Sunday, January 12, 2014

Mayaguana… Mayaguana… Mayaguana…. Mayaguana and more Mayaguana

Once again, limited internet access keeps us from posting as frequently as we would like to.  Nevertheless, we are in Mayaguana, having arrived after a difficult slug into the Trade-winds (prevailing easterlies/south-easterlies) from George Town.

Checkers on Volleyball Beach, George Town
When we began this trip, we had to make a decision regarding which route to follow to the Caribbean.  We considered two.  One would be offshore, heading to Bermuda and then south with the offshore legs totaling over 15 days of travel. The other option was to head south into the Bahamas and work our way east through this island country.  We opted for the latter for a number of reasons including a desire to see the Exumas and to avoid an extended offshore passage at the beginning of our trip.  The reason many choose not to transit this route is because of the prevailing winds.  They are strong, from the east and relentless.  If you are lucky you may see a front push through providing 1-3 days of northerly winds - riding the northerlies is the best way to get east. 

Richard Navigating
We sailed from Black Point to George Town in a day and anchored for the night at Sandy Beach.  Due to wave action and wind direction, we decided to move to the next anchorage, Volleyball Beach, still in George Town.  Here we found the Chat ‘n Chill Bar on the beach and enjoyed a Kalik (local Bahamian beer)  or two.  With a need to find a notary public, a post office and provisions, we stayed until Monday.  George Town is the largest settlement in the Bahamas after Nassau and Freeport and the center of government for the region.  We set sail at noon for points east expecting (according to the “trusty” weather reports) a front to come through providing three days of northerly winds.
George Town
After sailing for two and a half days (two nights out), the front stalled over Florida and the easterly winds blew hard.  George Townover 10’.  This is the equivalent of going nowhere fast and was not a pleasant experience; Kay and Murray were tempted to mutiny. Atalanta was strong and competent in these conditions, but this type of sailing is exhausting.  Running low on energy and patience, we headed for the “out-island” of Mayaguana (its Lucayan name) that is sparsely settled and offers basically no services for tourists.  We sailed in after dark tucking behind an extensive coral reef for protection from the high waves and wind to wait for the next front to head to the Turks and Caicos . . . a mere 300 miles away from Puerto Rico.   We are below the Tropic of Cancer and exploring postcard perfect turquoise waters and sandy beaches.

Little did we know, the winds would only increase and continue from the east and east-south-east.  After two days at the NE point, we moved to the south side of the island to Abraham’s Bay.  Here we found the company of about a half dozen boats waiting, waiting for the next front to carry us to the Turks and Caicos.  It will a while before that happens.  In the mean while we wait, meet new friends, and exploring the last outpost of the Bahamas, Mayaguana. The people here are friendly and welcoming to those willing to sail here.  As we move south, it will become less remote and less isolated.  We are spending out time reading, snorkeling, scuba diving and letting the constant 20-25 knots of wind blow our hair dry. 
Atalanta at Anchor

While today is Sunday, we are anticipating that we will be able to leave for the Caicos Islands on Wednesday.  Our goal of being in the USVI in February is appearing to be unrealistic.  We may stay in the Turks and Caicos and fly home for Rachel and Pat’s wedding from there.  Time will tell.  It's all about the weather.

Voyaging East

Thanks for following our posts and stay in touch.  Love to hear your comments.

Richard and Kay

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