12 Apr - 17 Apr 2013 - More Turtle Tagging, San Salvador, Bahamas

Wed 17 Apr 2013 20:40
Whilst enjoying cocktails on Blue Yonder , I had one of the biggest surprises of my life.  Steve (Foxy Lady) suddenly announced that “Dame Anne Hartshorn” had been awarded the title of “ Turtle Net Master” and started to read from an A4 sheet!  Although slightly ‘tongue in cheek’ the award was presented to Anne for catching the most turtles in a single day and has only been awarded once before.  I was astounded, but also very honoured and at the end of the ceremony she was presented with a certificate,  a blue turtle tag and a red ribbon – fantastic!
Having completed our ‘turtle tagging stint’  on Conception Island, our next stop was San Salvador, the most easterly of the Bahamian Islands.  San Salvador is not the most frequently visited destination by cruisers, as it usually involves a sail against the trade winds and finishing up in a lumpy anchorage!    No sooner had we rounded the tip of Conception Island and we were  bashing into a 2 metre swell and Motu, unable to motor into these seas, bailed out and returned to Conception Is.  We managed to get Nimue comfortable for the 60nm passage, by motor sailing at 6 knots with a single reef in the main and headsail and Blue Yonder followed suit.  The books say San Salvador is beautiful, as you arrive from 2/3/4 thousand metres into 2 metres, with a distinct blue line between the two and this was most definitely the case as we sailed into the anchorage.   Foxy Lady  had already laid anchor, but as there was no other boats around, it is was just a case of finding somewhere suitable and dropping the hook.  The anchorage was lumpy, as anticipated, but we were in such a beautiful setting!   Dinghies at the ready and we all headed ashore to Riding Rock Marina for sun downers, just a short walk away from the dinghy dock.
Blue Yonder bashing into the swell en route to San Salvador
P1050280San Salvador, Bahamas
Nimue and Foxy Lady safely anchored in San Salvador
The weather was not particularly conducive for identifying the turtles and the tiny wavelets seemed to camouflage any ‘turtle’ movement below the water.  Anyway we took a ride in Foxy Lady’s tender to a creek to the north of the island and David was at the ready in his wetsuit and snorkelling gear  just in case a turtle was spotted.  Within moments he was in the water, trying to grab a turtle hiding between some rocks.  After a struggle and to Barbara & Steve’s delight, it was a Hawksbill turtle. As it’s names suggests, it has a long neck and a fierce bite, which David fell victim to, but fortunately it didn’t break his skin. This turtle was a real beauty, one that was hunted for it’s shell – the original tortoiseshell.  This was our only catch of the day, so once tagged and marked, we headed off to a nearby coral reef, which was totally unspoilt and delightful to snorkel.
Marti & Michael watching out for any dark movement beneath the crystal waters of San Salvador........and then
......David’s in like a flash and minutes later appears with this beautiful Hawksbill Turtle
Safely into the tender
Details noted and tag goes on
This Hawksbill needed a blood test ...................tiny little scratch................NOT!
A stunning looking turtle with it’s hooded beak and you can clearly see the detail on the tortoiseshell
The following day we took a long trip round to the south of the island and despite Foxy Lady’s tender having a shoal draft, we still had to negotiate a shallow reef entrance into the large lagoon.   Again the water was too rough for us to snorkel, so we decided instead to take turns in standing on the bow of the tender and pointing to the turtles, as Steve followed our hand directions.  It was then a matter of balancing on the foredeck holding a line in one hand and a large net in the other and when the turtle came up for air, trying to place the net over the turtle!  This was most certainly an art, but nevertheless we all felt up to the challenge.  I managed two first time catches and by mid-day we had caught 10 green turtles.  We took them all ashore and then got a production line going, so all were weighed, measured and tagged within an hour.
Michael doing the “balancing act” on the bow of Foxy Lady’s tender
This green turtle was doing it’s best to make an escape, but was soon placed by David into the tender!
Anne’s turn and hey presto another in the net
David & Michael taking this rather large chap ashore
Waiting for the process to begin...............................
............................weighing, measuring and tagging takes place in a very orderly fashion
IMG_4395  IMG_4390
This one tagged and ready to be taken back to the sea and David doing just that!
The end to our turtle tagging adventure had finally arrived, which had been one of the most pleasurable, informative and experiences of our journey to date..............hope to do it again sometime!