February 27 – March 2,2021
This was a beautiful anchorage protected in strong easterlies. The beach and water were gorgeous, and a 125 ft ketch pulled in next to us and started kite surfing, making it look like a postcard. We took a beach walk and met the ketch guys, who were very friendly, but didn’t pick up on Jeff’s hints that he wanted to try their kite. We walked around the tip of the island to see the airstrip, and Bird Rock Lighthouse that looks pristine and white from far away, but the closer you get, the more you can see it is disintegrating, as it hasn’t been used in years.
We took the dinghy south to go to Landrail settlement. About 50 or 60 people live there, and a guy we met told us they have been loosing about 10% of the population every 10 years for a long time. You can tell because only about half of the houses seem to be in use. We had lunch at a wonderful place in town (the only place in town), called Gibson’s Luncheonette. Our hostess was the charming Willy, and we found out she spent 25 years living on Long Island in New York, and got to meet Jimmy Buffett through the people she was working for, and got to go sailing with him in Sag Harbor several times. Cool. The place was basically the front room of a single story house. She had pitchers of water and home made lemonade on a side table. Two long tables could have seated about 20-25 people.
There was just one young guy seated when we entered, and Willy introduced him as her adopted son who had come for a visit, and with Covid happening, decided to stay for months. He said it was a hard transition from the US to this tiny community, but now he likes it. We asked Willie to feed us (no menu or choices – easy). The lemonade was great with fried chicken, salad, mac and cheese, and fish stew with corn bread. The carrot cake was a great surprise at the end. As we ate and ate and ate, another 2 groups came in. It turns out there are a couple guest houses on the island, and Willy feeds them regularly. It was nice to chat with them. One of the guys had been coming for 25 years and he described how the place had changed.
After a couple nights, the wind looked good for a beautiful beam reach down to the south end of Acklins Island. We were sailing really fast when Jeff got a bite on the fishing line. It was a big one! He jumped out on deck and tightened the drag, but the fish was so strong, the reel was literally smoking… it took just a few seconds to take 300 yrds of 100 test line and broke it right at the end. We were crushed! I had the sushi knife out already with visions of tuna dancing in my head. How big was it to snap 100 lb line like dental floss? Sigh, we will never know. Maybe we should put a lure on the end of the anchor chain… hummm…
When we arrived at the little bay at the end of Acklins Island, we surprised to see 4 other boats there. We got to know them, and realized we fit right in when we joined their what’s app group chat. It was named “Eastbound Renegades”. We had a nice fire on the beach with them, and several of the guys are good free divers, which means we had yummy lobster cakes. They joke that every time they dive their anchors to make sure they have a good set, they come back up with a lobster.
While we were there, we saw a dive site marked on the chart, so we zipped over in the dink with our SCUBA gear and had a fabulous dive. We have to get a decent underwater camera, the one we have can only go 15ft down, so we don’t have any pictures. But take our word, it was absolutely magical, going from 20 to 40 feet deep, with coral heads all around us, growing up to 15 feet above the bottom, with room to swim between them. There were tons of fish, lot of bright sunlight making all the colors of the coral pop – purple fans, red branch corals, and giant green barrel sponges, big enough for Jeff to fit his head in. All this vibrant color was against the background of cobalt blue water that was as clear as glass. Finally the dream dive Jeff has been trying to get in. Now we need to find a place to fill our tanks.
It was hard to tear ourselves away, but we were starting to look at weather windows for the Dominican Republic, and we still had an exciting detour we wanted to take along the way.