Assaulted at Gun Point
Feb 9, 2018
South Bimini to Gun Cay, Bahamas
“Our” tentative sailing plan the day after my birthday was to take advantage of the forecasted northerly breeze. It would offer a broad reach across the Mackie Shoals to the Northwest Passage for fast 70-mile easterly reach with another 25 to a protected cove at Chub Cay. A 20-25 knot wind across this 6-12 foot deep expanse could certainly garner us a steady 8-10 knots. A promising smooth sail and a calmer harbor destination seemed attractive incentives. But "the best laid plans of mice and men...."
Leaving South Bimini’s crystal ice blue waters for North Cat Cay with 15-20 knot easterlies seemed like both a strategic and therapeutic move. After crossing the Gulf Stream on the previous Sunday and spending 4 days anchored south of Bimini Harbor, we were ready for our second long leg
Up at 6:30 before the sunrise, my plan appeared promising at first. But like many a maritime message, the desired conditions and wind directions did not appear. The forecast northerly failed to arrive though a fresh easterly did. So as is the norm we " assessed and modified" our intentions and sailed with FLOW.
After four days of adverse easterly winds, we decided to head south eight miles to the nearest islands. A southeasterly wind from there would give us a greater angle to sail east as well as raise our spirits with some sailing after our Gulf Stream crossing experience.
We first encountered Gun Cay, a mile or so spit of coral just north of North Cat Cay. As we approached, I noticed three masts on the western side. Those sailors surely are anchored in more protected waters. Though the chart does not show it as a desirable anchorage, it does not indicate it has any dangers or anchoring issues. So we made a starboard turn around the southern tip of Gun Cay and anchored 300 feet off shores about 1/2 mile northward between four vessels.
The assault began after we dinghied ashore to a reefed-in beach. Dries and shallows on the westward side protected the short sandy side from the strong and persistent easterly winds and waves. Lainie added to her shell collection here and seemed in beach-combing heaven until a couple and their dog disturbed our private tranquility. Beaching their tender next to my anchored one, Dancing with the Dolphins stamped on its side came ashore as if late in line for free barbecue ribs and beer at a cruiser cookout.
Some can’t stop themselves from invading another’s serenity and space. They are social creatures so they don’t understand their presence is an intrusion. It would never occur to them to chose another time or beach to attack. While Lainie collected, I sat quietly halfway down the beach. Enjoying the quiet warmth of the noon day sun, I watched nature as the miniature poodle, I’ll call Fido, suddenly begged me to play ball with it. As I stared at it, it’s owner commented on how his pet was just playful as he invited himself onto a sandy seat a few feet away from me. Immediately introducing himself as owner of the dog, catamaran and dingy that had recently raced ashore with Dancing with the Dolphins stamped on its side. As if we had been blind to their frenetic energy arrival.
Full of information and questions, but void of awareness, he attempted to engage me in conversation as if I had been waiting on the beach for a dialogue with him. In many ways, he too was the puppy starving for attention. While his wife went to wade in the nearby water, her husband peed his palaver on me. Somehow the image of a cruising woman taking her two pets ashore to relieve themselves did not escape my notice.
Of course, I was cordial and respectful, but when Lainie and I both realized we were as their audience ashore on this quaint beach we slowly moved to our dinghy. As if tied to our responses, the couple followed me. Maybe somehow believing our five minute conversation had been so scintillating we were now close catamaran comrades. Maybe they were so desperate for human contact, we simply fit the description of being alive.
When I noticed Lainie standing with sticks in her hands and near our dinghy, I also recognized her readiness to leave as the wife had gravitated to her. As we departed the beach trove of shells , I realized I too had relieved myself when I had removed myself. When I looked behind, I noticed “our newfound friends” motoring their dinghy a mere few feet to our stern.
Our second assault attacked us in the middle of the night. It was then I understood why this place was not a recommended anchorage on our Explorer chart or GPS. A southerly surge from the cut between islands some two hundred yards away to our south pounded Mystique’s starboard side most of the night. That broadside combined with the easterly wind made sleeping nearly impossible. Who can rest once tossed, turned and churned into a Waring Blender? Or how about the last two apples in a floating barrel on the Niagara River heading towards the falls?
As soon as it was light enough, we decided to move further south to a quieter spot. We reached southward and then anchored near South Cat Cay for a few hours sleep and then sailed back. I decided to anchor near another recommended location near the North Cat Cay airport on the east side and wait our window. At first facing the wind and waves first did not appear to be a wise or comfortable place to anchor, but when I discovered the nearby shallow coral calmed the waters and waves, we dropped anchor. Memories of being assaulted the previous day and night behind Gun Cay did not escape my thoughts. It was a delighyful spot and we were much rested for the next day's planned sail to Chub Cay more than 90 miles to the east.
It had been a week since we had arrived in the mid-western islands of the Bahamas so we were eager to head more easterly towards the Exumas nearly 200 miles away.