- Katharine Hesmer
DAY 30 | January 12, 2022
Hawksbill Cay to Shroud Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
KORKZcrew is the blue dot on the map (en route north to Shroud Cay in this image).
Woke up to stormy skies, crazy gusty winds, and that gorgeous water. Someone on instagram commented that there are no words to adequately describe this water. It’s so true. It’s not really teal; it’s not really blue — it’s just clear and bright and beautiful, regardless of what the skies are doing. One of the auto-suggested keywords that keeps popping up to describe my photos when I’m working on the website is “azure”, which is pretty close, but still falls short somehow. You really have to see it to believe it. I've been on numerous charter trips over the years with the Reddins, and by far the most beautiful water I've ever seen was in Anegada in the BVI and here in the Exumas. (I've probably mentioned that before, but like I've also said multiple times, I can't remember anything, so fair warning to both of you daring to still trudge ahead with these posts. 😳)
View from the galley porthole
Ron and Steve took the dinghy to the beach and went for a walk this morning while Skeet and I hung out on KORKZcrew. Ron is making good on his pledge to walk whenever the chance presents itself; me? Not so much. 😳(And it's only day two 😂🙄. Take a wild guess at how good I am at keeping New Year's Resolutions . . . !)
When they returned to KORKZcrew, Ron noticed a creature in the water just off the stern that looked vaguely familiar. Not a barracuda, not a dolphin, not even a dolphinfish. No, it was . . . our bath towel. 😂 Ron got out the gaff — I mean, boat hook — and landed that baby like a pro.
With no cell signal and semi-rough conditions at Hawksbill, we decided to find a better anchorage with potentially better cell service, and ironically, made the executive decision to head back north. Here are the masterminds at work in their secret lab:
Screen grab from Windy.com, which also has an app for iPhone and Android phones. It's been a great resource for us on this trip.
Probably sounds crazy that we went back north when we are trying to make our way south, but we’re balancing progress with comfortable anchorages and the ability to access the internet. Skeet, our heroic researcher, found that the closest cell tower was in Staniel Cay, which is further south of us and doable on a nice day, but not for KORKZcrew with choppy seas and high winds. The other cell tower is north of us back in Highbourne, so we’re heading to Shroud Cay which is about halfway in between, and should offer a better spot to anchor for the night. (Skeet says he searches for AT&T cell tower maps on the web to find service locations, even though we are on the Aliv network in the Bahamas. These maps are pretty indicative of what we'll find for Aliv as well.)
KORKZcrew had a super windy and choppy passage from Hawksbill to Shroud Cay. It wasn’t ideal for me to be hanging out in the pilot house at the time, but it was a good thing that I was — it was so windy I had to close both pilot house doors while we were underway which I’ve never had to do. Various objects like towels and random papers were flying around and trying to make a beeline for the back door, so I headed them off at the pass! Pretty soon after that, we were hitting the chop in such a way that sea spray started coming in through the windows on the starboard side. (While closing the windows before starting a passage is a pretty basic prep move, I gambled on this one because depending on the wind, you can usually allow airflow in the pilot house without worrying about getting wet. Leave me at home next time you're visiting a casino.) I went outside to videotape like a numbskull and got slapped in the face with a big blast of sea spray. Not sure what EXACTLY I thought would happen when I walked out on the side of the boat that was getting a constant barrage of water, but with winds gusting to 25 mph, it was a pretty chilly (but still fun) smack in the face. 🙄
Shroud seemed to be the right choice, as we noticed about 15 other boats in the same anchorage, which is a pretty good indicator of desirable spots.
We put out the anchor, and after Ron and Skeet did some reading about upcoming weather conditions which included shifting wind directions, we decided to grab a nearby mooring ball. A mooring ball is a permanent installation that you typically have to pay for, but it gives you peace of mind that you’ll be safe from the anchor dragging or from the boat swinging in a precarious direction in the middle of the night. Not every anchorage has mooring balls available, but this particular one does. They’re usually around $25 or so per night.
I had to stretch my mooring ball muscle that hasn’t been tapped in a few years, so it — and I — were pretty darn rusty, but I muddled through it with the encouragement and support of Skeet. You start by tying a line to one cleat on the bow of your boat. In this case, we started on the left or port side. Then you take a boathook and do your best to locate and snag the giant “eyelet” on the mooring ball, thread your line through that and underneath the bowsprit, and then tie the other end of the line to the cleat on the right or starboard side of the bow. Not the prettiest job, but darn — I guess I’ll just have to stay down here longer to get more practice and perfect my mooring ball talents. Oh well. (For any mooring-ball-snagging professionals out there, I wouldn't recommend watching this. I'm pretty much throwing myself under the bus here.)
It’s too windy and overcast today to do much except work and try to get organized (or chill out if you're Skeet & Steve), and I have to say, I’m enjoying the less-is-more lifestyle — less to manage, so a thousand times easier to manage. I hope (?!?!) it’ll inspire me to purge the vast majority of my belongings in Wilmington once we get home. But don't hold your breath.
A bad storm cropped up in the late afternoon that was actually beautiful to watch as it came across the water.
Shroud was already shaping up to be a somewhat bumpy/rolly anchorage, but it only got worse after this squall came through after dinner. Things calmed down a bit before we went to bed, but we could still feel the rolls through the night. The reward (again!) was that amazing sound of a downpour, which sounds counterintuitive, but it is SUCH a lovely sound on a boat or any small space.
See you tomorrow!
1 hour underway; 6 nautical miles traveled