Staniel Cay, Cave Cay, Musha Cay, and Ruddercut Cay, the Bahamas

February 4 – 9

We really liked Staniel Cay.  It was nice to be back in “civilization”.  Staniel Cay Yacht Club was very cruiser friendly, with a little cove protected by a breakwater for beaching dinghies.  The pizza we had at the bar there was our first meal out since leaving Palm Beach, and it was great.  It felt like we were on one of the week long tropical vacations we used to take, but with no worry about flying back home to snow.

We walked around the cay, and I had some land sickness – where is feels like the ground is swaying.  It reminded me of holding my desk down in my office after a long weekend sailing, because it felt like it was going to wash away.  We had our laundry done at a laundromat/bar combo, clean sheets!  The second morning, we went to a bakery we saw on the map.  We met the baker, and found out that she had retired last year, so no Bahamian Coconut bread here.  That’s fine because the recipe I found to make it in our bread maker is easy and delicious.  At a nearby grocery store we found a couple things – cheese for my pizza crust, lettuce for salad, a tomato, a dozen eggs, and a can of coconut milk for the bread… Groceries are very expensive in the Bahamas, at least double the cost, our grocery “haul” was $31!

We snorkeled the Thunderball Grotto just NW of the yacht club.  The guide books are right when they say to go at slack tide, but we went after high tide and it was tough swimming in the current.    This was the best snorkeling we have seen so far.  There were absolute clouds of fish, and Jeff saw a turtle.  The water in the cave was even bluer than normal, and the afternoon light streaming down from the holes in the roof of the cave made it gorgeous.  I was concerned I’d get to tired to swim back to the dinghy against the current, so I didn’t stay long.  Jeff was totally calm as always, but he didn’t stay in much longer.  Definitely a must do stop, and we did appreciate being in there all by ourselves.  Plenty of room in all the anchorages, and a general lack of tourists is the silver lining to COVID, if that’s not being too flippant about something so serious.

From Staniel, we had a sporty upwind sail to Cave Cay cut.  It was blowing 15-20 knots right on the nose, with a knot or so of current against us, so we were tacking through only 110 degrees, vs our normal 90 degrees, so we zig zagged back and forth.  We were going 6-7 knots, but it took 6 hrs to get 20 miles south.  At Cave Cay we anchored right by a big sweep of sand bar that is barely awash at low tide, so we were well protected from waves, and winds were very light for the two nights we stayed here.  We went to see the obligatory sights – a plane wreck and an underwater sculpture of a mermaid playing a piano.

The piano was placed by David Copperfield, off the coast of Ruddercut Cay, which is just south of his private island, Musha Cay.  Musha is for sale, btw.  Attention bargain shoppers, they just slashed the price from $120 to $60 MM!  Anyway, when David Copperfield commissioned the piano, complete with mermaid hovering next to he piano bench like she’s waiting for you to start playing, it’s location was a secret.  Snorkelers and scuba divers searched and searched.  That was eleven years ago, so I just had to look it up on our Explorer Chart.  We dinghied over it and I guess it was cool, but it’s had a rough 11 years in the ocean, and looked a little sad or spooky.  It was all by itself in an area with just sand and no fish in evidence, so we decided it wasn’t worth using our air to dive down.  We used our “Look Bucket” to examine the art closely, and that was enough.  The “Look Bucket,” was a great last minute purchase in West Palm.  It’s just a plastic 5 gallon bucket, with a clear plastic bottom.  It’s great to see stuff underwater when you want to stay dry.  It’s also great to look at the anchor from the dinghy, to see exactly how well it set.  Just to brag for a second, Jeff and I seem to be getting better at anchoring.  Jeff is picking better spots, and getting the boat right over them, and I’m better at holding station while he drops, understanding his hand signals, and backing down confidently to set properly.  I also think, with all the sand, anchoring is easier in the Bahamas than it was up north.

On our way back from the piano, we recognized a sailboat that we had anchored next to Staniel Cay and after chatting with them we decided to move down to Rudder Cay cut the next day.  We anchored in front of the caves there, next to our new friends so we could enjoy sun-downers together without a long dinghy ride.  It’s so beautiful here.  I paddle boarded into a cave with a tiny sandy beach inside, perfect if you wanted to picnic in the shade, and then into another with a “cathedral ceiling” that let light stream in like Thunderball Grotto.  Anyway, The paddle boarding was great and I saw a Loggerhead turtle and a HUGE barracuda.  The turtle let me follow it around for a while, and the barracuda wanted nothing to do with me.

Today we are having a lazy day just west of Ruddercut Cay, out of the east wind, waiting for a second evening of sun-downers, this time on our friends boat.  They have a mint plant, so it will be Mojitos tonight.  Miraculously, touch wood, nothing is currently broken on the boat, so we are lazing around eating, reading, playing guitar (poorly) and getting all the dishes from last night cleaned up.  At the moment, it’s too windy to paddle board – I’d only just barely be able to hold station by the boat!  I tried putting the hammock up on the foredeck, but had to take it down because it immediately turned into a small spinnaker in the breeze.  Oh the hardships of boat life!

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