It’s Monday morning, warm and sunny with light winds forecasted for the next few days. We are anchored on the north side of Rose Island, a short distance from Nassau. Yesterday morning we decided to leave Nassau for the short run with some friends to get a feel for transiting the shallow banks and coral reefs. Unlike the States, the Bahamas don’t have very many navigation aids or buoys, actually, they have almost none, which makes it a very different sort of cruising. In the states markers tell you what to avoid but here you only move when the visibility is good so you can see the obsructions. The good news is that the water is impossibly clear, even in downtown Nassau, the largest city in the Bahamas. To be moving along in 20′ of water and see the bottom as if the water is only a few feet deep, which it sometimes is, with reefs everywhere, can be very disconcerting. Where we are anchored now it’s about 15′ and yet you can see the bottom as if it was only 3 feet deep. In fact, last evening, after dark with the half moon,you could see the shadow of the dink clearly on the bottom. It was very different than anything we have ever experienced. In spite of having heard so much about the clear water, it’s amazing to see it first hand.
The water is so clear that you always take a visual check on your anchor after it’s down to be sure it’s well set. For example, yesterday when we anchored, a French Canadian from another boat anchored nearby took his dink out over our anchor and looked down to see if it was well set. He put his head into his glass bottom bucket and gave me a high sign that all was well. It was a very nice gesture and I appreciated his help. When the water is calm boats almost seem to be floating on air. That’s a lot different than our experiences up north. Taking advantage of the clear water I dove on Pandora yet again to check if there was any evidence of damage from last summer’s grounding. Happily, with the exception of the big bite in the front of the keel, all appears to be well. Whew!!!
The weather for the next few days is forecasted to be very settled which is good as it will give us some more time to get used to moving through the shallow banks while having particularly good visibility. The winds are expected to pick up into the 15-20 range by Wednesday night and then a bit higher into the 20-25 range from the E/NE by Thursday so we will want to be somewhere that’s well protected from the wind or at least the chop.
After our arrival yesterday to Rose Island we decided to head to the beach with our friends. The landing was our first on a beach with a surf and it was a unique experience to be sure. We did our best to time our run for the final few yards to coincide with the the wave breaking on the beach so that the next wave would sweep us up onto dry sand. Actually, that went pretty well but we did have to scramble out of the dink onto the beach at just the right time to avoid the next wave. It was comical to see one of the other boats time things less well and have a wave come right over the transom of their dink and fill it half full of water and sand. Oops.
On the way back out through the surf it was a different kettle of fish for us. While we did our best to time our departure between waves, we were caught unawares and were swept back up the beach before we had made it even twenty feet. We tried again and made it although in our haste to jump back aboard Brenda landed on her behind in a jumble of wet clothes and sand in the bow having missed the seat as she scrambled aboard. As you can imagine, there was plenty of laughter along with the indignity of it all. Brenda was a good sport and rinsed off when we got back to the boat and hung out her clothes to dry. We weren’t alone having difficulty and friends had a similar experience getting off too and got plenty of sand and water in their dink. Note to self, be sure to put the camera in the dry bag next time.
Speaking of surf, after our run from the beach yesterday, I went for my first snorkeling run with some friends. While I have been snorkeling plenty of times over the years, it’s a much different feeling to do it off of your own boat. The reefs at Rose were nice but not in particularly great shape. There were plenty of fish but not a lot of healthy coral. Perhaps that’s because it’s so close to Nassau. I expect that conditions will improve as we head south.
Today we are heading to Allens Cay which is at the top of the Exumas chain and an easy 30 mile run from Nassau. Our arrival in Allens will mark our entry into the more remote areas after the more populated islands of the northern Bahamas. Allens will also put us within a reasonable distance of George Town, where we will be meeting up with the boys in a few weeks. Allens Cay is about 100 miles from George Town and with nearly three weeks to make that distance we have plenty of time to enjoy spots along the way. Heck, with nearly 1,800 miles under our keel on this trip, 100 miles seems like a day sail.
I can’t begin to describe the color of the water here, perhaps aquamarine is the closest color that I can think of. An aquamarine stone that you sail over. Clear and blue sparkling water. Hard to imagine, actually.
Well, I have to say that it’s good to finally be here and I am very excited about making our way south.
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