Our sincerest thanks to Greg and Barbara Allard for sharing their thoughts and beautiful photography from their Bahamas cruises. These photos and descriptions will have you aching to follow in the Allard’s wake! Hopefully there will be more letters in the weeks ahead.
Letter # 6
Hello Everyone – This season the weather in the Bahamas has been challenging. For the last month we’ve had continuous high winds, repeated thunderstorms, heavy rain, and some nasty lightening; all of these are conditions which make it difficult to find shelter, or to move from one place to another.
We finally were able to find a “weather window” to leave Stella Maris marina on Long Island. Because of the water depth, we had to depart at full high tide, which was at 6:00 AM. That gave us only about a foot and a half under the keel, but enough to keep us from going aground.
(For the cruisers who read this letter, the Stella Maris marina is an excellent place to stop. While the marina is small and has been neglected, it’s part of the larger Stella Maris resort on the eastern side of Long Island, and visiting mariners have full access to all of the facilities. It also allows you to visit Long Island without making the trek down the east side to Clarence Town, which is open to the prevailing winds from the east. Just plan to enter and leave at high tide, which we observed to be about an hour and half after the Nassau projections. Tides are affected by the winds and phases of the moon, so take those into account.)
The winds were somewhat moderate the day we left Stella Maris, so we by-passed George Town and started up the Exuma chain to Cave Cay. We spent several days at Cave, and since we were now on the Exuma banks side (the western side of the Exuma cays), we were somewhat sheltered from the strong ESE winds. After exploring the area near Cave, we moved up to one of our favorite anchorages in the Staniel Cay area – Big Majors spot, which offers excellent protection from ESE winds. From there we went to Warderick Wells, one of the most beautiful places in the Bahamas.
This Letter covers our time at Cave, Staniel, Warderick, and our current location, Highbourne. Since some of those places have access to good coral reefs for diving, we’ll spend some time looking at their superb underwater sights.READ MORE!
While walking the beaches, we found some beautiful pieces of black coral. We do not take live coral from the reef; we only take what nature has discarded.
These pieces were likely torn from the reef in a storm, and washed up on the beach where we found them. When this coral is growing on the reef, it looks very different – the branches are covered with different colors of outer coral. This black coral is actually the skeleton. It is often used for making jewelry.
A yellow fan coral, also found washed up on the beach. Both the black coral (above) and this fan coral were found on the beach at Highbourne,
We are always searching the charts for areas of coral, which make good diving spots. This small “patch reef”, in the cove just east of Musha (near to the small inlet) has some nice specimens of Elkhorn coral. The silvery area at the top of the photo is the underside of the surface of the water.
There is also a larger reef, with very good diving and more Elkhorn, just off the east-facing beach below the Copperfield house.
What was most surprising was that the small sailing catamaran, directly behind these three hulks, seemed happy to be anchored there for several days, breathing in the 24 hour-a-day fumes of at least three large generators, and taking the risk that they would not drag down on him in the middle of the night.
During one of the season’s endless rainstorms, this little frog fellow appeared on our windshield. We had seen him elsewhere around the boat, and figured that he had become a stow-away on Long Island, about ten days before.
The winds were rather high this day, and the resulting waves stirred things up, making the water clarity less than normal.
Our next stop was Highbourne Cay. When you venture off the regular paths, you always discover something new – this man tends a growing herd of goats, and maintains a beautiful herb garden, helping the cay to be more self sufficient.
While walking on one of the ocean-facing beaches on Highbourne, we came upon this Piping Plover nest. The nest had been built between the arms of a large branch of black coral, which drew our attention to it, and fortunately prevented us from stepping on it. The owners of the nest, the male and female piping plovers, immediately took action. They both ran away from the nest on the beach in different directions, feigning that they had broken wings, by dragging their wings in the sand as if they were injured – all in an attempt to make predators (us) think that they were easy pickings, and to draw us away from the nest and eggs.
Right now we are in the northern Exumas, dealing with a tropical weather system which has been developing in the Gulf of Mexico. Strong winds are forecast for the coming week, so we are monitoring that system closely.
Several years ago we included the following quote from Mark Twain. Many of you have seen it before; it has become common because it says it the best. Of course it does not just apply to being on a boat.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain, 1835 – 1910
Warmest regards to you all.
Greg and Barbara