Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Cambridge Cay

Sunset at Cambridge Cay

We left Compass Cay about an hour before high tide. The trip to Cambridge was only about an hour and a half (about 10 miles).  Knowing how the current can rip through there, we wanted to leave at slack in the marina and be able to get out through Conch Cut and back in to Cambridge before the current started to pick up. Just before we left we heard that the outside green marker to the channel had been knocked down the day before by someone. We could see it but it’s not terribly visible at high tide.

Downed marker on the right, just visible center right

The mooring field/anchorage at Cambridge Cay (or Little Bell Cay) is a gorgeous and is part of The Exuma Land & Sea Park. There’s no fishing, spearing, or taking anything dead or alive out of this area so you know that the snorkeling will be fabulous with lots of large fish and lobster. There are also tropic birds living here this time of year and they add to the beauty as they swoop around overhead. This is one of my favorite anchorages in the Exumas.

We haven’t been here since ’09 and wanted to come back to visit and use the opportunity to practice taking a mooring ball. We’d done this a couple of times on Lucky but it’s a different deal with Blossom because we sit so high up off the water. Overall it went pretty well but the upshot of the experience is that it’s far easier to anchor! We also have a great deal of faith in our ground tackle (220 lb Ultra anchor with 400 feet of 1/2 inch chain). While the park maintains their mooring balls very well, I’m more comfortable being anchored, especially if it should turn very windy (because of our weight).

View of the anchorage to the south

View to the north

Tied to the mooring ball. A harness and two lines, we’re well connected. We practiced a few things...

There were several boats in the anchorage and we noticed when we got in that there was another Nordhavn 46, Hanuman. Soon after we arrived Tom and Linda came by on their tender and introduced themselves. It’s so cool that there are Nordys everywhere we go!

Once we were settled in we dropped Petal and went over to pay for the mooring. There’s a box on a small cay with envelopes where you drop off your fees. Then we drove up to The Aquarium, a well-known snorkel site. We hit it at the perfect time, dead low slack (and surprisingly, there was no one else there). There was no current and the fish were amazing - I got some good photos of some and have tried to identify some below.

Someone has been feeding the fish here!

They come begging…

And they get in the way when taking pics of other fish like the pretty Queen Angelfish

And they photobomb the Whitespotted Filefish (Orange Phase)

A stunning Queen Angelfish

Juvenile Parrotfish

Adult Rainbow Parrotfish

Scrawled Filefish

Blue Chromis

Foureye Butterfly fish

Bluehead Wrasse

A school of Ballyhoo

Our second day at Cambridge started with a rough dinghy ride. We had hoped to snorkel Rocky Dundas, a structure similar to Thunderball Grotto and then an elkhorn reef on the SE tip of Cambridge. Both are in Conch Inlet and we realized pretty quickly that it was not to be. The seas were too much for our tender and it would have been dangerous to get to close to Rocky Dundas. So we went to Cambridge instead and enjoyed a nice walk along the eastern beach.

Rocky Dundas, a snorkel for another time

Bell Rock

Eastern beach of Cambridge

Fossilized computer mouse?

That afternoon, Sugar Magnolia pulled in along with their friend Tom, on Stardust. We had met Dave, Libby and their pup Huckleberry at Compass Cay. Later that day we had everyone over for cocktails. We enjoyed a really nice evening and Huckleberry settled in very comfortably on Blossom J It’s nice having a fur-friendly boat, Martin and I enjoy getting our pet-fix!

The mooring field

Sugar Magnolia & Blossom in the mooring field

Petal anchored, working the anchor buddy, and Blossom in the distance

The Coast Guard buzzing Blossom

We thought that we’d be going over to Eleuthera today but we changed our plans. The sound was bumpier than predicted and we'd like to be more connected to the world for a few days - so we headed back to Big Majors where we have decent cell and internet for the rest of the week. There are surprisingly few boats here and most of them are powerboats. There's a big sailing regatta going on in Georgetown right now and I think that's where everyone is. We're looking forward to heading in to Staniel Cay for dinner and drinks tonight.

Next destination tbd!

