Friday, April 3, 2009

The Bight of Acklins

After a solid night of sleep at Jamaica Bay we ventured further into the Bight of Acklins. The Bight is tailor made for boats drawing about 4 ½ feet. Since we draw 5 ½ we were prepared for things to get interesting. Celebrian is fortunate enough to have the Explorer software on their chartplotter and we urged them on as First Edition followed with our lousy Raymarine/ Navionics charts. Although to be clear about this, another boat, Shamal arrived at the skinny water at the same time we did and took the lead. Rob did not know that Shamal drew 5’9”, so he still deserves the credit. The depths from Jamaica Bay to Cotton Bay were more than ample for everyone at mid tide rising, we saw no less than 7 feet of water.
We awoke to winds piping up in to the 20’s, which were not expected until later in the day. So we quickly pulled ourselves together to move on while the tide was high, as today’s route was expected to be significantly more shallow. Our destination appears to be the only suitable anchorage for NE winds in the Bight, and winds from this direction at 20-25 gusting higher in squalls are expected for many days. Shamal had called us the prior evening to let us know they hit something hard on the route from the Binnacle Hill to the Jamaica Cay (not to be confused with Jamaica Bay) waypoints, so we had a fair bit of concern. We had a very slow journey to reach Delectable Bay, saw loads of shallow water, but did not bump once. (When our uncalibrated depthsounder reads 3’2” we historically have run aground; we saw many 3’1”, and less than 3” for many uncomfortable seconds. Why we did not go aground at multiple observations of 2 ½ feet remains a mystery. So, use caution, go slow, but go. Shamal made it.) We are anchored here South of Camel Point and are much closer to the shore than the charts would lead you to believe possible, and therefore have escaped the surge.
We had naps, the first we can remember since we started cruising! After our rests we dinked over to shore by the Tan Beach to find a modest, abandoned resort, virtually no shells, but a road to no where and a mail box! I wish I could trust it as I haven’t been able to mail anything for about a month. There is also a cemetery with tombstones shaped like torpedos but no inscriptions.
The following day we borrowed Celebrian’s inflatable kayak and the four of us kayaked and walked through the mangroves when the water went shallow. We saw a sting ray with its tail pointing towards the heavens as it approached us and we figured this was not a sign of friendship. A shark was also observed, but little other marine life. Christine and I had a field day collecting tulip shells.
The next day we invited Sheri and Bob from Shamal on board for happy hour. They have been cruising full time for about 10 years, and have spent the last 30 days around the Acklins and were able to give us a lot of info about the area. Shamal is a middle eastern word for some kind of wind; they had spent some time in The Emirates working before taking off to cruise (when they retired in their late 30’s!).

On March 24th we dinghied over to Pompey Bay to walk the ruins with Shamal. We ran into a few goats, some tethered to trees, but no humans around. I moved some buckets that contained rain water closer to the goats, and they were more concerned with getting away from me than the water. I saw my first flamingo but unfortunately this one was hurt and appears to have been abandoned by the flock. Another quiet night aboard with the wind still howling.

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