Hoffman’s Cay… Thanks for the shelter!

Last Thursday we left the shelter of a perfectly fine marina knowing full well that a strong blow was coming…why? Was it because we’re frugal? Maybe. Was it for the adventure? Oh hell no. Was it because we knew of a snug little place to anchor out of the winds? Not really but we had high hopes, so off we went, motoring southward on a rising tide, through the shallow waters on the west side of Great Harbour Cay. Our destination was Hoffman’s Cay about 4 hours away.As we picked our way through the crystal clear waters which were maybe 12′ deep, a lone dolphin came over to fish off of our bow. Magic but wow was it busy! We also came across a good sized nurse Shark so I tried to get some underwater footage to show later.We rounded some sand bars and were able to sail to the Cay, arriving around 4:00pm.We dropped the Rocna anchor in what seemed to be pretty shallow waters in a very protected nook. But it was very shallow. I knew the tide was still going out but Jim said it would be OK if we settled onto the sand! We spent the next hour lounging on the netting and watching sea turtles feeding on patches of turtle grass nearby. So peaceful.Now, we only need 18″ to float but sure enough, the tide went out and just before bed we were on the bottom. We didn’t hear crunching so no rocks or hard bits under us. Whew!That was fine for one night in settled conditions but when the 30+ knots of wind come, this was not a place to be. So we moved to the south part of the Cay and dropped the anchor in what looked like grass. Hmmm. I don’t like grass to anchor in. Only clear sand if possible to hold in a blow!! I dove on the anchor and only the tip made a half-hearted effort to go into the muck. Shoot. So I, and my new buddy the 4′ Barracuda, swam back to the boat. We anchored in another spot and fearing no luck holding once again, Jim dove on the anchor. He too made a new friend… A 4′ black tip reef Shark! Not sure who was more scared. But I assured Jim that if reef sharks were around, there was a good chance that hammerheads weren’t!! He didn’t think that was helpful.We pulled over to the last patch of clear sand in the anchorage between Hoffman’s, White Cay, Saddleback Cay etc. The Rocna held fast and we and four other boats bobbed and tossed as our shelter from the brief west winds gave way to Stormy 25+ knots funneling through a pass right at us…all night. Not a great night for rest but man did that anchor hold!The next day as soon as the sun was high enough to see into the water, we moved up the coast of Hoffman’s to the first beach. Our anchor found some clear sand and we got shelter from the growing north then east winds.We went ashore to find the famous Blue Hole. I had thoughts of jumping off the 20′ high limestone into the deep waters but I chickened out. I’m not ashamed as it’s a long freaking way to any medical help!! I did snorkel the hole and saw a few fish. There was a ton of algae moss lining some of the steep rock walls. Jim explored the cave like rocks beside the hole.It’s about a 10 minute walk back to the beach. It’s a perfect little beach with no real rocks along the sand.From Sunday to Monday we didn’t leave the boat. Though the island protected us from the worst of the winds and waves, it’s only 23′ high here so our 45′ tall mast was shaking in the strong gusts. We battened everything down and the Rocna anchor plus our backup Bruce anchor both. held. We had three separate devices with an anchor watch running. There were even little choppy waves in our wee Bay. By the way, these strong winds are the result of a “norther”, a cold front. It got so chilly that we had to put the doors in, put on pants, socks, fleeces, and two blankets. The high was 19C and the night time was probably 15C? Brrr…At one point a dinghy came over. It turns out we had met Vicki and Art at the Toronto Multihull Club Regatta a few years ago! They and their labradoodle Roxie were on a Seawind catamaran anchored at the next beach (all of the boats in our stormy anchorage had all skedaddled when the strong winds came).We moved our anchor once to make sure we were farther off the rocky lee shore in case any south east wind showed up…. Good thing too as it did!!Today we did more boat chores as the winds started to subside a bit. The best accomplishment was getting the watermaker to prime, then run!! We ran our little generator in order to have this machine turn salt water into fresh water. Success! The generator also charged the batteries as we made ice with ice maker!Jim also refilled 6 – 1lb propane tanks for our stove from our larger 11lb tank that we carry in the anchor locker (our primary anchor doesn’t fit in the locker).This afternoon we had another dinghy come by. It was the dad and three kids from the catamaran to our south. The kids had a bit of cabin fever but it turns out that whole family had a case of ciguaterra poisoning from a wahoo fish they had caught in deep water!!! Some reef fish carry this poison but not normally wahoo according to the dad. But they’re on the mend and we’re happy to get out. Nice to say hi to neighbours.This evening we watched a spotted eagle ray hunting in the shallows around our boat. There is an extreme low tide as there’s a full moon so it was fairly easy to see the ray between wind gusts.We also both saw the Green Flash when the sun set!!! This happens when the sun drops just below the horizon at sea. And we saw it!! A light green millisecond. Cool.Now Jim is threatening to beat me at cards again…and dang it, he probably will. But we’ll see.Waiting for the green flashThe pic above is of our beach, the Blue Hole and the bigger beach to the northAnchor watch….

About Carleen&Jim

Sailing (and other) adventures of Carleen and Jim often featuring us sailing or racing our trailerable trimarans.
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