On Monday, we made our way down to Staniel Cay and dropped anchor. The natural bay is large with impossibly beautiful water and a sandy bottom that provides excellent holding. Every now and then a nurse shark or a stingray glides under the boat.
We took the dinghy over toward the airport and waited for Anne’s tiny plane to arrive from Nassau. The airport concourse at Staniel Cay (TYM) consists of an open wooden pavilion with benches, and security is a chain link fence.
Since we’ve been here, there have been no shortage of sights and attractions. Our first outing was to see the famous “Swimming Pigs of the Exumas.” This is a group of wild pigs that live on…. wait for it… “Pig Beach” on nearby Big Majors Cay. The cool thing about these pigs is that they will swim out in the ocean to meet you on the good faith assumption that you are bringing them food. We came with bread and chopped-up apples, and that did not disappoint. It’s safe, but these are large, wild animals, so there’s always a concern in your mind. Some stories say these pigs are descendants of ones left behind by Christopher Columbus, while others trace a less noble and more recent lineage. After that, we dined at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club.
Our next outing was to Thunderball Grotto, literally around the corner from Pig Beach. It’s a cave you swim into that was made famous by the James Bond movie, Thunderball, where Sean Connery romances Claudia Auger underwater before dispatching several bad guys.
Thunderball Grotto is a natural wonder. At low tide, you swim in and out through a small gap, but at certain high tides the entrance can submerge completely, so timing matters. Once inside, you enter a natural cavern with amazing light and an organic kaleidoscope of fish and coral. Our underwater camera could not adequately capture the hues and grandeur of this place.
Finally, we motored over to Staniel Cay to eat and shop, and I decided to wade in and experience the nurse sharks for myself. A couple of them made lazy approaches and then veered away once they got within a foot or so. It was certainly an adrenaline rush.
Tomorrow’s forecast calls for favorable winds to sail back north for a few hours and explore Cambridge Cay some more. We want to introduce Anne to the art and beauty of sailing. For me, it only took once to fall in love.