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Old 04-29-2010
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South Maycock, Margaret and Hog Cays Southern Jumentos, 4-9&10-10

South Maycock, Margaret and Hog Cays Southern Jumentos, 4-9&10-10

We left you, totally stuffed from a dinner of 3 conch tossed in some penne,
with the winds and surge subsiding.

Friday started with our usual conference with Chris Parker. Forecasts
indicated that we're in for blowy weather for the next week or so. With
that in mind, we reviewed our options for the Raggeds, looking for the most
protected anchorages. We expect to go to the south hook above the end of
Hog Cay, which provides nice protection from all but north or west winds.
Certainly, where we are, while it's been great lately, would be very rough
with the surge coming around the top of Double Breasted Cay. As things
constantly change with the forecast being that far out, we'll check again
before we leave.

As usual, the day was very overcast, but burned off quickly. We set out for
the southern end of Maycock to explore a reported beach on the ocean side.
The wind had clocked around to the southeast, at 8-12 knots, and the waters
over the shallows were a very light chop, so we planed our PortaBote.

However, we were close to low tide, and, despite trying to skirt the huge
sand bar between Maycock and Margaret Cays which, on the charts, shows,
sometimes, dry at low water, we quickly started dragging the foot of the
outboard in sand with some small grassy spots. Putting it up to the
furthest extension by moving the pin which holds the foot of the engine, we
still grounded, so we got out to walk.

Conch City!! I had to watch carefully where I put my feet or I'd land on
one of the points of the dozens of immature conch. I quickly found a large
mature conch, as did Lydia. We put them in our now conch-pen box we'd found,
and continued searching.

No luck, however, other than the hundreds of immature conch we left in
place. From where we found them, I suspect the better hunting grounds for
mature conch were slightly north and east of where we found all the smaller
ones. Certainly, the south of Double Breasted Cay was where we found our
others earlier in this trip...

Well before we got back into water deep enough to motor, the conch
disappeared, but, soon enough, we were motoring again. As we got to the
bottom of Maycock, the waves were building, but not breaking. The PortaBote
lifted and plunged, and as the bow tried to bury itself into the face of the
oncoming wave, it flexed backward, presenting a wider front to the wave,
popping back up immediately.

The water was still very shallow, however, as we approached the southeastern
tip, and we had to walk the dinghy over some rocks and coral to get around
to the beach on the ocean side. The beach, like every other one we've been
on, was totally deserted, and, in this case, quite steep, rising to a dune.
There was a picturesque, very large, tree which had washed ashore on the
very tip of the beach, making for a great seat and photo opportunity.

Having learned, the hard way, not to leave the PortaBote stern-to in
breaking waves (it takes water over the transom, and, being high-density
polyethelne, has no practical means for a drain as you'd find in a
hard-bottomed dinghy, making for a bailing nuisance later), we dragged the
dinghy stern-to, in the breaking waves, up the beach. The bow shrugged off
the waves as expected, and I put our captives, in their black plastic pen,
in the water to keep them alive.

Despite it being very exposed to the Atlantic, the trash component on the
beach and top of the dune - perhaps because of the steep rise? - was very
minimal. As a result, sea-bean hunting was not productive. I did, however,
find a net which had washed ashore which yielded some line floats to my
knife. These will go on the dinghy painter, allowing us not to worry about
backing down with the line out, as we check the set of our anchor.

We worked our way around further, in the little cut at the end of the island
between a rock and a hard place, so to speak, walking on the rocks just
barely submerged. I've been going barefoot as much as possible, to toughen
up my feet, and it was an easy walk. Unfortunately, other than cliffs,
there was nothing much to see right in that area, and to proceed further
would have required dealing with the surf, so we headed back.

On the way, we noticed something which might have been a torpedo, but on
closer inspection, was a dead nun. No, not the habit-wearing ones :**)) - a
conical-topped marker bouy which had come adrift. It was wedged tightly
into some rocks, and, over time, had rusted through in many spots, settling
into the sand. I wonder where it came from? Nothing in this area has such
markers...

By this time the tide had risen a bit, so getting off the beach was very
simple, particularly with the very lightweight PortaBote's bow beginning to
float. We also succeeded in easing across the reef we'd had to walk the
'Bote over on the way in, and headed out for Margaret Cay.

Our target had been to go out to the sand bar on the far side, but with the
length of the island, and the prospect of, perhaps, having to walk the
dinghy around it, given that our objective had been conching, we decided to
take a pass on that.

