Off to Visit the Iguanas
31 January 2008 | Allan's Cay
When we set off at 7 am on Wednesday morning for Allan's Cay, things weren't a whole lot better. We crashed and banged our way across the deep-water corner of Northeast Providence Channel to Fleeming (sometimes spelled Fleming) Channel and onto the Exuma Bank. It was reminiscent of the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia - except much warmer! The seas calmed after that and we had a good motor sail the rest of the way. Unfortunately the wind was once again from the southeast and we'd have been too many hours getting across without the motor. It was a long day any way because we had almost 50 nautical miles to cover, and we needed to arrive on the Bank early enough to ensure our ability to spot and steer around the coral heads. Jim and I took turns doing bow watch and signaling the helmsperson to go left or right. Our old bicycle hand signals came in handy. The heads were easy to see when the sun was unobstructed by cloud, and it was exciting to practice this new way of navigating. The Explorer charts are clear on VPR areas (where Visual Piloting Rules apply).
Jim had his fishing line out most of the way but got nary a nibble. Good thing we still had some tuna left!
We emptied our holding tank - the "stuff" gets well macerated and then pumped out off shore where there is current to disperse it. After that the smell disappeared, making the cabin a much more pleasant place.
We entered the anchorage at Allen's Cay to find a dozen or so boats already there and proceeded to engage in our most frustrating anchoring ever. We cruised past most of the boats to a space where we thought we'd have some maneuvering room. Unfortunately when I backed down on the anchor to set it, we just kept on backing as the anchor dragged along the sand. On the next try we ended up far too close to the sharp coral shoreline. On the third try, we were sitting on the sand bar that fills the centre of the bay. On the fourth try - I know you can imagine the mood on Madcap at that point! - we went further along past every single other boat to where it was less protected from the East and successfully anchored in 8 feet of water with lots of room around us.
After waiting a decent interval till our frazzled nerves settled we dinghied over to the little beach on Leaf Cay to visit with the amazing prehistoric looking iguanas. There we found large knobbly granddaddies and smaller, sleeker young'uns. They are quite used to being fed and came toward us to see what we had. Since we were empty handed, they settled for having their pictures taken. We had seen iguanas in Costa Rica a few years ago, and were happy to see some again. They really are incredible to watch with their thick, lined skin, pink and blue and brown and beige warty heads and tails that are longer than their bodies.
Then it was back to another dinner of grilled tuna (this time done in foil with lemon juice, onions and celery) rice and pumpkin. We passed a quiet night - the swell from the sea was just a lullaby swell and we were grateful to recover from the night before.
Next morning, Thursday, we cleaned some of the salt spray off our decks and windows and headed for the beach again. Some of my pictures had turned out blurry and I wanted another try. Then we dinghied around the corner of the cay and did a little snorkeling to see if there might be some lobsters lurking in the coral there. No lobsters unfortunately, but lots of pretty little fish. Jim was laughing at me as I went for one more swim around the bay before dragging myself up and into the dinghy again. At one time in my life, I wouldn't go 10 feet away from the boat without a pool noodle, but in this buoyant water with flippers on my feet, I feel much more secure. And snorkeling is such an amazing thing to do - just like floating in an aquarium; I would never want to pass up that experience.
Back in the harbour on board, the wind picked up to 15 -20 knots and gave us a rocky evening, but the captain was loathe to leave a secure anchorage so we rocked and rolled the evening away. We made do with soup and fresh baked biscuits instead of lobster tails for dinner.
We'll be off to Highborne Cay on Friday and probably to Norman's Cay on Saturday.