Big Major's Cay - Eye Problems - Hawksbill Cay

Ocean Gem
Geoff & Eileen Mander
Wed 14 May 2014 13:47

Date: Wednesday 14th May 2014

Position: 24:27.931N 76:46.208W



Our stay at anchor just of ‘The Bay of Pigs’ had been extended a little longer than planned as it was sheltered from the strong winds and thunderstorms that had been around for several days.  That said it was a beautiful spot that was well worth lingering in.


On the evening of Tuesday 13th May, Phil & Nikki from Ajaya came over to share a few drinks with us.  An hour or two after they had left I noticed that the vision in my left eye was becoming distorted, rather as if I was looking through an uneven piece of glass, accompanied by flashes of light.  I went to bed hoping that it would go away, but in the morning the problem was still there.  This was a cause for concern.  I know a few people who have suffered from a detached retina and what I was experiencing was similar to what they had described.  I also knew that if I was suffering from what I feared then I would need treatment urgently and for several weeks afterwards I would have to rest and definitely not fly.


This left me in somewhat of a dilemma.  The medical facilities at Staniel Cay were limited to say the least. We were at anchor and there was nowhere near that was a safe place to leave the boat for any period of time.  The nearest place that could give me the treatment that may be necessary was Nassau, and the only way to get there quickly would be to fly from Staniel Cay; but how would I get back if I couldn’t fly?  To add to our problems the recent weather had been unsettled and the forecast was predicting a frontal trough passing through our area; an event that could easily transform our currently sheltered anchorage into a potentially dangerous lee shore.  What to do?


I phoned my insurance company, Pantaenius and explained the situation.  We discussed the options and they agreed that if I had to then it would be OK to leave the boat at anchor, unattended, if I needed to fly to Nassau. I was relieved and grateful to hear this.


The next thing to do was to go ashore at Staniel Cay and find the nurse that was there to see if she could provide any insight into my problem.  It took a while to find her and although she did what she could she was not able to do much for a problem that lay inside an eye.  She did make phone contact with a general practitioner on another island who asked a number of questions and from my answers concluded that the eye definitely needed to be looked at by a specialist, and soon, but that the balance of probabilities was that it was something less serious than that which I feared.


On the weight of this positive but still rather weak reassurance I concluded that it was worth risking the extra time to get to Nassau by boat rather than leaving it where it was and flying.  But this opened up another set of problems.  In order to get to Nassau I would have to sail across the Yellow Bank, an area of shallow water with so many coral heads that it was impossible to chart them accurately.  The only way was to navigate by eye with good light.  But what if my eyesight continued to deteriorate whilst on the way there?  Eileen’s distance sight has never been good.  We went across to see Phil & Nikki and explain my problem and even though they were planning to leave soon Phil immediately agreed to sail with us to Nassau to help me to navigate the Yellow Bank.  This was extremely generous of them and a decision for which I shall be eternally grateful.


So later that afternoon we upped anchor and the three of us (Eileen, Phil and I) set off towards Nassua.  By nightfall we had made it as far as Hawksbill Cay where we anchored.  It was windy and the waves from the Atlantic were working their way around the south of the island to where we were anchored making it a very bumpy night.