That was partly in response to my checking of the fuel level in the dinghy
tank. It's under a third, already, what with the long distances we travel
in these areas, and gasoline is impossible to find other than in Duncantown,
for the entire trip back up the chain, which we hope to explore before
returning to Long Island. However, what gasoline one may find is just by
begging from a local, who'll decant it from a 55-gallon drum from his own
personal supply. As they rely on it for their livelihoods, we'd only do
that as a very last resort.

Instead, we headed back to one of our very productive search areas, on the
south end of Double Breasted cay. The beach there has benches and tables
made from driftwood lumber, and a very clever arrangement of various sized
bottles hung with strings and ropes, making a very large wind chime. It
made for a nice lunch spot :**)) The water here was completely calm, so we
pulled the 'Bote nose-in onto the shore and put our cage in the water for
the conchs' comfort.

The path to the ocean side was a bit further up the beach, well marked, and,
improved by some other additions I made. The entrance had just a bamboo
stick originally, but I put the top of a large blue water barrel (about the
top foot or so) over the stake by puttng the stake through the pouring
opening, making a base, and then jammed a large empty conch shell on the
tip, making it far more visible.

During our exploration of the beach, I found one of the ubiquitous marker
floats which had a post through it. On the way back, I stuck it in the
other side of the path entrance, and put a bottle on the top. The way to the
beach was marked with various plastic bottles and some of the thousands of
flip-flops and sandals which wash up on the beach, all done by prior
cruisers, so it was easy to follow as we'd done before, but now, much easier
to spot the entrance from a distance.

Lydia had headed out immediately, but I stayed on the protected side and
thrashed through the shallows in case there might be conch to be found
there. By this time, the sun was directly overhead, and the wind was still
light, so it was a refreshing walk in nearly-waist deep water. No luck on
the conch, however, despite the bottom looking promising.

Coming back to the beach and wandering in the area of sand which extended
deep and wide from that area, however, I found 20+ heart beans, sure to warm
Lydia's heart (pardon the expression). She's starting to run out of
containers for them. Worse, from my perspective, those are the ones we use
to put our trail mix concoction in; we'll not be able to make large batches
any more. As we eat from those as snacks under way, I'll miss that!

The beach side is very rocky, but mostly (I say advisedly, as not all of it
was!) flat, making my barefoot walk tolerable. There's a thousand-foot or
so walk on the rocks north before getting to the beach, and some of it was
very uncomfortable for my bare feet, including, I discovered later, a small
gash and several small punctures :**/) However, I came upon Lydia in her
hunt, and told her I'd head to the end of the beach and work back to her.

At the far end there was a household refrigerator, totally beaten up, along
with the usual piles of trash. Unlike last year, where Lydia had to dig
through piles of seaweed to find even the very few she did, our experience
in the Jumentos has been that they're right on the surface or projecting
from the sand. In addition to the float which I took back for the entrance,
I got several very nice shells and so many beans that I had to find another
container big enough to hold them.

Meeting in the middle, we walked back together, and Lydia showed me a
humorous shrine that prior cruisers had made. A plastic doll, complete with
(unmatched, of course) little flip-flop and sandal, a binky and other
accoutrements lay in the sand. On its chest, there was a small bottle with
a nipple. Next to her, in sand to the waist, was a Barbie with a bad
sunburn - her face, on one side, was pocked with blisters of the appropriate
size to the head!

Little shells made a 3-foot circle around it, a safety-warning-striped
reflective stake was at the top, and various little kid-toys were placed
randomly around the doll. At the bottom, in offering, I guess, were a dozen
or so heart beans.

Heart bean hunters are fairly picky, what with the proliferation of them in
the area, so these were cast-offs. Some had opened, some had cracked on
their undersides, some were very checked from sun exposure, but the total
effect of the display was touching and humorous at the same time. After
adding a few tokens ourselves, we headed back to the dinghy.

By this time, I was sweating pretty hard, despite the (not enough!) sea
breeze on the ocean side, so I immediately went for a swim in the
totally-flat area where we'd beached the dinghy. Thus refreshed, we sat and
had our lunch (Zone bars - a very effective, filling, nutritionally
complete, diet-conscious, meal) and the water we'd brought along. Before
heading home, I rinsed the sand out of the conch pen, wiped off the foot
area of each to minimize the sand we'd bring into the dinghy, and restored
them to their paddy-wagon ride in the stern of the PortaBote.

A mile or so later, we were back aboard, and I set to cleaning and cracking
the conch.. I've not yet succeeded in barking (removing the outer skin with
your teeth, usually very effective) these, as I just bite through it before
it comes off, so I skinned them instead with the fish knife. In short
order, we had another dinner's worth ready to chop and bag up.

