To see as much of the world as we can,
Using the smallest carbon footprint we can,
Spending the least amount of money we can,
Making as many friends we can.

Team Red Cruising

Week 24: Staniel Cay and Little Farmers Cay


Staniel Cay is a delightful destination. The Staniel Cay Yacht Club boasts a well-run marina, a bar-restaurant, water, diesel, gasoline. Everything. There's the Staniel Cay Divers shop with tanks, equipment, a big boat and guides. The island has an air strip served by Watermakers Air (direct from Ft. Lauderdale) plus some cottages for rent. Elsewhere the island has a couple of places with groceries, supplies and a bakery.

It's small.

The nightlife is spread among a small bar at SCYC and and two microscopic bars in the village. The "Royal Entertainer" could be the new name for the "Happy People Bar". Either way, it appears closed. Some of the guidebooks laud Club Thunderball. It had an abandoned look about it.

The cave sequences from the James Bond "Thunderball" movie were filmed here.

Several boats at anchor near here blew conch horns at sunset. Really. We thought we heard a horn up at Highborne Cay. We heard a lot of horns here at Staniel.

Little Farmer's Cay is almost as delightful as Staniel. The Farmer's Cay Yacht Club is very low key; it might be working (and have fuel) or it might not. It doesn't look completely abandoned.

Little Farmers Cay is a bit smaller than Staniel Cay. We're talking 70 or 80 full-time residents, respectively.

The Ocean Cabin Restaurant and Bar is the focus for visitors to Little Farmers. There's a convenience store and restaurant close by. Plus two other bars on the island that look like their open for regular business. One is out by the airport. The other is half-way to the beach.

25th. Monday.

Anchored at 24°13.650′N 076°20.400′W, Big Major's Spot, near Staniel Cay

We dinghied over to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club (SCYC) to hike around town. We walked through the village center to Isles General Store, back up to the Pirate Trap Beach and the remains of the Thunderball Club, then back down to the village center. Essentially, we hiked most of the north half of the island in about three hours.


The south half appears to be entirely "residential". That means tropical island scrub punctuated by houses. Most of those houses are epic vacation homes. The year-round permanent Bahamian population is rumored to be about 100.

[The sign says "Constrution Contractors".]


After a fabulous lunch at the SCYC Clubhouse, we bought 12 gallons of water and took the dinghy the looong way back: around the north side of Big Majors Spot, through the tiny cut between Big Majors Spot and Fowl Cay and back down to our anchorage.

The Wi-Fi was a typical $10 for 200Mb. Limited, but pleasant.

Tomorrow we think we'll attempt to change our zinc anode. The dive shop has air tanks, and will have staff tomorrow. Today was a little hectic because they had so many dive trips going on and only the two people working there.

Dinner was some more of our Minestrone soup. CA made a ton.


Attribute Value
Arrive Anchored at 24°13.650′N 076°20.400′W

26th. Tuesday

Anchored at 24°13.650′N 076°20.400′W, Big Major's Spot, near Staniel Cay

We want to replace our zinc anode. That means we want to get a scuba tank from the Staniel Cay Divers. That also means we'd like really calm seas in which to work. And. We'd also like calm seas for the long dinghy ride. It's about 1.5 nm from where we're anchored to the SW corner of Big Majors Spot and then across the open water to the SCYC marina.

The ride is often a very wet 20 minutes. Thankfully, the water is warm.

Our jobs in town today:

  • Waste. We took our trash to shore, and walked the mile or so to the dump. Saves us $2.50 to have the SCYC haul it to the dump. And we get a walk. A long walk in a salty bathing suit does chafe.

  • Water. We spent another $5 to fill our two 5-gallon water jugs to bring more water aboard. CA notes that we use less than 10 gallons a day, so we're slowly topping up the water tanks.

  • Walkies. It's good to get off the boat and walk.

  • Whiskey. Well technically, beer, but it's close enough. Single malt scotch whiskey is distilled beer. So there.

  • Lunch. SCYC for another fabulous lunch of blacked Mahi-Mahi.

  • Mail. At Isles grocery we sent some mail to the US. It won't be fast: the mail boat doesn't leave here until late Wednesday. And, CA bought a plantain so we could figure out how best to cook and eat them.

  • scuba. Finally, to the dive shop to pick up an air tank to tackle the zinc. A long, wet dingy ride later, we're back at Red Ranger, ready to get to work.


