03/28 Looking for s/v Trouble Update: Back to George Town which is cruiser central down here. I did some provisioning, jugging diesel to the boat, and just hanging out for a few days. It looked like there was a good weather window to sail down to “The Raggeds”. They are very remote islands, about as far south as the Bahamas go. I left with one other boat we had been buddy boating with. The other boat that was with us had to start heading back to the US as their cruising permit was almost up. Making passage down to The Raggeds is not trivial and requires sharp navigation and awareness of the tides, as it gets shallow quickly if you veer off course. My Buddy boat I’m with has a deeper draft than me so I blazed the way, checking depth constantly. The trip takes 3 or 4 days, stopping each night at small uninhabited islands finding little shelter from the wind for the night. You can’t navigate at night safely.
You need good light to “Read” the water as the shoals’ shift and lots of coral heads that are uncharted. The first night we anchored behind a small island but the water was shallow even a 1/4 mile from it. So it seemed we basically just anchored in open water. The next day was the passage through Comer Channel, which is in the middle of open water, so you have to rely on the charts and your eyes. Vast amounts of very shallow water as far as you can see. We got to Water Cay which is basically a large rock. We got our anchors set and decided to spend the next day here. We went spearfishing with another cruiser who was there. He was very good and was free diving down to 40 feet to shoot a Nassau Grouper. I learned a lot watching him, but I didn’t get a kill. We saw a huge Sea Turtle who was not shy and just hung out looking at us just a few yards away. His head was the size of a bowling ball! It was a great day and the cruiser gave us all the fish he speared as his freezers were full. The next day we were off to another island called Flamingo Cay. After dropping my anchor a big shark came by. So no diving on the anchor to make sure it’s set. We hung out here for a couple of days. Just more beautiful beaches, a couple of cool caves, and another plane wreck. We were then off to the last stop. On the way down I was hailed on the VHF by a group of other Catana Catamarans leaving The Raggeds, I think they want me to join their group/cult. They gave some information on where I was planning to anchor which was very helpful. The trades were scheduled to really pick up the next few days so I wanted some good protection. We hung out in The Raggeds for a few days. A Northerly is coming at the end of this week and I want to get out of here as the protection from the North is minimal. The Buddy boat I was with also has to leave the Bahamas as their permit is up in a few weeks. They are trying to leave from The Raggeds and sail straight to Key West over the top of Cuba. My permit is good for a year so I don’t need to leave yet, but my time is coming to an end. I need to get to the Chesapeake by June. So after the Northerly, I’ll start my plan to get out of the Bahamas by the end of April.