In the Bahamas the difference between high and low tide is about a meter of water. There are plenty of shallow places with sandy bottoms, and when the tide goes out, a few of these are exposed as “popup beaches” in the middle of the sea. They seem like absolutely magical places, so we set out to look for one!
So Strange, So Strange!
We looked at the chart and picked out a likely sandbar (as they are called) just under two nautical miles from our sailboat. Then we loaded the dinghy with everything we needed (snorkeling gear, water, cameras, drone, portable VHF radio for emergencies and some food) and casted off.
Interpreting the tide tables and charts the best we could, it seemed possible that part of our sandbar would be uncovered at low tide to form a small beach, but it was hard to know. We tried to not have too high expectations.
“Hey, the water is moving a bit strangely over there”, I shouted to Charlotte. “You see?”
We drove slowly closer. It looked weird, like this one spot where the small waves turned into a line of ripple, like someone had used a knife to make a little nick in the sea to cut it in half.
“It IS a beach!”, Charlotte shouted.
It was so very strange, though, to see this small white sandy beach just appear out of thin water.
We drove the dinghy slowly up on the beach and climbed out.
And there we were standing, just the two of us and our small dinghy, in the middle of the sea. On our small personal weird little beach.
If we had been astronauts, this would have been a good time to plant a flag in the sand (and take a selfie to send back to earth).
Snorkeling near Hawksbill Cay
You can only take so much of that beach life (we did see a shark, though, in the water!), so we jumped into the dinghy and started motoring slowly toward our next destination: Hawksbill Cay.
“Let’s just try to find a small beach.”, Charlotte said. “Somewhere where I can practice snorkeling abit.”
We were motoring slowly inside a small cove with a nice looking beach when Charlotte stood up.
“Look, there’s something moving!”
It was a black spot moving beneath the surface, like the ones we’d seen before, but we didn’t know if it was another shark or what.
And then it surfaced.
“It’s another turtle! And it’s big!”, Charlotte screamed with delight.
We managed to remain a bit more composed this time. I started the GoPro and handed it over to Charlotte. Charlotte pushed it into the water, and I motored really slowly ahead following the turtle.
It looked so beautiful, wise and gentle when it surfaced for air. It was much bigger than the first one and we felt so lucky to have met it (emoji with heart eyes here!).
The World’s Biggest Sloop
A few hours later, after having spend time both on the beach and in the water, and also exploring some more very very shallow waters with the dinghy, we started motoring back to our sailboat.
“Hey, can we go check that out first?”, I said to Charlotte and pointed at what looked like quite big a sailboat some distance away.
So we headed in the sailboat’s direction and I drove the dinghy as fast as I felt safe (the size of the waves was growing a bit all the time).
When we had motored for five minutes we still were nowhere near the boat but I started to notice that what I thought was a big sailing boat actually was a huge sailing boat.
We soldiered on through the waves and finally, like five minutes later we were a couple of hundred meters away from it.
It was the M5 sailing boat, previously known as Mirabella V. The biggest sloop (sailboat with one mast) in the world. 77.6m long with a 88.5m high mast! Cool. Don’t nobody say you can’t sail in the Bahamas with big boats 🙂
Outboard Engine Failure
On our way back to our own boat, the dinghy outboard just stopped and failed to start again. We weren’t out of gas so I don’t quite know what the problem was. (Maybe it was just tired and wanted to go to sleep. It had been a long day.)
Anyway, we were just a bit over a kilometer from our boat, so instead of trying to figure it out, I attached the oars and started to row us home. It was hard work but the wind and the waves were just gentle enough so that I had the strength to overcome them.
Something short of an hour later we reached our boat. I was quite exhausted. And, with hindsight, happy that we had brought the portable VHF radio with us.