Bay #1. Stocking Island.
A sandbar forms a hook to enclose the first of Stocking Island`s harbours and it is here that the kids played volleyball and had a bonfire party with their friends. One day we had Amazon pulled up to the shore and I found a yellow piece of rubber sticking out of the sand. There was something familiar here and with a mighty heave I dragged Hippolyta`s twin from it`s (not so) final resting place. I could not stir up much indignation at this form of disposal because I had often contemplated some nasty deed to our own dinghy as she had long had a persistent leak in a valve which meant that we paddled half deflated much of the time. Compared to the natty Zodiacs driven by our neighbours we were definitely declasse. My background is not in surgery but it is in making do, so it was the work of a moment to cut out the valves from the body and shovel it back under the sand. Later I performed a transplant with rubber glue on Hippolyta and it was a great success! I still had another valve as a spare part just in case we needed some more surgery on the way home.
All good things come to an end and after goodbyes stretched over a couple of days we finally got our propane bottle filled and started the long journey back up the Exuma chain.
‘Amazons forever!’ The Blue Peter was fluttering in the northerly breeze as this was departure day from Stocking Island, our home town for what seemed like ages. Chris and Lisa from ‘Set Free’ came over for a final goodbye and then we motored out and through the harbour entrance and got sail up. Wind then shifted east and then north east. We were close hauled and kept motor sailing as we were bucking into a chop. Finally at Soldier`s Cay we found a pass and were back in sheltered waters and floating on white, shallow water. Gwyn was navigator today with Heather`s help and it was quite a job keeping track as Amazon wove through islands, sandbars and reefs. The wind was now NW.
We decided to follow the ‘deepwater’ route through the Piblicoes to avoid the shallows we had skimmed across on the way south. We rounded a rocky corner and glanced down to see the sand bottom had come up to meet us after all. Soon, bump, bump, we were aground on a hard sand bar two miles off shore. I jumped over and pushed for a while until we finally were back in deep (five ft.) water again. I was steering with the tiller between my knees and the Cruising Guide in my hands as we crept along the channel to Farmers Cay and a cove for the night. Nine hours, 40 miles, 4.5 knots average.
Tonight the sun set at 6:00 and the moon rose at 6:02. A very bright and calm night. The roosters in the settlement started crowing at 4AM. Bill.