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 25: Great Guana Cay, Cambridge Cay and Shroud Cay


The Black Point Settlement (on Great Guana Cay) is one of the larger and more prosperous communities we've seen. Multiple churches, multiple restaurants. The world-famous Lorraine's. And bread baked by Lorraine's Mom. There's a huge "Laundermat" here, also. The community water is relatively accessible (and consequently cheaper) than other islands.

Bell Island is "private" and has a huge construction project including a vast marina. The neighboring Cambridge Cay is empty: it has a well-marked path from the beach near the moorings over to the sound. O'Briens Cay appears empty. Soldier's Cay has just a few nice-ooking buildings. This is part of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.

Most settlements are known by the name of the Cay (Staniel Cay, Little Farmer's Cay, etc.) Black Point is known by the geographic feature (Black Point) not by the Cay (Great Guana Cay) making it a little odd.

Shroud Cay is just south of Hawksbill Cay. While there appears to be epic snorkeling around here, we're working our way back to the US, and won't be staying to play. Next year.

4th. Monday.

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

We waited until 1100 to see if the wind would shift or moderate. No dice. Still blowing straight out of the N.


So we slogged to Back Point, motoring dead to windward. Yuck. Necessary, but tiresome.

We're hoping for calmer weather tonight and tomorrow. That will allows us a day to explore Black Point, to see if we can get bread from the bakery and perhaps some Wi-Fi.

The breeze may pick up Wednesday and come belting in from the W and NW until Saturday, making the Black Point anchorage unpleasant. We'll move north on Wednesday and take shelter behind Bell Island, perhaps. It's 15-20 nm north of here: three to five hours of sailing. It's sheltered from the N and W, making it a more pleasant place to wait for calmer weather.

We'd like to spend more time here at Black Point, but the anchorage is exposed to big winds from the W or NW.

Anchored at 24°05.987′N 076°24.119′W, Black Point Settlement, Great Guana Cay after about a 12 mile run.

Engine pan: dry. The raw water pump isn't dripping any more. Good. One less thing to fix.

I still want to dive the through-hulls again to be sure they're clear. We'll see how flat is is here tomorrow. Maybe I'll look at them up near Bell Island.

Dinner was veggie burger, beets and the last of the bread from Staniel Cay.


Attribute Value
Depart Started at 23°57.336′N 076°18.985′W
Arrive Anchored at 24°05.987′N 076°24.119′W
Time 3h 10m
Distance 12.2 nm

5th. Tuesday

Anchored at 24°05.987′N 076°24.119′W, Black Point Settlement, Great Guana Cay

Walkies and Wi-Fi today at Black Point Settlement. This is a very posh cay; lots of really nice houses. More than one excellent restaurant. Water is readily available. It's a public tap used by all the local folks, too, so don't abuse it.

We took a long watch down the sound-side beach.


There's a lot of trash.

A lot.

A real lot.

Plastic is forever.

Every plastic thing we buy either has to be reused or recycled. Plastic cannot be disposed of in any way. If you put plastic in a landfill or dump, it winds up (eventually) in the ocean. It blows off the landfill or washes down into a river.

Plastic in the ocean has entered the food chain.

We're eating our own plastic waste when we eat seafood.

The rules are these: reduce your purchases of plastic, reuse what you buy and recycle what you can no longer reuse. Look at the plastic you buy every day: food wrappings, drink cups and the like. Try to find ways to buy less plastic.


However, the beach also has great beauty buried among the trash.

CA found A dead brain coral of epic proportions (At least 2 feet in diameter.) The kind of thing that an interior decorations store could sell for hundreds of dollars.

We talked briefly about lugging it back to Red Ranger and stowing it down in the bilge, wrapped carefully in towels. And then tying to sell it. Unless, of course, it's illegal to export or import coral.

The beach also has



sponge rock which has been eroded into phantasmagorical shapes by wind and water.

[Yes, that's rock, not driftwood or a stack of rocks. I think it's also fragile, so I didn't dare touch it.]

Bonus! Black Point has the world-famous Lorraine's Restaurant. Besides great food, Lorraine's restaurant has Wi-Fi available, so we bought a lavish lunch and several Kalik's to help defray her costs. Plus we made a donation above and beyond lunch.

Lorraine's mom bakes bread. We bought a loaf of white, a loaf of banana and a loaf of coconut bread.

Dinner was Allu Mattar with flour tacos fried in butter to make nan.


Attribute Value
Arrive Anchored at 24°05.987′N 076°24.119′W

6th. Wednesday

Started at 24°05.987′N 076°24.119′W, Black Point Settlement, Great Guana Cay

Bound for Bell Island and Cambridge Cay to find a quiet anchorage out of the predicted weather.

