Black Point for a few days then on to Lee Stocking Island
Position 23:46.30N, 76:06.28W - Lee Stocking Island
We couldn't get ashore easily to deal with the huge pile of laundry for a couple of days due to strong winds and a slop in the anchorage making the dinghy dock too uncomfortable to land with large bags. Day three was fine so that particular chore was completed by the 'Admiral' as well as re-stocking the bread bin with delicious home made bread from Lorraine's Mum. Black Point is also a great place to put some names to voices that we hear over the radio as most cruisers stop there to use the laundry facility. We then sat out another weather system which had the added bonus of a deluge of rain late one afternoon washing the decks nicely. This was followed by a sharp wind shift. Despite the anchorage being wide open to the west the winds proved not to be a problem worth moving for.
We walked the sandy beaches on the Exuma Sound side of the island which at over ten miles is one of the longest in the chain. We didn't walk the whole length by any means but added to our sea glass collection with a few nice pieces. We saw nobody else on the beaches - just footprints from previous beachcombers slowly being washed away in the rising tide. When the laundry piles up again we'll be back to Black Point.
Our next stop after Black Point was to visit the Caribbean Marine Research Centre at Lee Stocking Island some twenty five miles to the south. We exited from the banks through Dotham Cut next to Black Point where we caught the ebb on a less than calm occasion with tide rips and over falls in abundance which we spent longer enduring than we needed to as just fifty yards to our left, a quarter mile after leaving the cut, was flat water which the 'Admiral' pointed out with some vigour to the idiot at the helm! The boat following us a little later aborted and used the next cut down. But by then the ebb was even stronger against the ten knot breeze and they were also treated to an interesting experience leaving the banks. What is incredible is that the hundreds of square miles on the Exuma banks empty through a small number of cuts and the effect of tidal over falls and swirls can be seen a mile or so out to sea.
We trailed our three fishing lines all the way with just the one piece of drama when something very large grabbed our biggest cedar plug lure which we trail on the end of the hand line. This is then attached to an intermediate piece of bungee cord to act as a shock absorber. If it wasn't there we'd probably just be catching what's left of the fish's mouth instead of the part you're really after - the body! The bungee cord is then tied off to something robust - like the backstay (Hmm!) and the line then taken round a cleat. Well on this occasion we were trying something different but Skip had left the brain cells back in Black Point and had just tied a hitch on the safety line with the bungee cord whilst forgetting to tie off the main fishing line which is wrapped round a cork board which has sentimental value to us (gift from a Tunisian fisherman).
BANG! in a split second the clove hitch unravelled and the cork board flew over the stern into the water as we steamed onwards under genoa and one engine at 5 knots. Trying to turn the boat round under this configuration proved difficult to achieve and the starboard engine decided it didn't want to play either which left us scribing a wide arc in an effort to retrieve the precious board - surprising really as whatever had hit the lure was large enough to take the board and all the line on it for a long underwater swim. Eventually we managed to recover everything in the fishing net but having gone round in circles the genoa was now wrapped round the forestay with the sheets trapped in the whole mess. This took longer to untangle than retrieving the fishing equipment which thankfully did not include whatever had taken a massive strike at it. Whatever it was we're not sure that a) we could have got it to the boat and b) despatched it easily. So we proceeded with the line tied off properly this time and caught nothing else in the process. This fishing business can be so frustrating at times.
We hoped to get a tour of the research centre at Lee Stocking but they were short staffed and had only just completed a tour that morning so we were out of luck. However we were fortunate to meet up again with friends on Chanticleer and Xperience and were thrilled to watch Nurse sharks swimming round the anchored boats with two small ones (rather cute) and one much larger 8-10 foot version (not so cute) which circled the anchored boats in the way that sharks seem to do - menacingly, although we are sure that it wasn't too interested in a few skinny yachtsmen although nobody put it to the test.
These two stayed under the stern of Ajaya with us ....... whilst the larger one circled the boats ............
doing its best to scare us .................... it worked! whilst above water all was calm and serene
With no chance of a tour this visit we decided to head for Georgetown the next morning and left around 0730 to motor the 25 miles - there was no breeze - and get a spot in the most popular destination amongst the sailing and motorboating fraternity anywhere in the Bahamas. As we left, we were trailing three fishing lines as we hit the drop-off zone where the shallow waters of the shore drop off into hundreds and then thousands of feet in depth. In the distance further north we could make out a small armada of yachts heading for the same destination as we were so it was a good thing we left early. Georgetown would be busy.
Once again we suffered a frustrating fish loss of major proportions as fishing line screamed off the reel at an alarming rate with Phil doing his best to try and slow the rate of disappearing nylon using the drag wheel. Then everything went slack - rather like the scene in Jaws when the same thing happens. Disappointed, Phil then started to reel the slack line back in to see if the lure (a plastic squid in an attractive pink colour) was still left on the end of the line. After reeling for a few more yards there was a commotion as a huge fish leapt from the water with the squid lure with the rod taking on a new shape typical of an angling cartoon as Phil had to resume the fight with line flying off the reel. Then snap - it was gone. The lure, the swivel - all gone. Another fish lost! Our luck must surely change soon. It was just a pity that such a large fish opted to take the smallest lure on the weakest breaking strength line which was being trailed in our desperation to break our 'duck'. Having said that, we had the distinct feeling that it would have been a very long battle with that fish as three or four foot long pelagics have the most amazing body strength and do not surrender without a daunting fight. We will return to do battle with more ocean monsters after Georgetown (but we now need to buy some more fishing gear!).