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Old 26-04-2010, 08:53   #1
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Water Cay to Raccoon Cay, Jumentos 4-3-10

Water Cay to Raccoon Cay, Jumentos 4-3-10

Marty, here's your postcard!

When we left you, we'd just finished a fantastic day of sailing. Today was
no different, other than it didn't involve a lot of gut clenching water, nor
as many waypoints. Ahhh - the cruising life sure agrees with us.

The day started, as usual, with a listen to Chris Parker, our weather guru,
and, also as usual, not very early. Propagation was very poor, and he had
to get lots of relays to get messages from most of his subscribers.
However, one happened to ask about the Jumentos, so we didn't talk to him
directly. The forecast continued to be about what it had been, with winds
moving ever so slightly further east during the next few days, and in a
moderate speed. Much encouraged, we took another look at our charts for our
planned trip down to Ragged Island.

Unfortunately for us, however, in terms of getting to Duncantown in time for
church on Easter, we replanned our trip. The winds were still expected to
be quite northeast, which would have made our first half of our trip nearly
dead downwind, not the best point of sail for most boats. I noticed that
there was a cut at Nurse Cay, some 30+ miles south of us, which would not
only be on a better point of sail for us, it also would allow us a very long
stretch without having to make any waypoint changes.

So, Lydia set to making a new route with the new waypoints. By the time she
had finished, a boat which had motorsailed by us on the way to Comer
Channel, and thus had arrived at our anchorage in Water Cay before us, came
over to exchange boat cards and chat us up a bit before they went exploring
on the island. By the time we were finished, it was nearly 10AM.

The wind was moderate, but picking up a bit, and we had plenty of room, so
we sailed off our anchor at 10 AM and headed back out the way we had come
in. Our route would require a bit of backtracking in order to go over the
top of Water Cay, but once outside in the Atlantic, our route would be
straight for many hours.

Our batteries were at 250A from full, which is notable but not urgent with
our 880AH battery bank. Today would be a good test of our solar charging
system. So, we headed off at 38* magnetic for the turn point shown on the
Explorer Charts. We could very likely have turned earlier than that, based
on the chart's depths shown but we've learned to trust the Explorer Charts
explicitly in the Bahamas, so we used that waypoint, which added another
mile or two to our voyage. In the scheme of things, no biggie...

Unfortunately for us, the 10 knot wind was exactly on our nose, and if we
were to stand a chance of getting as far south as we needed to, we didn't
want to take the time to tack out and back to make that waypoint. So, we
fired up Perky, and motorsailed with the main up to minimize the rock and
roll. At that, of course, being behind the shelter of Water Cay, initially,
there was no fetch (the buildup of waves from a long distance) and not much
in the way of wind driven chop, either, but we were fighting a tide, so it
took us a little over a half hour to reach the waypoint for the turn.
During that time, we enjoyed the amps created with our alternator, about 65
for the short time we had the motor on.

By 11, we were angled across the top, and despite the less-than ideal
direction of the solar panels, we were already making 10 amps from them in
cloudy skies. That particular leg of our trip out to the big water was at a
close - to - beam reach of 60-80 degrees of apparent wind, and the tide was
in full run, so we were making only 4 or so knots. However, the wind was
steady, and we wondered if we'd be able to do another spinnaker run today.

By the time we turned the corner in the Atlantic, however, we were exposed
to the fetch and wind-driven waves which produced the usual rock-and-roll in
a somewhat downwind position. There was enough movement that it would have
been challenging to deploy the spinnaker, but, more importantly, would cause
it to collapse and fill, not a great thing for either the sail or rig, so we
elected to put out the genoa..

Our course was 198* over waves of 3-5', but we were making 5.4-6.3 knots in
only 6-10 knots of 120-150* port apparent wind, so we were content. That
would put us at our turn-in point at close to low tide, so there would be
little of the current which can be present in the Nurse Channel, a
prominently displayed warning on the charts. By 11:15, I had the lines out,
fetching out another of our poles to replace the one lost yesterday, hoping
that the terrific fishing brouted about by other cruisers would provide us
our dinner.

