Bahamian Bonfires

Thursday April 11, 2013


There are many islands to the Jumentos and Raggeds. Some of them are literally just large rocks that are still given the name cay, not places to be explored, and not places you’d even want to drop your anchor near. Of this island chain there are maybe 10 good ones to anchor at, and our schedule seems to be 1-2 nights at each island we decide to stop at. Water Cay and Flamingo Cay were there first two and really only islands to anchor at in the Jumentos. After that, you pass by many more un-achorable ones until you reach the Raggeds, about 30 miles south. Going based on information from other cruisers of what’s good to see and do at each island, we’d heard that Buena Vista Cay had great hiking trails and a place for fires on the beach, so it was a quick and easy choice as our next stop.

Because of the distance to cover we left somewhat early, hoping to give ourselves enough time to get in before sunset in case winds died, although lately that has been completely a non issue. Winds had not changed since our last travel and we were keeping a constant 6.5 knots through the water as winds were 20-25, although a few gusts were kicking up close to 30. We haven’t had a full main sail out in I don’t even know how long, and had started out the morning with a double reef. Although we originally started with a full head sail out, once we began crossing in front of Man of War Channel the winds and current picked up even more and we took it in a little just to be safe. The only disturbing part of it for me though was the water pushing it’s way through the very wide channel was also keeping me from pointing up as high as I wanted to and I for the life of me could not keep us on course to our next waypoint. I thought Matt was supposed to be the one with OCD, but not getting from point A to point B in a direct line can drive me absolutely insane. Probably because I know that any kind of tacking means more time in a cockpit heeled over at 15 degrees with enough rocking that it keeps me from going below and even fixing a sandwich. What happened to our nice relaxing sails on Lake Michigan?

By the time we sailed into anchor, our third stop without breaking the streak, it was late afternoon and Matt and I only had enough energy to get the sail cover on and tuck away all the lines before promptly passing out on the settees below. An hour later I was woken from my slumber by Stephanie who was coming by in her kayak to let us know her and Brian were going to shore to do a quick exploration of the beach and wanted to know if we’d like to join. I think I got a few syllabals out of my mouth that referenced sleep before stumbling down the stairs to get back to it. Later in the night we got a report over the VHF from Rode Trip, informing us that there was a nice area with a fire pit and some hiking trails that we should all check out the next day. When we woke up we realized that our food supply was seriously getting depleated and after having discussed with Rode Trip that we’d have lunch somewhere along our hike, I cooked up some Ramen noodles, threw them in a Lock & Lock container and called it good.

With the four of us in the dinghy we rode over crystal clear waters up to the beach at Buena Vista Cay. When we were still a few hundred feet out, Stephanie guaged that the water was getting too shallow and should walk us the rest of the way in, but before Brian and I could stop her to tell her it was deeper than she thought, she jumped out into chest high water, which although we felt bad, also gave us a really good laugh. When the dinghy actually did get to shallow water and up on dry land, they showed us the beginning of the trail they had found the previous night. The cruisers who had been here before decided to make good use of all the trash lying around (ie: the million pairs of plastic sandals that seem to wash up on the beaches) and placed them along dozens of trees as trail markers. There were also bamboo walking sticks left at the beginning of the trail. This made us think that we were in for quite a hike, much more exhausting than our hike around Flamingo Cay, but this new trail wasn’t even five minutes from one end to the other. There was a nice bay on the other side that we explored for a bit before we realized there wasn’t much more to do and the guys would be having a much better time in the water spearing for dinner.

Stephanie and I stayed on our respective boats relaxing and getting some chores in while the guys were out for three hours, exploring coral head after coral head and coming up empty. When they finally got back to the boat, after us girls seriously thought they may have been taken by sharks since they had been gone so long, they showed up with one fish and three more lobsters that sacrificed themselves for us. How nice of them. Dinner was cooked on Serendipity with plans of going to shore for a bonfire afterward. This was one of our ‘must do’ things that we had been talking about ever since traveling down the ICW last year. ‘You know what we need to do once we get to the Bahamas? Have a bonfire on the beach!‘ It was a special enough occasion that I finally cracked open the bottle of Kraken that our friends Jackie and Ron had given us so that I could couple it with some ginger beer from Rode Trip and make dark & stormies.

With garbage bags in hand (since this is apparently the way to get rid of your plastics in the Bahamas if you can’t find a trash), we took the dinghy in once more, and while half way out, asked Stephanie if she wanted to walk us the rest of the way in.  The garbage went up in flames within seconds and was completely gone just minutes later.  I hadn’t expected it to burn up so quickly and none of us were ready to leave just yet since this was a pleasure trip and not a chore.  Brian threw on some palm frawns which sent a green flame up into the air and an extensive heat wave our way.  We just sat around and enjoyed the night.  There was a cool breeze blowing up from the water in between the waves of heat, and plenty of sparkling stars above our head.  When the dark & stormies ran out we moved on to Lime-a-Ritas.  It was everything I imagine it would be, back on those cold and blustery nights back in the ICW when things like balmy nights on star covered beaches were just distant wishes.

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