Thursday, February 16, 2012

Conception Island & Rum Cay

We set sail from the Hog Cay anchorage on the northwest end of Long Island heading to Conception Island at sunrise, traveling with our friends Laura & Max on Twilight.  Both boats weighted down with the two mahi-mahi's that Mike and I had caught on our crossing from Georgetown to Long Island the day before.
Double mahi-mahi catch on the crossing
from Georgetown to Long Island. 
We tend to leave anchorage at least an hour before them since they are a 40 foot trawler and travel at 7.5 knots under power.  Depending on the wind speed, direction and ocean, we travel typically between 3-7 knots.  And more importantly, Twilight, travels directly to their destination, while we have to tack our way in depending on wind direction.
Tanqueray under sail
Both Twilight and Tanqueray arrived at Conception Island by noon and immediately after our arrival we went diving in the amazing coral heads surrounding the island.  We spent 2 days at Conception Island under full sun during the days and full moon during the nights.
Elkhorn Coral at Conception Island
The island is beautiful, with a mile long beach, crystal clear waters, dangerous coral, and a huge mangrove lagoon.  It is a land and sea park and is protected by the government, so no spear fishing was allowed.  Fine by us since the next day we were heading to Rum Cay, a spot famous for it's excellent fishing.
Long, white sandy beach on Conception Island 
Sara & Mike on the beach at Conception Island
Sara & Laura at Conception Island
Mike at Conception - going through the mangroves
Mangroves inside Conception Island
February 10th, my birthday, Mike and I woke up at 4:00am and set sail under moonlight to Rum Cay.  We arrived around noon, but spent an hour just getting into the anchorage at Rum Cay.  It is littered with coral heads, many that break the surface of the water.  Navigating through this type of terrain is extremely dangerous for boats, and Mike and I had to do it under sail, with no engine!!  Twilight had arrived an hour before us and gave us an update over the VHF on coral heads, but there was no direct course to take, we had to tack our way through.
Coral heads at Flamingo Bay anchorage at Rum Cay.
Tanqueray navigating through the coral heads
 into anchorage at Rum Cay
After arriving at Rum Cay, Max and Laura immediately jumped in their dinghy and headed over to our boat.  We spent the next three hours in the water with our jaws agape.  Rum Cay had amazing coral structures that could keep you in the water until the sun goes down and it nearly did.
Mike & Max with lobster catch at Rum Cay
Laura & Max on the full moon
Mike with his plantain tarts
Max and Mike speared lobsters and we celebrated my birthday aboard Twilight that evening with a feast.  Lobster pizza, San Marzano pasta, and plantain tarts.  Quite the feast & celebration for such a remote island, with only two boats in the harbor.  Ours!

Lobster that Max speared right between the eyes.
Lobster pizza
The next morning, everyone gathered on Tanqueray for the 6:45am Chris Parker weather report.  The reports were that the weather was going to deteriorate as a norther was heading in and the seas were going to be nasty.  We planned to leave that morning once there was enough daylight to navigate through the coral heads on the way out of the anchorage.
Coral heads at Rum Cay at the surface of the water.
Little tuni dinner that Max & Laura caught on the way
to Clarence Town, Long Island - Best Dinner Yet!
It was a rough sail to Clarence Town that day, beating in to the 20+ knot winds and waves on our bow.  After beating our heads into it for three hours with little progress, Mike and I only hoped to arrive at the anchorage before sunset but were doubtful.  Little did we know we would enter the harbor as the sun went down carrying a 42 inch Mahi-Mahi in the cooler.  Max and Laura were due in at 2:30, but they spent a couple hours trolling outside the anchorage where they hooked into two good size Little Tunny's.  Gourmet dinner was served that evening aboard Twilight from their catch! 

Travel day - Nelly at the helm with Mike 
Brain coral at Rum Cay
Nelly traveling by dingy to visit Twilight in
Clarence Town, Long Island


  1. Happy Birthday Sara
    I'm glad you got to see rum cay.
    Say hi to Max and Laura for me.

  2. Spectacular Brain Coral. Great underwater photos! Nelly looks like she has adjusted to ship life, too bad she doesn't like fresh fish :(