Conditions: Cloudy with some showers, some lightning. Winds from the south/southeast 15 mph. 2 foot head-sea.
Distance traveled: 16.3 nautical miles
Time underway: 2 hours 28 minutes
Average Speed: 7 knots
Max Speed: 10 knots
Fuel Used: 12 Gallons
It was a dreary morning on our day of departure from Warderick Wells. After taking Jasper for his last walk on “Powerful Beach” we retreated to OLOH, got the tender hoisted and secured to the top deck and then sat around and waited until the heavy rains abated. We knew we’d be traveling in the relentless 15 mph southeast winds and potentially some showers, but we were waiting for a window where it looked like we could make our way to our next destination without traveling through the thunder and lightning storm cells that had been cropping up. We also wanted to travel with our friends on Salt Wind as we were all going to Compass Cay. It’s always good to have a buddy boat and they have traveled this route before. Unfortunately for them, they had also gone ashore to check in and walk the trails but the heavy rain started before they returned to their boat so they waited it out at the park office. Ultimately a good thing as it delayed our departure which allowed the worst of the storms to fully pass.
We finally dropped our mooring at 11:30am and as we were slowly winding our way out through the field there was a spectacular crack of lightning just to the north of us. Ominous as it was we decided to look at it as a sign that the storm had passed as we’d be heading south. Once back out on the Exuma Bank we trailed Salt Wind by about a half a mile and averaged around 7.5 knots for our cruise down to Compass. Salt Wind was towing their center console boat and in the head-sea we were enduring, that was about all of the speed they wanted to make. That’s a bit slow even for us but we were only traveling around 16 nautical miles in no particular hurry and there’s something refreshing about sipping only 5 – 6 gallons per hour of diesel. Plus, after all of the anxiety about a potentially uncomfortable ride, it was actually not terrible. We did hit a few more patches of rain on the way down but all went well.
Pulling into Compass Cay from the Exuma Bank, the navigation is pretty straight-forward. It does look a bit tricky on the chart and you must pay close attention – and Compass Cay Marina will happily send a boat out to escort first-timers if requested. While we had Salt Wind as our escort I can report that my Garmin charts were spot-on at the time of this post and the private channel is well-marked. It’s just narrow in spots so it’s important to stick to it, read the water and you may want to come in on a rising tide or high tide if you have a deep-draft vessel. There have been boats up to 140′ here during our stay so no need to be intimidated. Of course, just as the Admiral was preparing lines and we were approaching the dock, the sky opened up again. Nonetheless, two dockhands were there to expertly catch our lines and settle us in.
And once again, we had arrived. Our friends who had been here before had described the place to us. We had looked at their website, our cruising guides and even satellite imagery. But until you’re here it’s difficult to get just how wonderful it is. The marina at this very popular spot is certainly not huge but can pack in a fair number of boats on its well-kept docks, many of which were recently updated. There’s the simplest ship’s store and a couple of picnic tables to enjoy but in terms of the marina itself, that’s pretty much it. It has the genuine feeling of being an outpost and there is a wonderful calmness here. That vibe is largely fostered by the legendary Tucker, who has been the proprietor of Compass Cay for decades, and his awesome family members who work alongside him. They all offer a warm “welcome home” to everyone who lands here. And then there’s the island itself. But more on that soon.
We’ve got so much to say about our incredible stay at Compass Cay so be sure to look for a future Port Of Call posting all about it.
The weather will keep OLOH tied to the docks here for a couple of weeks before we start working our way back and we are taking full advantage of being “stuck” at this amazing spot. See you out there!
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