Wednesday, February 27, 2008

New Favorite Places

February 24-25, Pipe Cay to Cambridge Cay
Tucked between several islands, Pipe Creek is a shallow area with room for only a few boats to anchor. We tried to enter a sliver of water between the rocky shore of Pipe Cay and a sand bar, and in the attempt Keith’s stellar record of never touching bottom on this entire trip was tarnished. No problem—it was soft sand and he quickly powered off.

We dropped anchor in a wider, deeper pool alongside Little Pipe Cay. A luxury resort covered the private cay, but we saw no sign of life. Around us, turquoise waters swirled between rocks and islands. White sand bars expanded and sand flats dried out at low tide.

When we first arrived, Keith and Loren snorkeled to some rocks no more than forty yards from the boat. Fast-running current is prevalent throughout the Exumas. It carried them away in a flash, but they had a heart-pounding swim back to the boat.

We explored the creek area by dinghy and saw a bed of hundreds of baby conch (called “rollers”). Sometimes a square yard housed eight or ten small conch. At slack current, Keith and Loren snorkeled again, bringing back four large conch and a small fish for dinner.

Pipe Creek was so beautiful that we were tempted to stay another day, but we were intrigued by reports of great snorkeling at Cambridge Cay. We were glad we didn’t miss a stop there. We hiked a trail across the island to Bell Rock, which Keith and Loren climbed and conquered. Close to slack tide, we snorkeled over a reef that contained rare coral, including a stand of pillar coral. It resembled multiple small-scale saguaro cacti clumped one against the other.

The current was still strong and we moved on to Rocky Dundas, a grotto that may rival Thunderball. At low tide, we snorkeled under a ledge into a dome-shaped cave that opened to the sky. Sunlight filtered in and illuminated a cathedral of multi-hued stalactites. Where is the camera when you need it?

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