Buena Vista Cay, Jumentos Bahamas 4/16-18/10
Greetings, while under way (more on that in a future log)...
We left you after a great sail, securely anchored on 200' of rode off Buena
Vista Cay. As it was still broad daylight, and the conditions were fine
ashore, we set out to explore.
Our first foray was to, as we've determined to be typical, a very well
marked (with stakes, buckets and other easily seen stuff recovered from the
ocean side) trail entrance, on the beach slightly south of where we
anchored. While it was a very nice, comfortable walk, it led to a beach
with nothing other (to recommend itself to our interests) than what has
become the usual beautiful, deserted beach.
We had to go around a rocky section with only the slightest sandy parts,
where I found our single treasure, a brilliantly colored, sharp-horned,
immature, natural death, conch. I set it up on a rock to see as I came back
from the area where some cruisers anchor to escape a west or southwest blow,
between a rock and a hard place, so to speak, with great breakers off the
reefs north of there.
We walked back on the rocks, again leaving behind one of my finds - I've GOT
to start carrying them, regardless of the inconvenience! - on the rocks, out
of sight from our upper location but picking up a couple of intact milk
crates to add to the entrance marker on our way back to the boat.
It was early enough that we did a bit of our 1-2-3's, in my case,
resurrecting a very nice Airguide bulkhead compass I'd bought at a flea
market, along with a handheld direction finder and an antique
radio-direction finder. Someone had replaced one of the bracket
thumbscrews with metal (vs the plastic of the original), and, in my attempt
to loosen it when I first had it, it had broken, rotted with corrosion. I
suspect that error was why it was available so cheaply :**))
The cure was to take successively larger drill bits, from tiny to the size
of the original hole, and carefully remove the corroded metal. Fortunately,
I'd hit the center accurately with my first, tiny, bit, so, as it got closer
to the plastic of the housing, I cautiously used the edge of the largest
drill bit to take the last bits out of the way.
Unfortunately, I had no suitable replacement plastic thumbscrew, and, of
course, my drilling had messed up the threads slightly in the plastic
housing. I determined that the pitch and size of the plastic thumsbcrew was
the same as a common machine screw of which I had a good supply.
Unfortunatley, however, I didn't have the appropriate tap in my inventory,
so, reluctantly (I'd have preferred plastic, of course, though, with its
intended mounting position, there wasn't likely to be any future corrosion),
I cut an 8-32 phillips headed pan screw to the appriate length and used it
like a tap (cleaning and rethreading the hole) before using it for the
replacement bracket screw.
Once that was done, it was a relatively simple matter to determine where on
the bulkhead at the nav station would have the least interference from
nearby ferrous metals. We'll still have to swing the compass (there are
adjustment points on this unit for N-S and E-W fine tuning), but it will be
nice to be able to see our heading at a glance from below, now.
Our usual simple dinner, my check-in with the Maritime Mobile ham network
(MMSN.ORG if anyone's interested), and we were off to read, again, before
retiring. We've been through more books since we came to George Town than
we've read the entire prior 3 years of living aboard :**))
While we were anchored, we noted that there seemed to be a structure under
construction north of us. When we got under way (in the PortaBote) on
Saturday April17, we rode the shoreline to have a look. It was located
right next to ruins marked on the chart with the "house" label, and, sure
enough, it was, apparently, occupied, as there was tethered, barking dog
outside. We later would see him, a portly black man, in the binoculars
around the house, and, a couple of times, perhaps doing some slash-and-burn
farming prep, saw short periods of high flames away from the
blue-tarp-topped structure with the single framing wall out front.
The next beach north on the west side of Buena Vista had not only the best
entrance marks we've seen, but the trail itself was liberally marked with
the usual cairns, lots of flip-flops, and the occasional plastic bottle or
cast-off buoy. Somebody, or several somebodies, had taken a saw as well as
machete to clear the path, with large branches showing the sawmarks as the
limbs were removed, as well as numerous close-cut stumps with the same
marks, in the center, to clear the path. Extremely easy to follow, nice and
wide, but if you're a hiker, wear your boots!
The entire way is what we laughingly refer to as "moon rock" - which, of
course, is a misnomer, as there don't seem to be any sharp surfaces on the
moon! Instead, common to the Bahamas, it's limestone with very sharp points
sticking up around little (golfball- to baseball- to softball-sized)
depressions. A fakir might find it comfortable sleeping, but they would be
deadly in a fall. Even in our Crocks, we could feel every point.
I presume that it's just eroded limestone, with the different densities of
the rock surviving the erosion (acid rain?) over the years. Indeed, as part
of the erosion, we saw a cave and what would have been a well if it had been
15' deeper, cut out of the eroded limestone.
