April 10-12 – Going Ashore and Moving to North End of Victoria Bay
Another monohull decided to anchor uncomfortably close right in front of us. (Meaning, if they drag, we were going to be hit.) We had told them we were on a 150 foot swing radius via the vhf radio, but it didn’t seem to matter. Maybe they didn’t have their radio on. The herd mentality of anchoring just confounds and irritates both of us. We decided to run the tender into the central harbor and check out Matthewtown. The harbor was destroyed by Hurricane Matthew last year and they are slowly rebuilding it. We were able to tie the dink up to huge granite boulders lining one wall, climb over the rocks and up to the roadway. It was a short walk into town. A Haitian sailing boat was tied up to what was left of the concrete dock, but no sign of life onboard.
We were not able to locate Casper to sign up for the flamingo and bird sanctuary tour; However, we did find a sign with an email address for it, so will try that route next. The grocery stores, listed in the cruise guides, that were supposed to rival Georgetown’s, did not exist. They didn’t have eggs or milk. The only vegetables were sprouting onions and sprouting potatoes. The canned goods seemed to be mostly dust covered. We left without purchasing anything except a box of cereal. Maybe they have been waiting a long time for a supply boat.
You can tell that Morton Salt Company put a lot of money into building the island up, many, many years ago by the dilapidated buildings and parks. In its hay day, (early 1900’s) the island had horse drawn carriages and a polo team. Salt was at $30/ton at the early 1900’s compared to $3/ton today. Morton bought the plant after the pricing collapsed. However, everything now is run down. We didn’t find the grocery stores, restaurants, or bars touted in the guidebooks. We didn’t find any nice lodging places for visitors even though it has an airport and a USCG helicopter base.
Angie uploaded 4 pictures on FaceBook and finished off our Bahama data package. We were able to find a place where we could recharge and get 3 GB for $38. We will see how long that lasts.
While out walking around, we watched as some very dark, stacking and rolling clouds started accumulating over Cuba and were heading our way. We decided it was time to get back to the boat before it opened up on us. The winds picked up and we had a very rough, and very wet dinghy ride back to Uno Mas. Even standing up, we were getting pummeled by wave after wave while motoring into the wind.
When we got back to the boat, the monohull in front of us was over our anchor. No one answered when we hailed them on the vhf radio. With the weather heading towards us, we decided to move further North in the bay, away from the other boats, before it escalated further. With the hard bottom, it seemed inevitable that someone would drag anchor and put us in danger of our anchor chains being tangled, hit us, or push us into the coral heads. Pulling in the anchor was difficult as we were getting precariously close to the monohull. Mark was using the engines to try to take tension off the chain and move Uno Mas up to break free the anchor and also keep us from hitting the swinging monohull. Our anchor chain jumped off the windlass and started spooling out before breaking the anchor free. It was difficult, but Mark was able to get it on track again and after the 2nd try, we broke the spade anchor free and headed towards a new spot to anchor. It took us 45 minutes to motor across the bay, maneuvering through the uncharted and unsurveyed coral heads. With the previous up anchor fiasco, the 30 feet of anchor bridle and 3 ft snubber had twisted and entangled itself into a huge ball. It took Angie the entire trip to unbind it, and she was exhausted. It took us two tries, but we finally found a great sand strip to set anchor in, and it dug in tight! This area looks like a great staging point for beach combing and mangroving. There are no other boats around, no coral heads close, and the surge seems to be less. All in all, we were pleased with the move and even saw another green “spark” at sunset.
Unfortunately, the next day dinghying, beach combing, and mangroving didn’t work out. Hurricane Matthew pretty much destroyed the shore line. All of the sand is in a dune, 30 feet from shore. The shoreline is now all hard rock with no area to land the tender. The mangrove entrance is completely sanded in as well. The tender trip was a bust. However, there is always time to start working on some of the items on the unending boat project list.
It was calm enough for Angie to try to type up blog posts and not be taking continual doses of motion sickness pills like at the past anchorage. Mark worked on tracking down the creaking boat noises keeping us up at night. He ended up lining our wood stairs with ½ inch strips of fabric, creating a buffer. It helped… A LOT!
Mark worked on a new electrical hub port center under our interior nav desk, as well as mounting a new water tank level sensor and electrical and tank level monitoring center. It would be nice to be able to look at a gauge to see how full our water tank is, in lieu of looking for water level shadowing on the side of the tank!
We strung our ocean trampoline and removed the island one Angie made last year. The larger fishing net holes will allow the water to flow through in lieu of putting pressure on the custom made trampoline from the oncoming waves hitting the underside and potentially ripping out the grommets. A small turtle swam under and checked us out while working the trampolines. That was it for the fish life around us!