22 January 2011
There are hundreds of islands in the Bahamas; some populated, some not. Conception Island is one of the more remote islands, uninhabited and managed by the Bahamas National Trust. We've heard of its beauty and decide to head here for a while and then figure out where to move on to from there. It's a full day to weave out way out of Elizabeth Harbour (Georgetown), head 25 or so miles across Exuma Sound past the north tip of Long Island then another 15 miles to Conception Island. It is quite exposed with only fair weather anchorages so you really have to pick your weather to come here.
It turns out to be an exquisite place. There are about ten boats here, mostly Canadian; we know several. We anchor along a crescent golden sand beach which stretches for a kilometer in either direction. The water is so clear that you can make out the occasional coral head clearly on the otherwise pure sand bottom. The weather is superb and it's full moon. As the sun retreats the moon comes up on the other side and provides almost as much visibility. It is very still and the effect at night is almost eerie as the dinghy appears to float in mid-air as the water is so clear.
As I mentioned the Island is uninhabited and, other than the amazing amount of beach detritus, mostly plastic and ropes which wash up over the years, there's little sign of human contact. Amost the entire inside of this four by four mile island is a mangrove swamp inhabited by various species of birds as well as a healthy turtle population. We along with several other cruisers get in our dinghies early in the morning and head to the opening into the middle of the island. It's a fantastic venture into this mangrove swamp and we weave our way along, stirring many turtles to dash away ahead of us under the water.
We take long hikes along the beach and snorkle on a reef just off the stern of our boat. We take Chopin ashore and he loves roaming along the edge of the beach.
An informal late afternoon meet and greet is organized and one couple with a large motor cruisers invite everyone to their capacious boat for drinks and munchies. Everyone of course attends and we have a great time chatting with new and old friends.
We stay here for four days and are treated to a great stretch of weather for the full enjoyment of this amazing place. But, there's a cold front coming and with the minimal protection this place affords we know we have to move on. We had hoped to get to Rum Cay, another remote but inhabited island. But, with the uncertain weather and the possibility of getting stuck here for an indeterminable period of time, we opt to head back to Georgetown; in fact, virtually the whole cruising community moves on. It is an invigorating sail, close hauled across to Georgetown and we pick a new anchorage; Red Shanks. This is a very protected series of anchorages within the greater Elizabeth Harbour. We come in at low tide and cross a shallow bar close to 5 feet but tuck into this fine anchorage to prepare for the cold front coming in tonight.