Hoffman Cay, The Berry Islands, Bahamas Part 1

 

Apr 27-30

Mark tried multiple geneker, code zero, main sail combinations to figure out the best motor/sail configurations for light wind sailing during this 8 hour passage.  Angie was MIA due to a severe sinus infection but she did start embroidering the coozies for something fun to do.

Departing Nassau Harbor
Departing Nassau Harbor
Paradise Island Lighthouse
Paradise Island Lighthouse
Uno Mas at Anchor at Hoffman Cay
Uno Mas at Anchor at Hoffman Cay

We set anchor this time just off of Hoffman Cay. We were positioned perfectly so we could snorkel to the beach in between the storms that are supposed to be brewing around us for the next 5 days.  While snorkeling out to check the anchor position, Mark encountered yet  another Black Tip Reef Shark, AND the no-see-um little bug bastards showed up at dusk. We are still trying to figure out why they LOVE Angie and leave Mark alone. However, it was good to be back at anchor with some wind cooling things down in one of our favorite places from our 2012 Bahama trip. This area has a bunch of little remote islands all around to beachcomb and sightsee.  For some reason (Probably because our dinghy motor was not reliable), we did not search out the Blue Hole on Hoffman Cay last time.  That is high on the list of things to do.

Hoffman off the Back Stoop
Hoffman off the Back Stoop
Soldier Cay
Soldier Cay
Fishing Nets at Soldier
Fishing Nets at Soldier
Soldier Cay Beach Booty
Soldier Cay Beach Booty

We took a long dinghy ride up to Soldier Cay, which had really great goodies on the beach, and looked for snorkeling/dive sites, as well as beach access to hiking trails and the infamous Blue Hole.  We got back to Uno Mas just in time for a storm with lightening to erupt over us.  NOT GOOD. We do  not like lightening, especially after just replacing all of our electronics.  Our mast was the tallest thing around for miles, and we were none too happy to find that our wind, speed, and direction electronics would not turn on. We had taken a hit.  Mark found a Garmin NEMA 2000 backbone lightening suppressor (Fuse like thing) had tripped.  He removed it, replaced it, and voila, we had all electronics again.  THANK GOODNESS!  The rain was so bad, you could not see any of the land masses around us.  The crazy winds had us swirling around 360 degrees on our anchor, which is never comfortable.  And, we were CLOSE to land.  Too close for comfort for Angie if the winds continued to act crazy, or if we drug anchor for the first time, officially, for this trip. Something that could very easily happen with the spinning we were doing.  So, when there was a lull between the storms around 7 pm, we hauled anchor and moved to the middle of the cove we were in.  We let out 160 feet of chain in 20 feet of water because the winds were escalating way over 25 knots, and of course, they were coming from a direction that was not predicted on the weather sites.  We hunkered in waiting for the next round of storms, having plenty of room to move around if needed, expecting pretty bad conditions.

Uno Mas in the Middle
Uno Mas in the Middle

The next morning, the storms continued. The boat rocked and rolled, and we were still swinging 360. Two boats came into the cove looking for protection.  A smaller fishing vessel found a spot off of White Cay, but a larger trawler decided he needed to anchor really close to us.  One thing we have seen so far this trip is that trawlers usually put out very little scope, they swing very differently than catamarans in the wind, and usually only carry a catspaw style anchor (which pretty much only works in sand).  They also have a tendency to drag when we see this set up with crazy weather. Mark got on the VHF radio to tell the guy that we are on a 200 ft swing radius (400 ft circumference), so he needed to have at least that out in front of his boat or we would get tangled up.  The guy confirmed he heard us, but as we watched, only let out about 50 feet.  His wife was on the bow and they tried to set the anchor multiple times.  Mark pointed out a sandy spot a bit further away from us that might work.  Before they motored across our anchor chain, Mark told them we had an anchor buoy that was being held down by the waves, and was about 5 feet under the surface of the water, 160 feet in front of us. They motored over it anyways.  Thank goodness they did not foul their prop on our buoy line.  The new area was too deep for them, and they decided to motor up to a marina after trying for over an hour.  We hate to see boaters go out on the water in bad conditions, but we were thankful they were not next to us, knowing that the inevitable would have happened.

Two Coozie
Two Coozie
2 More
Four Coozie
The Grouper
The Grouper

During the day, we stayed on Uno Mas.  Angie was working on the coozies and nursing the sinus infection, and Mark decided to do some fishing and caught a Grouper!  Mark saw a huge turtle off the back of the boat, and our wind generator is kicking right now. (Since we are so close to getting back to the USA, we decided to use it, until it died completely, to keep the batteries topped off during all of the storms since our solar panels would not be working.)

At 5:15 that evening, a USCG Man Overboard Call came over the VHF radio.  A captain for a chartered motor vessel had fallen overboard, in theory, just a mile outside of Nassau.  The charter group did not really have an idea of when it happened or where, and they were in dire need of someone to captain the vessel in to a safe harbor, as the sun was to start setting in a few hours.  The USCG Pan Pan went out at 7 pm that night.  Listening to the group call the USCG, asking where the helicopter was for 2 hours was heart wrenching and you start to wonder why they did not dispatch earlier?  However, being so close to Nassau harbor, we believe the Bahamian coast guard was officially in charge of the search for a Bahamian captain on a Bahamian vessel.  Cruise ships circled the area looking for the man.  At one point, a ship thought they spotted him, but it was not.  Around 7:35 pm the helicopter finally arrived, and they found the guy! He was alive, and rushed to a hospital in Nassau.  We assume another captain was arranged to help the hailing vessel get to Nassau as well.

Kitties Helping with Paperwork
Kitties Helping with Paperwork

That was a very sobering day.  Being out on the water, in the middle of nowhere, hearing and seeing vessels that should not have been out, dealing with CRAZY weather.  We felt very safe on Uno Mas, well, except for the lightening suppressor taking a second hit.  We definitely need to get spares of that little gadget!

Sunset, Berries

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