(Happy?) start of the hurricane season from Middle Bight!
It's June 1st and the start of the hurricane season. Hopefully it will be a mild season, but the predictions aren't looking good. Lets just hope that they hold off until we're safely in the Chesapeake.
We arrived here 2 days ago after motoring about 30 hot miles from Green Cay. What wind there was, was dead from astern and the apparent wind reading showed 0.0 kts, which made it hot...very hot. The seas were glassy at times, but it sure was a smooth passage. As we approached land the ever present thunderstorms were dumping tons of rain. These aren't your everyday little showers. These are HUGE storms that seem to form over the same areas every day and move in very predictable patterns. Andros has an abundance of fresh water and provides over 50% of the water to Nassua. There are ships that move the water 24 hours a day. I'm sure that the majority of the fresh water comes from these thundershowers.
Upon arrival we set out to explore the area. We were anchored on the NW side of Gibson cay and according to the guide book, there's a blue hole on Gibson Cay. We packed up our snorkel gear and headed to the Cay. Once again it was a very rocky cay and the rock is incredibly sharp. You do not want to fall or brush up against the razor sharp edges of the rock. I don't know if it's volcanic rock or what. What I can tell you is that it looks like very holey Swiss cheese (with lots of 2-6" holes) and you really have to watch where you walk as the entire surface is covered with these holes. From what I've read, rain water erodes the soft limestone material leaving the harder rock which forms the honey combed rock. Underwater rivers flow through this and every once in a while the surface collapses creating a blue hole. There are supposed to be something like 3000 blue holes in the Bahamas, with most of them being on Andros.
The blue hole on Gibson Cay was about 100' wide and I'd guess about 40-60' deep. After carefully getting into it, we snorkeled around it and were surprised at the number of fish. We're not talking huge quantities, but there were parrot fish, snappers and damselfish. There was also a really bright BLUE y-branched algae that I've never seen before. It wasn't spectacular, but it was interesting. North of the Cay we found another blue hole located 100' off the beach at 24-19.891N 077-41.015W. It was surrounded by a ring of beautiful coral and had a tremendous amount of cold water flowing out of it. We found it at low tide and the water flow was easily several knots, so I couldn't snorkel into it. I was able to maneuver the dinghy into it and it looked wonderful. I think that you have to carefully pick the time to explore it such that the current isn't too strong. I think that you need to be especially aware of an in-flowing current as it might be possible to be sucked into one. According to the charts there's another blue hole off of the Autec base beach, but we weren't able to find it.
The next morning we dove off of the large Autec tower directly W of the base. We had noted that there was lots of coral in the area and it looked like the tower would make a good place to tie the dinghy. The coral was in pretty bad shape, but there were lots of fish, especially directly underneath of the tower. There were also cables running off to place unknown (hydrophones?), so it made it easy to navigate back to the tower.
In the afternoon we headed over to Moxey Town, which was about 2 miles S of the anchorage. There's not a lot there, but we did meet Ralph Moxey whose great-great-grandfather founded the town. Ralph was building a wooden racing sailboat for his 4 grandsons. It was definitely a labor of love. Ralph said that several hurricanes had hit the area in the past few years, and there was lots of damage. He also said that tourism was way down. It was sad to see how many people were just sitting around with nothing to do. Several people with some getup-and-go came over and befriended us looking to "help" us. Bonefish fishing is big there, so they were offering to be guides for us.
Today we're underway from Middle Bight to Fresh Creek and we're SAILING! We've got 10-15 out of the ESE and we're having a great sail. Yeah! We'll report in later from here.
-- Geoff & Sue
For the cruiser:
We anchored at 24-19.91N 77-41.21W at the end of the cay and directly next to the Autec mooring buoy. There was 8' of sand and great holding. We only used 1 anchor. The current does move through here, but the anchor set immediately and I had no concerns about it resetting as the current switched. I noted that the current continues to flow outward for 2 hours past low tide despite the fact that the water level is rising.