Boat Business:
  • Wing Engine Starter Key. We were ready to leave the mooring field so we turned on the main engine and then the wing, but, wing was completely silent. Martin and Jim spent a while trouble shooting and found that the key switch wasn’t working. They took it apart, cleaned all the connections, fired up the wing and away we went. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

Compass Cay

 Coming in to the marina

Blossom at Compass Cay

Saturday was a stressful and successful day – we made it in to Compass Cay Marina! Last year we took the tender there with my Mom and we all swam with the nurse sharks. This is what they’re known for – there are dozens of “tame” nurse sharks that you can swim with. (They may not be “tame” but they are very habituated to people.) So this year we discussed docking at Compass. Martin did Not want to because of the shallow depths and narrow channel in, but the theme this month with Jim here is to “push ourselves” and so we did. We came in on the rising, almost high tide and never saw less than 8’. Martin did a great job and I’m very proud!

Blossom at the first dock

Unfortunately, we had to scoot around the dock later in the day to make room for a fuel barge that called to say they were coming in the next day. The current was ripping through the marina (yes, we should have waited a couple of hours) but Martin did a great job and tucked us around the end.

The first order of business was to pet some sharks, of course. It was high tide so I didn’t even have to get in the water J
Me petting a baby nurse shark

An even smaller shark coming to say hello

We noticed a very cool compass carved into the dock and Tucker told us that our friend Bob (Sandy & Bob who we met last year and visited with in St. Pete in February) had made it. How cool is that?

Bob’s compass at Compass Cay

That afternoon, Martin and I hiked the southern half of the island. Wow – talk about stunning views! There are a few trails on the island, all marked with cairns. We got a bit lost at the very end. We could see Blossom, but she was oh so far away! It was just so beautiful that I couldn't stop taking pictures and I can't choose which ones to put in so I'm just going to include a bunch below.

Martin ready for the hike

Stunning views

Martin on rock

Interesting stone

Following the path

There’s home!

On Sunday was wanted to visit Rachel’s Bubble Bath. High tide is the best time (most bubbles) so we timed our arrival. It was another gorgeous hike.

Hiking the trails

A topless beach!

Mr. & Mrs. Dork wearing matching Octopus rash guards J

I really like little lizards and the curly tailed guys in the cays are adorable. We saw dozens on our hikes.

A similar photo to one I took back in 09’ on Warderick. Lizard enjoying the view…

A close up, this guy posed for the shot

Big ship that had just come through the cut at slack high tide (as seen through RBB)


With bubbles

Martin thought the water was a tad chilly

Martin about to be deluged

We took our time coming back and scoured the beaches for sea glass. We found a lot – including 2 blue pieces (highly coveted) and 2 sea beans. I’m enjoying my new past-time immensely but there’s a dark side to beach combing. Have you ever wondered where all our trash goes? Well unfortunately, a lot of it ends us washing up on beaches.


Once we got back to the boat (it was a 4-hour adventure) we ordered Fabulous cheeseburgers and watched folks swim with the sharks while we ate lunch. We met a couple of very sweet ladies from Scotland and chatted with them too. Then it was Jim’s turn to meet the sharks. I threw some fish in the water to get an exciting shot. Jim was thrilled ;)

Jim with sharks (not as impressive as his swim with the hammerhead, but hey…

That evening was perfect - warm with a cool breeze so we enjoyed watching the sunset from the fly bridge and dinner in the cockpit.

Sunset at Compass Cay

View off the back of Blossom in the under water lights - could the water be any more clear?

Around dinner time we heard music playing. So we wandered over to the office area and found there was a cruiser party. Carl was playing his guitar and several folks from various boats in the marina were hanging out, enjoying the music. We listened to fun music, met some fabulous people and petted the sharks on the dock. It was a great evening!

Carl cranking it out - even with a broken string!

Petting the sharks (he did not feed them his beer)

Later this morning we’ll be heading to Cambridge Cay where we’ll stay for a couple of nights. We’ll have no cell or internet there so we’ll be silent for a few days. The current idea is that we’ll cruise over to Eleuthera from there.  Stay tuned…

Boat Business.
  • Engine starter battery. We had a bit of a shock when we went to leave Big Majors as our main engine refused to crank. The problem was that the starter battery was too low. We have a smart charger that is supposed to keep the battery charged – it’s obviously not working. Martin paralleled the starter battery to the house bank and we were off.