Chumming for Sharks

We’d quickly discovered that there were sharks at Double Breasted Cay the night that Matt and Brian cleaned their fish aboard Serendipity and two sharks arrived within minutes. We’d been warned there were many sharks in the Jumentos and Raggeds and had also been warned it was near mating season and so sharks would frequent shallower waters. This meant that all fishing excursions required a partner, that all bathing required a bucket, and that Matt and Jess kept very close tabs on Georgie’s whereabouts.

I went fishing with Brian; back into our usual routine of my keeping the dinghy close at hand while he hunted the waters. He’d seen a shark while fishing with Matt, the shark followed him for a bit until he scampered out of the water. Needless to say he was a bit wary. I don’t blame him one bit! I never even go in the water! Brian directed me to his fishing spot and he swam shark-free for nearly an hour.

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Then he speared a hog fish and when he returned for the second hog fish a shark had joined him. We moved to a new spot where he speared a rock hind. Having plenty for dinner, we returned to the boat.

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Sure enough before Brian even got any fish scraps into the water, the neighborhood sharks had arrived.

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They’d even brought a friend along.

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Don’t mess with our conchs! We’re saving them for later.

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Pose for identification. Hmmm, about 5-feet long possibly a blacktip reef shark.

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And one final shark joined the crowd, much larger about 8-feet and brown in color, we think a lemon shark.

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Rode Trip’s Sailing Streak Ends (rather, it is temporarily paused)

Our friendly weather man, Chris Parker (SSB Ch. 4045 at 6:30am), continued to forecast east and southeast winds through the Jumentos Cays and Ragged Islands. Since Rode Trip can only sail so far to windward (upwind) an east wind means that our starboard tack would take us on a course of 030 and our port tack 150. An east wind just about doubles our route to the Windward Passage, at least when departing from Hog Cay near Ragged Island. We put our minds together for some clever navigating and created our own opportunity…sailing north (again) in order to sail southwest. We’d stay on the banks on the leeward side of the Jumentos and Raggeds to minimize waves and make our way to the southern tip of Long Island. This would enable us to keep traveling (esentially a long first tack) and put us in an ideal jumping point to sail south on our 150 port tack. We departed Hog Cay for our first layover at Flamingo Cay, a distance of 43nm.

We remained at Flamingo Cay two nights. We had to lay low during predicted two days of 25-30 knot easterlies. Remember that uncomfortable swell making a very rolly anchorage? Yup, that was here at Flamingo and we were not happy to have to sit out the weather. We were relieved when Parker’s forecast had lowered wind speeds for the second day, 20 knots east-southeast, which made for a quick 14nm sail to Water Cay. We anchored at the northern end of Water Cay and had calm waters all night.

Still easterlies, now forecast to be 15-17 knots, we knew we’d have a long day of tacking back and forth to reach our next destination. From Water Cay we set out toward Dollars Harbor; which lies between Sandy Cay and Conch Cay on the mid-western side of Long Island. We hoped we’d be lucky enough that the east-southeast would play out a bit longer…

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No such luck. What little wind there was, certainly less than 15 knots, was straight out of the east. Rode Trip struggled with this for hours plugging along at 2-3 knots along courses of either 030 or 140. We’d raised the full main (it had one reef throughout our Jumentos/Raggeds travels), the jib, and the stay sail. As the afternoon progressed the wind became shifty and light. At 1:30pm we were still 15nm for our destination and had just completed a whopping mile (tacking out and back at least 6nm to achieve this). Serendipity hailed us on the VHF to see how we were doing as they were ahead of us having a similar day. We were running low on daylight and needed to head straight east…the time was nearing to bite the bullet and start the engine.

