After so many long travel days, rolling or noisy anchorages and sleepless nights, it feels AMAZING to sleep. Thankfully, our first night in Abaco was calm. Albeit there was a bit of rolling due to the swell coming in from the channel to our west, but neither of us noticed it at all.
Here’s a video…
We were still pretty tired this morning, but spirits were high. Our plan was to head north to Marsh Harbour to extend immigration, top up on water, fuel and maybe even food. There’s even talk of a REAL hot shower in the future!
But its all speculation. It was pre-dawn when Jake got up and wanted to do some morning yoga on the SUP. I enjoyed coffee (while secretly filming him…hee hee). Despite the small rolling swell, the water looked calm and inviting and perfect. I could have jumped in right then and there.
I restrained myself. instead I helped fix a super tasty breakfast-taco scramble with eggs, potatoes, stuffing, bacon, corn tortillas, green chili hot sauce and avocado. YUMMO. I think part of what made this meal so great is that we’ve barely eaten in the last few days. This meal was a welcome treat to our tummies.
It was 9AM when all was finished. As we sat in the cockpit looking out at this perfect dawn, we contemplated changing our plans. Maybe we can play around here for the morning. There is a HUGE snorkeling mecca 1 mile north of us that was just asking to be explored. I double-checked the tides and learned that we just missed slack tide, the next one is around 1PM. That will give us time to move the boat closer to the island, do some preliminary exploring (and beach combing) and then get down to business. Sounds like a great plan to me 🙂
Jake pulled the anchor easily and we were off. We had to move Bosco 3 miles in total to get around all of the coral and shoal areas. We stopped just north of the Sandy Cay island, which should have been completely protected from everything. However, there was a huge swell rolling in off the Atlantic (from the west, which is exposed to the ocean here) making this spot rollier than thou. It sucked worse than Egg Island if you can believe it!
Thing is, we weren’t planning to stay here long. We just needed to prep the dinghy and change into our suits. But as the rolling was so intense, it made getting ready REALLY difficult and frustrating. It took us almost an hour to get everything set up and by the time we were prepared to leave, both of us were frazzled.
While we were working, a bunch of boats rolled in behind us. 3 charter catamarans were amongst the group, and it was clear that none of them had a clue what they were doing. They were almost on top of us in the anchorage (which had plenty of room but everyone wanted to be near us). Jake and I were nervous that one of the boats would crash into us, but we also didn’t want to sit around and wait for it, so we left it to fate and went to shore.
The dinghy ride was fast. There were several other tourists already on the island…that’s right, I said tourists, not cruisers like us. These people are obviously on vacation, most of them rented small powerboats to explore the area. Its very common in this area (which we learned later). Oh well, though its not our favorite, we didn’t let it bother us a drop.
Upon landing the shore, we discovered that we hit the SEA BISCUIT JACKPOT! Apparently this island used to be a lot smaller, and almost completely submerged. The coral reef WAS this island at one time. But over the years, the water has grown more shallow (or non-existent), exposing the reef to the sun. This means that a huge span of reef is now fossilized right here.
There were tons of shells all over the place. Conch, snails, sea biscuits, brain coral. Jake and I spent an hour hiking around the entire place. It was all so beautiful. But it was shell-overload. We couldn’t carry the large shells with the smaller ones, so Jake went back to grab a bucket from the dinghy.
I have to say that it felt so refreshing to be out here this morning. To stand on hard ground, soaking up the rays, searching for shells and other cool things. Felt like a child again…enjoying the simple life.
By noon, we were kind of fried and ready to go. I was super motivated to snorkel, but it was clear the waves weren’t going to cooperate. Jake and I tried to dinghy over to some mooring balls that are right off the coral reef, but it was too crazy out there. I did get a sneak peek at some of the coral (which looked unbelievably perfect). That only made me more sad, but also determined to come back here sometime soon, when conditions were more favorable.
