Last year, we met the German kid boat “Salmon” in Mindelo. It’s a little bit mind blowing to think that they have visited Newfoundland since we last saw them, while we have been to Brazil. And now we were all in the Bahamas; them up north, and us down south. But after a night and a day of sailing from Crooked Island to Georgetown, the sailor hub of southern Bahamas, we had a call on the VHF: “Chip-Chip, Chip-Chip, this is Salmón!”. Like us, they had taken an overnight sail (them against the wind), and soon we were anchored next to each other in the far end of the packet anchorage. So nice to see them again, and really, really nice for the kids to be able to play in their almost-native language.
The next day our group was completed, when Gorm den Gamle, another Danish kid boat, arrived and anchored next to us. We have been following their blog from when they were preparing their trip, so it was nice to meet them in person.
For the next few days, we hung out in the rolly anchorage, making excursions to the beaches and playing on the boats. The kids built little cottages together and went swimming, and somehow it seemed to work out with the different languages. A hike to the monument on the hill led to the three boats spelling out the boat names in the sand for all to see, and in general, we had some busy days – we’re not used to that much good company.
After a few days, we had provisioned for a few days of solitude, and Salmón and we were on our way to the next anchorage, while Gorm den Gamle had a few projects to take care of in Georgetown before moving on.
The Exumas has an ocean side and a bank side, and moving from one side to the other can be a challenge, with strong currents, and often large waves when the wind and the current opposes each other. But we hit the first cut at slack tide, and made it through to the protected and shallow bank side without problems. We spent one night in a remote anchorage by Rat Cay, which was very protected according to the weather forecast. But in the early morning we were woken up by a sudden wind change, and now we had strong winds pushing us towards the beach. Most of the other boats hoisted the anchor and moved on, but we were not interested in sailing in these shallow and unknown waters in strong wind and darkness, unless it was absolutely necessary, so we stayed and kept a close look on the anchor watch to see if we were dragging anchor. Luckily, the anchor held, and after a couple of hours, we could have breakfast in a calm anchorage before moving on.
We wanted to meet up with Salmón, who were anchored a bit further up the islands, and prepared for our first sail through the shallow banks. Esben was in the front of the boat keeping an eye out for shallow areas, while I had the phone in my hand, with two different charts of the area running. It was so shallow that we had to go through at high tide, but in the end, everything went smoothly. The shallowest depth we measured was 1.8m, and our draft is 1.5m, so that was ok.
We anchored by Lee Stocking Island, next to an abandoned marine research station, and soon we were drinking coffee in the cockpit of Salmón, while the kids were playing down below. They wanted to move on quickly, while we wanted a few days in the anchorage, so in the afternoon we waved goodbye, hoping to see each other again.
For the next few days, we had some not so nice weather, but we were anchored in a great place. In the mornings, we did school and other chores, like laundry, and in the afternoons, we went exploring. The abandoned research centre was very cool to walk through. We saw old aquariums, living quarters of the scientists, generators for the labs, a bar, etc. And walking along the path, we ended up by the old airstrip, which now has trees growing through the pavement.
On another walk, we went to the other end of the island to look for coconuts. And while we were anchored in a completely calm bay, the ocean side of the island was pounded by large waves, and it was difficult to stand in the strong wind. We could see the cut where we would eventually be leaving the island, and were very happy that we were not in a hurry to get out. I am not even sure we would have been able to sail through the forces of the wind, waves and current.
The Bahamas is famous for the conch living in the ocean, and we did of course try to catch some. We made a dinghy excursion with Esben in his Speedos, and the rest of us bundled up in sweaters and rain clothes, to the little Tug-and-Barge islands close by. But despite of a good effort, Esben only came up with empty shells. They had all been caught already. A little sad.
We had some very nice days by Lee Stocking Island, and even ended up having some more time with Salmón, when they returned on their way down to Cuba.
Click here to see Chip-Chip‘s most recent position.