Raccoon Cay

We departed Salt Pond, Long Island at 10:00am on a Saturday morning; our galley shelves overflowed with fresh produce from that morning’s Farmers’ Market and our hearts were filled with well wishes from Penny, John, Cathie, and Gary. We set the main, hauled the anchor, and caught an easygoing easterly breeze bound for the Ragged Islands. During the daylight hours we would sail the Comer Channel and then at the top of the Jumentos Cays we would exit the banks and sail overnight through the deeper, ocean water. Below on the screen shot of our chart you can see our route. Waypoints 0029, 0030, 0031, and 0032 directed us through the Comer Channel to our exit point between Stony Cay and Arturo Cay at the top of the Jumentos Cays. Waypoint 0027 marked our entrance onto the banks in the Ragged Islands.


We sailed on a tack through the night, not our most comfortable sail. But the sky was clear, stars were shining, and there was not another ship in sight. Since the first night is always the most difficult to stay awake, and we were only sailing overnight, we changed shift every two hours. Just before sunrise we were making good time and decided to continue sailing all the way to the southern end of the Raggeds where we could round Little Ragged Island and arrive at Hog Cay. But a shift in the wind later that morning reverted us back to our original plan. We entered the banks through Johnson Cut on the southern end of Raccoon Cay. At 10:00am on a Sunday we dropped the anchor at Raccoon Cay, 24 hours from the start of our trip, and settled in for a few hours of sleep.


Rested and fed, we began our exploration of Raccoon Cay. We kayaked north of our anchorage at House Bay in search of a blue hole and on the way stopped to chat with our only neighbor (in the next cove) s/v First Look. Bob and Vicki shared some great info about Raccoon Cay and sent us in the direction of the trail to the blue hole. Once ashore we followed the shoes…


…along a narrow path…


…all the way (not more than 200 feet) to the blue hole. Or should we say, greenish-brownish hole. No diving into that!

I prefer the view across the banks.

Our next stop brought us to an old foundation and cistern. We didn’t pause there long. Although we enjoyed the singing of several songbirds near the fresh water cistern, we did not enjoy the abundance of no-see-ums and mosquitoes. We set out once again in the kayaks and returned to our anchorage at House Bay where we found a trailhead at the north end of the cove. The trail brought us to a salt pond.

We followed Bob’s directions and continued around the salt pond to reunite with the trail. It led us over the top of Raccoon Cay to the ocean side. We’d arrived a bit too early in the season for snacking on the not yet ripened sea grapes, but the view at the end was pretty as ever!

Mind the sharp objects in the bush!

Brian did plenty of spear fishing during our time at Raccoon Cay. I even got into the water with him to observe. For the very first time I watched Brian spear a fish! The victim was a bar jack. I heard the spear pierce the fish then watched the fish scurry away with a spear in it’s side as Brian swam to retrieve fish and spear. It was exhilarating! I remembered hunting once with my brother and feeling a bit grim as a squirrel fell from the tree (my brother has fantastic aim); apparently I am less fond of fish because my only reaction toward this hunt was, “Mmmmm, supper!” And of course, “Wow, that husband of mine is a mighty hunter!” I might ease my way into spear fishing…but don’t hold your breath. On the menu at Raccoon Cay were also lionfish and grey snapper. Even though the fishing was plentiful, Brian couldn’t resist casting his rod off the side of the boat. Too much is never enough! He caught a record, biggest fish yet on the lightweight rod, a yellow jack. I had to help with that one too, but since we already had supper the jack was released.

We ended our visit to Raccoon Cay with a campfire on the beach beneath a nearly full moon. There was not another person in sight that evening. We gazed into the mesmerizing flames with rum drinks in hand and Jimmy Buffet tunes playing from the iPad. Welcome to the outer islands of the Bahamas!

Catch of the Day – January 26, 2013

This morning while we enjoyed our breakfast at the marina one last time, this heron chowed down on the hound fish he’d just caught.


The heron swallowed that entire fish in one gulp! See that bulge in his neck…hope his digestive system is ready for the challenge!


