Our Trip to the Fascinating Island of Andros

Trip Start Dec 09, 2006
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Flag of Bahamas  , South Andros,
Monday, February 27, 2017

If you read our prior blog entry you will remember that we hoped to visit Andros, one of the last islands we had yet to visit in the Bahamas, some time in the mid-February to mid-March timeframe. We were concerned that we would not have moderate enough weather to warrant the trip prior to Spring, particularly since, once there, it would take easily two to three weeks to see and do the variety of things that we wanted to do on this sizeable island.  Two to three weeks of mild weather during February is wishful thinking, at best.   When we learned early in February that a span of wishful weather was being forecast from February 11 forward to be unusually favorable (pre-Spring) for this passage and visit, we knew we would be ready to make the leap.  Leap and the net will appear!

For multiple weeks to come there would be an absence of easterly trade winds due to a lingering "HI" over the central Bahamas bringing moderate to light winds to the latitudes we would be visiting—just what we wanted to hear!  The east coast of Andros with its third largest barrier reef in the world largely leaves the cruiser exposed to the prevailing easterly wind and can restrict the ability to enjoy the island's features with its limited protected-from-east-wind shoreline anchorages.  The east coast of the island is oriented north-south and facing the normal trades.  So, the “absence” of easterlies and the presence instead of wind with more westerly components bode well for this visit we had been planning a long time.  The impact of a lingering HI over our latitudes meant that the velocity of wind could often be moderate enough not only to enjoy snorkeling exposed reef areas--Donna’s favorite pastime--but also explore the island flats renown for world-class bonefishing, one of Dave’s favorite pastimes.

Andros isn’t a single land mass.  The approximately 105-mile long by 40-mile wide “island” resembles a huge, loosely fit jig saw puzzle with pieces separated by hundreds of creeks, creating a massive, swampy, uninhabitable interior.  Nirvana for bugs, birds, and bonefish.   From the Andros Visitors Guide: “Andros Island, the largest of the 26 inhabited Bahamian islands is geo-politically considered a single island, with a land mass greater than all the other 700 Bahamian islands combined.  An archipelago within an archipelago nation.  A grand pristine garden….”  Virtually all of the approximately 5000 inhabitants live along the east coast.

Our goal was to gradually travel northward the length of the island inside the reef from an entry at Kemp’s Bay in South Andros.  This path requires careful planning and tidal awareness and many people would not even consider such a trip given its shallow water and scattered patch reefs.  Donna had been spending several days planning the trip to maximize our “sampling” of this expansive island over the coming weeks.  We would depart the Exumas from our anchorage at Sampson Cay and cross the Great Bahama Bank with the wind at our back to Green Cay on the edge of the Tongue of the Ocean where we would spend the night.  The following morning, we would continue westward to arrive at Andros. 
 
On Saturday, February 11, we departed Sampson Cay at 0710 and headed westward across the Great Bahama Bank for Green Cay with an east wind at our stern.  Also at our stern were the last other cruising boats we would see for days to come.  We sailed the sufficient wind on genoa alone.  We anchored for an overnight on the west side of uninhabited (save for some stray goats) Green Cay with its expected “surge” at this fringe of the Tongue of the Ocean, but in an ideal position to depart early the following morning.  We took a short dinghy ride along the western shoreline of this small island to evaluate what the condition of the area reefs might be in the event we were ever to return to the area for a snorkeling expedition, since it was too late in the day to do anything else.
 
We departed Green Cay at 0700 hours for Kemp’s Bay, South Andros Island after setting up the spinnaker for what would be light to moderate easterly wind directly behind us on this 20 nm passage.  Over the next four hours, the winds would increase to the 15-17 range, but were due to moderate overall, which they in fact did just prior to our arrival.  Along the way, we hooked a UFO (unidentified fishy object).  When sailing the spinnaker there’s no way to slow the boat to assist with landing a fish, but even if we could have, this fish was HUGE and almost drained the reel of line.  It never slowed.  We were thankful when the line suddenly went slack and Dave reeled in only line without the bait or leader, broken apparently at the knot to the swivel. 
We followed channel markers through the Kemp’s Bay reef entry point and initially scouted an area south of the town harbor for an anchorage.  This area was much too dense with rocks and rubble and insufficient depth, so we crossed north of the channel to a much cleaner and deeper sand bottom for anchoring.  Although it was Sunday, we had sufficient time in the day left to visit the town for an overview of the area.  The channel into the harbor was blocked by a large sand bar and the harbor itself had a few wrecked and abandoned boats—a dismal sight.  We learned later that they were not a result of the recent (October 2016) Category 3 Hurricane Matthew that ran its course up the Tongue of the Ocean and wreaked havoc on Freeport, but had been wrecked there already a few years.  After taking a somewhat circuitous route into the town harbor to bypass the expansive shallow sandbars in this area, we beached the dinghy in the harbor and walked a minute toward the main road of the town. 
 
