Monday, January 25, 2016

Breathe! In the Bahamas

West End, Grand Bahama to Elbow Cay, Abacos
January 18-20, 2016

We had no intention of departing Old Bahama Bay on Monday when we woke. As we examined the forecasts mid-morning, though, we realized it was likely the most comfortable day of the next several for moving across Little Bahama Bank toward the Abacos. We quickly tied up loose ends and untied from the dock.

The next big decision was whether to enter the ocean plateau of the Little Bahama Bank through the barely adequate depths of Indian Rock Channel at dead low tide, or to instead travel two hours extra to the deeper Memory Rock cut. We attempted the shallow cut, inching slowly at times. Exhale! No touching bottom! Then in order to anchor at Great Sale Cay before twilight closed down the day, we motor-sailed all day.
Anchorage at Manjack Cay
On day two, we enjoyed a gorgeous sail, savoring the peace and quiet without engine noise. North winds that would have prevented a Gulf Stream crossing on that day delivered a perfect beam-reach point of sail for six hours. The heartwarming highlight of the day was watching a mama dolphin and her baby swim and jump alongside us. The little one was about one-third the mother’s length. We’ve never seen a dolphin so small in the wild. Sigh… How sweet! That night we dropped anchor at Manjack (pronounced mun-jack) Cay and the wind dropped to a whisper.

On day three, we bypassed many favorite stopping-places and headed to Sea Spray Marina on Elbow Cay. This will be our hideaway for a while, at least while strong storms keep doing encore performances.
From the same point, we can look out at the Atlantic...
...and back to where Pelican is docked -- the last mast on the right
En route to Elbow Cay, we had to transit around Whale Cay—the diciest part of an Abacos trip after the Gulf Stream. The passage lies where a shallow section of the Sea of Abaco forces most cruising boats to leave the protected banks and go out in the Atlantic around Whale Cay. Northeast wind and even storms far out in the Atlantic can create a “rage,” when the deep ocean waters that funnel between reefs and islands slam onto the banks and create dangerous, impassable conditions. Five-foot rollers were the worst we saw, which means it was a comfortable transit.

Back in the tranquil Sea of Abaco, the sun rose higher in the sky and turned on the aquarium lights. Smooth turquoise water shone with glorious clarity. Starfish, sea urchins, and wavy patterns in the sand were magnified fifteen feet above. Inhale! Breathe in the beauty! There’s life and loveliness to notice and enjoy (not only here but everywhere)...glimpses of beauty in nature that reflect and magnify the beautiful nature of the One who made them.

It is an extraordinary and beautiful thing that God, 
in with the beauty of matter; the reality of things; 
the discoveries of the senses, all five of them; 
so that we, in turn, may hear the grass growing; 
see a face springing to life in love and laughter.... 
The offerings of creation...our glimpses of truth.
Madeleine L’Engle

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