Wednesday, July 20, 2016

My Best Ctenophore Shot Yet!

If you’ve been following this blog, you may have noticed that I have this thing about ctenophores, little jellies with cilia (little hairs) that ripple in beautiful colors. The problem in trying to get a photo of them is that they’re mostly see-through, so the camera focuses on what’s behind them. I’ve nearly drowned myself several times trying to line up just…the…right…shot before having to surface for air. The upside of that is that my breath-holding ability has really increased. Anyway, shooting up toward the surface seems to work well, and I finally got a shot that didn’t just look like a fuzzy, out-of-focus blob. Yeah! Actually, I’ve gotten at least one other decent shot, because I got an email from a young woman (marina biologist in the making – another yeah!) thanking me for posting a picture of a ctenophore in St. Lucia. She apparently encountered the same critter and appreciated my having found a good description of it online. So nice that I could help!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Fantastic Snorkeling in Man o’ War Bay, Great Inagua, Bahamas

Yup, that's the reef right off our stern, a short swim away
Sand diver staring me down

Sun-lit seafan
Matthew Town, Great Inagua, is a great place to check in or out of the Bahamas and pick up some scant provisioning. The real beauty of the island, for us, is Man o’ War Bay in the northwest corner. Coming across the bay, it shallows pretty rapidly from no depth (greater than about 250 feet on our depth meter) to 90 to 80 to 40 to oh-my-God-we’re-over-the-reef. Thankfully, that’s still plenty deep. We pick our way through the reef and anchor in clear sand between the reef and the beach, laying back until our stern is over the corals. Just hop in the water to snorkel! And what snorkeling there is! The reef is scattered the entire length of the beach, so large that we can’t see the entire thing even with a couple of hours in the water. Clear, beautiful, and full of corals and fish, it’s always a treat, yet we’ve never seen another boat anywhere near here. Their loss.

Chris checking out the reef

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Tour of Mayaguana

Lovely view from only house in defunct development
Another must-stop place for us in the Bahamas is Mayaguana. This island is not on the beaten track unless you’re headed to the Turks & Caicos or farther south, but it’s worth the effort to get there. First, it’s got a five-mile-long lagoon – Abrahams Bay – on the southwest side of the island that protects from most seas, especially if you anchor near the reef so there’s little fetch. Little patch reefs abound, as do lobsters. Snorkeling is delightful, and the people are friendly. Though we’ve extensively explored the waters here, we haven’t done much ashore aside from a bit of shopping and feasting on the great fried chicken at Reggie’s. This visit we treated ourselves to an island tour with Scully Cartwright, the go-to guy on the island for cruisers. After a drive around the settlement, he took us to North Shore Villas – or villa, if you want to be accurate. This was supposed to be a big development, but only one villa was ever built. It’s a beauty – beachside, with a pool and dock and incredible views. Then north to the Pirate’s Well settlement, named for a…well…a well. It’s small but always full. Though the island seems dry and scrubby, there’s apparently abundant ground water. After a sandwich lunch at Baycaner Bay Resort, we went on to Betsy Bay and did some tidal pooling. South again, on the ridge Abrahams Bay, we saw the monument commemorating the landing spot of the Thor missile packet, which contained the first color photographs from space. Also atop the ridge are the ruins of an old U.S. radar tracking station with a beautiful 360-degree view of the island from the roof. We recommend Scully – just call him on VHF channel 16.

The house itself, along with the saltwater pool and dock is lovely

Snails and urchins in tidepool

Abandoned radar facility

View from ridge top