Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sharks, Snakes and Star fish - My Sisters Visit

Colonial Beach, Paradise Island, Nassau, New Providence
Great for beach combing
My sister Jen’s visit has been and gone. It’s been good. Nassau had us in its sticky clutches for a little over a week while we waited for her to arrive. It’s not a bad place if you can overlook the high crime rates, over inflated tourist prices and less than adequate anchorage where wind against tide and constant boat wakes keep you constantly vigilant. I love walking the windward shore to the lighthouse on Colonial Beach hunting for sea-glass and shells.  When Jen arrived we made good use of the Green Parrot Bar at Bay Street Marina which serves the most phenomenal Conch Fritters and huge Burgers that justify their hefty price.  We snuck into Atlantis (after 6pm) and walked around their impressive underwater world with massive Jew fish and Saw toothed sharks. We took to the streets of Nassau Harbour full of tourist shops and duty free shopping for the cruise ships where you can buy souvenirs and cheap knock offs.
Jen and I at Atlantis 
Just before leaving grubby Nassau behind we made a last minute decision to buy a generator at great expense – (twice the price of the US) as our huge battery bank has slowly been depleting with the shorter and often more cloudy days. With the boat fully stocked - as there are no shops, restaurants or even cellular service where we were going, we left the clutches of Nassau behind and pointed Wandering Star in a south easterly direction bound for the Exuma islands.  We stopped briefly at Rose Island snorkelling and hunting for more sea-glass but didn’t stay as strong winds were expected that night and we wanted to put ourselves somewhere a little safer.  

We arrived late to Highbourne Cay just as the sun was setting and struggled to get the anchor to hold. It is always a little fretful when darkness starts to wrap its finger around you and you are not yet settled for the night.  But eventually with the last vestiges of light the anchor finally took hold – which was just as well as the wind blew hard - we pitched and rolled wildly in the built up seas. Sim stood watch through the worst of it, making sure everything was ok. The next morning it was still too lumpy to launch the dinghy so we all had a quiet day on board reading and playing Farkel.
Isn't the water amazing?- At Hawksbill Cay
When the winds finally eased we sailed around to Hawksbill Cay 10 miles further south and executed a perfect example of anchoring under sail, not something we get to do often but made easy in this otherwise deserted anchorage! Hawksbill Cay is one of the less frequented islands in the Exuma chain and yet one of the most spectacular.  Totally devoid of human inhabitants, it is just bay after bay of jaw dropping beauty. Crystal clear waters lap gently on the unspoilt beaches.  There is nothing there, except for sea, sand and sky.  Less than a mile across the shrubby land the ocean rolls onto the windward shore.  The only sign there is human life is from all the debris washed ashore.  Jen and I explored the individual bays in our kayaks.  We hovered over giant rays with wing spans the width of our outstretched arms; we saw all kinds of starfish, and even a shark as we kayaked through the waterways of the shrubby marshland. We hiked across the island and crossed paths with snakes. We even got to see a very impressive green flash as the sun sank below the horizon.  But mostly we walked on some of the most spectacular beaches around.
Wow - @ Hawksbill Cay
Soon it was time to move on again, we stopped for one night in Warderwick Wells but carried on the next day to our final destination with Jen, Big Majors Spot and Staniel Cay enjoying the company of a lone dolphin playing in our bow waves on the sail south. We snorkelled at Thunderball Grotto; made famous by the James Bond movie. The coral gardens around the outside of the cave are some of the best we have seen, so healthy and colourful. Inside light pours in from the natural skylights above, the cave is full of Sergeant Majors and colourful Angel fish all waiting in hope to be fed. Even a small reef shark swam in before Jen chased it out trying to catch the moment on camera. We enjoyed a night with John and Shirley from Khaya Moya who pointed out the sparkling Pulsar stars twinkling a multi hue of colours in the night’s sky. We bravely (read Jen, I hung back) fed the swimming pigs with their yapping jaws and protruding teeth that live on the beach at Big Majors Spot.  We were surprised at the sheer number of nurse sharks that hang around the yacht club at Staniel Cay waiting for chum from the fish cleaning station. Even under our boat, everyday as the sun sets, a shark would loiter making the thought of swimming an unattractive prospect. Though I do believe nurse sharks are harmless enough, it’s hard to put the knowledge of a recent shark attack to a lady in the Abacos out of our minds.  We walked around the small picturesque island of Staniel Cay enjoying more conch specialties at the yacht club.
Oh My! - A shark!

Eventually it was time for Jen to go, we walked her to the tiny airport and put her on a tiny plane. Like I said it has been good, how can it not be? When we have walked on stunning beaches, swam in caves, seen sunsets and full moons, green flashes and colourful pulsars, sharks and snakes, rays, dolphins and swimming pigs.
The lighthouse at Nassau

Some of Jen's beer supply!

My Love message to Sim 

Star fish st Hawksbill Cay

Another little starfish

Kayaking at Hawksbill Cay

And more star fish!

Kayaking through the watery marshland of Hawksbill Cay

Views of the windward side of Hawksbill Bay

Lone dolphin joins us on a sail

Playing in our bow waves.

Someones not impressed with sailing

Another sunset

Jen and I and a beautiful bush of Bougainvillea 

Thunderball Grotto

Inside Thunderball Grotto

Happy, healthy coral

Finger coral

Colourful sponges

Jen feeding the pigs at Big Majors Spot

Pigs and piglets on the beach

Kayaking back to Wandering Star

Some of our treasures so far

Dinghy parking at Staniel Cay

Yummy Conch fritters at the Yacht Club

Shark feeding frenzy

I've not been swiming so much recently!!

Good bye Jen - its been fun

No comments:

Post a Comment