Crossing to the Exumas!

The morning of Monday, December 18, we filled up our water tanks, loaded up our jerry cans of gas and diesel, and backed out of our slip at Cape Eleuthera. Finally, after dayyyyyys of high winds and rain, we were blowing this popsicle stand and heading across to the Exumas! Yippee!

As soon as we left the harbor, the sails went up. It was looking like a breezy ride, so we reefed the mainsail and got settled in.

Patrick tossed the fishing lines out, crossing his fingers we’d be having some tasty fish for dinner. And lo and behold, about 10 miles off Eleuthera, we actually caught a mahi! Fish dinner, indeed! This bird soaring closely over our boat was our first clue that we had a fish on the line…

With that excitement over, we got back to sailing. The crossing was slow at first due to the current being against us, but we picked up speed as it turned. The sea state stayed lumpy, however, and we were glad to spot land again, knowing soon we’d be through Wax Cut and hopefully in less lumpy seas on the other side of the island chain (heading to the “bank” side vs the “sound” side). The winds also picked up even more as we got closer to land, so we put a second reef in the main to make it a little more comfortable.

We went through Wax Cut about one hour after high tide and were seeing 2-3 knots of current against us, which wasn’t bad but certainly didn’t do much for our speed.

We had been planning on heading to Shroud Cay, after hearing great things about it from our friends on 3 Lil Birds, who were also making this crossing with us, but with the winds out of the northwest, we were going to need something more protected from that angle. They told us they were going to check out the anchorage at Elbow Cay, so we followed them over there. They dropped the hook a little before we got there, and called to tell us it was rolly and not great, so we sailed past them to look for another spot we could both go to instead. They took a picture of us as we went by! I don’t think we have a photo of Oestara double-reefed, so this is a good one!

We tried Hawksbill Cay north anchorage, a few miles away, but it was too shallow and still pretty rolly. Next we tried to Hawksbill Cay south anchorage, and that seemed like it could work. We picked up a mooring and let 3 Lil Birds know where we were; they were already heading our way, having decided they definitely didn’t want to stay at Elbow Cay. The mooring field was still pretty bouncy, but we really didn’t have much choice, as most spots in the Exumas are exposed to the west. We knew the wind would shift to the north the next morning, and we knew we’d also be moving on to another location. We’d just have to deal with it for the night. 3 Lil Birds said it was better than Elbow Cay had been, so that was something.

After getting the mainsail put away, the lines stashed, and all the other post-sail activities completed, we realized that the dorades (air vents) in both the forward head and in our bedroom had been open during our quite splashy sail…which meant the bathroom was all wet (not the end of the world)…and our bed was also wet (ughhhhh). Salt water is a pain to dry out, so all the linens went up into the cockpit to try to air them out before bedtime.

3 Lil Birds caught this sunset photo of Oestara for us – thanks, guys!

And we still had a treat awaiting us – fresh caught mahi for dinner! Nice work, Patrick. We played the marble game after an excellent meal, and managed to keep all the marbles on the board (did I mention the mooring field was bouncy?!) Bounciness notwithstanding, we were excited to have finally gotten to the Exumas.

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