To the south of the harbor along this road we stopped first into Norward Rahming’s grocery and hardware store where he and companion Mr. Miller were playing a classic game of dominoes. We were quite surprised to find grocery stores open on Sunday and well stocked (considering the limited population), more so than any island since George Town.  These gentlemen assured us they had fared well during hurricane Matthew which had spared much of the island—most havoc was from high wind that felled many trees.  They said that more of the damage was experienced in the northern area of Andros with, of course, the worst of the storm decimating areas of Freeport, Grand Bahama. 
 
After this visit, we continued walking southward on the only road and within minutes found a second well-stocked grocery where we chatted for several minutes with owner, Minley.  True to form of what we have become accustomed to in the lesser populated areas of the Bahamas, like Mr. Rahming and Mr. Miller, she was genuinely friendly and personable.  Her youngest son was active on a computer using the Internet and she proudly introduced both him and her two older sons through their pictures hanging prominently on the wall near the counter.  When she learned we had arrived in the Bahamas at Mayaguana she described she grew up there, so she was happy to hear that we enjoyed visiting that island.  She later married an Androsian, hence was now living here.  She was now retired, having been a primary school teacher married to a school Principal.  Donna could tell she had a soft spot for children, as her store was stocked with “penny candy” and children-friendly cereal.  
 
After that visit, we continued walking southward on the road to the bridge across Deep Creek.  There were multiple bonefishing lodges to be found here and we spoke with Nat, the owner of the Deep Creek Lodge.  Donna wanted him to know that she had read good reviews on the Internet about his lodge and bonefishing expeditions and he thanked her, saying that was good to hear.  Apparently, he was doing a booming business in the season he said runs from November through June as he currently had 73 bookings already confirmed for this season.

We had forgotten to look at the anchor prior to departing for town, so we took a look at it on our return to the boat.  It was on its side and when Dave dove on it, he found it was inadequately set in sand that was too shallow.  The boat did not drag to this point since the wind was quite light.  We pulled up the anchor and reset farther from shore in deeper sand.  Dave dove on it once again to confirm it was well set.

We departed Kemp’s Bay the following morning at 0835 to time our route northward with a favorable high tide.  Our two chart plotters (one at the nav station in the saloon and one at the starboard helm) did not start properly this morning which could become anxiety-producing at best, and show stoppers at worst, given that we had plotted out an intricate path based on our detailed paper charts that would make handling this VPR (Visual Piloting Rules) route safer, keeping our rudders off the bottom.  Chart plotters show electronic nautical charts on a screen and overlay the position of the boat as determined by GPS.  Having a fully functional chart plotter at the helm to steer by greatly enhances our primary shallow water piloting tools – our eyes and depth sounder. 

The problem was that the nav station “master” plotter in the saloon would not fully boot up which caused the starboard helm “slave” plotter to constantly alarm.  The master would start its boot-up, stop before completing it, and then restart all over again.  This cycle would continue, repeating itself about every two minutes.  Fortunately, the helm plotter otherwise remained functional enough although the radar and AIS were not working.  These features were not important for our reef-piloting needs.  But we could not avail ourselves of the main plotter in the salon, the one that Donna uses to monitor our progress.  The electronic plotting was only to assist with directional heading from waypoint to waypoint to take advantage of the best depths on a variable route throughout this area in a connect-the-dots manner.  Patch reefs aren’t all charted anyway, and hence the VPR apply throughout regardless--whether you have electronics to back you up or not!  More on the chart plotters story to follow….
 
