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…


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.



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


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


Water Cay of the Jumentos Cays, Bahamas

We’d traveled 46.5 nm from Long Island to the “outer islands” of the Bahamas; a chain of cays called Jumentos Cays and Ragged Islands that stretch for 90-miles in a great semicircle from the west point of Long Island. At the southern most tip of these cays there is the only town, Duncan Town, where approximately 50 people reside. Few cruisers visit the Jumentos Cays and the guide book warns that you must be self-sufficient and able to navigate by eyeball to travel this island chain. No people, no attractions, why visit? Because there are NO people and NO attractions…just pristine waters and landscape.


Water Cay was our first sampling of the Jumentos. We arrived late in the afternoon and tucked far into a cove. The water was 2-meters (6-feet-ish) nearly to shore and we were excited for this beachfront access. Brian and I had had enough sun during our sail (first day we’ve wanted a dodger) and after a short paddle in the kayaks decided to settle in for the night and make supper. Still enjoying leftovers from Ren’s grouper, Brian whipped up some fish cakes and we dined in the cockpit while the sun set at our backs.

The next morning we were not bushy-tailed because an uncomfortable swell rocked and rolled Rode Trip all night. Brian and I were anxious to get to land so I hailed Serendipity on the VHF, waking them I’m sure, and suggested we take a stroll to explore the cay. Matt and Jessica had done some land exploring after we’d arrived the previous afternoon and they were happy to show us their discoveries.


We picked our way through the brush to access the ocean side/windward side of the cay. White coral cliffs cascaded down to the rocky shoreline. Waves backed by a steady 20-knot east wind crashed into the shoreline.




We walked a long stretch of coastline beach coming for useful or fun items. There was much plastic trash and driftwood strewn in the high water line. So many un-paired shoes! Flip flops, sandals, crocs, sneakers, even a Sketchers shoe that looked brand new after it’s ocean voyage. Plastic and glass bottles, fishing nets, pieces of line, jerry cans, combs, and even toothbrushes were intermingled with driftwood and seaweed. We found three blowholes; standing to observe the inward and outward flow of the water we “ooed” and “awed” at the bellowing sound the waves made crashing against the innards of the blowholes.



One of the blowholes was backed right against the cliff and it had spewed forth loads of garbage. Unfortunately, nothing of use in here.


Leapin’ Lizzie!


Steady as she goes…


This piece of driftwood was our treasure to take home for the day. It’s shape rekindled fond memories of Nantucket.



Back at the boats, we quickly prepared to set sail. We couldn’t bear to stay another night in that mysterious rolling swell. We thought it a well protected spot and we left still pondering the source of the swell. Off to the next cay!

The Red Shrimp Grotto

Thanks SO MUCH for the update, Bruce! Wifi was hard to come by in the Jumentos Cays and Ragged Islands…but now we are up and running again. Enjoy!

Ren and Ashley (sv/Nila Girl) had some adventuring planned for their day and they invited Matt and Jessica (sv/Serendipity) and Brian and I along. Our goal was to discover and explore the ‘Red Shrimp Grotto’ a locally known grotto on Long Island. The six of us piled into Ren and Ashley’s car heading south.

The first clue for the grotto was to go to the oldest church on Long Island; and as local lure will tell us the oldest church in the Bahamas.




After thoroughly exploring the church ruins we headed behind the church where our next clue was to find the trail.


We didn’t exactly find a trail. What we did find was a thinned patch of brush that we bushwhacked through until we arrived at an abandoned salt pond. Being spoiled by the clear and vibrant blue waters of the Bahamas, we were a bit disgusted by this brown pond. It was, however, a nice change of scenery and we admired the dark greens of the palms lining its shores. The salty foam felt cool against our sweaty, dirty, hiking feet; only Serendipity had thought to wear appropriate footwear for this trek.




Back through the brush we walked toward the church ruins determined to find the trail for the grotto. Sure enough, just beyond the back yard of the church there was a trailhead clearly marked with a cairn. Ren, Matt, and Jessica went ahead to scout it out. From the distance Ashley, Brian, and I heard a shout, “it’s here!”

The grotto was beautiful; a cavern filled with cool, clear, saltwater. Ren, Matt, Brian, Ashley, and Jessica went for a swim. They disturbed a napping bat who I could hear squeaking from my post atop the grotto as they explored the cave below. There were tiny, red shrimp swimming to and fro near the bottom of the grotto. Upon learning of the potential for shrimp Brian and I thought it a good idea to bring the cast net. There weren’t enough for an appetizer through, and poor Brian had trudged through the brush carrying his cast net and fish bucket the entire way! Everyone was careful not to disturb the water, but with five people in the grotto the clarity was quickly clouded. Nice and cool, we headed back toward the boats…




…but not without a detour along the way. Ren drove out this road toward Welch Cay; a small community of about 5 oceanfront houses on their own private bay. We had a snack along the coast and enjoyed the view of the ocean side.


On the drive back we enjoyed dessert, sea grapes! Yes, these berries are edible and taste like tart grapes fresh from the vine.



Later that night we had one last hurrah prior to leaving Long Island. We had dinner aboard Nila Girl. Ashley prepared a lovely spread with conch salad, homemade guacamole, salsa, and pan fried grouper for fish tacos (Ren speared the grouper the day prior and it had already fed seven of us, now for round two). Brian and I brought along homemade tortillas and chipotle coleslaw and Jessica and Matt provided the chips and cheese. It was so much fun to share in this feast by brining all our resources together! Ren and the guys took us for a sail to the northernmost part of Thompson Bay. Patty (sv/Lutra) joined us for the meal and brought along a tasty pasta salad. After dinner, we joined the cruisers get-together on the beach to get our campfire fix. Then we sailed home and said our goodbyes…for now. We’ll be meeting up with Nila Girl and Lutra soon enough!