Once finished with my cleaning, and, still sweating, I treated myself to a
salt-water bath. The water here, being deeper, was much more refreshing than
the swim off the beach had been, and I badly needed a scrub. I followed
that with a fresh-water head rinse from our stern shower hose, over a
dishwashing bucket, and then used my bathing suit, which I'd used as my
scrubbie, to give myself a sponge-bath cleaning with the fresh water which
had run off my head into the bucket. While we really don't expect any
difficulties, as we have a lot of water aboard, since we last filled before
we left Georgetown, and because I have to ferry it in 5-gallon containers,
we're very conscious of water conservation...

Thus refreshed, I enjoyed an air-dry in the light breeze. While Lydia went
in to scrub our reveal line, the last bits not done in our bottom cleaning,
I went below and chopped the conch. We'd planned chicken sandwiches for
dinner, aided by the wind dropping to 4 knots or less.

I've learned that my grill won't stay lit reliably in more than 12 knots,
and this was the first time since we'd arrived that we'd had such
conditions, so the conch went in the refrigerator for later use. As we were
going to be making sandwiches, I took the culinary tenderizing hammer that
I'd used to "crack" the conch to the chicken, flattening the breasts for
quick cooking.

As it was still relatively early, we reveled in the mild conditions and the
shade of our bimini to read a while, but shortly I fired up the grill to get
hot. A couple of minutes on a side, and they were ready. Unlike most of
our dinners, this one was still in broad daylight, so we retired to the
cockpit to read some more before heading to bed.

Cruiser's midnight, as it's humorously refrerred to, is about 8PM, but we
headed inside just before sundown, the air becoming a bit cool for our
starkers reading. What a wonderful existence - light breeze, bright sun,
great explorations, and a good book!

Saturday came, and because we'd retired early, I was up in time to catch
Chris on 4045 during his 6:30AM broadcast for a quick update. When we got
up, the winds were still very light, and very close to north at 30 or less
degrees and under 6 knots.

That wasn't what was in the prior forecasts, which had expected more on the
level of winds to build overnight to 13-18 knots from 070-080 degrees.
4045, for Chris' location, is better in propagation very early, and,
accordingly, he was crystal clear. While I was up early, I wasn't there in
time for the forecasts and synopsis, but got to hear others'
comments and his forecasts for them. It still looked pretty blowy...

After he'd finished with the vessels under way or in the Caribbean (urgency
and propagation coming first for those), I got on with him just before he
switched to his second frequency for the day.

The report was even more severe than before, with, as I'd listened, lots of
cruisers in the general area being warned about conditions for their
passages. In our case, instead of the next-week 25-30, there were now
mid-to-late week squalls to 40 knots.

Thus forewarned, after reviewing our charts, we changed our original plan of
an anchorage in the south end of Hog Cay, near Lobster Hole Point. Instead,
we'll head to the south end of Ragged Cay, very protected from the 070-080
expected direction, and, with the narrow channel and reefs on the ocean side
for protection and knocking down the waves, likely not having surge or fetch
(the buildup of waves by wind over a distance) to deal with.

The downside to that location is that, if the report we heard from another
cruiser is correct, and Duncantown has a free (for the community, of course)
WiFi station, there are a couple of substantial hills between that anchorage
and the town which will make reception, even with our very superior rig,
impossible, WiFi being line-of-sight.

However, the south end of Ragged island has a dinghy access at the Eagle's
Nest restaurant. We're told that there's ethernet-connection internet
available, and it's only a mile's walk to town, for our explorations, if
not. As noted in past reports, "stuff" of any sort gets to the Bahamian
outposts via mail boat and various transfers. This is no exception other
than in its severity, due to the location and nature of access to the town.

On the north end, there's a 4-mile long channel cut for dinghies and small
boats. The supplies and passengers are ferried on lighters (smaller but
substantial motorized boats) to the town in that channel. Indeed, the mail
boat had called, and last night we could see her lights as she stood off in
the anchorage on the very south end of Hog Cay.

The day dawned with the aforementioned very light winds and brilliant
sunshine. Due to tide considerations, we'd not be able to leave until after
noon, so I took advantage of the time available to run the Honda, not only
to top up our batteries, but to try my hand at making horns from some of our
salvaged shells.

Digging out my grinder and cutoff wheel, I quickly had one of the ones with
a hole in it (from the group which had come adrift from some fisherman's
loops through, presumably, many others) and the biggest, still colorful,
shell which had died a natural death, cut off to the appropriate size for a
mouthpiece.

