Our experience at Highborne Cay really started during the wild weather we experienced at Allan's Cay. The afternoon before the big blow, a sailboat, a Jeanneau much like ours, but newer, anchored sort of close to us, causing us a little concern about what that boat might do with the weather that was coming. We kept a close eye on them as the winds built to 30+ knots, and sure enough at about 11pm, we were down below and heard the low drone of an engine. Mike sprang up through the companionway and was shocked to see that sailboat about 10 feet away and drifting more. Mike immediately started our engine and put it in reverse, moving us away from the immediate danger. We hailed the boat on VHF. They were understanding of the situation, and began the task of pulling anchor and finding a safer spot in the anchorage, all this in gale force winds and with rocks on both sides. They eventually settled down in a spot downwind and seemed to be holding fine. We went back to a more relaxed mode, but were very watchful throughout the night, because the wind and wave action made it almost impossible to be otherwise. The next morning, at about daybreak, Mike was observing the other boats to be sure that we weren't dragging anchor, and saw that the Jeanneau we had trouble with the night before was apparently dragging and was trying to up anchor and get reset again. A man was out on the bow and raising the anchor, but what he couldn't see, that Mike did see through the binocs, was that his anchor had snagged someone else's anchor when it was being raised, and now the two anchors were locked together and preventing them from getting free. Mike watched as they went through the stages of realizing what had happened, trying to control the boat and several attempts to dislodge the two anchors, which was proving difficult since he was working from the deck of the boat. It was obvious that it would be very difficult to do from the bow of a pitching and rolling boat, since the anchors were several feet down, more at water level. All this time, the wife was having to drive the boat into the heavy wind, avoiding other boats and the ever present rocky lee shore. So, even though Kate didn't want him to, Mike knew that he could help, and jumped in the dinghy, fired it up and sped toward them. There's really nothing like a dinghy ride in 30 knot winds and 4 foot swells, but try to imagine riding a mechanical bull with someone spraying a hose in your face the whole time. Mike made it to the boat and pulled alongside the boat into the wind. Together with the gentleman working at the bow, even though it took quite a bit of effort, they pried the stubborn anchors apart, and freed the Jeanneau to again look for a safe spot with good holding to weather the remaining hours of the norther. When Mike returned to the boat, he was obviously soaked and tired - he showered off with fresh water on the transom, stripped down, dried off and put on dry clothes and felt much better. Meanwhile, Didit, the Jeanneau that was in trouble found a new spot, and got settled in again, where they did fine during the last hours of the rough weather. During this ordeal, we were in contact with them on VHF and they were very thankful for our concern and assistance. Later that day, as we were dinghying back from M&K Cay, the gentleman on the boat waved us over, and we met John and Elaine from South Africa, who were taking a few years to cruise from Annapolis, where they picked up their Jeanneau, through the Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and further. They were very kind and thanked us again for our help, and we were happy that we kept an open mind about them, despite the fact that for a while, their boat, Didit, was a major concern of ours.
Later that day, Kate and I decided to make an early afternoon run from Allan's Cay to the next island south, Highborne Cay. Highborne has several reefs on the east and west coast that were supposed to be stunning. Before we left, we called Didit on VHF, told them our plans, and asked if they would like to join us for the trip. They said that sounded great, so we made preparations, and just two hours later, we were both anchored in a much calmer and nicer anchorage, happy to have survived the norther, and looking forward to the 4-5 days of nice weather that was forecasted. John and Elaine invited us over to their boat that afternoon, and we were happy to meet two very nice people who we've come to enjoy very much.
When we started talking about our plans for snorkeling the reefs the next day, John told us about his new toy, a Hookah diving system, which allows you to breathe underwater, without the use of heavy SCUBA equipment. Mike had seen this type of setup in magazines before, and always had thought it was a great concept, but now we were being offered the chance to be guinea pigs for John's new system, and we were excited to say yes. The next day we met them at their boat at about 9am, got the equipment on board our two dinks (John and Elaine call their's a rubber duck), and we headed for a reef called Octopus' Garden.
Kate and I had the time of our lives, and were exposed to what it's like to be able to dive underwater and breathe at the same time. It's so incredible to be able to swim around the reef in 3 dimensions with the freedom to stay down indefinitely. The only limitation with the Hookah system was how much gasoline we had with us. It was great - we are definitely ruined now and are working the Hookah system into our budget and space restrictions for next season.
Here are some pictures from our dive on Octopus' Garden
John, Elaine and the Hookah
Kate getting used to the new equipment
This was taken about 15 feet down
We had to sometimes carry around extra weight to get our buoyancy right. Chain worked fine.
The bottom of our dinghy
Suddenly the reef was much closer and we loved it.
Being down closer to the reef allows the color of this parrotfish to come out a little better, but it's still very hard to capture the brilliance of their colors. Truly amazing.
What do you see in this picture?
Look a little closer
Hawksbill Turtle on Basketstar Reef