Moving in Circles
We left you last as we arrived into George Town, the capital of the Exuma Islands. We were kindly hosted by Lumina Point Resort during our rest day and made full use of the time we had to resupply and sort our rather dirty and smelly camping gear!
Carlton, the manager at Lumina Point, was incredibly welcoming and we have nothing but praise for the fantastic resort. The cost of supermarket products in the Bahamas are, as you can imagine, extremely high! With 4 nights of camping ahead we approached the supermarket with slight unease. To our surprise it turned out to be one of our best supermarket shopping experiences (For us to enjoy the supermarket is really something special!). A huge thank you must go to Kevin (our aforementioned hero from Long Island) for his massive support and Basil Cartwright and Exuma Markets for sponsoring our food shop! Running around like over-excited puppies we grabbed so much food that we had to take a trolley back to the boat to carry it all! Needless to say at 4am the next morning we had some real difficulty packing the boat. With bags of food stuffed between our legs and dry hatches overflowing we began our journey (very very slowly) up the famous Exuma chain!
It was brilliant to be able to escape the rough seas we've experienced so far. With the islands sheltering us from the Atlantic to our East we were able to make good progress across the calm seas. The only downside was the sweltering heat and the lack of wind, made worse by the fact that we had plastic food bags between our legs making us hotter and hotter! So we had a new challenge. Not only did we have to make good mileage each day but we also had to eat. A lot. In principle this sounds wonderful. Two guys who have spent the majority of the time starving over the last 3 months now have too much food! Unfortunately our stomachs have shrunk and trying to eat and paddle doesn't make for a particularly comfortable day. That said, we found an amazing camping spot on Lee Stocking Island that night and cooked an absolute feast! It was the first time we went to bed feeling full.
We soon realised we had finally entered the land of friendly yachties cruising the Bahamas. As we climbed into our hammocks that night to escape the bugs we heard the hum of an engine approaching. We both rolled our eyes and prayed it wasn't the police kindly telling us that no camping was allowed. Fortunately it was Diego and Marina, two lovely sailors we had met earlier in the day who had their boat anchored just offshore. They supplied us with a couple of beers and some brilliant snacks. Ironically replacing all the food we'd tried so hard to eat during the day to reduce our weight! A huge thank you though to Diego and Marina and thank you also for donating to our charity!
If you want to be like Diego and Marina, you can donate too by clicking here.
From Lee Stocking island we carried on to Staniel Cay Yacht Club. A good mornings paddle was followed by a knackering afternoon. Some very strong headwinds set in just after lunchtime which left us fighting to move forward. 5 hours later and we arrived in Staniel Cay Yacht Club. Such a friendly community with some great accommodation where we were kindly placed for the night! Staniel Cay showed us a side to the Bahamas we were yet to experience. The land of super yachts and celebrities, spending their time down in the stunning Bahamian water for Christmas and New Year. We were quick to meet Steve and Jay who showed us a brilliant time. Steve, with a stunning house on the island, loved the sound of our trip and invited us back to his house to learn more about what we have been up to. After sharing our stories Steve and Jay shared their great knowledge about the difficult currents and tides of the Exumas which we had struggled with the day before. As we said our goodbyes and headed back to our accommodation Steve decided to go out his way once more. Having two jet skis at his house he suggested that before we set off the next morning the 4 of us take the jet skis out and plan our route for the day ahead. Neither of us having been on a jet ski before (and of course to gain more knowledge about the currents of the islands) we jumped at his suggestion and had great fun on them the next morning! Returning back to the boat and paddling at 3 knots as opposed to 30 knots wasn't as fun.
After speeding around in the morning our spirits were high but progress on the boat was slow. We were about 4 miles from our planned camping spot for the night when disaster struck. Will tapped his foot pedal to turn the kayak right when we both heard a twang. Shit. A lighthearted conversation two days prior had turned reality. We had snapped a rudder cable and now only had the ability to turn left. On a long open water crossing this would have caused some serious panic but fortunately we were in the lovely Exumas. Our first attempt at tying a piece of string to the rudder which Will could pull to turn right failed and so we limped to the first island we could see (the first island we could see that was on our left).
After a long think we attached some rope to the snapped rudder cable and hoped it would hold until we reached our end point for the day. Fortunately our patchwork was so good that we haven't had to fiddle with it anymore. Duck tape does wonderful things! To our joy we were welcomed in by the Park Rangers for the night and they let us crash on their sofa out the wind and rain. The drama had however not finished for the evening. One of the bolts in the mast of the sail had sheared off when we were tightening the mast that night and we were seriously worried this could be a big problem. In turned out we had arrived in no better place. Early the next morning the Park Rangers opened their tool shed and we were able to drill and new hole in the base of the mast and fix the sail. We must say a huge thank you to Patrick, the president of Falcon Sails, for such a rapid response that night (even whilst being in the theatre) and giving us the much needed solutions!
At this stage we had one day left in the Exumas. The islands certainly live up to their reputation. The water is incredible, there's so much wildlife and like the rest of the Bahamas everyone is so friendly. So we continued onwards to our crossing point at Highbourne Cay. Kevin and his wife who are the managers of the island generously gave us a bed for the night in their house and supplied us with some much needed grub. An early night was had before the 4am start to head over to Nassau.
An extremely windy and rather rough crossing but rather speedy at the same time. With half our mind on the rudder cable and the other half on life the world and everything we failed to realise that the wind, which was directly on our backs, was shunting us along at an incredible speed. We were able to arrive in Nassau just after lunchtime which is definitely a first! We are being looked after amazingly in Nassau and are preparing everything for the final stages of the trip.
Although anything can happen at any stage of any day on the water, we have 2 'major' crossings left. From Nassau we head to Andros where we spend a day traversing the north side of the island. From here we will be crossing 65 miles to Cat Cay which will be the longest crossing of the trip (over 24 hours of paddling). Here we plan to get a good nights sleep before crossing 55 miles the next day to Miami! It's fair to say that we don't exactly have an easy ride to finish the trip but spirits are high and the end is potentially (weather permitting) nearly in sight!