Long and Conception Islands

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Long Island and Conception Islands

We left Georgetown after the regatta; Ron and Carol, cruisers on Sea Dancer, organized a rally from Georgetown to Thompson Bay on Long Island. This island, as the name implies, is much longer than most at 80 miles, and has a population o f about 4000 people. Unlike most of the other islands that rely on golf carts to get around, Long Island has mostly American cars shipped from the states, but they drive on the left like in Europe. The trip from Georgetown to Thompson Bay was supposed to be a race but there was little wind, so we ran our motors. That evening we took the dinghy to the beach for a beach party. The next day we (80 plus cruisers, chartered two buses to tour the island. I know this sounds hokey, but this bus tour (yellow school buses) was too much fun. Omar was our driver, a local guy that knew and loved this island. What he didn’t know he BS’ed, and talked almost non-stop. One of the highlights of the island tour was a blue hole and the actual world record holder for deep diving was there. The blue holes are like round caves only they go straight down. This one was over 600 feet deep, and it is where most of the deepest dives, (either with scuba or free ascent, are made.  Because the rally race was postponed, we held a short race on Saturday instead; it was a fairly short course about 9 miles. Our previous crew, (Dan and Melissa), were unavailable, so Virginia and I did the race in 20 knots of wind, the boat was flying! We were so over powered that for much of the “race” the rail was in the water, (meaning the boat was healed over so hard the side decks were underwater).  Later that evening was the race awards dinner and party, we took 2nd place in our class, yahoo!!  It was quite unexpected; Virginia got a red “winners” hat, and a bottle of rum. The dinner was super and the dance that followed was really fun, but the highlight of the evening was Junkanoo. This is a Bahamian celebration dating back to slavery times, but for us it was a local band of 10-15 Bahamian guys with homemade instruments in brightly colored costumes, playing mostly drums, but also a kazoo type instrument, and several other unique instruments. The beat of the tunes they played vibrated through the floor and your whole body. And guess who the lead bass drum player was…our bus driver Omar! He got a standing ovation (but we were already standing). This is a wonderful island, the people are so friendly. This rally was the best thing they have seen all year, and we enjoyed each other so much. Anyone looking for adventure can find it here try Island Breeze Resort in Thompson Bay.

After the party it was time to move on. We sailed up to the north end of the island to Calabash Bay. There we took a dinghy ride to the interior of the island among the mangroves, wow such lush scenery! Most of the islands are desert like areas, and the foliage is low scrub brush. After a rolly night in the anchorage, around 9AM we headed for Conception Island. The island lies east of Long Island, and guess where the wind was blowing from, you got it, east. There were large waves most of the way there, with 20 plus knots of wind, but it was a short 2-3 hour ride, so we sucked it up. I think it was worth it, Conception is uninhabited and absolutely stunning. As we were coming into the anchorage the blue colors of the water and the pure white sand on the beach, with a rocky bluff around, words cannot describe the beauty of this place. We walked the beach and hiked over the dune to the Atlantic side, wow what incredible views!

We were told to take a dinghy ride to a nearby creek, to see tropical birds, turtles and pristine crystalline water. So on Tuesday 3/19 we took a long dinghy ride, in some not so dinghy friendly open ocean water to the interior of this island. We finally came to this mangrove with its turquoise shallow colored waters that in some parts was too shallow for the dinghy. But the scenery was incredible, green turtles in their natural habitat, Rays (skate like fish) slivering by, and birds like we have never seen before. Although the trip thru the ocean was unpleasant, the end result was worth the effort, very cool.

Our friend Ian, in Turks and Caicos, could not get a later flight to be there when we would be there, so we are rethinking making the trip down there. We are waiting out a weather window for Friday back here at Emerald Bay, so stay tuned we have no clue where we will go next.

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