Saturday, 14 April 2012

Norman's Cay is Ok with Me

Normans Cay is OK with Me

The Allan's Cay anchorage had become a zoo. We have a habit of picking our anchor spot based on what we feel is best for our boat, a lot of cruisers follow the crowd. When we arrived at Allan's Cay we set the hook in an area no one else was anchored, it was nice. Another boat anchored in there eventually, but by no means was it crowded. Then all of a sudden the boats that were on the otherside all left, now when any new cruisers came in they would try to squeeze into the small area Cypraea and another boat were in. The current was strong here, above 3 knots at max, and it was not enough space for more than maybe 2 or 3 boats. We had rode well on the anchor, but the day we left things got a little dicey. We were waiting out a weather front, and when the winds started blowing from the north at 25 knots we were exposed and the surge picked up. The current was pushing us one way and the wind the other. Cypraea was sideways to the wind and surge. Then she started to swing funny, her anchor was under her and she would point her nose east and then west and then east again in big long semi circles. I said to Jennie that we needed to leave today, the anchorage was crowded and we were dragging.

I tried putting up a riding sail, but that just made the movements worse. We were also pulling oppose the way we set the hook. The Action of the boat was like a dog playing tug-of-war, ripping side to side and with sudden jerks. Jennie thought that the days waiting out weather we're getting to me and I wanted to leave. Nope, I just thought there was no point resetting the hook in a crowded anchorage when there was a better one two hours sail down wind away. We did the usual anchor domestic, which we have noticed most boats do when things are going wrong, and eventually Jennie put on her goggles and looked at the hook. Yup, anchor dragging confirmed. I had already started the motor, so we lifted the hook and headed out.

There was a good four foot chop, no swells as we were on the protected west side, but the depth was around 20 ft. We pulled out the jib and sailed really fast down wind. We clocked up to 7.5 knots with the wind and waves pushing us, and we were towing the dinghy; we averaged about 6.5 knots. We made it to Normans Cay in about an hour and a half, and set hook just inside.

Our anchoring spot turned out to be really good.There is a good current that switched every 6 hrs, but we managed to get a bit of a back eddy, so we only really faced one way, into the outflow current and the wind. We set a really good hook, looked at it fully burried and put out lots of scope. We were probably 4 boat lengths from shore, but it was deep the whole way. The wind picked up, and we held.

We did a lot of exploring. When we first got here, we went into the cabin to find that we had poorly prepared for sailing in bad weather, so we tidied up a bit. Then we took.Dex to this little palm tree island, where he ran off a few days of cabin fever. Jennie even found a conch big enough to eat. We went back to the boat, I cleaned the conch and we had conch fritters for dinner. They turned out pretty good. Our sleep in the wind was a little rough, but the anchor held just fine. It's always after you drag that you sleep poorly.

Another thing that comes to mind about anchorages, other than the endless hours of entertainment, are these mega yacht, Mexican drug lord looking boats. They cruise in over top of everyone's anchor lines, and set the hook way to close to others for people to sleep decently. They don't ask anyone where their anchor is or how much scope they have out. They just pull in, set the hook infringement of some little sailboat, blare their music, and start pulling out jetskis. Then they drag their anchor and move somewhere else completely outside the anchorage. Everytime, without fail, this happens. We had it happen, where they were floating over our anchor, their jetskis tethered to the stern were almost hitting us. We asked if they were staying the night, eventually, they ended up leaving.

The next day we went dinghying around, we met a two nice couples from Key West who we're enjoying similar anchor joys (they had a close incounter with Mexican boats the night before). Dexter decided to jump out of the dinghy, and we were nowhere near shore, it just looks like it because the water is only thigh deep. Then we had to chase him down with the dinghy as he swims away, he isn't a swimmer, just desperate for the beach. He gets pulled into the boat and starts coughing and tries to do it again..We  then went to another beach where the sand was like quick sand, but only ankle deep. Dexter got a good work out running in the soft sand. This time when he leaped for shore we didn't stop him, but we did get there before him, what a goof.

Next we went to the Normans Key Beach Club for a cheeseburger in paradise. Wow, so amazing. We sat in big comply chairs surrounded by tropical trees and blue skies and water. We met Mikey and Di, who are semi retired to Norman's Cay. They own an old 50 ft trawler, made in 1922 in Chesapeake Bay, the Yamacraw. A beautiful traditional styled east coast trawler. Mikey runs cargo around the islands for the locals. A large party had arrived for a late lunch and we left Stefan, the proprietor, and Mikey and Di to manage the large crowd.

We chilled out on the boat, we were pretty tired from all the action. Our next night of sleep was much better, and we woke up to light winds and in the same spot.

On Monday we decided it was time to explore Norman's Pond, which is a deep water fully protected anchorage that is immensely difficult to get into. Dexter did one of his leaps into the water, nowhere near land, and we fished him out. He better not do this around sharks. We explored some caves and headed back around to do some snorkeling. The airplane wreck we wanted to snorkel was crowded so we had lunch and decided to go back later. When we did go back it was even more crowded, but this time with kids on the underwater snorkeling propulsion units. They were almost hitting everyone in the vicinity. I don't think they had to much interest in the wreck,they were just showing off for the girls. We just went in, and tried our best not to get hit. I was thinking about getting my spear out, but bleeding and crying college students who vacation with their parents are no fun to deal with.

We went looking for some coral to snorkel, found some, and a conch for more fritters, yum. There was tons of cool fish and if I had my spear I might have got myself a nice grouper. We will have to pit away the fishing gear for a bit while we are in the Exumas Land and Sea Park.

Next stop Shroud Cay.

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