Winds this morning were light (4-5 kn) from the best possible direction (SW) so we sailed very, very slowly. More of a controlled drift at 2.7 kn under yankee, main and mizzen. Seas were flat.

[2.7 knots? How fast is that in real units? That's a 20-minute mile. A good walking pace. I think there are people who can swim faster than that.]

A good day for our mizzen stays'l!

Thankfully, we never got it deployed. The wind suddenly shifted and jumped from 4 kt to 14 kt and clocked around to be almost ahead. And it really was a sudden jump. Within the space of 15 minutes—30 minutes at most—conditions had changed dramatically. CA realized we were slowly being pushed off course, and we needed to head up, pointing as high as we could.

For the next two and one-half hours we beat to weather. It got to be pretty sporty, with waves crashing over the bow, and an anchor working its way semi-loose.

As the sea state built to have waves over 4', beating to weather became almost impossible. Our speed over ground (SOG) dropped to about 2 knots even though the wind was blasting along at 16. We were expending most of our forward energy just cresting the waves.

Also. We could not tack under main and stays'l. Could Not Tack. That really made us feel like a pair of incompetents.


We gave up, started Mr. Lehman and motored the last hour and a half.

We've dropped the hook in "Harbor Bay" behind Bell Island. In many ways this spot is picturesque. There are numerous cays, rocks, and coral heads all around here. And there's a big construction project or factory operation or whatever is going on on Bell Island. That's not so pretty.

Most important: it's well out of the expected wind and swell. We'll cope with the noise of the machinery.

Dinner was cabbage fried rice.

Anchored at 24°18.533′N 076°32.926′W, between Bell Island and Cambridge Cay after about a 24 mile run.


Attribute Value
Depart Started at 24°05.987′N 076°24.119′W
Arrive Anchored at 24°18.533′N 076°32.926′W
Time 7h
Engine 3h 20m
Distance 24.6 nm

7th. Thursday

Anchored at 24°18.533′N 076°32.926′W, between Bell Island and Cambridge Cay

Today was special. It was a "down day."

When our kids were little, we called them "Jammie Play Days." Days where we aren't going out, we don't need to get dressed, we can just play quietly in our jammies.


CA baked. And baked. New cracker recipe. New cookie recipe. Fresh hummus. Deviled eggs. And she painted cards and bookmarks.

I hacked around with some programming stuff.

And that was about it.

There's a lot we could potentially see and do near here. There's great snorkeling down by Cambridge Cay. There's the "Sea Aquarium Coral Garden" up by O'Briens Cay. Both are dinghy rides that are under 2 nm.

But. Instead. We just sat at home and played quietly.

Dinner was shrimp and grits.

Saturday may be good weather for moving up to Hawskbill Cay. So far, my weather judgement has been pretty poor. Chris Parker's forecasts are good. My transformation of forecast to a sailing plan hasn't been so good.

Witness yesterday when the clocking (and building) wind stopped us in our tracks. It's a matter of practice. We've just to keep trying, taking careful notes and assessing our lessons learned. We've got fairly detailed log books for Voyaging, Maintenance and Galley. These allow us to write it down and review it later and see what we'll do differently next time.


Attribute Value
Arrive Anchored at 24°18.533′N 076°32.926′W

8th. Friday

Anchored at 24°18.533′N 076°32.926′W, between Bell Island and Cambridge Cay

Ran the generator to charge the batteries for two hours. I'm trying to be more diligent about charging the batteries every other day come hell or high water.


Took the dinghy over to Cambridge Cay to walk the beach. A cool stretch of beach with some spectacular off-shore rocks.


After lunch we went to the "Sea Aquarium Coral Garden" up by O'Briens Cay. A great little patch of coral with two dinghy moorings. Very healthy looking. It's very close to a cut between the Banks and the Sound. In this case, the cut is not navigable by larger boats, because of the coral heads. The coral's location is safely out of the current, with only moderate surface chop.

Dinner was a pinto bean, sweet potato and quinoa chili.

Weather is supposed to be building and clocking tomorrow, Sunday and Monday. This means that we can more easily head N when the wind finally clocks around to the E or SE on Sunday. The speed will be in the 15 kn region, so it may be sporty sailing. But if the direction is right, then we can make progress toward Nassau.


Attribute Value
Arrive Anchored at 24°18.533′N 076°32.926′W

9th. Saturday

Anchored at 24°18.533′N 076°32.926′W, between Bell Island and Cambridge Cay

Took another good long walk on the Cambridge Cay beach. Walked up the high ground by the cut, and added a rock to the cairn on the highest point on the Cay.

The anchorage we chose is ½ nm N of the official eclsp mooring balls. We can see why our anchorage less desirable than the mooring area. This spot is exposed to a swell when the wind is out of the NE. Today, we're rolling back and forth.


