Staniel Cay 5

Ambler Isle
V and S
Mon 24 Jan 2011 14:06
Jan 18, 2011
The winds were 7-8k out of the South.  The wind waves were small. But a swell wrapped around the south of the island creating a gentle, but persistent, rocking motion to the boat.  Of course we could not work in such conditions.  So we loaded up the dinghy and went to the Exuma sound side of Staniel Cay.  There the cliffs overlook the sea, and in this settled weather we could see the coral reefs just off shore.  What a great snorkeling spot in settled weather.   With the new chartplotter we are able tiptoe through areas previously too tricky to navigate even with the dinghy.  We anchored the dinghy off the tiny beach to take a walk.   We passed a number of limestone caves as we walked the somewhat overgrown trails.  When we came upon a building site we were stopped in our tracks.  Then another and another.  3 or 4 small cottage sites.  Probably rentals.  By next year this area would be off limits.  Ah progress.  We stopped at the site of an old tiki hut.  Two years ago it was still recognizable as the tiki  bar depicted in a wall mural at Club Thunderball.  Today, either man or nature has worked it over, leaving only a pile of rubble.  Exiting the cut to the Sound, we rode over the coral heads.  The clear water shocked us, as always.  Continuing north, we rounded the bottom of Staniel Cay where much new vacation home development is going on.  There were a number of new construction sites in the settlement as well.  What bad economy?  Staniel Cay continues to be a popular vacation destination, with many amenities:  an airstrip, lodging, restaurants, regular mail and supply boat stops, and more.  Not to mention the gorgeous beaches, water, small islands, diving and more.  Detouring past the Yacht Club we saw the boat that had gone aground, a new  65'  trawler, Katie Jane.  It was still there, probably awaiting repairs to its stabilizer fin.  
Back aboard the Amber Isle we found the seas had calmed again and the boat barely moved.    We had lunch and when I tossed some scraps overboard there was a fury of activity.  Two big fish seemed to be fighting over the bits of food.  A closer look showed they were remoras, also known as shark suckers.  They normally attach their suction cups onto a shark and eat any leftovers from the shark's dinner.  In an anchorage, I imagine they get confused.  A big creature like Amber Isle comes in, it hums and gurgles, discharges water, and occasionally food.  Do they think its alive? 
Food in the water?  Here in the Bahamas garbage is a huge problem, both for us and for our hosts.  They have no trash removal services.  Most islands have a dump, but no one attends it. When it gets really rank, someone lights a fire and burns it.  So they strongly suggest we feed the sea creatures our food scraps and don't put any food in the trash.  This helps with odors, pest and vermin problems.
Tired from the fun, sun and wind of the day, we went out on the cockpit for one last look at the full moon.  Fog!  A thin blanket of fog covered the entire anchorage.  Fog is rare, no, nonexistent in the Bahamas.  The air temperature was 85 today, the water about 75.  Surely not enough for fog.  But there it was.  The moon was visible, but wore a halo.  The water was totally still.
In the morning we awoke to a totally wet boat.  Had it rained?  Or was this the fog settling on the boat?  A fishing trip was planned today.  (Wow, a plan?!?)
As we loaded the dinghy a nurse shark swam over to watch.  Soon a second came along.  What were they doing here?  Then I saw a huge school of minnows, almost endless it seemed.  Were they there for the little fish?  The sharks here are semi-tame because they feed them fish scraps everyday at the dock. An hour later we noticed they had partially covered themselves in sand and settled in for a nice nap in the shade of Amber Isle.  They give sharks a bad name.  
Many boats have gone south with the nice weather.  We are in no hurry to get to Georgetown, although some cruisers head directly there and don't stop along the way.