Simon's Visit

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Simon's Visit

 

 

  Nassau Norman's Cay Shroud Cay  
 

Nassau, New Providence

       

10 to11 June 2006

 

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"Remember cruisers, this is the squally season." So speaks our weather guru Chris Parker over his morning radio net. And boy, has he been right. Continuous cloud cover and watching out for the next big one which could bring heavy wind from any direction.

The really big one in our calendar caught us in a very tidal anchorage at Big Farmer's Cay one our way to meet Simon in Nassau. With the current pushing us one way, and the wind the other, we ended up beam on to 43 knots. The boat was heeling at 20, rain in absolute torrents. Once we could see our way out we headed into the pounding seas of Exuma Sound, (the Atlantic), dressed in full foul weather gear and headed for Nassau. Luckily we avoided any major squalls after the big one and made it to Nassau with a day in hand.   

As we are still avoiding using reverse due to the lack of a propeller lock nut, we decided to anchor in Nassau Harbour rather than try to enter the fairly tricky marinas there. (Too much current). Anchoring is also good for the adrenalin. There is the current, switching direction every 12 hours, a continuous wind through the harbour trying to do the opposite to the current for 12 hours in every day and boats. Boats of every description plying the waters and churning up a continuous wake.

Simon arrived in Nassau on 11 June, but without bag, which had been left behind in Miami by Bahamasair. At least they managed to deliver the bag later the same day so our trip to the Exumas was not delayed.

Norman's Cay, Exumas

12 June 2006

 

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Simon saw the end of one batch of squalls in the sense that our trip southeast to across the Bahamas Banks back to the Exumas was overcast, quite rough and the wind was all wrong for a good sail. We tacked south for a until well south of the coral heads of the Yellow Banks, then decided to cut the day short and tack east to anchor overnight in the lee of Highbourne Cay, a private island with an exclusive marina in the north Exumas.

The following day we headed to Norman's Cay. As readers of our last season's missives may remember, Norman's Cay was once the base of Carlos Leder, a notorious drug runner. Remains of his activities still exist, including a partly submerged aircraft that didn't quite make the runway. We snorkelled on the aircraft. (There's always the hope that we might find that bag of drug money that the DEA and the thousands of cruisers who have snorkelled it before have missed!). Quite interesting, but it would be so much better if it were in 50 feet and diveable.

We visited Norman's Cay briefly last season and did not do it justice. We spent two days exploring it with Simon and discovered what a stunning island this is. The beaches of the outlying cays on the eastern shore are fabulous, with fine white sand and all the colours of blue in the waters. Iza and Simon kayaked the area while Geoff followed by dinghy.

Inside Norman's Cay is the ultimate hurricane hidey-hole, "The Pond." Norman's Cay is horse-shoe shaped and has relatively high ground for the Bahamas. Inside is this perfectly protected pond. However, the only way in is through a very narrow, shallow rocky gap. If we were caught by an impending storm in that area, we could barely navigate Dream On through there at high tide, but it would still be safer than the alternatives.

Shroud Cay, Exumas

June 13 2006

 

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Shroud Cay is just south of Norman's Cay and part of the Exuma Land and Sea Park. This is another that we missed out on last year. Having discovered it on our way south this season it has become one of our favourites. Mangrove creeks navigable by dinghy and kayak lead right through the island from the shallow banks on the western shore, where Dream On was anchored, to the Atlantic. Only superlatives can adequately describe the beaches on the Atlantic side.

Before we went exploring at Shroud, there was the matter of nuts. Propeller nuts to be precise. Our prop shaft is metric and marine suppliers and hardware stores in the US and Bahamas have never heard of metric. Also we have been unable to accurately establish the thread size as we cannot send off the only nut we have as a sample. We prevailed upon Iza's sister Anna and husband Mark for assistance. They went to enormous efforts to find every possible permutation of metric nut that might fit our prop shaft. Simon carried these out for us, and our arrival at Shroud Cay heralded a calm, beautiful Bahamas day. A perfect day to play with nuts. The anchorage we had chosen on the northwest corner of the cay was very shallow, but all sand so no problem if the boat sat on the bottom at low tide. When we dived, we could actually stand on the sand to work on the prop. But, unfortunately, none of the new nuts fitted. So we are back to one nut and a hose clip yet again.

We explored the northern mangrove creeks and beaches, then moved Dream On to the southwestern corner of Shroud and explored the southern creeks and beaches. We believe that Simon was duly impressed with our choice of itinerary.

Simon, not previously known as a great fish eater, was was also impressed with meals of gourmet marinated trevally with couscous and gujons of freshly caught blue fish in tartare sauce. Within minutes of enjoying these tasty culinary delights, he decided that fishing was for him. We had to keep reminding him that we didn't eat big barracudas, but he just kept on catching them.

Back to Nassau

17 to 18 June

 

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Sadly, Simon only had a week with us, (that extra crew member to wind up the sails and haul up the anchor is so useful), so all too soon, we had to weigh anchor at Shroud and head back across the banks to Nassau. We sailed to start with and even managed to launch Iza in the dinghy to attempt our first photos of Dream On under sail. Then the wind started to drop. We tried to keep moving with a poled out genoa, but this would have taken us 24 hours to reach Nassau, 40 miles away. So, as on so many occasions, we ended up motoring the most of the way. As the water was calm, we took the direct line over the Yellow Banks, an area of coral heads that stand out very clearly on a calm bright day. Geoff navigated around these by standing on the bow and running a slalom course with the new wireless autopilot remote.

Arriving in Nassau on 16 June, still with an unreliable prop fix, we again decided to anchor in the harbour. Many people are wary of this due to the strong currents and heavy boat traffic. We are much more confident in anchoring there now and actually enjoy the view across to the exclusive houses on Paradise Island and the variety of passing boat traffic. Everything from inter-island ferries, fishing boats, mega-yachts, jet-skis and noisy tour party boats.

Saturday 17th, we took Simon on a tour of Nassau, including a visit to DHL to send our damaged Maxprop to Seattle for repair. Enjoyed lunch in town, then crossed the harbour by ferry to Paradise Island and the Atlantis Resort. Unfortunately the free access to the superb sea aquarium was curtailed that day, maybe due to the vast hoards of cruise ship passengers around. Our previous visits to Atlantis have been in the evenings when the cruise ship passengers are all back on board enjoying their bingo! We have been allowed free access to all the aquarium and beach side area on those visits.

The Atlantis Marina is always a sight. This is where the big boats come. This is the place to be seen if you have mega-bucks. If we did bring Dream On into this marina, we get the impression they would try to hide us somewhere for lowering the tone of the place!

!8 June, we deliver Simon back to Nassau airport for his return to UK and return to a quiet empty boat.

"Come back Simon," says Geoff. "There was more food being served on board when you were around."

 

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Email

prower@ondreamon.com

Telephone

USA: 1-954 4785948        UK:  +44 7855388258         Skype: geoff.iza