Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shooting Whales in the Abacos

Written from Bakers Bay, Guana Cay, Abacos No Lat/Lon available

No, we are not taking berths on a Japanese scientific boat. As much fun as that sounds!!!

Bahamian Whale Shooting is just as exhilarating and not nearly so messy.

The Abacos are divided into North and South parts. These parts are separated by a giant shifting sand bar which extends across the entire width of what is called the Abaco Sea extending from Whale Cay on the ocean side to Treasure Cay on the Great Abaco Island side.

To get from North to South you must Shoot the Whale - transit a narrow little inlet on the north en d of Whale Cay and enter the Atlantic. Then you sail two miles along Whale Cay and slide back into protected waters through an equally narrow inlet on the south side of Whale Cay.

The Budget Committee says the trouble with the inlets is that they resemble the captain of Meredith: plenty wide enough but very shallow.

Shallow is bad at an inlet as any swell with an easterly component comes in off the Atlantic and builds immediately into BREAKERS. Naturally for the two weeks before we attempted to shoot the Whale the winds were steady out of the East South East.

Every one else was reluctant to try the Whale. Finally Meredith grew tired of waiting. Off we went.

Motoring into 6 to 9 foot waves the entire 3 mile inlet and then wallowing along the 2 mile length of Whale Cay in the same 6 to 9 foot waves was a relative breeze for the erstwhile Meredith.

That night we anchored all alone in Bakers Bay at the north end of Great Guana Cay. Bakers Bay used to be a reserved stop for a cruise line. The cruise line stopped using it because they had to cancel too many trips due to bad weather at the whale.

Their loss. We slept very nicely in a protected anchorage formerly reserved for the paying public.


The Adventure Story:

Oh, yes. One boat did try just after us. The waves hit it much harder than Meredith and there was steady green water over the bow.

Halfway through the Whale Inlet the pounding of the waves caused the anchor to throw off its lashings. Over the side it went dragging 200 feet of chain and 200 feet of nylon rode with it.

The anchor, of course, snagged bottom.

Now the hapless crew found themselves anchored in the 6 to 9 footers. They were not terribly happy. The only solution was to cut the rode and give away a 65 lb CQR and 200 feet of chain and 200 feet of 5/8 nylon. Call it a $3,000 day.

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