My ScubaPro MK-10 first stage regulator refused to work properly. The over-pressure relief valve kept popping open (at about 2800 PSI) essentially free-flowing air every time the tank valve was opened. That regulator was serviced by a shop in Virginia Beach about a year ago. And today it didn't work.

Damn. While I have many angry words for the dive shop, the words are wasted. I doubt I'll ever see that shop again. Indeed, I'm not sure where I'll get these regulators serviced, since I don't know when I'll next be in a city with big, sophisticated dive shops that are walking distance from a marina. Maybe St. Augustine next winter. Double Damn.

We roared back to the dive shop in the dinghy. We added a set of regulators from the shop to our rental bill. Jake swapped my low-pressure inflator line onto his rental regulators. That allowed me to use my own BC even with his regulators. A very helpful thing to do. Far above and beyond the call of duty. We roared back to Red Ranger ready to try again.

Two trips to Staniel Cay in one day: a lot of gasoline used: a glorious trip around the cays, though: very scenic.

[BTW. If you like to kill off invasive species, Staniel Cay Divers are a hotbed of the "Kill the Lionfish" movement. They have tournaments: a recent winner killed 147 fish in one day. He almost sold me a Hawaiian sling fishing spear.]

Tomorrow—with working gear—we'll look at the zinc. Hopefully with less drama than today.

Dinner was the last of the minestrone soup.

Looking at the weather, we think that Thursday may be a good day to go down to Farmer's Cay. Specifically we're looking at the spot between Little Farmer's Cay and Great Guana Cay. The guide book says "East of White Land Beach good in westerly wind." Chris Parker is expecting a blow from the NW on Sunday the 3rd ("NW@20-30 Sat2 night-Sun3" he says) with winds around 25 knots. After that passes, the normal winter trade winds should return and we can start our trip north sometime later in the week.


Attribute Value
Arrive Anchored at 24°13.650′N 076°20.400′W

27th. Wednesday

Anchored at 24°13.650′N 076°20.400′W, Big Major's Spot, near Staniel Cay

Plantain: sliced thin, fried in butter. Yum.

Wash the forward head. This is the shower we use, since it has the sophisticated Whale shower drain pump. The aft head also has a shower, but it drains straight into the bilge; not a good place for soapy water to age. The forward head shower, therefore, gets the sand from our feet after snorkeling. Plus soap residue, which the damp, warm tropics turns into a mildew farm.


Do a little laundry. Washing the forward head lead to washing some clothes. This is pretty simple: the bucket, a gallon or so of wash water and some soap. Then a gallon or so of rinse water and the lacy underthings are clean.

Dove the zinc. This was all new to me. I've never tried underwater repairs before.

Lessons learned:

  1. Nurse sharks can be very big, but they're only mildly curious.

  2. Nurse sharks are unlikely to bite you: they're bottom feeders.

  3. The nurse shark you didn't see is always bigger than the nurse shark you saw.

  4. Save your laundry rinse water and use it to rinse tools and dive gear.

  5. Disassemble the zinc and put the parts in the bucket before getting into the water. Disassembling the zinc while underwater (a) wastes time and (b) wracks your nerves because of the fear of dropping a screw, nut, lock washer or hex key.

  6. Four pounds of weight isn't quite enough. Next time try six pounds.

  7. Don't panic and hyperventilate when the sharks show up. Just keep your flippers in their face so that they have something big and unpleasant to study.

  8. Sharks are inevitable: you're breaking up barnacles, leaving an appetizing aroma in the water.


Since the mail boat was here earlier in the day, we figured the stores had fresh stuff to sell. We walked up to the blue market and the bread guy. We also bought 10 more gallons of water and 2.5 gallons of dinghy gasoline.

Now that we're all settled into Staniel Cay, it's time to move on.

Dinner was rice with Pigeon Peas. We asked around and pigeon peas are a staple of island home cooking. We bought some dried pigeon peas and some in cans and some in cans with coconut milk.


Attribute Value
Arrive Anchored at 24°13.650′N 076°20.400′W

28th. Thursday

Started at 24°13.650′N 076°20.400′W, Big Major's Spot, near Staniel Cay


A delightful morning of sailing.

Anchor up by about 08:45. Sail until about 12:45. Anchor down at 13:15. Simple. Sweet.

And the bonus?

Real sailing. Not cheating motor-sailing with the engine at 1400 in order to make progress to weather. Nope. This was reaching 060 off the wind, an angle that Red Ranger likes. The wind was blowing 15 to 20 from about 220° on the compass. We needed to head about 140°, so we used our Yankee, Stays'l and Mizzen to bang along at 5-6 knots with a comfortable angle of heel and a very light helm feel. In the groove.

