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Old 11-04-2009, 07:02   #1
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Big Majors – Sampson 4-1 to 4-3, 2009

Big Majors – Sampson 4-1 to 4-3, 2009

As we left you last time, we had an almost-clean bottom, fresh propane for the stove, lots of teak salvage, fully caught-up Internet chores, and happy swimming pigs. Our time in Big Majors had allowed us to catch up on lots of little chores, but we were anxious to move on.
So, a little after noon, we sailed off our anchor for Sampson Cay. Because of the nature of the water on the West Side of all the Exuma chain, we had to make a considerable detour west to avoid the extensive sand and coral. The wind was in such a quarter that we sailed on a wing-and-wing for the first part, in very settled water and only about 10 knots of wind. Fortunately, for our sailing jollies, when we turned back in on our waypoint for Sampson, it was a beam reach. A short time later, we were in the channel to the marina, sailing in front of a major power yacht arriving at about the same time. As we were making slightly more way than they, they crossed behind us, and as we dropped the sails, they passed in front of us, headed for the dock.

We pulled up next to some friends we’d met in Big Majors, preparing (and actually had, already) to drop the hook, but the marina warned us off as we might have impeded traffic of the sometimes-very large cruisers coming in. So, we rolled it back in and moved between them and a large power boat. The depth there was more than I like, about 10-12’, but we had good bottom and lots of chain. I did my usual anchoring routine of letting the anchor hit the bottom, adding just enough chain to allow it to straighten out, hooking initially, before letting out more. The water here was just as crystal-clear as in the other recent anchorages, so I could see it all, including the initial set. With a piping wind, I let out another 25’ as we swung around nearly abeam the wind. The anchor hooked harder, and I repeated that another three times, each time being rewarded with a satisfying jerk as the bow came back into the wind. Just as was the case in Block Island, chain doesn’t do you any good in the locker, so we put out 100’ in about 10’ of water. The last chain-lowering had the snubber attached, and I had Lydia back down firmly. A rewarding jerk, snubber stretch, and curtsey confirmed our security, and we prepared to finish up our arrival with our making shipshape of all the gear we’d had out.

However, as the winds were shifting, we took a look at our neighbors, the friends from Big Majors, and asked how much they had out. As their scope was only 60’, we’d have swung onto their bow if the winds were just right. Accordingly, we shortened chain to only 75’, still ample for the conditions, and finished up.
Because it was late in the day, Lydia’s mom offered to take us to dinner at the club. Accordingly, I rang them up and made reservations for about an hour later. Just as I finished with them, we had a hail from our neighbors, inviting us for over for a glass of wine. While aboard, looking over our boat to the power boat from our hosts’ cockpit, it looked as though we might be uncomfortably close. As they’d been there first, I dinghied over to offer to move.

Fortunately, the perspective had been deceiving, and chatting up the owners revealed that they had the same scope out as we. My eyeball calculations had it close but manageable, but I still offered to move if they wanted. They turned out to be new at the game, and expressed great admiration of our anchoring by comparison to others’ they’d watched recently, along with the total confidence in my perception of safety. That was flattering, but I reiterated my offer, to their continued demurral. Satisfied, I returned to our hosts’ boat, and, as it turned out, all was well with our time at that anchorage.

However, time was marching along, and we were late for our dinner reservation. By the time we actually made it to shore, it was after 7:30. Fortunately, despite the kitchen not having been informed that we were coming (the club and restaurant don’t share radios, and whomever we called dropped the ball in relaying the message), we were able to order our dinner shortly before they closed at 8.
Enormous steaks, succulent huge carrots (probably 2" diameter) and broccoli, roast potatoes, and green salads were wonderful. Having not asked, the $38 price tag was a bit of a surprise when the bill arrived, but not out of order with the rest of the islands’ pricing we’ve found. Staggering back to the boat under the weight of all that, desserts and the combined pre-dinner and at-dinner 3 glasses of wine, considering the low tide and the dinghy 15 feet down the ladder was interesting, but of no event. We piled into bed happy and stuffed.

April 2nd was exploration and laundry day. While the wash was going, we wandered around the marina environs, marveling at the (presumed) wealth needed for all the very large motor yachts docked there. Like every island in the Bahamas, getting fuel and food and any other supplies is quite an exercise, so we have an appreciation for why it is that everything (other than fuel, a pleasant surprise) is just about double in price from our Stateside experiences.
While we were waiting for the laundry, we had rum punches, surprisingly only $4 each. We thought perhaps a mistake had been made, but they were delicious, much better than others we’ve had in our time in the tropics. The marina has cottages as well as slips, and runs a daily ferry trip to Staniel Cay, for airport pickups or other excursions, only $50 one way during scheduled trips, or $100 for off-schedule! We saw lots of presumed vacationers, notable for their lack of tans (most cruisers have well-developed tans!), with children, in some cases, in tow. Given the much higher speeds of motor yachts, however, it may have been just that what we were seeing were folks who came over in one of the large boats in the marina, soon to return to "real" life (we consider this to be real life, with the stuff ashore excruciating!).

