After Samana Cay we visited Crooked Island, Ragged Island, and the Jumentos. Once again, settlements were small and far apart, and we saw few other cruising boats besides Ally Cat, our friends from Buzzards Bay.
The story is best told in pictures:
Motoring from Samana Cay to Crooked Island in light wind: 1) caught an eight-pound yellow fin tuna, 2) sprung a plumbing leak that required some emergency repairs, 3) sighted a water spout, and 4) caught a 55 inch Mahi Mahi – all within 45 minutes.
Anchored at French Wells, we walked desolate, storm-battered beaches and enjoyed bonfires and ‘smores with the Ally Cats.
We toured Pittstown Landing, the airstrip and rustic diving resort visited by Farrar pilots in years past. Pittstown took a beating from Hurricane Joaquin. So did Landrail Settlement, just to the south, but it’s residents are resilient Seventh Day Adventists, and they’re rebuilding, beginning with their church.
After six days on Crooked we sailed overnight to Ragged Island, 80nm to the southwest. We anchored in the shallow Southside Bay, in about 3 feet at low tide, perfect for exploring the sand flats. In this video Strider is sitting comfortably on the bottom.
While on Ragged we visited Duncan Town, the only settlement in the Jumento/Ragged chain. The town’s population has shrunk since the salt industry died, but the remaining residents are throughly welcoming and proud of their community. We visited on a Sunday, and the grocery owner interrupted her conch cleaning to open the store for us. The mailboat’s 1st mate opened the bar and chatted with us over a cold drink. We left feeling utterly charmed by this place, our faith in human goodness renewed.
Sailing north through the Jumentos, we anchored off the perfect crescent beach at Johnson Cay. On Buenavista Cay we chatted with Andrew, the island’s sole resident, who walked a mile down the beach to introduce himself. At Flamingo Cay we snorkeled in a blue hole with eagle rays and toured a cave by dinghy. And two miles west of Water Cay we dove a 145′ deep, ocean blue hole full of wahoo, grouper, jacks, and reef fish.
Finally, with a cold front threatening we sailed north through Hog Cay Cut, making for the protected harbor at Georgetown, Great Exuma. We looked forward to the perks of civilization that we hadn’t experienced for over a month – a supermarket, a cheeseburger, and a decent internet connection. Yet we were sad to leave such beautiful islands, wildlife, and people, knowing a long time may pass before we return.