Plans had been made the previous evening to take SYL up Pipe Creek, an area they can easily access with their shallow draft while most people have to visit by dinghy. Rusty and Linda were kind enough to host everyone aboard and show us around these new-to-us islands.
- We threaded through Pipe Creek toward Compass Cay and enjoyed lunch underway. Left-over spaghetti with Linda’s homemade sauce, fresh coleslaw made by Shane and Christie’s Reese’s Chocolate bars for dessert. It turned out to be one of the best cruising days yet as we:
- Pulled right up to the “jetsam beach,” a place where people had collected all the things jettisoned from boats and other stuff floating around and made an island monument. There were old life jackets, conch shells, shopping carts, signs and sail pieces, and even a guitar signed by no one famous. One especially cool feature of going on SYL is that they can beach their boat (it’s a catamaran), so we just pulled up a few yards from the beach and walked down the swim ladder to the beach front.
The “Texas Navy” at Flotsam Beach
- Motored over an area of the sea floor that was covered with dozens of starfish, each seeming to twinkle in their own underwater way. Everyone was on deck yelling, there’s one, there’s another, ohh there’s a baby one …Too beautiful to pass by, we stopped to snorkel and Matt dove off the boat and pulled one up from the bottom on the first shot. Officially named “Lone Star”, we kept him onboard in a salt water bucket until we go back to our Staniel Cay anchorage where he was released near the boats for someone else to discover.
Matt diving for “Lone Star”
“Lone Star” shining out of the water
- Headed into Compass Cay to find the sharks our chart books talked about. We pulled in and tossed bread off the back which attracted swarms of fish and about a dozen nurse sharks (bottom feeders that don’t favor humans for snacks). They were so close that we could touch them despite screaming the whole time, half out of joy, half out of fear. Their skin was like wet leather and even though they’re benign bottom feeders, their beady eyes and slithering motion made them seem all shark.
Christie and her new friends
- Cruised back to Staniel Cay by way of the Exuma Sound where Matt and Rusty rode on the bow and discussed boat design. Matt is really enjoying Rusty’s company and wisdom not just about cruising but about life as well.
- Snorkeled Thunderball Grotto, an amazing partially submerged cave featured in the James Bond movies, “Never Say Never Again” and “Thunderball” as well as the film, “Splash” . It was so surreal snorkeling through an underwater tunnel into a huge rock room with reef fish swimming all around you and the sun lighting the water through holes in the cave roof. Looking up at those holes inspired Shane and Matt to figure out a way to jump through them into the cave. They climbed up to the top from outside the cave and when all was clear below, jumped through an 8-foot hole encircled by jagged rocks plummeting down to the water about 25 feet below. A thunderous splash would accompany each landing as the cave walls were doused with water from the resulting waves and a few seconds later each guy would bubble to the surface with a grin bigger then the Cheshire Cat. We wrapped up our underwater adventures with a little more snorkeling through the giant fish bowl filled with parrotfish, triggerfish, sergeant majors and brain coral.
Christie gliding through the Grotto
A brightly colored grotto resident
Matt swimming into one of the underwater entrances to the grotto
Peace to all our fishy friends
The evening wound down with an excellent steak and fish dinner prepared by Shane aboard his catamaran, s/v Guiding Light. Since he and SYL we’re rafted up (tied together swinging on just Guiding Light’s anchor) it was an easy step across to watch “The Illusionist” on the projector screen aboard SYL. There was no need for the A/C tonight as a cool island breeze whispered through the boat as seven content sailors relaxed after a hard day’s work.