Monday, February 12, 2007

Lessons Learned from Louie the Lobster

It’s February 2007 and Parker’s Birthday is coming up in a week. His request is to celebrate with Nicole and DJ on Dream Catcher who is planning a trip over this way from G-town. Their SSB transmission is faint, but they tell us they are heading to Thompson’s Bay Long Island in a few days and not Conception Island because of the cold front.
Conception Island is a land park with no structures or inhabitants. It also had no other boats anchored and we had the place to ourselves for a couple of days of fun in the sun. There were beaches, cays, reefs and mangroves. We motored and rowed into the mangroves to see the sea turtles cruising in the shallows on the western shore. To get there we had to round a rocky cliff point with an eagles nest over 1’high x 6’ in diameter The master of the sky screeched and soared high overhead searching for the perfect meal.
Off a remote unnamed cay to the east Angie and I went hunting. I was rewarded with spearing a huge spotted grouper for our dinner. Another day on the north shore after beaching and snorkeling for a day I opted to have a quick snorkel off some rocks. No sooner had I gotten in that I saw the antennas of a lobster sticking out of a ledge below me. I dove down with my spear stretched back to see how big our dinner would be for the night. Peering under the rock I was amazed to see a lobster bigger than I had ever caught or even seen pictures of. He was dinner for 2 nights and a lunch too, perfect for Valentines Day
The lesson Louie taught us is how fragile an inflatable dinghy is with a spiny lobster thrashing around. He put two holes in our dinghy just wrestling him in! I hate patching a dinghy because despite whatever I use and directions I follow the patches always peal at the edges later. By the end of the day we had a limp dinghy (hate that!) and I set about fixing it.
The final day we traveled further west along the north shore to one of the most idyllic beaches I have ever seen. A 3 mile crescent shaped piece of paradise flanked by limestone cliffs and Bahama blue bay protected by a fabulous reef. We had fun in the sun picking up buckets of sea beans and prized hamburger beans. They really look like quarter sized hamburgers! To find one in the Bahamas is remarkable, to find this many was amazing. Snorkeling we saw grouper so big we didn’t have the heart to shoot them. They measured well over 3’ and 30 pounds. If I were to wound it and lose it I would have felt awful even though you never see a dead fish that washes up on the shore. All wounded fish become another fish’s dinner and never go to waste.
“Plastics son, plastics.” Sadly this remote beach is a catch basin for ocean trash floating about, most of which comes from the USA. Not to exaggerate but you could fill more than a 100 dumpsters from this 3 mile stretch of paradise!! Parker was particularly disgusted by the trash littered about on this “land park” of all places. With the approaching northerly, we motor sailed to Cape Santa Maria, Long Island for the night before heading down to meet up with Dream Catcher for the big birthday.

Schedules and Stress
Angie had us move out of this anchorage for a mild NE last week even though there is protection up to N. Long Island has no options to anchor in a west wind, except Thompson's Bay which we could not make by dark. The west side of the island is on the "banks" and is very shallow so night travel is risky. Of course, the front came through early and strong W/NW blew straight into the anchorage, bucking the boat with 6 foot waves. She stayed up most of the night making sure we did not end up on the shore. It was the most “unsettled” night and at day break we headed out through the cut. Of course our Bulwagga anchor was so buried we again bent the bow roller trying to get it up. Getting out of the cut and breaking waves is always exciting. Don’t put the house on the rocks, don’t put the house on the rocks! Two reefs and we were 8-9 knots down the shallow coast bound for Thompson’s Bay again. Trust the chart and the fact we had sailed here before I told myself as the crystal clear water looked shallow enough to wade in. The schedule of Parker's birthday had us make bad choices resulting in a rough night. Hindsight is 20/20.