Boating Videos: Expert information before you need it!
The winds were going to be strong out of the north - north west so we decided to sail on the sound side of the Exuma island chain. The flats are 8 - 12 feet deep. On the Exuma Sound the water goes to 3 - 5 thousand feet just a mile offshore.
The wind was a little more east than predicted so instead of strong winds and flat seas, we found ourselves having to sail in 6 - 8 foot seas. Each time we hit a big wave, Hudson (our dinghy) tied to the stern, would give a big yank on it’s painter (the line that ties the boat to our stern). Mary is a bit of a fair weather sailor and we usually stay put in high seas, but since we were only going to Staniel Cay, a distance of 18 miles, we decided to keep going.
I remember thinking I was steering better after a few hours in the waves, because Hudson did not seem to be yanking on the painter the same way. Imagine my horror when I turned around to find Hudson was not behind Sojourn any more.
We started an immediate search pattern, first sailing back on an angle that we felt would match the drift from the wind and the current. We criss-crossed the Sound for a couple of hours but could not find Hudson in the waves.
We sent out “all station” radio messages to alert any boaters coming up from the south to be on the look out for our 10-foot dinghy, with a 9.9 Yahama engine. We continued searching south of Little Farmer’s, the anchorage we left that morning, and finally anchored for the night just a little further south at Galliott Cay.
The places you find when you least expect it. We had by-passed Galliott on the way down and are amazed at how beautiful it is.
The opening to get in from the sound was wide and easy to transit. The large anchorages gives protection from the NE through the SW and a bit to the West. We could not go exploring because Hudson had decided to take a Holiday (that’s our story and how we are going to write it). But the anchorage was beautiful and the water crystal clear.
We sailed out the next morning, continuing to search for our missing dinghy.
We arrived at Staniel Cay late in the afternoon. Staniel Cay is sort of the centre point of the Exumas and boats stop here on their heading south or north and often both. We skipped it going south but wanted to stop to see if anyone had found our dinghy. We planned on staying in the area for a few days.
We had not been there long when boaters in a passing dinghy hailed us and asked if we had found Hudson yet. The two guys - Murray and Dave - were off a C&C 40 - Windswept IV. Dave was from Waterloo and Murray from Tilsonburg, ON. We told them we had not. This meeting would prove quite fortuitous for us.
Being St Patrick’s day, we took a slip and stayed ashore for the festivities.
We woke early in the morning to a strong west wind, the only direction that Staniel Cay is not protected from. There were some larger vessels on the outside of the dock that seemed to be protecting the sailboat behind us but we were exposed to the wind.
I got off the boat about 4 am and went up to the pub (now deserted of St Patrick’s Day revelers). I worked on my project and the earlier part of this blog.
I have never seen Sojourn rocked so hard, her bow lifting well out of the water as each wave crashed into the dock. We had to wait for a larger sport fisher to leave the slip beside us so we could get out. We had another sailboat docked just off our stern on a long dock. With the help of the dockmaster, we spun Sojourn in the large double slip and headed out for a more protected anchorage.
One of the attractions of Staniel Cay is Thunderball Cave, where the James Bond movie was filmed.
We could not get a good anchorage by the cave so we moved to an area called the Majors. We found a great place to anchor among a half-dozen different boats.
Murray and Dave offered to give a ride into shore if we needed it and also offered to sail up to Nassau with us. Murray’s wife, Heather, had flown home to Canada for the birth of their grandchild and was due back on the weekend. We agreed and had them over for drinks and dinner the next evening.
Without a dinghy it actually turned out quite relaxing. Because we could not go anywhere, we swam, sunned, read and relaxed. After one more check at the marina for Hudson, we headed for Norman Cay in preparation for crossing the Yellow Bank to Nassau.
We had anchored off Norman Cay on a beautiful beach on the West side. Norman Cay became famous as the intermediate drug transfer site for the Mediena Cartel out of Columbia. It seems the local government turned a blind eye to the activities and it was not until the US drug enforcement agencies infiltrated the Cartel that the process was shut down. There were several books written on the experience.
All we know is that the anchorage was exceptional. The swimming in 80 degree water was invigorating. An early dinner and we got to bed early for a first-light sail.
The sail across the Yellow Bank was uneventful, but given the number of coral heads we saw and dodged confirmed that a night passage (even a doubtful weather passage should never be attempted.)
We took a slip at the Nassau Harbour Club, the same marina we stayed at going south. Windswept anchored in the harbour and used our boat as a landing place to go ashore, do some shopping, check internet and send Dave home and have Heather come in.
We used the down time to advance my work project, communicating with my client my email, ftp and Skype phone. Overall, it worked extremely well. We got all of our work done and were preparing to sail the next Sunday.
We had been unable to find our dinghy, and just as we were about to conclude a deal to purchase a new dinghy and motor, Murray and Dave came knocking on our transom. They had a delivery skipper with them who told us he had talked with another delivery crew the night before. They had been spreading the word around Nassau that they had found a 10-foot inflatable dinghy and were trying to find the owners.
Could it be?
The next day at noon we went to the marina where they were having lunch and sure enough, there was Hudson - a little disheveled, but fine just the same.
The crew came back and we asked them about the dinghy.
A little background first. Under maritime law, the dingy was lost at sea and salvaged by the delivery crew. That means the crew had every right to keep the dinghy. We all knew that, so it was really up to the crew what would happen.
The delivery crew were Cliff and Franklin from the US Virgin Islands. They had just delivered a large power boat from the Dominican Republic to Nassau and were wrapping up their business. We offered them a reward, they accepted and I offered them a ride back to their boat, which was anchored across the harbour.
That night, I got together with Cliff and Franklin for drinks and thanked them again for picking up Hudson. It seems Franklin had picked up the dinghy on radar and when pulled alongside, both oars were in the water. At first, they were concerned the crew of the dinghy had gotten into trouble, such as run out of fuel and were trying to row. Once they got into the dinghy, they found the fuel tank full and the engine started on the first pull. (That was something we have always be happy with - one pull starts.) After a search of the area they hoped all was well and towed her to Nassau. Nine days and approximately 150 miles later we were reunited with Hudson.
I thanked them again, bought the drinks and headed back across the harbour to Sojourn to get ready to head out.
The next day we sailed to Eleuthra with Windswept IV (Heather and Murray) to start the final leg of our Bahamas - the Abacos.