Sailing South on Solitude

John, Penni & Timmy

Turtle Creek

Today was due to be a big day - going to Turtle Creek in the morning and then beginning our trip to Bimini in the afternoon and through the night. Perhaps it is no bad thing to split that into two. When John checked the weather first thing this morning the chance of thunderstorms had increased. Not only that, it showed them affecting nearly the whole area we were planning to travel in - there would be no escape. I was a little disappointed- I am not sure if that is because I was looking forward to a night sail or because it delays the inevitable. Regardless the day became all about the turtles. We had a laid back morning and then headed to Turtle Creek on Solitude. We anchored in front of the creek in rolling seas. We would not stay at that anchorage overnight. We had planned to leave Timmy on Solitude while we took the dinghy in, but I could not leave him. It was an adventure for the three of us. We packed a blanket to provide Timmy with shade and plenty of water. It was not easy getting to the creek. We were just an hour before low tide and it was too shallow for the engine or even rowing. Timmy and I sat in the boat as John got out and tugged us over the shoals. We picked our way through until we came to a wide creek with clear green water. We looked around with bated breath. We had been told we would see hundreds of turtles. We could not even see one poking it’s head up. Perhaps the tide is too low, I thought, or they hide in the heat of the day. Disappointment washed over me. I will just have to find a postcard of a turtle and post that. It has been my quest to see turtles on this trip. I have seen loggerheads in the Keys, some close to the boat. I have seen some green turtles in the bays here, but never really close enough to enjoy them. ‘Look’ John pointed to my right, ‘a shark’. It was a nurse shark of about six feet. Impressive, but not a turtle. We continued further in the creek, but it was getting too shallow to continue. We saw some beautiful starfish decorating the floor of the creek and a ray swimming around. Without warning, we suddenly spied a turtle swimming up from the creek floor. And another, and then another. They were swimming away from the dinghy as we approached. John switched off the engine and we anchored. John went in to snorkel, but actually the view was better from the dinghy. We plopped Timmy in for a swim to cool himself off. We remained vigilant due to the shark sighting and kept him on a leash. We didn’t see any more turtles so raised the anchor and let ourselves drift. It was magical, we were the only ones there and turtles were swimming all around as we drifted silently along. Most often it was just one swimming away as we approached, but sometimes we saw two or three. They were green turtles, so not huge, but we found ourselves holding our breath and whispering to point them out. It felt as though we would be intruding more than necessary if we raised our voices as they swam happily in their beautiful environment. Timmy joined in with the turtle safari. He saw what we were looking at and was excited to see them. He did not share our respect for their environment. He stood up on the side of the dinghy to get a better look and whined with excitement. At one point John deftly caught him as he launched his little self off the dinghy in the direction of an unsuspecting turtle. Safe to say, we all enjoyed Turtle Creek. We were able to find the deep areas to return to Solitude so we looked way cooler heading back. Not that there was anyone to see. We have found what seems to be a perfect anchorage for the night, and we got here just in time. Within five minutes of arriving, there was a tremendous downpour for about half an hour. Luckily John had dived down to check the anchor and returned quickly. We cozied up- the boys falling fast asleep. When we came back up to the cockpit, we were greeted by another six foot nurse shark - or maybe it followed us. Either way, it has been around our boat ever since. Needless to say Timmy is not allowed to take himself walkies around the decks this evening. Plan of the hour: leave for Bimini tomorrow afternoon and sail through the night to arrive there at first light.