Lonely but not so alone   Leave a comment

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Frozen Cay

On our first morning at anchor in the Bahamas I started to panic. Mostly I just felt funny. I got up, looked around, made breakfast, and just sat there wondering what to do. What does one do with an anchorage – a huge expanse of water – to oneself on a sunny, beautiful morning?

There was no shore to go to (our nearby island was someone’s private island and the next closest was quite a trek away).
There were no preparations to make for a passage or a project.
There was no internet.
There were no other boats or people to watch or visit.

Our world seemed so strange, so empty and isolated. I felt like we’d passed some kind of point of no return, beyond which we were cast into an abyss water and sky. We were so, so far from where we’d started and, seemingly, from everything familiar. I sat in a daze, pondering these things all morning.

Luckily my shock wore off and I managed to enjoy the amazingly beautiful spot Lee had picked. He was looking for an anchorage we could fit into depth-wise that would protect Pirat from the southeasterly and then southeasterly forecast before we left Sunshine Marina. We planned to ride that northeasterly breeze to the Berry Islands in an overnight sail. Unfortunately, the South wind came early. We beat upwind all night and most of the next day to reach our anchorage. I now understand and appreciate two things:

  1. Why cruisers don’t like sailing upwind. Who likes to beat into the seas and wind for more than 12 hours?
  2. Our boat rocks. Seriously, it would be so miserable to sail a slower boat that couldn’t point as high as ours on a passage like this. It would take more tacks and more time to work through the same weather.

Okay, enough gloating about the boat.

Lee and I spent three fabulous days anchored at Frozen Cay (pronounced key, by the way). The cay next door, Little Harbor Cay, is home to Flo’s Conch Bar and provided some territory to explore. There was no one at home in Flo’s or the surrounding shacks when we visited. We petted their dog, ogled the giant piles of conch shells, and obtained a coconut from beneath one of the gazillion palm trees.

Motoring around in the dinghy to get to Little Harbor Cay and other spots was like flying over the bottom of the ocean. Normally, traveling in a boat concentrates your awareness on moving through the water, or maybe gliding over it’s surface. When the water ranges from 3 to 30 feet deep and you can see everything on the bottom in vivid detail the ocean almost disappears. Instead of moving through the water, you’re moving over what’s beneath it. I found myself watching the bottom whiz by on every dinghy ride like I would watch farmland through a car window.

We saw giant starfish, elaborate coral formations, and schools of exotic-looking fish going about their undersea business. It looked like Finding Nemo or the Little Mermaid. I actually did a little swimming with my goggles and swim cape without letting the sea life freak me out!

Lee was in and out of the water all the time. He dove down to check on the anchor, set it into the sane better, and clean the bottom of the boat. He snorkeled and windsurfed. I swam and bathed with Joy dish soap.

We picked up a second coconut on a beach at Little Harbor Cay. Lee managed to strip both coconuts of their outer husk by banging them on rocks and we took them with us to enjoy later. There were conch shells everywhere on that beach. Some of them were so old they seemed to have fossilized into the sand and become part of the rocky outcroppings along the shore.

On our last evening at Frozen Cay, Lee and I were retrieving his windsurfing bag from a beach along the private island (I know, we were trespassing) when we spotted some more coconuts and decided to augment our supply. Of course, just then a little motor boat pulled out of the private marina and people appeared along the breakwater of the formerly deserted island. Lee leaped away from the pal, dropping the coconuts, and stabbing his foot on something sharp on his way back to the dinghy. The motor boat returned the it’s harbor and no one hassled us but I pictured us in some sort of James Bond bad guy scenario involving a shark tank. Don’t only James Bond villians have private islands in the Bahamas?

We left early and sailed most of the next day to reach Nassau. It was another upwind sail in pretty strong wind and good-sized waves. Pirat does about 6 knots close hauled with a reefed main and the solent in 15-18 knots.

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Nassau harbor. Apparently I can’t take straight pictures.The boat is always rocking!

Cruise ships and a beautiful sunset greeted us in Nassau harbor. We anchored alone in one spot the first night and then moved to the more popular cruiser anchorage the next day. From here we have a nice view of the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island.

Nassau is WILD. It’s strange to think that this crowded, grungy, working city is out in Atlantic ocean. We’re just starting our explorations. I think my favorite part so far is the market under the Paradise Island bridge where boats from the out-islands bring fresh seafood and produce to sell. There are all kinds of colorful shacks selling conch salad and fried fish. There are mangoes, papayas, yams and all sorts of things I can’t identify.

Some time in the next few days we plan to head for the Exumas. We’ll make our way down that long chain of islands

Posted February 6, 2011 by Rachel in Uncategorized

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