We inspected a charted anchorage near the Long Bay Cays of the eastern reef but didn’t find it to our satisfaction so we continued northward to Congo Town, where we found very nice sand for anchorage with some nice patch reefs nearby to explore later.  We watched a local fisherman hand lining for fish not far from the beach standing on what remained of the bottom hull only (no sides) of a very small fiberglass boat.  Imagine fishing from something marginally better than a paddle board!  After lunch we took the dinghy to shore where the fisherman had just pulled in and talked with him a few minutes to learn how his fishing went and confirm that we could access the town from this location.  This area of the beach seemed to be somewhat of a public park area.  We found plenty of trash cans for depositing our bag of trash.
 
We took a path that led to a short street into the town’s main road—really the main road that runs the entire north-south span of South Andros.  Within minutes we stopped into a liquor store where Dave bought himself a few bottles of beer on a “3 for” offer.  He would take a chilled one to go and arranged to pick up the other two, along with another purchase of well-priced premium rum, on our trip back from a walking tour of Congo Town.  We walked for a good while southward toward the airport, the main entry point for arrivals at South Andros.  We continued past the airport and visited with a local man about our age resting in the shade on his day off.  Along with questions about how he fared during Hurricane Matthew, we asked about bonefishing, with the aim of getting some local insight or opinion on this topic, and then continued a short distance further south.
 
After walking a sufficient amount on this stretch we turned around to head past our arrival point to see what the town held in a northward direction.  We continued past the liquor store and within a few minutes we reached a gas station that had a grocery store.  The owner had passed us along the road asking if we were going to her store because she was running an errand.  We didn’t want to interfere with her running her errand and let her know it wasn’t necessary for her to turn back.  On she went, and we continued to walk along the road.  We peeked through her glass doorway to get a glimpse of what was inside.  The only thing we were considering buying was some hamburger buns—nothing urgent, and if we had to we could make some from scratch.  A woman had pulled in for some gas here and used her cell phone to reach the shop owner.  Then, with the usual Bahamian courtesy, she let us know the shop owner would return in a half hour.  We decided not to wait and walked back to the dinghy to pull our trash bag now that we knew there were plenty of trash cans in the beach park.  We returned to the liquor store where Dave picked up his beer and rum.  By this time, the grocery/gas shop owner would be returning to her store and since it was only a five-minute walk down the road we decided to return there where we bought a pack of hamburger buns before returning to the boat around 1530.  Whew…time to rest!
 
The following morning it was dead calm and sunny—flat, totally clear water—the perfect conditions for snorkeling exposed reef.  We took the dinghy to two large patch reefs near the boat in the time we had before weighing anchor for high tide to continue northward to our next stop.  What a nice treat to see the reefs!  They were in good health and the “denser” ones that we were visiting were probably at least minimally representative of all of the more dense reefs throughout this area.  This was good news, given how often elsewhere we have seen unhealthy reefs.  This had been our first chance at Andros to get an idea of how much time could be spent at the island just for snorkeling or diving.  This is the third largest barrier reef in the world--enjoy its health now while you still can!!
 
We traveled high tide inside the reef to reach an entry into the South Bight of Andros, attempting first to access the Lisbon Creek settlement at Mangrove Cay to determine if we could shelter there for a front that would arrive two days later.  A dredged access channel existed and could be clearly navigated with good depth.  Inside the harbor, however, the bottom was pretty thoroughly scattered with rocks and rubble, a wrecked boat sat in its middle, and we found nothing suitable for weathering a significant front.  We exited the channel (unfortunately conspicuously to people at this harbor—we hope they weren’t offended) and headed to our “Plan B” areas.  We inspected a couple of possible locations for depth and weather protection and decided to move farther southwestward into the South Bight where we could be closer to exploring waters and creeks for bonefish.  We found excellent sand, depth, and protection from what would become the strongest winds associated with the coming cold front, along the southeastern coast of an unnamed island below Linder Cay.  We did not experience any reversing current in this location.  Very nice indeed.
 
We had anchored by 1245 so after lunch we took the dinghy exploring a couple of nearby “bays” for bonefish in calm conditions.  We saw only a couple, but no strikes.  We did see spotted eagle rays along the way.  The following day the wind was very light in the morning and Dave wanted to do as much fishing on a rising tide as possible, so we left the boat at 0800 to begin what would be a 6-hour exploration until the wind became too brisk later in the afternoon.  Despite that, we saw no bonefish, just two small sharks and spotted eagle rays early in the morning.    