Down to the workbench, I got out my battery powered drill and grinding
stones and chose a conical one of the appropriate size. I was pleased to
see that it made quick work of the curlicue shell inside, so that my lips
(embouchure in the days I used to play; now they're just lips!) wouldn't
impact on them as they vibrated. A quick lick around the inside of the ring
with the grinding stone made a soft edge, and I went to the sink to clean
them up from the grinding dust.

A quick try showed that the one with the hole in it did, in fact, when I had
my finger over it, allow me to change the tone when I removed my finger.
Ordinarily, something very few conch players know about, you could change
the tone similarly to what french horn players do, by putting your hand
inside the shell. Counter-intuitively, that deepens the tone, but as you
withdraw your fingers, the sound gets higher in pitch.

Thus encouraged, and with a "throwaway" (these were very well weathered and
not very pretty), I drilled another hole above the first. Sure enough, a
small change in tone. Hm... So, I set to drilling another, just under a
point. Bad mistake. That's a very thick area, and I was making very little
headway. I dug out my wood rasp bits and used a sharply conical one to make
the hole, finally.

A quick rinse later I proved that one could make different tones by
uncovering the holes, but not enough difference to make it worthwhile,
especially since the resonance of the tone suffered from it. As I learned
that the hole in the bottom of the shell, unless covered, also diminished
the resonance/purity of the tone, I tossed it and the other 4 which had
holes in
the bottoms.

Since the large colorful one was still encrusted with lots of white
leftovers from the grass which typically accumulates, the next stop was the
closet where I keep my bench grinder. One side has a wire wheel on it, and,
set on the platform with the wheel over the water, the better to minimize
stray strands which caught our feet from the last time I used it back there,
the wire wheel made short work of cleaning it up beautifully.

Thus emboldened, I cleaned up the rest of the "keepers" and at the same time
trimmed the feather edge, usually with some small breaks in them, of the
part which eventually, had they matured, flared out. They'll make nice gifts
once we apply some polish and buff them out :**))

Enough work! We had to secure stuff for our brief passage, so I stowed all
the tools, cleaned up the workbench, and stowed the Honda and fuel can from
the stern, back in the cockpit, clipped in. Retrieving the power cord was
the last step, and we were ready to go.

However, having changed our destination, after lunch (Zone bars, again),
Lydia put in our new waypoints as I wrote this and put away our bridle
snubber, which we'd left topsides in case we wanted to use it, after all
(recall that our surge was at right angles to the boat, and our use of the
bridle wasn't effective).

As the tide was low close to noon, and we'd be passing over some shallow
(for us) water on the way, we wouldn't get under way until close to 2PM, to
allow not only more depth, but to have a rising tide in case the sands had
shifted from what our charts showed, on the way down. I did my startup
1-2-3's (check the oil, check the belts, pour the coolant in the overflow
bottle back into the heat exchanger) and shortened our anchor scope.

Just before we pulled up the anchor, however, we were visited by a very
large nurse shark. It swam directly at the starboard stern, and, just
before going under the boat, wandered off in nearly the same direction he'd
come. As far out as he was when I first saw him, I thought it was a ray, as
his length wasn't apparent. As he got closer, it was clear that it was a
nurse shark. Great sightseeing in the Jumentos!

We thought about sailing off our anchor, but all we'd seen for wind at the
moment suggested that this would be an ideal day to fly the spinnaker,
coming from 030 at 5-7 knots. So, we motored off at 1:30PM, for the short
leg which would begin our journey over some very shallow spots. While we
motored the short way, I prepared the spinnaker, getting the hoist lines in
place, and running the sheets back to the turning blocks on the stern.

Once up to our first waypoint, however, it was apparent that the wind was
even further north than had been expected, so, instead of a starboard fly,
on a port tack, I had to change everything over to a starboard tack for the
first hour's travel. We had the spinnaker up by 1:45, and were rewarded by
3.7-4.2 knots SOG (speed over ground) with 0 apparent knots at 20* true
(which resulted in a 140-160* aft wind). The spinnaker set beautifully,
with the tack harness around the rolled-in genoa mounted 9' above deck,
acting more like a true spinnaker other than that the tack didn't have a
pole out in front.

This leg was relatively short, and we jibed the huge sail at 2:45PM, heading
156*M (magnetic). The wind was now at 70-80* apparent, at about 10 knots,
due to our forward speed of, now, well over 6 knots. So, I pulled the tack
all the way down until the sail touched the pulpit, and sheeted it in
tightly. Again, and still, it performed marvelously.