Once the laundry was in the dryer, we headed out for a walk down the island. There are "nature trails" – just some paths hacked out of the jungle growth, over the limestone – which provided some variety, but not much else. However, the road ended at a wonderful beach, which was a pleasure to walk. Also there was a gazebo for sitting and contemplating the wonders of the Bahamas, with its multi-colored water, rocks and sand. The beaches in the Bahamas are, we presume, not "real" sand, but instead pulverized limestone, as, just as are the beaches in Cancun, because, despite how hot it might be and the how brightly the sun might be blazing, the sand is always cool to walk on. It also makes marvelous litter for Portia, who, while trained to go in the potty, still needs to have her sand there in an aluminum throw-away pan under the seat.

Round trip, the walk was a mile, and on the way back, we met our friends Bill and Christy whom we’ve encountered in places all the way from Sandy Hook, NJ, where we first met in our boats, seemingly everywhere else, including Marathon, our first encounter, Georgetown, and places in between. When we returned from our walk, we saw that the dinner special that night was Italian – Pizza, or Pasta, along with some appetizers. After the surprise of the previous night, we inquired as to the pricing of that night’s fare. It turned out to be $25 for 18" cheese and tomato pizza, plus $3 for each other topping, and $20 spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread. Given the size of the pizza, we elected to take one of each and come back for dinner after returning the laundry to the boat. On our return, we found that our next round of rum punches were, more as expected, $6 each, making an average of (only) $5 for our day’s consumption :{)) Still high by US standards, but par for Bahamas pricing, they were delicious. Dinner was staggering – we couldn’t finish it – and delicious, and we made an early night of it.

While we were there, Sampson Cay Club and Marina being the source of all the Internet we’d had since before Big Majors, we had a very much better connection than earlier. So, we took advantage of that to make Vonage (VoIP service with my local telephone number, the same I’ve had for over 30 years) calls to family and friends. Of course, we also shared our connection with our neighbors, the power boat I’d visited during the concern for anchoring, and our sundowner hosts, both from the night before.

Once we’d finished our calls, as another blow was forecast and we wanted to move our way up the chain to another protected anchorage, we made ready to leave. We’d originally expected to go to Compass Cay, but our conversations with Bill and Christy suggested Cambridge Cay, instead. There were many sites there to explore, and Compass Cay required a lengthy and tricky entrance, with very limited anchoring available, so we elected for Cambridge.

While we were there, as we’d run out of water in our main tank, and gasoline for the Honda a few days before, we took advantage of the availability of diesel, gasoline and water at the marina. Water would be pretty expensive at $0.50 a gallon, but this might represent the last opportunity before our landing in the US, so we bit the bullet and called to go into the dock.

Getting off the anchor was of no event, given that we’d be motoring up to the dock and had the engine running, but as we approached, another boat had come in before us. We backed off and idled into the wind, docking a few minutes later. We’d only run the engine 34 hours since we left Nassau, so the fueling there was pretty minor, a little over 33 gallons. Likewise, even with topping off the dinghy fuel and filling our Honda can was only 10 gallons.

As we have never metered water into our tanks before, we took this opportunity, expected to be costly, to measure how much the forward, larger tank, actually held. However, there must have been a problem with their meter, as it showed we only took 11 gallons! Even if it were off by a scale of 10, a possibility based on my reading of how the meter was set up, knowledge I’d picked up in a prior life when I was supplying water to a subdivision from a well the Corporation I owned had there, there was no way we’d only taken on a little over 100 gallons. However, it worked out, though, we were very pleased to have a water bill of only $5.50!

So, we’ll leave you there, fully fueled and watered, until next time…

Stay tuned!


Skip and crew

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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"And then again, when you sit at the helm of your little ship on a clear
night, and gaze at the countless stars overhead, and realize that you are
quite alone on a wide, wide sea, it is apt to occur to you that in the
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surface of the ocean; and are not nearly so important or as self-sufficient
as you thought you were. Which is an exceedingly wholesome thought, and one
that may effect a permanent change in your deportment that will be greatly
appreciated by your friends."- James S. Pitkin
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