Raccoon Cay

We departed Salt Pond, Long Island at 10:00am on a Saturday morning; our galley shelves overflowed with fresh produce from that morning’s Farmers’ Market and our hearts were filled with well wishes from Penny, John, Cathie, and Gary. We set the main, hauled the anchor, and caught an easygoing easterly breeze bound for the Ragged Islands. During the daylight hours we would sail the Comer Channel and then at the top of the Jumentos Cays we would exit the banks and sail overnight through the deeper, ocean water. Below on the screen shot of our chart you can see our route. Waypoints 0029, 0030, 0031, and 0032 directed us through the Comer Channel to our exit point between Stony Cay and Arturo Cay at the top of the Jumentos Cays. Waypoint 0027 marked our entrance onto the banks in the Ragged Islands.

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We sailed on a tack through the night, not our most comfortable sail. But the sky was clear, stars were shining, and there was not another ship in sight. Since the first night is always the most difficult to stay awake, and we were only sailing overnight, we changed shift every two hours. Just before sunrise we were making good time and decided to continue sailing all the way to the southern end of the Raggeds where we could round Little Ragged Island and arrive at Hog Cay. But a shift in the wind later that morning reverted us back to our original plan. We entered the banks through Johnson Cut on the southern end of Raccoon Cay. At 10:00am on a Sunday we dropped the anchor at Raccoon Cay, 24 hours from the start of our trip, and settled in for a few hours of sleep.

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Rested and fed, we began our exploration of Raccoon Cay. We kayaked north of our anchorage at House Bay in search of a blue hole and on the way stopped to chat with our only neighbor (in the next cove) s/v First Look. Bob and Vicki shared some great info about Raccoon Cay and sent us in the direction of the trail to the blue hole. Once ashore we followed the shoes…

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…along a narrow path…

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…all the way (not more than 200 feet) to the blue hole. Or should we say, greenish-brownish hole. No diving into that!
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I prefer the view across the banks.
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Our next stop brought us to an old foundation and cistern. We didn’t pause there long. Although we enjoyed the singing of several songbirds near the fresh water cistern, we did not enjoy the abundance of no-see-ums and mosquitoes. We set out once again in the kayaks and returned to our anchorage at House Bay where we found a trailhead at the north end of the cove. The trail brought us to a salt pond.
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We followed Bob’s directions and continued around the salt pond to reunite with the trail. It led us over the top of Raccoon Cay to the ocean side. We’d arrived a bit too early in the season for snacking on the not yet ripened sea grapes, but the view at the end was pretty as ever!
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Mind the sharp objects in the bush!
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Brian did plenty of spear fishing during our time at Raccoon Cay. I even got into the water with him to observe. For the very first time I watched Brian spear a fish! The victim was a bar jack. I heard the spear pierce the fish then watched the fish scurry away with a spear in it’s side as Brian swam to retrieve fish and spear. It was exhilarating! I remembered hunting once with my brother and feeling a bit grim as a squirrel fell from the tree (my brother has fantastic aim); apparently I am less fond of fish because my only reaction toward this hunt was, “Mmmmm, supper!” And of course, “Wow, that husband of mine is a mighty hunter!” I might ease my way into spear fishing…but don’t hold your breath. On the menu at Raccoon Cay were also lionfish and grey snapper. Even though the fishing was plentiful, Brian couldn’t resist casting his rod off the side of the boat. Too much is never enough! He caught a record, biggest fish yet on the lightweight rod, a yellow jack. I had to help with that one too, but since we already had supper the jack was released.
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We ended our visit to Raccoon Cay with a campfire on the beach beneath a nearly full moon. There was not another person in sight that evening. We gazed into the mesmerizing flames with rum drinks in hand and Jimmy Buffet tunes playing from the iPad. Welcome to the outer islands of the Bahamas!

Winter Getaway Aboard Rode Trip – Week #2

It’s hard to believe that two weeks have already ended and our friends, Brian and Jennifer, are making their way back to Honesdale, PA. Brian and Jennifer adapted to Rode Trip with ease! They could practically sail and maintain this ship by themselves, not to mention that they totally kicked back and enjoyed the cruising lifestyle. I think it is safe to say that they had a spectacular vacation; and we were sad to see them go.

During our first week with Brian and Jennifer, we had explored Staniel Cay and nearby Big and Little Major. We had celebrated a festive Christmas on Great Guana Cay with the fabulous residents at Black Point. During week two, we island hopped southward along the Exumas.

At Great Guana Cay we followed the trail which led us to a cave just north of Oven Rock.

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Snorkeling opportunities were plentiful…even frolicking with mermaids!

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Fishing comprised a large part of each day. Fish tacos were on the menu the evening the guys harvested roughly 20 lion fish.

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Deep sea fishing was less successful. We didn’t land any mahi-mahi’s, although we did manage to select the best lure for barracudas…and each catch was larger! Finally we opted to take the line out of the water, we’d had enough barracudas.

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The guys tried their best…but sometimes even without fish a night of burgers and BIG beers really hits the spot! MMmmmmm!

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Glamorous sunsets were the perfect ending to each fun-filled day.

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Kayak excursions provided a nice change of pace. Brian and Jennifer took a turn and explored the salt pond at Normand’s Pond Cay.

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Fishing was a hit at Normand’s Pond Cay and the small blue hole provided a great backdrop for photo shoots. Brian landed this new find for us, a stone crab, which was delicious.

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On the trails a Stocking Island, we hiked to the top of Monument Beach for beautiful views.

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Termite mound.

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“It’s a starfish!”

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We chilled at Chat’n’Chill where we enjoyed rum punches, goombay smashes, and Kalik.

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It was a spectacular vacation and we are looking forward to Brian and Jennifer’s next visit…wherever Rode Trip may be!

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Kayaking Bermuda – Day 2

Our next kayaking excursion took us through the Intracoastal Waterway between St. George’s Island and St. David’s Island.

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Beyond the swing bridge,

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we found beautiful homes and quiet mooring fields.

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Not to mention a great view of incoming air traffic as we paddled along the Bermuda International Airport.

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Blue Hole Park was our destination. We beached the kayaks once we’d arrived at the park, located just beyond The Causeway at the edge of Castle Harbour. Here we saw the blue hole and it’s inlet stream. After having visited Dean’s Blue Hole and the Blue Lagoon, this was like a puddle in comparison, but quiet and relaxed.

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Along the park pathways, we stumbled upon a grotto. There weren’t any pink shrimp swimming here though. In fact, it was dark and buggy and smelled like decay.

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Goodbye, park. It was nice getting our feet on the ground for a bit.

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Brian took a snorkeling dip in Castle Harbour and we spotted 15 sea turtles on our paddle back.