In the meantime, because of the nervous-making winds forecast, and our
Navionics chart chip in the chartplotter having little to no depth
information for the anchorage at the south end of Ragged island, along with
the paper Explorer charts having too small a scale to give true detail, I'd
pulled up the Cap'n charts which we have on the computer, and had a very
close look.

Not so good - too many rocks, too much shallow water - so, despite the
likley better shelter it would afford, we reversed our reversal and instead
decided to head for Lobster Hole off the southwest edge of Hog Cay.
Fortunately for our navigation, our line of travel was nearly the same,
other than that we'd turn in sooner.

However, about that time, apparently, the front started to arrive, well
behind schedule, as the wind kept moving futher south, making the apparent
wind move forward, and increasing to the point where the luff was flapping
in on itself. Reluctantly, at 3:15PM, we took it down by turning on the
engine and motoring full speed downwind, which took most of the wind out of
the sail, allowing the sock to come down easily. By this time it was about
time to come about, and, with our new arrival point being nearly dead
upwind, while I stowed and secured the spinnaker, Lydia set our course, into
the wind, for the cove.

This cove would still provide us good shelter from the fetch, but it's not
as well protected from the forecasted winds, having much lower elevation
getting in the way of the wind. It should, however, being wrapped fully
around the point and in somewhat, be protected from the surge which is
likely to come around the south end of Hog Cay.

In short order we were there, with one cruiser in this location and a ketch
further north in the next cove up. Not entirely isolated, but certainly not
the least bit crowded! As we were expecting up to 40 knot gusts in the
middle of the week, I put out a severe amount of chain for the 8-9' we were
anchored in.

As has been our experience for every time we've anchored in the Jumentos,
once I had the anchor (which I could see very clearly, as it landed, and
then swung) straightened to our pull-line, I quickly let out about 30 feet.
It bit reassuringly, so I let out enough that, on the tug, there was still
50' of chain in the water. Each successive 25' produced a nice firm yank as
the bow came back into the wind after it had fallen off (moved downwind) as
I let out the chain.

At 125', I had Lydia back down, and again at 150 and 175' of chain. Each
time brought us up sharply, so, by now, the anchor was well and truly dug
in. I finished with enough to leave 200' in the water at the normal pull,
attaching our snubber. The final pull of 2500 RPM in reverse did nothing
other than exercise Perky, as the chain went bar-tight, pulling all but 150'
out of the water.

With over 200# of chain in the water, and our snubber, even very strong
winds aren't likely to make Flying Pig yank on its chain. Here at anchor,
the wind is from about 45-50* and has picked up to 9-14 knots. We'll swing,
some, as it clocks around to the forecasted 70-80*, but that will put our
keel in slightly deeper water, always a good thing, if you're cutting the
bottom close!

Unfortunately, despite my checking from 5 or so miles out, and here, once at
anchor, there were no WiFi signals visible. So, either the intelligence I
received regarding locally-distributed WiFi in Duncantown is mistaken, or
there are hills in the way, as the distance is easily within the ability of
our setup to see even household routers, let alone one designed to serve the
entire town. That will mean that unless you're a subscriber, you're not
seeing this until some time well after it's been posted to The Flying Pig
Log, as that will go out over our Ham email link to my son, who's posting
them from my regular email account...

So, here we are, across from an immensely long (though not very deep) beach,
at 22* 14.452'N / 75* 45.274'W, after a short but wonderful spinnaker run
and a brief motoring experience. Yes, we could have put up the sails and
tacked our way to the anchorage, but as short as the distance remaining was
(there's no two places in the Jumentos which are very far away from each
other!), we just motored.

In return, between the sun and the alternator, our batteries are as full as
they've ever been, other than during equalizing, showing -0.16 in cumulative
amp hours. Of course, that will increase (or decrease, depending on how you
look at it) as our time on the Ham radio, as well as logs requiring use of
the computer and screen eat electrons.

My KISS housing and blades have been sent to George Town, so once we get
back there, perhaps in a couple of weeks, and reassemble and reinstall the
wind generator, our charging should be easily accomplished by the sun and
wind. As it is, our solar panels have done a great job in keeping them
topped up :**))

Dinner was a conch-salad (like tuna salad, but made from the conch I chopped
up yesterday) and coleslaw sandwich. What a great way to finish the day,
with food we've hunted and prepared ourselves!

As usual, I've gone on more than intended, so, until next time, Stay Tuned!

L8R

Skip and crew, lying Hog Cay, Jumentos Bahamas

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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