Updated: Aug 25, 2019
Staniel Cay, Exuma, The Bahamas to Lee Stocking Island, Exuma, The Bahamas (via Little Farmer's Cay) //
We were excited to set sail on Saturday, January 26 and head to Little Farmer's Cay. The conditions were perfect. Even though four hours away, we had the most lovely sail on what we still remember as a picture-perfect cruising day: sun-drenched, clear skies, and crystal clear waters, along with a gentle breeze pushing us on a broad reach... Just one of those days that are forever imprinted in our minds.
Once we arrived at Little Farmer's we found a few other boats anchored along the island. We had a friendly sailor from S/V Persistence come to us to help us out find an anchorage spot with good depths with his hand-held depth sensor (nice little device!). He then invited us to a BBQ across the bay on Guana Cay around 4pm. Once settled, we were eager to dinghy into "town" and check out whatever the island had to offer. It turned out that this little slice of heaven was getting ready to host an annual regatta in about a week's time, so with the mail boat having just arrived, the restaurants nearby were stocking up on the goods that were dropped off at the main dock. Score for us, as we were able to find a few little items we didn't get to provision on at Staniel Cay.
After chatting with a few locals and grabbing a couple Kalik's at the dock, we headed back to prep for the BBQ. We had a whole chicken that was begging to be grilled, so (thanks to Martha Stewart's online advice) we cut it up in pieces until all of a sudden a storm rolled through the area with the strongest winds and rain we had seen to date. It lasted through the entire evening. The boat rocked and rolled through the night, and unfortunately, we barely got any sleep. While the Rocna had been so good to us, conditions were so rough we thought it would be best to keep an eye on our holding. There was a strong current running through the anchorage area that was keeping us sideways to the wind... Fun times.
We woke up on Sunday ready to move on. We figured there was not enough protection in the harbor, and with an actual big blow expected that evening and into Monday, we needed protection ASAP. We motored mostly inside the Banks, passed the beautiful Musha Cay and anchored at Rudder Cay for lunch. As we were routing our way out through Navionics we realized we were steps away from "The Musician" a full scale sculpture of a mermaid and gran piano that hides underwater (!!!) by David Copperfield (he owns Musha Cay nearby). We were pressed on time, and sadly, missed it. But I like the idea of having new things to explore whenever we are to come back.
From Little Farmer's our plan was initially to make it all the way to George Town and so we headed through Rudder Cut out to the Exuma Sound. Whatever system that moved through the previous day, or whatever was brewing up, left us exposed to some pretty rough conditions out on the sound. We got quite a sporty sail in, but ended up pulling in to Lee Stocking Island through Adderly Cut as we were fighting a heavy chop.
This time, we had studied the cuts, and were able to go back into the Banks at the right time of day. Once inside, we spent a couple of hours testing various anchorage on the north side of Lee Stocking, then between Leaf Cay and Norman Pond Cay, and later midpoint of Norma Pond Cay where we thought the high elevation terrain would grant us with some protection (although leave us exposed to the winds channeling in through the islands from the South). We were not able to have our anchor dig in properly at any of the locations except the north side of Lee Stocking where we found a sandy bottom, so that's where we ultimately ended up for the evening. Since we were going to end up exposed to the northerly winds once the system moved through, we had to give in to doing what we’ve dubbed as the “anchorage dance” and change anchorages as the wind veered directions, which is actually not uncommon to do. Luckily there was not much heavy rain that came with the system, so we only put up with strong winds as we switched anchorages the following morning.
On Monday around noon, once the winds had calmed down a bit, we went into a cove on the East side of Lee Stocking which protected us from the N/NW (where the winds would be coming from for the next couple of days). By Tuesday, we were finally able to relax, putz around in the dinghy, watch beautiful stingrays float by, explore secluded beaches (and an abandoned marine research facility!), and even fish around the reefs nearby (no luck though...). Once we had favorable conditions for a sail on Wednesday, we were en route to the biggest cruising destination in the Exumas: George Town.
So, things are not always picture-perfect, even in paradise. For every high, there is a low hovering on the horizon (quite literally! #coldfronts). We've come to accept it's simply inevitable at this time of the year. Every pleasant sail, every day of sunshine, every ounce of crystal clear water, and every island we drop anchor keeps our our spirits high and our sense of adventure alive. Part of cruising is to take the challenges thrown our way and transform them into opportunities to grow, build, and learn new skills.
Sail to Little Farmer's Cay
Musha Cay, I want to stay...
Exploring Lee Stocking after the blow