March 20, 2016

JOD is no longer in the water; she floats on air, several feet above the ocean floor. Off her port bow, I look down see a long ambling track through the sand and follow it with my eye until I find the conch shell that made it. Only the height prevents me from jumping down to harvest it. Fish dart through the air beneath our keel, eyeing us curiously but keeping their distance. We have been borne aloft.

We are anchored off Allan’s Cay in the northernmost end of the Exumas chain, tucked into the narrow sound between Allan and Leaf Cays. The water, which has been clear since our arrival in the Bahamas, has now gone off the scale. While JOD is obviously not floating in air, I can be forgiven for the weighty allegory. The water is so crystalline I swear if it were not for the salt you could drink it straight from the sea.


Fifty Shades of Blue

The water is fifty shades of blue, the gradients reflecting the variation in depth as the eye travels to the horizon. Deeper sections are dark blue, almost cobalt, while the shallower parts of the sandy bottom mark the water in varying shades of pale sapphire. Where the shoal at the northern end of the sound nearly breaches the surface at low tide, the water becomes almost white blue, like the bottom of a candle’s flame. Dark patches dot the bay where sand bottom gives way to low coral beds and patches of wispy sea grass. The water is so clear that, standing on JOD’s bows, we can clearly make out every feature on the sea bottom. At high tide. In the moonlight.


JOD’s Anchor Chain and Bridle Visible on the Bottom in 15 Feet of Water

In my last post I talked about a typical day when we were in the marina in Nassau. Nice as life in Nassau was, this is what we came to the islands to experience. This IS the Hollywood flyover shot. Deserted sandy beaches, blue sparkling waters and a total lack of hustle with a side of bustle. With no easy access to internet, we happily unplug and spend our days here lazily reading, swimming, sipping rum drinks and just chillin’, soaking in our surroundings.

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Cindy, chillin’…                                                   Missy, chillin’…

We’ve been anchored here for a week in weather that’s about as perfect as it could get. The skies have been blue and sunny, the breezes light, the nighttime stars innumerable. Out here, away from civilization, we have to be self-sufficient. JOD’s solar panels have no problem keeping our battery bank topped off, thanks to the abundant sunshine, the previous tightening of our loose battery connections and our decision to turn our redundant power hog built-in refrigerator into a dry storage area. Though we are still using the water that we filled our tanks with in Nassau, we have no qualms about running our watermaker in these pristine conditions. Our pantry is stocked with enough provisions to stay out here a month or more. We are happy.


The Neighborhood at Sunset

The small, uninhabited group of cays that we sit in the midst of are low, probably rising to a height of no more than 30 feet, and consist of rough coral rock covered in green scrubby vegetation. A long yellow sandy beach runs along the edge of Leaf Cay to the east of us. The ruins of an old concrete building offer the only evidence that man has ever tried to live on these cays. Whatever its provenance, the islands are now uninhabited, save for an aggressive population of iguanas made that way by the boatloads of tourists arriving daily to feed them.


Leaf Cay Shoreline

Leaf Cay is famous for these heavily promoted reptiles and a side trip to feed the iguanas has become a must-do on every tourist’s trip to Nassau or Georgetown. Power boats, many boasting three or four out-sized outboards, whisk these folks in by the dozen on a daily basis, even providing iguana chow and feeding sticks in spite of the signs clearly prohibiting the feeding of the iguanas. The iguanas know it’s feeding time when they hear the boats arrive and charge the beach by the dozen when they approach.

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Leaf Cay Iguanas

From our boat we watch as each boatload of tourists alternately mingle with the feeding reptiles or run away, squealing like schoolchildren when one of the critters gets too close. It’s funniest when the squealer is a big, burly guy. Missy has a time whenever the boats arrive, barking at noisy engines and splashing, chattering tourists. She gets as many pictures taken of her as the iguanas. After a brief 15 minutes, the tour guides call all aboard and race off to their next destination, usually Staniel Cay to swim with the pigs (no kidding) or to a place called The Sandbar that we aren’t familiar with and the cruisers once again have the anchorage to ourselves.


Tourists Storm the Iguana Beach on Leaf Cay

This week there is weather rolling in, so we are staying tucked in tight at Allan’s Cay to ride it out. Then we’ll strike out further south, working our way down the Exumas chain. Stay tuned…