Back on Bosco boat, things were nuts. The boat was rolling like a madman, there was stuff all over the cockpit (looked like an explosion) and a very large rain cloud was forming just overhead. We figured that we should move on before things get worse. Maybe we can get to Marsh Harbour after all?
So Jake pulled the anchor, which came up very easily. I took the helm and once we turned around, things calmed down in an instant. We had to maneuver another small island before we could get back on our course. Thankfully we were also entering the protection of the Sea of Abaco, which means no more big waves for awhile. AHHH what a difference. Despite the growing wind, the water was almost dead flat. Much nicer.
The rain cloud caught up to us within 30 minutes. It didn’t look too bad at first, but then thunder and lightning accompanied the storm. Thick clouds filled in making it almost impossible to see. I can’t believe how fast this storm settled in. It didn’t seem like it was in any hurry to leave.
The passage felt slow now. We had to wind around a few more shallow areas that put us a bit off path. And with the weather steadily growing worse, we needed a new plan.
I scanned the charts to see if there was an alternative anchorage for us to wait this out. There is a tiny little cove on the west side, called Cormorant Cay. It didn’t boast much depth of water, but looked to be mostly protected from this weather direction. Plus its only a few miles ahead (instead of another 15). Good enough for us!
Rain poured. Thunder rumbled and lightening lit up the sky. Jake ran out to open the fresh water through-hull, to attempt to collect some fresh water. Meanwhile I steered us into the anchorage just before the worst of the storm dumped on us.
Jake was soaked within seconds of going back out to drop the anchor (for the second time today). It set without issue and we were sitting pretty. I couldn’t help but marvel at this gorgeous sight. There were little coves and islands dotted all around us great for exploring. The mist in the air gave it a magical quality.
I worked on cleaning the cockpit (and down below) while Jake prepped the water catchment system. The rain subsided but kept falling for another hour without any wind to speak of. It was perfect and we managed to collect 15 gallons of water!
It took me awhile to clean and pack the shells. The final tally was 32 sea biscuits (small and large), 4 brain coral, 5 conch shells and 6 black and white sparkly snail shells. Everything was either fossilized, dead or both and polished from the sand and sun. I’m planning to preserve these things and give them away to family and friends as gifts.
Then I decided to take my first long, HOT shower in what felt like forever. Jake whipped up some hot cocoa which tasted awesome and warmed my insides even more. I could have easily curled up and gone to sleep. But for some reason I couldn’t resist the urge to go out and explore this place. Once the rain cleared I took the SUP and paddled to shore with a walkie talkie and my camera. Jake hung back to relax.
The island was so cool. On one side, the Sea of Abaco. The other side is lined with small “lakes” and rivers and winding limestone features, trees, sandy beaches and little inlets. It would be so tempting to paddle all around this place if I had more energy. I decided to hike instead.
This is a popular spot for people to fish, and that was made evident with the homemade fish cleaning station. There were a few camp fire rings. There is also an interesting water hose system adhered to a large tree. Perhaps this is what people use to clean fish with fresh water? It seemed an ingenious rigging system.
Time flew by while I scoured for cool shells or sea critters to witness. There were a lot of tiny snails and other shelled critters that I can’t name that had my attention for awhile. I also met a cute little lizard and saw a few water birds. The sound of nature is music to my ears.
I was brought out of my reverie by the sound of thunder in the distance. I guess its time to head back to the boat, because a huge dark cloud was coming in fast. It took me about 15 minutes to hike back to the SUP and back to Bosco. Just as I closed the gap, a huge flash of lightening crashed overhead. Yikes that was scary!
Both of us were exhausted from the day, but very happy to be in this perfect spot. It was only 5PM and we were ready for bed. But we didn’t give in. Instead I made us a huge pot of homemade ramen with tons of dehydrated veggies, carrots, cabbage, leeks, onions, chicken, spinach, celery and mushrooms. It was so delicious after this soggy day.
Maybe tomorrow we’ll make it to Marsh Harbour?