Birds, Reptiles and a Bean
13 March 2008 | Bitter Guana Cay
Beth - sunny, windy
We spent a couple of nights at Bitter Guana Cay instead of going straight to Black Point Settlement. We had noticed this anchorage a couple of times but had never stopped there until prompted by Strathspey, and we're really glad we joined them.
It's a beautiful little bay bordered by snowy white cliffs rising high above a sandy beach.
There is plenty of clear green water close to shore, iguanas on the beach and white-tailed tropicbirds in the air, and an osprey perched on the cliff. What a delight! One tropicbird circled overhead just as we were anchoring, and the next morning 6 or 7 were circling around. These are white birds with bland bands on their wings and long streaming white tails - very distinctive. We wonder if they are curious too - the only time we saw them flying about was when boats were entering or leaving the anchorage. It is nesting season so we might all have been considered intruders.
Jim donned snorkel gear, checked our anchor and continued on to the beach where I joined him and we had a stroll with the iguanas. One of our books mentioned that there had once been iguanas there, and the Explorer chart notes that it is a protected habitat. Sure enough, we found quite a colony of them - every bit as large and prehistoric-looking as the ones on Allan Cay. Some are assertive -or perhaps just greedy. They came rushing at anyone who stepped on the beach, but we found they stopped about a foot away. We're pretty sure they were looking for handouts and when they discovered we had nothing for them and were not threats, they pretty much left us alone.
Jim helped Mary winch Blair to the top of their mast to check the VHF radio connection while I took pictures from Madcap, and then they joined us for champagne and munchies to honour Blair's approaching birthday and the probable conclusion of our travels together on this trip. Once they have enjoyed the company of their children in this area, they will head north, while we continue on our journey southward for another month or so. It is hard to believe that it has been over 8 months since Strathspey and Madcap left Ontario together. Since then, we've traveled together off and on as we each "followed wind, weather and inclination" as Jim is fond of describing our itineraries. As they headed out of the anchorage on Wednesday morning, we waved them off with regret; it is unlikely that we will have any more sightings of Strathspey or hear the sounds of the pipes at dusk on this trip.
Midwatch and Renaissance left as well - the water had gotten quite rolly - and we had the place to ourselves. Because the forecast was for the wind to drop over the course of the day and most nearby anchorages were also open to the west, we opted to stay here. We went ashore, picked our way through the sea grapes and grasses to the eastern side where it was lovely and calm. After a swim, we put our attention to a search for sea beans, and I found one! Beachcombers prize these beans, and I've been looking unsuccessfully for a while; the only other one I spotted was in the park and I had to leave it there.
Sea beans are washed onto these shores from trees throughout the Caribbean, Central America and South America (and occasionally from Africa) and so it seems something of a marvel to pick one up. While there are lots of nuts and drift seeds to be found, the keepers are the shinies - hamburger beans, sea purses, sea pearls and sea hearts. My particular bean is a sea heart - not really heart shaped but with a slight indentation in the top - a rich dark brown and about 4 cm across. Sea hearts grow on vines called "monkey ladders" in the Costa Rican forests.
The wind stayed up at 10-15 knots from the west all day giving us quite a bouncy time of it. We kept discussing the possibility of moving but whenever we monitored a radio conversation from Big Majors Spot or Black Point, we heard complaints of rough water so we thought we might as well continue where we were.
We managed to read our books and I made Chicken Souse - pretty much like a Canadian chicken stew with lemon juice and hot sauce added - for dinner. The wind did lay down a bit so that our night was reasonably comfortable.
We moved this morning - Thursday - to Black Point for laundry and internet. Then we are headed to Little Farmers in time for the All Age School Fair on Saturday. Well ...that is the plan...unless wind, weather and inclination cause another change!