Of Caves and Dragons
I left Cienfeugos a little later in the day than I hoped, put it down to bureaucracy, settling my anchorage bill with the marina and then getting a dispatchio from the authorities. They visit your boat before issuing you that and exit stamps on your passport for a quick search, probably to check you have no Cubans aboard. So it was about 2.30 before I weighed anchor by which time the wind had switched to the south so a head wind for leaving, fortunately not too strong. Outside the bay progress was slow, I couldn’t lay the course I wanted, away from the coast took me SSW and I certainly didnt want any westing in my course, the other had me gradually closing the coast which trends NW-SE here. The other big danger to avoid was the Banco de Jagua lying some 25 miles offshore, unmarked with dangerous seas and numerous wrecks. The wind shifted to a more easterly direction after sunset but then fell in strength till we had barely a light breeze. Eventually though I was clear of all dangers, just empty seas between me and the Caymans.
In the early hours we had some wind back but by midday almost a flat calm. I even resorted to motoring for a while. That night was weird there was lots of phosphorecence and the sea so flat and glassy that the stars were reflected in it. I was dozing below when the wind returned, at last we could make progress. I spotted the island, a low smudge on the horizon just before noon and later in the afternoon picked up a mooring at Scott’s Anchorage, Cayman Brac.
The authorities came to meet me on the dock and were going to come out to the boat to complete formalities but looking at the size of my dinghy decided to do it ashore. I just had to ferry the mosquito control officer out to spray the inside of the boat.
Ashore later I had Cayman Island style shrimp for dinner and a few beers. I was in a bit of culture shock, there was a supermarket with everything you could wish for for sale, after months of very basic stores and not being able to get things this was wonderful and of course English was the language, no more struggling to get by in spanish or french as I had for months.
Both the islands are small, about 9 mille long by 2 wide, about 1,500 people live on Cayman Brac whilst on Little Cayman the resident population is about 150, the people are very friendly.
Exploring Cayman Brac I was offered a lift and was taken along the the Bat cave, fascinating but saw no bats. Walking back I visited Rebecca’s cave then hiked across the salt pond trail back to the North side of the island, hard going this across tortured sharp eroded limestone, in flip flops too.
Next day I sailed across to Little Cayman, I though to take a mooring in Spot Bay but discovered the dock there, old and concrete too high to land on from a dinghy. I moved on around to Owens Sound, entered through a very narrow gap in the reef with breaking waves either side, scary and once inside calm but very shallow, around 2 metres with shoal patches. Pleased to be in and secured to a stout mooring bouy.
Little Cayman is famous for its iguanas, a number live around and under the old museum so that was my first stop . What wonderful beasts they are iguanas everywhere I looked, stopping at a respectful distance one big one about 4 ft long eyed me up and then came across, stopping about 2 ft short of me.
I rode my bike around the island, about 20 miles but it felt longer, traffic count 2 cars 4 iguanas. Stopping of at Sandy point the SE tip was a beautiful white sandy beach with azure sea protected by a fringing reef. Had the place to myself had a lovely swim.
It blew hard in the early morning with torrential rain, had a bit of a fright when I thought the mooring might be dragging so found myself stark naked in the rain and dark putting out the anchor, washed the salt off I suppose. Turned out it was just the long scope on the moooring.
Leaving through the reef was worrying with a swell running in from the south after the blow, just line up the range markers astern, aim for the middle of the small gap between marker post and buoy and then for that gap in the breakers outside, safely out phew!
Back on Cayman Brac I cycled and walked up the coast to the Brac, a big limestone cliff, home of many caves and walked up the lighthouse steps to Peter’s cave, used as a hurricane shelter by the locals.
The other way I hiked part of the trail through the parrot reserve, didn’t see any parrots though.
I could have stayed longer on these delightful peaceful islands but if I wanted to visit Jamaica before heading out of the hurricane zone. It was time to move on.