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Old 05-05-2010
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Buena Vista to Flamingo Cay, 4/19-20/10

Buena Vista to Flamingo Cay, 4/19-20/10

When we left you, the wind had shifted so as to provide rollers from the
southwest. It wasn't an uncomfortable night, but by morning, the wind had
moved further west and built slightly, making for a very lumpy pitching
motion. Fortunately, pitching is the most comfortable of the major motions
in the stern, so all was well.

We figured we'd not be going ashore, so I got up to start the Honda
generator before listening to Chris, expecting to do some more bean
polishing, and to give me chance to catch up on my logs. When I went back
to the platform, the pitching was sufficient to put the platform, 2' above
the water line, into the water frequently, so I was a bit surprised when my
bare feet got wet as I stepped down

The eu2000i generator, once we cleaned out the carburetor in Marsh Harbour,
normally starts on the first pull. However, today, it gave one little chug
and then refused to start. Just in case it wasn't really not empty, I
filled the gas tank, and tried again. No change. Putting it up on deck to
get a better pull angle, it still didn't, but I noticed that the closed-cell
foam base (made from a fellow cruiser's castoff pieces in George Town) was
wet.

Hmmm... Perhaps there was so much motion that the electrical stuff in the
face panel got wet? Oh, well, not today. Further, Lydia was unhappy enough
with the location and waves, and the forecasted continuing westerlies that
we elected to move on to Flamingo Cay, about 25 miles up the Jumentos chain,
in a favorable direction for the wind.

I stowed the generator and fuel can, and made the rest of the topsides ready
for departure. I'll give the generator another try on another day, and if
it starts, I'll presume it was just some water which eventually drained and
evaporated. If not, I'll have to take it apart to see what might be the
problem. But, for now, it looked like a nice day to sail...

We sailed off the anchor by 9, and the sails set for our first line, at
9:05. The first leg was at 312*T, allowing us to connect with the Explorer
Charts' marvelously laid out waypoints' rhumb lines and waypoints to
Flamingo Cay. The seas were rolly/choppy, but not so big as to be
troublesome in the 10-15 knot breeze. With our cleaned bottom (recall all
the work in Long Island to get the meadow off!), we were making 7.5 knots
with the wind at 070-080* apparent. A slightly close reach, but nearly
abeam, this seems, at least to our current sailplan, to be about the best
point of sail for us, so we were pleased with the speed.

Once we reached the rhumbline on the Explorer Charts, we turned northward at
9:50AM to our new heading of 349T. As the wind had dropped slightly, to
8-10 knots, we retained our beam-ish heading as our speed dropped to about
7.1 knots. That's because we weren't going as fast as before, making the
apparent wind move slightly astern. We were, still, however, still making a
nice speed in relatively light airs for our 40,000 pound home.

By 10AM, however, the wind backed and dropped even more. By 10:30, it was
more like 5-8 knots, and our wind direction slightly more astern, dropping
our speed further to "only" (still nice progress!) 6.8 knots. However, our
next waypoint came up, and we turned to our course of 000*T. That put the
wind at more like 120 degrees on our port stern, further dropping the speed
to 6.6 knots. No problem, mon, we'd still be there in plenty of daylight.

The now-following seas, however, caused much more rock-and-roll than before,
now that the sails weren't keeping the boat as stiff for us. Fortunately, by
11:30, the wind picked up a bit, and returned to the earlier heading. That
stiffened the boat, adding speed as well, as we saw the wind move forward to
080-090* apparent as we made 7.4 knots at the more favorable wind heading. A
great day to sail, again, but not brilliant. We actually wore clothing for
the trip!

The Jumentos, in particular, due to all the very shallow spots, require many
changes of direction to follow the waypoints in the Explorer Charts, so,
once again, we changed headings at noon, going on a 346*T line. Turning the
boat into the wind a bit as a result made the apparent wind not only move
forward, but, unfortunately, it also backed slightly, losing our more
favorable direction. We were presented with an apparent wind of 8-12 knots,
at an apparent angle of 070-080*, slowing us slightly with the tidal current
against us, to 6.7 knots.

There are areas in the Jumentos with very significant current, as shown on
the charts. There are some continuous currents, so the tidal effect is much
stronger, in some areas, in one direction than the other. Our progress was
slightly impeded, as a result, as the tide was coming in at this point.
Still no problem, still making nice time, and we'd be there in broad
daylight. Can't complain when you're not getting wet, not sweating like a
horse or chilled to the bone!

In another of the many course adjustments, another waypoint showed up at
12:20, and we turned to 000*T again. Fortunately, the wind moved with us by
that time, and we were again on a beam reach, 090* apparent wind of 8-10
knots producing 7.1 knots SOG. Yahoo! Ride-em Cowboy! The motion of the
boat was most comfortable at this angle, but the seas were building after a
couple of days of fetch, so we did a lot of lift-and-fall, with some rolling
due to our sliding up and down the faces of the waves. Still, no problem,
Mon!