We’d last run the engine on March 30th for 0.8 engine hours to motor across Thompson Bay, Long Island to be anchored nearer the government dock. We’d done our ENTIRE Jumentos/Raggeds trip with no use of the engine. This had been 201.3nm under sail; including all anchoring under sail. We had started to joke that we’d have to at least turn it on to get the oil flowing once again. Reluctantly, at 2:13pm we fired up the Perkins 4108 to motor our remaining 15.6nm into Dollars Harbor. Getting inside would be tricky, we’d have to visually navigate around sandbars to keep to a narrow, deep water channel. And so with our sailing streak ended for now, we were happy to have an engine to take us safely into the harbor during daylight.

After 3.5 engine hours we set the anchor at Dollars Harbor. It was strikingly beautiful! The brilliant blues were highlighted by the white sandbars.

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A rain squall moving through gave us a crisp rainbow overhead.

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This would be the perfect location for respite before our journey south.

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Double Breasted Cay of the Ragged Islands

With east-southeast winds blowing at 20-knots we departed Buenavista Cay and headed for Raccoon Cay just 4-miles south. En route we received a tip from a fellow boater hailing Serendipity on the VHF; they’d chatted on the VHF the day prior to inquire about the comfort of our anchorage at Buenavista Cay. The boater on mv/Foolin’ Around informed Serendipity that the anchorage at Double Breasted Cay was calm, no rolling. And so with a quick confirmation we all decided to continue south past Raccoon to Double Breasted. It took some effort getting into this anchorage, as you can see from our track line on the chart below, the east-southeast winds made us do a bit of zig-zagging. The wind was also a bit stronger than predicted; Matt informed us he clocked it at 30-knots coming past the oceanside upon nearing the cay. We sailed all the way inside with jib and one-reefed main not noticing that the wind had increased – our guesstimates must not be calibrated to our buddy boat’s anemometer yet.

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At the end of a 14-mile tacking extravaganza we settled into our anchorage, which we thought to be small from the chart but it was actually huge! There was some debate how far to creep in to avoid any rolling. (Depth sounder is still on the fritz but sometimes works for about one minute after it’s turned on, then it gives us depths in multiples of the charted depth. For example 4ft. becomes 12ft. and 8 ft. becomes 16ft. To make it more confusing, anything deeper than 8ft. reads accurately. Brian has worked on this; scrubbed off bottom paint and finagled with wire connections and thinks it is an issue with the transducer.) After we gently ran aground Rode Trip decided for us that a quick turnaround and anchor drop would suffice.

Serendipity made a productive day out of our first full afternoon at Double Breasted Cay while Brian and I got acquainted with the island. After an early round of fishing, we headed ashore.

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We walked all the way around the southern point of the island where we found a shallow cove.

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Around to the windward side, a protected bay with shallow sandbars and deep pools. We continued onward toward the ocean – you can spot the waves crashing between the rocks in the far left of this view.

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Brian loved the view…

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…from atop the rocks

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As for my view…hmmm, would this have been cruising had we waited for retirement?? (No offense to our totally awesome, retired fellow cruisers!)

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Ahhh, now that’s a view!

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Down along the beach we found piles and piles to comb through for treasures. Driftwood, plastic, glass, shoes, an arm and a leg of a doll (yes, that was a bit startling), ropes, and nets; we sifted and searched.

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Out of the rubble we found this huge bamboo and this buoy that we fashioned into a trail marker.

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This was a cruisers’ trail and we followed the flip flops back to the beach on the banks side of the island where we’d anchored.

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There at the cruisers’-rigged, pot-luck sort of beach (clearly nobody living here and no roosters crowing) we left our treasured beach items:
Glass bottles…if only I’d had a windowsill and some wildflowers.

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A bucket of heart shaped sea beans and hamburger beans. These travel thousands of miles from Africa to wash up on the Bahamas beaches. They are some type of seed pods that have dried. We didn’t leave the hamburger beans though, we have a bit of a fetish for them and they are harder to find. Watch over them, Mr. Creepy Owl.

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Later that evening we returned to the cruisers’-rigged beach to yet again enjoy a beach campfire.

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