22 28.0 North
75 50.2 West
The Jumentos, Bahamas
Well, that was not too bad. It seems as the tide goes slack the boat gets to swing more naturally and with that sleep comes. The tide went slack around 0300 hours and I fell asleep not too long after that. I am up at 0630 to listen to the weather ‘Guru’ and we are disappointed to hear that a strong cold front will be passing through the Bahamas in the next 5 days. The high pressure behind said front will bring significant winds in the 25-30 knot range so we got to get out of here.
We have time so we will make one more jump south to either Nurse or Buena Vista Cay which are about 4 nm apart. Either way this stop will be the southern-most latitude for MILANO MYST on her 3-year trip. The decision to step off the ladder south yesterday is well-rewarded as the winds are down considerably, the seas as calm as a lake and we are off.
As I look down the course, I see what appears to be pretty skinny water for our nearly 6 foot draft. As I change the range on the chart plotter from .25 to .5 to 1.5 miles a number of times the chartplotter protests, seizes up and goes, well, blank. I had been confused enough by the setting tide and its’ impact on my course and the lingering 3 foot reef about 200 yards to my north before the helm plotter went dark. For the first time in our three years on the water I make an executive decision and do an abrupt, 180 degree turn to give me some time to figure out what is going on.
The chartplotter finally comes to its senses but the picture that it shows me is still confused when I look to the charts for some form of confirmation. My second executive decision of the day is to plot a course north about 1.5 nm around the reef that has me all puckered up. Yes, it adds a little more time to this trip but the route change is like Pepto Bismol for my stomach!
As we head south we see two sail boats heading north right through the area of concern without incident. Oh well.
Two hours later, as we are approaching Nurse Cay we see a smaller Cay with some sand on it to the north. The charts also confirm good holding in 20 feet of water in flamingo pink sand. If nothing else this will be a great place to dive in the early afternoon rather than run 4 nm south and bring the dinghy back up here.
As we motor towards South Channel Cay in about 25 feet of water, Carole hollers something about a lobster on the bottom waving at her. The sun must be getting to her. For the first time in a week our CQR anchor find friendly sand to dig into on the first try and we are set. The dinghy, BIG CATCH is deployed in 4 minutes, dive suits on in 2 minutes and we are off. The first stop is some 400 yards to the stern where we find Carole’s friend hanging under a ledge and bring him up for tomorrow’s lobster salad.
During this dive I had the chance to take a 10 pound Nassau Grouper and for some reason chose the dang lobster. The kids are watching but the floor is too deep for them to dive. Daniel takes a wild shot with his Hawaian sling but cannot retrieve the steel arrow as it falls short of its target on the rocky floor. I go down and pick up his spear and take a quick shot at the grouper. I tag him on his tail but he wiggles off in a flurry of activity. The flurry of activity is not lost on the two large ‘cudas that have been lingering around us. Within 2 seconds of finding some reprieve from my spear tip the grouper is gone. And I mean GONE.
And with that we are in our dinghy and GONE. Wow, what a cruel world.
After about an hour of little success closer to the cay we stumble on to a huge reef that clearly has not been picked over by the professionals. Within the next 30 minutes, Dayla pops the big one ( her first) and Daniel and I tease three others out of a deep cave on the side of the reef. We quit, not because we are tired, but simply we do not have room for any more lobster.
Dinner tonight is deep fried grouper and snapper! Did I mention anything about living large. Just before we leave this anchorage a catamaran from Australia MEANDER pulls up and asks if we have had any luck with lobsters as they are dry. Well, as true diplomats, the kids go over to introduce themselves and we give them two sizable lobster tails for dinner. No one should be without here in the Bahamas. If we had known that we were hunting for another boat we would have really cleaned out that reef!
We find decent anchoring at Nurse Cay close to BRICK HOUSE for the night. We invite Pat and Rebecca over for drinks and Rebecca brings a delicious deep fried conch as an appetizer.
As it turns out Pat has been commissioned by Blue Water Cruising to do an article on the Jumentos. As he says, how can I tell them how good this really is when it will bring more boats down here and spoil it? Indeed. At least we got here before the masses that will follow in the coming years. His emphasis is on ‘sustainable reefs’ that can support a fleet over an extended period. After watching the kids and how successful they have been in putting fish on the table he is convinced that the reef’s abundance is incomparable.
Before departing we give him some pictures of the crew, his boat and the kids holding today’s catch. We are hopeful that the editors of the magazine will use that shot as the pictorial proof of his conclusion.
Tomorrow we head north to Water Cay and then hopefully, an uneventful exit from the Jumentos.
MILANO MYST Monitoring 9 and 16 ( and SSB 4045 weather)