Wrecks, reefs, and solitude…Oh my!!!!!

Hi, my name is Michael, and I live in Loveland Colorado.  I boarded Guiding Light on April 8 and Shane offered to let me write the week’s worth of our journey and adventures.

On Sunday we weighed anchor at Duncan Town headed for Hogsty Reef with an overnight stay at Acklins Island. With this leg being 80 miles due East, we had to motor and left at 5am.  (Dark).  I was at the helm when I sustained a direct hit in the right shoulder by a hefty 6 inch flying fish coming over the bow and through the opening in the bimini.  Dangerous duty! I consider myself lucky as I wasn’t hit in the face or eye and didn’t sustain any foot injuries, just a smelly shirt, I would have been though, I have the co codamol 500mg and it basically takes every sense of pain you may experience.  The fish wasn’t so lucky, he died.  We arrived at 7pm at the south end of Acklins and anchored just North of Castle Island Light house.

We were very excited to leave for the 40 mile leg to Hogsty Reef the next morning, as very few people visit there because it is so remote. Indeed, later we would realize that we had not seen another person or boat for 5 days straight.  It was an amazing experience to look at deep blue water in every direction as far as you can see and nothing else except the clouds in the sky.  A very cleansing experience for this soul.

Arriving at Hogsty Reef at 2:30pm, we cautiously approached the reef which is 4 miles long East to West and 2 miles wide North to South.  No room for error here, as this is a location of many documented and unfortunate ship wrecks.  The charts showed an opening in the reef from the west only.  Guiding Light went from water depth of 5,000 feet to 20-30 feet at the opening.  We could see the white water surf hitting on all sides of the reef, showing exactly the perimeter outline of Hogsty Reef so we decided to explore the interior of Hogsty.   We noted what we thought at first was a large rock at the Northeast corner of the reef, but as we motored in 20 foot water towards it, the rock became a very large ship wreck!  Totally rusted red, it was obvious this wreck had been here a long time.  As the day was getting late, and the wreck provided extra protection we anchored on the leeward of her.  It was somewhat eerie for me anyway, as the skeleton structure of the ship was exposed in areas, and looked like human ribs to me.

I manned the dinghy while Shane snorkeled around the wreck, and climbed up the anchor chain to dive off.  (See pictures)

The weather was exactly like forecasted, and we had great conditions, which was comforting knowing Hogsty offers little protection from a storm.  The next morning we motored to the South side of the reef to explore another wreck, The Lady Eagle.  Not as large or as old, she was still nonetheless parked high and dry upon reef with no list to either side.  I wonder what that ship captain did for work after that incident?

Knowing we would spend only one more night here as a front was forecast, we anchored at Northwest Cay, as small sand key at the entrance.  Shane harvested a trigger fish with his spear.  The fish has skin like tank armor and yielded two very dense (firm) white boneless filets.  Unlike most fresh fish, this one required a lot of grill time, which resulted in a tender slightly sweet delicious meal. 

At 3am the next day the seas and surge were getting rough, and we left at 6 for the planned 50 mile leg back to Acklins.  Anchoring for lunch at Castle Point lighthouse, we went ashore.  Shane was determined to climb up the deteriorating circular staircase to the top. I decided to stand watch at the bottom in case help was required.

Thursday, we set sail for Spring Point, along the way stopping to explore an abandoned church built in 1925. 

Friday, we sailed West, then South, and finally North to get across the Bight of Acklins and around Long Cay (we stopped for lunch and Shane ran off to she the old church and jail…he said it was very exciting…I stayed in the air conditioning and played on the internet).  Afterwards we sailed toward French Wells, considered the most beautiful site in the Acklins.  The water depth was 8-10 feet, making the water appear a wonderful hue of teal green.  The winds were very light and with our speed of only 4-5 knots, I climbed down the ladder an hung on to do some body surfing.  Our anchorage for the night was beautiful, with white sand bars surrounded by calm peaceful turquoise water, flanked by lush green mangroves in emerald green water with the cobalt blue colored Atlantic in the distance. A rain front was moving in, and with no wind the humidity was climbing.  Generator to the rescue!  Shane retrieved his window AC from storage, and within minutes we were in total comfort. For more information about storage moving services, visit moving companies seattle

We awoke Saturday to rain.  From Shane’s catalog of over 800 movies, we picked two to watch while waiting for the rain to pass.  After lunch, we took the dinghy and explored the sand bar, found the water well used in days long ago by passing ships, and Shane found the abandoned cannon next to the mangroves.

We sailed the last 10 miles to Landrail Point.  We will spend two nights here because of an approaching front and the anchorage that provides good protection.  Shane went ashore to inquire about church for tomorrow, and received a friendly invitation within the hour.

Sunday, we worshiped with Mrs. Gibson at her church.  The gathering consisted of about 15 people.  The singing was complimented by an electric piano, drum and 6 tambourines.

It was quite spirited to say the least.  Two older women in their 70’s and a man in his 50’s took separate turns in leading the service.  It was amazing how many Bible verses they quoted from memory utilizing no notes. It appears to this writer that these people live their faith.  We said goodbye to Mrs. Gibson at her small modest, but well kept house of 800 sq ft. where she lives and takes care of her Mother, who is turning 102 years old next month.

Mrs. Gibson offered to serve us lunch, but Shane and I had plans to eat at the local Gibson’s Lunchroom #2 restaurant for lunch to take advantage of the internet connection. The fresh mutton snapper was excellent. 

I will be leaving the boat on Thursday to fly home.  This 31 day adventure has been a very positive experience, and I look forward to returning.  Shane is a very positive, uplifting and talented person.  I always felt safe on Guiding Light, and was confident in Shane’s planning, preparations, skills and seamanship.  Shane is also a very considerate Captain, involving me in the decision making.

As we hadn’t been able to find a store with bread for over 12 days, Shane made his favorite sweet potato bread and a new recipe for two loaves of French bread.  The bread turned out so good, that I don’t think Shane will be buying the $6 per loaf sandwich bread anymore.