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.


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.


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…


…along a narrow path…


…all the way (not more than 200 feet) to the blue hole. Or should we say, greenish-brownish hole. No diving into that!

I prefer the view across the banks.

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.

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!

Mind the sharp objects in the bush!

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.

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!

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.


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.


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

They’d even brought a friend along.




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


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


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


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.


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.


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



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.


Brian loved the view…


…from atop the rocks


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


Ahhh, now that’s a view!


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.



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


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.


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.

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.



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