DOUBLE HEADED SHOT CAYS

Visited in May of 2003

 

I suppose it was really naive to think that a place only 55 NM away  from the Florida Keys would not be visited by fast sports fishing boats, but whilst we were there only four or five arrived and anchored in our little bay,  of which two stayed overnight.  It is really not much of a bay, more a notch in the coastline but, given settled weather, afforded us a small amount of protection.

   

 We anchored "Lungta"under the ruined lighthouse in position N 23 57.34 W 80 26.65 in 7m on white sand, good holding.  The chart I was using with "The Cap'n" (navigational program) was #M27087SO Cay Sal Bank (Chart Datum WGS 72). I had our Garmin GPS 152 set to this datum, but it put us just over half a mile away from our position, showing us to be on the other side of the island. Changing back to WGS84 made no difference.  It must have been chart error as The Capn's charts for Cuba, Florida and the Bahamas including Bimini, showed our position correctly. Like all of the Bahamas, it is best to use your eyes and estimate the depth by the colour of the water, preferably with the sun behind you.

We took the dinghy Northeast and Southwest in and out of various small bays, round the southern end of the Cay and up the inside coast, snorkeling as we went. The snorkeling was excellent, the water beautifully clear and transparent, with many many fish including large parrot fish, all relatively tame.  THere was a large barracuda who took up residence near our boarding ladder but he did not bother us so we did not bother him!

There are several small caves including one in the lighthouse bay which you can snorkel into.  We found the remains of a wreck marked by 2 polystyrene floats here.


The old light house was probably built some time in the 19th Century. It is well constructed and remains an unused fixture. One day we went ashore, taking the dinghy into the next small bay, leaving it at anchor and swimming to the very rocky shore which was overhanging in places and pierced with blowholes, making it quite difficult to land. There is a dilapidated concrete jetty which must have been built to land supplies to the lighthouse keepers.  A rough pathway with steps leads up to the lighthouse.

 

The lighthouse seemed solid enough, though the outer plaster is well cracked,  but all the ironwork, including the central pillar for the spiral staircase, the doorframes and so on have rotted away, so we did not venture up the remains of the staircase.  It all had a slightly sinister air about it and were glad to get outside. We climbed to the very top of the island and felt slightly uneasy when dear "Lungta" disappeared out of sight.

 

While we were there we found a great many birds nesting, all of which were sitting on eggs. They were very brave and most did not move as we passed them.  We tried not to disturb them. 

 

After enjoying the solitude and the marvelous  sunsets for several days, a pesky swell started up in our little anchorage, so we left, setting a course for Lake Worth Inlet, better known to landlubbers as West Palm Beach.


We had good sailing going North in the Gulf Stream, slightly spoilt by one of the starboard chain plates letting go with a sharp report. It slowed us down as we had to rig the spare spinnaker halyard as a shroud, eventually fixed when we arrived at our home port in the Ortega River.