When the wind grew to 15-20 kts we returned to the boat.  The cycle of the front would begin the following day, February 16, Dave’s birthday.  We spent the latter part of the afternoon making Dave a birthday pie and a batch of chili to enjoy during the worsening weather.  Overnight, Dave could see some lightning well off into the northern distance—evidence of thunderstorms that were associated with pre-frontal activity well north of us.

Thursday, February 16 was Dave’s birthday and front day.  He spent about 4 hours at the beginning of the day working to resolve the chart plotters problem.  Based on advice he received from the Furuno dealer back in Annapolis via radio e-mail, he unplugged all the system interface cables and attempted to start the system, hoping to isolate a potentially faulty cable.  When the system still went into its dysfunctional re-boot cycle, he implemented the lengthy and complicated, last resort “master reset” procedure which resolved the problem.  Whew!  What a relief to get our navigation system back to full health!

On February 17, we departed South Bight in order to continue our exploration of the reef coast of Andros.  Next stop would be Middle Bight, a total distance of approximately 17 nm, including the 5 miles to get out of South Bight.  The reef route from South Bight to Middle Bight is impassable due to too-shallow water, so this required us to “cheat” outside in the Tongue by exiting the reef at the South Bight entrance, then re-enter the reef at the Middle Bight entrance.  The wind was light from the north east and we motor sailed with the genoa.  We trolled two lines in the deep water, but got no strikes.  We arrived inside Middle Bight around noon, but then spent quite a while trying to get a good anchor set which we finally achieved near uninhabited Gibson Cay, very near the mouth of the Bight.
 
We spent most of the rest of the day out fishing and saw a lot of fish, but we did not hook any.  Unlike our experience bonefishing at Crooked/Acklins in 2013, they are not very aggressive so far on Andros.  This area is so vast that maybe they do not have to compete for food as much.  Miles and miles of shallow water and creeks—a lot of real estate!  But we cannot get further up inside Middle Bight (as compared with South Bight) due to the water being too shallow.  So we pretty much have to fish fairly close to the mouth of the Bight as we do not want to venture very far (miles and miles….) alone in our dinghy.

The next day, February 18, we awoke to calm, flat, clear water and we could easily see our anchor - laying on its side.  As described above, we had had trouble getting the anchor to set upon arrival here, trying 4 or 5 times before it finally caught on something.  With light conditions present and forecast, Dave didn't dive on the anchor as usual and the water wasn't transparent enough then to see it.  So, we were lucky it and the chain looping around small coral heads held us in place for a day, even in the alternating tidal currents.  It was not a pleasant discovery.
 
Nearby are two marked, but abandoned, US Navy moorings once used for hurricane moorings for the small ships the Navy had based here related to the AUTEC program in the Tongue of the Ocean (Atlantic Undersea Testing and Evaluation Center).  A local fisherman stopped by soon after our arrival, having observed our difficulty anchoring, and recommended we use one of the moorings, "Ya mon, relly big motor yachts use dem all de time.  Jus loop yer bridle round de ball."  So having an obviously unset anchor and little prospect to re-set it, we dinghied over to the closest mooring ball to check the mooring condition and found it to be usable with modification.  The floating ball was secured to a huge concrete block on the bottom about 15 feet deep. 

The ball and line to it was the pendant leading to a larger, main line, but we could not raise the main mooring line as it appeared to be tangled down near the concrete block.  It was a bit too deep for Dave to attempt to dive to and untangle.  But otherwise, we thought the mooring was usable, but we were not content with attaching to it as the fisherman suggested.  So we improvised a new mooring pendant, with a short section of three strand nylon dock line and an empty antifreeze jug to use as a float, in order to use the existing pendant line as our mooring line - it was big enough diameter.  We tied the new line several feet below the ball to eliminate a couple weak places on the existing line, and had a new pendant we could reach from the bow.  Having completed that modification, we raised anchor and picked up and attached to the mooring as with any other mooring.  Later in the day, a large motor yacht arrived and anchored nearby with some difficulty.  It had a flats fishing boat on deck and Dave mused that it might be the large motor yacht the fisherman had described that uses the mooring.  Could be we beat them to it "jus in de nick of time..."
 
