Compass Cay to Staniel Cay, The Bahamas

Look from your door, and tell me now

The colour of the sea.

Where can I buy that wondrous dye

And take it home with me?

Compass Cay to Staniel Cay, The Bahamas

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Not that we want to hurry our trip south, but we thought a week at Compass Cay was probably enough. Besides, we can always stop, again, on our way north. Then, too, the Super Bowl was coming up soon and Sandy wanted to go to a SB party! Staniel Cay, a place heavy on resort stuff, has a couple of restaurant/bars that were to host such parties, so we decided to head there.

It’s never quite that simple, though. Howard and Tim (Liberation) heard that Sandy was doing hand wash and said, “Why not use one of the washers and dryers on Liberation?” (They have two washing machines and two dryers.) We simply couldn’t turn down an offer like that! So, while Sandy did laundry Bill finished up mounting another ceiling fan for Tucker. Finally, we brought the boat to the dock to top off our water tanks and bid adieu to the gang. Howard and Tim certainly are a fine example of southern hospitality (they’re from North Carolina).

Laundry Scow
Laundry Scow

With light winds, we motorsailed the short distance. Sandy didn’t get the laundry completely dry, so every possible line on the boat was festooned with socks, underwear, sheets and towels on the ride down. We anchored to the west of Big Majors, a small cay west of Staniel. We’d do a two-mile dinghy run to get to shore. We anchored off “Pig Beach” … more later.

Since we got there late, we decided to lay back for the evening. Frank & Kitty (White Heron) were anchored nearby and they came by for cocktails.

Staniel Cay, The Bahamas

Friday, January 30 – Sunday, February 1, 2004

One of our needs was for dinghy fuel. We carry 3½ gallons in the dinghy and another 2½ in a gas can on deck. We poured the remaining fuel in the dinghy tank and headed to Staniel Cay Yacht Club to explore, shop for fresh produce and to get gas for the dinghy.

With three grocery stores, Staniel is a favored stop for cruisers. Now when we say grocery stores, think of a Turkey Hill, with a lot less! The weekly supply boat stops Wednesdays, so Wednesday afternoon and Thursday are the best days to shop. We were a day late and we knew our selection might be limited. There was Isles General Store, the largest with some hardware, t-shirts, and food. Besides canned goods, there was a small selection of fresh produce but not even close to what we’d expect in the smallest mom-and-pop corner store in the states. The “Blue” Store had some grocery items and you could order homemade Bahamian bread. We didn’t look at the “Pink” Store. By the way, the Blue and Pink stores are painted to match their names! We were very happy with our purchases: carrots, eggs, cabbage, celery, apples, potatoes, onions, limes, cauliflower and broccoli! We were in heaven! Oh, we got a half gallon of milk and some OJ, too!

Pig Beach is so named because a few years ago someone put a pig on this otherwise uninhabited island. People came to feed the pig which came to greet the dinghies at the beach in front of our boat. Another pig was apparently added because now there are at least six, a huge one (Sandy thinks it will keel over from a heart attack any day), two sows and several younger pigs. There are also many cats and even a herd of at least seven goats. A fairly steady procession of dinghies approached the beach, most with handouts for the pigs and cats. Most seemed to be unaware of the goats who mostly appeared on the beach early in the morning, bleating and jumping as goats are wont to do. The pigs, however, were actually aggressive about getting food, even walking into the water as dinghies approached. So far as we know, no people were eaten, but a few were intimidated and declined to land their dinghies on the beach when the biggest pig was around.

Feeding Pigs at Big Major's Spot
Feeding Pigs at Big Major’s Spot

By now we are getting to know quite a few fellow cruisers and we find quite a few boats we already know in each anchorage. This was no exception. Some were anchored, with us, in Big Majors Spot, while others were scattered in other anchorages near Staniel. It’s nice because there is always someone to socialize with. Of course, there are always new folks to meet, too.

One of the big attractions at Staniel Cay is a cave known as Thunderball Cave … that’s right, it was used to shoot those grotto scenes in the James Bond movie by the same name. Anyway, you can snorkel into the cave, similar to the ones at the Rocky Dundas. An added attraction is that people feed the fish in this area. You bring a few crackers in a baggie and throw a few crumbs into the water. Magically, the sergeant majors show up within seconds followed by other fish, all intent on getting all the food for themselves. Thunderball cave was real nice, but not as spectacular as the ones at Rocky Dundas.

Sandy’s never been one to read many books … she’s mostly a newspaper and magazine sort. And, she just doesn’t usually sit still long enough. However, we have lots of free time during evenings on the boat because there is no TV, no radio, no newspapers and old magazines. So, books are in! She got turned on to Sue Grafton’s alphabet series that cover the exploits of Kinsey Millhone, PI, mysteries and has been collecting and reading them whenever she can. Since we have limited space for books, Bill’s been reading them, too.

Picking anchorages in the Bahamas is an interesting business. The Exumas are generally arranged in a northwest to southeast string with deep water (the sound) to the northeast and the shallow water (the banks) to the southwest. Much of the year the dominant winds are from the east. Most good anchorages are protected from that direction and are calm. However, if the winds shift to the west, most anchorages then get very uncomfortable. Also, there is a swift tidal flow between islands with water rushing from sound to banks as the tide rises and reversing on a falling tide. Sometimes, shallow waves, called swells, wrap around protective points, causing anchored boats to rock from side-to-side. Our second night at Big Majors Spot was subject to swells and we resorted to sleeping on the settees in the main salon so that we had a chance at some sleep.

Here, salt gets onto and into everything. You are in salt water. It splashes on deck when you sail. It gets on your shoes in the dinghy. And it mixes with sand and gets carried into the boat. And, there’s no handy hose to rinse it off. Fresh water is at a premium. For the most part, the good water is gathered into cisterns during rain (infrequent during the winter) or made from salt water using reverse osmosis, a slow and expensive process. Good fresh water costs 40 or 50 cents per gallon. On the third night in Staniel Cay, we welcomed a heavy rain that rinsed all the salt from the deck.

Temperature wise, it’s been a relatively cool trip, so far. Finally, the temps have warmed up a bit and we’re now seeing 80 degrees for a typical day time high! It is finally warm enough to take a bath in salt water with Joy (one of the few soaps that suds in salt water) and rinse off with fresh water on board. It may not seem like a big thing, but showers are a major consumer of water and washing in salt water saves lots of expensive, difficult to find, fresh water.

Rental Units at Staniel Cay
Rental Units at Staniel Cay

Staniel Cay, being resort oriented, sports a couple of bar/restaurants. One, the Yacht Club, was closed for cleaning, so we had lunch at the Thunderball Club on Friday afternoon with Soon and Bill from Gaia. A couple of nights later, Tim and Howard (Liberation) picked us up to go to the Super Bowl party at the Yacht Club. All but about half dozen of the packed club were Patriot fans. They served a great dinner that included coconut rice! Delicious. It was a fun evening.

A couple of the boats we met in Compass Cay, Jim & Sheila (Trust Me, a 42’ Defever trawler) and Frank & Kitty (White Heron) are also in the anchorage with us in Big Majors Spot. We had a group dinner on board Trust Me on Saturday night. Good food, conversation and getting to know their two cats, Sugar and Spice.