Bonnie and Jim Miller sailed their Newfoundland-registered Victoire yacht ‘Vagrant Sea’ from the Queen City Yacht Club in Toronto via the ICW to the Bahamas
Sailing the Bahamas – ICW South part 6
We’re back in Nassau again after a few great weeks of out-island cruising. When we came through here back at Christmas we hurried on down the Exuma chain, with a short stop at the bottom in Georgetown. Then it was east to Long Island for our long and unexpected sojourn. For the return run, we decided to do a loop and travel up the islands east of the Exumas — Conception, Cat, Little San Salvador and Eleuthra. As we came up the sheltered west side of the arc, we were able to make good use of the strong northeasterlies which were a plague to the Exumas.
Our anchorages were many and varied. Several nights we just came in from deep water, nosed toward the beach until the sounder read 12-15 feet and dropped the hook. At Hawksnest we seemed to be shooting the surf. We successfully navigated the narrow opening, then accomplished our first significant “underway” grounding (as opposed to “at anchor” grounding) in the Bahamas. Soon free, we dredged our way into the creek and cosied up to the mangroves. One day it got breezier than expected and we realized our planned anchorage on Eleuthra’s southwest coast would be untenable. Jim searched the guide book for something more promising as I hunkered down at the helm in my foul weather jacket and tried to minimize the water coming over the side. We chose a spot the guide said would do as a last resort and were amazed to find it deep, snug and occupied by friendly neighbours (including a CS33, Windborne, with Marg and Bert from Kingston).
Some memorable moments from the past month:
Jim dove to check the anchor one night just after our arrival and popped straight back up holding an unfamiliar crustacean. “What do you think this is?” “Dinner,” said I. It was a Spanish lobster and we soon had its mate. Sweeter than the spiny variety and the easiest catch ever.
At Little San Salvador we shared the anchorage with a 2000-passenger cruise ship. Happy to report they did not drag down on us. At the Governor’s Harbour movie theatre we saw Amistad last week. Gave us a lot to think about in an area where the slave trade figured prominently in history.
Cat Island was abuzz in anticipation of the impending visit of favourite son Sidney Poitier. Jim wouldn’t let me wait another to weeks to see him.
In the Rock Sound grocery store, we were approached by a couple who asked “Are you Canadian cruisers?” We were only startled for a moment – after all, everybody recognizes cruisers by their knapsacks, tans, scruffy clothes and (as my sister so helpfully pointed out) really bad haircuts. And Jim was in the process of giving maple leaf pins to the bag boy. We soon made introductions and spent the afternoon swapping stories with Donn and John Legate from London and the Port Credit boatbuilders co-op. They are renting a house on Eleuthra this winter, but plan to be here next year in their boat Majuki.
This morning we watched a long parade of boats leave Nassau to go stateside, but we have another few weeks in the Bahamas yet. When the wind is right we’ll go to Royal Island and Spanish Wells, then north to the Abacos. This morning’s news tells us that central Canada has today temperatures just as warm as we have. Sounds like it’s launch time.
Fair winds and snug harbours,
Bonnie James – Vagrant Sea
Share this article with your friends