Saturday, 21 March 2015

Plana Cay

Soon after dawn, we set off from Abraham's Bay, Mayaguana to Plana Cay, a desert island 30 or so miles away. As usual, we sailed out of the anchorage, though the wind was very light. I mentioned using twin headsails, looked around, and realised my crew had now qualified as competent crew:

Sailing gently down the lagoon, feeling quite pleased with ourselves, we were passed by a catamaran motoring the same way:

Overtaken by Destiny!!

I'm normally happy to cruise along at whatever speed will get us there, and which allows us to lie about reading or fishing or whatever, but after being overtaken by a catamaran being used as a motorboat, I felt an inclination to catch up or overtake if possible. Out with the spinnaker, for the first time on this side of the Atlantic:

That was great for a while, hitting top speeds of 8 knots and the only waves to be seen were the ones we were making. But then the wind dropped, and our Destiny disappeared over the horizon.

But what's this?

Down with the sails to motor over and take a look.
It's a girl! No, wait a minute, it's a buoy.
A thing floating on the sea is a natural fish attractor. There's even an acronym for it in the fishing industry - FAD - fish attracting device. This one was working beautifully, and we tied the buoy to the back of the boat, and the fish drifted along with us. I threw a lure in, and right away, caught this:

I think it might be what's called a trigger fish, on account of the lethal looking spine that popped out of its back. I'm just guessing. It seemed impossible to fillet, it's skin like armour plating, and spines here and there to avoid, so it went in the oven as it was and came out surprisingly well, steamed in its own armour plating. Though one of our crew is more used to fish from a can, or hidden in batter, and was rather repulsed. I offered to mash a bit up and serve it in a can, but that was turned down, and all happily ate seconds.

After the trigger fish, I spotted 3 dorado cruising about just below the surface, and threw the lure in front of one of them. It went straight for it, and swam gently away with it. At some point, I guess it realised it had metal and plastic in its mouth, not fish, and it took off at a tremendous speed. I was afraid my new reel might not be up to coping with it, and I put my hand on the line to slow it down, and burned my fingers. That was when the line went slack, and we saw no more of the dorado. Oh well.

The buoy was a shipping hazard, so:


I found a buoy belonging to your institute, at 22 26.8923 N, 073 23.7215 W

I towed it to Plana Cay, and took a closer look there. There was only the lantern left attached. It looked like other hardware had been bolted to the top of the buoy, and since removed. I'd hoped to take it somewhere where you could either collect or or it could be disposed of. But I'm on a 9m catamaran, and I couldn't tow the thing back to anywhere civilised, so I removed the lantern and let the buoy drift away from Plana Cay. It's probably a small hazard to shipping, but as the light wasn't working, I left it as no worse a hazard than when I found it I guess.

I opened the lantern, and figured out the pass code, and got it working sort of. I'd be happy to send it back to you if you like. Otherwise, I'd like to know how the thing works, so that I could use it as an anchor light! However I set it up, it flashes for a while then stops, though there seems plenty of power (battery reading 4.5 v)

If you want it back, let me know. If you don't want it, maybe the program that it links to via USB might be handy for me?


The joys of the internet. :)

The water was so clear where we anchored, that I just stuck my camera over the side, and snapped this barracuda near the bottom:

Plana Cay is a desert island, and we set off to explore the next morning, taking my newly acquired machete so we could open some coconuts ashore.

Not coconut trees. Oh well, pandanus I think, which made up most of the trees on the island. I imagined I had the place to myself, but looking around:


At the south west corner of the island, a natural wall of rock forms this beautiful harbour. I name this harbour, Scrumpy Harbour!

Round the corner, on the windward side of the island, flotsam:

Even somewhere so remote, so shortage of plastic.

There used to be trees here. Maybe a hurricane brought them down, but there are no signs of young ones reappearing.

I managed one snap of one goat. I guess the goats affect the trees somewhat. I scared a flock(?) of about 30 that were resting in some shade. The billies were amazingly big and well muscled with big horns, but fortunately, they were very afraid of me.


I name this lake, Scumpy Lake!

And this one is Red Lake, surely.

Before we left, we swam on the reef. I couldn't find any lobsters, and missed every fish I tried for.

I bet I could have speared this one, but, well, no.... is looking so pretty some kind of Darwinian survival ploy, or is my hunting handicapped by modern warped aesthetics? Sure it's edible, but it just doesn't look like dinner to me.



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