Apr 6, 2009

Sailing to the Jumentos

The Jumentos - Almost completely uninhabited, there is only one little settlement which is located less than 100 miles from Cuba. These islands are considered remote even by Bahamian standards and few cruisers visit the Jumentos chain. The spear fishing and lobstering are pretty amazing, the primary drawback is that the Jumentos are shark breeding grounds. 

Beach fire with our buddies from Miakoda and Side by Side

Trigger fish for dinner!!

White cliffs on Water Cay:
My monster Nassau Grouper:
To get to the Jumentos, we first had to make it through Hog Cay Cut. The tricky part about that is the cut only carries 0.9 meters (a bit less than 3 feet) at low tide. Our boat needs a little over 5 feet to float. The tides here usually fluctuate about 2.5 feet. So we had ½ a foot of wiggle room, assuming we didn’t find any rocks or mounds of sand that measured over .5 feet.

We arrived at the cut about 20 minutes before high tide. The weather was perfect. Sunny, and hardly any wind. There were hundreds of coral fans and fish in the cut. We also saw a school of about 6 stingrays. I watched the numbers on the depth sounder drop and drop and drop until they finally bottomed out at 5.4 feet. That was as low as it got, and we made it through with no issues.

From Hog Cay we had a great sail down to Water Cay. Mental rolling waves, just the right amount of wind, warm sun, one of those days that most people would generally consider “perfect.”

Water cay is very long and narrow. Most of the island is made up of shear white cliffs. All very beautiful. We had a few sharks (the Jumentos are also know for the large number of sharks that come to breed in the shallow water) and barracudas swimming around the boats waiting for us to throw in some food.

The next morning we got up early to get the best of the last day of lobster season. We got skunked, only found 1! We settled for fresh fish and one lobster tail that day. As luck would have it, we later found all sorts of monster lobsters at the Cays further south that we traveled to… but it didn’t bother us too much that we couldn’t spear them. Our friends from Side by Side had been in the Jumentos for a while and had gathered up enough lobsters to share.

In general, the Jumentos were amazing. Beautiful untouched reefs, secluded beaches (wink wink), unbelievably clear water, tons of fish to be had for dinner…. I could go on and on. Despite all of this, we found it very hard to get comfortable.

Things were perfect. Too perfect. It was like that book “The Beach” (later made into a bad movie, read the book) where the island starts out as a paradise and ends up as a nightmare. LeeAnn and I both felt this way, but we told ourselves: “that’s childish and silly, let’s just relax, what could go wrong?”

We spent the next few days traveling south, and enjoying ourselves. We settled into a nice little routine. I would get up in the morning around 8:30 and read for a while. Around 11:00 AM we would go diving for dinner. Come back around 4:00 and clean our catch. Dinner around was 5:00 or 6:00. Everyone would eat together. And that’s how it was pretty much everyday. The girls had their own routine. Swimming an exploring the islands. Combing the beach for shells. That kind of stuff.

One of the things we disliked about the Jumentos was the lack of protected anchorages. There just aren’t any. Fortunately the weather patterns in the Bahamas are fairly predictable and we knew the wind would continue coming out of the East until a cold front passed though. Cold fronts bring several days of strong winds from the north. We definitely didn’t want to get caught in the Jumentos during a cold front.

Ocean swells constantly rolled through. Typically hitting us broadside making the boat extremely rocky and uncomfortable at anchor.

Then there was the lack of fresh water. Both of the catamarans we were traveling with had water makers and said they would give us water to drink, but it just didn’t feel good being dependent on someone like that.

I also had a slight concern about the potential danger of being in such a remote area. We were in “yachts” and we would be extremely easy targets. We saw some local conch fishermen once, and we would sometimes see high speed boats during the day. It was clear they weren’t cruisers. It was not clear if these boats were from Duncan Town, a very small settlement at the very end of the Jumentos Chain, or if they were boats coming from the next island to the south: Cuba.

We probably had nothing to worry about. But I still thought twice about turning on our anchor light at night.

One night I had a vivid nightmare about a freak storm coming out of no where and washing our boat up on the rocks. I normally don’t have dreams. I certainly don’t believe they foretell the future or anything, but the next morning LeeAnn and I decided to head north.

We got a lazy start and only made it about 20 miles up the Jumentos chain before we stopped for the night. There was hardly any wind, and I was really excited for a good nights rest. I was out as soon as my head hit the pillow.
We got up early the next day and made it to Hog Cay Cut. It was a very good feeling when we made it through the cut. I felt like a kid who had just gotten away with something. I breathed a sigh of relief.

An island to ourselves:


  1. I need to talk to LeeAnn again and find out " what's what ". Love you all. Have fun, be good, be safe. Dad Dale

  2. Por lo tanto, ahora me entero de que snuck en mi habitaciĆ³n?

  3. I like your hair cut! Your hair sure is getting blond.

    I'm glad your remembered my warning about pirates. I wonder if that boat was stalking you guys? I'm glad your safe.

    Did you like these islands better than Staniel Cay?

    Love, Mom

  4. i just got chills. so scary! be safe! i love you guys! ~audra

  5. I dont know.....I totally see a book in your future :)

    You look so handsome Chad......awwww! The fish are almost as big as you and LeeAnn!

    Keep being safe.....old lobster boats......motoring around at night getting close to your boat.....two nights in a row!! Screams scary movie for sure. Just dont be the stars of that movie.

    Mike.....I am impressed....who knew you could throw out Spanish like that. I was thinking the same thing!

    XXOO Chad & LeeAnn.....be safe, great amazing adventures to you both!
    Aunt J

  6. Chad needs to learn No tenemos licencia de langostas aquĆ­!! then point the 50 cal. mounted on the deck their way. Vamoose!

    Do you ever notice you don't ever see a.... how do I say this... chubby cruiser?

    Those sailors are genuine fine fit and trim.

    You can quote me in your book.