The following day, February 20, we spent the entire day fishing.  We started out exploring up Middle Bight a couple miles into "fingers" of Big Wood Cay and saw a few bonefish, but caught none.  After returning to Pas de Deux for lunch, we went ashore on Gibson Cay to find and fish the blue hole described in our cruising guides.  This blue hole was rumored to have ocean fish for easy catching, so we took our bottom fishing rig and some steak scraps left over from Dave’s birthday dinner a few days ago to use as bait.  After landing the dinghy, we easily found the blue hole.
It was a typical blue hole almost round in shape, covering about an acre, and very deep.  The sides went almost straight down into blue nothingness.  We could see juvenile ocean fish along the edges, but if the fishing was so good here, why were there no locals fishing?  They were all out in small boats in the Bight handlining.  We lowered the baited bottom rig until it landed on something and casted jigs along the edge.  Nothing.  Not even a nibble on the steak scraps.  After about an hour of nothing we returned to Pas de Deux and tried the bottom rig off the transom.  Still nothing.  So there you go.  All day fishing in various ways and locations and we failed miserably.  That’s why it’s called fishing and not catching….
 
Our fishing luck improved just slightly the next day when Dave finally hooked a bonefish.  But it got off immediately when the transition loop between the fly line and leader slipped off.  So we’re still skunked.  But we're glad to have had this opportunity to explore Andros - and we're not finished yet. We're the only cruising boat here and we savor being in wilderness.  The Bights are strikingly beautiful in their own way and very quiet.  Up inside the bights we see no signs of civilization, only the occasional local fishermen or guides with people visiting for the bonefishing.  A rare treat.  Untouched.  
 

 
 



 
On Tuesday, February 21, due to nasty weather forecast for the next day, we backtracked from Middle Bight and returned south to South Bight, just 0.5 nm NE from our prior anchorage there previously.  The nasty weather would include strong south through west winds for which our location in Middle Bight would have been unsatisfactory.  The South Bight anchorage is much further into South Bight vs where we were in Middle Bight, and offers better protection from the expected winds, good holding, and minimal alternating tidal currents.  In Middle Bight we were more exposed from south through west and were sitting near the mouth of the bight on a make-shift mooring we improvised from an abandoned small ship Navy mooring, with significant alternating tidal current affecting how we laid to the wind.  We were content with this mooring in light conditions but didn't want to rely on it in the elevated winds forecast.  We could not find good sand for anchor holding in Middle Bight and the depths were too shallow to travel further into the bight to find good holding.  The strong tidal currents and poor anchor holding are related - the strong currents scour sand from the bottom, leaving hard marl or rock that anchors can't grab.

During this move we sailed about 5 miles in deep water in the Tongue of the Ocean, taking advantage of this for some trolling.  We hooked another very large fish that soon broke the line at the knot to the swivel for the leader - never slowing down.  This is the second fish in a row on the same rod that broke the line at the swivel knot, so we'll replace that line while sitting out the weather.  The existing line is pretty old and we should have replaced it sooner.  Maybe just as well it broke because we suspect both these fish were much too big for us to safely handle, even if we could have gotten them to the boat.
 
While sitting out the weather, we did boat maintenance and chores – including replacing the trolling rod line - and, to make a long story shorter, the big weather event never really happened for us.  A few light wind showers and a bit more wind at times, but no big thunder storms and squalls.  Listening to Chris Parker (our weather guru) on the radio, we were just lucky and everybody else got it instead.  Hmmm, maybe compensation for our poor fishing luck.

We departed South Bight again on Thursday, February 23, and bypassed both Middle Bight and North Bight, heading for our next stopover at Fresh Creek in North Andros.  Similar to our first exit from South Bight going north, we had to exit the barrier reef due to too-shallow water (even at high tide) and would re-enter the reef at Cargill Creek.  The wind was light so we motored for easier fishing.  Almost as soon as we put out our lines, we got strikes on both baits, but with no hookups.  We could see the fish tails above the water right behind the baits.  Probably marlin, based on the tails we saw.  Later we hooked a very large marlin – on the rod with the new line – and watched as it jumped 4 or 5 times with the reel screaming continuously.  It never slowed down and finally the leader on the brand new bait broke.  This time Dave reeled in the swivel and its knot intact…

It was low tide on this overcast day when we re-entered the reef at Cargill Creek and for the first time on this cruise our rudders briefly touched bottom right after exiting the inlet channel.  It is always preferable to travel mid-to-high tide throughout this area.  If covering a small distance at a time, it should almost always be possible to plan for those hours of travel.  In this case, we were attempting to cover a lengthy distance because we had been forced to backtrack due to the front we had just sat out.  Our departure from South Bight in the morning meant using a mid-, but unfortunately ebbing (rather than the always preferable rising) tide, setting us up for the Cargill Creek entry a few hours later at the less-than-ideal low tide for having to continue northward to the next viable anchorage near Fresh Creek. 