At the same time, the wind started building a bit, so our speed increased to
between 5.9 and 6.8 knots in 8-12 knots of apparent wind. We still had the
2-3' swells augmented by the 1-2' waves, so our rock-and-roll continued.
Still, it was very tolerable, and the sun even started to burn off the haze
and cloud layers. I was happy to see 15-20A coming through the solar
panels, and our amp-hour deficit was steadily decreasing.

Slowly, the wind started to clock slightly more to the east, improving our
point of sail, so I trimmed the sails a bit to take advantage of what was
now a mostly-beam reach. By 2PM our speed had dropped a bit, but with the
closer-to-beam reach, the boat stiffened somewhat, the rock-and-roll was
still tolerable, moving from a +15* to a -10* posture as we rolled back and
forth. Most of the time, the sails stayed steady, but with the lighter
winds, it sometimes made for a noisy recovery as it came back under the
influence of the wind as it finished a roll. With this speed, I estimated
we'd get to the Nurse Cay channel by 4:15-4:30, very close to slack tide, a
very good thing. As it happened, this is a frequently enough traveled point
that our chartplotter had the specifics for today, which were that the low
tide would be at 5:01.

By now, the sun was starting to shine relatively more regularly, and our
course of sail put our solar panels at about the best possible angle. I was
gratified to see that we were making nearly 25 amps from the sun, and our
battery deficit was steadily decreasing. By this time, we were already in
the range above which most cruisers never charge, due to the usual means of
charging being running either the main engine (using the alternator, as we
did on our short run upwind) or a diesel generator. The nature of charging
batteries is that the level of charging tapers off as it approaches full, so
as to not damage the batteries from either the heat created in fast
charging, or overcharging. As large as our battery bank is, however, it
could continue taking 25 amps nearly all the way to full, so I was happy to
see the production!

With a long way still to go, I went below for a nap, while Lydia tended to
our course. All was uneventful until I came up shortly before 4... At 4 PM,
just as she was headed down for a nap, the unusual sound that I couldn't
place suddenly became apparent. A (presumed) very large fish had just taken
the new painted cedar plug and had just spooled my line. (Spooling the line
means that the fish overcame the drag and pulled out all of the line.) I
became aware of what that sound was when there was a PING! as the line broke
off the spool. I'd whipped my head around fast enough to see the pole flail
back from the bent-over position it had been in.

RATS!! Not only a new lure, and 300 yards of line, a big fish was now not
being brought into the boat. Oh, well, another one of those days. Perhaps
one day I'll be a fisherman, but right now it looks like I'm just a
contributor of equipment to Davey Jones! Having just denigrated myself on
the subject, at 4:15, another very large fish hit the other line's lure.
This time I was able to turn up the drag enough that he didn't take it all,
and started to work it in.

Suddenly, there was no pressure on the line any more. Did this one bite
through the stainless steel leader, too? I reeled it in, and while the hook
was still there, there were also some impressive scratches on it. So,
whatever it was must have had some teeth! However, he'd thrown the hook,
and the lure was still intact, so I set it out again. Where there are a
couple, there are probably more, right?? Unfortunately for us, we'd soon be
leaving the Atlantic, so the nature of the fish available would probably
change. Of course, I had no idea what fish we'd lost, along with one lure,
so I really can't tell. And, if you've not yet gotten the idea, I'm not an
experienced enough fisherman to tell you what we might have expected out
here, anyway :{)) All I know is that they like cedar plugs and blue-skirted

No sooner had I put the lure back in the water at 4:30 than we passed the
day mark outside Nurse Channel. It's a relatively flat, relatively small
piece of rock, with a 10meter obelisk on it, one I'd hate to run into in the
dark!. Time to turn in, so we were again dead downwind, albeit for a short
time. With all the waves, we chose to turn on Perky again for the few
minutes it would take for us to reach our next mark, so he contributed
nicely to our charging input.

