Saturday, April 1st
Weather: more humid, cloudy and windy in the morning, clearing and sunny with light winds when we started to sail mid-morning
Route: motored out of Warderick Wells Mooring Field for 30 minutes before hoisting the sails --> tried a downwind tack off our heading to take advantage of light winds --> gave up and motored to Shroud Cay
We had all agreed that Warderick Wells Cay would be as far south as we could reach during this trip, so today we were heading north to Shroud Cay. We were revisiting Shroud Cay because we didn't feel we had enough time to explore it during our previous stop there. We were hoping to get a southeast wind assist today but it could possibly be another 7-hour commute. An early start was important, so we had our quick, cold cereal breakfast with fresh Mangoes, coffee/tea and orange/V8 juice. Immediately after the 8:00 weather forecast, before the breakfast dishes were completely dried and stowed, the First Mate and Captain had started the motors (yes, Hubby noticed that both were working this morning) and untied us from the mooring ball.
We motored until 8:30 before hoisting the Main sail and hauling out the Jib sail. After playing around with several courses and sail configurations we sailed on a broad reach going about 4 knots with an 8-10 knot wind from the southeast and an assist by waves from the south. Rather than pulling on its tether today, the dinghy surfed each wave towards the boat's stern then slumped into the passing trough until the boat dragged it back out to surge forward on another wave. Unfortunately, after our first course correction, a downwind tack, we had no help from the wind. At 11:00 the Captain turned on the motor (just one came on this time) and laid in our course so autopilot could take over. It was lunch time!
Optimistically expecting a long afternoon of snorkeling, we created a filling lunch of pork loin sandwiches, hummus, crackers, olives, pickles, tomatoes, bananas, yoghurt and apples before picking up a mooring ball at Shroud Cay at about 13:00 -- earlier than expected.
After the usual clamour to prepare for snorkeling, we rode the dinghy to the beach to pay the Land and Sea $20.00 mooring fee, then dinghy-ed to the nearby snorkeling spot (#7 on the map) near the mooring field. Success finally! This spot was deep at high tide and although the waves were choppy there were a few good corals and many fish. On the rougher, up-current side of the small bay there were limestone holes with bigger fish but not as much variety. Everyone took as much time as they wanted to float over the coral heads, observing the endlessly fascinating underwater activities before climbing back into the dinghy for the short ride back to Alexian. After 7 days were we finally getting better at finding the documented snorkeling places?
The two kayakers quickly changed and paddled off to explore the nearby shallow pond and estuary. The rest of us rinsed with fresh water on the stern deck and hung our snorkel clothes out to dry. It was only 16:00 and dinner was already cooked. We had down time to read, write our logs or do puzzles quietly before the kayakers returned. We continued our "me time", even after the First Mate returned and climbed down into the port engine compartment to poke around. He was trying to figure out why that engine worked for few minutes this morning then stopped again, ie. it was his engineering tinker time.
By dinner time Hubby had already peeled, cubed and cooked the two sweet potatoes that were to be added to last night's Ratatouille leftovers but people had been snacking late into the afternoon and it wasn't a high calorie burning day so no one was very hungry. At 18:30 we decided we should eat before it got too late. The Captain and First Mate decided they could handle heating up and stirring the leftovers and sweet potatoes together. The rest of us became distracted by a handsome Osprey perched on a rock ledge off our port side. We ate a quick dinner. The First Mate, eager to use the last few rays of light, washed the dishes before the two kayakers headed off again to explore.
The rest of us dried and stowed the dishes, then started the tea. There was not much of a sunset with thick clouds covering the western horizon but we did see a portion of the red ball as it sank into the Caribbean.
When the kayakers returned we started our usual discussion of tomorrow's itinerary, based on what we knew from the (not-too-accurate) 8:00 weather forecast, the tide tables, the snorkeling locations and the Captain's fuel consumption calculations. After much poring over the maps, reading the Exumas Guide Book and hearing what each person wanted to do we decided to leave early, stop at Highborne Cay Marina for fuel then continue to Allen's Cay to the possible snorkeling and anchorage areas. Of course, our timing was somewhat dependent on whether or not we could sail north or would have to motor.
With a tentative travel plan decided by 21:00, First Mate's wife suggested we prepare the lunch and breakfast ingredients tonight so we could eat the scrambled eggs we wanted for breakfast and have lunch food available to eat while en route. Too bad we hadn't thought to do this 5 hours earlier when we were all sitting around reading. It was later than usual by the time the kitchen was clean again and everyone was settled in for the night.
The air was much more humid tonight, creating a heavy dew on everything. We brought in all the laundry hanging outside on the rails. The forecast is for stronger winds tomorrow. Fingers crossed!