Today, Feb. 22, 2018, we ventured into the wilderness of French Wells on the banks in the Bight of Aklins. Strange to say, it felt a bit like Montana, big sky and desolate.
As we traveled through the Bahamian “Out Islands” of Long Cay, Crooked Island and Aklins Island we were able to do a bit of exploring. We met the NICEST people on our entire journey, to date. This is saying a lot, since we have had many good encounters along the way.
From our anchorage at French Wells, it was a 5 mile dinghy ride (about 1.5 hours) through the Bight and the mangroves to Church Grove Landing ( a small jetty) on Crooked island. It was the end of the road (no exaggeration.) Knowing three small settlements were 2 miles down the road, we started walking. After about a mile, a couple of men in a pick-up truck offered us a ride, which was great. When I asked if there was somewhere to eat, the kind driver brought us to a small kitchen where the cook (Carl) made us chicken wings & fries. Naturally, Carl was the driver’s brother! After that nice treat, Carl drove us down the road to Square Deal Rent-A-Car, (likely Carl’s other brother,) where we hopped in a small Nissan. Since we then had wheels, we were able to easily tour the entire island in just a few hours.
One thing very noticeable (in comparison to other Bahamian islands we visited,) was how well-kept the island is as a whole. This is not an affluent island, and hurricane Irma inflicted some major damage, but the residents care about keeping the place tidy.
There are lovely, completely private beaches all around the island. It is the color of the water-the banks, river, mangrove, & ocean that provide such intensity, variety and beauty, that is unsurpassed anywhere.
We did find refreshment at bars/restaurant in the villages and were able to nicely provision at the local market. I was impressed with the produce! Another pleasant surprise was the ferry at the southern tip of Crooked Island, which runs twice daily to neighboring Aklins Island.
Since we were taking substantial time & distance through the mangroves, I expected to see plenty of wildlife. Perhaps because the winds have been so strong, or perhaps because it is winter, our sightings have been few. However, since we’ve been in the Bight this week, we have seen some sea birds, egret, blue heron, some sea life- sea turtle, sting rays, bonefish. Still waiting to see the flamingos!
Side note: A few days ago, while taking the Atlantic Ocean Crooked Island Passage from Long Island to Crooked Island, Jim sighted a Humpback Whale!
Not for the feint of heart; the Out Islands are isolated. One must be self-sufficient, as there are very few services- stores are few and far between and there is an absence of any marinas. On Dauntless, we plan ahead, are conservation minded concerning our provisions and our disposables and are creative with our time. Snorkel off the swim platform by day & cards at night? How about a little dance party with our awesome Bose sound system? If you are interested in a week tour to the Out Islands or somewhere more populated, we will adapt to your preferences!