Monday, January 20, 2014

Hawksbill Cay

Almost unbelievable colors
Even Junie's tie-die can't compete for color. The wind
from the northwest brought some cooler temps, too.
I have to back up a few days because we have been, basically, without internet coverage for a while. We were on a mooring ball at Hawksbill Cay for 4 days. This is just a gorgeous place. We both have said that this, more than anywhere so far, epitomizes the vision of the Bahamas that we had in our dreams. Of course, everyplace we have been is beautiful, nice and incredible. But Hawksbill Cay made us feel like we had achieved the goal in a very specific way.

We had already made up our minds to start heading back towards home. Junie's back is not getting better. The doctor had indicated that it would continue to hurt but, as long as she could take the pain, it should not get worse. Wrong. It hurts her a lot and more often. Roux is still old, still grumpy (always has been, sort of) and, despite being in better shape than he has been for a while (running down the beach and swimming!), it is work to manage him. It is time to go.

Me- feeling pretty good

But, the weather did not want us to go northwest yet. So, we left from our R and R at Highbourne Cay Marina and went back south about 18 miles. The entry to Hwksbill was very straightforward from the west (read that, no protection from the west - zero). Even though we knew there was some weather coming from the northwest, we stopped here. Partly because of the mooring balls. They give a, probably artificial, sense of confidence that you will still be in the same place in the morning.

Roux's new hobby - making
'sand angels' on the beaches

Day One was an easy day. Only a couple of boats chose to join us for the first night so we were pretty much alone in an isolated spot with a full moon rising behind the cay. Beautiful.

Day Two morning, everybody left. We were all alone. Talk about paradise. Well, for some of us. Junie is a bit more social than I am and the concept of being totally out of touch is not appealing to her. I, on the other hand, am more of a closet introvert. As an example - when we got our new iPhone, we moved the service off of my old phone. So, now I had an older iPhone that was a great alarm clock, had a copy of iNavx (our navigation program with working GPS, could connect to wifi when we had it and had a good camera. Just that nobody could call me. Much to Junie's disapproval, I declared this to be the perfect phone. Junie spent a good deal of time standing out on the deck, facing toward the nearest hint of civilization, phone raised in the air, trying to grab the occasional signal. She is the reason we have friends.

A glimpse of weather to come

Day Three, the weather arrived. The reason we had not started north yet. In the afternoon, we started to get Roux ready for his beach trip. It quickly became obvious that it was just too dangerous. The waves had already built to 3 - 4 feet. Our bow was going up and down every few seconds. The odds of making this run without someone getting hurt were not good. Roux was looking pretty disappointed but it was a call we had to make.

And then it got worse. We have been out in the ocean, in pretty big waves, in the dark, many times on this trip. This was probably the worst beating we have taken. SeaClearly probably thought that this was the time when good sailors put to sea. She may have been right. We had, now, after one night all by ourselves (nice, but a little creepy), 6 other boats on mooring balls along with us and one unlucky boat that arrived in this nasty weather just after dark and couldn't seem to find the mooring ball. They ended up anchoring just west of the mooring field. We found out the next day that they lost their only boat hook while trying to grab the mooring ball in the steep seas so they had no choice.

We spent the night dipping and rolling and pitching. The cabin was noisy (I thought about saying 'cacophonous' just because I have never used that word in a real sentence before) from all of the stuff banging around - dishes in the cabinets that were secured were still shifting, the few dishes left in the sink kept slamming back and forth, anything that wasn't tied down, padded and locked flew open. Everything was creaking, straining, thumping and sliding. Then, we got more wind. And lightning. We grabbed an assortment of electronic gear - radio, GPS, phone, iPad - and shoved it into the oven to shield and protect it in case we got hit by a bolt. Fortunately, not.

We had to move out of our forward cabin because the noise and motion got to be too much. The ride up and down was sort of fun but the twisty motion thrown in was uncomfortable and unpredictable. Junie took one settee, I took the other. Roux started whimpering in his aft cabin so we got him out and put him on the floor between us, low in the boat. As usual, we have no pictures taken during the calamity. Just picture all of us, huddled in the center of the boat under blankets, wedged in and holding on to the seat cushions to stay lying down. Moving was pretty dangerous so we only moved when necessary or when something new came loose and threatened to break itself or something else.

Ready to start heading west - and north.
We worried about the other boats. SeaClearly is a big heavy boat and our motion tends to be dampened because of it. Several of the other boats were much lighter and smaller. I am sure they were getting pounded. And, the boat closest to us was the one on anchor so we were afraid they would start dragging. We even set up our anchor monitor, despite being on a mooring. Ultimately, the night passed, the sun came up and the weather settled. But, nobody was in a hurry to move. Even though Roux had been waiting since yesterday morning, he was not anxious to get in the dinghy after the ride last night.

We stayed one more night to settle down and then started our trek north. The first move was back to Highbourne Cay but not the marina. We just anchored off the island for the night as a jump-off point to head back across White Sound to New Providence Island. No stops in Nassau this trip. We were headed for the west end of the island to another anchorage called, appropriately, West Bay.

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