Back to nature


The stars aligned and we left Florida for the last time.  On an overnight sail to Miami, it was almost like daylight under all of the beach and city lights when hugging the coastline to avoid the Gulf Stream currents.  In a few days, we had a perfect multi-day weather window to head to the Bahamas and make our way as far south as possible to get warm!  




We crossed from Biscayne Bay to north rock above Bimini, across the Great Bahamas Banks, through the northwest channel, down the tongue of the ocean, across the Decca channel, out Dotham cut north of Black Point, down the Exuma sound and across the Comer channel to anchor in Salt Pond, Long Island three days later.  





Our goal in getting far south in the Bahamas paid off (red circle).  We sailed down to the Ragged Islands and have had weeks of perfect weather to hike and swim at leisure and celebrate the holidays.  


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We rang in the Scottish new year at 7 PM with John & Barbara (Sam the Skull) and Dunbar & Joy (TaDa)…


…and were surprised and proud that we stayed up until midnight to ring in the New Year again at midnight!


Luckily we had two bottles of champagne.





The best part about cruising is living with the rhythm of nature.  Days are short this time of year and the sunrise and sunset are the bookmarks.  Each one is unique and we’ve already seen plenty of green flashes with our wide-open west views and perfect Bahamian days.




 



The Ragged Islands were hit directly with hurricane Irma and the beaches and reefs show this story.  The vegetation in certain areas are wiped out and many reefs are stripped bare.  Algae sets in fast, but there are decent signs of coral and fish life underwater and avian life above.








Nature will take time to recover, but surely it will.  There are a few families of white-cheeked pin tailed ducks living in the salt ponds, along with lesser yellow legs.  













I’ve also come across swarms of tiny, blue (upper-side) butterflies that are great fun to identify.  They all hatch at once and live for only a few days to weeks, with reproduction a top priority.  


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The first group turned out to be the endangered Miami blue butterfly.  When I looked them up there were conservation groups galore for these creatures.  They are endemic to the Florida Keys and claimed to be the rarest insect in the United States, due to loss of their limited habitat.  I hope that it is some consolation to conservationists that they have been able to reproduce on nearby islands.




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The second brood of butterflies were the Bartram’s scrub hairstreak butterfly.  I discovered these two years ago the first time we returned to the Bahamas and they feed on bay cedar, which is plentiful on dunes here.  When they land they wiggle their hind-wings and look like they are dancing.  They are so small (~ 3/4 inch) that to the naked eye it can be hard to distinguish their head and antennae from their hairstreaks, which appear to mimic antennae.





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© M&M 2016