George Town, Conception Island National Park, Long Island

Beach clean-ups aren’t only beneficial for the beaches but a fun way to meet people and find some interesting items. This event was successful in both cleaning up and repairing/enhancing the boaters’ “Ship Shack” and fire pit on Stocking Island.

Haulover Bay Bar and Grill was a gorgeous location for a very slow lunch. So slow, it took 2 hours to get our food. Thank goodness we have wonderful friends to chat with: Rose and Steve on Journey from Devon, England and Greg and Lisa on Privateer. At low tide one can walk across the sand bar to Man-O-War Cay that can be seen in the distance.

After 6.5 weeks in George Town it was time to explore new locations such as uninhabited Conception Island National Park which is about 40 miles northeast of the Exumas into the Atlantic. This park is known for being a sanctuary for nesting birds which were delightful to hear and a hatching site for Green Turtles of which we saw many. We took a dinghy ride at high tide up a creek into the center of the island and saw dozens of green turtles. It’s surprising how quickly those awkward flippers propel them along, especially when they sense a boat is near. The water is so clear you can see the shadow of the dinghy in the picture on the left. We, along with Privateer, packed lunch and our folding chairs and were relaxing under the shade of a Casuarina Tree when a dinghy approached. We had observed the dinghy coming from a large fishing boat and what a wonderful surprise…they caught too much and gave us 2# of Grouper and 3# of Wahoo! What a treat! We had just been bemoaning the fact that we hadn’t caught anything on the way to Conception!

Since the Bahamian national parks are “no take, no kill” zones the marine life tends to be abundant. One morning we had Mr. and Mrs. Nurse Shark lounging around us, millions of shiny little light blue fish zipping around, and pairs of bright blue fish leaping out of the water to catch the smaller ones as you can in the above video, presumably to eat. This lasted for hours – how does one concentrate when there’s so much beauty and excitement right outside the boat?

We were quite fortunate to see the green flash on both evenings while anchored at Conception. This phenomenon occurs just as the top of the sun dips below the horizon producing a 1-2 second green flash. No matter how many times we see the flash it is always a thrill.

After Conception we cruised through squirrely seas to Thompson Bay at Long Island. Wednesday we rented a car along with Privateer and had a colorful day…red, pink, white, turquoise and blue: red shrimp, pink flamingos, white sand, turquoise water and a blue hole. We also checked off some bucket list items. Lisa wanted to see the red shrimp in the “Shrimp Hole” and swim in Dean’s Blue Hole, the world’s second deepest blue hole (663′). Dean’s Blue Hole is the site of the Vertical Blue free diving competition where the men’s world record is 417′. Scott and Lisa snorkeled the blue hole and were amazed by the abundance and variety of tropical fish and new coral growth.

Photo by Lisa S.

Seeing flamingos in the wild has been on my bucket list since I first came to Florida with Scott. I was unaware that the many salt ponds on Long Island regularly host small groups of the Caribbean Flamingos. While visiting the Long Island Library and Museum which was very interesting and educational, the woman in charge told us the ponds where we would most likely find them. Lo and behold, in the first place we looked, there was a pair. They are usually found around the perimeters of the salt ponds and are rather skittish. Although we were only about 50′ away they were unfazed by us. In fact, they often curled their necks up over their body to take a snooze.

The beach on the south end of the island was a gorgeous location for a delicious lunch at Gordon’s Beach Bar and Grill. This was my kind of beach…white sand with shallow clear turquoise water. A tear might have escaped my eye when I had to say good-by to this unforgettable scene.

Our fun adventure with Lisa and Greg culminated with a lovely dinner at Chez Pierre.

We took some long walks on spectacular beaches on the windward side of the island. Sadly, the shores above the high waterline and up into the dunes were excessively littered with trash. This is not trash left by visitors, this trash has washed ashore from possibly the other side of the Atlantic or ships and some pieces are huge. Humans really need to reduce their use of plastics and dispose of it properly. If you think the sand looks pink…you are correct. Yesterday as I started to climb a ledge of sand it was so soft it collapsed and bent my toe backward. I hope it’s not broken because we are leaving for the Ragged Islands and I have a lot of exploring to do!

“Somewhere over the rainbow” over Stocking Island. It’s crazy how many rainbows we see from Elizabeth Harbour. Look carefully to see a faint second rainbow on the right side.

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