Staniel Cay to Pipe Creek

Wednesday, December 31, 2013

We left Normans Cay at 8am on a warm sunny day with wind 7-8 kts from the east. SV Going Knots and SV Angelica, both French Canadians, left within minutes of us. I can tell we have been here awhile as I saw a school of minnows and 2 gar fish as I was raising the anchor close to the boat. I have to be careful, as I pointed out the fish to Phil and he thought I was giving him hand signals to put the boat into gear. Close to 9am we rolled out the head sail but continued motor sailing. Everything went well with the seas just a light chop until about 1030am when I heard a light pop and then the head sail started sliding down the forestay. We couldn’t roll it in so had to take it down and stuff it in the V-berth. Good thing it wasn’t wet from the seas! We continued with the main sail up and entered Big Majors shortly before 2pm. After we anchored, Someone left and we raised anchor to move to that spot. All,of a sudden MY ColdGecko started motoring down on us requesting to anchor where we were going. WELL! What could I do but move with this 80’+ yacht bearing down on us. We anchored in about the same place as before but 50-100′ further south closer to land. Now that we were set again, first order of business was for Phil to raise me up the mast so that I could get the jib halyard down. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera so no photos of all the boats in the anchorage. Darn! I don’t mind being up that high, but did get a little queasy from the back and forth motion of the mast, which quickly dissipated once on deck.

Unfortunately we arrived after the Class A Bahamian races with cruisers as crew had finished. Tida Wave and Muriel were racing and Tida Wave won. We took the dinghy into Isle Grocery store which has their own big dinghy dock and bought a few things, but they were pretty cleared out for fresh things. I did get a couple plantains and a sweet potato and canned goods. Then we stopped at Staniel Cay Yacht Club for rum ($24) and decided to have rum punch ($10 ea) at the bar and saw friends we met in Nassau at the Marina and in Normans Cay. The inside looks about the same with the photos of cast and crew from the James Bond movie filmed there in 1964 still on the wall. Good thing I bought Nassau Royale Liquour in Nassau as was $28+ here. Staniel Cay has gotten bigger since we were last there. They have new docks, doubling what they had 2 years ago and built new vacation cottages in subdued browns and gray colors, not like the bright pinks, purples, and teals of what they previously had and still have. There were many people around for the post race festivities and kids running here and there with the rays and sharks are still there by the fishing cleaning station.

Last time Phil was here for New Years Eve was 8 years ago when Victoria and Nick got engaged. This year there were 12 mega yachts in the Big Major anchorage alone and there were 3 more anchored in the banks off Pipe Creek which is many more than we’ve seen before. This isn’t including the many boats tied up to Staniel Cay Yacht Club docks, which have doubled since our last visit. I’m talking about 100-200′ boats and MY Claire was rafted off another Motor yacht the same size! Phil said that there are many more big yachts then last time here for New Years Eve.

Back at the boat I fixed supper of roast beef, carrots, potatoes and onions one of a Phil favorites and we watched fireworks off Big Majors that lasted 30 minutes. Finally we went to bed early at 930pm with ear plugs in our ears to block out the sounds of celebrators. Once Midnight came, we were woken up by the boat horns and yells for bringing in the New Year. It’s hard to believe it’s 2014. We wish everyone and Happy New Years with much blessings in the coming year! Finally we fell back to sleep.

Thursday, January 1, 2014

I woke early to the roosters crowing, which is a familiar sound I remember from our last trip here. After making contact with SV Kristali, Connie, on SSB I listened to Chris Parker then got down to business’s fixing the head sail. The stitching had given out on the head straps the halyard attaches to. Phil and I got into a rhythm with him punching holes with the awl and me pushing the needle and wax thread thru the layers, which were too thick to go under the foot in my Sailrite sewing machine. We got one strap done, had oatmeal and then finished the other strap. It was slow,going even with us working together. As we had sewed, the winds were building so they were 13-15 kts by the time we raised the sail. When you are at anchor, you’re usually facing into the wind, so at least we didn’t have to worry about the sail going off the boat but it meant that the more sail on the forestay, the more it was flapping. Phil attached a sheet(line) to the clue which stopped the flapping, but as we got the sail up, the head sail started us sailing at anchor stretching to the limits of the anchor chain in one direction then to the limits in another direction while Phil tightened the shackle at the tack (where the sail attaches at the bottom of the forestay). We had to QUICKLY roll in the headsail and everything was good. Amazingly the anchor didn’t drag. Next time we have light winds, we’ll need to raise the headsail up more as we weren’t able to do that under the circumstances.

