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Old 11-04-2009, 07:12   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Currently on the boat, somewhere on the ocean, living the dream
Boat: Morgan 461 S/Y Flying Pig
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Sampson – Cambridge 4-3 to 4-4, 2009

Sampson – Cambridge 4-3 to 4-4, 2009

As we left you, we were fully fueled and watered, and ready to go to Cambridge Cay.

As the route was a bit tricky, and convoluted due to all the shoals on the way, we’d wanted to leave earlier than we did, but we sailed off the dock at about 3:30, in moderate winds of about 10-15 knots. While the sail over was pretty uneventful, despite the many sail configuration changes, it got exciting later.

We’ve had these new sails for quite some time ago, and I’m still tweaking the adjustments for the genoa. Our prior experiences at being extremely close-hauled, with our second-hand 110 (110% of a "full" jib, that being the bottom end of the sail reaching to the mast, and any larger defining the distance beyond the mast, measured at the foot of the sail), had been very good – possibly the best point of sail we had.
However, with the turning block (adjustable along the toe rail) in the position we’d had it, to allow for the fishing poles at the aft end of the side gates not to interfere with the sheets on the genoa, our foot of the genoa never really flattened out when we were close-hauled, and our telltales, the little strips of cloth which tell you how your sail is trimmed, never really behaved as I’d have expected.

Accordingly, I moved the turning blocks back several feet, and relocated the fishing pole holders to the next stanchion aft. That made a tremendous difference, and while I’ll probably fiddle with it some more before finishing with it, our upwind performance increased dramatically, allowing us to sail on a balanced basis (the helm needs little to no fiddling to keep her on course) while extremely close hauled.

Our travels to Cambridge Cay involved pretty much every point of sail, and very constant attention to route, as some of the deep-water parts were very narrow. As we were approaching the top of Bell Island, we found ourselves slightly aground in the sandy shoal adjacent to the channel. By that time the wind had dropped considerably, so I’d rolled up the genoa and we were on main alone. Fortunately, I was able to point us, by turning on the engine, back to deeper water, directly abeam of the wind, and by tightening the main extremely, created enough heel that we sailed off the sand in short order.

However, in the course of doing that, we looked at the choke point we’d have to go through, close enough to see clearly while we were getting off the bar. One side was the evidently shifting shoal (as we were following the chart’s directions for where to be and still ran aground), and the other was a very ugly pointed rock. Others had told us that this was the route to take, having done it very recently, but with the recent grounding in my mind, I didn’t much like the possibility of being aground with only a sharp rocky point available to get off! So, despite it now being well after 4PM, we turned around, followed our course back out between the shoals, and turned for Conch Cut.

Conch cut is very do-able, but requires attention as well, as there’s a rock awash right in the middle of it. As the wind was dying, with sunset not far off, and we already had the engine on, we were motorsailing for all we were worth. Unfortunately, whether from not-enough water coming in (we still had the hose issue with the raw water pump intake), or just not liking all the full-throttle stuff, about halfway up the outside of Cambridge Cay, we got an overheat buzzer.

Continuing under main alone, we inched northward, downwind in the dying breeze. Soon enough, the engine cooled, and we applied somewhat less throttle in the approaching sunset. The entrance to Cambridge Cay from the ocean side is no less tricky than the other, it being part of the same route we’d have taken once over the top of Bell Island, so we paid close attention to the depth sounder and VPR (visual piloting rules) as we came in, wandering around the prominent shoals just off the rocks.

Cambridge Cay has several moorings maintained by the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park but they were all full. We anchored to the west of the field, in about 20 feet of water, just before sunset. Doing our usual anchoring routine, still easily able to see the anchor set, we put out 200’ of chain, and rested comfortably.

The host boat came by in the morning and registered us; anchoring is free, but the moorings have a scaled cost of between $15 and $100 per day, with our length requiring a $20 daily payment. As we felt entirely secure, we passed on taking one of the moorings that vacated that morning. During our check-in, the host boat gave us a brochure showing locations of all the dive and snorkel sites, in great abundance in this area. Many were parks maintained, with dinghy buoys adjacent for free tie-ups while enjoying the attraction.

As all the dive and snorkel spots were at some distance from the boat, I made it a point to redo the recoil starter on the old 15HP outboard, which would get us to and from in much more satisfactory fashion than the 6HP we normally used on the Porta-Bote. Having done it once before made the pulling of the flywheel much easier, and the accomplishment and restoration of the rebuilt recoil starter only took about an hour, so we hustled down to our swim with the sharks.

About noon, our host boat again showed up aside, and told us of a meet-and-greet, bring your own drinks and appetizer to share, on an adjacent tiny island. We enthusiastically agreed and met another dozen or so people there, enjoying each other’s company and watching the sun go down in all its glory. The last several days have had clouds on the horizon, so while the sunsets were still spectacular, there was no chance for the green flash.

In between, before the evening’s activities, we went up to the marine aquarium, a miniature wall dive of a site with quite a few fish. On the way up, we saw One Eyed Parrots, a boat we’d met in Georgetown, and they gave us a looky-bucket (a bucket with a plastic bottom so one could look over the side and see what was going on below) to borrow. Everyone we talked to who’d been to the natural aquarium raved about it, so we were looking forward to it with great anticipation. After having heard that we would be covered up in fish, this was a bit anticlimactic, having fed the fish in the Thunderball grotto, where we literally WERE covered up in fish, but the coral and other bottom stuff was still beautiful to explore. And, there were many lovely fish – just not so thick that you couldn’t see more than a foot in front of you!

When I free dive, I use some weights to make me just the slightest bit buoyant, but by the time I’m down 20’ or so, the air in my lungs has compressed enough that I’m negatively buoyant and can easily swim along the bottom, enjoying the fish nibbling on the coral face to face. While we were there, we were joined by a couple of other boats, so I had to do some turning around on my ascents to make sure I wasn’t coming up under either a boat or someone else, but it was a great time under water. I used to figure I loved diving as much as I do because I’m a frustrated flier, having been, eventually, despite very heavy recruitment by the Navy, having been in love with airplanes since I was a small child, rejected for marginal red-green colorblindness. Diving is as close to flying as I’m likely to get, other than as a passenger :{))

Lydia’s mom got in the water with a mask for the first time in our trip on this excursion. She’d looked over the side in the bucket, and, having had her appetite whetted, she decided to brave it and go over. She was so enthralled that she wants to come back to it before we leave. I don’t know that we’ll get the opportunity to do that, but it just emphasizes how sorry we were that we didn’t manage to coerce her to go in at Thunderball.

As this is likely to be too long, there having been so much to see and do at Cambridge and the surrounding area, I’ll leave you here.

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
general scheme of things you are merely an insignificant speck on the
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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