Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Conception Island Disco Dance and The Rare Albino Turtle

We decided to get back out there, and find us a new spot, so we grabbed our local friends Steve and Kathy and sailed to Conception Island, we had heard that it was pristine and magical! It is a bit off the beaten path, and it is deserted, nobody lives there. There are no supplies, no fuel or food or anything. This is why a lot of people skip this place, and it is totally protected too. No fishing, no taking lobster or anything because it is part of the Bahamian Land and Sea Trust. Perfect, we thought, so with our friends along, the four of us were off to Conception Island!

With plenty of supplies, we made an early start of it, and headed North. It was a bit overcast, and cool, so the trip was pretty easy.

We rounded the North end of Long Island, and sailed past the White Cliffs that Columbus first saw in 1492, waves crashing on the outer reef. We turned Northeast and toward Conception, the boat moving gently with a following sea. As we approached the anchorage, the clouds broke and revealed crystal clear water and sandy beaches, rocky cliffs and sandy hills. There were only a handful of boats there, including this gigantic ketch. At night it was lighted up like a bridge, and the main mast was so tall, it had a red light on it instead of a white one.

We grabbed a killer spot a hundred yards from the beach in 12 feet of water and down went the anchor. We hit the beach for a quick exploration, and let the dog run and run.
The next day, we all piled into the dingy and went round the South side of the island and into a long saltwater creek that splits the interior of the island. It is tricky to get in here, we again got lucky and hit it at near high tide, and made the entrance over the rocky cut with an incoming tide and plenty of water. Once inside we let the current carry us along, and killed the motor, paddling along. The beauty was everywhere, fish and grass lined the sandy bottom, along with conch and barracuda. Wading birds greeted us as we glided past, welcoming us to this saltwater wonderland. And there were sea turtles, lots of them, they were everywhere. They didn't seem scared of us, they moved away when we got really close, but not like most turtles that don't get close at all. We followed the creek until we could go no more, it ended in a large round cul-de-sac, filled with turtles! The water was a green color here, and was strikingly different than the main creek. It was here, in the florescent green water, that it happened. We saw something in the water, something huge, something white. It was on our left, and then, on our right! We turned to follow it, paddling along like a duckling blindly following it's mother. What could it be, we thought. Then, it popped up it's massive white head, turning toward us to see what it could be that was following along. It was a huge turtle, its shell was white, as though it had been painted that way. We had never seen anything like it, and we speculated that it was an albino green sea turtle, but perhaps it was the worlds oldest turtle, it's shell turned white from decades of sun and salt.
It's shell was probably six feet long, and it had bright green eyes that looked at us, unafraid and it looked to be smiling. Suddenly, it moved away, and decided to leave us, as we all sat and looked at this strange animal, not quite believing what we had seen. Wait, I thought, I wanted to ask it how it got so old, so big! I swear, I heard it say as it left, "Ya got to Boogie, Mon, dat's all!" Did I hear that for real? Wow!
We moved back out into the main creek, and we all went for a swim, even Guincha enjoyed the cool water!
We went back out the rocky entrance to the creek, and started seeing the elusive Long-Tailed Tropic Sea Bird. These graceful flyers would swoop past us, flying close to the rocky coast, and hover for a second, and then back out over the blue water. They made a barely perceptible squeek, and that was the only sound we ever heard them make.
That night, after a wonderful dinner, we were having drinks in the cockpit, enjoying a great evening. Then I heard it again, the faint voice of the magic turtle! "Ya' know ya' gotta boogie, mon! Whatcha' waitin for?" "Hey," I said, "did anyone hear that voice just now?" Blank stares told me no. No matter, I knew what to do. In a flash, the disco ball was hanging proud in the cockpit, and we were letting it go with KC and The Sunshine Band! We had a blast, and danced like crazy kids for hours. The lights and action attracted a shark, squid and some baitfish to the boat, but since they have no legs to dance on, they had to stay in the water and boogie down there.
The next day, we went for a hike to the windward side of the island. A short trail took us over the dunes and to the other side. The sand was so soft, it was fine like flour, and you would sink in 2 or 3 inches. There we spotted a raft, lashed together bamboo, a sail made from palm leaves, even a water bottle! We tried to imagine who would use a rickety raft like this, a desperate soul no doubt.
We walked the beach, and worked our way the the end, where sharp cliffs rose from the sand to meet the oncoming waves. We were the only people around, and we had the beach to ourselves. It was great.
That night, we danced some more, and had a great time.
Yes, That is the SPRINKLER!

It was a great time, and we all had a lot of fun. It was a magical place, Conception Island, and we all felt it. The water, the wildlife, the music, it all came together for a once in a lifetime trip.

The next morning, we were up early and sailed back to Thompson Bay, Long Island, leaving the magic behind. On the beach, watching us a leave, a magic turtle smiled as we steamed out. "Dem guys, de' be alright ya' know. Cause dem, de' know how to BOOGIE!!!"

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