This leg was very brief, really just to get by some reefs. If we were a
shallow draft boat, in calm seas, we could have taken a more direct route,
but the usual chart warnings of VPR (visual pilotage rules) applied even to
those boats. Of course, with our 7' or greater draft, that route wasn't an
option so by 12:30 we made yet another course change at 12:30after our brief
time at 000*.

Heading, now 037*T, the apparent wind dropped to 5-8 knots, coming on our
port stern at 120* - giving us a slower speed of 6.5 knots SOG. Apparently,
that helped us attract something which didn't have to be a speedsster to
catch up with it, because our skirted lure was taken by something pretty big
at 12:45.

He stripped out a bunch of line before I got the drag tight enough to hold
him, and I spent 30 minutes fighting him before we were able to get him
alongside. Dang! Another very large barracuda. However, once I had him on
the gaff such that I wouldn't kill him (a maneuver which took several tries,
in order to work the point of the gaff into his gaping mouth, and hooking
him on the edge of the forward of his jaw, thus not damaging him), I saw,
curiously, that he had no tongue, in contrast to the last one we let go.

In retrospect, I wonder if one of them (this one vs the other) was in fact a
king mackerel, for I can't imagine barracuda not having tongues, if the last
one did. I've not really paid attention in the others we've hooked, but I
*THINK* (readers here may know for sure, as I'm surely not an experienced
fisherman) the others didn't have tongues. I'd hate to have discarded a
king mackerel, known to have significant teeth from the single one we boated
on the beginning of our first trip up the east coast of the US. We'd had a
very experienced blue-water fisherman with us, and he readily identified
that fish as a king mackerel. I'll have to drop him a line...

As is often the case, where there is one, there's another, so at 1:25,
another large fish hit. This one threw the lure quite quickly after the
hooking, so I don't know what it was, but we sure aren't catching much
dinner, out here! We arrived at our last waypoint at 1:30 and prepared to
head into the anchorage known as two palms, due to the very prominent,
solitary pair of palm trees on the beach. Part of our preparations include
bringing in the lines, and I was annoyed to find that, in addition to our
having lost a diamond-shaped lure to some other fish on an earlier day (it
had pulled so hard that the leader snap broke off!), after I'd taken an new
painted cedar plug out of the supplies (dwindling fast, now!), something
very toothy must have been very fast and very hungry.

That's because there was no lure there, only a very tooth-marked leader.
Apparently whatever it was had taken the lure deep into his mouth, chomped,
and cut through the substantial monofilament line. DANG!! I'm much better
at contributing gear to the ocean than I am at catching fish! The clincher
to the presumption of a very toothy fish was that the trip line (pops out of
the trip when the tension on the line is suddenly increased) hadn't popped,
giving us no clue of the strike. Ah, well, both lines in and poles stowed,
we prepared to anchor.

The charts show good holding, but apparently, that must be close to the
beach. With the rollers and west wind, I wanted to be a good way offshore,
with a very long scope. However, despite trying multiple times, with my
hand on the chain at each of my intermediate drop steps, I kept feeling it
drag. It felt like it must have been on rock, as it wasn't smooth.

So, by 2PM, after several tries, rather than risk being closer to shore, and
in particular because, if our prior anchorage was "pitchy," this one was
much more so - not a comfortable thought - we decided to go around to the
north-facing anchorage around the corner.

The charts showed a very narrow passage between the rocky extension of
Flamingo Cay and reefs and hard bars, so we picked our way down. However,
it also showed only 10 feet or so in that little channel, but until we got
close to the beach, we saw mostly 30-40 feet of depth. Sure enough, by the
time we were around the top of the island, the waves dropped to nearly
nothing, and by the time we very securely hooked in about 10', the water was
very nearly flat at 2:20 PM.

As we were anchoring, we saw a pigeon, of all things, looking like it needed
a place to rest. Indeed, it did land aboard, but Portia was very interested
in it, so, after trying a few places, it gave up and flew around again. Too
bad, as we'd put out some water for it, and it looked like it really wanted
to come check it out, but wherever we put it, there was Portia. It even
tried to rest on the dinghy, but Portia was up the arch and into the dinghy
in a flash, so it never got the rest or water it wanted.

Just as we were about to go off and explore, we saw a fishing boat coming
into the harbor. Hailing them, we found that they were Miss Tritch II, out
of Long Island. They were there to find conch, and, later, snapper. I
commented that they no doubt would have better luck than we, as we'd been
struck out, mostly, and, aside from the stories above, not successful in
catching fish, either!

They said they'd be spending the night there and then moving on. When I
commented that we expected to be here for a few days, the captain said that
it was supposed to go north in the evening, so they'd not stay there. With
that thought in mind, after signing off, we headed to shore.