Seas were 2-4′: it was sporty. It was the kind of sailing that used to cause us to be nervous and worried about breaking something or mishandling the boat. Now we noted that sailing under yankee, stays'l and mizzen is much more comfortable than motoring.

I should have rigged the GoPro Hero3 to capture some of the epic waves breaking over the bowsprit. But I didn't. I was enjoying the ride, watching the scenery slide by while CA manned the helm all morning. Too busy doing nothing to rig a camera.

This morning, the W wind had been creating an unpleasant pitching in the anchorage at Big Majors Spot. The bowsprit was describing large, scary arcs as it sliced up and smashed down into the water. The anchor chain was groaning on its rollers.

This afternoon, that westerly wind is nicely blocked by Little Farmers Cay, and we're feeling calm and flat.

Sadly, there are rocks (and corals) near where we're anchored. Sometimes the chain grinds on the rocks. We should consider moving about 50 feet N to get further from the rocks.

It's projected to blow something fierce from the W on Sunday, so we're happy to be behind an island where the seas will stay flat. There may be some "wrap around swell" from the S of Little Farmers Cay. A little swell trumps our previous anchorage—completely exposed to the W.

Maintenance notes:

  • Zinc was replaced.

  • Scraped the oysters and barnacles from most of the through-hulls. Need to check again before this is can be marked done. The forward head sink drain, in particular, needs careful checking. There are two holes close to each other on the forward port side. One is the capped-off-inside-the-boat opening for the marine sanitation device (MSD, a/k/a "toilet"). The other opening is the sink. MSD drain is a don't care item. Sink drain is important.

  • The Tides Marine Sure Seal (FSK-1250-2000-0) on the propellor shaft had a very slow drip. Which may have stopped. Or gotten slower. This needs the help of a skilled mechanic to assure the fit is watertight. Perhaps the bearing needs to be replaced. Any dings or burrs on the shaft means dripping. Swapping bearings (we have a spare) is an opportunity to ding up the stainless shaft.

  • The engine cooling raw water pump (a Jabsco 5850-0001) has decided to drip. The gasket is probably rotted away from two years of steady use. Some writers suggest that raw water pumps are an annual maintenance item: new impeller every single year and a rebuild every other year. Seems excessive, but it is critical to engine health. Out here at the edge of nowhere, I may use some Permatex Ultra Black gasket goo to staunch the flow.

  • After 18 weeks, CA finally put the registration numbers on our Dinghy. It hasn't entirely been sloth that made it take this long. We bought the Dinghy in October.



For the first eight or so weeks, we didn't have the actual "Manufacturer's Statement of Origin" from Walker Bay. (Somehow, this bit of paper was lost by Jamestown Distributors; they like to claim they didn't lose it; no one else could have lost it.) After weeks of back-and-forth, and a substantial fee to have it reprinted at the Walker Bay factory and delivered to the US by courier (really!) we got the paperwork squared away with the Commonwealth of Virginia. Two months after purchase, we finally got the numbers. So actual the sloth part has been waiting through January and February to actually start putting numbers on the dinghy.

  • The macerator pump is dead (and won't be fixed any time soon.)

  • We want to replace our flag halyards. One was badly chafed. They're 4mm (⁵⁄₃₂") line: one is about 120', the other three are about 70' long.

  • We want to replace our yankee sheets. They're 16mm (⁵⁄₈") line, probably 50' long.

  • We'd like to replace our water tanks. We think water bladders will work out well. Each tank is 90-100 gallons, approximately 33"×10"×70". If we rip the lids off, a 58 gallon bladder may fit the space. The loss in capacity is dramatic. Water is a critical safety issue and aluminum water tanks fail: these are 30 years old, and have already outlived their expected service life. Our forward tank leaks and can't be used. Putting a 26 gallon bladder into that space would bump us up to 142 gallons of delightfully clean water, instead of 180 gallons of gritty aluminum chlorite water in tanks that will eventually leak. We might even be able to jam two bladders into the forward tank space, giving us 168 gallons. A one-to-one replacement—stuffing a bladder into an old tank—keeps our plumbing more-or-less intact.

