Thursday, May 28, 2015

Return to Cat Cay

We are anchored off the Cat Cay airstrip (map), just a hundred feet or so from where we anchored when we were here a week ago. We moved here this morning from the other side of the island so we could tender in to the restaurant for dinner this evening.

Shortly after my last post, we weighed anchor and motored back around to the west side of North Bimini, more or less retracing our steps but continuing past the Superfast pier and turning in to anchor off the beach at the north end of Bailey Town (map). On the way in, we noticed a few small mooring balls offshore; we anchored considerably closer to the beach.

Sunset over the Strait of Florida.

Those moorings turned out to mark the Rainbow Reef dive site, a nice reef in about 20' of water. Mark and I snorkeled it from the tender Monday; it would be a great shallow dive but a bit too deep for good snorkeling.

We all piled into the tender Sunday evening and made our way to Alice Town Beach to walk to dinner at the Big Game Club. Even though the ferry had already left the island, the place was still hopping and we made an early entry to get a nice table. As a bonus we had a great view of the docking shenanigans as quite a few fishing or party boats came back in from their day offshore or at the beach.

Another boat in trouble on the beach. Photo: Mary Million.

On our way to the beach we passed yet another center console that had managed to get itself sideways up against the beach; great plumes of sand blew out as the skipper desperately tried to extricate himself, with two guys in the water hauling away at the bow line. He was gone on our return trip so we assume he was successful. We had some drama of our own, broaching as we landed on the beach in heavy surf. The four of us managed to drag the boat far enough up the beach that it did not get pounded, and things had calmed a bit by the time we returned to launch.

Sunset over the strait, with what's left of the "Gallant Lady" in the foreground.

After dinner we walked around the south end of the island and up the "beach" consisting of worn rock for the first few hundred yards. Along this rock is the wreck of the Gallant Lady, hardly recognizable after years of pounding, but lots of pictures of the wreck in lesser states of decay can be found on the Internet.

Our former anchorage off Alice Town Beach, now full of sailboats.

Monday, after Mark and I checked out the reef and decided to pass on coming back with everyone, we weighed anchor and moved down to the Henry Bank, across the channel from where we had anchored a week ago off Bimini Sands (map). The bank is a shallow bar that gave us more protection from the swell, and as a bonus we picked up some WiFi there. Here we got to watch the last hurrah of the holiday weekend, with three large yachts around us and several smaller ones near the beach, all playing in the water with or without toys.

Mark helping Louise weigh the anchor off Bailey Town beach.

By dinner time everyone had left to head back to Florida, leaving just us and a couple of sailboats in the anchorage.  We headed to dinner at Bimini Sands in the tender, with everyone happy to be disembarking on a dock instead of splashing our way onto a beach. We walked a bit further around the resort this time and discovered the infinity-edge pool overlooking the ocean.

Our guests enjoying the sunset from the upper deck.

Mary snaps a sunset photo.

Tuesday morning Mary, Mark, and I ran over in the tender to the spot that Louise and I had snorkeled on our last stop here. With the big boat now closer to Henry Bank, it was just a bit too far to swim as we did then. We anchored the tender in the sand just north of the site and had a nice snorkel around the rocks and reef. These are the same sort of rocks comprising the Bimini Road and seem to be part of the same formation; Mark took a photo of an old tire wedged in between some of the rocks as proof this must be the "road."

End of the road. Photo: Mark Million.

A slightly more interesting part of the site. Photo: Mark Million.

While we were pretty comfortable there in the protection of the sand bar, our waste tanks were pretty full, and we wanted to do a loop south to Cat Cay, catching a couple of snorkel spots on the way back. So we weighed anchor and set a course for the south end of the Cat Cays by way of a spot three miles offshore to empty the tanks.

We ended up cutting back in just north of the wide part of North Cat Cay, in a small cove known as Citrus Haven (map). We were able to tuck in fairly close to shore, where it was nice and calm and the swell was quite tolerable. Once again on our way in we spotted a mooring buoy, this one nestled between the large pair of rocks just offshore of Cat known as Kitten Rocks. We had a nice steak dinner on the upper deck, with a cool breeze and even a bit of a sunset.

Yesterday Mark, Mary, and I took the tender over to the aforementioned mooring to check it out. Louise managed to get a bit too much sun Monday and Tuesday and opted to sit it out. We had a fantastic snorkel; between the Kitten rocks was what amounts to a "wall," with plenty of coral and tons of fish. It's a large site, with plenty to see all the way around the rocks and the connecting wall. The mooring, just a dozen yards from the rocks, was actually in 23' of water, and was very beefy; I imagine a good size dive boat visits here.

Just a small snippet of the Kitten Rocks reef. Photo: Mark Million.

From where we were anchored we could see the pool area for the residents of North Cat Cay, and I knew it was a short walk from there to the store and restaurant. However the pool and the road leading to it are on the part of the island off-limits to non-members. We wanted to pick up a few things at the store and have a meal at the restaurant, so this morning we weighed anchor and motored nearly four miles to end up here, less than a mile from where we started.

This evening we will drop the tender and head ashore, and tomorrow we will work our way back north again.

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