Wednesday, May 16, 2007

On the Tip of the Tongue

(The Tongue of the Ocean, that is)

After leaving South Bight we headed to a tiny speck (only 1 square mile) of an island at the tip of the Tongue of the Ocean called Green Cay for a two night stay. We decided to stop here to be able to reduce the long distance we would have to travel next to get to our intended destination in the Jumentos. Hardly any one stops at Green Cay except native fisherman, so we didn't have a lot of information as to what we would expect; it was just going to be pot luck. You travel from water depths of 5000' with deep sapphire blue water to 20' with crystal clear water over pure white sand in an instant; the color change looks to be painted on the surface it is so dramatic.

The Edge
The Edge

On the way we hooked a spanish mackeral, and then our most coveted trophy, a 30# dolphin. It took Eddie and Carol 2 hours to fillet the dolphin and clean up the cockpit of the boat while we were under way.

She's a beauty
She's a beauty

We had to approach the island with caution, trying to determine where best to set our anchor based on the wind and wave information. As we were poking along peering carefully into the water so as not to hit any coral heads a bird flew into the pilothouse and perched on the grab railing. The cat immediately perked up and was on the move. Carol was at the helm, hoping the cat and/or the bird didn't make a mess while Eddie and Wayne were out trying to look into the water. It was just more confusion we didn't need, but some things you just can't plan for. We finally managed to find what seemed to be a sandy area with good holding to set the anchor. The only problem was that the island was so small we were prone to surging from both the north and the south ends of the island, causing FLUKE to continually roll back and forth, sometimes enough to where you had to grab on something to steady yourself. Sleeping proved challenging, as the winds were strong enough in the night to keep the surge active, sometimes making us feel like we were going to get rolled out of the bed or we were in a washing machine.

Tasty dolphin fingers were the main menu feast for the night. Cleaning and cooking fish right out of the water like that leaves no trace of fishy smell. The next night we had baked dolphin smothered with white sauce and sweet potato/banana casserole. The rest of the fish was tightly packed into the freezer for future island meals.

Green Cay is interesting from a geological perspective. While it is an island composed mostly of rocky outcroppings, lying low and flat with with small sandy beaches in a couple of the more protected coves, the rocks are huge slabs piled on each other, smooth enough to walk barefoot on. Even right at the water's edge, they aren't slippery, but are coarse and easy to get a foothold on. Ordinarily, the island rocks are jagged croppings of ancient eroded limestone, so sharp that even walking on them with sneakers is scary because you wonder if the stones will cut through the soles of your shoes.

Rock slabs on shoreline
Rock slabs on shoreline

The island has a goat herd, and we saw several goats and could hear them bleating when the wind blew right. We also saw evidence of someone else's goat roast, having found a fire pit and two goat skulls. I guess the fisherman like a change in the menu every once in a while!


On April 22 we had the anchor hauled up by 0330 after a horrible night of getting tumbled back and forth. We were so tired, but had to take advantage of a wind window and move on before conditions worsened. Leaving the island area, we had to rely solely on instrumentation as it was so dark and cloudy we couldn't see anything for several hours until the sky began to lighten with the pending sunrise.

At 0600 the USS Hayes announced a securitee call saying that they had a 5 mile clear perimeter established for torpedo testing and that we needed to alter course to stay away. While we were less than thrilled to have to do this since we were already worried about making landfall before dark, we only had to make a small course change to stay far enough away and lost little time.

Seas were only 2-4', but very sloppy and almost directly off our port beam, causing a steady side roll. Visitor vomited, and Eddie was sick all day. We were so tired from the poor night's sleep and the ocean pounding and were relieved to finally get to the anchorage at 6:30 p.m., light enough to dodge all the coral heads that were scattered about and get the anchor down. Eddie dove the anchor to find we had just hooked on a ledge and were not fully entrenched into the bottom like we had hoped. Banking on the winds holding true for the night and 200' of heavy chain on the bottom, we decided to let it be for the night. An osprey landed on our spreader bar; I hoped it wouldn't poop because they are big birds!


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