Bad day at Allen's Cay

Thu 25 Feb 2010 23:16
Well, I (Lilly) had thought that today's blog entry would just be about our day yesterday, when we played on SW Allen Cay, saw lots of iguanas, who were like chickens, coming to be fed--they know what tourists are all about. Then we got ambitious and did laundry--our first try of the freshwater/ammonia technique. We festooned the boat with wet clothes, stringing a line from the mast to the flag pole at the stern. Sea Fever looked like a tacky parade float. Then we took a sail in Amazon (the dinghy) to investigate the boats in the harbor and a beach on Leaf Cay (near where we had pulled in an anchored the night before). Wind was a bit more than we thought and blasted along to the beach, then got out and saw yet more iguanas. Because the wind was against us to sail back, Garth rowed us back to our anchorage. After lunch, the girls went into the cabin to do their school work and it began to rain, rain harder, and then thunderstorm. We brought all the still-wet laundry into the boat, hanging it everywhere, and we all squeezed into the cabin with all that wet laundry for three hours. We read, got work done. It was crammed and damp. Then, the rain stopped around 5:00 and we burst out of the cabin and took a hike, exploring SW Allen and the jagged limestone formations eroded by water. We saw "blow holes," where the water has worn passages through the rock where in big waves, it would sploosh up and out of these holes. Little did we know that we would see some of that action today.

When we went to bed last night the rain resumed and became torrential. We woke (for those who slept) to a raging wind and very rough water. Winds 20-25K from the NW were the prediction and we had thought we would be sheltered, but we weren't. Waves came in the harbor entrance to our north and wrapped around and marched down on us. The boat bucked like a mechanical bull for the next twelve hours (actually, it's been 12 hrs now and it's still bucking, though the wind has subsided a bit.) The big yachts further up in the harb or seem to all be bucking, too.
We moved the boat with difficulty, trying to get better shelter, and the anchor didn't hold at first: a very scary feeling watching the boat sliding through the water taking the anchor with it. Finally, it held strong and has been holding the rest of the day. Garth and the girls spent most of the day in the cockpit in the howling winds, avoiding the queaziness induced by spending too much time below. I spent most of the day in a fetal position, chased back in from the biting wind, listening to them chat, and drifting in and out of sleep. This day was so different from all others: never unmade the bed (that is also our center aisle, never made tea, didn't get around to doing last night's dishes until 5:00). At one point, at low tide, Garth realized we were in 3 feet of water. How such a little bit of depth can be kicked into a frenzy is a mystery. Anyway, he got into the water and baled the dinghy out, which had accumulated about five inches of rainwater. Then he realized he could carry the girls to shore for a few minutes, a much begged-for break by them. One at a time, he gave them shoulder rides to a nearby beach. There Rose made friends with another iguana and they all found some very nice conch shells. This all while the wind was roaring and the waves were crashing. The island is so narrow, you can see the waves on the banks on the opposite side crashing onto the shore and splooshing up cascades of water.

Everyone was soon back on the boat settled back in for the long wait for the storm to pass. As of 6 pm, the wind is lessening. Supposedly, by 7 tonight the winds will be 10-15 from the North.

Tomorrow, the winds should be mild and we plan to leave this place to go to Highborne Cay, where we will get protection from a bigger front coming next (maybe late Saturday)? Highborne has a store where much anticipated ice cream might be sold. We'll resupply with gas and ice and settle in for the next few days.

We hope the weather settles. Yesterday, in the downpour, Garth said he felt like we were in Maine. Today, I'm not sure where it feels like we are, except that until we felt confident that our anchor was holding, this was our scariest day sailimg and we weren't even sailing.