Wednesday, May 1, 2013

South Andros 2013... My last day. Part 2

My last day on South Andros... Part 2
Part 1 is here.

So, to refresh your memory, here was our plan... we’ll dance up the east coast of Andros, getting to Mangrove Cay in a couple hours. I’ll be on dry ground in time for a cold beer before dinner. Solly will be home in the late afternoon with time to prepare his whelks, conch and curves for his family. But the ocean has a way of throwing a few other “curves” at the well-laid plans of man.

We left south Andros at low tide hoping to get up the coast before the water would be deep enough to allow the waves to build. Unfortunately, as we raced north, the tides raced south sliding down the Tongue of the Ocean. The tides were driven by the increasing winds so what should have taken hours was compressed into a shorter period of time. By the time we passed the midpoint of the south island, we were well on our way to high tide. Driven by the strong winds, a good chop began rolling over the shallows. As a result, our speed dropped from 28 to 21 to 16 mph. Eventually, we were merely crawling along.

By the time we reached the old dock at High Point Cay, the waves were stacking up. Solly was constantly steering around the bigger waves that threatened to pearl the bow of our flats skiff. As we rounded the point, we had already missed my 1:00 ride. We made it to Kemps Bay a half hour later... just in time to see the Sweet Jessie and my compatriots headed for the dock in the skiff. They had beaten us to Kemps Bay! All we could do was wave and continue our journey north. We were now way behind schedule and butt sore. They must have laughed!

By the time we got to Driggs Hill at the north end of South Andros, we were rolling thru surfing-size waves and Solly’s arm was constantly winding the steering wheel to the right or left to avoid burying the bow or rolling the skiff on a comber. 

It was not any better, and perhaps even worse, in the direction we were headed. Dark sheets of rain rolled in from the west and were eating up the eastern shore of Andros. We crossed the South Bight and started to hear the thunder barking at us from Mangrove Cay. We passed the settlement at Bastian Point just as the first of the rain began to pelt us. We were now four hours into our journey and for Solly, less than half way home. A few miles north of the point, we started to look for Swain's Cay, but all we could make out on shore, in the ever-thickening sheets of rain, was a Batelco Tower and a pure white church. We called Cheryl at Swains Cay. She knew where we were and directed us to motor north to a small cay. Hopefully, we would then be able to make out the lodge, but we were running virtually blind and the pelting rains were strengthening.

We managed to find a white sand beach. We made out some deck chairs moments before a deluge of Biblical proportions let loose. I jumped out and waded ashore trying to peer through the rain. I wondered if we might have pulled into someone’s backyard. But I was greeted with a cheerful “ Hi Scott” as a Cheryl’s beautiful smile emerged from the dining room of the lodge. 

Rain rolled off the eaves of Swain's Cay.
I tossed my luggage under the eves of the deck. It was now not so much raining as drowning the island. Sheets of water rolled off the buildings at Swain's Cay. I waded back to give Solly a big hug and laughingly told him “we can work with that”. He said every Androsian should do this journey once in their lifetime! Then, with a big smile, he tossed me a pair of sopping wet underwear from the depths of his storage compartment and motored away. Lightening flashed white hot and thunder boomed as he disappeared into the sheets of rain. I hope you made it Solly. Thanks for an amazing day!

"Big Al" with yet another of our bones!
And yes, it was worth it. Alvin Green and I fished for four hours on Sunday morning until his worsening cold and my overwhelming fatigue gave us an excuse to blame the rising tides for a shortened day. We caught more fish than we could keep count of. We were into fish all morning long. Alvin’s eyes were as good as I remembered. It was wonderful to fish with “Big Al” again!

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