Friday, May 28, 2010

SURPRISE - Sand Cay...........!

This past week has been some of the most delightful sailing I can remember. The Bounty Boat has been swept along by gentle warm breezes for the most part at a time when I thought we would be hanging on for grim life before 25-35 knot trade winds that threatened to swamp our small craft. I seriously wondered whether we would survive this stage but instead have been pleasantly surprised.

Never have I been more surprised however than today when we saw the bottom of the ocean and shortly after came upon a small sand cay. We looked at each other and there was no question that a landing was required. It had been three weeks I think since we pushed off from the beach in Fiji and Restoration Island seems continually beyond our grasp.

Ted maneuvered us into the lee and we threw the anchor into a sand patch close to shore. A coral reef protected the sand cay so we swam ashore and scrambled over the coral to reach the pristine beach teaming with life. Hermit crabs busied themselves near the tide line while birds massed on the top of the cay in numbers akin to a Hitchcock film. Masked Boobies were nesting on up to two eggs and one poor juvenile stumbled in the sand. His parents were nowhere to be seen and his life was likely to be short. Noddy birds that have been visiting us at night looking for a perch in the rigging were there on mass while the occasional frigate bird circled overhead. This was an amazing experience in a remarkably pristine wilderness, the only debris being a couple of water bottles, fishing floats and of course the old faithful thong (flip flop).

There were miles to sail so we swam back out to our faithful Bounty Boat, up anchored and set sail again. Our interlude was over and we reflected excitedly about what we had seen till Chris produced a bag of shells he had souvenired from the rare piece of wilderness we had visited. Why? When will we humans learn to rise above our basic instincts to aquire and control our environment? When will we learn to appreciate our rare wilderness regions? Why do we feel it is acceptable to bag and souvenir our natural heritage? Would it be Ok to wander into Stonehenge and knock off a lintel for a garden sculpture?

As adventurers we often have the privelege of visiting wild and remote wilderness regions but with that comes the responsibility to behave appropriately. The simple premise of "Take only Photos and leave only footprints" is a good start but as the detrimantal effects of human activity acumulates we should probably expand this to a more proactive policy of "Take only photos and plastic debris and leave only footprints". This way those who enjoy these regions have the opportunity to make a positive impact and contribution to its future.

On a less serious note we concluded that Bligh would have hit the jackpot landing on this cay. He would have walked up and grabbed a bunch of boobies, lots of eggs and caught many fish. In response we cracked open a tin of fruit salad we have been drooling over for weeks and spilit it four ways. It capped off a great day with less impact on our sand cay than it would have suffered 221 years ago!

Dave Pryce / Quilter

PS See Ted's Blog above for all the nuts and bolts info.


Anonymous said...

Good on ya Dave; I somehow knew the blog was being written by you well before getting to the end. I will always remember sailing in circles for 20 minutes in search of an apple core when down on the Antarctic Peninsula. Then you explained to the crew why; and it all made so much sense! God the sand on the Cay must have been lovely! Cheers Digit

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"MASKED" BOOBIES, William Watson you Dick!!! LOL That must have been amazing seeing that at 30 m deep - once you hit the Great Barrier Reef the sites are mind blowing in that crystal clear water. Absolute paradise! We went snorkelling out there (off Cairns) in the middle of nowhere and had my then (4 year old daughter) in the water with us and crew throwing food over for the fish that were just surrounding her, a multitude of colours and she still remembers it now at 23 years old...amazing place!! Ummm I'm wonering did they cook that Tuna?? And did Dave W emjoy it? I hope so. MJ

Reine said...

Interesting stuff and beautifully described. However, which would be more detrimental to the ocean, the shells Chris picked up or the tuna you killed?

Nice to hear your blog...glad you guys are having perfect weather.


Bob from Seattle said...

Why didn't you eat the masked boobie eggs when Bligh's crew would have devoured them in a split second? Karma? Felt for their parents? Seemed like an unfair contest of gathering food? Didn't want to affect the total the bird population? Didn't want to eat the hermit crabs either, huh? I thought the point was to recreated Bligh's experience. I must have missed something along the way.

Bob from Seattle said...

continuing on the egg thought.......I got it, no stove, no fried or scrambled, only raw! hmmm....that would be tough on a sensitive stomach. Rocky did it though. 4 eggs in a glass and slugged it down----no problem. I was impressed.

Brendon said...

Harsh call on the sea shell collecting. People have different ideas about these things - holier than though public judgement statements on others actions (particularly mates) dont reflect well.

I happen to agree with you in principle however think there are much more positive ways of furthering a cause than this.

Brendon said...

PS - think what you guys are doing is great and wish you luck.

Wouldn't discount the value/interest of observations on how you all interact and get on.

Imagine you stand back in wonder at some of the things you do and feelings you have in a situation like this.