Thursday, May 4, 2017

Marsh Harbour to Allans-Pensacola - 2017

--Blogpost written by Bob

We had a surprise visitor last night--Alex Schlegel from Hartge Yacht Yard.  He was visiting his son on his CS 36 sailboat here in Marsh Harbour and stopped by to chat a few minutes when he noticed our boat in the harbor.  (Hartge Yacht Yard has done the major work on our boat since I bought it in 1986.)

This day (Tuesday, May 2) is starting out as a beautiful sunny day with light wind.  The wind forecast for today, like the following two days, is 5 to 10 knots starting out southeast today, east northeast on Wednesday, and east southeast on Thursday.  This is a great forecast for our next three nights at anchor, all of which will be in less than well protected areas.  (The wind will increase to 10 to 20 knots on Friday and bring a high chance of rain.)

We raised our anchor in Marsh Harbour at 9 AM and proceeded toward the Whale Cay Passage, where "the Sea of Abaco meets the mighty Atlantic Ocean" as they frequently say on the Cruiser's Net.  We went thru Whale Cay Passage and then stopped at No Name Cay to see the swimming Abaco pigs. 

These signs greeted us at the beach on No Name Cay.

This was a male and a female pig wading into the water.
They were having a private moment, away from
the the little ones on the beach.

This pig was particularly interested in our dinghy.  Maybe she
thought she could find some better food there.

Maggie is feeding this pig some watermelon rind
that we brought from the boat. S/v Rainy 

Days is anchored in the background.

There were lots of little pigs--this pair was particularly
good at begging for food.

A flock of shore birds flew in perfect formation along pig beach.

After spending 45 minutes feeding the pigs we proceeded on our way, passed Green Turtle Cay and decided to go all the way to Allans-Pensacola Cay--a total distance of 45 nautical miles.  We arrived at Allans-Pensacola Cay at 5:15 PM.  When we anchored, we noticed that the anchor was not burying itself deep enough because of the unusual sea bottom conditions.  The water was so clear that I could see the anchor clearly two boat's lengths away!  I actually pulled up the anchor and moved to a slightly different spot--when I pulled up the anchor it had quite a lump of clay and grass on it even though the anchor didn't penetrate the bottom completely.  At the second spot,  I ended up giving the engine about 3000 rpm's in reverse to finally get it to dig in deep enough to suit me.  The evening was very serene and peaceful with seven other boats in this anchorage--we were all spaced more than 150 yards apart.


At 7 AM (Wednesday, May 3) I was awake and making hot water for coffee and the sun was out but it was quickly obscured by high clouds.  A nice cool light breeze was coming from the southeast as the boat sat motionless in the gin-clear water.  I put a dash of cinnamon in my coffee this morning and it adds such a nice aroma.  I don't know why I don't do this everyday.

I recall being here on Allans-Pensacola 25 years ago and I recall seeing large rays as I snorkeled here but I don't recall how large the cove was or that there are so many beach areas for landing the dinghy.  Perhaps the hurricanes over the past 25 years re-shaped the landscape, after all it was a hurricane that once joined Allans Cay to Pensacola Cay to form one island.  This island is uninhabited but it was once used as a missile tracking station by the U.S. Government--some of the hurricane-eroded remains are still on the island.

After most of the boats left the anchorage in the morning, we moved our boat yet again to get better protection from the southerly winds that are predicted for Friday.  Another boater came by in his dinghy and helped us locate a large sand pit into which we could drop our anchor for the best holding.  Since we moved the boat at low tide (9:15 AM) and were in 6-1/2 feet of water, we don't have to worry about the tide going out and leaving our boat aground in the sand.  Now, we are closer to one of the beaches as well.

The large lighter area in the water is the sand pit
where are anchor is very well dug in.

After re-anchoring we took the dinghy ("Monday's") out through the cut into the ocean and Maggie did some snorkeling (she saw a lot of colorful fish on some small nearby reefs) while I manned the dinghy.  On the way back into the cove where we anchored s/v Rainy Days, we saw a few turtles and a school of fairly big fish in the shallow water.  It was hard to tell what kind of fish they were because they scattered so quickly but they were all about one foot long and there were dozens of them.  The clarity of the water here is unbelievable!

We decided to stay here in this anchorage several days.  We're going to stop at one more of the cays in the northern Abacos before heading back to West End to wait for a weather window to cross the Gulf Stream.  Earlier, we were considering crossing to Ft. Pierce (an 82 nautical mile trip) but now I think we might just go back via West Palm Beach (55 nautical miles) and spend the minimum amount of time in the Gulf Stream.

S/v Rainy Days is on the far left side of this image
of the Allans-Pensacola Cay anchorage.

It is funny that out here in the middle of nowhere we can get enough of a cell signal through BTC to get internet access.  We only have one bar but there is no other usage.

My primary afternoon task was making a sign for the signing tree here on Allans-Pensacola Cay.  (I left one 25 years ago--I wonder if it is still there?)  I used a piece of driftwood that I found on Treasure Cay and, using a black magic marker, I wrote "s/v Rainy Days 2017" on it and tied a piece of green cord on it for hanging on the tree.  Tomorrow, we will walk across the island to the signing tree.

Our sign for placement on the signing tree here
on Allans-Pensacola Cay.

Dusk in the anchorage at Allans-Pensacola Cay.

Our plan (subject to change on account of weather or whim) for our remaining time in the Bahamas is as follows:
Stay on Allans-Pensacola thru Saturday (5/6)
Allans-Pensacola to Stranger's Cay on Sunday (5/7) (18 nm)
Stay anchored near Stranger's Cay on Monday (5/8)
Stranger's Cay to Mangrove Cay on Tuesday (5/9) (26 nm)
Mangrove Cay to West End on Wednesday (5/10) (21.5 nm) (high tide @ 9 AM)
Wait in a marina at West End for weather window for crossing Gulf Stream

Stay tuned for us adding our sign to the signing tree tomorrow...

Thanks for following our blog!

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