Wednesday, March 1, 2017

West End to Powell Cay - 2017

--Blogpost written by Bob

This blogpost covers our trip from West End on Grand Bahama Island to Great Sale Cay and then onto Powell Cay, where we stayed a couple days.  This blogpost could not be published until we arrived at Green Turtle Cay.  So, as you read this blogpost, we are already in Green Turtle Cay.

West End to Great Sale Cay

Everyone we met at West End was extremely friendly and courteous, from the boaters we met in the marina to the locals who gave us directions along the road into the settlement.  We really enjoyed our brief stay at Old Bahama Bay.  We will definitely be coming back here on our way back stateside in three months.

We have very few pictures of us together on this trip.  A fellow
boater offered to take this picture of us together
on the dock at Old Bahama Bay.

I took this photo just before leaving West End.  I liked the
reflection of the bright yellow building in the
turquoise water in the marina.

After filling two of our three water tanks and our primary diesel fuel tank (the one we used coming here), we departed from West End on February 25 at 8:30 AM.  We took the Indian Cay channel from the ocean just north of West End onto the Little Bahama Bank.  The shallowest water we encountered through this channel was 8 feet at about an hour after high tide.  Once on the Little Bahama Bank, we motored (because there was very little wind to sail) to Great Sale Cay, a distance of 42.1 nautical miles (or 48.45 statute miles) across the Little Bahama Bank.  The water was a beautiful turquoise color as far as you could see in any direction.

I took this photo of our dinghy trailing s/v Rainy Days.  This
provides an idea of how beautiful the water
is on the Little Bahama Bank.

Great Sale Cay is a low-lying uninhabited cay--it is about 7 miles long and 1 mile wide.  It is a common stopover for vessels traversing the Little Bahama Bank.  We anchored on the southeastern end of Great Sale Cay in the area called North West Harbor at 4 PM.

Surprisingly, there were 6 sailboats and two power boats anchored at Great Sale Cay with us--at least some of them were headed back to the United States.

This anchorage is "kinda freaky" in that the water was cloudy (in only 9 feet of depth) so that we couldn't check the anchor set.  We decided to leave Great Sale Cay the next morning.

This two-masted sailboat was washed up on the shore of Great Sale
Cay by Hurricane Matthew I presume.  I don't understand
why any sailor would be in this area
during hurricane season.

When I anchored here 25 years ago on my return trip across the upper Abacos--I remember that it rained for an entire day (which was very unusual) and we took much needed showers on the foredeck.  I also remember that the bottom of the anchorage was full of sand mounds with bore holes in the center--I never figured out what they were, maybe sand bores?

This was our view of the sunset on Great Sale Cay.

Great Sale Cay to Powell Cay

We experienced a brief rain shower at 7:15 AM in the Great Sale anchorage but it quickly passed over us.

This rain shower passed over us at Great Sale Cay.

After our onboard breakfast of homemade French toast, we departed from Great Sale Cay on Sunday, February 26, at 9 AM for Powell Cay.  We decided to stop at Powell Cay while motoring in the direction of Green Turtle Cay--it was a last minute decision.

The overcast skies continued for most of the morning--until about 1:30 PM.  With overcast skies it was difficult to see details on the bottom as we had the previous day.  Of course, the water depth throughout today's trip was 15 to 25 feet, whereas yesterday it was in the 9 to 13 foot range.

The distance between Great Sale and Powell Cays was about 36-1/2 nautical miles.  We anchored at Powell Cay a little before 4 PM in about 8.5 feet of water at low tide.  We shared the anchorage with three other sailboats (two of them catamarans) and a trawler.  We used the anchor marking ball today for the first time on this trip.  We went snorkeling around the boat for about a half an hour in the warm clear water.

We tucked into this anchorage as far as we could--the blue
area of the chart has depths of 6 feet or less.

There are several miles of sandy beach to explore on the Sea of
Abaco side of Powell Cay, as well as beach on the ocean
side of the island.  This view is looking
north from our anchorage.

While we were eating dinner, another brief rain shower blew through--it rained for maybe 5 minutes and then stopped.

The rain from this cloud only lasted about 5 minutes in the
middle of our dinner.  By the time we closed all
the hatches, the cloud had passed.

During the night, we had strong easterly winds, as predicted.  After the winds had died down a little as the sun came up in the morning, they registered 14 knots on my wind speed instrument (by the way, it's been working fine for the past week).  We stayed at Powell Cay another day, Monday, February 27, to further explore this small island by dinghy.  The entire island is covered with green vegetation, mostly casuarinas on the lower elevations.  The higher elevations (about 25 to 30 feet above sea level) are covered by a different type of vegetation--I'm not sure what but it is clearly different.

This is a close up of a branch on a casuarina tree--they look like
a feathering long-needled pine tree.  Casuarina trees are
considered an invasive species in Bermuda but I
haven't heard that reference here
in the Bahamas.

In the morning, we explored the entire beach area on the Sea of Abaco side by dinghy.  We got some good photos and came across a green sea turtle that swam ahead of the dinghy.  (I was surprised at how fast a turtle can swim!)  We got to the point that there wasn't much else to explore and the wind started to build out of the east making our anchorage unsettled.

Some dead trees have fallen along the beautiful beach 
on the Sea of Abaco side of Powell Cay.

We departed at 10:30 AM for Manjack Cay in 25 knots of winds out of the east--the direction we are headed.

Thanks for following our blog!

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