A Magical Evening of Exploration

The subtle light of mornings and evenings has been a favourite of photographers since the technology first appeared. It is during the transition from, or to, the blackness of the night that creates the shadows and contrasts, or rich saturation’s of colour I enjoy capturing. The low angle of the sun results in a shift of the colour of light to the warmer end of the spectrum, the result is subtle glow in pictures, not unlike the warm glow of the fading embers of a fire. Plus, the sunlight is gentle on ones body without the searing ultraviolet light and intense brilliance of mid day. Mornings and early evening are my favourite time of day to get out and explore the beauty that surrounds Oh!

We are fortunate on Oh, to have many ways to enjoy the mornings and evening outings. The inflatable, a row boat, paddle boards, and swimming, are all great ways to get off the boat for some exercise or just get ashore, to explore the natural settings above the sea. Once ashore, all you need are open eyes and a curious mind to see the magic all around you. Our natural world is shaped by many forces, some subtle and so slow we cannot actual see them at work, others can be fast and furious. However, over time they all leave their tell tail signatures.

Small bits of twigs, shells, beach rock and pebbles create wind shadows in their lee. A change from prevailing easterly to south westerly winds created these ripples in the sand perpendicular to the shoreline. Shadows cast by the evening sun highlight the interference of the consistent pattern of ripples by the deflection of wind around inconsistencies in material on the beach. The larger the object, the greater the effect.

Further along, a tidal inlet leads to a large tidal flat, and mangrove swamp. The temperature of the sea at Oh! measured 28 degrees Celsius, (82 Fahrenheit), perfect for a warm swim. The shallow creeks of the tide flats at low tide were much warmer. In some places it was like stepping into a warm bath. The channel banks are lined with rock from the solidified ancient sand dunes, mangrove shoots and trees, as well as the stunted palm trees and contorted trunks and root systems of the hardy vegetation that in many paces seems to grow out of solid rock. The patterns and textures that form on the trunk and root systems have always fascinated me.

At the end of the tidal creek, it broadens into a large pool, flanked by steep jagged banks of karsted limestone. A break in the end has formed a natural sill, or dam that holds warm waters of the intertidal creek system in, and holds back the cooler waters of the Exuma Sound. During calm weather at high tide waves from the sound crash and flow over the sill creating “Rachel’s Bubbles”.

The deep pool is most likely a result of powerful waves that would crash over the sill and scour out the bottom during storms. Here nature has created a gem to relax and enjoy the foaming cool waters of the sound as they mix with the warm waters of the tidal flats. If you a lucky enough to have a high tide at sunset the setting while enjoying the bubbles is stunning. Climbing up to the top of the ancient dune provides views of the tidal inlet and Rachel’s Bubbles that are an incredible blend of all the very best the Exuma Islands have to offer. The rugged cliffs of the eastern flanks, or “Exuma Sound side” of the islands demonstrate the stark contrast in the power of the forces nature unleashes there, versus the gentler forces that the western or leeward side of the islands face. It is hard to capture the beauty of this stark and harsh landscape with a camera. Everything is different here. It is a landscape of sharp rock beneath your feet, the amplified sounds of wind and waves beating on the shore, and deep blue colour of the ocean as the bottom drops quickly into the depths of the sound. These are two very different landscapes only a few meters apart. Compass Cay is a nature reserve and the northern end is isolated from any development.

A trail along the crest of the island allows for long walks in the gentle light of the morning or evening sun. If you take the time to explore the trail you will be rewarded with the sounds of the sea, whisper of the wind wind, birds chirping, the rustle of small lizards in the brush, and a rugged topography shaped by winds and waves that is almost overwhelming in its intense beauty.

A tiny isolated beach amount the sharp rocks and cliffs of the windward shore could not be passed up and half an hour disappeared as the I enjoyed the warm waters, soft sand and free foot massage.

A small lizard, only 20 cm long keeps a watchful eye out for birds and scary looking Red Aliens with a large eye that keeps getting closer before the click of the shutter causes it to scamper to the safety of the rock crevasses.

As the sun was setting the tide was had almost filled the small channel and flooded the flats. The warm waters and soft sand of the shoals beaches felt really good to walk in. You could be more relaxed and unlike the trail along the ridge, not have to be as attentive to where you stepped.

I had deliberately tied “Tadpole” high up on the bank of the channel anticipating the rising tide. It was a good thing as I had walked much further and longer than planned. Somehow that just happens when on a trail that just compels me to keep going for no other reason than to see what lies beyond the next corner, or hill.

The final treat of the day was to simply relax on the beach at the waters edge, with a soft warm breeze and waves massaging my feet. A perfect place to watch as the sun slowly painted the clouds with a pallet of bright orange, red and violet colours. If you want some time to get away…cruising in the Exuma Islands is a great place to accomplish that.

The row back to Oh! was a perfect ending to an amazing afternoon of exploration and relaxation.

Cheers, from Oh!

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