The lowest MLW (mean low water) charted depths for our route were 5 feet for this stretch, but that doesn’t mean you won’t encounter something otherwise.  With the dagger boards up, our rudders are the deepest section of the boat.  We had been going very slowly at the time, seeing that the water was very shallow, but got no indication from our depth sounder that the depth was less than about 5.5 feet. Our rudders are about 4.25 feet deep. 

It was unfortunate that, along with waters being a bit “bouncy” in the aftermath of heavy winds, this particular day was heavily overcast with the trailing cloud cover from the passing front we had just experienced.  Along this section of Andros Island there are expansive shallow flats and random islands amidst them whose beauty can’t be fully appreciated in the absence of sun to light these sands to a glistening tone.  However we did have sufficient visibility for avoiding the strewn coral heads throughout our path.
 
Further north, and just south of the Fresh Creek AUTEC base, we touched one rudder again and decided to exit the reef at the adjacent open spot to sea just north of High Cay to avoid additional shallows in the remaining 4-mile distance to Fresh Creek.  In order to give the rising tide a little more time to fill, we motored and trolled a little further north than our planned reef entrance at Fresh Creek then turned back to delay our arrival an hour or so later, improving the likelihood that any continued path northward with more shallows to cross would be uneventful.  We entered the Fresh Creek channel at 1430 and decided to anchor just south of the channel outside the creek entrance to “town” rather than moving any further north since we found good looking sand there in 11 feet of water.
 
We would spend the next day, Friday, visiting Fresh Creek, which is really a combination of two towns—Coakley Town on the north side of the creek and Andros Town to the south.  Our first stop would be at the Batelco office in Coakley Town where we were able to renew our internet data access on our hotspot device.  Dave got some gas for the dinghy and we returned to the boat for about an hour so that Donna could book her airline travel back home for a few weeks in March.  Once that was complete we put on our walking shoes so that we could do some more touring of the area.
 
We started with a visit to the Androsia Factory outlet in Andros Town (partly just to make sure it still existed).  After browsing the shop, we set out for a walk northward to see the Small Hope Bay Lodge that would give us a glimpse of the anchoring prospects in that bay, which we had considered as an alternative to Fresh Creek.  (Small Hope Bay is said to have been named by legendary pirate Sir Henry Morgan who concluded there was “small hope” anyone would find his buried treasure here.)  We walked for just over an hour and eventually did arrive at a resort—but we had actually passed the junction for the Lodge we were looking for.  Regardless, Donna chatted with a Brit who was on his annual 6-week stay there to ask if he knew where the other resort was located, which he did and helpfully redirected us. 
 
While exiting the resort access road, a kind woman with her daughter in the car asked us if we would like a ride somewhere and she took us down the (only) main road to the junction where we would find the other resort we were looking for.  We hoped to find a nice restaurant there for a meal, but it didn’t pan out.  Instead, Dave bought a beer at the beach bar where we chatted a good while with the bartender.  We had yet a 45-minute or so walk back to town so we got underway as it was getting late in the afternoon.  Finally back at town, we stopped at Hank’s Place, the restaurant that had a good reputation where we had docked the dinghy.  We were really ready now after walking over six miles for a good native Bahamian meal.  The menu looked great!  But a car had just crashed into a nearby electrical pole and the restaurant would have no electricity for at least another two hours—good grief!!!  It was already 5 o’clock, so we wearily returned to the boat and defaulted to our own cooked meal. 
 
