Friday 7 Feb, BHS day 39, from Staniel Cay to Oven Rock anchorage: How not to pinch your fingers in a hydraulically operated door! And how not to get firmly aground!
The wind howled briefly in the night, but we are nicely sheltered in our anchorage. By breakfast it’s died down again. The weather is nice, but with this southerly wind it’s very stickily humid and everything is covered in dew this morning.
Before we depart to Little Farmers Cay, for the local boats regatta, I head ashore. A run to dump the rubbish and refuel the dinghy. Oana cleans and dry packs all our garbage, so we only have one bag after nearly 3 weeks. Pretty good eh? And anything edible goes in the sea when we are in deep water.
On the way back I anchor the dinghy and swim through the other tourist attraction of this area: the Thunderball Grotto, from James Bond’s film of the same name. As it’s half tide and water it flowing very strongly through it, I have the whole place all to myself. I find a very narrow entrance on the back side and swim my way into the main entrance, where the tidal current is flowing through much faster than I can swim! I let it take me in, then I manage to stay stationary in a back-eddy.
It’s quite a cave. Big domed roof with several holes up to daylight. People apparently jump in from there. And towards the back of the grotto there is the glow of daylight from underwater, where the cave exits at the other side the island. It’s impossible to swim back out where I came in from because it’s against the current. So a little nervously I’m committed to go further into the cave, with the current, and dive down to get out. Thankfully, it’s only a 2-3m swim under the ledge and I pop out right next to the anchored dinghy. Wow… that was cool! So around I go to do it again. And again!
Back at Cloudy, I decide to try to clean the fish blood off the bottom of the swim platform, it has been there for over a week now (the fish that the shark cheekily took 3/4 of, leaving us with a just the blood dripping head. So I shut the swim platform door and while sitting on the dinghy I hold on with my fingers in the narrow gap at the bottom of the door. I try to clean the dried blood off, but it’s not shifting. So while still hanging on by my fingers, I power the door back down again, using the remote control. BIG mistake.
As soon as the door moves, my middle finger gets very crushed and I literally howl with pain. And the only thing I can do to release my finger is to shut the door again, again applying huge pressure on my already damaged finger. Ouchy ouchy! Nurse Oana is immediately out and helping me back on the boat. The pain is excruciating and I think I almost fainted out in the shower, where I went to stop my own blood going over everything. It takes quite a while before the nauseous feeling passes. It doesn’t look like the finger is broken, but it’s somewhat flatter than it used to be. What a frinking numpty I am! Sometimes I just don’t think.
With the drama over, and after some pampering from Oana with coffee and her homemade biscuit cake, I’m recovered enough for us to leave. Unfortunately, it’s now dead low tide. Good news being that the water can only get deeper, but the bad news is that it’s now too shallow. Leaving Staniel Cay back onto the bank we have soon bumped our way to a firm stop in 2.4m of water. We gun the engine and manage to get back into 2.6m of water where we anchor waiting for the tide to rise. If we had any paint left on the bottom of the keel bulb, it’s now surely gone!
We remain anchored for another hour then attempt again, this time going exactly on our incoming track and at about the same state of tide. But yet again we bump the sandy bottom and are forced to turn back and anchor again. Bummer! Next time we wait until half tide and finally manage to sneak our way through, on the fourth attempt, only hitting bottom once. Oh well, that should have sanded off the gouges in the lead from our last encounter with a coral reef!
Once firmly on the bank in a healthy 4-5m of water, we motor the 18 miles south into the wind and a sloppy sea. Trouble is, we will now arrive in the dark, back into the shallows before we get to the Oven Rock anchorage. The sun sets into a misty horizon just as we head into the shallows. But this time it’s high tide. Despite our charts telling us 1-2m depth, we never see less than 3.5m and just as it’s fully dark we anchor between Mahina and Pearl in 3.7m. We’ll have a few inches under the keel at low tide.
We are also surprised to find ourselves right next to the young Australian couple that we first met in Nassau and then again in Norman’s Cay. I’d like to say it’s a relative small cruising world here, but looking at this anchorage with literally hundreds of swaying anchor lights, that doesn’t seem to be the case. We bet half the cruisers in Exumas are here tonight, all for the spectacle of the traditional boat regatta that runs over 3 days.
Having arrived here in the morning, our friends have already been ashore all afternoon and are already back on their boats having another early night. So we set off the 1.25nm to town by ourselves. The sea is pretty lumpy, but the new dinghy keeps us dry. First stop is the Little Farmers Cay Yacht Club. It’s pretty busy but everybody is sitting at long tables clearly having just finished a formal dinner. Very much a private event.
As there’s not a lot of opportunity for us to join in (they are all socializing in defined groups) we head off looking for the party that apparently has a Bahamian band. So next stop is the little town Harbour. It’s quite lively around there, but very much a local scene with local black music. No our thing, after two years in the Caribbean. So we head back to Cloudy in the bright moonlight. It’s quite magical approaching the anchorage with all its twinkling and swaying lights.
Back on Cloudy by 9pm, it’s showers and yogurt making time as we relax the evening away with no alcohol for once. It’s been quite a day of dramas and adventure.