A common theme is the lack of available parts. In the US, it's trivial to order a pump rebuild kit, a macerator, 400' of 4mm line, 100' of 16mm line, four water bladders plus a bunch of 1" and ½" hose and fittings. We can easily place those orders from the Bahamas. But we would then have to wait for the mailboat to get them delivered; that happens only on Fridays. There's no UPS second day option here.

Beth Leonard said voyaging is "fixing your boat in a series of exotic ports."

Of course, we've also got dozens and dozens of upgrades and improvements, but they're not so relevant as the repairs and replacements.

Dinner was sweet potato lentil curry.

Anchored at 23°57.336′N 076°18.985′W, Little Farmers Cay


Attribute Value
Depart Started at 24°13.650′N 076°20.400′W
Arrive Anchored at 23°57.336′N 076°18.985′W
Time 5h
Distance 19.6 nm
Engine 5h at idle to charge batteries

1st. Friday

Anchored at 23°57.336′N 076°18.985′W, Little Farmers Cay

Breezy today, even in this confined space between Great Guana Cay, Big Farmers Cay and Little Farmers Cay. We thought about rigging the dinghy and exploring Little Farmers. But, it's kind of choppy, so we'll do laundry in a bucket and hang it up to dry in the cool northerly breeze.

To time the wash and rinse cycles, CA blasts the tunes. (We want a stereo with a bluetooth connection for iPhones.)

We watched three smaller (30') boats come sailing in to anchor near us. One of them was beating up the narrow fairway between Big Farmers and Little Farmers. We picked our way along this very slowly (under power), staring intently at every change in water color to be sure we were safe. They sailed through under main and jib at speeds that seemed crazy reckless to us. We watched them tack, fall off, and sail right up behind us before dousing their jib, luffing their main and dropping their anchor. Some fine, fine seamanship. Expert stuff. A joy to behold.

These three boats were crewed by 11 folks in their early twenties. Folks from "all over" one of them told us.


In the afternoon, the sun broke through the clouds; the seas calmed and we felt better about rigging the dinghy and visiting the island. We could (in just two hours) walk all the roads and see pretty much the entire island. It's small. According to Terry Bain (of the Ocean Cabin Restaurant and Bar) it's the "second smallest isolated community" in the Bahamas.

We talked with Terry about his Wi-FI, Rum and Water. We'll go back tomorrow to make the purchases. We'll have to bring computers and water jugs. A standard (750 ml) bottle of rum is only $16. Wi-Fi is $10, but that's negotiable for customers. If we buy two cold beers for $8, the Wi-Fi may be free. Water is $.40 per gallon. Welcome to the Bahamas.


The guide books claim that Ernestine (the cook at Ocean Cabin Restaurant and Bar) is amazing. So maybe we'll have lunch there, spending perhaps $50 to get $10 of Wi-Fi.

Weather for Saturday and Sunday is predicted to be blowing out of the W, suggesting that we stay anchored here. Monday and Tuesday will be lighter winds with less chance of squalls. But Wednesday, Thursday and Friday promise to be some more heavy weather with big squalls blowing out of the NW. If we move Monday or Tuesday, it has to be to move to someplace with shelter as good as we have now.

If we don't move Monday or Tuesday, do we really want to stick here for an entire week?

I think that's what weather delays mean.

Dinner was penne with a clam sauce that included some kale.

After a flat calm afternoon, the breeze has started to pick up. It may be a bit bouncy tomorrow. It's supposed to build, so we want to get our shore-chores done early.


Attribute Value
Arrive Anchored at 23°57.336′N 076°18.985′W

2nd. Saturday

Anchored at 23°57.336′N 076°18.985′W, Little Farmers Cay

We watched the three boats with 11 twenty-somethings working their way up the channel this morning at first light. One of the boats had no motor, so they were trying to beat through the narrow channel against a pretty heavy ebb-tide current. Heroic. But doomed.

I think (based on my limited racing experience) that they might have been tacking through too narrow an angle. Their speed at executing a tack was exemplary; they kept themselves to a tiny bit of backwinding to help push the bow through. If they'd fallen off the wind a bit more after the tack, they may have kept their speed higher. But that's my opinion sitting on the deck of a boat that I can barely even tack in light air. We might be able to get Red Ranger to beat up a narrow channel under main and stays'l. But it's doubtful. The young folks on that boat had good sail-handling skills; we're just old people pottering around on a boat that happens to have a lot of sails.

One of their sister ships came back to tow them. Clearly, they'd done this a number of times before and had a solid procedure. They put a rope heaving line on their anchor chain and passed the anchor chain as a tow line.

