It’s not so easy to post something that so clearly illustrates your own error in choices, but this blog is all about capturing our journey in its entirety, so I will. Please judge gently as you read. Thank you.
A quick note and screenshot about Double Breasted Cay to make the following post more readable:
Double Breasted Cay might be one of the most beautiful spots we’ve ever seen and because of the memories that it holds for us it will always be a special place, but the anchorage itself has multiple challenges the entrance is a by-sight only approach as you weave through some shallow rocks and coral heads and is only deep enough for us in higher tides. Once in, you have to anchor with two anchors (Bahamian moor) as the tide rips through the channel and you lay dependent on the current not the wind. In addition, some places have very shallow sand over marl and make for poor holding so you really have to plan your anchoring set up well. We don’t even attempt to round “creepy corner” anymore into the inner anchorage (though the holding is good there) because we have seen multiple boats do serious damage by hitting the rocks (like tearing off rudders) the current is crazy ripping through there. We also don’t care for going into the inner anchorage because once in, you are trapped. We can only leave at high slack tide and with it being Memorial Day weekend we knew the usually desolate anchorage would be filled with power boats from Florida. Some of them have some very unique anchoring techniques (see photo) that make us nervous about having them as our neighbors when the usual Bahama night squalls blow through.
Knowing it’s an anchorage that takes some concentration, timing, and work to get settled into, Keith and I made a plan before we even left the States about how we were going to anchor our first night. We decided to be proactive and anchor out away from the Memorial Day crowds where we could swing on one hook and catch up on some needed sleep before tackling the situation. We figured we would put up with a little bouncing and when we were not spent from the crossing and the crowds cleared out we would work our way into our usual little spot on the channel side of Sand Cay. Sounded like a sound plan.
Despite the calm crossing, we were exhausted, neither of us having slept more than three hours in the past 36 hours, and we anchored as planned feeling proud of our conservative choices. We noted that we had no protection from the wind or fetch with the winds from the SE but that it was quite reasonable and conditions were to remain mild. No problem. Just before dusk we started second guessing our choice. The chop was reverberating off the rocks behind us making it a slappy, sloppy ride. It was too late to pull up into the anchorage as you need good daylight to see, so instead we upped anchor and headed further from the shore line to minimize the back-chop. And it worked for a few hours, until the tides switched and the current and wind were against each other and it once again became a slappy, jerky, noisy, and uncomfortable ride. Very uncomfortable. Unsleepabley uncomfortable. The rudder was being jerked and the chop was slapping the swim platform hard. Ugh, we just wanted sleep!
Frustrated we looked at the chart and reconfirmed what we already knew, there wasn’t any other place we could go at night so I tiredly suggested we just sail for a while, so around 1:30 AM we upped anchor and just sailed. To nowhere. Just sailed. Back and forth between Grand Cay and Double Breasted Cay. It sounds like a nonsense plan but worked pretty well. The motion was immediately comfortable and at least this way one of us could sleep at a time. We randomly sailed until the sun came up.
At daybreak, out of pure exhaustion, we decided to go ahead into our protected little anchor spot. Yes, the same spot we knew we were too tired to try the day before. So now, sixteen hours later and only a few interrupted winks of sleep, we thought this was OK to do. Being tired makes you dumb. We knew we needed to wait for a higher tide, we knew we needed to wait for the sun to rise so we could read the water depths. We even said these things and agreed aloud, but headed on into the anchorage anyway. The depth sounder reading shallower and shallower. We knew what was going to happen next, and it did. We ran aground. Ouch. It’s not sand here, it’s rock. All those sailor-worthy words we didn’t use last week, we made up for it. (at least they weren’t aimed at eachother)
Keith got us off unscathed, just a bit of bruising to the bottom paint. We tucked our tail, turned around and anchored again in the same outer anchorage. Discouraged and defeated we even thought about bypassing Double Breasted altogether, our favorite place in the world. The place we have been dreaming about returning to for years. Our friends were already anchored up quietly in the inner anchorage and we thought we might not even get a chance to see them.
It was not a good moment.
Anchored again, we took a moment to breath, close our eyes, and grab something to eat. We waited for the tide to rise. We listened to some encouragement from Tom and Jonathan and took the dinghy in to scope out the route again. Refreshed, we upped anchor again (thank God for electric windlasses) and without a hiccup made our way into our little channel side spot, effortlessly played out our two anchors, set them and finally breathed a sigh of relief……