Lobsters, Sharks and Us
We are sailing the most remote cays of the Bahamas, the Jumentos, which are truly the most stunning, with carved limestone hills, long stretches of uninhabited beach and crystal clear waters. We are now at Hog Cay, where we joined the other 7 boats in the anchorage for a music-filled sun-downer at the beach shack dubbed the "Yacht Club."
We jumped at the chance to join a group of 3 boats whom we had met in Joe's Sound to sail here. All professed that the Jumentos are their ultimate destination in the Bahamas. We had initially thought that the Crooked and Acklins Islands would be our turn-around point, but decided instead to take advantage of upcoming settled weather to explore these special islands. So after enduring another round of strong east winds in Crooked and Acklins Islands, we bid farewell to Lost Shaker and Jubilee and joined 2 Outrageous, Ti Amo and Grace V, bound for our staging anchorage at Salinas Point, Acklins Island.
We set out with trepidation across the super shallow Bight of Acklins, grateful for scouting assistance from Grace V. It was a nerve-wracking journey, with skinny stretches where we had only one inch of water beneath the keel. We safely reached Salinas Point, hitting bottom only once! Our passage the next day to Ragged Island was a 13 hour grab bag: we left at 5 a.m. and encountered big sea swells and winds out of the south- southeast at 15 to 22 knots. We sailed through two squalls with driving rain and wind gusts, which were followed by several welcome hours of sailing on a broad-reach before the wind got lighter and eventually died. We arrived just after sunset, with enough daylight to anchor in Southside Bay at Ragged Island.
Christoph joined a few lobstering expeditions with seasoned lobster hunters, Paul of 2 Outrageous and Charlie of Migration. The rest of us snorkeled in gorgeous, healthy coral reefs teeming with thousands of species of brightly- colored reef fish, giant sting rays, and of course, sharks, which are plentiful in the Bahamas. We have seen many from land and avoided a few, including bull sharks, reef sharks, nurse sharks and lemon sharks. They generally keep to themselves, but it's advisable to not hunt anywhere near them and to swim away if they are near. One upshot of snorkeling in the vicinity of sharks is that I have figured out how to pull myself into the dinghy on a moment's notice. Christoph finally speared a couple of lobsters, which we grilled with garlic butter for our best island meal yet.
We were dismayed to see the extensive hurricane damage at Duncantown, Ragged Island. There are no government services, and the 40 residents are slowly rebuilding. Still, we were glad for the provisions we were able to buy at Maxine's and cold drinks Jolly served up for us at the bar.
We will continue up the Jumentos chain of cays over the next few days, reveling in the gorgeous weather and unique beauty.