Conch Bay, Andros

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

025-6.780 N
077-58.620 W
Marine forecast for this location

Ahoy everyone!

OK, put this down as one of the best laid plans going astray. The weather around here has been very unsettled. I just heard someone on a weather net compare it to August conditions instead of June conditions. There have been consistent low pressure troughs (which are basically lows spread out along a line instead of being centered somewhere) across the area since we arrived in the Bahamas. These troughs cause thundershowers to form along them and I can assure you that there have been lots of heavy duty thunderstorms in the area. BlueJacket is well washed.

We decided to move yesterday in search of good diving. One person who wasn't happy to see us leave was a little brown bird who, that morning, decided to build a nest in our radar tower. I knew that something was up when I got up and heard a bird chirping away in the cockpit. I really knew that we had a problem when I saw it alighting on the radar tower with twigs in its beak. After explaining to the bird that we needed to depart, and that it wasn't anything personal, we dropped the mooring line and headed out.

I had planned on moving about 30 miles N to Conch Bay. Some friends had given us diving waypoints for the area, and a guide book showed an anchorage there. The anchorage was wide open to the east, but with the forecast of 5 kts of wind from the S to SW, it sounded good. As we were motoring along the sky behind us turned black with a large storm over the Fresh Creek area. We were feeling pretty smart as we would have been pinned in the boat had we stayed. A thunderstorm appeared ahead of us right over our anchorage, but the radar showed it sliding out to sea, and we hoped that by the time that we got there that it would be gone. What we didn't expect was a new storm to form and chase us along the coast. This guy had low rolling black clouds and really looked ugly. It was overtaking us, so I slowed down in an attempt to let it pass us. You could see sunshine on the shoreline behind it, so this felt like a good plan.

The t-storm passed and as expected the sun came out just as we arrived at the entrance to the bay. To get into the bay you have to make your way past the sunken remains of a large freighter, go around a sand bar, and then thread your way in 7' of water to the anchorage, which was about 2 miles away. Let me put it to you this way...that was easier said than done.

Sun is a key component when piloting through shallow areas, especially when they're strewn with coral heads. Coral heads show up as black spots and shallow areas turn bright blue. Without sun everything is varying shades of blue-green. We had no problems getting past the wreck and sand bar and then we started working our way towards to anchorage. We were at high tide, so we should have had close to 10' of water. The problem came when when t-storm that passed us either expanded or moved back towards us, blotting out the sun. We threaded our way through the maze of coral, grazing one head and clipping another one. Then it started to rain and we couldn't see anything. We passed over a nice blue sandy patch and decided to drop the hook. Of course at this point we had 20 kts of wind out of the NE from which we had no protection, but thankfully the hook dug right in. Phew!

An hour or so later the skies cleared and we headed to nearby beaches to go shelling. We found some wonderful finger coral which had been dislodged by a big storm. Now we just have to figure out where to store this to get it back home. Today the skies are wonderfully clear and we're going to dive on the wreck and then move later this afternoon once the tide has come in.

We hope that you're all well and that your day isn't littered with a minefield of coral heads!

-- Geoff & Sue

For the cruiser:

There's a 0.7 to 1.2 kt current that moves from the N along the shore of Andros. If you run along the 10 fathom line you can keep out of most of the current.
Log ID: 863

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