|Day 3 - Big Farmers Cay
With the new morning came an overcast sky with a prediction of clocking winds into the west eventually turning into the north by late in the evening or over night. We planned to continue to the northwest taking advantage of the tail wind to put another 8 miles under our keels. I looked out from my tent site under the pine branches to a subdued silver blue front yard that was still beautiful even under the low light.
We left the nice little beach and headed over past a sunken barge. I wondered if the barge was part of the sand mining operation on Neighbor key that we saw the previous day. it was washed up solidly on a shallow sand bank. It made a good wind break for getting everyone assembled after leaving the camp. From there he headed up through the harbor between Little Darby and Big Darby islands. Several boats were there and we asked about a weather forecast. We had not heard any weather report on the VHF that morning. They had not heard one either, What they knew was essentially unchanged from the one we had when we left Barreterre.
A stingray lay along the edge of the low tide line now about two feet underwater. It stayed motionless as I approached with my camera seeming quite unafraid as I approached, I kept a respectful distance of the 6 inch barbed bone at the base of its tail. Others were less careful with some of the local inhabitants. The empty shell of this land crab was very large. Rick had some critter problems overnight as he had not put his food bag back in the hatch of the kayak and paid for it. By the time the probable rat had chewed through the bag, it was too tired of too sick to eat any of the food, so only the bag was ruined.
On the other side of the harbor we were once again faced with another opening to the sea, Rudder Cut between Little Darby and Rudder Cut Cays. We paddled out with the intention of passing on the west side of Guanna Cay to stay out of what we thought would be the opposing current headed out the cut. However, two of our group were not able to make the point at Guanna Cay so we split the group with one party going around the west side and one going around the east side. Surprisingly, the slow group going around the east side made it to the north point of the island before the stronger group coming up the west side. This was due to the fact that the current was flowing north toward the next cut instead of coming out the nearby cut to our immediate south. From the chart one would have never suspected that it would do that. With our group reformed we cut across the strong current and headed up along the inside of Rudder Cut Cay.
Along the high bluffs of Rudder Cut Cay, we came across several caves, one of which was quite deep, high and wide. Rick headed in for a look. After a few pictures in the dim light in the cave, we continued along the shore and came to a small canal into a pond. Investigating this, we discovered that it was essentially the local dump. Piles of trash were loaded onto one shore and three barking dogs were jealously guarding their treasures there. We landed well away from the mutts, spending a few moments to eat, drink, de-water and put on additional clothes as it looked like it might soon rain.
Did I say it looked like it was going to rain? The clouds rolled up from the southeast, the wind swung into the west, the sheets of rain came racing across the flats and we were in a frog strangler of a rain storm. In our dry tops and wet suits everyone was very comfortable. With the light winds and calm seas it was fun to paddle through the heavy down pour.
Past Musha Cay we had an easy paddle across the wide cut south of Cave Cay. Unlike the large cave of Rudder Cut, the caves here were small and shallow. We paddled past the entrance to the completely enclosed harbor with several large building freshly built upon the hillsides. There seemed to be very little activity here and I wondered if this place would be a victim of the current U.S. real estate and credit problems.
We continued across the sand flats between Jimmys Cay and Musha Cay where there is a lovely development for bone fish and lodging. The entire small island is developed as a high end resort with several bungalows connected by concrete lanes, a protected beach and a large central guest house. This was the most well designed and lovely place we saw on our entire trip. If you are thinking of staying anywhere this is the place. However at $325,000 per week, you better bring a lot of very wealthy friends.
On the way back to camp I stopped at a small beach and had a nice swim in the warm shallow waters over the bright white sand. I also took a bath using the biodegradable soap I brought for that purpose. Drying in the strong sun under a pine tree brought a nice end to an active day
From there we continued along the cays, passing between Big and Little Galliot Cays, finally coming ashore on the large empty beach on the south end of Big Farmers Cay. We set up camp in a mixture of sun and spitting rain. We set the kitchen/dining room under a copse of casuarina trees. Soon however, the sun came out strong and the rain clouds cleared. Rick, Mark and I paddled south into the cut to play in the current and the waves. The current exceeded 5 knots in certain places and we had a great time going around the eddies and whirls created by the current as it flowed past the small rocks. We also paddled out into the ocean on the east side and watched the surge play back and forth across the rocks. The rest of the group snorkeled in the shallow water and checked out the little crabs, a family of starfish and other marine creatures along the very prolific shoreline.
On to Day 4...............