have a nice three day window of calm seas and almost no wind to get us back to Florida so we left a few days before our month at the mooring field was up to take advantage of it. The wind never got above 10 kts today but since that resulted in almost flat seas, we didn’t mind going a little slower. The wind speed for the next two days is even lower, therefore the conditions should be great as we cross the Gulf Stream and arrive in Lake Worth on Saturday.

It’s been awhile since we have been on the move, and Sailor is still a fair weather sailor. The best way to keep him from panting and worrying about the sounds and motion of the boat is to take him into a bed. As long as he can touch me he relaxes, but he won’t stay in the bed alone. So, we went to the bed in the forward cabin, as far away from the diesel engines as we can get, and while I read from my Kindle, Sailor slept.

image

As the day went on he became more relaxed and slept in the salon. Perhaps he was anticipating rougher weather and realized it wasn’t going to happen.  Twice he rang his “poochie bell” and Mark walked him up to the trampolines on a leash to “go.” This is only safe to do when the seas are this calm.

image

Once we got close to shore at Chub Cay we let him come up on the deck while we looked for a good place to drop the anchor. In Sailor’s mind, land equals beaches and I suspect he was checking them out hoping to get off the boat soon.

image

Shortly after we dropped the anchor, Mark and Sailor dinghied over to a nearby beach. While Sailor doesn’t particularly like the motion of the ocean on a 42 ft sailboat, he loves riding in a 12 ft long dinghy, which is a much rougher experience. Perhaps that is because he knows at the end of most dinghy rides he gets to run up and down a beach and swim out to fetch his wubba.  Lately he has started hanging over the side of the dinghy with his face almost in the water looking at the sealife. In this clear water there is a lot to see.

image

Chub Cay is not our favorite place to anchor because it has a marina filled with motor vessels, most of them here for fishing, ranging from small powerboats to large million dollar plus sportfishers.  The larger boats generally slow down in the short channel leading into the marina. The smaller powerboats, however, race in and out of the harbor creating huge wakes.  The anchorage is on either side of the channel and of course they don’t think they should be slowing down to keep us from rocking. We feel like we are back in Miami or Ft. Lauderdale.  Actually, some of the boats came over from Florida for Memorial Day Weekend.  Other people leave their boats here and fly into the Chub Cay airport.  In less than an hour we saw five small passenger planes land at the airport, all appeared to be able to carry at least 12 passengers. The majority of Chub Cay is an upscale resort and marina. There are private homes by the marina, as well as a restaurant and a huge clubhouse.  Sadly, there is no shore access for those of us anchored here.  A pretty beach near us is marked “private” on a sign, although all beaches up to the high water line are public in the Bahamas, even this one on the marina property. Sailor goes to a beach on tiny deserted Crab Cay adjacent to Chub.

image

We spent the day on the ocean and it was so calm we didn’t have to put anything away to keep items from falling off shelves, yet now we are rocking back and forth and have to rearrange breakables. Notice the difference in wake from the small powerboat speeding by and the large sportfisher slowing down in the channel. Believe me, we feel the difference.

image

image

Tomorrow we’ll motorsail almost 12 hours to anchor near Bimini. The marinas there are mostly full and have raised their prices for the holiday weekend.  We heard that at Brown’s Marina in north Bimini their usual 90 cents a foot charge is $2.50 a foot for the next few days. Shortly after leaving Chub Cay, we’ll leave the deep water of the ocean and be on the shallow “bank.”  Many people anchor overnight on “the bank” in calm wind and sea conditions, away from the route of the boats going between here and Bimini.  We’ve never done that, but I’m beginning to think it would be much more relaxing than Chub Cay.  Then again, Sailor wouldn’t get his beach time and that’s important too.

Here is the view from the boat as the sun was setting over the ocean in Chub Cay. We only have one more Bahamian sunset to watch after tonight.

image

Bimini to Nassau

Since the seas in Bimini were about 8-10 feet Friday night, we decided to check Saturday morning when we got up and if the seas were down we could go anchor at nearby Cat Cay, then leave Sunday morning for Chub Cay.  However, when we checked at about 0600, the seas were down considerably so we decided to leave.  At 0630 Saturday we were on our way.  It was a bit rough coming out into the ocean, but when we made the turn and got on the Great Bahama Bank where the depth is under 12 feet,  we had smooth seas the rest of the day. When we reached the Northwest Channel Light (there isn’t really a light there but it is marked on the charts) the depth went from 15 ft to 2000 feet within a few minutes because we left the Bank and returned to the ocean.  The wind picked up early in the day and we had a perfect beam reach making it possible for us to average 7.5 kts motorsailing, arriving at Chub Cay at 1750 with plenty of daylight left.  There is nothing to do on Chub, but Sailor got a walk on a new beach.

