Monday, November 8, 2010

Moving South on the...INSIDE

Well, the winds were still whipping along today at 20-25 knots, and there was no going out in Exuma Sound with waves of 7-11’ or more. So, Ron and I decided we would take the inside path, the Bahamian mailboat route down the bankside to the south side of Great Exuma. We radioed our intent to Kalista, and Bill, who had never heard of it before, asked if he could follow us. Certainly! We both are heading in the same direction, and they have even farther to go than we do, as they are heading for the island of Culebra in the Spanish Virgin Islands. 
Ron had researched the different route options along the Exumas before we left, and noted that while there are times when strong winds prohibit heading out on Exuma Sound, you really don’t have to be stuck since you can go “on the inside”. The bankside route is lesser-known (some snowbird cruisers will insist it’s too shallow to even go there) and so it’s certainly less-traveled as a result, but there are several routes charted, depending on the draft of one’s vessel. Conditions were sloppy as we made our way west out past the Galliot Bank, but when we turned south to follow along the Brigantines, the ride smoothed out with the following seas. We opted to go from East Barracouta Rocks, bypassing the Rocky Point waypoint to head directly to Duck Cays, where we came around to the south side of Great Exuma Island. High tide was extremely high, so that helped with putting plenty of water beneath our hull, although it wasn’t really necessary, as we pretty much had 10+ feet of water or more beneath us most of the way. There were a couple shallower areas, and we kept a sharp eye out for any random coral heads that we needed to avoid. 

Heading south on the Exuma Bank on the inside -- the water is so
stirred up by the winds it looks  milky blue!
It really was a great cruise! We had lowering skies and a few rainclouds as we came in to anchor near the point off McPhee’s Creek on Little Exuma, but it didn’t even rain enough to give us a decent washdown! The bottom was mostly sand and a few small isolated bits of coral,  and holding was good, and our lee protection there on the eastern part of the Great Bahama Bank quite nice, considering the winds were still 20-25 knots.
Ron had spent a good part of the afternoon in the galley, making barbeque ribs and turkey chili (the latter for our crossing tomorrow) so we hosted dinner aboard Equinox for both crews. Grilled chicken, BBQ ribs, mushroom and asparagus risotto, salad, wine....a veritable feast! Again, good conversation, laughter and fun stories abounded to the merriment of all. Tomorrows plans were set out, and as it will be another early departure, none of us stayed up very late. 

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