Saying Goodbye to the Exumas
Jan 30, 2008
May 10, 2008
The Exumas were everything and more we had heard about them. I never expected to find such beautiful crystal clear water and a remoteness that made you feel like you were the first one to explore an area. Jammed packed with wildlife too. Dolphins would occasionally swim in Respites bow wake, curious barracuda always a constant presence in the water, iguana ruled islands, conch shells, lobster, and fish galore. Many times we would dinghy to an absolutely pristine beach and not see a single person the whole time.
Greetings from Spanish Wells! We left off in Staniel Cay after a great visit with family and the exploration of Thunderball Cave, swimming pigs, iguanas, a Bahamian stern talking too about conch size limits, beautiful coral reefs, fishing, snorkeling and day sailing. We left March 30th to head to our furthest southern destination, the Blackpoint settlement, but not before rescuing a stranded boater. It really was right place right time for us because as we were plotting our route for the day and contemplating the harsh weather conditions on the way, a couple in a 15 foot Boston Whaler were motoring about 70 yards off our starboard. All of a sudden we heard this Crack! and their entire outboard engine plunges into the water! Having just gotten back from the marina and still in the dinghy, I motor over to help the now panicked couple. Actually in the rush over there My engine stalls because I didn't turn the gas switch back on before leaving and so I'm floating not 40 yards from them trying to fill the gas lines once again yelling "I'm on the way." haha Finally I get there and the husband is bleeding from the leg, looking into the water at his engine sitting on the bottom, thinking "I got the rental insurance didn't I?" The boat looked like a mess because once the engine fell off, the still connected steering cables had pulled the entire steering assembly to the stern. After lifting the engine out of the water, miraculously I was able to pull the boat to the shore against the tricky current of Staniel Cay. Someone else was helping us that day for sure. As soon as that incident was finished, we made the tough call of heading out to the rough seas and sailing south to Blackpoint. During the sail the dark threatening clouds that were looming overhead quickly passed, making way for a nice warm sun. What didn't change were the rough seas. We battled the waves southbound with smiles on our face, fed from the adrenaline rush of pushing through the elements of nature. Our anchor spot off Blackpoint that night never felt so peaceful. The next day we packed all our dirty clothes, basically everything we had brought, into plastic, white trash bags and dinghy-ed to shore. We must have been a sight to see carrying all these bags down the dirt road, receiving lots of smiles and waves. After laundry was lunch at the famous Lorraine's Cafe, where Lorraine herself would greet, seat, take you order, and cook your food as well. Delicious food at that, especially the mahi sandwich. The next day the hunt for lobster was on. The first couple attempts at catching lobster in our dive bags proved futile, so this day we used our fishing net. The lobster here were hiding in crevices 25 feet below the surface and repeatedly diving down that deep was absolutely exhausting. While dealing with the deep water we also had this large barracuda that would hang around. By now we are pretty used to the barracuda down here and justified there constant presence as mere curiosity as opposed to hostile. Even so, their jaws always revealing those razor sharp teeth and the way they dart around so fast, makes you pretty leery regardless. The lobster we so proudly brought to the surface and dinghy-ed back with turned out to be pregnant! The vision of steaming, hot lobster tail dripping with warm, melted butter disappeared just as quickly as the critter did once we dropped her back in the ocean. A pretty neat occasion that we have come to witness several times is the supply ship arrival for each small town. Once a week everyone in town gathers around the dock welcoming the arrival of this cargo ship that carries everything the town needs; food, tools, mail, and other equipment. Everyone uses the gathering as a social opportunity, catching up with friends and family. Before heading north again we stopped at White Point which was an anchorage right off of a deserted beautiful beach. We spent the whole two days there relaxing on the white sand, burying Austin in it, chasing a grouper around with the spear, hunting for conch, playing football, and reading. At the time, the weather for crossing to Eleuthera was not cooperating with us so while waiting for our chance we decided to head back up to our second stop in the Exuma chain, Highborne Cay. It was pretty amazing to sail in two days what we spent a month adventuring through. Halfway between White Point and Highborne, we anchored off of Hawksbill Cay. We arrived around midday and decided to kiteboard the rest of the afternoon. Michael was the first one to go and once off the beach the winds suddenly died allowing the strong current to sweep him away and down the Island! Austin and I scrambled into the dinghy and quickly found that the engine wouldn't start because the spark plug had fowled. We then paddled to Respite and while running around trying to find a tool to remove the spark plug, we see Michael still floating ever farther away. We finally were able to motor over and pick an exhausted Michael up and dinghy back to the beach. So tired after that whole mess we forgot to pull the dinghy back up on shore far enough to keep it safe from the incoming tide. 10 minutes after arriving at the beach we look over to find the dinghy missing and steadily floating where Michael had just been. Austin then dashed into the water and began swimming after it to no avail. He then began waving his arms and Michael and I thought we was in trouble so I began swimming after him while Michael untied Respite from the Mooring ball. Once I got to Austin he says "The current was too strong to reach it", "Jeez Austin I thought you were drowning!" Both exhausted, Michael comes strolling up with Respite to snatch us up and we proceed to sail after our runaway dinghy. Quite the day indeed. We sailed to Highborne Cay marina the next day reeling in a huge barracuda on the way. After a couple much needed ice cold beers and a great nights rest, we set off for Eleuthera at day break.