Camp setup was complete, lunch was digesting, and Tamara led us back out for a bonus afternoon paddle. We were heading to a sandbar that we had just paddled over a couple hours earlier at high tide on the way to Cluff’s Cay. So we were backtracking a couple miles but it would all be worth it. So incredibly worth it.
As we headed north across the first cut, the water was already more placid than it was earlier in the day. You could see straight down 30 feet or more as fish, turtles, and other unknown creatures scurried by. I know I said it before, but I’m going to say it again now. I have never seen the ocean so calm in all of my life. It was like paddling in a lake in a mountain valley, not one molecule of water moving in any direction. The only sound was the drip drip drip of water from the movement of our paddles.
The trip took a lot longer than I expected. Tamara pointed to a white line on the horizon indicating our destination, but I swore that line was never getting any closer. Until, finally, it did. Imagine that! For what seemed like a mile or more, virgin white sand with its water carved ripples became exposed in almost every direction. We were eager to get out and explore the sea life that was left high and dry and maybe even help some get back where it belonged. For the next hour or so, we strolled about the shallows and the sandbars discovering an extraordinary variety of animals as if we were in our own Discovery Channel show. Sand dollars, starfish, hermit crabs, king conch, blue crabs, sharks, you name it, we saw it. One particular species of animal blew our minds and had us all in stitches. Check out this bad boy below. This piece of poop looking thing was moving along the sandbar but we couldn’t tell what on earth it was. After pulling our big girl britches up, we picked it up, turned it over, and there was some sort of crab like crustacean attached to the bottom of it. It was a walking poocrab! It appeared that maybe it was just hiding under this soft squishy brown poo like object but after harmlessly inspecting (PETA don’t bother calling me) the crab, it was actually somehow attached to this poo. It was almost more like a sand flea than a crab but it was insanely unusual. None of us had ever seen anything like it, even Tamara!
So the poocrab was fascinating as hell as were the other creatures we found on the sandbar. The sun was starting to drop, and so was the tide, making for an incredible reflection on the water. After our frolicking time was over, we headed for a slow and relaxing paddle back along the southern side of Lily Cay. By this time, the sun was low enough that you could only see the silhouettes of any person or object in the sun’s direction. It was so breathtaking we were just soaking it all in. There was almost no distinction between where the sky ended and the water began. If heaven exists, this is how I picture it. It was a perfect time for some stunning photos, some of which are below.
We crept along towards home in complete awe. Silence. Stillness. Sunset. I didn’t want it to end. As we got closer to shore, Pursey and I sped up a bit so I could drop her off at camp and then go sit out on the kayak for the rest of the sunset. As if it couldn’t get any better, it did. The reflection off the water was out of this world. The best colors of a sunset actually come after the sun has fallen past the horizon. And that’s when the magic happened. Oranges, blues, yellows, grays. Every minute it looked different. Some of the other ladies were also sitting quietly offshore, just staring. We could NOT believe what we were seeing. Even photos in magazines don’t hold a candle to what we were watching with our very own eyes. It’s a moment in time etched in my mind forever. It is so difficult to put into words just how amazing this experience was but as you can see in the photos, it was truly magnificent.
As the light faded, I was bracing for what I knew would be an Airie buffet for the bugs as soon as I got close to shore. Some of the other ladies swam their boats back but I just made a run for it (or is that paddle for it?) to get in my tent to change into my bug armor as quickly as possible. Nothing would seem to deter the bugs this night. We all gathered around the fire protected in clothes from head to toe, many of us with just our eyes and nose exposed. They just wouldn’t stay out of our face. One of the genius locals picked a sea grape leaf off the tree next to us and used it as a fan. What a friggin life saver. I was able to keep my sanity throughout the night only because of that damn leaf. Leaves and I share a close bond now after this experience. I will never look a leaf the same again.
We had both hilarious and serious conversations around the fire for a few hours, some that would make any man squirm in discomfort. Lol. With full bellies and full hearts we called it a night.
–> For videos of the sunset, please visit my Facebook page as I cannot post them here.