Thursday, March 12, 2009

Amazon Adventure # 10. Sailing on the Bahama Banks. West End to Crab Cay.

Our first Desert Island in the Fish Cays.

Once out of the deep water channel between Florida and the Bahamas we have entered a different world: one that months before when we were planning this ‘Peter Duck Expedition’ had seemed designed especially for our family`s desire for coral islands, palm trees and tropical temperatures. Apart from the chilly and damp northers that are still chasing after us, we are at last beginning to experience a very new and interesting environment. Life on our open decked catamaran is very exposed to the elements. We are still toughening up.

The Bahama Islands are the little bits of limestone and coral that stick up on the limestone plateau that is just below the surface of the sea. (Very much like Florida would look like if global warming were to raise the sea level by sixty feet or so.) Dividing it up are ‘tongues of the ocean’ -deep sea canyons. Most of the Bahamas are coral reefs and underwater sand dunes; all together these extensive shallows are called banks. They are all visible below Amazon as we sail briskly along in the crystal clear water. We peer down through the shadow between our hulls to see the fishy inhabitants of this world carrying on their lives oblivious to the whoosh of our craft skimming along on the ‘sky’ far above them.

We are navigating by compass and chart and must estimate our speed and make allowances for currents that may speed us up, slow us down or sweep us sideways. The Cays are low and on this part of the voyage, widely spaced. They only pop over the horizon when we are very close. What we have going for us is our shallow draught (18 inches) which allows us to make mistakes and take some short cuts that keeled boats cannot attempt.
From West End (bottom left) to Sale Cay (top right).

The journal:
Today we woke up on the move. We were already out of sight of land. Dad had realized that we had a long trip to Great Sale Cay so mom and dad had gotten up and put up the jenny (Genoa) and we left Indian Cay sailing downwind. We went east 40 miles and we got to Sale Cay at 7:30 and while we were trying to get into a bay for the night through the shoals, Elaine lost Hippolyta`s paddle. Dad said not to try to get it back. We kept trying to get through when mercy oh, we got into deeper water and we put down the anchors but no take! So we kept on going into the bay till finally we anchored ( in the dark).
Mom has finally cut my hair so she is happy. Now homework. GOTTA GOOOO . Gwyn.
Anchored in the bay at Sale Cay.
Dec. 21st.
Today we started out from Sale Cay; out and around the island and off to Allen Cay. Us kids stayed below and read while mom and dad put in another hard day steering and sailing. At about 1;30 we went off course and ended up at Fish Cay. A beautiful island with palm trees, sand beach, coral rock and a beautiful sunset. Our first desert island! We spent this evening trying to climb up palm trees and get a coconut down but with no success. Dad took some pictures and fixed the dinghy. We had dinner. Mom baked and we all retired to bed after another long tiring day. Elaine.
PS. We saw a whole bunch of dolphins swimming around us when we were leaving Great Sale Cay. One was swimming right under our bow!!
That Coconut is a looong way up!
Ferrying the crew ashore.
We have been in the Bahamas for 4 days now. Seems like a lifetime! Probably because the nightlife is just as exciting as the daytime. Mom and dad have n`t had a good night`s sleep in five days ( including the crossing of the Gulf Stream) Yesterday where we were anchored ( Fish Cay) was a great shelter from the wind. Unfortunately for us the wind shifted in the night from north to east. It poured and poured before it changed. In the early morning they up anchored and moved into the lee of another island. This did n`t have palm trees but was a great lump of coral. When you stood on top and looked across you could see the waves crashing on the barrier reef on the edge of the banks just to the north of us. All of us but dad went shell collecting and he was pretty dismayed at some of the big looking shells. ( where to stow them) .
Fish Cays ( top left) to Crab Cay and little Abaco Island (bottom right).

We shoved off and headed for Allens Cay but the wind was extremely strong against us. We got blow sideways into the top of Hawksbill Cay. Revving the engine, we headed the waves and started to move towards the east. We stopped for the night in a little channel between Little Abaco Island and Crab Cay. Hopefully, Treasure Cay tomorrow. Anne.

1 comment:

Gwyn said...

What I remember about trying to climb the coconut palm was that the bark was extremely rough on my hands and feet and that the trunk was covered in tiny ants. Not at all what I thought climbing a plam tree would be like!