Friday, December 29, 2006

Dec 22 - 29
The Staniel Cay Yacht Club was a fabulous place. It was mostly a restaurant and bar with a tiny gift shop, internet access and a couple docks out front. It opened at 7 or 8 am and stayed open until 10 pm or so. At any time of the day, you would find an assortment of boaters sitting at the bar.
The decor was a simple mish mash of chairs and tables with plastic Christmas table cloths and a poinsettia at each table. The windows were a combination of screen and chicken wire and a wonderful breeze blew through all day. The food was amazing. We only ate there once but I highly recommend the Grouper Fingers. So fresh! It makes my mouth water just thinking about them.
Computers weren’t allowed at the bar, so we would either sit at one of the tables or perch on the sea wall outside in the shade to check our email. We soon discovered that the more people on the internet, the more painfully slow it became so we had to get there in the morning to be assured of a decent connection.
We left our dinghy tied up at the dock and walked to the store. There really isn’t a “town” on Staniel Cay. There are just a couple of stores and shops spread out over a mile of curving road. There are three places you can buy food. …the Pink Store, the blue store and Isle General Store (which is yellow).
There is a tiny airstrip on the island and probably 10 small planes came and went each day. This was busier than usual. It was people visiting the cruisers or coming and going for Christmas. One time, I heard a plane flying very low and looked out the stern of toboggan to see a float plane land in the water right behind us and a dinghy showed up out off a big yacht to pick up the passengers.
On a small island between the anchorage and the yacht club, lies Thunderball Grotto. This is the cave that was featured in the James Bond Movie…Thunderball. We’re not sure if the movie was named after the cave or the cave was renamed after the movie but it was fabulous none the less. At high tide, the entrance to the cave is covered by water. You can dive down and swim through if you know where the opening is. We didn’t so we waited until the tide went down a bit and we could see where the entrance was and swam through with our snorkels barely clearing the coral above us. Once inside the cave, the roof of the cave rose quite high with a big hole in the top so the sun shone through and illuminated the orange and yellow coral on the bottom. The cave is a protected zone so the colorful fish are abundant and swam right up to us.
As we were floating outside the cave with a few other snorkellers, a plan was hatched for a bonfire on the beach Christmas Eve (which was two days away). Dave from “Magic” made an announcement on the VHF radio the next day that anyone who was interested could meet on the beach in the morning to collect driftwood and then everyone was invited to show up at 4:30 for some Christmas Spirit. About 30 people showed up. Sandy borrowed a book of hymns from the Baptist Church in town and led us all though some Christmas Hymns. It wasn’t until we deviated from the Christmas hymns to the classics like “Winter Wonderland” that we realized no one could remember all the words from any song other than Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer which were of course a big hit with the kids.
Christmas Day we pulled up anchor to start our way back towards Nassau. We had to be in Nassau by Dec. 30 to meet our good friends with whom we have spent the last six New Years Eves. The wind, which had blown from the East and South for a week, was going to change to the North West in two days, so unless we wanted to motor into the winds and waves for two days, we had to leave Christmas day. We had a very nice 50 mile sail on the first day and arrived in Allen’s Cay around 4:30. When we were about to anchor, we managed to go firmly aground. (in our defense, the chart said we had lots of depth in that spot . But a strong current flows through the anchorage with the tides and there must have been some shoaling.) It is at times like these that we find solace in the stories of many of our cruising friends that told us EVERYONE goes aground!. There were two other boats in the anchorage who of course dinghied over to help. We tried several things to free ourselves and there were more extreme things we could have tried but we decided it would be less stress on the boat and us to just wait until the tide rose. We dropped an anchor off the starboard side to make sure we didn’t go any further aground and had some supper. Of course the tide had to go down for two more hours before it started rising again so we were on quite an angle for 5 hours. It was at least 9:30 pm before the tide floated us free. We tried to pull up the anchor but it was buried really deep because it had been under a lot of stress since it was on the high side when the boat was healing over. Because it was dark, and we didn’t want to fool around and go aground again, we decided to cut our losses…and the anchor. We marked the gps position and decided we would dive for it in the daylight. We motored into deeper water and dropped anchor. Normally, when we drop anchor, we snorkel over it to make sure it is set properly ( you never know if you snagged a ship wreck or something on the bottom that will give way half way through the night). Since it was dark, we couldn’t do that so we took 2 hour shifts staying up in case we had to move again. In the daylight, we dinghied over to the place where we lost the anchor but it was in too deep. We decided to leave the anchor.
We had a lovely sail back to Nassau . We saw the front (big gray clouds and rain) pass us not too far to the south. The wind shifted to the north west which was on our nose as we expected but by then we only had a few miles left to go and arrived in Nassau late afternoon.
The next day, in Nassau, I did something I had been fantasizing about for about a week…..laundry. Coming from Ontario, I could not imagine the effect salt water has on clothes. Every day, we would get at least one outfit soaked in salt water from a dinghy ride. Our shorts could stand up on their own. They were absolutely crunchy. Really. Also, once they have salt water on them, they never dry. They almost dry but then the salt that is left on them, attracts humidity out of the air and keeps them damp. You have to be careful when you have salt on your clothes. If you then sit on the cushions inside the boat, the salt transfers to the cushion and then the cushion sucks moisture out of the air and it goes downhill from there. To avoid this, we changed out clothes often. Because of this, we had a HUGE pile of laundry to do once we got to Nassau.
In Nassau, we also stocked up on the usual food and boat parts and did some fine-tuning while we waited for our friends to arrive on the 30th.


Blogger G&D said...

Hey guys:

Geoff enjoyed talking with you the other day! That was a nice surprise! I hope you met up with your company for New Years.

Great both look fit and well rested! need a bit more of a tan...

Keep the stories coming. Happy 2007

Geoff and Donna

5:45 PM  

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