Thursday, May 29, 2014

Kissing Mermaids and Swimming Pigs

Fabulous sailing on the Exuma banks
We have whizzed through the Exumas at a rate of knots, only it hasn’t been at a rate of knots.  Despite the fact that we have been on the move daily for god knows how long (ok only about 5 days) we seem to sail no faster than a granny with a zimmer frame - I could get out and walk faster.  The odd puff of wind gives us the occasional burst of speed but generally we are left sailing on momentum.  But I can’t complain; balmy days of 3.5kts in flat calm gloriously blue waters are barely a hardship. The stops at the islands in between have all been Wow! And at the end of the day when you have good sailing, good snorkelling, good weather and good company what more can you ask for?
Rudder Cay & Musha Cay
We left George Town and sailed up Exuma Sound pulling into Rudder Cay Cut so that Sim could kiss a mermaid. Rudder Cay belongs to DavidCopperfield who bought up this little bit of paradise and surroundings cays.  To enhance an otherwise already perfect location he has added amongst other things an underwater sculpture by Jason DeCaires Taylor, the same guy who made the sculptures in Grenada.  The work is called ‘The Musican’ and can be found at 23˚52.163N 76˚14.157W.  It is a great piece of work with both piano and mermaid glittering in the crystal clear water - Sim got to kiss his steely mermaid while I played the piano.  If you want to stay on this island and race goldfish, ride a giant tortoise or take part in the Musha Cay Olympics prices start at $37000 per night for a group of 12! – I kid you not.  All the while we can anchor for free, snorkel the sculptures, explore the caves and snorkel the very colourful coral that was almost under our boat. I wonder who gets the better deal?
Underwater Sculpture known as The Musician

I tap out a tune

Sim kisses the mermaid

The Cave

Inside the Cave

Lovely coral gardens 
Black Point
In Black Point you will find a friendly little town.  If you need laundry, water, provisions or wifi here is a great place to be – we didn’t need any of these but were happy to hang out while John hunted for another geo cache.  We all took a walk up to the beach at the head of the bay beaching combing while the tide was out then rewarding ourselves with a beer at Lorraines where she lets you help yourself!

Hunting for the geo cache

Black Points main street

You'll never get lost

Sim inspecting an anchor in the water

Sim proving he is an island

Cute little starfish

'im 'n' 'er

Pretty little church
Staniel Cay & Big Majors Spot
This is another fab spot anchoring in soft mountains of white sand that looks just like a moonscape under the boat.  The main attraction here is the underwater cave called Thunderball Grotto which has made an appearance in the odd film including of course the James Bond epic from where it gets its name.  The cave is full of colourful fish and coral.  Quite amazing that so much of it still alive considering the amount of abuse it gets from careless snorkelers. Swimming out the other side and letting the currents take you past all the coral gardens was very cool.  The other attraction is the pigs on the beach. Not any ordinary pigs but pigs that swim – watch your hands and your inflatable dinghies as these giant pork chops have scary looking teeth.  I wouldn’t want to be feeding these babies at the beginning of the day when they are hungry!
Outside Thunderball Grotto

Inside its teeming with fish

Skylight in the roof

Lovely coral heads outside the grotto

Coral very much alive

Small orange jellyfish

Huge shell with hermit crab living inside - yes I let him live!

Scary swimming pigs

They just stand there with their mouths open
Hawksbill Cay
This bay might not look much from your boat but step ashore to the beach and you will be blown away by the colours looking out across the bay.  You can walk around the inner ponds or even take your dinghy in at high tide.

The beautiful Hawksbill Cay

The water was like a warm bath

Sim takes a look inside his hat

Hawksbill Cay is part of the Exuma Cays land and sea park

View out across the bay

An inside lagoon that dries at low tide

Sim dingies inside the lagoon
Highborne Cay
Another short stop over with more lovely beaches.  This place was filled with mega motor boats. The big Wow here were the amazing shells we were finding in the water under the boat.  Sadly for me they were still alive and I begrudgingly put them back. We sailed out of Highborne early the next morning as a squall line developed in the distance - its nearing that yucky time of year with convective squalls and waterspouts - which we hope wont become too much of a theme. One thing we are always happy to see though are dolphins playing in our bow wave.

Helmet conch shell

Khaya Moya and the waterspout

Dolphins playing in our bow waves.

It seems as usual we are on a bit of a mission.  Seeing as we have only completed half the miles it will take us the get to the Chesapeake since leaving Grenada last year we still have over 1200nm to go. We have just arrived in Nassau on New Providence Island and are waiting for good weather to take us to across to Florida.

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