Spun Out in Rum Cay

I have written about Rum Cay in the past, but today I want to share a few misadventures I had there. They started when I decided to take the dinghy outside the reef wall on the southern side of the island to see the HMS Conqueror. This 101-gun British ship of the line was only six years old when it was wrecked on the reef in 1861. The crew survived, but the ship was a total loss. Today the wooden hull is gone, but equipment is scattered all over a small area in about 30 feet of water and it is a great snorkel site. When I dove it the waves were a foot or two but built to five as they passed over the reef. The waves hid the reef from my view and caused me to misalign the cut in the reef on my return. It happened so fast. One moment I was in 20 feet of water doing well and the second moment the wave picked me up and all I could see was reef in front of me. Unfortunately, there was nothing to do as the wave brought the dinghy down on top of the reef and bounced me across it until I was back on the inside of the reef.

I checked out the damage and was happy that the top of the reef was all dead coral and the dinghy seemed to weather the trip intact and did not follow the Conqueror’s fate. Since everything seemed ok I continued exploring and went to check out a huge salt pond. As I approached the entrance I noticed the dinghy was getting sluggish and by the time I got to the creek like entrance I had zero thrust. I pulled the dinghy ashore and realized the prop had spun or broken away from the hub and was useless. It is designed to do this in order to protect the engine’s lower unit but left me stranded two miles from town and my boat. My only course of action was to walk through the waist deep salt pond all the way back, so I could get another dinghy and tow mine back. The good news is that I got to explore the salt pond even better than I wanted.

A few days later I chose to explore Flamingo Bay on the northwest part of the island. You have to maneuver through a maze of coral heads in Flamingo Bay, but with good light it is not a problem. Hartford Cave sits a couple miles from the bay and has lots of Lucayan petroglyphs. Since the new prop I ordered was a week away I used my kayak, and everything was going great paddling along the coast. That was of course until I tried to beach the kayak in a five-foot surf. I figured I would paddle hard and ride the wave in like a surfer and slide into the beach all cool like. The reality is that the wave picked up the kayak and tilted it forward until it seemed to be totally vertical. I panicked, jumped from the kayak, got washed in the surf, and plopped on the beach like a dead fish. I was fine but had to gather equipment that was spread along the beach. After checking out the petroglyphs I attempted to launch the kayak, which was not successful until I swam the kayak out past the surf line and then climbed in.

Hopefully my misadventures entertained you while at the same time giving you some ideas of how to do it the right way when you are in similar situations. 🙂

Shane McClellan
Visit www.svGuidingLight.com to read more from Captain Shane about the Bahamas, Caribbean, life aboard, and more.