Island hopping and spear fishing
January turned out to be the month with highest winds and most rain in 15 years in the Bahamas. Finally February brought calmer conditions to Elizabeth Harbor in Georgetown, a small consolation after Mika, Eric and Axelia’s departure. We took advantage of it, pulled our hook out of the sand and went sailing.
There are a number of out islands a day’s sail south east of the Exumas. Their names sound like exotic drinks: Long island, the Jumentos, Cat Island, Conception, Rum Cay and San Salvador, each one bursting with its own flavor and character. After studying the chart and the wind direction for the coming week we picked Long Island and Cat Island.
Long Island is truly a long thin island, stretching 80 miles in a southeasterly direction. It turned out to be an easy 7-hour sail, and we anchored at Salt Pond, named after Morton’s salt business in the area.
It was a beautiful anchorage, a big open bay, with easy access to facilities and we stayed for a couple of days before continuing north to Hog cay, a nature anchorage close to a number of coral reefs.
Cat Island was a day- sail to the north on a comfortable beam reach. At the New Bight we visited the Hermitage, a small, stone, medieval-style monastery built on the peak of Como Hill, the highest point in the Bahamas at 206 foot above sea level. We also discovered “The Hidden Treasure”, a shack on the beach where Denise served up the best of Bahamian cuisine.
We had a rocket sail back to Georgetown in 20 knots on the beam in 6- 8-foot seas where our Bristol continued to impress us with her sailing ability and buoyancy.
Readers who have never cruised might wonder what live aboards do on their boats all day, and honestly, so do I.
The days roll like prayer beads, blending one in to the other until another month has gone by. Times is cyclical in its nature at sea as the sun and the moon orbits our small sail boat and thousands of stars twinkle above us at night. There is a primitive simplicity, living close to the elements. It leaves time for reflections, sensations, and long conversations.
The practical aspects of maintaining and running a sail boat takes a fair amount of time, and the simple acts of grocery shopping and laundry often ends up taking a whole day. Land- life was run by repetitions and daily schedules while the weather and how much food is left in the fridge determines the day on the boat.
For fun we take walks and snorkel and then there is spear fishing, which is one of the reasons we are spending this much time in the Bahamas. I will let Bill describe the allures of this particular activity;
“In my deep heart (if I am honest) boats are really nothing more than a handy means of conveyance to get me to places where I can dive. I love boats, I love the sea, but what I love most of all is being under the sea. I can’t exactly say what the attraction is. I suppose mostly that it is a completely different world; populated with exotic creatures, structured with forests made of kelp or coral, and filled with streaming light and vibrant color very different from its atmospheric cousin. Plus, you can fly almost weightless through this gentle medium.
My favorite part of diving over the years has become spearfishing. I like having to know a habitat and where to find what food, matching wits with various fish (which I guess doesn’t really speak very highly of my wits) and often an exciting chase thrown in. But best of all, you can have some amazing meals (which have so far including lobsters, groupers, snappers, conch, and large spider crabs).
What I don’t like about spearfishing are sharks. Needless to say, when you have a wounded fish in the water, the men in grey suits know about it quickly. Some rules: don’t dive alone, know what is around you before you shoot anything, get anything you spear out of the water as fast as you can swim, and keep the fish on the far end of your spear, in case something else swims faster. What I especially don’t like: spearing a big fish through a small hole, so there becomes a protracted tug of war on the bottom, perhaps taking several dives to settle (which is when those small hairs on the back of your neck are useful).
But most days, just being in the water and looking at all the beauty is what makes me happy.”
In the near future we are hoping to find a weather window to head south to the Turks and Caicos and onward to Jamaica. Cousin Johan is arriving from Stockholm tomorrow and will crew with us for this next leg in our adventure.