Wednesday 21 Jun 2006
Mike: 19/20 Jun
We had been anchored over at Volleyball Beach on Stocking Island and needed to return across Elizabeth Harbour to collect our newest crew member. We also needed water so the best solution was to visit Exuma Docking Services and get the water, diesel and dingy outboard gas replenished. The fuel was the easy part. One of our crew, no names, had torqued down the forward water filler cap which now required removal by chiselling. I was not in my happy place to say the least, but we did get the cap off and the tank filled. Overall, we've used about 30 gal of diesel to travel the over 800nm covered so far. Gotta love sailboats.
Bill and Brian headed to the airport to pick up Ann leaving Alison and myself to look after some boat maintenance issues. These included the fixing of a poorly installed new shift lever and the correction of a minor electrical problem that was supposed to have been fixed during the month long refit prior to our adventure. At the same time I checked the other head's holding tank to ensure that a repeat of the other day's head problem did not have the potential to happen again in that head. Alison also spent considerable time trying to remove the stains left from the colours that ran from the new nationality flag that we'd bought in the BVI just prior to departure from there. Unbelievable that a marina parts supply shop would sell items for boats that weren't colour fast. They'll be getting an email from me when I get home!
After loading Ann aboard, we moved to the tranquility of Volleyball Beach again since the winds and water had kicked up and staying at George Town would be uncomfortable. The St Francis Resort and Marina offered the evening's fare. Co-owners Tony and Suzy and their dog Nina treated us like royalty... we were the only guests that evening, and had a great time.
After retiring to our bunks, we were awoken in the wee hours by a dazzling light show outside. I have never seen so much lightning off in the distance ever before. While topside, a dolphin lazed about. While we never really saw him, we certainly heard his unmistakable sounds. At about 4am, we were all awakened again, but this time by torrential rainfall and thunder and lightening directly overhead. I sat up for the next hour watching the anchor drag alarm to ensure that we weren't somewhere we weren't supposed to be. In between flashes, the mast and rigging of another boat loomed precariously close. Fortunately, everything stayed where it was supposed to be. The downpour continued until about 10:30am when the rain abated and the sun finally broke through.
Setting sail, our destination today was Lee Stocking Island, about 20nm up the Exuma chain. There's a Marine Research Station located there, but we arrived too late in the day to get a tour of the facility. The wind had been light, and with our late start, we elected to motor sail in order to arrive before the sun got too low to allow visually navigating through the reef into the anchorage. Mooring balls were required but they're free. Right after we secured to one and shut down the big diesel, we noted a delicate fragrance eminating from below deck. It wasn't the head though. All hands were mustered to search their respective quarter for the offending stinky. This was located and religated to a line and cast off the transom of our boat. Surprisingly, it attracted a school of yellowtail jacks. Well, to each their own.
While snorkelling the waters here, some of the crew saw what they believed to be a sand shark, complete with ramoras attached. I didn't, so I'll just take their word for it. For dinner, a feast was prepared on the barby and a bottle of champagne was popped to celebrate Ann's arrival.
In the morning, we're heading on to Staniel Cay, the site of the water scenes for, among many, the James Bond film Thunderball. We hope to explore the same caves. To get there in a reasonable time, we cast off at 7am, right at high tide in order to arrive by early afternoon. Hopefully we'll get some great shots that we can post.