Dark and Stormy

Actually, I’m not even talking about the cocktail, although I certainly wouldn’t turn one down.  Although our supply of Gosling’s Black Rum is running dangerously low, our supply of ginger beer is still healthy.  We may have to substitute a pale alternative for the Gosling’s.

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The drink even looks like a dark and stormy sky.

We saw Skip and Harriet off on Tuesday morning, Mardi Gras day.  We had observed Lundi Gras the night before with a progressive dinner at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club docks with our (coincidentally, but fittingly) Louisiana-born friends Berwick and Alexis aboard the other Moondance and Chris and Herb aboard Easy Going.  But it was now time to move.  Weather was coming.  So sayeth Chris Parker, weather guru to cruisers.

With a few days of advance warning of the coming front, Rick and I made what was likely our last run to Black Point to do laundry before seeking shelter.  We did 4 loads, Rick didn’t get a haircut from Ida (he’s going feral), ate what passes for pizza in this part of the universe at DeShaMon’s (satisfying the craving for gooey cheese), and scoring some tail.

Ahem.  Got your attention, didn’t I?  By tail I mean gigantic lobster tails, as well as some fish.  Curiously, though the waters of the Exumas teem with delicious edible swimming creatures, and every restaurant menu features them, you will not find seafood in the stores around here.   One must have a source for it. 

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That’s one big lobster tail!  My iPhone is next to it to provide some perspective.

A lot of cruisers fish – your cruising permit in the Bahamas is coupled with a fishing permit.  But we don’t, lacking equipment, skill, and will to clean fish on our boat (since we don’t have enough fresh water to spare to clean up the inevitable mess).  So, finding seafood is catch-as-catch-can.  And on Tuesday, we got lucky, as a fisherman was cleaning his catch at the government dock.  I turned my wallet inside-out and bought all I could with my paper money.  (With the change, I embarrassed Rick by paying for trash disposal at Staniel Cay, emptying my pockets of money that jingles.)

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Gotta love coinage that features sea creatures.

Anyway, a cold front was forecast to arrive sometime Thursday, and continuing through Friday overnight.  Naturally, a frenzy ensured on the VHF, with all sorts of semi-frantic calls beginning on Wednesday morning.  It wasn’t long before every mooring in Exuma Park, and every slip at Compass Cay was spoken for (Staniel Cay clears the docks in a westerly blow, as they are too exposed).  Roosevelt Nixon from Farmer’s Cay Yacht Club went on the radio to remind everyone that FCYC had some dock space, moorings, and was generally protected.

Cold fronts and west winds are serious business around here.  When a front passes through, the prevailing easterly winds clock south, then west, and then north – circling around low pressure.  Though the fronts tend to be preceded by a deceptive calm, the frontal winds are often significantly stronger than normal, can continue for an extended period, and can be accompanied by squalls that have even stronger winds. 

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A beautiful sunset before the winds kick up.

While most anchorages provide protection against easterly winds, safe and comfortable spots to ride out a cold front are much fewer, explaining the jockeying for position.

Although we’d planned to ride this one out in Pipe Creek, it was clear from the radio chatter that there probably wouldn’t be room for us.  So we high-tailed it Wednesday morning to the channel between Big Major’s and Little Major’s.  It’s not my favorite spot.  The current runs through here ferociously at times, with certain stages of the tide providing a sound rocking and rolling.  But it served us well before.

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Even a less-than-favorite anchorage features a pretty beach.  But this particular one is on a private island.

Of course, that previous front was early in the Exuma cruising season, so there were only 3 or 4 boats in this space.  By the time the weather hit, there were well over 20, some a bit too close to us for comfort.

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This inept panoramic image shows a partial view of how many boats are here.

While I was primed for wild weather Thursday night, having a foul weather jacket handy and veins full of adrenaline (preventing sleep – argh!), it night was fairly uneventful.  Piping winds, and a strong rain, but nothing unusual to worry about.  Aside from the lack of sleep, “uneventful” is optimal for a cold front!

It was blowing hard Friday, but it was doing so in DAYLIGHT (you have no idea how comforting it is to be able to see what’s happening around you – cold fronts seem always to arrive at 2 a.m.)  And the sky was mostly clear and sunny.  Overnight, it blew even more consistently and strongly, but generally the front  passed without incident.

Unfortunately, weather guru Parker predicts a 7-day cycle for more fronts, coinciding with the beginning of our measured progress back north.  We are plotting our route carefully to take into account potential weather disruptions and avoiding being stuck by weather which would make unable to pass through an intended cut or making a planned passage.

That being the case, I need to get my hands on some Gosling’s!

One thought on “Dark and Stormy

  1. Ardis HIll

    Hi, sounds like you are about ready to head north. Look forward to reading about the journey. This last stop sounds a little hairy!! Today is warm, time change, think I will cut up some of the branches that broke off the pine trees in the front for recycle. tuesday I go to the Dr to see what the MRI shows. Probably get some physical therapy. Love Mom. Date: Sat, 8 Mar 2014 23:11:41 +0000 To: hillenter@hotmail.com

    Reply

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