Exploring more of the Exumas

Moving on from George Town

George Town is emptying out. They had a rally to Long Island, and about 50 boats from George Town left on Thursday, the first weather window available after being hunkered down for 6 days.

We made one last trip into the village – picked up some fresh produce, some beer, and enjoyed the quieter town with so many of the boats departing. The store shelves were pretty empty, as the departing boat crews raided them heavily. We went in on Friday morning and the shelves were being re-stocked.

A beautiful passage awaited us, as we snaked out of George Town Harbour. Passing by Conch Cut- a slight southerly swell rolled us, the stabilizers taking any discomfort out of it.

I had big hopes of Mahi Mahi during our 22 mile run to Lee Stocking Island. We have not been here, and our friends on L’Adagio and Sea Turtle seem to spend a good amount of time there.

We moved around weed lines, and played around with various depth contours, hoping for some fresh fish. After 4 hours we hauled the lines in and headed toward the cut- Adderley cut that leads into the anchorage behind Lee Stocking Island.

This was full of sand bars, and lots of skinny water. We use the Navionics maps in the IPad on the fly bridge, when we make our approaches and pilot through the banks. But the IPad does not seem to have very good detail on the routes and passages on some of the shallower inside anchorages.

We tried to find our way over to the anchorage behind the abandoned marine lab- but a sandbar kept us out. We spotted a 50 foot yacht moving around inside, where we wanted to go, and watched his path, much closer to Lee Stocking than we were. I hailed them on the VHF, and they were coming out- too shallow for them. So we headed over toward Normans Pond Cay and anchored in 6 metres of water. The current was very strong- and we would learn was basically a river of current at all but slack tides.

We had beautiful clear water under the boat, and the boat pointed into the current, often at opposite direction of the wind. But the hook seemed well buried, and we were happy with our anchor after a couple of tidal changes and direction swings.

We launched the dink and took it over to explore the surrounding Cays. Heading north we went near Leaf Cay and saw the beach covered with Iguanas. A boat was anchored here – a sloop- but she seemed to be suffering from the surge.

We headed back toward the boat following the coast line of the cays, around the back side of Normans Pond- and abandon salt pond lie in the center (it is written- we did not go ashore).

We headed over to the settlement (abandoned) and along the anchorage we had attempted to get to – sort of seeing the path; it still was shallow- but a beautiful turquoise colour, deep blue indicating the dark water, to a brown in the very shallow, almost exposed sand bars.

We decided to check out the island and hike to the top of the hill, at 137 feet the highest point in the Exumas. We spent about 3 hours hiking up and returning to the dink, passed through the abandoned marine labs. They were simply left as is; the specimen tanks still in place, the PVC plumbing overhead, the white board with names and duties to perform. It felt a bit like a Sci-Fi set, where some virus had wiped out the population overnight.

We enjoyed our sundowners after a dip and shower in the cockpit. And watched the sun set over Normans Pond Cay, while the full moon rises above Lee Stocking Cay. Life is good.

The next day we see another Nordhavn trying to work its way behind the sand bar and the settlement. We recognize it as Silver Spray, a Nordhavn 63 we sat next to for a couple of weeks at George Town.

They set their anchor, and then picked it up and moved back around the sand bar, and over toward our location. We waved as they passed by and anchored just to the south of our location.

We finally meet Nigel and Hillary as they stopped by and said hello in their dink on the way to the settlement to hike. We agreed to meet at the end of the day for sundowners.

We did some more dinghy exploring- heading over to see the Iguanas with my camera, and then we came back to the boat, and gathered dive gear to search the reefs for some lobsters.

The conditions were ideal, slack tide, minor currents, as we headed out to the cut, still a bit too surgie to try to free dive there. We made our way over to one of the tiny cays north.  After dropping the anchor, we set off toward the reef. I spotted a nice looking coral head just beyond some heavy turtle grass, very near the shore of the tiny cay. Diving down in less than a meter of water, I spied at least 2 pairs of antennae waving around under the head.

Taking a half dozen deep breaths I dive alongside the head and peak into the cave formed by the coral formation. Sure enough, I see two nice sized bugs. Another surfacing, and then another dive, I spear the nearest, and I think largest bug. Leaving the spear, so as not to lose him, I return to the surface for another breath. The lobster is pinned and I head back down, and work my hand down to the end of the spear and hold the bug against the tip with my hand and pull him out of the hole. A beaut, and still another one in there. I look up and Jenny is 200 meters away, the boat is 200 meters away, and a toothy barracuda is watching me with my lobster stuck on a spear. Not really wanting to attract too much attention from the barracuda, I sprint back to the dingy, toss the bug into the dinghy and climb aboard. I am pretty winded, but want to get back to the honey hole and see about his mate, still in the hole, I hope.

I put the bug into the catch bag, and then see Jenny swimming over. She does not know what she has missed. When she reaches the dink, I show her the bag- and the lobster inside.

We return to the honey hole, and I peer underneath again, and I see my bug’s buddy, even larger than he is. But this guy is pretty wary now, as he knows that his buddy is gone. A few dives, some deep breaths, and I get a shot at this guy. Leaving the spear for a fresh gulp of air, diving back down, I cannot get him out of the hole without pulling him off the spear. Back to the surface, and back down again, I peer under the head, but at the back side of the head. I see my lobster’s tail end sticking out of the back door. Diving down again, I grab him from behind and work him off the spear tip, and told on tight, as I pull him out the hole. And he is a really good size. WooWhoo, I cry out. Jenny dives down and retrieves the spear, and we head back to the dink. I swim back holding that big boy out in front of me. He is missing an antenna from our fight, but he looks massive.

We climb back into the dink, secure the big boy, and then Jenny tells me that a 3rd bug escaped out the hole while I fought with the other bug. So we head back to the area, to see if we can find or 3rd friend. Peering under some promising shelves, and numerous coral heads, this guy has made it to freedom, and we are pretty happy with our catch of the day.

 

We head back to Southern Star, to clean up. It is almost 5:00 so drinks and dinner is not far away. We take our joy baths and then Silver Spray dinghy stop by and invite us to sundowners on their boat.

We had a great evening with Nigel and Hillary, and admire their boat. We brought over one of the lobsters complete with butter, and left it with them.

What a nice guy am I? But it only seems like the neighborly thing to do. Share in the rewards of the sea. We got back to Southern Star, in the dark, and decided to have our lobster later, when we have more time to enjoy it

 

 

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