Daylight Savings Time started today, so we didn’t get started from Chub until 0730 when it was light.  Again, the seas were smooth and we made good time averaging over 7 kts. We entered Nassau harbor at 1235 but it was 1330 by the time we got in our slip at Nassau Harbor Club. This is the first time we’ve stayed here because they only have a few slips wide enough for a catamaran.  We stopped for fuel  at another marina and had to wait in line.  Diesel was $5.05 a gallon, which will probably be the norm for the Bahamas.  We paid $3.85 in Miami. When we got to the marina they had us back into a very tight slip.  We were almost in until we got stuck between posts on either side of the slip.  We had told them we are 24 ft 8 in wide, but I guess they don’t measure the slips.  We got out and the dock boys directed us to a slightly wider slip which we easily backed into.  Power is metered at 60¢ a foot so we will use it sparingly tonight and tomorrow morning.

As soon as we were settled in, we walked across the street to a Fresh Market grocery store.  It has to be the nicest grocery in all of the Bahamas.  You would swear you are in the States.  The produce department is fantastic and that is mainly what we purchased along with frozen lemonade, milk and yoghurt.  Prices were close to Florida and no doubt everything was shipped in from the States. Brands were identical. I didn’t expect to see fresh strawberries here, but I did and they were exactly what I buy in Florida.  (Hopefully my strawberry plants will start producing more berries.  Right now I only get four or five a day.)

Water is $8.00 for the day.  At Bimini Sands it was metered, so we didn’t use theirs.  Since we paid for it here whether we use it or not, we’ll give the boat, and Sailor, a good wash.

Sailor learned a new trick today.  He now goes in and out of the windows in the salon.  We haven’t seen him negotiate jumping in and out because he’s sneaky and quick. When we are anchoring or coming into a dock, we leave Sailor inside, but he quickly began getting up on the salon couch, standing on his hind legs, putting his front paws on the shelf under the windows and looking out the windows which are usually open. Now, I guess we’ll have to shut the gate AND the windows!

Tomorrow the weather looks good for sailing to Highbourne Cay.  Usually it takes us about five hours so we’ll sleep in and leave around 11 am.  We’ll be on the Great Bahama Bank again until we go out on the Exuma Sound for a short sail to get to Georgetown.  The water is crystal clear and tomorrow we’ll probably see starfish on the bottom.  Our destination is the Exumas and tomorrow that’s where we’ll be.  Most of the islands where we stop from now on will have deserted beaches, so Sailor will get to run and maybe swim.

After dinner tonight we walked across the street to Starbucks and then walked around the strip mall.  There are many familiar stores, including Radio Shack, GNC, Dominos Pizza, Dairy Queen,  two computer stores, a few restaurants, clothing stores, a book store, a bank,  a sports clothing store, a coffee shop, a drug store and a few more.   All this is just steps from our marina.  We’ll probably go there in the morning for one more “last frappuccino until June.”

Below are pictures from the last few days.

Sailor took his watch at the helm.   Autopilot on of course so all he had to do was watch for other boats and luckily they were few and far between.

image

Leaving our anchorage at Chub Cay this morning.  The small anchorage is on the other side of the land open to the ocean, and many fast boats leaving a marina creating large wakes.

image

This is our slip at Nassau Harbor Club.  A megayacht came in after us.  One of the crew members came over and apologized for blocking our view, but we thanked him for blocking the wake from numerous speed boats in the harbor.  Then he told us how much he liked our boat and offered to trade his house in Ft. Lauderdale for the boat.

image

This is the pool at Nassau Harbor Club.  Looks great but we probably won’t take the time to swim in it because once we reach the Exumas we’ll be floating in water just as clear where we can swim off the boat. Can’t wait to try my “Aqua Jogger.”

image

This photo of Starbucks was taken from our marina across the street.  Now this is convenient.  The only problem is the drinks are $1.00 more than in the States. It’s just a few more steps to the Fresh Market grocery and all the other stores in the mall.

image

This is my second to last frappuccino until June.  One more tomorrow than cold turkey!

image