We departed Clarencetown, Long Island sailing nearly due north to Conception Island, part of the Bahamas protected National Trust. Originally intended as an overnight stop on our route to Cat Island, we decided to pause for a few days to explore this highly rated nature preserve, as it wont be trivial to visit it at a later date.
The center of the island is large expanse of shallow water with several arms that form reversing rivers with the tides and lead through some short mangroves. This area is a nesting area for some sharks and fish, as well as a home for sea turtles while the island itself is also a bird sanctuary.
We slowly toured several of the arms seeing a number of sea turtles and a few sharks. We followed this pair for a little while as they slowly perused the mangrove channel. When the dinghy motor finally touched bottom as the water depth dropped to about a foot, one carried on and the other quickly shot around us, giving us a wide berth. They are quite fast and it is amazing how little water depth they need to prowl around.
The highlight was seeing a school of at least a dozen young barracudas that were about 18” long. We’d never seen more than one at a time before as adult barracudas are territorial and as such don’t stay together. Unfortunately we had little chance to even attempt a photo of those with the sun reflecting off the waters surface.
We saw a few birds along the way, but apparently the most populated place to see them is Booby Cay to the east side of the island which was well beyond our dinghy range.
One of the neighbouring boats coordinated a happy hour on shore and so we joined the crews of 4 other boats to watch the sunset. We had a good time and the social gathering went a lot later than we had anticipated, leaving us regretting not having had an early dinner. In the end Chrissy opted to go sleep before I managed to dish up spaghetti for dinner around 10:30 that night.
Then, on our last day we were joined by a helicopter and an airplane. Initially, we had just assumed it was coast guard helicopter, as the US coast guard has an agreement to patrol the Bahamas, but when we looked outside, it was clear that wasn’t the case.
The plane was a 1954 that the current owner has recently finished refurbishing. They had flown a few legs from Florida and were staying at a resort on Long Island, so this was just a day trip for them. Their friends flew the helicopter to take some photos of the plane flying over paradise.
The big yacht in the background Milk & Honey was in St Thomas for much of the time we were.
Then I watched the plane take off behind Altera from the beach.
Shortly after I noticed them banking, figuring they were going for the birds eye view of the island, but that was not the case. Unfortunately, I only had my little point and click camera as the plane came along the beach to buzz Magnus and I, otherwise this would have been an interesting shot. Quite the experience being stunned like a deer in the headlights when a plane flys 10’ overhead.