Work done, we got ready to go into town in the dinghy, but once we rounded the point, the waves built quickly to 2′. One time going off the wave and slamming down convinced us that turning around would be the safest decision. I’m not surprised, which is why we went into town yesterday afternoon. We were trying to get our propane tank filled ($20 for 10# tank and $40 for 20#tank filled by gravity feed. Drop it off early in the day and you can pick it up later than afternoon or tomorrow) but we can get that in Georgetown. Back in protected waters, taking advantage of being off the boat and doing my favorite activity, we motored over to SV Sloop John Dee whom we met briefly at Vero Beach Marina gas dock and got to know them better and received an invitation to visit them in the evening for cocktails.

Back at the boat by 1130am, we had lunch, I took a nap, read and knitted Katie’s sweater. Dinner was warmed up creamy Ham pasta before visiting with John and Denise. We have decided to buddy boat to Pipe Creek together tomorrow.

Thursday, Jan 2, 2014

We raised anchor at 815am to winds and swells coming from the south. Even though the winds are 18kts at 130 degree wind angle, we can’t use the head sail as we still haven’t been able to raise up the head sail so instead are motoring. By 9am, we have turned to the stone marker towards Pipe Creek with the wind on the beam and waves 1-2 feet. There are two tricky part entering into Pipe Creek with our draft 6 ft, so we have entered at almost high tide and had the skinniest water at 4.4′ at the low spot entering from the banks. Once we reached Overyonder Cay we are moving 7.7kt Speed over ground(SOG). The other low spot was 3.4′ close to Thomas Cay so now we know we can get in and out of here 1-2 hours before or after high tide. By the way, these are measurements of how deep,the water is under our 6ft keel. We have 0ft set for when our keel touches ground so we don’t need to use math to know when we might run aground. SV Just Ducky is the only boat anchored by Thomas Cay so we have our choice of places to anchor. We set out our 2nd anchor even though we don’t really like to. This is quite the effort as we have to dig it out of the bottom of the sail locker, attach the swivels, attach the chain and rode, take it the bow, let out the chain and rode on the main anchor as we measure the rode to make sure we have enough out, drop the 2nd anchor making sure it sets, then bringing in the chain on the main anchor until we are equidistant between the two anchors. Finally after about an hour we are set. Why two anchors?? The current here is strong and combined with the wind it’s safest to have one anchor for each direction the current goes (rising and lowing tide) so the anchors aren’t pulled out from the 180 degree change in direction. Shortly after SV Sequence and Blue Heaven arrive followed by Sloop John Dee.

My jobs for this afternoon is making bread and cleaning out the refrigerator that has over 1″ of yucky water in it. The bread turned out ok rising fast in this heat and we used it for making grilled cheese sandwiches for supper.

We read in the evening before going to bed.

2 thoughts on “Staniel Cay to Pipe Creek

  1. Glory Be, Lorraine you are the best damn First Mate a Skipper ever had. I know Philip has all kinds of daily chores but for sheer diversity, your daily list is endless – and performed so pleasantly. I get hungry every time you describe a meal preparation. I followed closely the details of you both involved in stitching sail cloth.

    I used to marvel at the silent coordination of Jack Pavesich and Sue Brennan bringing their boat into dock. But you guys are something else way, way beyond in ship’s handling, maintenance, navigation, prep for sea-going and, most importantly, healthy food storage and preparation. You two are perfect for your chosen life aboard and round-about.

    You seem to effortlessly become friends with SVs wherever met. And I have the next best thing hanging onto your every word. Thanks.


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