The Exumas! Where Fish Fly and Pigs Swim!

On April 7, 2021 we were finally able to pull our anchor and head out Conch Cay Cut into Exuma Sound. The Sound is the deeper waterway, but it requires entering between islands where there is current and wind. Tides must be timed and entry made only when the tide is going in the direction that we want to go and only if the wind is not strongly blowing against the water. So on a ebb tide (out) we wove around the coral heads and shallow spots and exited a different cut than we had entered. The wind was mild when we exited, but picked up enough to pull the sails as we headed north.

This sea has thousands of flying fish that are just in too much of a hurry to pose for a picture! This is their protection against predators….leap out of the water and fly for 20 seconds or so. Confusing to their predators, certainly!

We sailed the six hours and arrived at Adderly Cut just as the tide began to flow in. We had very little wind and all went well. Our goal was to anchor at “Lee” Stocking Island (not the same one as our previous anchorage) for the night. As we headed in, we knew that this was a shallow anchorage and figured that we could find a spot with barely enough depth for our 6 1/2 foot keel to stay suspended above the sandy bottom. Since it had just been low tide, this proved to be a definite obstacle. We could see the anchorage, but could we inch our way in? Here we go, easy, easy…..wait…we aren’t moving! Ugh, grounded. Fortunately the sand is soft and forgiving. We backed out of there and turned around. We had seen Leaf Cay on the charts. It was near and had plenty of depth. So we anchored at Leaf Cay for the evening and spent a nice 45 minutes snorkeling the cool waters.

Sunset over Leaf Cay

Planning for an outgoing tide the next morning, we left at 7:30 back through Adderly Cut. Our goal for this day was to get to Black Point Settlement and yet another cut, Dotham Cut.

The wind was down so we motored. Hey, the waters of the Sound are world renowned fishing grounds. Let’s give it a try. Ken threw in the line and within 20 minutes wham! Fish on! Wow, this thing was giving quite a fight! It must be big! Within a few minutes we could see it cresting the surface. It was a Mahi Mahi! And a big one! Ken reeled and reeled, Dale slowed the boat to a crawl to help. What a beautiful fish. 30+ pounds and 40 inches long. This would provide us with enough fillets for 8 meals. 45 minutes later it was filleted and in the freezer.

Nice Mahi!

And here we were at Dotham Cut. Right on time. The tide had just changed and it should be slack tide, changing to an incoming tide. Our tide tables here in the Exumas are a definite maybe! Not many tide buoys, so our closest is Nassau plus an hour-ISH. OK, this cut is more narrow with a cliff on one side and a reef on the other. The wind had picked up a bit, but still nothing that should give us trouble. With Ken on the bow to spot shallows and Dale at the helm, we entered the cut at 4 1/2 knots of speed. Suddenly, we were going 9 knots! Steady, steady, hold your course. Wow, that was like an amusement park ride!

But we were in and the beautiful bay of Black Point Settlement lay ahead. We spent 2 nights, ate at two restaurants, did laundry, bought warm coconut bread and thoroughly enjoyed the village.

The beautiful Black Point Settlement Bay as observed from the dinghy dock
Everyone that knows Ken, knows that he is a kid magnet! Even in Black Point Settlement, he was greeted with “hey mister, guard me!”

Now we were inside the Exuma Channel. If we were careful we would not need to enter or exit anymore cuts into the Sound. So on we went to Staniel Cay, where we had heard of the legendary swimming pigs. Apparently, many years ago, some settlers brought a few pigs to this island. This is not a natural habitat and the pigs got hot. To cool themselves, they began wading in the bay. As cruisers have come and gone, they are delighted by the pigs and throw them vegetables. The pigs have decided that this is a great reward and now swim to boats looking for handouts. They did not disappoint!

One of the many swimming pigs
We dinghied in with apples and celery in a baggie. The pigs were delighted with the produce, but did not believe Ken that the bag was empty. A lively chase down the beach ensued!

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