A Few Days on Conception Island
17 February 2014 | West Bay, Conception Island, Bahamas
We left Port Howe on Cat Island Saturday morning. It was very windy and choppy and we were happy to be leaving that very uncomfortable anchorage. We had to get through the small opening in the reef first though. Bill keeps telling me we need to use a lot of power on the engine to punch through the waves when they are coming at us. Well the waves were definitely coming at us as we motored through the reef. First I saw the largest wave of water I have ever seen come over the bow just before it hit me standing behind the wheel in the cockpit, then I saw that we had neglected to close the butterfly hatch over our main living area in the cabin. That meant that a good portion of that salt water was now inside my boat. What a mess! Luckily nothing got terribly destroyed except for a pad of paper. We cleaned it up and kept going. We were able to sail nicely the whole way, unfortunately we had to run the engine too because our battery power was very low.
When we got to Conception Island we anchored in West Bay. There were already a couple of boats anchored there, one we had spent some time with in Georgetown. First thing we noticed about the anchorage was that it was just as rolly as the one we had just left on Cat Island. We were watching the other boats move around and it looked like some of the boats were rolling so much that they were going to capsize. When we talked to some of the cruisers later they said ours looked that way to them too. Bill tried the trick we use of putting our mizzen sail up to stabilize the boat some but that wasn't cutting it. The swell coming in was just too strong. Instead he decided to put the anchor on a bridle. That turns our boat into the swell and makes the rolling significantly less. That worked well enough to get us through the night as the wind changed. He did have to get up every hour or so and adjust the bridle so we were always facing the right direction for the swell.
Sunday was a nice calm day though and the wind had changed to a direction that made the anchorage much more comfortable. We went visiting a bit and then dinghyed over to the beach and took the trail to the other side of the island. The beaches on Conception Island are beautiful. We walked the beach on the opposite side until we got to a rock we could climb up and admire the view. That is where we took the picture above. When we got back to our boat it was so calm we decided to take the opportunity to go snorkeling on the reef in the anchorage. It was nice but not spectacular like some we had snorkeled in the Exumas. We stopped to talk to someone on the way back and he told us where the spectacular reefs were. We went to check them out and didn't realize what a bad idea that was at low tide, which it apparently was. We had gotten out in the reef in our dinghy and we couldn't find enough water to get us back towards our boat. We had to go deeper and deeper out into the ocean to be able to get around the reef and back to safety.
When we finally got back to our boat and were sitting in our cockpit a man came over and offered us some Mahi Mahi he had caught that day. That is the fish we've been trying unsuccessfully to catch. We gladly accepted his offer and he and Bill had a great conversation about things Bill can try to catch a fish. Later that evening he called us on the radio and invited us over to spend some time with he and his wife the next afternoon.
This morning we were just about to start an oil change when some cruisers from another boat we had met a month or so ago dinghyed over to say hello. We'd been in the anchorage a whole day longer than them so we were now experts and were happy to impart our knowledge. We finished the oil change without much issue and then went over to get more fishing lessons. We even managed to get a drinking lesson! We have now had Bloody Mary's for the first time and had our first taste of conch salad. We even learned how to get the meat out of a conch and clean it up but I am sure we will never attempt that on our own!
This afternoon we moved our boat away from where everyone else is anchored and moved down the coast a bit. We heard, and read, that the creek next to where we are anchored is a great place to see turtles when the tide is changing. It was too far to get there by dinghy with our slow engine so we decided to just move the big boat down here so the dinghy doesn't have that far to go tomorrow morning. After we are, hopefully, successful exploring the creek tomorrow we are going to head to Rum Cay to stage for our trip further south and east!