Jan. 19, 2011
In a sailing vessel with no engines, the doldrums were a
huge problem. They were sometimes stalled for days and weeks waiting for
the winds to return. However, for us, the cruising boaters in the Bahamas,
the doldrums were a delight. The winds lessened and lessened, til almost
non existent. That evening the full moon rose. With no ripples on the
water surface, the moonlight reflected off the sea floor revealing blades of
seagrass, crab holes, conch, seashells, and an occasional fish. Although
anchored in 12' of water, the clear water seemed much shallower, maybe 3' or
less. It was like we were anchored in a well tended aquarium. I
awoke several times and went outside to see. Nothing had changed. In
the morning the eerie stillness continued. Looking out 100' in every
direction from the boat, I saw no trash in the water. Not one bottle, not
one can. Thousands of boats anchor here every season, and not one person
had thrown trash overboard! What a tribute to these cruising boaters and
how much they love this very special place.
We loaded up the dinghy for the third day in a
row. This time with diving gear. Heading due west, we anchored 10
miles offshore in 10' of water. We could not see land in any direction.
The water was a little cool for our liking, so we donned our skins, then our
wetsuits before slipping into the sea. The ripple free surface allowed us
to see everything. Instantly transformed to this wet world; we were
treated to 1000s of fish of every description. Triggers, angelfish,
damsels, tangs, grunts, jacks, squirrel fish, and more. And of course the
lionfish. Everywhere. Valt promptly speared a lobster, our first of
the season. We moved the boat to a different reef. There was a
highway of fish, coming and going on their fishy business. Valt even spied
a Nassau Grouper, one of our favorites. But season on grouper is closed
until March 1. This species of fish aggregates during this time.
What does this mean? They gather into huge groups for spawning.
Tucker Rolle of Compass Cay Marina said when he was a boy they'd row out onto
the banks and see grouper so thick they bumped into each other. They were
layered in tiers all the way to the bottom of the sea. Easy picking for a
fisherman. In Florida, the Nassau Grouper is endangered, and they are not
legal to fish at anytime. Florida also has no conch left.
Maybe the Bahamas can avoid this.
As usual when the sea is calm a while, the winds must
kick up. We normally anchor on the west side of the island, so a westerly
wind can be troublesome. Sunday's forecast is for SW winds up to
20k. So we weighed anchor and took the boat about 1 mile away to the other
side of Big Major's Spot. A barrier island, Little Major's Spot, protects
from ocean surge. A dozen boats were already here. The Staniel Cay
Yacht Club routinely evicts all docked boats when a rough westerly is
forecast. Seeing the Yacht Club vacant of boats, we were glad to
move. We found a nice spot, dropped anchor, let out 100' of chain,
and immediately felt it set. Still, we launched the dinghy and
checked the anchor set with the glass bottomed "lookie" bucket. It was
buried. A depth check around our anchor chain perimeter showed the shallowest
water was 6'. Good enough is we swung over it. On our way back to
the boat, we stopped to say hi to Carleigh, a 45' trawler nearby.
They are friends with Bob and Penny on 50' power catamaran, Pretty
Penny. Today would be a work day. Maybe we'd go to Staniel to
refuel the dinghy and check for vegetables. The supply boat, Captain
C makes a stop there on Friday.