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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Slippery When Wet


Rat Cay; view out over the water from shore.
It’s a fine balance; herding everyone to get going on activities that are fun for all, versus when to go solo, and still do it respectfully and safely.  Never quite sure I get that balance right.

We were anchored at the unattractively named Rat Cay, where we’d stay until heading back to Georgetown the following day.  It was day five of seven days with Wayne’s Dad, Phil and Gunnel.  As former cruisers and all-around nice folks, they’re easy folks to spend time with.  Wayne was in a reading mood; Wayne’s folks wanted a hike then to kick back.  Me?  The water was jewel-toned, from light aquamarine to blue topaz and exceptionally clear, the shoreline terrain interesting.  My one-person kayak beckoned. 

View out over the water from Ray Cay Cave. 
I regretted the wind was too strong and contrary to backtrack the couple miles across open water to explore Children’s Bay Cay.  But Rat Cay and Boysie Cay, a stone’s throw from Rat, looked intriguiging.  I landed my kayak near Phil and Gunnnel, who dinghied ashore Rat.

We tried in vain to find a trail other than a short trek across the beach.  But when I stumbled over Rat Cay’s nifty beach cave, with an enormous tree growing through the limestone rock cave, its swarthy roots and think trunk rising up from the cave floor, continuing up through an opening at the top of the cave, then stretching and spreading luxuriously above.  I flagged Wayne’s folks down.  They also enjoyed seeing mother nature’s tenacity at work, and as well as slight territorial view from a ridge which swept over the top if the cave.


Phil and Gunnel descending from
a ridge above Rat Cay cave.
After a little more exploring, they headed back to the boat.  I readied myself to kayak to Boysie. 

Getting there meant crossing Rat Cay Cut, where we’d sail through the next day.  Strong currents flow through narrow cuts.  They are a bugger to kayak; they take some serious sustained effort. 

A few times I stopped for a moment to take in the scenery and found myself swiftly jettisoned backward by the current.  It was not quite as intense as the time I mistimed a return kayak trip against a roaring tidal flow on the Columbia River’s (one of the largest rivers in the U.S.) broad Gray Harbor, but definitely close.  At least this time I did not return to banks hip-deep in mud for a quarter mile, though I did make the the park ranger’s day who I asked to hose me down.  (It might’ve influenced him to give me his phone number and be sure I knew he regularly came up to my neck of the woods).

The trip was worth it… toodelling under Boysie’s mushroom-like rock undercuts, exploring a rock arch, wandering through a nature stone arch between the beach and the water, hearing the melodic booming of the tidal waves slapping naturally hollowed limestone bowls distinctly more akin to a steel than a base drum.  


This Boysie Cay Rock arch was
high enough to walk under,
almost a mini version of
Virgin Gorda’s Bath cave.
A truly solo walk and checking out the stunningly shallow beige and turquoise flats that made it abundantly clear why the crow-fly route to Great Exuma’s Barra Terre was not navigable.  It was a relief to see an obvious deep aquamarine channel cutting a path for the entirety of our route back to the deep outside Exuma Sound.

Just as I finished kayaking back, across the channel, Wayne dinghied up.  I’d been gone a while.  “Follow me back to the Cay!” I entreated.  Wayne offered to tow me.  After two channel crossings I felt less guilty about taking him up on his offer, both to Boysie and back to our boat.  He too enjoyed checking out Boysie Cay and was even more relieved once he scouted the next day’s route.


The shoreline rocks at Boysie Cay
are intriguingly undercut.
Back at the boat I athletically took a gigantic step, climbing from my near-waterline kayak to the top of our transom, hoisting myself by laddering my hands up our davit system.  However before I hoised myself into the cockpit, both my wet hands and wet feet gave way.  On the way down, my left upper arm underside, rib cage and both shins smacked hard, as I plunged into the water.

Stunned, I swam over to the side ladder, not intending to repeat that incredibly painful mistake.



Looking back out while standing
under the undercut.
“Are you okay?” Wayne asked with concern.

“Yes.” I assured him (I was after all alive and sure I’d not broken anything). “But that really hurt.”  In fact, it startled me so much I nearly knocked the wind out of myself.  Stubbornly, I treaded water a little bit, mostly to regain my composure and not alarm my in-laws.  I don’t like being fussed over and wasn’t sure how they’d respond if they knew just how hard I’d hit.  I bruise easily, and was confident I’d sport a veritable technicolor body in a few days, though quite likely it would not fully blossom until after they left. 


Wayne towing me back to where
I just kayaked to show it to him.
Phil and Gunnel may or may not have wondered why I was so quiet the last day or so of their visit, though.  Quiet and lots of ibuprofen are my best coping mechanisms.  Then, eventually, a little healing TLC from Wayne goes a long ways.

I still love kayaking and thoroughly enjoyed one especially hefty multi-hour jaunt since, at Water Cay.  But I will never ascend into our boat on my kayak up and over our transom, at least, not without a ladder.  This lesson truly fits the “school of hard knocks” category.  Fortunately, I heal well; the bruise is mostly gone and my ribs are only a little tender now.


Boysie Cay’s Rocky Shore path.
Location Location
Written April 2, 2014, recent retrospective of March 17, 2014 at Exumas Rat Cay (N23.30.212 W 75.46.076).  By the time this posts, we'll likely be traveling along Long Island toward Conception, San Salvador, Cat Island, Eleuthra and then the Abacos.
cruising life, hiking, cruising activities
Looking towards Barra Terre from Boysie Cay.
Pretty colors = Shallow!!!!
exumas rat cay cruising destination
Ugh!  My most visible (but not
most painful) bruise about a
week after I slipped happened.
It’s colors faded considerably.