After three weeks of hectic running around in George Town, we are finally anchored in paradise - the wide, shallow bay at Double Breasted Cay in the Ragged Islands, the southern part of the Jumentos. We left George Town on Tuesday morning, sailing south but not sure of our exact destination. Water Cay, at the top of the Jumentos, is 40 miles from George Town and the typical first stop for boats heading to the Jumentos.
We passed through Hog Cay Cut just a little after 10 am and at high tide (so we could use the tide to ride over a hard bar that carries just 3 feet at low tide), first in a string of at least 5 boats heading the same direction. As we sailed over the banks south of the cut, we saw another 10 sails on the horizon coming from Long Island in the east, also heading for Water Cay. Realizing that we would be one of 15 or so boats in the anchorage, and also considering that the anchorage at Water provides protection only from the northeast through southeast (and the winds were blowing from the west and forecast to go northwest for the night), we decided to hang a left and sail offshore directly to the more southern Ragged Islands. We hoped to catch a big fish or two, and planned to try to sail slowly after dark and then heave to at sea to wait for dawn when we would come in from offshore. We had only one bite (and the fish quickly decided it didn't like the taste of our latex squid), and we sailed fast, making between 6 and 7 knots most of the way, making us rethink our plans. We had come from offshore through the cut at Johnson Cay before, and had navigated extensively during the daytime all around the islands in the vicinity - Johnson Cay, Raccoon Cay and smaller Nairn Cay, Man-o-War Bay between them, Ben Cay, James Cay, and Double Breasted Cay - so we decided that we would slowly come in from offshore at around 10 pm and follow our chart plotter closely to get us to a place where we could drop an anchor safely. Nancy and Chris were on the bow with the big searchlight, and we got the hook down in Man-o-War Bay on a hard bottom (with a lot of scope and a very light wind forecast) and had a fair night's sleep. The next morning, after a quick hunting trip around Raccoon and Nairn Cays, we moved 3nm to Double Breasted Cay, one of our favorite anchorages.
Our first three days here have been fantastic. We initially were anchored here with just one other boat, Next Exit with Don, an older Canadian gentleman, on board, but yesterday three more boats joined us, including our good friends on Side by Side, another kid boat, who sailed in late yesterday afternoon. Hunting has been very productive - the first morning Dave shot a hogfish (fish tacos for lunch) and Chris speared two lobsters (surf and turf for supper), Thursday morning Dave went out early, diving on the ocean side of the island and brought back five lobsters and a grouper. The tails went into the freezer, and two evenings ago we shared grouper with lobster sauce with our neighbor Don. Yesterday Josh speared his first lobster, Dave got one more, and later in the morning while the kids were doing school, Dave collected a dozen conch from the seabed between 10 and 25 feet deep within a mile or so of Liberty's anchorage.
We've spent afternoons exploring the long, beautiful beaches, the boys playing while the adults walk, sunbathe, and patch the dinghy (the latest little puncture was from a spear with a wriggling lobster on it). Chris and Josh are back in a school routine, and yesterday we launched their sailing dinghy, Independence. Sporting a new rope rub-rail that hopefully will keep the scratches on our hull to a minimum, she is looking good. Chris sailed around the anchorage in the late afternoon, taking both his friends Parker and Sabrina for sailing lessons while Dave and Nancy had conch salad and conch fritters and cocktails on Side by Side with friends Marc and Angie. As the sun set, the kids settled in on Liberty and prepared their own supper (mac 'n cheese) and began watching a Harry Potter movie, and the adults continued to visit. Winds picked up overnight, making the anchorage a little bumpy (swelly conditions are common in the Jumentos), so Dave was up early to make a coffee cake and homemade bread, as well as to work on the George Town update for the website.
If you have Google Earth, you can check out the bay at Double Breasted Cay where we are anchored (you may also get a good view by zooming in on our position tracker on the website). Notice the broad expanses of very shallow water - much of the area is either dry or carries less than a foot of water at low tide, making even dinghy exploration a challenge sometimes.
Today we may take a break from hunting, although we may try our hands at regular fishing for some of the large but speedy snappers that populate some of the nearby reefs. Dave also has a long list of projects, including repairing the bimini top and the canvas dinghy cover, epoxying and painting a new dinghy seat, and working on a new navigation pod to house all of our instruments at the helm. Nancy continues to work on the website (including the kids' journals and the next update), and Chris and Josh continue with school, sailing, fishing, playing on the beach, and generally having fun. The weather continues to be a bit on the cool side, but the weather pattern seems to be breaking a bit, with cold fronts losing most of their punch before they finally reach us here farther south.
Happy Birthday to Dave's Dad, who turns 75 today!
Love to all from the Crew of Liberty,
Anchored at Double Breasted Cay in the Jumentos, Bahamas - enjoying the sunsets!
A drying sandspit in the Ragged Islands
Liberty at anchor at Double Breasted Cay
The beautiful beaches of the Jumentos
Tiny islands dot these beautiful waters
Sailing towards the Ragged Islands
Chris has become a great lobsterman!
Dave shot five lobsters on the ocean side
Josh proudly shows off his 1st lobster ever!
Juvenile Cushion Sea Star
Dave, Chris and Josh enjoying the beach
Chris takes Sabrina out sailing
Chris & Josh blow their conch horns to salute the setting sun