Westerly Worries: Staniel Cay to Great Exuma (Georgetown)

March 3 – March 11, 2014

It seems that ever since we left the Land and Sea Park, we have been dodging weather!  If you are a land lubber, you wouldn’t even notice these crazy weather patterns, but as boaters, you are super dependent on the wind direction and a shift throws us for a loop!  I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you how steep the first year learning curve is out here, but it is STEEP.  We are only at 4 1/2 months in and we learn something new everyday, which is great since we love learning, but dang, it’s a lot.

The newest thing we are trying to figure out are “cold fronts.”  I’ll do my best to explain my understanding of cold fronts, and I imagine a few of you will have some words of wisdom to further my understanding, here goes nothin’…

The wind that usually blows through the Bahamas comes from the east.  You may have noticed that we always anchor on the west side of an island?  That’s to protect us from the wind and waves (and because boats don’t generally anchor in the ocean :)  But every once in a while (or once every week has been the pattern recently) a cold front makes it’s way on down from the east coast and clocks our winds all the way around to the south, then west, then north and finally back to the east.  Well, there aren’t too many places to hide from the wind when it comes from the west, and cold fronts usually come with a good bit of wind, so everybody runs for cover!

Now, we’re not talking life or death situations here, just comfort.  If you’re in a spot that is not protected (i.e. land in front of you) from the west, you’ll get waves comin’ at ya and it will be bumpy and maybe rolley for a while.  Not the end of the world, just annoying.  Often times, however, the threat of squalls accompany these fronts and you wanna be protected because squalls can be gusty.  But you can also use a front to your advantage, if you are looking for wind from a particular direction, but you have to keep an eye out for those squalls!

Anyway, once we made to Staniel Cay, a front came through.  We got to see the pigs at Big Majors Spot, and then mostly hid out in a spot that is protected from the west winds called “Between the Majors.”

Our anchorage on the left is a regular one, hidden from east wind, exposed to the west.  Our anchorage on the right is protected from both east and west winds.  There aren't too many spots like this around town!

Our anchorage on the left is a regular one, protected from east wind, but exposed to the west. Our anchorage on the right is protected from both east and west winds.  It’s called “Between the Majors.” There aren’t too many spots like this around town!

The infamous pigs of Big Major Cay!  Adorable.

The infamous pigs of Big Major Spot! Adorable.

pig nose

big pig nose

“Between the Majors” was pretty far from town and there were, oh about 3 million other boats there so we didn’t do a whole lot except watch out for other boats and make sure ours stayed safe.  That’s the other thing about “westerlies,” you kinda get stuck on the boat for a few days because the wind and seas aren’t fun to dink around in…  One night when the winds were expected to pick up, we stayed up all night and sat in the cockpit just to keep watch and make sure our anchor didn’t drag because another boat anchored so close to us!  All night!  Lucky for me, my cruising bestie Natalie had just given me the book “The Storyteller” by Jodi Picoult and I gobbled it up in about 2 days (straight).  Really, really, really, really good book, by the way.  We missed some sights in Staniel because of our stuck status and after a few days (and another cold front forecasted) we picked up and headed for Great Guana Cay, home of the famous cruising town of Black Point.

Here are some pics from our time at and around Staniel Cay.  It’s a spot we’ll come back to one day because we feel like we got chased out of there by the westerlies!!

The dinghy beach.

The dinghy beach.

You gotta really look to find the grocery store!

You gotta really look to find the grocery store!

blue store

There it is, at the top of the hill!

An Exuma stop sign :)

An Exuma stop sign :)

A beautiful church :)

A beautiful church :)

A beautiful fish, checking on our anchor.

A beautiful fish, checking on our anchor.

The next stop was Black Point and we love, love, loved it.  We definitely didn’t spend enough time there because guess why?  Yup, a westerly chased us out!  And there is NOWHERE to hide in Black Point!

Our only anchoring option in Black Point was exposed to those pesky west winds!

Our only anchoring option in Black Point was exposed to those pesky west winds!

We arrived on a Sunday and most things were closed, including Rockside Laundry, the most famous laundromat around, but we still got a chance to enjoy the view that makes it the best laundromat in the Exumas.

Playing off the back of the boat in Black Point.

Playing off the back of the boat in Black Point.

me snorkling

us at laundry

Us at Rockside Laundromat!

Luckily Scorpio’s Bar and Restarant was open and Zhivargo was happy to serve us Kaliks, rum punches, coconut shrimp, and wings!  We also made it to The Garden of Eden and had a nice tour of Willie’s driftwood sculpture garden.  I’ve read a lot about Willie and his wild imagination, he has spent years collecting driftwood and strategically positioning it in his yard as art.  Brittany did a great write up about him here.  Read that for background and I’ll show ya some of our pics below :)

Willie giving us a tour of his driftwood garden.

Willie giving us a tour of his driftwood garden.

driftwood garden

Even more interesting to me, than the abstract driftwood sculptures, was Willie’s garden.  He composts and fills in holes in the limestone to make gardens.  He has all kinds of soil needing plants growing including fig trees, plum trees, mango trees, papaya trees, apple trees, grape vines, peas, plantains, banana trees, lemon grass, and aloe.

tree in rock

tree in soil

Willie was a delight to chat with and he drove home the point that you don’t have to change something for it to be beautiful.  His imagination was limitless and admitted to laying back and looking for inspiration in the clouds.  I haven’t done that since I was 5!  Good on Willie!

The westerlies kept us from really exploring both Staniel Cay and Black Point and we missed out on a couple of things we had been looking forward to.  I guess we’ll have to come back another time!

From Black Point, we made our way to Georgetown (the Motherland!) on Great Exuma Island!

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9 comments

  1. Glad you liked the book! I couldn’t put it down either and read it in a couple of days too. PS- That is usually the case for me with Jodi Picoult books. Two of my other favorite of her’s are ‘My Sister’s Keeper’ and ‘Plain Truth.’ I have them onboard and will let you borrow them if we run into you again. But you must give them back to me … they will be my insurance on seeing you guys back in the states! Miss you a ton still. Check out our blog in a few days…. we have a change in plans. :)

  2. Great photos of the Exumas! It’s too bad those westerlies have been chasing you guys out, I hope you get the chance to go back (says the girl who spend less than one week in the Exumas last year). Hope there’s some photos and stories of you and Rode Trip coming up!

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