Little Farmers

The wind is blowing from the east, and we decide to make a sail for Little Farmers. The sail down to Little Farmers is a classic ‘on the banks’ sail. The wind is blowing about 15 knots and we are loving a close hauled sweep with little to no waves. The sail is so comforting that while the wind starts to shift south we decide to role with it and accept that we will have to take a couple tacks. I look forward to honing my skills upwind.  Sailing the big cat is a dance of wind and balance. I have to be ever diligent with the wind angle. Our jib doesn’t haul in as much as a monohull and abrupt changes in the apparent wind direction can cause it to luff and loose power. I constantly pinch a little upwind to get some ground, but then as my momentum slows I fall off 5 degrees and get speed and power into the jib. Purrfect and I continue this dance for hours. It is great fun to watch the progress of an upwind tack finding the balance between the velocity made good (speed into the wind), and boat speed. I find that I can maintain my best performance oscillating slowly between 40 and 45 degrees apparent, however, if I loose my focus and pinch just a little too long then I have to fall off to 50 degrees to get the boat speed back up.

As we get closer to Little Farmers, I have to define when we will tack. I hope for a 100 to 105 degree tack, but I am woefully optimistic. In reality the tack is closer to 115 to 120 degrees. As you can expect my calculations are therefor way off, and we have to tack twice more to get to within what I feel is a good finish for the day and we motor to our intended anchorage on the west side of Little Farmers.

The water at Little Farmers is deceptively clear. It is like hovering in air above the sandy bottom. The only indication of the water are the ripples that show on the surface. We drop anchor in 7’ of water and when I jump in to check the anchor I can actually see it from the stern of the boat. The anchor is over 100’ away and I can actually see the curved steel bar that identifies the end of the anchor. It is incredible.

The beach we anchor off is located adjacent to the runway and houses a small bar/restaurant. The sail was beautiful but there are some scattered rain clouds to the west. We watch them slowly move away from the comfort of our sandy chairs. Some of the locals invite us to their church’s Easter barbecue going on there right now. The kids play with some of the local kids and we meet a few veteran cruisers who gladly share their cruising knowledge. One guys tells us of a must-see cave on the neighboring island. We are definitely going to check it out.  

After getting schoolwork done we set our sights on this rumored cave. We dinghy the mile or so over to Big Guana Cay in search of the cave. There is a long beach just north of two large rock coves. Here we anchor the dinghy in search of the path. This expedition feels like treasure hunting, because our only guidance was to take the path to the right at the “Y”. It turns out there are several “Y”s in the path and after we find at least two ways not to get to the cave, we find one path that goes up a steep hill and ends at a dark overgrown shadow.  

After plucking through some undergrowth we are met with a large mouth like opening. It is a fairly impressive sight. As we walk down a steep entrance a shadowed cathedral opens up in front of us. The space is about 70’ across and 70’ deep with a good 20’+ arched ceiling. The floor is made up of large rocks that were once attached to the top of the cave. Around the edge are scattered stalactites and stalagmites with the occasional connection that makes a pillar. The area between the large boulders that make up the floor is filled with water.  

The water is crystal clear without a hint of movement at first, but as we inspect the deep dark pools with our flashlight there are small shrimp that dance around. We had brought our snorkel gear and I put mine on to get a better look at these little creatures and see how deep these pools go. Unfortunately we don’t have a dive light and while I convince Cloe to join me, Tali gets about knee deep into the water and that is about as far as she will venture. Kelly will have none of it and is our lookout. Tali takes our flash light and heads to the top of one of the boulders. She tells me that she will try to illuminate the area in front of me while I dive.

Using Tali as my light I swim into the dark water. Cloe follows me like a remora. I know she is afraid, but she is doing it. Tali does her best to illuminate the area around us while we snorkel, but a dive light is needed. The shrimp are so cool to look at. They swim around us and even land on our skin. Cloe is not a fan and eventually abandons the water. I make a couple of dives into the depth of the pool, but can’t see the bottom and return to the surface.  

We pack up our gear and head out of the cave. The hot sun is a welcome friend on our cold and wet skin. As we take the path back to the dinghy, we decide to do a little more exploring and take a turn that heads us to the ocean side of the island. Following the path through the shadows and underbrush we spill out into an inspiring horseshoe beach. The ocean waves are breaking out a few hundred feet and the beach is calm and beautiful. Cloe immediately runs the length of the beach, just dancing around. I take a walk away from the beach on the weathered limestone rock bluff that shoulders the beach. We try a little bodysurfing with mixed results before deciding to head back. The trip to the boat is quiet as we all are contemplative of the blessings we’ve seen.

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