22 53.0 North
75 52.2 West
The Jumentos, Bahamas
We are up early and I mean real early as the surge around the island competes against the prevailing wind and creates an incredibly uncomfortable boat movement. The bow is popping around treating its occupants like kernels in a popcorn machine and understandably, we can not sleep. The wind is seemingly benign, but most unfriendly at 10-12 knots from the south which is exactly where we are heading. Buena Vista Cay some 32 nm to the south is our planned destination as we take an early exit from the anchorage.
After about an hour of lumpy progress we look at each other and silently decide that there is no need for this torture. Very quickly the chart book and cruising guide is out in the cockpit as we look to put Plan B into effect. And there it is, an oasis in the name of Jamaica Cay only 7 nm to our south. We hear radio chatter between BRICK HOUSE and another boat, the commentary on Jamaica Cay is not too flattering but we have set course and look forward to some flatter water.
On the chart Jamaica Cay looks like a fabulous anchorage with protection to the East, NW and SW. At one time or another it must have been inhabited as there are two fuel tanks and a shut in house on the island. There is also a HUGE sign saying NO TRESPASSING.
There are no other boats around this cay so we have way too many choices to choose from for our anchor spot. Try as me might we just can not find any sand to sink our trusty CQR into for the night. The tip of the anchor grabs a little sand, plows it up but it is clear that the anchor is laying on a hard table top with only 4-6 inches of dusty sand over it for us to catch.
I dive on the anchor, try to wedge her into the marle bottom to no avail and decide to use 200 feet of chain to provide some temporary security. We have never deployed two anchors at one time in true Bahamian-style but if there was ever a time to do so this would seem to be it. That and the fact that the secluded anchorage will provide us with the luxury of no audience to entertain as we wrestle with our Fortress up current from the CQR. Well,after a quick deployment the Fortress can not find anything to bite into and we reluctantly, put her safely back on the stern rail.
We have this thing called a Bruce anchor that has sat on our bow for three years and done nothing but rattle against the bow roller at night when we are at anchor. Some sailors swear by their Bruce, some simply swear at their Bruce and we have simply looked at it in amusement. Today, she falls off the bow roller and we find out just how heavy both her 3/8 inch chain and the 45 pounds of anchor are when you try to manipulate it from the ocean floor. Interestingly, the Bruce finds something to hold onto but that warm and fuzzy is short lived.
I have now been in the water over an hour as Daniel moves the dinghy close by just in case we have an earlier visitor. Not surprisingly, the whole crew is taking this little inconvenience well as we try to do something new to the boat. There is no hollering or made hand signals that characterize most anchoring couples when things do not go quite right.
The anchorage floor has a number of large boulders strewn over the silty sand. I remember last year,Chris from East Greenwich, CT on board sv KISMET telling me last year how he circumvented anchoring completely in Pipe’s Creek during a big blow by attaching some chain to and under a large rock and then fixing it to the anchor roller. In my wildest nightmares I never saw myself employing such a technique but the only thing worse than having one poorly set anchor is having TWO poorly set anchors out.
Basically, we use one of the 4’ rocks as a mooring ball and a wonderful lesson is learned. To do it all over again I would carry 10 feet of 5/16” Hi-test chain in the Bahamas for just this reason. The anchorage is still vexed by the competing wind against tide and are resigned to a tough night's sleep in paradise.
Fortunately, there were no sharks in the vicinity during my water work. Not too long after I finish the mother ship for the fishermen anchors nearby and we brace ourselves for an onslaught of the friendly sharks. The diving-duo-fishermen are blanketing the area but that does not deter us. No sooner has one of these breathing vacuum cleaners swept through a reef than we invite ourselves to pick up his scrapes in less than 15 feet of water.
The tide is roaring around and through the little cay that we are trying to dive but we press on. Finally, Daniel spots one for me to shoot in 15 feet of water and just a little later we have a full bucket of bugs, crawfish or, as we call them, lobsters in the boat for dinner.
We retire back to MM for sunset and watch all of the little diving / fishing boats return to the mother ship after a 12 hour day of what has to be exhausting work. The fishing boat that we were speaking to earlier in the day comes over to show off their impressive catch for the day. Such a visit usually means an opportunity to trade beer for lobsters but since we have way too many lobsters we are mostly in the market to goggle over their impressive catch.
Not to worry as we offer up a couple very cold beer and a diet coke to a most appreciative pair of Bahamian fisher men. There are certain bridges to language difficulties and it seem that the bridge called MILLER LITE has come through for us once again.
As Carole plunges her hand into the freezer she grabs the softest meat ( which defines what is for dinner) and brings it out. Tonight we will be living large on BEEF and REEF ( no longer surf and turf) as two large, seasoned steaks from state-side volunteer for the random dinner offering. Absolutely incredible stuff as the BBQ sends smoke signals downwind to all inhabitants that MM is in high cotton tonight.
I know that rock below me will not move tonight, am prepared for a bouncy ride and with full stomach the JUMENTOS is not really looking all that intimidating tonight.
MILANO MYST Monitoring 9 and 16 ( and SSB 4045 weather)