In Thompson Bay, Long Island, we announced on the cruisers net that we were looking for charts to get us from the Bahamas to Grenada and Francois and Vanessa from Why Knot IV heard our radio call and dinghied over to our boat to meet us. They have the same plan we do and asked if we would like to buddy boat together through the Caribbean! Awesome. They had sailed to the Bahamas last year from Quebec, Canada, then left their boat in Florida during hurricane season. This year is their first year to continue south. In other words, it will be the blind leading the blind, but it is nice to have a friend nearby in case either of us needs help. Dave and I look forward to getting to know them better and making the leap to the Turks and Caicos soon with them. We would soon have to part ways with Pura Vida as they will return back north.
We left Thompson Bay for Conception Island, a protected park like Warderic Wells (Exuma Park). Dave dropped his line out behind the boat and hoped for the best. We need to break our losing streak! This time we buddy boated with Pura Vida and Why Knot IV. We made a small parade from one anchorage to the other. It was fun to watch the different sailing techniques used by the different boats. We were the only catamaran and had no choice but to motorsail into the wind. We need to be 50-60 degrees off the wind which would have taken us so far off course a day trip would become an overnight trip. Pura Vida caught the wind and went with it, about 30-40 degrees off the wind. It took them quite a ways off course, but they were making such good speed, they came into the anchorage only an hour behind us. They only had to motor the last couple hours to aim for the anchorage.
Why Knot IV started out sailing about 30-40 degrees off the wind as well, but did not want to go so far off course. They ended up pinching in to about 20 degrees off the wind and motorsailed most of the way, coming into the anchorage just behind us. Our only complaint for our boat so far is how far off wind we have to go, since we seem to always be heading into the wind. One tack = 120 degrees!!! Catamarans are great downwind boats but not great upwind boats.
We all took our dinghies out to the reef to dive with the hookah system. I woke with a back ache that hurt to breathe, so I copped out worried about my breathing. Cherie tried to dive, but her head was congested and she couldn’t equalize her ears. Vanessa was afraid there were sharks around and opted out of diving. But the guys had a blast and saw huge groupers and a ton of other fish. The coral, however, was in bad shape. It was bleached (dying) just as we have found it to be everywhere we have looked. I sure hope the coral is able to make a comeback. Someone suggested this happens on a cycle. I hope they are right! The next day, we heard about an inlet to a turtle pond. We were all game to go and took our dinghies all they way to the south end of the island. This was a breeze for us now, since we wheeled and dealed with Pura Vida to buy the awesome dinghy and motor they found. This dinghy is bigger, folds up if we need to store it for a long period of time, and has a 15 hp outboard. Another boat needed a dinghy because they popped theirs beyond repair. So we sold them our dinghy, but kept the 9.8 hp outboard as a back up. This really brought down the coat of buying the nicer dinghy. Score!
Anyway, so we easily got up on a plane (skimming the top of the water) with Dave, mom, and myself all in the dinghy and sped the length of the island. Awesome! However, when we reached the “entrance” to the inlet, it was very shallow, over rocks and coral, and with breaking waves. Francois and Vanessa were crazy enough to try it. So when they didn’t die or even capsize, we followed with Michael and Cherie right behind us. Once we got inside, it was calm, warm, and beautiful. We saw sea turtles (green turtles, I believe) swimming around all over the place. Unfortunately, they refused to hold still and pose for a picture for us. If we got near, they poured on the coal and sped past us in a blur. We also saw huge conch, lots of fish, and stingrays. The shallow protected water was so warm, Dave just had to dive in. The calm, peaceful scene couldn’t last long as the tide was dropping and it was already crazy getting in. Getting out was even scarier because the sun was in the wrong place and we couldn’t see where it might be deepest. Michael and Cherie went first without issue (we thought), so we followed. Dave was slightly more to the left and our prop hit the rocks. Dave killed the motor and pulled it up. I tried to get out the paddles, but we were hitting the rocks and I could move fast enough. The water was rushing out and pushing us further along whether we wanted to go or not. I got Dave a paddle but mine wouldn’t click into place and kept falling apart. By the time I got my paddle together the current had pushed us through. We made it. Unharmed. Dave dropped the prop back into the water and it started right up. Shew! That was intense. Afterwards we found out that Michael and Cherie had hit as well but only briefly. Francois and Vanessa passed us on the right while we were stuck and cruised right through at the deepest point. We all raced back to our boats for a cocktail party on Why Knot IV that evening.