31 October 2009

Flat Water

Friday morning the water was about as calm as I have seen it. The wind had stopped blowing for a few hours and the swells had nearly disappeared. And so I thought it a good opportunity to take out the staff kayak. I had been meaning to do that for some time now, especially because I had wanted to see if it was practical to take it on a longer distance trip to East or Middle Caicos. I figured out that it's not. It's a sit-on-top boat so it's slow and small, which would mean limited room for supplies and long days of paddling. Not to mention that it doesn't have a backrest, so it would be painful due to leaning forward all day long. Nonetheless, it is good to go around locally, so I took it across the channel to Long Cay.

Long Cay

I crossed directly over to Shark Alley, one of our favorite snorkeling sites, and went around to the outside (the deep ocean side) first. I didn't go far, partly because the boat was so uncomfortable, but partly because my attention was drawn to the sandstone cliffs. Normally when I'm in this area my attention is on things in the water, not adjacent to it. I was seeing things from the perspective of a climber, rather than a diver or snorkeler. There isn't anything too spectacular, but there is a 100 yard stretch that could be made into a great top-roped sport climbing area.

From Long Cay, looking out towards Grand Turk.

Unfortunately there's a shallow rocky base, or there would be potential for deep-water solo climbing (that is, climbing un-roped over water). After scoping things out from the water, I quickly paddled around to a cove where I could get on land for a closer look. The beach that I landed at was, I discovered, a dumping site for poached conch shells. It's illegal to catch conch in the reserve, but it's not uncommon to see people doing it. There was a big pile of shells that I could tell were fresh because of the smell.

The cove I landed at, lined with poached conch shells.

I wasn't able to do any climbing without a partner or any equipment, of course, but it was fun to do a little exploration. I even found what appeared to be the fossil of a palm frond on the ceiling of an overhang. It was easy to get to the top without going over any technical terrain, and from there I had a great view of South and Cockburn Harbour.

My "fossil" isn't as convincing from the photo.

Cockburn Harbour

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