After our quiet night anchored out on the Bank, we had a lovely downwind sail the rest of the way to Great Harbour Cay. Sanitas flew her spinnaker, and Leef Nu sailed wing-on-wing.
I guess you could say we finally experienced the “fair winds and following seas” that everyone has been wishing us. We were slightly concerned about the approach to Great Harbour because all the charts warn that the channel markers are missing, and show water depths as low as 5 feet. So as our three boats and a fourth unknown boat converged on the island, we ALL sort of slowed down and hoped someone else would go first. But the new boat, C’est La Sea, hailed us on the radio and said that they draft 8 feet (!) and asked if we’d mind testing the waters for them. Well that made Sanitas’ 5.5 foot draft seem shallow, so they shamed us into heading in. We timed it well, and had about 1.6 feet of extra water due to the tides, so we were all fine, and anchored just off Rat Cay for the night.
After snorkeling the wreck of a DC3 airplane just outside the anchorage, we all dinghied ashore to explore the small town of Bullocks Harbour. Not much to it but a few brightly colored houses and some pretty flowering gardens and one actual hill to give us a bit of exercise. We sat outside on a grassy bluff overlooking the harbor and had a lunch of pork chops and peas and rice at Coolie Mae’s Sunset Restaurant. (I took this picture with my phone inside my Ugo waterproof purse. Not the best quality picture, but a fun experiment to see if it would actually work)
Everything runs on island time, and there is no such thing as fast food. So lunch can take the better part of the afternoon. After taking our orders, the waitress returned and asked, “For the people who ordered the pork chops, do you want the good news, or the bad news?” I chirped up “The bad news!” And I guess I stumped her. She couldn’t think of any bad news, just told us that the pork chops would be served grilled with barbecue sauce. I think that’s going to be my new motto for this cruising season, “There IS no bad news” 😀
The next morning, we raised anchor at 7am and sailed around the north side of Great Harbour Cay and then 31 nm south to Devil’s Cay. It’s been fun traveling with Elixir and Leef Nu. Their crews are both from Ontario and their backgrounds involve sailboat racing on the Great Lakes. So they always prefer to sail rather than motor, and they challenge us to do the same, even when wind condition isn’t optimal. We essentially raced around the top of Great Harbour, constantly trimming the sails, and pointing as high into the wind as our various boats and sails would allow. Sanitas’ cutter rig gave us an advantage, and we were able to point at about 38 degrees to the wind, keeping ahead of the longer and faster Leef Nu who had to repeatedly tack. Good fun!
Great Stirrup Cay and Little Stirrup Cay, just off the north tip of Great Harbour, are private islands owned by the cruise ship lines. For some reason, they think you need zip lines and a water slide park to get the full Bahamas Island experience. For the record, I disagree. As we sailed by a Royal Norwegian Cruise ship, close enough to watch the movie they were showing on the deck and the count the little people running around the track, I was disappointed that not one person waved to us (or threw us an omelette or some bacon from the buffet). Sanitas was trying her best to give them a show, flying all three sails and heeled over prettily, sailing about 6 knots. I thought of a good way to show our displeasure. I radioed back to Leef Nu and went for the nuclear option; escalating directly to double-dog-daring them to moon the cruise ship as they sailed past. A few minutes later, we got the happy news of “Mission Accomplished!”
This is what a massive cruise ship looks like from 0.2 nautical miles away.
Our pleasant sail was made even more enjoyable when a pod of about a dozen dolphins, including babies, joined us and swam along side. Capt. Mike and I took turns going to the bow to wave at them and squeak at them while they circled around and around to accompany us as long as possible. These social and intelligent creatures are magical, and I feel blessed every time they choose to keep us company.
We made such good time, that we were anchors down west of Little Gaulding Cay by 2:30 pm. Plenty of time to put Bug in the water and go explore some of the pristine white sand beaches that surround the stunning anchorage.