Castle Island, Acklins

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

022-7.500 N
074-19.020 W
Marine forecast for this location

Ahoy from Castle Island in the Acklins!

We've spent the last few days at Castle Island, which is the southern most point of the Acklins. From here the southeast tip of Cuba is about 100 miles due south and the Turks and Caicos are about the same distance to the east.

Light HouseWe're at the terminus of our trip southward and will begin the trek back north. We didn't make it to the Turks and Caicos due to various delays along the way, but there's always next year. We've got a 1200 mile journey to the Chesapeake, so we need to start heading that way if we want to have time to enjoy and explore the islands on the way back. We want to be back by early-mid July, so that's a lot of miles over the next two months.

The most prominent feature of Castle Island is the 135' lighthouse which towers above the island. It was abandoned quite a few years ago and currently isn't working. You can get into the lighthouse, but I didn't trust the stairs to the top. Several were missing and when I examined them, I found that the supporting steel have give out. Not being a light guy, I didn't want to stress test the rest! There are quite a few other buildings around the lighthouse to explore and it's a pretty cool place to visit.

The waters surrounding the area are incredibly deep. We were in 4000' of water just 2 miles from the shore. There's an abrupt edge around the island and I had hoped that this was a wall similar to what we found at Fish Cay, but unfortunately it's just sand with some sponges and sea fans. No interesting diving here.

We're anchored on the S side of the Castle Island in Mudian Harbour. The guide book talks about a range marker (which no longer exists) and makes it look like it's difficult to get into here due to the extensive reefs which surround the anchorage. It really was quite easy, but we found it very rolly with swells coming in from all kinds of strange directions.

Freighter WreckAs I mentioned, there are extensive reefs on either side of the anchorage. The coral is pretty beaten up, but there is actually some live Elkhorn coral and I haven't seen any of that in years! There are quite a few fish here, but they're all juveniles. I wonder where the big fish are? We went out snorkeling and gathered fish for a fish fry the other night. Yum, that was good!

One the west side of the island you'll find the wreck of a Belizian freighter that went aground quite a few years ago. It sits in about 12' of water and in in quite good shape. It was carrying shoes and you'll find shoes strewn along all of the beaches. It also has a HUGE birds nest (we're talking 6-8 FEET across) atop of the bridge. We would have liked to have seen who built that nest! This also seems to be nesting grounds for some tropical birds with extremely long white tails who are nesting in the rocky cliffs. We counted at least 25 of them in the air yesterday morning.

RollersThe plan for today is to head back to Fish Cay, but we may have to wait a day due to the swell from that storm off of the Carolinas. The charts showed 40' seas in the area and those seas have finally made it down here. We have 6-12' swells coming through the area and I'm worried about the channel at Fish Cay which only carries about 7' at low tide. A trough of a swell could cause us to hit bottom and that would not be a good thing. It's very impressive to look at the tip of the island by the lighthouse and see huge rollers crashing over the reef. We've been zipping around that point in the dinghies and enjoying the beautiful water. Not today!

-- Geoff & Sue

For the cruiser:

We're anchored at 22-07.475N 074-19.105W and came in through the reef with a course of 000. We're anchored in 12' of sand with great holding. As stated, it's quite rolly at times.
Log ID: 958

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Photos/Video: Photo Album Acklins, Castle Island 

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