The Berry Islands

12/8/2019

After two nights at Brown’s Marina in Bimini, we decided to leave the dock and head towards more isolated islands. The plan was to travel about 9 miles South towards Gun Cay and anchor there as the next morning we were going to make the 80 mile crossing across the Great Bahama Bank to the Berry Islands. After leaving the marina we traveled about half way between Bimini and Gun Cay before turning into the protection of the reefs and heading for a ship wreck call the Sapano. Kyle really wanted to snorkel it, and I didn’t really know what it was, but snorkeling a ship wreck sounded awesome! Once again, I was blown away by what we found. The Sapano is, according to a Bahamian website: “……”. For Kyle and I, it provided a very unique experience. As we approached the wreck, we dropped the sails and motored slowly towards it, wanting to get as close as possible while also staying a safe distance away. We had the whole place to ourselves, it was a hot clear day, and being mid afternoon the sun was shining directly into the water, giving us great visibility. We dropped the anchor and Kyle quickly jumped in to dive the anchor and make sure it was set well so that we could relax while snorkeling and not worry about Sirocco. Neither of us had ever snorkeling a wreck before and we were both so excited to swim over to it. With our free dive fins, weight belts, snorkel, and masks we jumped overboard and swam towards the wreck. I was instantly amazed at how clear the water was and how well I could see everything around me. The side of the ship was covered in colorful coral and hundreds of fish. We swam to an opening and I gazed in hesitantly. “Can we go in? Is it safe?” I asked Kyle through my snorkel. He laughed at me, and said “Yes to both things. Just be really careful when going in so you don’t get scraped on the metal.” I waited for a small wave to help push me through the opening which was bigger than my body. I had no troubles and found myself looking around in awe once I was inside the ship. It was an amazing experience, and I had the GoPro with me so I took lots of footage. I took 40 minutes of footage and turned it into a little 3 minute video using some music made by one of Kyle’s good friends. I’ll let the video and some photos show how much fun we had and how unique of an experience it was for us: 

After diving the wreck it was about 4:00pm so we quickly rinsed off, put on dry and clean clothes and stored all our snorkel gear. We had an incredible sail towards Gun Cay where we anchored that evening. It was our first anchorage in the Bahamas and we had dinner in the cockpit, sitting close to each other so we could both see the sunset that exploded the sky into deep reds and pinks. “Red sky at night, sailors delight,” I said to Kyle. We laughed really hoping that was true as we had a long day coming the following morning. Around 3:30am our alarm went off and we dressed warmly and went about the routine of getting the boat ready to go sailing. 80 miles East of where we were was the Berry Islands, we just had to cross the shallow Bahama Bank to get there. Again, we had researched our route and planned accordingly with the weather, and this time we had an 80 mile day which took us about 18 hours and we were able to sail the entire way! No motoring at all, which is our absolute favorite kind of day. Although a bit rolly, the conditions were pretty optimal for sailing and we traveled down wind at a pretty consistent 6 knots for the majority of the day. We did lots of sail changes as the wind came and went and tried all sorts of configurations to try and keep the sails full. Dead down wind is a bit of a tough point of sail, but the waves were behind us which created a nice speed boost, sometimes going 7 knots as we surged down the waves. It was a long day so we took shifts and napped on and off throughout the day. Around 5pm I was on watch and Kyle was down below sleeping. I could see on the chart that we were about to leave the shallow of the Bahama Bank and enter into what is called “The Tongue of the Ocean”. What I didn’t realize is that I would be able to see the line on the water as clearly as the line on the chart! As Sirocco surged towards the deeper water, I stood up at the bow and looked at the very distinct depth line. On one side the water was a clear, teal-ish color. On the other side a deep, dark blue. I had my headphones on and my iPod on shuffle. The universe is so fortuitous as literally moments after leaving the shallow water and entering the deep water the song “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele came blaring through my headphones. I giggled and very much enjoyed my alone time on deck, feeling a deep connection to everything around me. Kyle came up soon after from his nap and we sat in the cockpit together enjoying the sunset and checking our course to see how much longer we had. Around 8:30pm we dropped the sails and motored very slowly the last mile to where we wanted to anchor. It was dark, so we were careful to navigate through the shallows and dropped our anchor in about 10ft of water. I couldn’t wait to wake up and see where we were! 

We awoke to low lying islands covered with white beaches and large patches of trees. The water was shallow and clear and I could make out all the little plants and creatures living on the bottom. After breakfast we lifted the anchor and motored 5 miles North to a more protected anchorage surrounded by uninhabited islands where we planned to spend the next week. It was an enjoyable motor up to the new anchorage as we were in close to the beach and used the binoculars to check out the abandoned marina and some boats on Frazer’s Hog Cay. 

It is now Sunday December 8th and we arrived to this anchorage on Thursday the 5th. We have very much been enjoying the isolation of the Southern Berry Islands. We are surrounded by islands in all directions and anchored in 10ft of clear water. I often sit on the side of the boat and just stare down at the sand and watch as little crabs and snails crawl along the sand, leaving a trail behind them. Our days have been filled with exploring the islands, reading in the hammock, lots of little boat projects, working, and taking a dinghy ride to an island every night at sunset. Two days ago we packed a backpack and went to an island called “Cockroach Cay” (thankfully I didn’t see any cockroaches) and spent the day there. We found an abounded yurt homestead, lots of cool shells, and enjoyed the afternoon in the shade of a tree on our tie dye blanket. We both feel like we made it to “paradise” and are feeling so lucky to be here. The other night as we left an island and headed back to Sirocco there was a large sting ray under the dinghy and we just floated quietly on top of him. I stowed the oars and we drifted, the second sunset glowing all around us and the crystal water giving us a perfect view of the large sting ray and countless star fish that scatter the white sand. 

Today we are going to head to a larger island called Frazer’s Hog and check out an abandoned marina and road there. In a couple days we will make our way north 20 miles to check out some more of the Berry Islands. Onward! 

4 thoughts on “The Berry Islands

  1. Really enjoy reading about your adventures!! Wish you both a safe and joyful Christmas Holiday! Enjoy the warmth of the beautiful sea and all it has to offer!! Your friends from Davenport, IA along the banks of the Mighty Mississippi!!

    Liked by 1 person

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