After one night in Hopetown, we decided to take advantage of favorable winds and weather and head to the Bank. In particular, Tilloo Bank.
The Bahamas are riddled with sand banks, gigantic and not-so. The white sand is part of what gives Bahamian waters their characteristic blue color. Tilloo Bank is located, not so surprisingly, just off Tilloo Cay. Tilloo is a lightly populated cay (with a handful of residences) just south of Elbow Cay (where Hopetown is located). Just past the midpoint of the cay, is a typical beach — white sand, clear water, casuarinas, a few artifacts.
But beyond the sand lies a swath of vegetation, and beyond that, a large, shifting sandbank that feels like a giant swimming pool. At low tide, the water is as shallow as 1 foot, even a hundred or more yards off the shore.
You can see clearly where the bank ends and the regular bottom begins, by the change in water color. We can’t anchor on the bank because it’s too shallow.
The boundary between grass and water provides ripe pickings for treasures such as sand dollars, sea biscuits and sea urchins.
A good-sized sea biscuit, about the size of the front of my foot, in about 3 feet of water.
Apparently, you’re not supposed to take any goodies from the Bank, so we left empty-handed.
However, other denizens of the sea grass seem to be conditioned to look for handouts, attracted as they were to the sound of our outboard, our wading, and even the sound of my kayak paddle.
The stingrays aren’t as skittish at Tilloo Bank as other places I’ve seen them. One even passed under my kayak. As soon as the tide turns from high to low, they come out.
Even though we didn’t get to bring home any sand dollars from the Bank, it’s sheer pleasure to just bob around in its clear, silky waters. We took the dinghy out into the middle of the Bank, anchored it in about 18 inches of water, and swam until we got pruny.
Ripples in the sand.
We spent 2 nights at Tilloo Bank, until the wind turned more southerly. The second night, we rocked and rolled and slept little. It was time to move somewhere more protected, so we sailed to Marsh Harbour, the “metropolis” of the Abacos.
We’re in Marsh Harbour for a few days — picking up (fingers crossed) some parts from the importer, filling our tanks and larders, and getting ready for the next weather window (fingers crossed even more), which will take us to Eleuthera and on down to the Exumas.
We haven’t forgotten the season. Without TV and shopping malls, we are enjoying a more simple holiday season.