Saturday, April 23, 2016

Stingray Swarm

This was the most amazing sight! We were anchored at Lee Stocking Island in the Exumas (Bahamas), near the outer edge of an enormous sand bank that ran from the channel to the beach (this is on the protected bank side of the island, not the sound side). One day we dinghyed in to the beach, walked around, then headed back to the boat. Well, the water is crystal clear here, and we saw something moving under the water. We’d seen several stingrays already, but something about this was…different. Back to the boat, grab the snorkeling gear, and swim back. Dozens of huge stingrays – wider than I can spread my arms – were swimming around and atop each other, bumping into each other, you name it. They were so active, they were flapping up sand and obscuring the view sometimes, but we could see well enough. I was excited at Rudder Cut Cay to see three sting rays following one another and interacting, but this was far, far beyond that. We weren’t sure what they were doing, but feeding is a good guess. The substrate here was very hilly sand, and living in holes in the sand – when they weren’t out running around – were little portunid crabs (swimming crabs, with flattened rear legs like the blue crab). There’s always a surprise out here!

Stingray coming at ya!
At least four huge stingrays here

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Rudder Cut Cay

Stingrays are so graceful

The first time we went to Rudder Cut Cay in the Exumas, we were the only ones here. This time around, there were nearly ten boats anchored, an armada of dinghies darting around, and swarms of snorkelers on the reef near the anchorage. Even so, they all stuck around one area, leaving the rest of the long cut to us for snorkeling. And terrific snorkeling it is. If you start back near the pass, you can snorkel all the way down to the anchorage, going over shallow spots, deep spots, sand flats and coral reefs.Two days of intensive snorkeling sated our need for being underwater, and also yielded a lobster dinner!

Good-sized nurse shark that I disturbed while trying to get a picture
Sand tilefish ready to dive into its hole

Orange (my favorite color) sponge
Yellow stingray

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Joys of a Well-Hung Anchor

Only the anchor rollbar is visible, and the chain extending away into the distance
A good anchor is so important, not only for keeping a cruising boat in place, but also for the cruiser’s peace of mind. It’s great to see a puff when you drop the anchor, because it means that you’ve got a nice, sandy substrate for the gear to dig into, not an inch of sand above hard marl. But it doesn’t stop there. Chris nearly always jumps in the water to physically check to see that the anchor is well set. For years we had an anchor that worked well in some conditions, not so well in others. Often we would lay a Texas rig, a second anchor attached to the first by a length of chain. It would hold the boat well in place, but was a bitch to set and haul, especially in choppy waters. So the last time we were in the states we splurged and got a 73-pound Rocna anchor, a brand many of our cruising friends swear by. We won’t say that it’s perfect, but it’s certainly worked for us so far. Here’s a picture of it well buried in the sand between Big Farmers and Big Galliot Cays in the Exumas, Bahamas. That’s what we like!