Hawksbill to Shroud

Mon 5 Apr 2010 00:40
24:32.25 N
76:47.75 W

This morning, we watched as a cruise boat approached Hawksbill. We recognized it as the Grande Caribe, which we had seen in Warderick Wells. This 180 something foot boat kept coming toward our anchorage, then, to our astonishment, passed by the mooring balls, passed about 50 feet from the sailboat "Warm Rain" that was anchored a bit farther out than us, and kept coming to the beach--straight for the beach. A real Sea Fever move. Just as we were considering our salvage options, this behemoth came to a halt in 7 feet of water and began lowering a ramp from its bow right down into the water. Out marched several couples in their 60s and 70s who either waded or swam ashore. Another group disembarked into a smaller boat and motored over for a quick hello and then went snorkeling.

A woman named Mary waded over to Sea Fever and began talking to us. She invited us aboard the Grande Caribe for a tour. She and the other 36 passengers are on a 11-day cruise of the Bahamas, where they can snorkel and kayak and walk on beaches and have someone else cook for them. We got the grand tour, led by the engineer. The first stop, by Mary's insistence, was the section of the dining room that had cookies and brownies available. The girls availed themselves. So did Garth. Since I can't eat brownies or cookies, I was asked what I would like and I spied a bank of coffee pots and said that I'd love a cup of coffee. In the Bahamas, I've been able to snag just one cup of coffee in 6 weeks. Tea on the boat each morning is fine, but for some reason, I've been craving coffee, along with clean sheets and a hot shower. I was told I could get one on the way out. The engineer showed us the berths, the glass-bottomed boat, which these waters are perfect for, and the lounge area. This boat is an engineering marvel. The whole pilot house retracts and the top level folds down so it can do trips under lo bridges on the Hudson and the Erie Canal. The bar is BYOB. A very casual cruise line that is comfortable and roomy, without being luxurious. Many of the passengers are on their 9th and even 14th cruise with this company. In fact, only two of the passengers on this trip were newbies. No gambling. No constant entertainment. No round-the-clock buffet. We got some brochures in case anyone is interested...Finally, the engineer had to get back to work and we were escorted off the boat. I realized as we were walking down the ramp, into the waist-deep water, that I had failed to get my cup of coffee. Mary took note and hollered from an upper deck, "You didn't get your coffee!" What an empathetic woman. We couldn't take up more of the engineer's time (he had been assigned to show us around by the captain who had seen in us perhaps potential future passengers or relatives of future passengers). Even when the engineer relayed that the captain wanted to know if we needed ice--a hard to find and highly valued commodity at this end of the Exumas, where there are no settlements--we declined ice and my opportunity to caffeinate. (We plan get some ice when we stop briefly at Highbourne Marina to get gas and water in a day or two.)

After playing on the beach --where last night the girls found many live sand dollars--and swimming, we up-anchored and had a fine sail to Shroud Cay about an hour away. The girls wanted to visit their Shroud beach again (tucked up a mangrove creek, which becomes a sandflat at low tide). Shroud also has a well, with tannic water, which is fine for doing laundry, which we did almost as soon as we arrived. On our way to Shroud, we saw that Grande Caribe also anchored off Shroud. We can't see any other boats from our little hidey hole, but it's nice to know they're out there. The girls were thrilled that they got to see the inside of a cruise ship (albeit a small one, relatively speaking) and now they dearly hope that they'll have the same opportunity on a mega yacht.

The next two days are going to be NE winds from 13-20 knots. The high end is uncomfortable for us. We'll see how the Banks look tomorrow. In 10-15 kt winds, on our sail here, the Banks were stirred up and it was about as much as we wanted to be in. We'd like to be in positon to make the first of several big crossings by Thursday, the first of two days with reasonable SE winds. Saturday, it looks like another front blows in and in our experience (so far) that usually means no crossing windows for a week. We'll just have to see how it goes.