Today we are went ashore for some of the 5-W's

  • Water. Always good to get 10 more gallons.

  • Walkies. Always good to take a stroll.

  • Waste. It takes us about a week to generate a full bag of trash; we dumped trash back at Staniel cay.

  • Wi-Fi. We'll hold off until Monday, at Black Point perhaps.

  • Whiskey. Well, technically Rum, but the original meaning of the word which has evolved to "whiskey" was "water of life" and everything from beer to Aquavit counts. Terry highly recommends Ricardo Gold Rum, a product of the Bahamas. [We try to avoid Bacardi products.]


We watched some of the fish cleaning. A couple of fisherman had come in with a load of fish. We saw at least five huge rays hanging around the fish cleaning station, begging for scraps.

Then back to Red Ranger to watch how our anchor holds in 20 knots of wind and rain.

One of our neighbors actually snorkeled the mooring in the building wind and then decided to drop it and put their own anchor down instead. After seeing great moorings in the Exuma Cays park, we're now deeply suspicious of moorings off a cay with unknown maintenance schedules or design parameters.

The Commodore Says: a blowy, rainy day is ideal for baking.


She made crackers and cinnamon buns. She's been wanting to make her own crackers for a while; she's been collecting recipes. We just haven't had a long do-nothing afternoon to see how they turn out. So far, so good. The rye crackers she made might turn soggy too quickly in the humid tropics, we'll see.

The pumpkin cinnamon buns rock.

Even though we're bouncing all over the place at anchor, I rigged the generator. We ran the engine for four hours on Thursday, but the house batteries still seem low; our Argus Battery Bug claims 22% power left—a dangerously low level that reduces the life span of the batteries. Today I put in 48 oz. of gasoline for about two hours of charging the house batteries. We only got about 1:45 of charging time because the boat was rolling so much that the last little bit of gasoline just slopped around in the tank.

Dinner was a sort of salad of artichoke, shrimp, olives, potatoes, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes. Ideally, it's all fresh. However, we generally have these things in cans and jars; so we can use the artichoke water and shrimp water to cook the potatoes. Tasty.

Monday we think we can beat our way to Black Point settlement on Great Guana Cay. We'll hang out Tuesday and then run to Bell Island on Wednesday in advance of the coming cold front. We have plenty of time for detailed planning. And maybe some snorkeling.


Attribute Value
Arrive Anchored at 23°57.336′N 076°18.985′W

3rd. Sunday

Anchored at 23°57.336′N 076°18.985′W, Little Farmers Cay

The boisterous night is over, we're hoping for calmer weather until Thursday, next week. We saw gusts to at least 25 knots and waves that rolled us around a bit. This blow reminded us of Hurricane Sandy, except it only lasted a day.

Early this morning we noticed that a second neighbor had slipped their mooring to use their anchor during the blow. But by 0800, they were back on the mooring. If it wasn't good enough for the storm, why go back to it?

This morning we did domestic chores: laundry, hair cut, showers, run the generator for two more hours, that kind of thing.

I tightened all the screws on the Jabsco raw water pump. Then I carefully sponged out the pan under the engine. This is a two-step process. First the oil-absorbing pad is used to soak up all the oil. Then the bilge sponge is used to soak up the water. There was a lot of water. Over a gallon. We'll see if tightening worked, or if there really is a gasket issue on the pump.


This afternoon dumped waste and get water and do some walkies. We talked with Little Jeff II son, J.R. and Dino about doings on the island. Little Jeff II told us about the mooring issues that we saw last night. J. R. told us about the power outages that are hampering his work carving a huge bonefish sculpture. And Dino got water for us at the insane price of $1.00 per gallon. But he was friendly and helpful and we had a hard time saying "no" to him.

Then in started to rain, so we hurried back to Red Ranger.

Tomorrow we'll move up to Black Point Settlement, depending on the weather. If it's boisterous, we may continue to wait it out here.

Dinner was penne with a vodka tomato sauce with anchovies.


Attribute Value
Arrive Anchored at 23°57.336′N 076°18.985′W

This Week

Engine Hours: 4. Diesel Gallons: 0. Water Gallons: 20. Miles Run: 19.

Books: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; Alas, Babylon; The Works of M. R. James.

Read Aloud: A Feast for Crows: A Song of Ice and Fire; A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire.


Attribute Value
Engine 4. h
Fuel 0. gal
Water 20. gal
Distance 19. nm
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