We left Red Shanks anchorage in George Town, Bahamas on May 12th and sailed to Conception Island. We fished on the crossing, which took around 6 or 7 hours. I caught a cero mackerel and hooked a really big mahi-mahi. Unfortunately the mahi was so big that it took my whole rig (the leader - not the entire fishing pole!). It was exciting to see the beautiful fish jumping out of the water in Storyville’s wake. Luckily for us, Gary on Pa La Ola managed to hook a big mahi. The six of us (Troy, myself, Rene, Stacy, Gary and Barbara) all feasted on grilled fish for dinner and there was so much left over that we all took some with us and had lunch the next day. It was yummy!
Conception is an uninhabited island and it is pristine and beautiful. The water is clear and the beaches are powdery and white. We snorkeled and hiked and searched the beaches for sea glass, shells and sea beans. We saw beautiful tropical birds, sharks, barracudas, sea turtles. We really enjoyed the short time that we spent there.
We only spent one full day on Conception. We (the three boats travelling together, Storyville, Pipe Muh Bligh and Pa La Ola) all get our weather from Chris Parker on Single Side Band Radio. Chris broadcasts from Florida and most cruisers traveling in the Bahamas and the Caribbean listen to his morning broadcasts for weather reports. Pa La Ola has a paid subscription and can actually call Chris and talk to him and get advice for specific crossings (i.e. – we want to leave Conception Island and make our way to Luperon over the next couple of weeks, can you tell us if and when there will be a good weather window for the crossing?). Well, Barbara called Chris and asked him that very question on our second morning on Conception Island. We were not at all thrilled with the answer. Chris told us that there was a window of good weather right then, but that window would be closing and he didn’t know if there would be another one before the end of May. Our goal has been to be in Luperon in the protected harbor around the first of June, when hurricane season officially starts. We had a quick conference between the boats and decided that we needed to go ahead and make the crossing to Luperon. That meant that we had to skip a visit to Rum Cay and a couple of other Bahamas cays, which we were all looking forward to, and instead we would be making a crossing that would take several days. The good news was that we had a good weather window, so we could look forward to a comfortable sail (actually a motor sail most of the way).
We made it to the Turks and Caicos Islands where we all decided to stop for a few days. We figured that even if the weather window was closed, at least we were much closer to Luperon and we could afford to wait for another window to open within the next few weeks. Plus, we really wanted to check out the Turks and Caicos and do some beachcombing and snorkeling, and Rene and Stacy were planning to do some diving there. We sailed for 49 hours and overall it was an enjoyable crossing. We saw lots and lots of flying fish and, even though I kept a sharp lookout, I never did spot a whale. Troy thinks that he may have seen one, but he wasn’t sure. When we entered the Sandborne Channel to the Turks and Caicos Banks, we were escorted in by a pod of dolphins that were jumping and leaping out of the water.
|Cero Mackrel = Dinner|
|Dinghies on the beach - our boats at anchor|
|Toes in the sand - not sure why this one is sideways - oh well!|
|Man - O - War|
|Lots and Lots of Reefs|
|Troy - Taking in the View|
|Nightly Visitor to Storyville|
|Pipe Muh Bligh and Pa La Ola - Headed to Turks and Caicos|
|Evening Watch - The small boat is towing the barge - big cables between them = DANGER!|