The last time that I reported we were anchored in Frank's cay and had just celebrated Thanksgiving. We had planned on doing a dive and then heading north, but the elements got in the way. Thursday night's sleep started fine but became very rocky during the night. I had put out a stern anchor to keep us into the northerly surge coming through the cut and at some point during the night the wind switched and we started going sideways to the swell. Needless to say that made sleeping very difficult with 1-2 foot waves rolling the boat.
After a poor sleep I awoke to BlueJacket's wing keel bumping the bottom on the big rolls. The tide was all of the way out and I could now see why the reefs around the anchorage were called drying reefs. The tops were exposed and on a calm day they would dry. The good news was that with the tide being down, the reef was much more effective at knocking the waves down. The bad news was that we were hitting, and even if we moved to a slightly deeper spot the waves would become more intense when the tide came up. We had to move.
On the NW Caribbean net on SSB I talked to some boats who were familiar with the area and asked where we could find protection. Their only suggestion was the next cay over, but the entrance was tricky and required good light. I really didn't want to try that in 25 kt winds and 3' seas. If I had already been there and knew it, that would have been different. Tom Owen's cay was in the same category. After looking at the charts we decided to head for Ranguana cay which was about 11 miles away. The wind, which was blowing 20-25 kts out of the NNW, was right on the nose and that seas were a very steep 3-5'. We could only do 4-4.5 kts, and each time that we got up any speed (read 4.5 kts), a wave set would come through that would bury the nose for 2-3 waves, knocking the speed down into the 3s. Heavy rain squalls moved through on a regular basis too.
We finally got to Ranguana at around noon. The guide book had its position incorrect (not that it really mattered), but it also had the orientation incorrect. That really mattered as the real orientation was NNW and the little reef that ran perpendicular to the island couldn't begin to keep the seas down. We snuck as close into the island as we could and tried to anchor 2-3 times, but the hook failed to set in these winds. We had been told that it was tough to get a set there, and they were right. After some heated discussion we decided to make a run for Rendezvous cay, about 12 miles away, as it was oriented E-W and had a nice horseshoe bay that we could pull in to.
The way there was slow with the wind and waves on the nose, but as we approached a very long reef in the distance dropped the seas quite a bit and we got our speed back up into the 5s. A Mooring's cat was already there and we dropped hook behind him but weren't able to get a good bite. I took the dinghy in and sounded a passage into the inner bay. We crept in and dropped the CQR in 6'. It didn't bite well, so I manually move it into 4' and set it. I also put out the Fortress. We felt bad as were about 80' from the Mooring's boat, and before our arrival they had this entire beautiful bay to themselves.
After a great nights sleep, which was only broken by rain showers, we decided to head out for our first dive. We headed over to a reef between Rendezvous and Funk Cay and had an OK dive to about 65'. When we got out we saw a flotilla of 4 Norwegian Mooring's boats headed our way. Three of the cats anchored reasonably, but one came in and dropped hook right on top of us and the original US Moorings boat. I'm talking about "Please pass the gray Poupon" close. The US Mooring's boat pulled up anchor (I had to use my dinghy to move BlueJacket so that he could get between the two boats.)
After lunch most of the Norwegian's headed off to snorkel or explore the island, so I decided that it would be the best time to fill the scuba tanks. The compressor is very loud, and I drove the one woman who remained into their boat. I had 4 tanks to fill, and each one takes about 20 minutes, so this process would take about 1:20. While I was filling the rest of the people came back. They would stand in their cockpit and stare at me. Oh well, I didn't ask them to anchor so close, and hey, they're in one of the premier dive areas of the Caribbean. I'd bet that if they had a compressor, they'd be using it. I must admit that I had only planned on filling 2 tanks, but after their actions, I filled all 4. During the last tank a woman came forward and signaled for me to shut off the compressor. I signaled for them to move. When I finally did shut it down I got a standing ovation. I bowed.
Rendezvous Cay is a stunning little cay with a single house on it. The owner, who is from London, just arrived today. There are beautiful palm trees covering it and the grounds are meticulously kept up by 2 grounds keepers. On one end there's a large mangrove stand. We snorkeled into that and were amazed at the number of small fish. I've never examined how mangroves work before, and it was very interesting to see.
I'm completing this on Sunday morning and the Norwegian's just pulled up anchor. I had to move BlueJacket with my dinghy to allow them to get their anchor up. Oh, did I mention that during the night that we had a squall line come through and I ended up on the other side of them and that their anchor rode was against my rudder (and new bottom paint job) until the winds died! Arghhh! Charter's don't care. They don't have any real skin in the game. If something happens they just pay to have it fixed. They leave and someone else takes care of it. It's not their boat.
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