On Saturday, February 25 we departed the Fresh Creek area headed for the Staniard Creek/Kamalame Cay area, about 10 nm further north inside the reef.  It was a perfect day to motor inside the reef with light and variable wind and no clouds.  Lovely.  We completed the transit in 2 hours, arriving at 1030, giving us plenty of time to explore inshore and try some fishing in the ample flats behind the barrier-type islands.  We also intended to walk the settlement at Staniard Creek, hoping to find a grocery store to re-stock a few items, which we set out to do first.  But before going ashore we saw a strange sight – another cruising boat!  The first one we had seen since departing the Exumas.  It was southbound outside the reef searching for a nearby named dive site, and later entered the reef to anchor briefly about a mile north of us.
 
Kamalame Cay has a resort that offers up what we understand to be some high-end accommodations.  There are several apparent residences as well on the cay which we assume to be high-end as well since we saw on two occasions the arrival of a float plane to the Cay’s beachfront.
 
The Staniard Creek settlement is separated from Kamalame Cay to the north by a water entrance to Staniard Creek and the flats behind Kamalame Cay with the ability to navigate north or south.  We first went south, up somewhat narrow Staniard Creek against an ebb tide, and tied off the dinghy at the bridge from the “mainland” to the settlement.  Walking through the settlement we soon found the local office for the Bahamas National Trust foundation which is actively serving to protect natural resources on the island.  Their friendly staff person directed us to the local grocery where we bought some hamburger buns. We continued farther down a main road that linked to the other main road running along the creek that would take us back to the bridge and dinghy. 
 
We stopped at a bar/restaurant with a few locals enjoying beers in tree shade at the outside tables, listening to classic reggae.  It was Saturday, after all.  Dave can’t resist having a cold beer and chatting up the locals, so it wasn’t long before we received advice to fish right in the creek that we had already transited.  “Ya, Mon.  De bonefish dey be right out dere.  And snapper.  You jus try anywhere alon dis side or dat.”  True to form, the local men were extremely friendly and welcoming and quick to offer helpful advice. 
 
We chatted and joked with them for a slow beer’s worth, hearing stories of Hurricane Matthew and how to determine if barracuda is safe to eat – “if de flies doun like it, it’s not OK.”  One of the young guys (probably in his thirties) told us that the entire town at Lowes Sound on the north shore of Andros was entirely decimated, but that the Staniard Creek area was spared.  He was candid enough to go on to tell us of his own experience.  He had sent his family to an emergency shelter, but he wanted to stay with his house.  He admitted that was a really dumb thing to do as he found himself praying for his life as his roof was lifted off.  Amazing story he had to tell….  Upon leaving we told the guys we’d be coming back down the creek shortly in our dinghy and we’d yell whether we’d caught anything yet….
 
Once in the dinghy, we chose to drift out on the still ebbing tide, with spinning rods and jigs at the ready for any bonefish we spotted.  The creek bed was quite busy with lots of deeper crevices in addition to flat, shallow spots, so having seen snappers on the way in, and hearing the recommendations of the locals, we blind casted in the deeper sections and soon Dave landed a Mutton Snapper, big enough to fillet.  A few more of these and we’d have a meal.  Not long afterwards, Donna sighted a group of three bonefish, Dave casted for them, and hooked one.  Finally!  Bonefish on light spinning tackle is just as big a thrill as on a fly rod, and this one made 4 or 5 runs and swam around the dinghy twice before Dave finally had him to the boat, picture taken, and released.  The only downside was that we caught it before getting to within sight of our new friends at the bar!  But soon we drifted past the bar, the guys demanded a report, and Dave raised his hands displaying the (slightly exaggerated) length of the bonefish, then held up the snapper, and the locals cheered their approval, clinking their beer bottles together.  But we caught no more and eventually returned to Pas de Deux and had a snapper appetizer prior to our pork tenderloin grill.  It was a good day, and a fitting end to our Andros adventure.
 
With our long run of favorable weather ending – we had been on Andros since February 12 – we had to depart this fascinating jig saw puzzle of an island on February 26, bound for places less demanding for just-right weather.  The wind was forecast to return to a more typical easterly flow, unfavorable for being on the east-facing Andros coastline.  We had traveled a straight-line distance of about 60 nm along the coast of Andros from Kemp’s Bay to Staniard Creek.  Our actual distance traveled was 86.3 nm, including some backtracking and all the winding road aspects of picking our way through the reef shallows.  So off we went, sailing and motor sailing in this last day of light to moderate wind with full main and genoa the approximate 34 nm to a stopover at Whale Cay in the Berry Islands.

 
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