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Farewell to the Exumas

Posted by on July 6, 2014

We are often asked which places and events from our travels stand out as ‘the best’. This is difficult to answer, as we can honestly say that most have either been beautiful, inspiring, exciting, or at the very least, interesting.

In June we had the opportunity to cruise with our son, Ryan, his wife, Joanne, and our daughter, Vanessa, during their first times aboard His Idea.  Spending time with our children, who now have their own busy lives, is always a big deal for us. With memories of long-past family boating vacations in our minds, exploring the Exumas together was a special event, and now holds first place status on our list of cruising highlights.

Beginning in Georgetown, terminus of their flights to the Bahamas, we were fortunate that the weather permitted two separate trips as far north Staniel Cay, in the middle of the Exumas island chain. Staniel Cay offers much to do in a relatively small area, i.e. snorkeling in Thunderball Grotto, visiting with  both the swimming pigs of Big Majors Spot and the iguanas of Bitter Guana Cay, and enjoying the laid back ambiance and very good Bahamian dinners of the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. New anchorages we explored on the way there and back included Emerald Bay, Lee Stocking Island and Rudder Cut Cay.

All good things must come to an end, and by June 23rd we were on our own again. The weather gods smiled on us, and we were able to take advantage of calm seas to travel the 235 miles to Freeport, Grand Bahama in three days (from Staniel Cay to Nassau to Great Harbour Cay in the Berry Islands to Freeport). While moored at Ocean Reef Resort in Lucaya, over the next few days we prepared His Idea for haul out at Bradford Marine, located in Freeport Harbour. This is our chosen location to store His Idea ‘on the hard’ for hurricane season, until we return to the Bahamas next spring.

End of Season Statistics and Other Items of Interest 

  • Statute miles traveled (Grand Rivers, KY to Freeport, Grand Bahama) – 2532; total miles travelled is now 7940
  • Hours of motoring – 227
  • Diesel fuel used (not including generator) – 3015 litres (663 imperial gallons)
  • Average MPG – 3.82
  • Average fuel cost – $1.22/litre
  • Average fuel cost per mile – $1.45
  • Average daily moorage cost – $33.96 (over 121 days)
  • States & Countries visited – Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Bahamas

We have been told that only about 100 boats completed the Great Loop in 2013, and assume the number will be similar for 2014.  As major recreational feats go, this makes our completion of the Loop this year a fairly unique event.

Here’s the final pictures for 2014, starting with a map of the Exumas…..

Our travels took us from the top to the bottom of the Exumas and back again, with two additional trips from Georgetown to Staniel Cay; Providence Island (Nassau) and Grand Bahama (Freeport) are to the northwest.

Our travels took us from the top to the bottom of the Exumas and back again, with two additional trips from Georgetown to Staniel Cay; Providence Island (Nassau) and Grand Bahama (Freeport) are to the northwest.

Our son Ryan and his wife Joanne, who joined us for 10 days in the Exumas.

Our son Ryan and his wife Joanne, who joined us for 10 days in the Exumas.

Early morning departure from Gaviota Bay, our primary anchorage for the few weeks we spent in Georgetown; hurray for calm seas!

Early morning departure from Gaviota Bay, our primary anchorage for the few weeks we spent in Georgetown; hurrah for calm seas!

Our son (a commercial pilot) teaching the old man new tricks with the navigation system.

Our son (a commercial pilot) teaching the old man new tricks with the navigation system.

Ryan has an very good camera, which allowed us to capture excellent images of underwater visitors to His Idea.

Ryan and Joanne brought a good underwater camera, which allowed us to capture excellent images of marine visitors to His Idea…..

.....and the sea life we encountered while snorkeling Thunderball Grotto.

…..and the sea life we encountered while snorkeling Thunderball Grotto.

This is the front entrance to the grotto at high tide; it takes a bit of courage to swim through it, but the coral and fish to be seen on the outside wall....

This is the front entrance to the grotto at high tide; it takes a bit of courage to swim through it, but the coral and fish to be seen on the outside wall….

.....are worth it.

…..are well worth it.

Feeding the fish; there are many different species that inhabit this spectacular site.

Feeding the fish; there are many different species that inhabit this spectacular site.

Natural light fills the grotto from overhead.

Natural light fills the grotto from overhead.

A beautiful sunset over our anchorage at Big Majors Spot, a very poular

A beautiful sunset over our anchorage at Big Majors Spot, a very popular stop for cruisers to the Exumas.

Picturesque Staniel Cay Yacht Club from the water......

Picturesque Staniel Cay Yacht Club from the water……

.....where we had a fine traditional Bahamian meal of mahi-mahi, tuna, ribs, beans with rice, and mac & cheese.

…..where we had a fine traditional Bahamian meal, including mahi-mahi, tuna, ribs, beans with rice, and mac & cheese.

A Bahamian starfish, common to these waters, and found on the Bahamian penny.

A Bahamian starfish, common to these waters, and commemorated on the Bahamian penny.

Here are a couple of pictures of some of the small, delicate fish we saw amongt the smaller coal heads we snorkelled: iridescent blue.....

