Tags: Andros, Bahamas, food, Fresh Creek, Gibson Cay, sailing

Date: March 9, 2018

After dropping our guests off on New Providence (the island where Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, is situated), stocking up on food and doing laundry, we sailed to Andros. Andros is the largest of the Bahamas islands but actually it is not one island but several smaller islands separated by so called bights - like shallow rivers that cross from the western to the eastern shore. Our first stop in Andros was Fresh Creek which separates two settlements, Coakely Town on the North shore and Andros Town on the South shore of the creek. At Fresh Creek we tied up at the Government dock in Coakely Town and stayed five nights. We took a long dinghy ride on the creek and passed several nice, large houses. We were told that many of the houses along the creek are holiday homes of Americans and Europeans:

Andros is famous for its blue holes. A blue hole is a waterfilled depression in the underground. They are often circular or close to circular and have steep or vertical walls. They form in the limestone underground of the Bahamas and Andros has a very high density of them both on shore (hundreds of blue holes) and in the sea. On Fresh Creek we found one of the underwater blue holes. It was not very deep but Bjarne went in the water to take a look. Here he is swimming in the slightly darker water:

Coming up next to the boat to tell about the large snappers (good fish for eating) he saw down there:

While we were in Coakely Town we rented a car at the grocery store (yes, that is the place to rent cars in Coakely Town) and went to visit the nearby Blue Hole National Park, featuring more than 20 blue holes on land. Several of the blue holes here were explored by Jacques Cousteau in 1971 and one of them was named after him. However, the most accessible of the blue hole in the National park is called Captain Bill's Blue Hole:

Captain Bill's blue hole is an almost perfect circle of 150 meters in diameter with almost vertical walls going down to 50 meters at its deepest. A covered deck with a diving platform has been built next to the blue hole and it seems to be popular with both tourists and locals who come here to have a picnic and swim:

Here is another of the blue holes we saw in the National park. The holes are often more brown than blue, though:

The hike to the second blue hole was along a so called road in the park. However, it cannot have been used for many years because it was completely overgrown with bushes and creepers full of thorns and even had small trees establishing themselves in the middle of it:

Orchids were in bloom in the park:

Here Bjarne is walking towards the third of the blue holes we saw:

The blue hole was low lying close to Fresh Creek and the area around it gets flooded at times, so while we did not have to fight our way through stinging bushes and scratching creepers we had to be careful not to slip in the mud or have our shoes disappear into it. Bjarne went for a short swim:

After leaving Fresh Creek we went to anchor in the lee of a small islet called Long Rock. While we were there we saw helicopters flying over the nearby High Cay with huge nets hanging under the helicopter:

It turns out the helicopters were collecting the torpedoes after target practicing by submarines from one of the nearby American military bases on Andros. The submarine bases are ideally placed right on the edge of the Tongue of the Ocean - a large area of deep water to the east of Andros enclosed on three sides by islands and shallow banks.

Here, the helicopter is returning to the base with its catch:

After diving and snorkeling to our heart's content at Long Rock we went into the Middle Bight, separating the Big Wood Cay part of Andros from The Mangrove Cay part. Here we anchored next to a small island called Gibson Cay. At this place we saw one of only two other pleasure boats spotted while we were at Andros. It was a large motor yacht seen here against the sky after sunset:

On Gibson Cay we found yet another Blue hole where we both went snorkeling. This blue hole had quite a few fish and lobsters in it proving that the blue hole must have a connection to the sea large enough to allow fish to travel to the blue hole. In fact, Bjarne found an entrance to a tunnel under a ledge right below where this photo was taken:

The blue hole on Gibson Cay from a distance:

Our final anchorage at Andros was behind the reef just North of Congo Town on the South Andros part of Andros. Sea life was abundant as it was at Long Rock but in addition to all the fish there was quite a few lobsters and finally we figured out how to catch them. Here they are siting on the cockpit floor waiting for the knife:

The lovely plump lobster tails with their colorful patterns along with the headless body of a jolthead porgy, that a local fisherman gave us earlier that day:

As we were heading from Congo Town towards Long Rock again we were lucky enough to spot some pilot whales. We were able to close enough to them to take photos: