We finally made it to the Jumentos!!
The funny thing is, it is not like they are that far away or anything. The first little island is only a two day sail from the bustle of George Town (only one if you have a shallower draft than us). But while close in proximity to the Exumas, they are certainly not simply an extension of the Exumas. These two chains are more like at-odd siblings-one is the sweet, mild-mannered one and the other one is the untamed wild-child. It is not so much the miles that have made it a challenge for us to get here, but finding weather cooperative enough to safely (or comfortably) enjoy these islands. There are few anchorages that provide protection beyond the prevailing winds and none that would give 360 protection for a front. This mild spring weather is perfect. We heard lots of things about this thin string of islands, and, for a change, it seems that we could see evidence of truth in just the first day. How many times have we let our selves be disappointed be expectations.
I will start with the bad and get it over with. We heard the anchorages, besides not a single one in the chain providing full protection, were also rolly. And, Oh, how we can confirm! We spent our first nights at Flamingo Cay. It is less than two miles long but it has a few anchorages to offer. We thought the beautiful beach lined cove at the north end would be perfect for the South East winds we had but as we entered into the anchorage a swell built instead of diminished. I’m not sure why. There was no North swell running, but unless we were up for an amusement park ride kind of night we knew it wouldn’t work and turned about and went to the second anchorage where, to our surprise, it was flat calm. Well, it was until it wasn’t. By morning every unsecured item had rattled and rolled its way loose. Even a swell bridle did not tame the motion. When the waves began breaking on the rocks behind us we evacuated right back to the first anchorage-which was now flat. It stayed perfectly flat all day, even through a tide change. We were feeling good until we settled in to enjoy a bonfire for ourselves on the beach and it turned back into a crazy washing machine again. From the shore we watched the boat flop from one side to the other. We jumped in the dinghy, ran out to the boat, pulled anchor and evacuated back to the other side. I don’t think I’m using the word evacuate in an overly dramatic fashion. So, yeah, we will agree that the swell can be an issue. But the island is beautiful. And I found pretty shells.
^^It went from this to washing machine in a few hours completely independent of the wind. Swells still befuddle us!
^^ Why couldn’t it just stay like this?!
Now for the good. We heard there was some of the clearest water and most spectacular fishing in these islands. This, of all the things we hoped to be true, was the biggest. We jumped in as soon as we got ourselves anchored. The water was, as promised, tap-water clear and Keith had a hogfish on his spear before I had even finished getting my gear on so we have to happily agree. Slip under the surface and there were fish everywhere, both the pretty tropicals and the yummy kind. Happy little sailors we were.
^^ Love a fish in the fish bucket!
Moving on to other rumors. We heard there were sharks, lots of them. This is because the commercial fishing boats come into the anchorages and clean their catches tossing the carcasses in the water, thus, attracting them. As soon as we dropped the hook we had both sharks and rays cruising by the boat. It happened each time we re-anchored (which, as you read above, was a lot). So, guess we won’t be swimming off the back of the boat! Kai caught on pretty quick that we had guests circling below and ran around deck watching them swim. He has been on the boat since his first day with us and we have always had the netting up around the life-lines. He trusts it 100%. He shouldn’t, it is getting sun rotted. We ended up putting him on his tether fearing if he fell in we wouldn’t have a chance of saving him. Also, we’ve GOT to replace the netting! Oh, and to add to the shark population, May and June are mating season and they congregate here. Are horny sharks more or less aggressive?
Our first impressions, are, surprisingly, that these islands may just be exactly like what we expected and exactly what we were looking for. Ok, rolly anchorages and circling sharks aren’t exactly perks but they were fully expected. The water, though, so densely filled with fish and life exceeded what I hoped for. I foresee a lot of good days ahead.