Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dinghy party at Allan's Cay (5/2-5/5)

Hello Exumas! We left Nassau Saturday, late morning for a 2 hour cruise through mildly choppy, emerald green water. We arrived around 1:00. It was our most comfortable passage to date. We arrived to the familiar anchorage with the iguana and 3 catamarans at anchorage. It's beautiful here! The anchorage we're in is surrounded by 3 cays - Allan, SW Allan and Leaf Cays. It's rated a E in our Skipper Bob guide (A is most sheltered and G is not sheltered at all with current). The predicted 10-15 knot winds feel much stronger at night and we've been rockin' and rollin'. We've found, however, that it's still within our comfort level. Actually, I don't know if it's any less than at Biscayne Bay but I think we're starting to get used to the movement and "frwapping" noise and are sleeping right through it now. (I do get a bit motion sick though when I try to write the blog and it's rolling).

Our first day here was a lot of fun. Martin got the snuba working and I went for a snorkel. We did a visual check on our anchor and found it good and buried in about 7 feet of water (see pic). We took the dinghy out and toured around the cays (pronounced "key") and breezed by Ship Channel Cay where we went with Powerboat Adventures. We found another beach on SW Allan Cay (a tiny little cay) that had a few iguana on it as well. It's warm but the breeze is cool and blowing so the boat is very comfortable and the mosquitoes get blown away before they can reach the boat, yay.

By evening, there were 12 boats in the anchorage, several cats, a few sailboats and us. As it got dark, we noticed a dinghy driving around to all of the boats. We hoped we'd be visited as well and wouldn't be excluded because we're a powerboat! Happily, Bruce and his daughter came by to tell us they were hoping to get a few people out in their dinghy's around 9:00 to raft (tie up together) and anchor...everyone bring your own booze. We happily accepted the invitation. Only 4 boats decided to come by and 1, a group of 3 Australian men, were simply too drunk (or "pissed as a nit" as one man exclaimed) by 9:00 to hang with the group :) So we had the family from Wanderlust and another 3 people from Racontour and us, rafted together. We had a nice time, talking mostly with the Wanderlust folks because we were right next to them. They began from their home in South Africa 11 years ago and have been cruising ever since! They picked up an American friend and a cat, Benji, along the way. Their daughter has lived on the boat over half of her life! We enjoyed talking with them about their lifestyle, travels and experiences.

Day 2 was been a bit more frustrating and from what I understand, very typical of cruising. Our water maker, which I have named Lucy (a temperamental Lucifer from hell) decided to stop working our first day anchored out in the Exumas (when we need it most!) Martin has done everything he can and we're now producing water at a salinity level of about 900 which is drinkable but nearing the edge of potability. We run the generator when we run the watermaker and it stopped working this afternoon as well. After Martin pulled a black plastic bag out of the intake pipe, all was good. So we are up and running...but we've had some fumbles along the way.

In the afternoon a fishing boat pulled up and anchored near us. The captain yelled over "dolphin?" We said sure and dinghied over. They had caught several coolers full of dolphin fish (mahi-mahi) and were giving some away to make room for the next days catch. I smiled and asked if they could please tell us how you clean such a thing...and they cleaned it for us ;-) I did watch and in theory, know how now, but I'm pretty sure I'd end up with shredded fillets rather than the perfect ones he produced. He cleaned 2 big fish for us and then we rode over to Wanderlust to see if they'd like some. They took some, their cat Benji got his own fillet, and we are left with our portion - about 4 pounds of fresh, caught-this-day mahi mahi fillets. This life is turning out to be tough! Veronique showed me how to put the fillets in a ziplock bag, submerge it underwater, squeeze the air out and zip it shut with about 2 teaspoons of seawater in it. I sealed up 6 bags and our freezer is officially full. Grilled fish for dinner tonight!

The most ironic part of being here is that I was really worried about being isolated and not meeting people. Well, we've met and talked with more people in the first 24 hours on the hook at Allan's Cay than we did at Atlantis in the 3 weeks we were there...

Day 3 at Allan's Cay was another lazy, rolly day. The Wanderlust family came over and said goodbye, they're off to Norman's Cay which is our next stop after Highborne. We took the dinghy over to Highborne Cay (a couple miles away) and checked out the marina. It's really nice and we decided go tomorrow for 2 nights. We can explore the island and even rides our bikes and they have internet! There's a store there so we bought some lettuce and then headed to SW Allan's and fed the iguana. Back to Lucky, the water maker worked (still at about 900 but she's working). Then we watched as 2 sailboats came in together and anchored on top of us. Very strange - it's a huge anchorage with 9 boats in it and they anchored about 40 feet off our bow. After a few hours, we don't know why, but one tried to pull up his anchor, almost rammed the other boat, Martin threw a fender on in fear of a collision, and there was much yelling on deck between the couple and they headed to the other end of the anchorage. The other boat started spinning around in circles so they pulled up and joined their friends. Apparently the current is very different a few yards away...but we're glad they moved because they were too close and if anyone dragged anchor it would have been nasty. Oh the excitement!

A note about living at anchor...here are a few important things:

The dinghy is your life-line - it's how to go anywhere or do anything.
Without a water-make you'd be sticky and salty all the time, everything you do involves salt water and you want to rinse off a few times a day so water usage goes up.
It is nearly impossible to do "lunges" (think workout video) in a rolling anchorage, workouts need to be adapted to conditions or you tip over.
The radio is a great source of entertainment. This is how the radio works: You call people on channel 16 on the radio and then pick a new channel to talk. Ie:
Luckyt: "Wanderlust, Wanderlust, Wanderlust. I Got Lucky".
WL: "This is Wanderlust".
Lucky: "Wanderlust, go to 19."

Now you both switch to channel 19 and have your conversation. So during the day, you leave the handheld radio "on" and listen as people come in and hail other boats, then you switch channels and listen in. Okay, there isn't much to do ON the boat so I guess you get very interested in everything happening Around the boat :)

We've just arrived this afternoon at the marina at Highborne Cay - we'll be here for 2 nights and have internet so we'll post again before we leave. My first thought sitting here at the marina is this - I really enjoy anchoring out - more than I thought I would, but it's NICE to sit still, in the quiet, and not roll, ahhhh.

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