The wind has picked up a bit, blowing steadily around 15 kn. It's bouncy enough that we thought about a dinghy ride after lunch. And the scrubbed it because it was just too wet and wild. We're hoping that the wind shift tonight and tomorrow will provide is some more shelter.

If we're not going out, then it's a good day to bake cinnamon buns.

Dinner was plain old macaroni and cheese.


Attribute Value
Arrive Anchored at 24°18.533′N 076°32.926′W

10th. Sunday

Started at 24°18.533′N 076°32.926′W, between Bell Island and Cambridge Cay

What an EPIC sailing day! For two rank amateurs, we totally crushed it. This was especially sweet after Wednesday's debacle.

Wind from about 070 (ENE, more or less) at a steady 10-15 knots all day.

Our first step was to get out from behind Bell Island. This involves heading out into the sound and then back in again. The wind vs. tide created a "Rage" (sometimes called a "Rage over the Bar.") There are numerous warnings about transiting a cut during rage conditions. Now we know why. There were six to eight foot standing waves that Red Ranger had to plow through. That means that the bowsprit has to point impossibly high in the sky before slicing down into the trough, throwing water everywhere.

On a smaller boat, getting out through a rage would have been dangerous or perhaps impossible.

Once we were on the north side of Bell Island, we had to transit the insanely small cut at about 24°18.63′N 076°33.92′W. The Wavy Line charts claim it's 30' wide. Red Ranger is 14' wide. That leaves 8' to spare on each side between jagged coral and a "dry at low tide" sand bar.

Once in the Conch Channel, S of Bell Island, we put up most of our sails (yankee, main and mizzen) and went roaring N on the beautiful E wind. We did run the engine for an hour and a half of this sailing, so the peak speed of 7.1 knots (with engine at 1200 RPM) doesn't count.

The day's run as 24 nm, something we did in just in 5 hours total. The first 4 miles of that distance was an hour of motoring. The last 20 nm, however, took only 4 hours, and was done almost entirely under pure, perfect sail.


We had a long broad reach to the Lightning Bore; then a beam each to the Cistern Bore and then a Beat to Elbow Cay. With a nearly flat sea, each tweak of the sail actually made a profound difference in Red Ranger's handling.

As bad amateur sailors, we have a lot of difficulty with sail trim. CA's patient and willing to fight with the wheel for hours and hours trying to stay on course. During Wednesday's hellish slog north, we found that we could not tack in rough seas under stays'l and main. Could Not Tack.

Each attempt to tack got us stuck in irons.

That left us with grave doubts about our skills. Much soul searching.

Today, we had zero problems. Zero. We had one of the most perfect sailing trips we've ever had.

The big difference?

I think it was the flat seas. Today we were not trying to sail close-hauled while slapping into closely-spaced 3-4' waves. Today, we were beam reaching and gliding effortlessly over 1-2' seas at 5-6 knots. Effortlessly.

At the end of the day Wednesday, the bilge pump had run 10 times. At the end of the day today, it had not run at all. Since we have a little standing water in the bilge to begin with, a high number seems to indicate the water slopped back and forth kicking the float switch on. This seems to correlate with bad conditions: lots of steep waves. Also, the ship's bell tends to ring when the plunge off a particularly steep wave.

Over the last few days we've been talking about the way the main (and mizzen) twist the boat up into the wind—especially in a puff. And my bad habit of over-trimming the main (and mizzen). And my bad habit of forgetting to ease the topping lift, leaving the foot of the main way up in the air and the top batten twisted so far off the wind that it's useless.

CA's job is not to patiently fight the wheel in silence. If Red Ranger isn't easy to steer, it's not a reflection on her ability to hold a course. Her job is to whine and complain about each little twist during the puffs and lulls. Today we found that a little bit of ease in main and mizzen made her course much easier to keep.

Anchored at 24°31.138′N 076°47.828′W, between Little Pigeon Cay and Shroud Cay

Dinner was penne with a simple pesto sauce.

If the wind continues to clock tomorrow, we'll have a good run up to Allens Cay. From there, it's a day sail to Nassau.


Attribute Value
Depart Started at 24°18.533′N 076°32.926′W
Waypoint The insanely small cut 24°18.63′N 076°33.92′W
Arrive Anchored at 24°31.138′N 076°47.828′W
Time 5h
Engine 2h 30m
Distance 24.1 nm

This Week

Engine Hours: 9. Diesel Gallons: 0. Water Gallons: 0. Miles Run: 50.

Books: The Works of M. R. James, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

Read Aloud: A Dance with Dragons: A Song of Ice and Fire.


Attribute Value
Engine 9. h
Fuel 0. gal
Water 0. gal
Distance 50. nm