December 7, 2016
We made our way out the inlet between White Cay and Devil Cay at sunrise. The tide was slack and the winds were not right on the bow. This let us slide out gracefully into the deeper waters. Heading south east we made our way to Royal Island – a small island west of Spanish Wells.
The crossing was pleasant, for us – the pups have grown wary of sailing. The Gulfstream crossing seems to have traumatized them. And us, but that’s a lesson learned the hard way about weather. And a story that deserves it’s own blog post.
Royal Island has an easily enterable harbor that is great in all but high winds from the east. We rode out a fairy ugly front within it’s protection. I was also able to collect over 30 gallons of fresh rain water there! (ok, so not quite all 30 made it into the tank, but I’m working on my collection system and have plans for a more efficient process next rain storm!)
Royal Island provided us our calmest night at anchor. Maybe ever? We were so tired and stressed after our first couple of weeks through Bimini and the Berrys. Our learning curve has been steep. But the best way for us to learn, I suppose, is to just do it. And that we have.
The next day, we upped anchor and moved over to check out Meek’s Patch – a gorgeous little island closer to Spanish Wells. We anchored in 10′ of crystal clear water. And we drug anchor. But hey, there was nothing to drag into for miles – and I don’t think we’ve drug since! Progress.
We also headed into Spanish Wells for fuel and to see what the town has to offer. I don’t think we’ve met a friendlier group of islanders so far – in all of our travels, not just cruising. We were able to order a new, faster 8hp Yamaha 2 stroke for the dinghy – at a very reasonable price. Now we just need to sell the Tohatsu 6hp. (Mark eventually broke down the carburetor and found a piece of rubber inside – that has likely been there since we bought it – so now it runs like a dream. It’s just still not enough power for us) We also found a wonderful grocery store with pretty darn good prices – Food Fair. People are kind – we’ve had numerous offers of buggy (golf cart) rides anytime we’re walking. And while we accept some of them, we often turn them down because the walking is nice and the island is relatively small.
So how has this place turned us into “cruisers”? There is a bank that these islands surround. It’s basically a giant, safe area for us to learn about the patterns of the winds (they cycle here), sail in 10-15″ of water – more than enough for our 6’4″ draft, and go on provisioning runs to places run by super-friendly people. It’s a giant sandbox for us to play in and develop all of the skills we were lacking! If we anchor and drag – well, there’s no one behind us. (Except for that one boat that insisted on anchoring RIGHT behind us the other day… luckily for them, we are better at setting the anchor now)
I’ve gotten the nerve up to hoist the sails all by myself here. Normally, it’s either Mark handling most of it, or we team up and both work the sails. But here, with the winds normally in the 15 knot range, and a wide open bank for me to sail across, I’ve been getting braver and doing it myself. That’s the only way for me to learn. It just took me getting to the Bahamas to do it!
We’ve also finally been meeting other cruisers. It’s nice to hang out with other people with similar life plans. Some of the people are out for a year, but others, like us, are out indefinitely. A lifestyle based on making the most of what you have, figuring out how to make what you have provide what you need -without an endless supply of money, certainly modifies your behavior. We hang out around the bonfire instead of a bar. There is no real focus on what you’re wearing or the kind of boat you have. It’s just people out enjoying the islands and making the most of their lives. While we can compare our woes (what broke today?), we also share great anchorages and fun hikes, etc. It’s more about adventures and less about things.
We are really, really enjoying our time these days. We’ve gotten into a rhythm of repairing things, snorkeling, hunting down whatever we may need – which fortunately has not been much, and relaxing in the sun/shade. We’ve explored beaches, hiked ruins, SUP’ed. Turtles, spotted rays and dancing dolphins are everywhere. It really is a magical lifestyle – and we are settling right in. We’ve both had such an amazing time here. But it HAS been almost 2 weeks, and as soon as our battery charger arrives, I feel like it will be time to move on.