Curiosity killed the cat…or the captain (almost)

By April 17, 2011Bahamas, Caribbean, Cruising

If you remember from last week my dinghy broke down at the Rum Cay salt pond entrance (3 miles away from my anchorage at Port Nelson), so after church Ted (from Morning Glory) let me use his dinghy to go retrieve mine.  Once I got it back he, Matt (Kaleo), and I took a look at it and decided I spun the prop and it will need to be replaced or repacked (neither is easy where I am).  So I am using my dinghy backup…the kayak. 

In the afternoon Ted and I went spear fishing off the reefs and caught six different fish.  We cleaned them and I cooked them so Mili (his wife) and Matt & Christy could join us for a fish dinner.  The next morning they all left for Clarence Town and I headed for Flamingo Bay on the Northwest corner of the island.  Once I worked my way around all the coral heads and found my anchorage I took the kayak two miles to the east.  I wanted to see the Indian petroglyphs in Hartford Cave.  Even though the winds were light, the swell near the cave was big.  As I rode the surf in, the kayak went vertical…with the bow down.  By the time it was perpendicular I decided to jump off (I am sure it was more of a fall out of) the kayak.  It took considerable effort, but I managed to get the kayak and all gear on dry land.  The cave was not large and the petroglyphs were carved into the rock.  They were interesting (click on the photo above to see them better) and reminded me of drawings a child would do (or I would since my artistic skills are not to be found).  Now it is time for me to kayak back to the boat, but first I have to get off this particular beach.  I waded into the surf pulling the kayak and a wave ripped it out of my hand and pummeled me back to shore.  After the first time I found all my stuff, except my sunglasses, and stored them inside the sit-on-top kayak.  I tried to go again, and again I got pounded head over heels in the surf.  This went on for 5-6 tries, before I finally got into deeper water and was ok.  When I got back to the boat I stated finding sand everywhere.  It was in my hair, in my pockets, in my hat, in my…I did not even know you could get sand there!!!!

On Tuesday I had to wait until 8am so the sun was up high enough to see the coral before I could head 35 miles to San Salvador.  Once I got there I anchored off Long Bay and kayaked ashore at the same spot Christopher Columbus took his first steps in the new world.  There are three monuments in a park at that spot commemorating the event.  There is also a monument to the Olympic flame stopping on the island for the Mexico games of 1968.  Once I looked around the park I started hiking south for the Watling Castle ruins.  I ended up only walking a third of the way each way before I got rides.  The ruins are similar to others, but if you go down the small trail, over the wall, and into the natural depression you will find a cellar (or a well with stairs).  It was a neat find.  I spent the next day walking around Cockburn (pronounced Coburn) Town and getting set up for Thursday, where I planned on biking along the north half of the island.  It was 17 miles or so round trip and I stopped at the Dixon Hill Light House (I got to climb inside the lens…way cool!) and another Columbus monument (pictured).  This one was put on the East side of the island (wrong side) in 1891 by the Chicago Herald for the 400th anniversary.  From the road you have to walk along a beach for 2 miles each way, but I think it is the nicest of the land based monuments.  I say land based, because I heard rumors of one marking the spot where he put his anchor down…but I could not find anyone who knew where it was.  I decided to go back to Long Bay (2 mile away) and swim around looking for it.  On my way I contacted the Club Med dive boat and he said it was just past the buoy I was coming upon.  I moored my boat on the buoy he mentioned and swam south a hundred and fifty feet and there it was in 40 feet of water right next to the ocean drop off.  I would have never found it and now that I dove down and touched it my trip to this island is complete (see the photo).  If you want to see the underwater Columbus Monument at San Salvador the GPS coordinates are N24*02’511” by W074*31’960”.

I sailed over to Conception Island on Friday and I am so happy with the choice.  This island is a national park and there are no inhabitants.  It is absolutely gorgeous with the crescent shaped beaches where the sand is so fluffy you sink up to you ankles walking in some spots.  You can kayak the salt creeks in the mangrove filled interior (see photo) and see lots of turtles, but they are fast…and apparently camera shy.  You can also snorkel the reefs around the island, or in the middle of the anchorage, which is a sandy shelf carrying 15 feet to within a boat length or two from the beach.  This island is so romantic; you could easily fall in love.  I guess that might be where it gets it’s name.