Here are a few pictures of some of the small, delicate fish we saw among the smaller coal heads we snorkeled: iridescent blue…..

.....striped.....

…..striped…..

.....and two toned.

…..and two toned.

The view from Perry Peak, on Lee Stocking Island, and highest point in the Exumas.....all of 123 feet.

The view from Perry Peak, on Lee Stocking Island, and highest point in the Exumas…..all of 123 feet!

Back in Georgtown; Ryan & Joanne head out to explore Elizabeth Harbour.

Back in Georgetown, Ryan & Joanne head out to explore Elizabeth Harbour.

Our daughter Vanessa has now arrived in Georgetown.....

Our daughter Vanessa enjoying the sun and heat shortly after her arrival in Georgetown…..

.....so it was time to add her name to the family monument at Capricorn Beach.

…..so it was time to add her name to the family monument at Tropic of Cancer Beach.

Just like old times - father and daughter enjoying a swim together, this time off the back of His Idea in Gaviota Bay.

Just like old times – father and daughter enjoying a swim together, this time off the back of His Idea in Gaviota Bay.

This was an interesting 'mini grotto' we discovered near our anchorage at Rudder Cut Key.....

This was an interesting ‘mini grotto’ we discovered near our anchorage at Rudder Cut Key…..

......complete with tentacles.

……complete with tentacles.

Snorkeling over the remains of a sunken plane; there are many to be found in the Exumas, perhaps a legacy from the 80's, when the Exumas were very popular with drug smugglers, and their flyboys sampled too much of the product.

Snorkeling over the remains of a sunken plane; there are many to be found throughout the Exumas, something of a legacy from the 1980’s, when the Exumas were very popular with drug smugglers, and perhaps their flyboys sampled too much of their cargo.

More fun with the piggies at Big Majors Spot......

More fun with the piggies at Big Majors Spot…..

......and another great round of snorkeling at Thunderball Grotto.

……and another great round of snorkeling at Thunderball Grotto.

Vanessa cavorting with the (supposedly harmless) nurse sharks at Staniel Cay.....

Vanessa cavorting with the nurse sharks at Staniel Cay….. 

.....where we learned that their 'harmless' reputation was not really true (at least, not when you're feeding them conch scraps).

…..where we learned that their ‘harmless’ reputation was not really true (at least, not when you’re feeding them conch scraps).

Vanessa's favourite place, visiting with the iguanas at Bitter Guyana Cay.....

Vanessa’s favourite place, visiting with the iguanas at Bitter Guyana Cay…..

......where they love to greet guests.

……where they love to come out and greet guests.

Because we would next be heading north to Nassau, t was easier to charter a flight from Staniel Cay back to Geogetown for Vanessa's flight home.

Because we would next be heading north to Nassau, for Vanessa’s trip home it was easier to charter a flight from Staniel Cay back to Georgetown…..

......where the Admiral was able to take some great low level shots of the cays.....

……where the Admiral was able to take some great low level shots of the cays…..

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Although not the prettiest of settings, the Bradford Marine yard in Freeport Harbour is well suited for safe and secure storage; note the size of the travel lift, the biggest we've used so far.

Although not the prettiest of settings, the Bradford Marine yard in Freeport Harbour is well suited for safe and secure storage; note the size of the travel lift, the biggest we’ve used so far.

 

His Idea blocked and almost ready for hurricane season; tie down straps anchored to the ground are yet to be installed.

His Idea blocked and almost ready for hurricane season; tie down straps anchored to the ground are yet to be installed.

Plans for Next Year

Our plan for cruising in 2015 includes a return to the Bahamas in the early spring to explore the Abacos for awhile, then back to Florida to cruise the Florida Keys and potentially the west coast of Florida again.

After that we have a big decision to make, i.e. spend another season or two cruising the east coast, ship His Idea home to B.C., or….???

If you have been visiting our blog and wish to be notified when we start publishing again next year, please drop us a line at jaevans100@gmail.com. We’ll then send you a short email in advance of our first post.

Till next year……

John & Ria

2 Responses to Farewell to the Exumas

  1. Ailsa Forsgren

    Hi John – just wanted to let you know that I do check your blog from time to time to see how your retirement adventures are going. It looks fabulous!!!! You have been to so many great spots and as a non-boater, I find the sailing routes very interesting to follow. I am still working lots with BCAA and having fun, albeit lots of change. Take care and hope you ar enjoying this beautiful summer back on the West Coast. Take care…..Ailsa

    • john-and-ria

      Hi Ailsa,

      It’s great to hear from you, and thanks so much for the kind words about the blog. It’s gratifying to know you’ve been following along and that the pictures and stories are of interest. Hopefully we can keep on entertaining – and perhaps inspiring – as we continue our exploration of the Bahamas and south Florida. After that, we’re not sure what comes next.

      Pleased to hear you’re still consulting to BCAA. With all the change going on there, some continuity is a good thing. Although it’s now been a few years since I left, I expect I’ll remain an interested observer of the organization’s fortunes for some time yet.

      I’d enjoy getting together to catch up with both you and Kelly. Perhaps we can arrange something when fall arrives.

      Hope you’re enjoying the summer too, and all the best….

      John

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