Conception Island and Rum Cay… The Beautiful Islands of the Far Bahamas.
We left Thompson Bay and sailed to Calabash on the northern tip of Long Island. There is a lovely establishment called Cape Santa Maria Beach Resort where we enjoyed lunch with Laurie and Ken and friends from s/v Sand Castle.
The next morning as soon as our sails were set for the completely uninhabited island of Conception, Fisherman Frank put out his fishing lines. We were about to take in those lines when I saw several MahiMahi jumping out of the water on our starboard side. Seconds later the fishing line “zinged” and Frank had another fabulous catch!
Another bull Mahi…. fish tacos tonight!
White sand as fine as powder.
I seem to say this repeatedly, but Conception was the prettiest place we have visited. The beach sand is as fine as powder and almost as white. There are no buildings or cell towers anywhere on this small island and the water vacillated between turquoise and deep blue.
We spent our days lounging on the beach, walking the shore, exploring creeks, sharing dinners with Ken and Laurie and generally relishing being disconnected from time, electronic devices and even communication.
Once again the pictures are better than my descriptions so I’ll show your our activities.
Captain on alert as we explored a creek.
(I will try to put up a video of traveling this creek on the FB page when we get internet again.)
While the water was aquamarine or perfectly clear in most of the creek, we came upon a deep pool that was very green and murky. Turns out, this was also a popular swimming hole for turtles, so we donned our masks and jumped in. We saw about 20 turtles!
I had to really mess with the colors of this picture so you could see the turtle in the murky water.
Ken hoisted Frank up on Mauna Kea to fix a problematic flag halyard.
Those rocks and coral heads are in about 20 feet of water.
We walked to the opposite side of the island and climbed up a rocky point for an eastern view.
Laurie, a professional hairstylist, cut Frank’s hair on the back of LIB.
Frozen margs… a first on LIB.
Payment for said haircut was frozen margaritas! We lucked out and found frozen Bacardi mix in Long Island, so we shared it with Laurie and Ken. Frank used to make margaritas often when we had friends visit back home and it was a big treat to have frozen concoctions on LIB!
After a week on Conception, we decided to hop over to Rum Cay; a mere 15 miles away. On the way we stopped to dive the Conception Wall on the southeastern side of the island.
Sorry for the quality of the picture… at least you can see how vibrant the growth is.
This is the best dive we have had in the Bahamas! We dove to about 100 feel along the wall and saw scads of healthy, vibrant coral! It was a feast for our eyes. There was very little current and the dive was extremely relaxing.
Frank leads the way through some coral.
There were a decent number of little fish and a few larger trigger fish and angel fish, but the only schools of fish we saw were of very small fish. However we did see a huge lobster having a stroll along the nooks and crannies of the wall. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that lobster’s body was three feet long!
Rum Cay was decimated in September 2015 by hurricane Joaquin and then took a lesser beating by hurricane Matthew in 2016. There was a large marina on the island, but Joaquin dumped so much sand in the channel that the marina entrance was blocked and remains that way today. The main peer, a government dock, has not been repaired and getting weekly supplies to this island via the mail boat is a challenge.
The lack of rebuilding of the government dock and the closure of the marina have caused difficulty for the few remaining residents of Rum Cay. But you would never know it from the incredibly warm and welcoming attitude of everyone we met on the island.
A young man named LeMont and his dog, Spicy, strolled the island with us and introduced us to everyone we met and the dogs as well. Even the free roaming dogs were welcoming and didn’t get territorial with Captain!
Cotton grows wild along the road.
Though I am no agriculturist, Rum Cay seems to have the best soil we have seen so far in the Bahamas. Grass, cotton, trees and flowers grow here unaided and LeMont told us locals grow a wide variety of food.
Principal Ann and Frank
The local school has grades one through nine and a total of 11 students! We stopped by one afternoon and donated a few toys and toothbrushes to the Principal. The school is spotlessly clean and appears to have a good supply of books.
The church and evacuation location
– can you imagine water up to mid-thigh rushing down this street?
During hurricane Joaquin, 40 people took refuge in this church. LeMont told us that the water began encroaching from three sides and they had to move everyone to a different location. LeMont said it was frightening to walk through the thigh high water rushing across the street and that there were elderly people who had to be carried through the rising water. How brave these people are!
Unfortunately our visit to Rum was short because the wind turned south and the anchorage became too rough, so we returned to Conception. Of course we stopped and dove the wall again because who can skip such a great dive opportunity?
Our plan is to stay in Conception until the morning of April 7th, when we will leave at first light and sail toward the Turks and Caicos. Originally we had planned to stop at Mayaguanna, but it appears we will have a W-NW wind so we are going to take advantage of it and go to the Turks in one jump.
The trip to the Turks and Caicos will be a bit over 200nm and should take 30-35 hours. Your prayers for a safe passage and that Captain is accepted into the country are appreciated.
The perfect blue waters welcomed us back to Conception Island.
Bougainvillea is commonly found in the Bahamas.
It is hard to leave these beautiful Bahamian Islands with their unmatched waters and hospitable inhabitants. Everywhere we have visited we have felt welcome and safe. I completely understand why so many boaters choose to return here year after year.