Conception Island

Jan 25, 2021

We left our anchor spot outside of Salt Pond on Long Island around lunch time on Friday (22nd) and began moving to the North of Long Island. With a good internet connection, Jinhee was easily able to continue her calls while I moved ever so slowly toward Cape Santa Maria where we planned to stop and explore a little bay that I had seen from the Columbus Monument while I was on a bike ride.

Amazing Flat Water – Dinghy in tow

We never tow the dinghy, but with plans to look at the bay 15 miles away, super, super flat water and lots of time, we towed it today and it was okay. In heavier weather, the motor on the back makes it a high probability to flip and an expensive repair bill.

The water in this area is so, very, very shallow, it felt like we could scoop up sand as we passed over the banks. Our average depth in this area was about nine feet of crystal clear and very still water. Home Free requires a little less than six feet, so not a lot of room to spare. Faith in the charted depths is a heavy requirement.

Despite the clear skies, the weather was such that the horizon and sky blended together at times and the view was a true sea of blue

Wonderful flat and blue water can make it difficult to tell where the sea stops and the sky begins

We did stop just off shore from the Columbus monument and dinghy into a little bay, but we were not granted access; the low tides prevented forward progress. This is what it looked like from the monument when I rode over on Thursday.

In any case, as Jinhee finished her workday, we loaded the dinghy and started our transit to Conception Island, supposedly the second place that Christopher Columbus dropped anchor during his first visit to the new world.

I am rarely effusive about things but Long Island was great, with few others in the vicinity and excellent access to food, fuel and internet accompanied by super friendly people, it was a fantastic place to spend time. Conception is another case altogether. Part of the Bahamas National Trust park system, it is wild, beautiful and quite remote, but even more fantastic than Long Island.

Of course the downside is that it is different. There is no internet access, no resources, nothing. Wonderful!

We had calm weather (a must in this area due to very dangerous coral heads) and clear seas when we anchored at sunset on Friday.

Sunset as made our way to Conception Island

We made friends with locals, Eli and Sofia at Long Island, enjoying an evening meal with them aboard their beautiful Burger sailing yacht Mishka. (At that time, we were joined by Jason and Michelle (owners of Tiny’s) and Charlie Beattie, who is married to a local and sells real estate on Long Island).

(BTW, Sofia’s book is hard to get a hold of, but worth a look for some beautiful photos and brief overviews of some of the local matriarchs of the Bahamas: Bahama Mamas).

On this occasion, we were pleasantly surprised to find Eli and Sofia anchored at Conception as well and plans were made to share another meal, this time on Saturday evening.

When we woke on Saturday, we were awed again, by the clear waters and excellent views of fish. Here are some photos from the boat (we offered up some bread, but the fish were slow to arrive). We also did some snorkeling, but don’t have an underwater camera so those will remain mental images only.

This little fish was one of my favourites with bulging eyes that pop out of the water for the bread
Soon some sharks and remora showed up for an easy meal

Some rays also hunt in the area. These are some of the larger ones passing through

Unfortunately Conception Island is not a safe place to navigate in heavy winds. When we took the dinghy around to the west side of the island we hit coral heads three times . . . and we were trying to avoid them. The coral heads on the west side are everywhere with depths going from 40′ to 1′ out of nowhere. While the east side is less dangerous, there is little room for error if the seas were in tumult and so being in the area in heavy weather is too much risk. We departed on Sunday after breakfast looking for better protection in advance of the heavy weather throughout the next week.

Home Free being guarded by Lemon Sharks off Conception Island
The beach ringing the West side of Conception Island (Home Free is in the middle) Note the dark areas (reefs)

2 thoughts on “Conception Island

  1. Hi Don. What can I say. Awesome! I love looking at your places visited on Google Earth and try to imagine it. Wow.

    1. Someday you will be able to travel again and you can take the boat for a week or join us somewhere amazing.

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