Yesterday we were anchored off Shroud Cay, a small Island in the Exuma's. It's claim to fame is the dingy ride that can be taken thru the large mangrove swamps- which make up most of the Island - to the opposite, Eastern, shore. I have certainly read and heard about this and was keen to experience it myself.
Due to some nasty looking clouds and squalls it wasn't until around 11am. that we set out. We weren't quite sure when high tide was but it looked to be around this time. We took a quick look at the chart which showed us the general direction of our route and off we went.
It was very lovely riding along , surrounded by mangroves, not another person in sight. At times the water was quite shallow, a couple of feet, other times deeper, we could see the sandy bottom. We found our left turn easily, the "river" took it's left curve and then in the distance we could see the cut through land and out to the ocean. Our "river" now opened out into a large area and Ian mentioned that we should get our bearings for the return trip ( do you see where this is heading ).
Well, we made it to the cut and the Eastern shore, beached the dingy and enjoyed a lovely long walk along an empty sandy beach. It was beautiful.
|Looking out from the mangroves to the cut and the Eastern shore|
On our return to the dingy we noticed that the water was now flowing out through the land cut into the ocean at an excelerated rate, the tide was now going out. We got the dingy back into the water, started the engine and almost immediately, where as on our way in we had enough depth, the prop was now touching the sandy bottom. As we looked ahead at the large open area ( mentioned above) we could now see mangrove shoots sticking up above the water that had not been visible when we had arrived. Obviously the tide was going out. Fast! We stopped the engine and both got out of the dingy. The water was up to our shins. We walked ahead, pulling the dingy behind us, at this point there was enough water for it to float. Looking around, everything looked different and we realized that we could not tell where our "river" back to the boat was located. I believe it was at this point that Ian commented that we had the combined IQ of a chipmunk!! We had gone out into a mangrove swamp, there were no signposts out there and we had not brought along a GPS unit. The height of stupidity!!
We knew the general direction we needed to go and so continued to walk along dragging the dingy behind us. But we could not find the deeper channel back anywhere, it was shallow all around us. As we continued on, searching for our "river" pulling the dingy got tougher as it was now bottoming out. Frequently as we walked along on the squishy sandy bottom we would suddenly sink down a deeper hole ( similar to walking thru snow drifts) and fall into the salty water.
At some point we stopped, sat on the dingy, both pretty pooped by now, and our reality hit home. We were lost. The tide was still going out. The water was getting shallower. Next high tide would be in about 6 hours. It would be dark in about 4 hours. We had no flash light. No GPS. No VHF radio. No food. About a quarter bottle of water.
Well. The thought of spending the night out there in our dink ( dingy) didn't appeal to me so I suggested we keep moving, somehow, anywhere was better than staying put. We still had a general idea of which direction we needed to go. There was a small spit of land beside us which we felt we needed to get around so first we had to back track a little. We did that and then as we looked around, off in the distance ( not in the direction we thought we needed to go) I saw a break in the land and ocean, it was the Western shore, hallelujah ! It was not the opening thru which we had started our " adventure" but it would certainly do for our exit.
We still had to drag the dingy, by now there were only inches of water, for about 400 yards. But at least now the end was in sight and we both worked hard, me pulling and Ian behind pushing that dingy until finally, finally we reached water deep enough for it to float.
We both fell into the dingy, found enough strength to pull the cord to start the engine and dingyed out of there and back to the mothership.
Back on board Zooropa we were exhausted and seriously thirsty. Later that night the winds picked up and the temperatures dropped. It would have been a miserable night out.
We have now made an extensive list of all equipment to consider before any dinghy excursion. I suppose the height of stupidity would be not learning from this experience.