Day: May 17, 2016

Allen Cays

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This morning a wonderful 15 – 20 knot wind blew from over the Atlantic against Tanda Malaika as we lay resting at anchor. I watched the sun rise among giant streaks of orange and yellow from my perch on the trampoline, the wind blowing my hair across my pillow, and I knew it was a good day to sail.

We raised the main, pulled up the anchor and immediately sailed out at 8 knots on a beam reach. The creatures gathered around me at the helm and talked quietly about how wonderful the wind was. Aidan walked forward and sat out on the bow, stretched his arms and felt like he was flying. We passed several small island before reaching the 3 main islands to Allen Cays.

As we entered the archipelago the twins kept watch for uncharted shallow spots, and we soon found ourselves in a blissful shelter from the wind, and anchored in 9ft of turquoise waters. Several other vessels were anchored as well, including a double masted schooner with a group of scientists to study the rock iguanas that inhabit the Allen Cays.

Just 37 miles southeast of Nassau, these particular Cays have been a restoration project to provide ideal breeding sites for the endangered Allen Cay Rock Iguanas. These iguanas are found on only 3 islands worldwide (all in the Bahamas), and have only 2 known breeding populations. total population existing is around 1000 iguanas. They reach a total length of about 4.5 ft and eat the leaves, flowers and fruits from 13 different species found on the Cays. Their diet sometimes includes small crustaceans and handouts from tourists.

As we set out in the dinghy to explore we felt like National Geographic Explorers on an expedition in the Galapagos, and I instantly fell in love with the little guys. They love the color red because much of the fruit they eat is red when it is ripe, and as I lay on the ground taking photos, I quickly found out they they were eyeing out my red pony tail holder that held my braid – sometimes coming too close for me to bring them in to focus for a photograph.

The creatures sat watching and photographing them for a long time too, and once in a while I’d hear a nervous, ‘…..mom……..’ from Emma, as thye came too close for her comfort.

What a fantastic, educational day it’s been. We love this place!

Eleuthera to Exuma

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The creatures and I enjoyed another fantastic day on Tanda Malaika.

Once setting sail around 0900, we meandered our way through various island to an area called Current Cut, where the current is really strong through a small gap in between a couple islands. It is a short cut to the Exumas, shortening the trip by several miles. We were cruising along at about 6 knots and when we hit the strong current, we crawled through it at 1.2 knots. Once through the cut, an exquisite scene was laid out before us on the other side. Brilliant turquoise and green waters and bright white sand strips in-between. All we could do was stare in awe.

We continued on, turning to starboard and picked up some wonderful wind. The sails were full, and the only sound was the rush of water to the sides of our hulls…pure heaven. The deepest section of ocean that we journeyed through in our entire day of sailing, was about 35ft. All the rest of the time we were in about 5 – 15 ft of water. Needless to say, I sat at the helm the entire time, watching the depth gauge and making necessary course adjustments to avoid shallower waters. For a while, the ocean was a deep blue, and in the distance we could see a distinct line from where it morphed from navy blue to bright turquoise. It is fascinating to see. It always amazes me how various ocean floor material (sand, coral, rock, sea grass etc) and degree of cloud cover effect water color so drastically. Jude sat with her feet in the water and kept exclaiming over and over how unbelievably clear it was.

By early afternoon the wind picked up even more and we made good time at 8 knots on a port tack. The small rocky outer islands of Exuma spread across the horizon later in the afternoon and sea birds circled Tanda Malaika. We dropped anchor on the leeward side of Ship Channel Cay shortly before the sun dipped out of sight, and said a prayer of thanks for a safe journey.