Saturday, June 20, 2015

Hawksnest Cay

Sugar Beach
Before coming to the Bahamas, I had no concept of the time and distance between the various regions.  We spoke of the islands in the abstract with no real idea of where we would go and how long it would take us to get there...  I can honestly say that now, we have a much better grasp on situation.  By all standards, the Berry Islands are small.  

Sunset at Hawksnest Cay
Our decision to visit the Berrys "on our way out" was a good one.  It gave us an opportunity to really relax and feel as if we were a thousand miles away from civilization.  It allowed us to savor our last days in the Bahamas and soak up as much as we could of their unrivaled beauty to take home with us in our minds.

The Berry Islands are "small".  Covering only about 30 square miles, it is easy to move from one to another with plenty of time left in the day to explore.

After what seemed like a full day at Sugar Beach, we returned to the boat hot and tired.  But instead of relaxing in the cockpit to while away the afternoon, we decided to move on over to Hawksnest Cay and do our "whiling" there.  N25°44.844, W077°49.476

This anchorage was not as beautiful (but still pretty nice) as Sugar Beach, the water is a more greenish/yellow color.  I don't understand what makes the water so wildly different in color from one place to the next... Anyway, our reason for stopping here was to see if we could find some sharks... in Shark Creek.

We waited for a rising tide and set out towards the mouth of this small creek.  The water was plenty clear, but still green as we followed the deeper channels looking for looming shapes beneath the water's surface.

Better pics of sharks in the shallows
It wasn't long before we began to spot them.  Sure enough, there are sharks here.  Tiny ones!

The seemed to be marginally concerned about our presence, keeping an agreeable distance from us, but not showing any tendency to flee.  We are always mindful of our impact upon the wildlife in the places we go exploring.

They look much bigger underwater...
The small sharks here far outnumbered humans and perhaps that is why they seem unafraid... and then maybe it's the stories their mammas told them about how they would someday be the Terrors of the Deep and they knew that if they wanted to... they could chase US out of the creek!

We were thrilled to hover above these silent and sinister looking babies...  No matter what, I just can't get over their being SHARKS!!!

Once again we experienced one of those moments when we had to pinch ourselves because it's so difficult to believe that this is really our life!!!  While friends and family are working and living normal lives... we get to be putzing around out here like this.  With SHARKS!!!

I got dozens of pictures, all very low quality due to the murky green of the water.  Here is also one short clip of a little guy cruising towards us and then abruptly heading back off again.

The sharks were nice enough to share their creek with scads of turtles.  They were quite a bit more skittish and would dart up to the surface for a quick breath, and then dive back to the depths.  They could be seen as fleeting shapes scuttling away as we motored slowly up the creek.

We decided that we had disrupted their day enough and slowly backtracked to the mouth of the creek and beyond.

The water changed back to a more pleasing color as we neared the reef that protected this anchorage from waves and swell.

Hoping for a chance to snorkel, we motored along just behind the reef, looking for a spot to drop anchor.  As we got closer, we realized that the protection offered by the reef was relative and the waters were still pretty active.

We chose a nice safe spot on the shores of Hawksnest Cay to park our dinghy.  Here the waters were almost completely calm.

We could tie our dinghy to a tree and stand up in the water instead of doing a water start.  It's much easier to get back INTO the dinghy this way too.

We took off towards the reef where we hoped to see more turtles...  Just as we rounded the point, the water became very murky.  The violence of the waves outside the reef was just too disruptive to visibility.

We quickly turned back around and snorkeled a bit on the more protected side of Hawksnest Cay.

We were a little bit surprised to find very few creatures here.  Some small fish and a few very small conch were about all we saw.

No worries, the snorkeling wasn't the main attraction at this spot.  We swam around some and then backtracked to the dink for our return to the boat.

Message in a bottle?  Nope, just shells and sand.  
We did a little bit more exploring in the dinghy, finding LOTS more rays...

Still hoping to find a good snorkel spot, we beached the dinghy at the other end of the Cay so that we could walk around the point and check out conditions on the ocean side.

I was sad to see so many conch shells stripped of their inhabitants and tossed onto the beach and rocks.  These are TOO SMALL!  I know that many cruisers are taking conch to eat, and I hope that WE are not part of the problem.  It is sad to see the Bahamian people so desperate for income that they are depleting the source of that very income at an alarming rate.

Seeing these babies tossed upon the beach was very sad...

The calm side
We climbed up and over the rocky point and took a peek at the action on the other side.  It seemed a bit more than we were willing to attempt.. Can you tell we're getting tired?

We decided to go on back to the boat and haul anchor.  The wind was almost nil and the afternoon would be very warm just sitting on the boat.

Moving on to the next anchorage would give us a bit of a breeze and position us for our next island exploration event.

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