Sleeping on the rocks
Riding Rock sits in between the sapphire waters of the deep Florida Straits and shallow turquoise waters of the Bahama bank. We pulled up closely to the rocks around 8pm after a 16 hour sail across the dark glassy waters of the tongue of the ocean and the calm perfect conditions of the Bahama bank. The stark difference between the first 8 hours of sailing and the final 8 for the day is much like the changing scenery when exiting a dark night and welcoming a cool calm morning. Dark glassy six thousand foot depths transformed in minutes to inviting calm crystal clear ten foot depths of following seas.
Riding Rock is not an island but a limestone formation that’s sits 10 feet above the ocean surface. Sailors use the rock protection as a quick hold when hurrying from the Exumas to Florida with little time for relaxing at anchor. The June weather was quickly turning from calm perfect days to thunderous rough storms and it was time to get home and tie up the Southern Star before hurricane season lights up.
Above the rocks the formation is home to hundreds of squawking birds that took the shape of common vultures and unknown crooked ominous red beaks and dark black scattering stone crabs. Below the sea is a threatening mix of large schools of barracudas and hammer head sharks with the occasional relief of a sea turtl . Upon our arrival, we were greeted immediately by a large hammerhead that bumped our Southern Star repeatedly with his fin stretched and thrust above the waterline almost as if a warning shot was being fired. We took the warning seriously and decided not to let the kids cool off in the land of the scary creatures that’s circled both above and below us. We would spend only one hurried night anchored here and felt much like the stone crabs clinging safely to our Southern Star and scrambling for safety by lifting the sails and heading due west for Florida at first light. Our goal was to head southwest towards the keys and anchor up near Tavernier Key before cutting through Islamorado into Snake Creek through the Everglades and into the salty blue and green Gulf of Mexico. Sounds simple enough.