Soon enough, we were at the next turn point, and Ray (the chartplotter
working with Otto, the autopilot) faithfully executed a sharp left hand
turn. This would put the wind in a much more favorable position, and, sure
enough, no sooner did I trim the sails than we leapt forward. Inside, the
seas were all of 6-12", and without the rock and roll, so our speed went up
to 6.5-7-4 knots in 10-15 knots as we pinched up a bit to about 75* apparent

By 5:15, the wind was building, and we headed in a bit more than the rhumb
line on the charts, as we'd determined that we'd not make it to Ragged
Island's favorite anchorage at Hog Cay. No sooner than we'd entered the new
waypoint off our expected anchorage, another big fish hit the skirted lure.
Despite my having tightened the drag, by the time I got to the pole, he had
nearly stripped that one, too. We were moving right along, so I got Lydia
to slack the sheets on both sails, letting the main all the way out, and our
speed dropped to manageable levels, helping to lessen the pressure on the

He was so far back that it took me a long time to get him to the boat.
Dang! Another barracuda - but this time, too big to keep. Unfortunately for
him, we didn't get to measure him, and thus discover his size for sure,
until we'd anchored, or I'd have let him go. As it is, I'm sure that some
other fish, perhaps the sharks which are known to be in these waters, will
enjoy him for dinner :{))

Trimming our sails back in for the remaining run, we were making 7.1-7.8
knots in 12-16 knots of apparent wind - just another exhilarating day on the
water for Flying Pig! Quickly, however, our anchorage hove into view, so I
rolled up the genoa at 5:45 to slow the boat down for a bit before our turn
in. Because we'd be going just about directly into the wind, we took
advantage of that to get the main in and, because we weren't sure what we'd
find in the way of the bottom, especially since the charts showed a reef
line just off the lovely beach, we once again called on Perky (our Perkins
4-154 diesel engine) to gently explore where we'd throw the hook.

Standing on the bow, the bottom looked pretty much like it did in Water Cay,
so I was encouraged to hope that we'd find the same excellent holding here.
We'd set very firmly, and the anchor had come up cleanly in Water Cay, about
the nicest thing that can happen when you're anchoring in an unfamiliar
spot. Sure enough, while the anchor landed in exactly the wrong direction,
my short-scope chain quickly put it into position and I let out about 25
feet in 8-9 feet of water at what looked to be low tide. Certainly, with the
low at the channel being only an hour ago, it wasn't far off that, and,
happily, the anchor bit immediately.

Following my usual routine, we were comfortably snug at anchor with 75' of
chain in the water at 6:35. While Lydia made dinner, I made repairs to the
line which nearly broke from the wrestling that Barry had given it. No big
deal, that one's ready for redeployment tomorrow. I'll save respooling the
other rod until later, as dinner was ready right after my repairs.

Being directly behind the island, there were no waves this time, and despite
the singing rigging, the 10-15 knots merely lulled us to sleep. Nicely, our
deficit in our batteries was reduced by half, putting us at a range more
closely to that found in most cruising boats, not more than 80% full. We
managed 85%, a 50% gain on our deficit, with just the solar panels. I can't
wait until I have my KISS wind generator reinstalled, as we'd most likely
have been, as they say in the south, slap full, had it been in place today.
For that matter, likely we'd not have been as far down, either, as it blew
all night last night...

We're here at 22* 21.396'N/75* 48.695'W in the House Bay
anchorage at Raccoon Cay, and, if the waters allow, we'll explore the
Atlantic side tomorrow. If not, there's lots of island to explore, and,
perhaps, some conch to find. Either way, we're glad we're here, stimulated
and happily tired after another great day of sailing. After a quick
check-in with the Maritime Mobile Cruisers Net (a Ham radio net), which
enjoyed my fish stories, I'm ready for bed.

Until next time, Stay Tuned!


Skip and Crew

Morgan 461 #2
SV Flying Pig KI4MPC
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