Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Long Island and Conception Island April 2008
Pictures: Beautiful beaches on Conception

One island we had missed on our previous times in Georgetown was Conception Island. Rated highly in the cruising guides and among our boating buddies, we did want to get there. However, due to its unprotected location and only having a lee anchorage, visits are not recommended if west quadrant winds are expected (common when cold fronts pass over area), or if northern swells are present (common if cold fronts pass to the north).
Following Brenda and Dan’s departure, we decided to move down to Red Shanks anchorage to sit through the next cold front, while we waited. This was another anchorage we hadn’t visited, so wanted to check it out. We were surprised how pretty the anchorage is. We knew it was well protected and collected an assortment of cruisers who enjoyed its serenity and lack of facilities, a total opposite of Volleyball Beach. While here we checked out the blue holes, snorkeled and kayaked plus were treated to a meet and great at the legendary Red Shanks Yacht and Tennis Club.
The weather still would not allow a trip to Conception, so we moved out of Red Shanks (saw 6’6" at low tide) and started doing the typical Georgetown shuffle, staying a couple nights at Monument and then back to town to shop, fuel and water up.
Desperate for a change of scenery, we decided to check out Long Island. Thompson Bay now has two new marina operations, Parrots of the Carribbean (2 cottages and restaurant/bar/laundry) and Long Island Breeze Resort. The latter is planned to be a major development, complete with $900,000 condos, hotel complex, and docks. At present a model condo is up, and the main lodge with restaurant, swimming pool, laundry and internet, is open. In fact while we were there, we attended the grand opening complete with free pizza and nearly everyone including us won a free Tshirt. Everything is first class, but it is tough to imagine that clientele rushing to vacation in Long Island.
We hung around Long Island for over a week, still hoping we would get the weather window to go to Conception. The well at Thompson Bay is still there, so we took advantage of the fresh water to do laundry, hanging our clothes lines around the "sailors bar". We had a campfire on the beach, walked the ocean side shelling, beach combing and collecting palm fronds.
We had almost given up on our trip to Conception, when finally a short weather window opened up on Saturday. Not perfect, since we would have to motor there, in NE winds, and run from westerly winds Wednesday. But we decided this short trip was better than no visit. And we were right!! The westerly beach off the anchorage definitely rates near the top of the most beautiful we have seen. An incredible long crescent of fine white sand and beautiful crystal blue water. The mangrove area is an interesting dinghy run, although we didn’t see any wildlife. Snorkeling the reefs: excellent visibility, good coral recovering, large reef fish, but not in large numbers. Despite our short stay, we were very happy we were able to see the Island.