Staniel Cay Yacht Club
After a very smooth and rapid trip back north with the 20 knot winds at our back (the way one is supposed to cruise, or so I hear), we carefully brought the Angel east off the banks and into the protected waters of Staniel Cay, home of the Thunderball Cave of James Bond fame. We worked our way to the docks at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. Due to our draft the dockmaster placed us on the outer long dock, got us basically squared away, then came back a few moments later to tell us that he would have to squeeze us a little closer to the steel tug in front of us because he had a 105 foot Windship sailing yacht that would have to tie up behind us. Now that got my attention because the thought of having a megayacht coming down on top of us with the swift current running straight into our stern gave me the willies. The kind dockmaster assured Joy and me that these folks knew what they were doing, and we had no need to worry.
Here comes the Chardonnay, a 105 foot Windship, backing down on us with all three hands on deck. You get a pretty good idea of the size of this vessel if you compare the size of the four fenders to the height of the crew. Those things were nearly six feet tall, and there were five of them running down the side of the ship. The crew brought the vessel alongside expertly, no fuss whatsoever, and tied her up no more than six feet from our stern. It took them quite a while to square things away and make the ship tidy; the 100 amp shore power cord alone must have weighed a couple hundred pounds. We talked to the crew for a little while and found that they were delivering the boat to the Virgin Islands for the owner, but the water makers had quit, both generators had quit, and no one in the islands could get them running again. Apparently the owner was none too happy as they would have to return to Ft. Lauderdale to have things put right. Best laid plans and all that, but it’s got to be hard to entertain guests when nothing is working.
We had this 105 foot sailing yacht tied close to our stern, and on the other side of the dock was a 120 something foot motor vessel whose name was Australian Gold. Yup, that’s the one, owned by the famous suntan lotion magnate. Watching the movie star like folks come and go from this yacht was unlike any cruising I am accustomed to doing.
We wandered the island as far as the little Go-Go electric wheelchair allowed us, but it has a tendency to bog down in soft sand or gravel. We are looking for a way to put some beach tires on that thing. That little chair has traveled much of the world and into some pretty far away places where friends told us there was no way we could ever get around. Well, if you know Joy, she is one very determined gal, and there is not much that stops her. Our wanderings on the island brought us to a great place for local fresh baked bread. Naturally, we just had to buy a couple of loaves and treated ourselves to the very best French Toast the next morning.
I dinghied over to Thunderball Cave to dive the grotto one afternoon, and as luck would have it, I was there all by myself, at least until the crew from the big Windship came along. You can dive into this grotto with snorkel gear alone as the under-water entrance is very short, and it is a spot well worth the time it takes to visit. Inside you find reef fish that have no fear of humans, and colors to boggle the imagination. The current runs swiftly through the cave though, so once in, you work your way around by hand.