Sunday, March 26th
Weather: Still very windy and mostly sunny
Route: Palm Cay Marina (New Providence) to Highborne Cay
- a safe passage out of the Marina's channel and through the shallow Yellow Banks
- having a quiet, calm anchorage at Highborne Cay
- successfully cooking dinner despite the galley's very small oven
The Captain was happy to wake up to mostly sunny skies for today's passage through the Yellow Banks -- the visibility would make it easier to distinguish coral heads from cloud shadows on the water. It was also important to be crossing the Banks as close to high tide and high noon as possible. There were important actions to complete before we could leave the Marina. We were on target with our actions:
- Early breakfast of cold cereal, oranges, tea and coffee -- check
- lunch prepared in advance for the crossing -- deviled eggs, cucumber rounds, romaine lettuce leafs, grape tomatoes, cheese, sardines and salami -- check
- detaching the dinghy motor and securing it on deck -- check
- hoisting the dinghy above the back dive platform and tying it in place -- check
One couple reviewed the two types of kayaks available and decided on one sit-in and one sit-on kayak. Although they would block the walkway on one side of the catamaran, the kayaks were lashed to the guard rail on the starboard side.
While preparing food we noticed that the refrigerator was not keeping food very cold. A label under the fridge's LED display indicated "Normal" was 7-14. It was reading 16. To save the food we commandeered a shuttle car to help us carry back 2-10lb bags of ice ($17.20) while the boat inspection discovered that the refrigerator's rocker switch on the navigation panel had been flipped to "off" even though there was blue tape over it to prevent that from happening. We were relieved to see the LED reading gradually dropping, reaching 14.5 by the end of the day. Meanwhile we had to unload all the food from the fridge, stow the ice at the bottom of each of the two compartments and reload the food again.
It took a little nudging to keep Navtours on track:
- chart briefing -- didn't happen until 9:00
- final boat inspection at 8:00 -- didn't happen until 10:00 but was thorough, even counting the number of breakables like dishes
- finally getting a pilot to take us out of the Marina at 10:30
During the chart briefing it was stressed that we should be a mile offshore before raising the sail. We went even further out, 3nm, before trying. As happens with every unfamiliar rental, there were "quirks" with the rigging that we had to learn about while bobbing adrift in choppy waves. By the time we figured out the Main sail safety release, reef settings, boom outhaul and clutches, the First Mate and Hubby were getting too queasy to release the sticky clutch for the Main sail and the Captain didn't want to travel under sail through the Yellow Banks, fearing we would hit a coral head. It was a shame we couldn't take advantage of the Northeast winds.
After aborting the sailing attempt we ate the deviled eggs, while all eyes nervously scanned the water for coral heads. After the 2 hour journey at 6 knots through the Banks we finally had figured out what a coral head looks like versus a cloud shadow. After the charts and GPS showed that we had cleared the Yellow Banks the Captain set our course and turned on autopilot while we enjoyed the remainder of the pre-prepared lunch.
It was a rough, noisy and boring trip by motor to tonight's anchorage at Highborne Cay in The Exumas group of islands, but we arrived safely at 17:30. While the men dropped the anchor to the sandy bottom 17 feet below us and secured it (the First Mate even dove down to check that it was holding), the women prepared to cook dinner: pork loin, potatoes, green peppers, zucchini and eggplant in an oven so tiny the veggies had to take turns. We were glad to finally be able to turn off the motor.
While waiting an hour for dinner to cook (the eggplant never made it in time) we enjoyed the calm anchorage while snacking on carrots and hummus. Dinner was worth waiting for, especially paired with a red wine and followed by chocolate and tea.
By 22:00 everyone but me was asleep. I laid in bed looking up through the open hatch to the clear starry sky until the boat rocked me to sleep.