16 February 2023
When we had arrived in the anchorage at Bell Island we were the 3rd boat in and found a great spot to hide from the wind. However, unlike the last time when 14 boats showed up, this time around there were only 5 of us, leaving lots of room for everyone. The worst of the weather was short lived and passed through late Sunday night with west winds hitting a maximum of 30 knots. We decided to stick around until Tuesday morning giving us more time to enjoy the area.
As with our previous visit we had hoped that the island would be quiet and we could sit on the beach at low tide. When we were here last time the island was very quiet; however, when we arrived this time there were 4 staff raking the beach while others prepared the gazebo for guests. Upon close inspection we noticed 7 tables all set for dinner as our imaginations ran wild wondering who we might see walking the beach. During the afternoon as the wind increased and the temperatures dropped a bit the beach dinner was cancelled, much to our disappointment. Despite their change of plans it was clear there were some VIPs around, every once it a while someone showed up to run 2 big dogs on the beach. Luckily for us there were numerous other places to visit and things to do.
We figured we would be boat bound for a day or so with the bad weather so we took the chance to go for a good hike out to the ocean. There are some well marked trails along the coast on Cambridge Cay. Bev, Lesley and I spent part of the afternoon exploring the cliffs over looking the ocean as the anchorage prepared for the frontal passage. On our return dinghy ride through the mooring field at Cambridge I spotted what looked like a dinghy drifting, at first we thought someone was doing a drift dive but upon closer inspection we realized it had come loose from a boat. The tide was ebbing plus the 15 knot wind was rapidly pushing the dinghy towards the ocean cut. Suddenly Bev noticed someone had dove off a boat and was trying to swim to it; however, the dinghy had a 100 yard head start and Mark Spitz never would have caught it. As a kid we were always told never swim after a ball that has drifted away from the beach, this was a classic example of what not to do. We quickly altered course and cut off the dinghy and towed it over to the very tired but grateful swimmer. I'm not sure what the outcome would have been if we hadn't been there since there didn't appear to be anyone else who was aware of what was happening.
By Monday afternoon the wind had abated enough for us to resume our exploring, we loaded the dinghy with snorkelling gear and headed off to the aquarium. This unique spot is a big attraction so we had to wait our turn to get a dinghy mooring ball as numerous swimmers filled the area. Once in the water we marvelled at all the tropical fish swimming in and out of the openings in the coral reef and we were amazed to watch a large turtle slowly swim through the area. However, my swim was cut short as Lesley frantically called me to say that this time it was our dinghy that was drifting. The dinghy mooring balls are a little sketchy and when I tied it off the lines on the mooring looked a little worse for wear. Well the dinghy was pounding up and down as the waves ricocheted off the rocks and one of the rope loops let go. Luckily the dinghy bounced once off the coral out crop of the island then drifted around the corner, I quickly climbed in another dinghy and called the owner over while explaining the situation. By the time he was aboard and we were moving a motorboat had grabbed our dinghy which was already 150 yards away. Fortunately no damage was done and we retied to a more secure mooring ball and finished our swim.
Tuesday morning dawned bright, beautiful and calm so we lingered over breakfast prior to heading back to Staniel Cay. Lesley's flight was departing early Wednesday and we wanted to get a spot near the yacht club. Lesley treated us to a nice evening out to celebrate the end of a great week together. Wednesday afternoon was spent getting groceries, water and fuel while we try and figure out where we're going next.
Today's picture is of a float plane leaving Bell Island after dropping off some VIPs, "Elizabeth M" from Halifax is in the foreground.