After breakfast and birdwatching, Brian and I got ready to leave. Staying at the marina had been wonderful and now we’d made new friends. But at $48/day (a great price in our opinion) it was not the best option for our cruising kitty. We topped off our water tanks ($15 for 30-gallons) and settled up with the marina office. We didn’t have to say goodbye just yet as we were not going far. Jim showed us a spot just around the corner in the harbor where we’d have good holding and protection for anchoring. And so we cast off from the dock, rounded the corner, and dropped the hook. Soon after Rode Trip’s anchor was secure ’round the corner came two dinghies. Today we were joining Jon & Arline and John & Anita for our first round of spear fishing.

I gathered Brian’s gear; mask, snorkel, wet suit, swim fins, spear, gloves, and sunscreen. I made certain I had the camera water-proofed and ready to go. Then we dropped ourselves and our lifejackets into each of the two dinghies and were headed out to the ocean.


We stopped the dinghies near the water’s edge. Brian, Jon, and John (known as big John and little Jon for lack of any other nicknames that we’re aware) made themselves water ready.


The guys didn’t waste any time heading toward the overhanging coral. The gals kept a close watch on their whereabouts in case they caught a fish or needed a dinghy break. Anita and I spotted two large, orange starfish. Anita pulled out a bucket with a plexiglass bottom. She directed me to swish out the bucket, then place it against the water to look down through. What an amazing contraption! It was just as though I had put a magnifying glass to the water. I could see clearly to the bottom. At every opportunity I peered through the bucket. This was my idea of perfect snorkeling! Dry with a good view.




No luck this time. Big John did take a shot at one fish but it got away. Little Jon spotted some lobsters but thought they weren’t quite big enough. We headed back into the harbor where Jon & Arline showed us a wrecked trimaran, good fish hiding territory. Brian and big John got back into the water. Little Jon reported to us that he was, “cold and old.” It was an overcast day and the water was probably 60-ish degrees. A bit more sun would have helped for warmth and fish spotting through the clear water. Brian and big John spotted lobsters and crabs amidst the wrecked boat. Brian spotted some fish as well. Nothing to aim at though. Both Johns decided they were done for today.

Once we’d been returned to Rode Trip I asked Brian if he was cold. He turned to me with quite the grin, eyes glowing, and said, “I used this wet suit for New Hampshire waters, I could do this all day. This is fun!” And so that is just what we did. Brian unloaded the dinghy from the deck back into the water. We put all the gear inside including our dinghy anchor, bucket for any caught fishes, and a casting pole. I added a water bottle and two oranges. What are wives for, eh? Besides I know Brian’s love of fishing can last for hours and hours.

We puttered around the harbor for two hours. Brian would swim along the shorelines where the coral and mangroves created fish havens. I sat in the dinghy keeping and eye on Brian’s whereabouts while nonchalantly casting the rod catching blades of grass on each return. Then I’d follow along to keep close in case he needed me. This was great dinghy driving practice! Back at the wrecked boat Brian had hit it big. His first Bahamian lobster!


I had only a moment to snap a photo before he was shoving it toward me saying, “the bucket, get it into the bucket.” With as few EEKS! as possible I lowered the bucket and Brian dumped the lobster into it.
“Ewe he’s huge! What if he gets out, I don’t want him in the dinghy!”
Brian calmly replied, “he’s dead, or will be in a minute. I think you’ll be fine.” Yup the poor lobster had been stabbed right through the base of his neck.

While Brian continued the hunt I marveled at this strange looking lobster and wondered what parts would be the good eats. My favorite part of NE lobsters are the claws, but no claws on this guy. Finally after scanning the nooks and crannies on the opposite end of the harbor Brian decided he was done, for now. We cooked ourselves a lobster tail for lunch. It certainly was tasty, but without any bias (said while winking) I will say that it just wasn’t as sweet as its NE cousins.

After lunch Brian was back in action. This time his plan was to take our lobster remains and chum over the wrecked boat. Maybe we will be having fish for dinner…