Wednesday, we left Crab Cay at sunrise for Green Turtle Cay, (35 miles and 7 hours away).
Due to navigational optimism, we were able to get into the, very shallow, Settlement Creek. Finding anchoring room for exactly one shallow draft sailboat, we decided it should be us.
Here we stayed, the whole time we were there, in the middle of New Plymouth settlement, 20 oar strokes from shore, restaurants, 2 hardware stores, and several food stores.
The settlement was decorated for Christmas, and folks were quite friendly, greeting us, helping us get purchases back to our boat, and once giving us a golf cart ride. Residents were in high Christmas mode, and there were Christmas carols (accompanied by drums) sung at 5:00 AM each morning leading up to the big day. Because of our close proximity to town, we were able to enjoy this music without leaving our boat.
One day we rented a golf cart and toured the whole cay (3 miles long). In Coco Bay, we saw stingrays (basically harmless), and turtles (watch your fingers).
Sunday, Christmas eve, we took an 8 hour boat tour, conducted by local diving character Brendal. We went to a beautiful Elk horn reef to snorkel where the water was so clear and the color of the fish so vivid.
Then we went over to Man Jack Cay where one of our guides did some lobster spear fishing. He and another member of our group caught about 8 lobsters. We then went to a quiet beach where we could sit in the water with stingrays. They would eat fish pieces from between our toes and seemed to enjoy being petted. Brendal was obviously acquainted with these stingrays claimed to know them by name. While we were watching Lemon sharks come up to the beach, Brendal was fixing us a wonderful lobster and snapper lunch. The weather was perfect and the company was great.
In spite of being tired, we attended Christmas Eve service at the Anglican church, a 30 oar stroke trip, pulling the dinghy up on the beach in front of the church.
The carols were familiar ones, but sung more primitively in unison with drums, and much enthusiasm. I believe we were the only ones to leave the service in a row boat.
Christmas day we went to a pot luck dinner for cruisers. One of the local restaurants (Sundowners) was closed for the day and allowed us to use their patio dining area right on the beach. Lots of great food and conversations.
It started getting a little windy Christmas night and Boxing Day started out partly cloudy. Our next leg of our trip takes us through “The Whale Cut” which is out in the ocean due to shallow waters between islands. We needed to wait another day for the wind to die down.
We decided to spend our last morning walking to Gillam Cove, a good place to find sand dollars. We walked a long, long way on the beach and found lots of great shells but no whole sand dollars.
We watched a squall come in and walked in the rain it brought with it. When we got back to the boat it rained quite heavily off and on all afternoon and we were able to collect 6 gallons of fresh rain water to fill up our tanks.