Onto Cat Island

18 February 2019   West Bay, Conception Island
The east wind has finally arrived and it was a beautiful day.  The anchorage started to empty as people took advantage of the wind, so we were down to nine boats by mid-morning.  Glenys did some washing and as she was hanging it out some Dolphins called by and swam around us for a couple of minutes.  It looked like two mothers and youngsters. 

Later in the morning we went snorkelling just to the north of the bay, past some little rock islands.  The water clarity was super, but the coral was mostly dead.  It’s such a crying shame – there were acres of coral formations, which have obviously been growing for centuries, but they’re all dead and covered with algae and marine plants, just like in the Maldives.

Dead Reef covered in algae

As I’ve said before, the algae prevents the coral polyps from reattaching to the old coral structures, so there’s little hope of the coral recovering soon.  People say that the coral was pristine around here ten years ago and many blame the local practice of using bleach to catch lobster.  However, the problem is so widespread that I can’t believe that this is the cause here.  We’re in the middle of nowhere with no settlements nearby, so is it global warming?  – have we seen the last of coral gardens? 

There’s a huge lagoon in the middle of Conception Island, so we took the dinghy a mile back along the west coast of the island to where it opens out to the sea.  It was supposed to be high tide at 18:00, but there was very little water over the sand bar when we arrived at 15:30.  We made our way into the lagoon and tentatively motored around various sand bars, travelling ½ mile up the main channel.

The area is mostly white muddy sand with red mangrove trees growing along the edge of the waterways. We were surprised by the lack of birdlife and the mangroves were very small - maybe 2 metres in height at the most.  It’s a pretty enough area but I wouldn’t waste the petrol to go again.

19 February 2019   West Bay, Conception Island
We were planning to go scuba diving this morning, but it was very windy with 90% cloud cover, so we prevaricated over breakfast.  When it started to drizzle, we abandoned the idea – it would be dark and dismal at 25 metres.  It didn’t clear up all day, so we lurked around on-board.

Dorado and Yellowfin Tuna

20 February 2019   West Bay, Conception Island
After breakfast, we took Alba a mile around the corner to see if we could manage to do a dive today.  Unfortunately, it was blowing a hooley with 2-3 foot waves, so having looked at the mooring crashing about, we abandoned the idea.  I’m really glad we did a dive a few days ago while it was calm winds.

We’ve not seen any beer on sale since we left Puerto Rico three weeks ago, so we’re now down to one lonely can.  It’s time to move on and we’re hoping that we can get some beer in Cat Island.

21 February 2019   West Bay to Old Bight, Cat Island
We set off towards Cat Island at 07:00.  It was a pleasant sail with 15-20 knots of wind behind us, but it was a bit rolly with 3 metres waves.  We hooked two fish and I was extremely careful to make sure that I landed them.  We ended up with a nice Dorado and a small Yellow-fin Tuna.

It was a long way from the south-west corner of Cat Island to the anchorage off the Old Bight settlement.  There are about a dozen boats here sheltering from the strong winds.

Alan and Claire from “Moonstone” invited us over for a beer (after I’d told them our sad story about having run out…)