We'd seen what we later feel must have been range markers, a few prominent
sticks, one with a radar reflector on it. That's because the eastern side of
the beach had nothing in the way of any trail markers through the dense
undergrowth. We did see, however, a huge conch ossuary. That is, so many
very well aged conch shells that it looked like a wall, apparently conch
fishermen discarded their empties there long ago, as none were colorful.

Walking the beach, there was nothing but sand and scrub on the rocks above
it until we reached the far end. Clambering up some rocks to a very evident
marker, we found another trail. This one, too, was very well marked, with
flip-flops stuck in branches every few feet, many cairns and the occasional
bucket or plastic bottle.

Not nearly as well cut out, it still was an easy walk, and very soon we came
to a pond. Unknown as to salt or fresh, it wasn't very deep, but it was
empty of aquatic life like a blue hole would have been. On the other hand,
the walk continued past numerous other ponds, teeming with tiny shrimp.
Eventually, it let out into the anchorage we'd abandoned. A few nice shells
later, including one tiny natural-death conch, after admiring yet another
conch ossuary, we headed back.

About the most notable feature of the island is a dinghy-in cave on the west
side. As the wind would not be out of the east for some time, we'd probably
not get to do that immediately, so we figured we'd be there another couple
of days. It was still well before dark, and as we were enjoying a cold one,
we saw one of the launches aft of the fishing boat come out from behind it,
and slowly head toward the beach. Once it got parallel to our stern, it
headed in, apparently to say hello.

It turned out to be the captain, who had brought over 5 conch in a plastic
bag, since we'd been having such lousy luck :**)) We of course welcomed him
aboard. I'd given him a boat card when he came alongside, and he said he
thought he'd heard the name somewhere before. Once aboard, in the course of
conversation, we learned that, while not a client, he listened to Chris
Parker, too (non-clients can usually get a pretty good idea of what's going
on in their area by listening to not only the forecast but to clients asking
about their particular needs), and had heard our boat name not only just
that morning but frequently in the last few weeks. Heh. Not surprising...

We learned a lot about his fishing life, including that a couple of years
ago, the conch catch (that's meat, not the whole thing) was a million pounds
a few years ago, on Long Island alone. At that time, it was fetching
$14 a pound, which was a very nice income for Long Island at the time.

I asked what they did with the many millions of pounds of shells after
they'd cleaned them. They empty them over reefs, which helps small fish
habitat, and, eventually, of course, rot away. I'd also see his diving
setup - a hookah rig, similar to ours, in the boat, along with a weight
belt, both slung over the console in his launch. He said that the Defense
Force ignored it, even though he thought that even Bahamians weren't
supposed to use air for harvesting. The usual hunting is in 20-30 feet of
water. While I didn't ask, I presume they stay down, for however long it
takes, either tying them after knocking a hole in the bottom of the lip of
the shell such as the lost string of 5 empties I'd found, or put them in a
net to haul up after the harvest.

After a nice chat, he wished us well and went back to his crew. They
usually have 5-7 men aboard a 45' boat, one of whom does nothing but cook.
Their freezer holds 10,000 pounds of whatever it is they've caught, we
learned, and they catch their snapper in traps, carried on the roof of the
open area in the aft of the boat. They normally have three launches, but
one of the men decided, after they'd been stuck at Water Cay for a week in
nasty weather (the same stuff we'd been having all this time), to return to
Long Island. He took one of the launches, and another went with him, so
they were down to 5 aboard.

From that I infer two go out in a launch, perhaps taking turns diving and
hauling up the harvest, or, perhaps, one goes out and returns with, and
cleans, the catch, while the next fellow goes out hunting. In any event, he
was a lovely fellow, Long Island born and bred. Say hi to Ricky Carroll if
you see Miss Tritch II out there :**))

Following a late dinner (due to our extended visit), we noted that the wind
had turned a bit north, and we were dangerously close to being over a small
reef which had previously been off to our side. Letting out another 50' of
chain took care of that, and we turned in for the night after I'd checked in
with the ham net..

Oops... The wind continued to clock, and therefore the light swell which
had been coming into the opening to the north increased, along with our
angle changing. At about 5:30 AM, we bumped, having now gone perpendicular
to the beach rather than parallel to it, with the accompanying lesser depth,
and, with the increased swell, were lifting enough to hit the bottom on the
fall.

Not very comfortable, and, we presumed the wind would, according to Chris'
forecast, both build and clock. Since we couldn't sleep with the bumping
(not at all dangerous, but not very good sleeping), we decided to tune into
Chris again after our first cup of coffee. However, this has gone on long
enough, I think :**)) - so I'll leave you hanging...

Until the next time, Stay Tuned!

L8R

Skip and Crew

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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