A PERIPATETIC JOURNEY
not all who wander are lost
On the way to Great Harbour Cay, we put out the handlines and the fishing began! Our first fish was our biggest – a fairly large king mackerel. The next fish we caught were a cero mackerel (released), a big barracuda (fortunately it threw the hook once we gave it line before we had to reach into its mouth), an Atlantic bonito (kept), and another, smaller barracuda (also threw the hook while trying to figure out how to release it without getting bitten). After the second barracuda and 3 gallon bags of fillets, we didn’t want to catch another one, so we brought in the lines. The rest of the trip was uneventful other than the local fishing boat playing chicken with us and not responding to our calls on the VHF. By late afternoon, we were tied up at Great Harbour Cay Marina.
During our three days on Great Harbour Cay, we met fellow cruisers and traded boat cards, participated in social events sponsored by the marina, enjoyed a few beach excursions, cleaned the deck, got the water out of the bilges (figured out one source, and are still troubleshooting the other(s), topped off the diesel tanks, were visited by Georgie, one of the resident manatees (we got a good look because it took her about 15 minutes to pass by our boat), and took our dinghy through a mangrove-lined creek across the cay to a beach known for its shells. By this time, we’d learned that the Bahamians are known for their delicious fresh-baked bread so when a marina employee came to us with a bread sign-up sheet, we were ready! We ordered three loaves: wheat, coconut, and banana. When delivered, they did not disappoint...and they did not last long.
As usual, we’d been keeping a close eye on the forecast and it looked like there was a small weather window on Sunday the 27th. We left just before sunrise that morning and the conditions couldn’t have been more different from our first attempt. The sea was calm and the wind was light (no one got seasick). Other than the large ocean to sky waterspout that appeared behind us (and quickly dissipated – whew!) and the huge ships to avoid, it was a very mellow day. Unfortunately, we don’t have any photos of the waterspout because we were too busy getting our sails down!
We sighted land around 1:30 to much excitement on board. As we made our way closer to our anchorage at South Cat Cay in Bimini, we marveled at the color and clarity of the water. For much of the trip, the ocean was too deep for our depth sounder (it doesn’t go past 500 feet). As we approached the Bahamas and the cut through the rocks to our anchorage, the water was getting obviously shallower. However, when we clearly saw the bottom and the chartplotter was not showing a depth reading, we knew something wasn’t right. Fortunately, a quick reboot of the chartplotter provided the needed information and we were on our way in.
Kendall went forward to watch the depth from the bow and the kids all rushed forward as well, in awe of the beautiful clear blues and greens of the Bahamas water. We anchored, and within five minutes there were six kids from two boats and at least two adults in the water. We all snorkeled around the boats that afternoon and enjoyed watching each other seemingly float in mid-air.
After clearing in to the Bahamas, we stayed two nights at the anchorage. The days were spent on morning school and afternoon explorations in the water and on shore. Eoin, Marin, and Isla were thrilled with the number of shells they found and the boat was definitely a bit heavier when we left. One morning, Brian and Isla went out for a snorkel around the boat in about 20 ft of water and returned with the most exciting wildlife sighting so far: a shark! Isla squealed and Brian noticed a curious shark headed straight toward them. When it did not turn away, Brian and Isla flicked toward it with their flippers to let it know to keep its distance! When it returned, they did it again and decided to swim toward the boat and ladder more quickly!
After a one-night stay at a Bimini Sands Marina, we headed to an anchorage in Northeast Bimini to position ourselves for the trip across the Great Bahama Bank. Once we’d set the anchor and finished the day’s lessons, we went toward shore to explore a large sandbar. The kids had a blast building villages on the beach and running and splashing in the shallow water. After a bouncy night at anchor, we set out before dawn in order to reach Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands by midafternoon.
McGlynn family 5 (Isla, Marin, Eoin, Kendall, and Brian) sailing Counting Stars