We headed to Big Major from Cambridge with a few other boats – at high tide and just before sunrise. My alarm didn’t go off, so thank goodness the other boats were chattering on the vhf radio and woke us up! The cut we needed to get through required deep water and as calm an inlet as possible.
Even getting off the mooring ball and out at the right time, we had a hairy path to take. The Exuma Sound is a raging mass of giant waves, thanks to the never ending front we have been graced with for over a week now. Fortunately, we chose to back- track a bit and follow our chart plotter path the way we came in. Not only did that mean we had a known safe path (important here before sunrise when coral heads pop up randomly and you cannot see them without sunlight) but we got to wave at Johhny Depp. Well, maybe just at his private island as we passed by.
The sail was wet and windy, but pleasant enough, considering the rain. A level of comfort in these higher winds is finally being found. You just cannot learn this stuff without actually doing it. We ran the motor on purpose, so we could make water while under way. Our water maker runs off the batteries, which happen to be doing great these days, but with it being rainy and gross I didn’t want to risk not being able to make water later if the sun never came out.
All four boats made it safe and sound and nestled into a variety of spots. They range in size from 20-something feet to 40-something feet. And from a 3-something foot draft to a 7 foot draft. So while we could roughly travel together, we are all sailing very different boats with different requirements. I like the mix – and the fact that we all make our own decisions. Herd mentality is rampant in the cruising world. I prefer to sail my own ship – but it is nice to have other people to chat with by the beach fire at night. And it is excellent proof that the boat you choose doesn’t matter so much as choosing to get out here and explore!
The weather was pretty sucky the first day or two. I did learn that I can, in fact, do yoga on the deck of the boat in 25 knot winds. That is a good skill I suppose. At least it was good to get out of the boat and move around.
The next day was surprisingly calm. We dinghied over to Staniel Cay and checked out all 3 grocery stores. (For those of you that haven’t been here, think nicely stocked convenience store, NOT Publix or Kroger). We ran into other boats we had met on other islands and even met a few new cruisers.
After exploring the island, we settled in at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club for some long awaited burgers. We eat really well on the boat- even though we have both been losing a bit of weight. But our storage for and access to meats is limited. (We ARE spending most of our time on uninhabited islands, after all…) So a burger made by someone other than myself is quite the treat! I also learned that I like Sands Pink Radler – a ruby red grapefruit flavored local beer. Delicious!
We eventually made it back to the boat – just in time to head to Thunderball Grotto at the perfect tide. This is a gorgeous swim-through cave/grotto that was used in the James Bond movie – and a few others as well, I believe. While it definitely shows the wear of being a tourist spot, it still had some gorgeous fish and corals. Particularly on the outside. (Most people just swim inside, thus preserving all the beauty outside).
Big Major has “wild” pigs. Tourists and cruisers dinghy to shore to feed the piggies and give them fresh water. It sounds cute, right? Especially when I call them “piggies.” Let’s just set the stage here for what it is really like. Massive 400lb hogs are trained to equate tiny little inflatable boats (and humans) with food. When we dinghied (our AIR FILLED boat) up toward the shore, the herd came running. We had Molly with us and she was not impressed. Those suckers can really swim, too. So when we were the only boat headed to that beach and saw the giant monsters swimming at us and our inflatable boat, we opted to just toss the sweet potatoes at them and idle on by. Sort of a Piggie Drive By, if you will.
I will admit, the babies were cute. But you couldn’t really get any food to the babies – the adults were hogging all the good stuff. Molly had been beachless for a few days and didn’t understand why the pigs were getting all the snacks. So we motored on over to Pirate Beach for a nice evening around the fire with a couple of other boats. (Ok, technically with the crew of the boats… the boats themselves were at anchor).
The next morning we did a few boat chores, then pulled anchor again. This time I took the helm to get some experience sailing in these crazy winds. (Keep in mind – while we are from the land of crazy tides and currents, there is very little sailable wind in Savannah.) I saw 27.7 knots. We barely had any genoa out and were moving right along at 5 to 7 knots for most of the sail. At first it was terrifying, but eventually I relaxed into it. It didn’t bother Mark at all – but I suppose that was because he was reading his book and dry while I was being sprayed with giant waves at the wheel… Oh well. We didn’t die, so it was a successful sail in my book.
Next Up: Black Point!