Staniel Cay didn’t give us the warmest welcome…
With a westerly coming in, the plan was to find protection at Staniel Cay. We had hoped the marina would be a good place to rest for a few days so we could catch up on some online chores, top off our tanks and get a full charge on our batteries. Earlier in the day we made reservations and let the marina staff know we would be pulling in at about 5:30. They said “No problem, come on in.”
At 5:35pm we approached the channel and hailed Staniel Cay Yacht Club on the radio. No answer. Several times we tried, but no answer. Our radio had been on the fritz, but we were sure they really just weren’t monitoring at all. Now what? It’s almost dark and we were SO ready to tie up and grab some dinner. Instead, we passed the marina and picked up a mooring ball on the back side of Thunderball Grotto. Easy enough. The guy managing the private moorings came around at 9am the next morning to collect $20.
At slack tide we took the paddle boards over to the Grotto, put on our fins and masks and swam inside. It really was amazing to see!! Unfortunately there were about 15 people in there with us, but we still had a good time. The Grotto has been filmed several times and most notably for a James Bond film, Thunderball. I don’t have any pictures since I was a bit nervous to swim with my iPhone for that long. The case has leaked a few times and I didn’t want to chance it. Check out Google Images though for a good idea of what we saw :)
The entire time we were at Staniel Cay we heard people hailing the yacht club on the radio with no answer ALL DAY LONG. Occasionally someone would get through. The fuel dock answered right away for others calling in. I guess they aren’t run by the same staff? We finally made contact and stayed one night at the marina. Water was .50 cents and power was .75/kw. They ask for 2.50 per trash bag and $5 per large bag. If you go around the corner by dinghy there is a beach with a trail up to the local dump where you can take your trash for free. There were no showers or restrooms and internet was the pay-per-day satellite wifi deal for $15 a day with TERRIBLE connection.We used that the first night to take care of a few things online but that was definitely a one-time-thing. We just can’t recommend staying at the Yacht Club here. Life is so much better at anchor!!
While exploring town at Staniel Cay, we visited the BTC office to finally get a Bahamas sim card. We took the “highway” :) After I finally got AT&T to cooperate and unlock my iPhone we were able to get the BTC network up and running. The iPhone lets me turn on personal hotspot to boost service to our laptops. $30 for 2 gb is definitely worth it! It took us this long to set it up because we didn’t think we’d spend so much time here in the Bahamas, but we’re on Island Time now and are moving much slower than before. With the blog, 2 gb doesn’t last long, even with reducing file sizes. It’s pretty nice to have wifi to access weather too, even though we can tune in to Chris Parker on the SSB.
Moving up between the Majors was the next item on the agenda before the next front came through. The protection from the west was good and our anchor held well. It only got rolly as the wind clocked around from the north and east but we stuck it out longer than most before moving over to the west side of Big Majors where the pigs live. We kept our distance though since they like to climb up on the side of the boats to be fed. There were big ones and tiny baby piggies too. Pretty cool to see them swimming around but I sure wouldn’t want to swim with them!
Here’s an underwater shot of a turtle we saw before my LifeProof case started leaking. The phone spent a good three days inside a bag of rice but there’s still a bit of water damage on the corner of the screen. OH WELL, it still works :)
We spotted another Whitby 42 after we went back to the other side between the majors. Jock and Val aboard Duchess had anchored right next to us! We had a nice dinner that night with our new friends and had a good night’s sleep anchored securely. The next day, Jock came over to let us know a 65′ motor yacht had gotten himself stuck on the rocks commonly known as Crown of Thorns. The local salvage company arrived promptly. I guess its pretty common to hit this very dangerous rock. The current sweeps through here at a good 6 knots with the changing of the tides and it takes a good lookout to see the rock there at high tide. Turns out the current swept this boat over much quicker than they anticipated.
Peter and Jock went to go help them out and ended up being of great assistance. They were running equipment back and forth in their dinghies and assisting the diver that came aboard the vessel in distress. I can’t even imagine getting in the water here with the strength of the current!! It was all we could do to run our 15hp dinghy motor at full speed to stay in place next to the motor yacht.
Our dinghy turned into a life raft when we took the wife, daughters and their friends ashore. The yacht had just shifted on the rock and they were afraid of it being tipped over too much and potentially catching the rail in the current. We were right along side and it was terrifying to think of the strength of the water flowing beneath us. We continued running tools and equipment for the salvage company, as the owner and captain did their best to help out from the yacht. At one point the diver called us back over and asked for me to come aboard just to have another body on the port side bow as they ran the tow rope up the other direction to pull the boat off the rocks. This literally took all day.
The propellers were toast, both rudders were bent, the bow thruster was no good and there was a seeping crack in the hull. The insurance quote to fix the boat was astronomical! There’s good money in salvage, that’s for sure. It was a very unfortunate situation but we were glad we were able to be of service. The family and crew were okay which is what’s important.
That night Peter and I relaxed with a movie and some popcorn. Peter has Gunner perfectly trained to give kisses for a piece of popcorn. He doesn’t even have to say anything anymore… they have an understanding :) Gunner gets more popcorn than I do!!!
Sweet boys. These two have more in common than I ever thought was possible. Its pretty darn cute.
Sleepy Sampson Cay was the next stop as we followed our sistership, Duchess, up north just a bit. It was very quiet, we were the only two boats there. Great holding and not very rolly at all. The island is private now and there was actually quite a bit of traffic coming and going. A sea-plane did about 5 drops right next to us. Besides the traffic from visitors to the private island, it was a nice place to stay.
Gunner is such a funny dog. He makes himself comfortable in the strangest ways! He is loving the Bahamas!
There was a nice sand bar behind Sampson Cay where the dogs got to run and swim. There was nothing there for Gunner to eat or get into so it was the perfect place to let him run free :) He ran and ran and ran until his little legs just couldn’t go anymore. He tried so hard but ended up hopping with is back legs trying to keep up with the front ones. Betsy ran as fast as she could and they played hard!!
Both puppies love to go fishing with their daddy, but they’re more interested in the lure than the fish.
Betsy is a little easier to get in and out of the water so she gets to go swimming a little more often than Gunner. The handles on our HelpEmUp harnesses make it easy for us to toss her in…
Sleeping in is still one of our favorite things to do. French toast with local Bahamian bread makes our mornings even better!!!
Although our posts aren’t coming as frequently as they used to, rest assured we are enjoying ourselves to the fullest. It has been an amazing experience so far and we are settling in to our new life at sea quite nicely. Living on the hook is hard work, but it is TOTALLY worth it!!
Follow your dreams and take a leap of faith!! Dreams really do come true :)