Drunk on beach combing that is. Happy to have several days after leaving Green Turtle just perfect for island hopping and exploring. The three cays lie in a line heading NW of Green Turtle and since we were heading west toward the banks (Little Bahama Bank) before crossing, these cays were along the way. Although a mere 22 nm separated the first and third, each was distinctive in formation, beach quality and treasures. Best described as a blend of Berry Island Cays and Exuma Cays sitting out-of-the-way enough for some privacy with few neighbors.
Manjack Cay (aka Nunjack): anchorage large enough for two dozen boats or more with Crab Cay nestled near the eastern end. Some years ago when (believe it or not) bringing building supplies, equipment and provisions was easier than now, several homes were built overlooking the harbor. A wide, well-kept trail was blazed that leads from off the harbor’s tiny beach, around the mangroves until you get to low dunes and voila, the ocean beach. The owners created artistic signs to lead the way.
A long stretch of sandy beach with virtually no shells at all, but I gathered 3 hamburger beans and that made the trek worthwhile.
The chickens are an English breed (I forget the name) and love coconut! Near the Tiki hut just off the beach sits a tree stump with a device on top to help you remove coconut husks and crack open the coconut. How great is that?
The beach on the inside (harbor) of Crab gave up a cleaned and sun-bleached sea urchin and a handful of small shells. Met a man who was house-sitting for a friend on Manjack and Russ talked with him while I hunted. He explained that supplies and large freight items got to the island by a local man who ferried them out from Green Turtle (5nm away) after the freight boat delivered. As of about five years ago, the freight boat no longer stops at Green Turtle, leaving only the mail boat to bring food, mail, and small freight items.
Powell Cay: shaped like letter Z with a short middle piece that angles more right than left, the Cay offers good protection from north through south. Its best features are numerous accessible beaches and the white-tailed tropicbirds that entertained us in the morning. Several were curious about the dinghy as she floated behind the boat, even landing in it briefly. They breed in Bermuda and can be spotted here and there in Florida and Bahamas.
The trip from Manjack was 9nm and we arrived at 10:30. Except for a lunch break the entire day was devoted to beach combing, trail walking and dinghy exploration.
Along the trail that led to the ocean beach we came upon the largest granddaddy hermit crab ever- at least 5″ long, he looked ready for a larger shell.
He stopped and kept an eye or two on us as we watched and photographed him for posterity. The ocean beach was long wide and not entirely flat. It gave up a handful of sea beans and small shells.
The four non-ocean beaches were each quite different. Between them we saw huge sea biscuits, several legal queen conch, milk conch shells, live sea biscuits in the shallows at low tide and a type of conch that we have yet to ID. The large sea biscuits are so heavy that instead of floating up past the sand to the wrack line they get lodged in the sand, their distinctive sea star-shaped tops barely visible. They are typically discolored and have some marine growth; all discouraging to the collector.
Turtles, fish and rays showed themselves if you happened to be looking.
Allan’s-Pensacola Cay: within living memory they were once two, now one. A hurricane closed in the narrow channel between them and now you can’t tell where as it looks much like the rest of the cays’ terrain; bush, grass and skinny-trunked trees. This joining up formed a small harbor where 10-12 boats can easily fit. The trick is to find a sandy spot to drop the hook for good holding. Our sandy spot gobbled up the Rocna so well that when we tried to find it with the viewer, we only knew it was there because sections of chain were visible.
The 13 nm trip took two hours motoring in light wind, running the watermaker to fill the port tanks. Turtle sightings along the way; none surfaced long enough for a portrait.
A path leads over to guess where? – yes the ocean beach and the signing tree. The tree got so filled up that now 4 or 5 trees have “sign” hanging from them Kinda like Boo Boo Hill plaques only you make them from any possible material (recycled beach junk is best) and hang it from a tree.
We came partially prepared with a black permanent marker. While I checked out the beach (hey, this would be our last beach stop in the Bahamas) Russ found a red and white-striped float and was adding the finishing touches as I returned with some blue nylon line I’d picked up.