April 12, 2013 by Last Star blog
So after 4 days in Thompson’s Bay/Salt Pond it was time to move on and think about getting back to Georgetown and the Exumas. The north end of Long Island has a nice resort and Calabash Bay for staging back to GT. Our friends Triumph and Renegade were going to Calabash and were going to Hogs Cay to anchor for the evening and we hoped to catch up with them the next day. Well, like all well laid plans these got modified right away. We were about an hour behind them as we had to go ashore for some last minute errands and were stopping about an hour short of their location so no big deal. Well the wind was light all morning and as we were passing Dove Cay it started to fill in. Now between Dove Cay and Hogs it gets pretty narrow so you need to be on the “pink line” (Garmin elected to make the default color on the chart plotters magenta). We were doing well on speed now; gusts to 15 knots or greater. But the problem was that these fresh breezes were bringing a surge or swell from the north end of Long Island about 15 miles!? WTF was this all about? So about the time we are putting the sails down to tuck into Hogs Cay Bill from Triumph calls and tells us that there is a surge and maybe we should stay south of Dove Cay. Useful and accurate advice but about an hour too late–dang. We go into Hogs and nearly run aground as the water is thin there and doesn’t match the chart. Thankfully mother nature provided some bright sun that clearly indicated the shallow water. After spinning in the hole at Hogs and finding no calm water we elected to motor the last 6 miles to Calabash and tucking in as tight as possible to minimize any surge up there. In route to Calabash we saw Dirk and Bill racing around in the dinghy looking for lobster on the bank side. We found out later they didn’t have much luck so they would try again the next day; the 31st. They asked if I would like to go? I told them I’d give it a try but was not accomplished at any of this.
The next morning we set out about 9:00 AM to go north of the island into the “ocean” and check the reefs and coral heads up there. I got my wetsuit, snorkel and fins, and spear and sling and we were off. Now Patricia and I had no luck in ANY lobster hunting for months….well “we were doing it wrong”. For starters Dirk says you have to go “where everyone else is scared to go”….sweet! Well we checked out all over the north end of Long Island and raced about in their two dinghys like two possessed gray bees buzzing on the water. They like to dive in about 20 feet of water, go down and root around under ledges and overhangs and find those pesky lobster. Well I suck at this, anything over 8-9 feet is off-limits to me, seems I can’t clear my ears for shit. I cleared them thousands of times in the airplane coming down, times when I had a head cold and should have never even tried to fly and never had a problem. The water pressure….different animal. I’ll keep working on it.
Now I followed them around for about 2.5 hours and we moved half a dozen times, dropping the anchor, checking out new areas. We saw a VERY old anchor in some shallow water where I would suspect the boat broke up and sank, who knows it may have been a Spanish treasure ship. Bill saw the shape of the anchor first and you could see under all the growth that it was clearly “old school”. At one point Bill and Dirk speared a Lion Fish at the same time to kill it (side bar; the lion fish is normally a Pacific ocean fish and VERY poisonous. Well it is an invasive species here with no natural predators; it is wreaking havoc on the Bahamian reefs and their natural populations. Therefore in an effort to try and tame the population you are encouraged to kill them all!! Supposedly good eating but difficult to clean; need robust gloves and better hope you don’t get stung). So there are Bill and Dirk trying to get the lion fish off their spears and I’m about 10-12 feet away watching when my “spidey sense” tells me ruh-roh and I look up to see a very big wave bearing down on all of us. Seems we sort of drifted/floated onto a very shallow part of the reef and tons of white water are bearing down on us, two spears, and a very angry and dying lion fish. I dive under and swim away bravely, luckily Dirk and Bill get separated from the lion fish with no contact. Yikes.
OK, back to the spiny lobsters. In spite of my sorry ears I did manage to see one and point it out to Bill. That was the extent of my contributions. I was a real third wheel. Oh I was also tasked to watch that the anchors set on both dinghies–wouldn’t want to lose the dinghy way out where we were. Bill and Dirk were laying waste to the orange and black crustaceans. At one point Dirk came back with TWO on his spear. He found two in a small cubby and shot one, then with the first still on the spear he re-loaded and nailed the second all in one breath. Then he swam them both back to the boat , pretty cool.
Here’s the photos back on Dirk’s boat the Renegade with the booty laid out on his fish cleaning station.
The total was 10 for the day.
Here’s a photo of Bill with the “monster” for the day and Dirk has the smallest one for comparison.
Finally, here’s the two tails they were kind enough to give me for spotting and doing “anchor check” and then Patricia turned them into this little feast. Sautéed with garlic, green onions, olive oil and cream over some angel hair pasta with a nice salad and some fresh bread and white wine. Life can be tough on the Last Star.
Oh and a final note, the “last call” is because 31 March was the end of Spiny Lobster season here in the Bahamas. It is no longer legal to take them until next fall. But if you run into a Bahamian lobster fisherman for the next few months he’ll try and sell you “summer crab” that looks remarkably like spiny lobster….who knew?