It’s a nice place to be—stuck in a sweet spot like this with other friendly people. I just dinghied out to the main entrance channel to check the wind and waves and weather. The seas are still up, although the winds are fair. I could see a large squall in the distance. The atmosphere is unstable and turbulent. If it’s this way now, I can see it getting even more turbulent as the day heats up. We’ll stay put for now.
We had planned to go south to Fresh Creek before heading eat across the Tongue of the Ocean in our little Albin Vega sailboat. It’s a great place to check out, but the holding is poor and the current is reversing and strong and there is no protection from the northeast. They used to have mooring balls for $10 a night, but they are not in service any longer, like most things here. Now the only option for staying there with a boat is a $45 per night slip. Fresh Creek is far enough south that you can sail directly east from there to make it to the Exumas. Also there is a weaving community there that we’d love to visit.
There is an inside route between Andros and the great barrier reef, but it is strewn with coral heads and should only be attempted by an active and perceptive crew on mid-tide on a rising tide in peak mid-day sun. If you go aground any other way you may never get off, and there are not many people around to help. There is no TowBoat US to call on channel 16 to help. You are pretty much on your own.
While diving yesterday I discovered a sunken wreck in the inner harbor entrance channel. Hiding in its stern were 6 lion fish. Along the bank 100 yards out were another 3 lion fish. These are amazing creatures, although they are an invasive species that is wreaking havoc on the ecosystem. Rumor has it that people had them as specialty fish in their saltwater aquariums (~$1,000 per fish), but let them go into the wild when they couldn’t keep them.
They are not only invasive, but they have no natural predators and they are venomous. Man, are they beautiful though. One of the cruisers here, Francois, got “stung” by one on his elbow. It literally swelled up larger than an apple or orange, and it’ll take him three months to heal from it. Their venom is serious. The fish can be eaten if handled and de-spined properly, but there is as-yet no market for this supposed delicacy. Lots of people buy them for their aquariums, but not here in the Bahamas. Therefore none of the fishermen are hunting these fish and their population grows unchecked.
In honor of Easter, we cruisers had a potluck dinner on the beach at the North Andros Festival Market Place. This is where the regatta is held every June. What a delightful and assorted group of people have assembled here! Allan, the Irishman, bent our ear about traveling to the Mediterranean and Scandinavia. He encourages us to sail across the Atlantic in the trade winds from Bermuda to the Azores to Spain rather than to take the northern route through Nova Scotia, Greenland, Iceland, and then Scotland. Going that way, you are sure to hit storms and heavy weather, he says. In his opinion there is no finer sailing ground than Denmark, where you can get a slip anywhere for $15 per night. Who knows if such a trip would ever come about, but it is fun to think on it.
For now we are content enjoying this splendid place that holds us while considering the next stop on our journey eastward. We are learning so much by living this way!