A Travellerspoint blog

Great Exuma Island @ Emerald Bay

semi-overcast 82 °F

We scurried about getting ready, filling the fuel tank from the jerry cans, to make a jail break south to The Marina at Emerald Bay, a safe haven and great bargain. The total trip was about 27 nm from dock to dock, maybe a little less than 25 nm along the axis of travel. The weather was what we expected: windy and rough. It's nice not to be surprised even if the fact of the matter is not too nice.

The other two boats at Cave Cay that we knew had left about an hour earlier than we did, all three of us headed in the same direction to the same destination for the same reasons. Not too complicated.

We made our first transit through one of the many cuts leading from the Great Bahama Bank on the west side to Exuma Sound on the east, and windward, side of the Exuma island chain. It seemed like it could have been a big deal but was not. Pay attention, use common sense and stay in the channel. Not too complicated, either. But, the channel seems narrower and the rocks a little closer and more intimidating when the boat is actually in it.


The trip was mostly boring and tedious; we were maybe two miles from shore. We could see things well there; at some places waves were crashing 20 or 30 feet into the air as driven, moving water met immobile rock. From this side of the island chain it was clear that, eventually, the Exuma islands are going to disappear, eroded by water until they pose no obstacle for the waves in their transit from east to west. There is a very stark difference between the islands' aspect when viewed from the western side versus the eastern side. On the other hand, that isn't going to happen really soon, so they'll be around for a while, at least until we sell the boat. It also got me to musing that this would not be a good place to lose power, remembering the fabled souls condemned to haunt Boo Boo Hill on Warderick Wells Cay.

After about 4 hours, or so, on the helm I was getting tired and and my helmsmanship sloppy so I asked Carol to relieve me, which she did. Between Cave Cay and Emerald Bay there were eight lobster pots in about 25 nm. Within 10 minutes of taking the helm Carol had located one of the eight, driven the boat directly over the top of it, shredded the styrofoam float into nano-particles and wrapped almost 8 feet of black 3/8-in. polypropylene line around the propeller and shaft, seriously not a good thing since she also did not have the presence of mind to put the engine immediately into neutral, something I had to do for her. Now there are only seven lobster pots in the 25 nm.

So the situation was simple: the mainsail was up, we had no power, we were being driven toward shore by a 20 knot wind. Since sailing did not seem much of a solution, the situation was quite binary: fix the problem or, in a while, founder on the rocks. Most 65 year old guys with heart problems do not, as a matter of course, have to deal with these types of choices, generally being more concerned about choosing between a light beer or a regular beer.

Step one: get the sail down, which we did. Carol then thought it a good idea to remind me that the boat was still heading toward shore, making it clear that someone had to do something and that, although the problem may have been one of her creation, she was not going to be that someone so I had better get my skinny ass in the water, which I did. I put on my mask, fins and snorkel and jumped off the back of the boat, having secured my knife to my wrist with a piece of string lest I drop it as I seem to drop every other tool I handle. The first 6-ft. were pretty easy to remove, requiring only a half dozen trips under the boat. But there was about a foot wedged on either side of the zinc that was almost impossible to attack. The solution, after much effort with a serrated edge rigging knife, ended up being a key-hole saw that I had on the boat, the residue of some obscure one off project a few years ago. Eventually I sawed through the line and freed the shaft. I was in the water for maybe 30 minutes, under the boat for half of that time, but it seemed like a lot longer, as I was always looking at the bottom to see if it was getting shallower, it was, but from about 70 feet to 50 feet, not a threat at that time. The reward for the day, other than the boat not foundering, was to shred my shoulders on barnacles. Boat barnacles seem to have some sort of super slime that, when it gets into a cut, causes an infection, which hurts like the devil, and, then takes a long time to heal. Maybe the next time I'll remember to wear a shirt. The good news was that I swallowed enough salt water to halt the ocean's rise from global warming for at least two decades. Al Gore got a Nobel Prize for running his mouth; I'll get nothing for my major environmental contribution.

The engine seems OK but who knows; now every noise, every vibration is heightened by extra awareness. We'll just have to pay attention and hope for the best.

I piloted the boat the rest of the day, and we arrived at the marina at about 1500, 3pm. The saga wasn't over for the three boats that were together at Cave Cay. As we were at the marina entrance we saw the French Kiss, a brand new 50-ft. Beneteau under sail. We talked on the VHF and Michael, the captain but not the owner, said that they had engine problems and had no power. They eventually were towed into the marina, mooring very close to our berth. He thought that he had a clogged raw water intake; possible, but I'd bet against it. Later David and Alice, on the Alice May, came by and talked. They have a catamaran and catamarans, from my observation, do not ride the weather as well as mono-hulls. Their trip was so rough that a piece of metal superstructure holding the radar dome and GPS antenna cracked, broke and hit the deck. The electronics are OK but they also have a repair to make. So the trip count was three for three in the boat casualty rankings, a perfect score.

The el-cheapo dock here is a really nice floating dock. In fact, everything here is nice. The bathroom/showers are the nicest and cleanest we have seen at any marina, anywhere, even providing hair dryers which impressed Carol, for a marina anyway. The book exchange is pretty thin but the wi-fi is free and strong enough to work on the iPad on the boat, a first at any marina. The laundry is close by and free. They even have a dress code requesting that gentlemen wear shirts at all times, something that I will have to remember, and no swimwear in public after dark. This was a part of the British Empire, don't you know. The lounge/reading room looks like a private club. I guess that we are about 7 to 10 miles north of George Town, pretty remote; there are not a lot of restaurants and such within walking distance. Carol did find out that there is a liquor store not so far away, a good thing too, because we are out of tonic water, a mutiny-ing offense except that I don't think that, technically, captains can mutiny. There is a Four Seasons resort near by so Carol's thoughts have turned from the forced austerity of cruising to manicures and day spas; she has always been more adaptable than I.

The Marina at Emerald Bay

The weather forecast has not improved and it looks like we may be here a while, a while being as long as a week. I get kind of antsy after three nights in the same place so this will be a challenge for me. But I may use the time to order some double braid line to replace a piece of rigging that has been concerning me. And the place will probably fill up today as more boat seek shelter from the weather, so there'll be new folks to meet.

Posted by sailziveli 11:16 Archived in Bahamas Tagged boats boating bahamas

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