I also observed a tiny finch flutter past and dip into the water a hundred yards away between the boat and shore. It beat its wings with a brief flurry of motion, propelling itself several feet closer to shore, but not breaking free of the water. It rested perhaps fifteen seconds and repeated its fluttering lurch ahead. I expected at any moment that some large fish would suddenly appear and gobble the struggling bird, but it kept on fluttering, resting fluttering, and resting, each time a shorter distance and with obviously fading strength. At last it fluttered no more. All motion stopped, and the small lifeless body floated off slowly on the current.
John immediately changed course and headed away from the spot where we had planned to land, in favor of a more isolated bit of shore near the end of the island.
Approaching landing beach I saw a dark cloud of something in the shallows. As I got closer the cloud resolved itself into millions two inch long dark little fish, swimming and darting as one amorphous mass, constantly changing shape and direction first one way and then the opposite, then swirling briefly into a tight vortex before become amoeba-like once again.
I set a course almost due west toward Logger Cay, passing between it and the northernmost of the Lark Cays. Instead of trying to thread our way through this challenging and potentially dangerous area, I took us north of the main Lark Cay, and turning southwest skirted along a very long bank of sand and coral, heading toward Bugle Cays.
On reaching the recommended distance to the south and west, and giving it a bit more, I turned due south to cross the bank, and watched with increasing apprehension as the depth gauge went from sixty to forty to twenty to ten in rapid succession. Going forward at a snail's pace, my hand on the throttle in case of a sudden need to rev the engines full astern, the depth reading progressed to eight, then five, then three, then one-point-eight before starting to drop to deeper depths, and I began to breathe again.
We ran up to the north east again, paralleling a line of small mangrove-covered cays. Reaching the spot indicated as an anchorage on the charts, the depth forty feet from the edge of the mangroves still read fifty-five feet. With John in the bow giving directions, we edged very slowly into a sheltered lagoon, decided that it was too narrow for good anchorage, and backed out again. John dropped the anchor on the muddy bottom as close to shore as we dared, and let out a hundred feet of anchor chain, finally coming to a stop in the deep water again.
We will be fine this evening unless the wind changes. In that case the first thing that wakes us may be the scraping of mangrove branches against the side of the boat.