Famous Neighbors…

We are anchored off of Spanish Wells in Royal Island Harbor. This is a tiny little bay that is unusual in this area of the Bahamas because it is an anchorage with excellent protection from wind and waves from all directions. We are here because a late winter cold front is forecast to pass through tomorrow. We’ll hunker down here until the wind and rain pass, and then resume our route west.

Cochise

A couple hours after we arrived this morning an unusual looking aluminum hulled motor yacht came into the anchorage. Of a very distinctive design, it turned out to be the 78 foot long Cochise, the personnel boat of Steve and Linda Dashew. Steve is one of the best know yacht designers around and the FPB series of motor yachts is his ultimate idea of what a cruising yacht should be.

After we left Mayaguana we spent a few days at East Plana Cay, another uninhabited member of the Plana Island group.

With a small, poorly charted, and rather unprotected, anchorage the island is not often visited. The only evidence of other humans we found ashore were some footprints in dried mud in the interior of the island. The anchorage was beautiful, the beaches full of shells.

In the early 1960’s this island was the last place in the world where the Bahamian hutia could be found. These guinea pig-like rodents keep the vegetation diversity limited to those plants they find inedible. Despite that the island is green and beautiful. After visiting several islands that are now home to large populations of hutia, we have yet to see a live one. They apparently are very strictly nocturnal.

Foootprints we did find on the island were:

Land crab “foot” prints
Lizard tracks
Tracks of the elusive hutia

The most common trees on the island are the machaneel tree, “the little apple of death” with sap so nasty if you sit under the tree in the rain it will raise scarring blisters on your skin.

Don’t sit under this apple tree with anybody!

A fair number of Turk’s Head Catus were to be found. A normal looking green barrel cactus, with a large red flower stalk.

Turks head cactus

The flowers themselves are tiny, and buried down in the spines, probably designed to be pollinated by ants.

Turks head flowers

The island had large number of curly-tailed lizards of a species different than we have seen elsewhere.

The East Plana version of the curly tailed lizard

And a resident pair of nesting osprey who have been adding to this nest for many years.

In her beach combing Karen was determined to find a helmet. Always helpful, I called her over when I found one…

She did better herself, finding the kind helmet shell she really wanted…

It is an unfortunate fact that on only ocean island these days there will be lots of trash. Much of what we see is lost bits and pieces of commercial fishing gear. Here, for example, is a large piece of a net…

Sometimes you find something less common, like this radio buoy used by long line fishermen. Long liners fish with baited hooks suspended from long—VERY long—lines. Every 10 miles of line, they attached a radio buoy. so they can keep track of the lines. Tuna and swordfish are the most common targets of they fishery. Apparently, sometimes the buoys themselves go walkabout…

We did some fishing ourselves in the deep waters surrounding the island. This is one pull of line from 600 feet deep. Three silk snapper, and one red snapper.

I have managed to work out a system for retrieving this much line without having my arm fall off…

Bring up several snapper, plus a 4 pound sinker from 600 feet down

I know, I know… it’s CHEATING! I agree… right up to the moment that a fillet of silk snapper lands on my dinner plate. They are SOOOO good…

In two or three days we’ll be landing in Fort Lauderdale, and running around to routine doctor visits, and resupply stops, repair shops, and then start heading north.

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