This trail led to the NE side of the island. As the trail had wound around
considerably, we weren't sure where we were at first, but, based on the sun
position and that we could see our mast over the hilltop to our south, along
with the terranin, we figured it out after much head-scratching. It was a
wild and wooly place at that time, with crashing surf rolling in every
couple of seconds. During some massive prior storms, driftwood had piled up
in tall stacks above the rocks, impressive to behold, knowing the forces
needed to get them that far above the water.
As this was an extensive walk, and the water was far too rough to explore
the south end of the island, we repaired to the boat for some more
relaxation and reading. During our entire time in the Jumentos, the weather
has been windy and warm, but not hot. We've enjoyed sleeping in the cool
evenings, still using a comforter, with a breeze blowing in our aft hatch.
That is, until it starts raining, of which we had some that night...
April 18 dawned with a continuation of the rain we'd had splatters of the
prior evening, so we stayed aboard for a while. As long as it was spitting
rain, we started up the Honda to let Lydia continue with her bean polishing.
The results are indeed impressive. Whether or not there's a commercial
value, they'd make nice ceiling fan pulls, Christmas tree ornaments, or
perhaps pendants for necklasses.
By 1PM the rain abated and the sun came out, so we shut down operations and
headed out to explore the southern part of Buena Vista. Despite my expecting
it to empty at any moment, we're still on the first tank of fuel in the
dinghy. Our first stop was the bottom of the island's beach where we
thought there might be a path over to the other side. However, it was only
some sea-trash; not a marker for a path. So, we set out again.
Turning out to avoid the reefs extending to the southwest of the island, and
then making our way ESE, we headed for the small cays north of Raccoon Cay,
thinking we might find promising searching over there. However, as we
approached, in building seas, we saw that we'd have to go through some
serious surf to get to the other side, with the likelihood of even worse
conditions ashore, so we turned back to the southernmost beach on the east
side. We had to wade the boat in through the shallows, but it was very
productive for Lydia, as between us we found enough of the scarcer hamburger
beans to increase her supply by half.
While I was working the northernmost part of the beach, I saw what looked
like it might have been a path on the way to the end (I start at one end and
Lydia starts at the other). It had no markings, but on the possibility that
it might serve for one, I picked up a 5-gallon bucket and filled it with as
many flip-flops as had usable thongs left on them, for markers. I also
picked up a few of the hamburger beans to include in Lydia's haul.
Working my way back, when I got to the "path" I saw that it wasn't a path,
but, could, with only some machete work, easily become one. From the top of
the dune I could see the very large salt pond, with a goat path across its
dry part on the south end. From that vantage point, it appeared that it
would be easy to cut through to the other side.
Since I don't have one aboard, machete work will have to be some future
cruiser's entertainment. Accordingly, I left not only the bucket with all
the flip-flops, but another large (bakery?) plastic case leaning up against
it at the top of the dune to attract the attention of future beachcombers.
By the time we left, the tide had risen sufficiently that we could,
cautiously, with the engine up to its furthest stop, ease our way over the
rocky area in front of the beach. The trip home was a real hoot, with large
rollers allowing us to surf them, playing the throttle continuously to keep
from sliding down the faces. The "faces" tells you I wasn't perfect in my
fiddly work on throttle and helm, but we surfed more than we wallowed.
Exhilarated, we arrived back at Flying Pig and climbed aboard. Our usual,
by now, custom of a fresh-water sponge-bath (to take off all the salt spray
and sweat we'd accumulated on our excursion), reading, dinner, Maritime
Mobile net checkin and email checks, followed by some VHF time, finished our
By this time, the wind has clocked to the south-south-east , and our
protection is diminishing, so we're rocking and rolling a bit in the swell
which, curiously, is coming from the south-south-west, close to on our beam.
Not so bad that we're uncomfortable, but notably different than we've
enjoyed the last several weeks. Turning our wheel hard over allows the bow
to turn somewhat into the swell, which makes it a bit more of a hobbyhorse
motion, much more comfortable than a roll.
We're still close enough to reach our friends, who'd gone to Johnson Cay and
had a marvelously protected anchorage overnight. They, too, had gotten lost
in returning after exploring the ocean side, but in their case, they
followed a goat trail, creeping along until they wound up where they'd
started. Again, like we did, they wandered, yet again, finding themselves
atop the hill on the eastern side before seeing where they needed to go.
Makes us feel a little less silly for missing the path which is so clearly
marked on the western side of the anchorage!
Off to bed in rolly seas, we'll leave you here...
Until next time, Stay Tuned!
Skip and crew, at anchor in Buena Vista Cay, Jumentos Bahamas
Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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