22nd Mar - 1st Apr 2013 - Cambridge Cay (Little Bell) Cay, The Exumas, Bahamas

Mon 1 Apr 2013 23:33
The words “VPR” on our Bahamas Explorer nautical chart warned that due to movement of the sandbars, the chart may be slightly inaccurate!  So back to  visual navigation to ensure we followed the colour of the deeper water!  As we skirted around the many rocks using the forward looking sonar and changes in water colour, we finally came to Kiss rock (aptly named, as we did stay very close to it), after which we turned into a beautiful anchorage at Cambridge Cay, also known as Little Bell Cay.
cambridge moorings Cambridge Cay
Cambridge (Bell) Cay and the anchorage (marked by the white teardrops)
The numerous snorkelling sites
The anchorage was already full, but we managed to pick up one of the available mooring balls at $15 a night.  Once settled we took a 1.5 mile dinghy ride to the sea aquarium in “O’Briens Cay”, where the snorkelling around the wall was absolutely magnificent.  No sooner out of the dinghy and we were surrounded by the most beautiful fish, decorated in all sorts of colours and stripes – quite amazing.  Then to the “airplane reef” where we viewed a sunken plane through our friends ‘looky bucket’ (as the name suggests, it’s a bucket with a see-through bottom) and we’re definitely going to invest in one, as it’s also useful to check the lie of the anchor!  We had been invited by the other anchored boats for cocktails on a nearby beach, which always means you take your own drinks and a plate of appetisers to share. We introduced ourselves to a couple who were on a mast less catamaran! It turned out they weren’t quite sure of the height of their mast as they went underneath one of the bridges in Nassau!
P1050164  P1050166
The people of this dinghy landed taking advantage of low water in Cambridge Cay.  Rising Star and Narsilion arriving at Blue Yonder
With my ever growing confidence in snorkelling, we took another long dinghy ride. at slack tide, across a lumpy cut to the snorkelling area known as “Rocky Dundas”.  Here we were able to view the caves with stalagmites and stalactites and also to see the pristine Elkhorn coral located just outside. Being even more adventurous, the following day we swam out from a beach to “Joes Reef” where we saw some more amazing Elkhorn coral.  Finally, we did a drift snorkel across the cay, where Michael was able dive a few feet to pick up sand dollars, which more often than not, break apart as soon as they are handled. We actually managed to keep a couple in tact!  The anchorage thinned out after a couple of days, so we moved off the buoy to a suitable spot to anchor and enjoyed a few more days in one of our favourite places, including riding out another front with Rising Star and Narsilion.  David on Blue Yonder had left the day before, and then we said our goodbyes to Val & Lisa and Joe & Cherie, as we too departed for Georgetown on Great Exuma.
A stroll across the Cay to Bell Rock
The Park Warden arrives to collect his dues for the mooring buoy
Looks like the whole anchorage has made their way to the beach for cocktails and owners dinghies nicely parked on the sand
Rounding Bell Rock as we leave the anchorage (where masts can be seen)
With the wind on the beam, we then had a great 65nm sail south in the deep Exuma sound in 18 knots of fresh north easterlies to Georgetown.  With my new found confidence in ‘trolling’ fishing, I put out a line from the stern and within an hour had caught a 4ft, 20 pound Dorado (aka, Mahi Mahi or, Dolphin fish). Of course, Michael persuaded me to fillet the fish underway, thus to avoid any mess and the appearance of nosy sharks in the anchorage?  This was not an easy affair and after pinning myself to the back deck, I was pleased when I eventually produced some nice large fillets. Then a call on the VHF to Motu,  already in Georgetown we suggested we had Fish Taco’s for dinner that night. We would bring the fish, if Marja on Motu  would arrange the rest, which she duly did.  After anchoring in Sand Dollar Beach, we took the Dorado fillets across to Motu, where Steve grilled them to perfection and we all enjoyed a great meal. 
The beautifully coloured Dorado and Anne bracing herself on the stern, whilst filleting the fish
The freshly prepared fillets, ready to be cooked to make fish tacos
The anchorage at Sand Dollar beach was about a mile away from the dinghy dock in Georgetown. Except in calm winds and seas, the long dinghy ride to dock was horrible.  In anything more than a slight swell we soon began to realise that our new AB dinghy was not quite up to the job and we were having a job to stay dry and comfortable..........urrrgh!  We spent a few days getting to know our way around this jolly town and we were able to undertake some re-provisioning in the well stocked, but rather expensive Exuma Market.