Rays

 
 
Another beautiful day! Temperatures in the 70’s and sunny. A neighboring boater offers a walking tour of the nearby area so we head out to see a bit of the island. Great Harbour Cay has an interesting past. $50 million or so was invested back in the 60’s to turn this place into an escape for the rich and famous. An airport was built, a 9-hole golf course, a beautiful lodge, and many expensive homes. Celebrities flocked to this paradise; Bridgit Bardot, Jack Nicklaus, Cary Grant, and many others had homes here or frequented the island. The success of this investment was dependent on bringing in gambling but the concession went to Freeport and slowly the famous moved elsewhere. Today there are only 500 residents and most of the former glory is in ruin. We walked through the huge stone lodge now overgrown, roof caved in, nothing but walls, concrete pillars and a sense of what this place might have been like so many years ago. A real shame. We strolled across the golf course; only 6 holes are maintained and they are rough. This island, like so many, is a mixture of new, half-built, and dying homes. One home site overlooking a beautiful arc of a beach has all the pilings in place, foundation is ready, and 4 truckloads of materials are on the property including lumber and appliances ready to complete the home. All have been setting here for 10 years and never finished. One would think such properties would be auctioned off and new owners would carry on…sadly it doesn’t happen. We hike back to the marina.

The afternoon turns out to include another fabulous snorkeling trip. We join the crew of Tesla and 4 other boat tenders for a trip to Hawksnest Cay. We load up our gear and head southeast across the shallows following our local guide until we reach a spot between Anderson and Sheep Cays where we turn north into a narrow inlet. The water gets even shallower, new mangrove shoots litter our path and we gingerly weave through them until we are in a narrow path through the mangroves barely wide enough to accomodate the tender. We push aside branches as we move at a snail’s pace through the shallows flanked by mangroves. Time seems to stand still as we tediously make turn after turn. We are wondering how long this will take, it seems like we’ve been doing an African Queen trip for hours when we finally break out into the open and see the ocean. Everyone anchors their tenders in different locations to go snorkel. Kev takes us a bit further to the entrance of the inlet where we anchor the tender on a sandbar, gear up, and go see what lurks beneath.

At first the area seems featureless; white sand bottom, visibility not the best due to current stirring up the sand but not too bad. We wonder if the tedious trip to this spot was going to be worth it. Suddenly, beneath us, we see spotted rays gracefully flapping by in a triangular formation. This group circles the area and we enjoy seeing them pass by 2-3 times. I manage to get a brief GoPro movie of them.

https://youtu.be/URSjkPWiu4w

We continue to explore the rocky shoreline of Hawksnest but other than a Lionfish and a few Sargent Majors we see little else. Time was soon up as we needed to get back through the mangrove jungle before the tide turned and stranded us there. So we re-board the tender and get underway; a couple of sea turtles pass by before we once again enter the narrow path leading us back . We wind our way back to the west side of the island and turn north for the marina. We agree the arduous trip had been worth it for the rays alone. But, the day was young, so we decided to run over to the airplane wreck once more in hopes visibility had improved.

We again gear up, drop over the side, and immediately we see literally thousands of fish circling the wreck of a DC3. Apparently this plane crashed in 1983 carrying 135kg of marijuana and killing its two Dominican occupants. It is now an incredible habitat for marine life. It was eerie; the port engine is resting on the bottom with a prop still visible, the starboard engine is still attached to the wing and is covered with sea life. A shark is sleeping under the port wing; we decide not to disturb it. Again, I capture a brief GoPro movie.

https://youtu.be/4Vp_ErQJrNI

What a day! Both dive sights were great and even poling through the swamp was fun. It is late afternoon so we head back to the marina. Kev and Anna join us on Tivoli for a lovely dinner and we all call it a day by 8:30. Large days can wear a person out.

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