National Family Island Regatta
04/28/2012, George Town, Exuma
What a week of fun! This is our third year in the Bahamas and our first in attendance of the National Family Island Regatta. It is so neat to watch as Regatta Point transforms into Party Central. We already knew that Bahamians know how to throw down from our experience in Rock Sound a few years ago but it has been a while. By day, the crowd is slightly more conservative, attending the three daily races. By night, the place gets bumping and jumping.
On Thursday Maxwell was lucky enough to get on a B-Class sloop #7 out of Acklins. Unfortunately, during the completion of their first lap they were wrongly advised by a committee boat on which side to round a mark and were disqualified. Later this was resolved, but they did not finish the race so his on-board time was cut short.
We have been anchored on the town side of the harbour with an excellent view of the races from our deck. Often times the boats warm up by sailing through the anchored boats. These sloops are so beautiful...handmade out of native wood, Bahamian owned and Bahamian captained. The size of their sails and length of masts and booms are crazy. Hence the need for the planks off the side with men as ballast.
We have really enjoyed being here and glad that we came back to do it.
The Hardest Part Of Cruising
04/10/2012, Black Point, Exumas
There are many things that are difficult in this charmed lifestyle but the toughest thing for us, by far, is saying goodbye. We meet SO many interesting people who become fast friends and no doubt will be lifelong companions. But they are not neighbors across the street or members of a home softball team. They are explorers like us, traveling and searching for their dreams. By chance we have crossed paths and touched each other's hearts marking special places on all of our internal maps. We never know if or when we will meet again and because of this our farewells are bittersweet.
Goodbyes happen throughout the trip but seem concentrated this time of year. Most of our friends are either heading back north or points farther south, all at different speeds. Whether we cruised long term together, for a month or just a few days we cherish each connection as one of the best parts of cruising.
Up To Speed
03/31/2012, George Town, Exuma
Since our last post about Long Island we have been places! Our first trip to the Ragged Islands was so delightful that we decided to do it again. This time we traveled with our friends on Joint Venture and Kianda. We had an awesome sail from Thompson Bay to Flamingo Cay where we spent five nights. By day we were fishing the inside reefs because the winds were too thrilling for us to brave the outer ones. By sunset we happy-houred either alongside a campfire or in each other's cockpits. It is a lot of fun to travel in small groups of like-minded people...we all had a great time.
After that we backtracked north to Water Cay for two days of relaxation and our friends worked their way ahead of us to George Town. By then the wind had moderated but we were subject to residual swell that wrapped around the island gently rocking us from side to side, side to side. That sucked. Two nights was about all that we could stand of that and our water tanks were nearing empty so it was time for us as well to be underway to George Town.
We departed Water Cay around 06:30 knowing that we needed to travel at least 5 knots to make high tide at Hog Cay Cut. Now we had had strong winds for about 4-5 days prior but where were they then? Our main flopped because of the wave action and our jib checked out so we had to motor...the entire way. Luckily we did make it through the cut with no issues seeing 5'6" just briefly as we passed the skinniest spot. Knowing from past "experience" that Anastasia likes to continue floating until 5'4" most days. Whew! That was tight! Maxwell remarked that he would love to be in the water to watch us pass.
Once we made the turn toward George Town the wind returned, on the nose! Come on! So we motored, still. Now chugging into short chop. By the time we made it into Elizabeth Harbour we were spent. With only enough energy to make a pizza we settled into the night, happy to be rid of the roll and anchored once again among friends.
The lead shot is with our buds on Kianda & Joint Venture. From left to right: Dave & Jess, Maxwell & Jen, Brad & Sabrina.
Love, Love, Love Long Island
This is not a newsflash...we have been in love with Long Island since day 1 of setting foot there three years ago. But it is SO much fun to repeatedly return and STILL love it as much as we did then. We keep finding new things that amaze us about this place and its people.
This morning we are actually in George Town but Long Island is in the cross hairs of our afternoon adventures. For now we are filling up on water and doing some laundry. Hopefully tonight we will be sleeping 40 miles SE of here.
Internet has been sketchy over the past few weeks. Sometimes we can get it and sometimes we cannot. I will try to write more when I can. Cheers until then!
The Rugged Ragged Islands
02/28/2012, Jumentos Cays & Ragged Islands
The guide book reads "Cruisers must be totally self-sufficient here; there are no services to speak of in the entire chain." That line alone was enough to intrigue us into exploring the super-remote string of islands sitting below the Exumas.
We had heard about this place on our first trip through the Bahamas in 2010 but never made it there until now. The stories about the "fishing grounds" were always amazing but somehow it never worked out for us. This year the Jumentos Cays and Ragged Islands were an absolute MUST. That was settled before we even left the Chesapeake Bay in November.
They are called the fishing grounds because that is where the locals go to do their serious fishing. And if you have been following us for any time at all you know that we are serious about fishing too! Day one: after 3 hours out we returned with 2 hogfish and 3 lobsters. Day two: 5 lobsters, 6 conch and 1 hogfish. Day three: 8 lobsters. We ran into a big problem. Too much seafood! The only evident solution was to empty the freezer* of all non-seafood items. Of course we ate like kings from our fresh catch but it was too much to consume in one week so we made sure that we could save every little bit.
In packaging the fish and lobster for the freezer I learned a few tricks to save space. The lobster tails make a magnificent presentation when cooked in their shells. But those big shells take up so much room. A few years ago I remember seeing lobster meat, out of the shell, for sale in the grocery store in Marsh Harbour. So I knew what to do...and I de-shelled 7 tails that now take up less than the space 2 would have. Plus, with this much meat your recipes must go beyond steamed lobster with garlic butter!
Even if you are not into fishing there is so much to do and see in these islands. As we moved from one to the next we marveled at the beauty. There are a lot of beaches to walk and even cliffs to hike. The snorkeling is amazing. I was shocked at the size of some reefs. They can be really tall or low and long. And so different! I only recognize a few types of coral by name but there are so many kinds in all colors. Truly lovely to see.
I am not sure if we will make it there again this season but it is definitely on any future itinerary.
*Our freezer is very small to begin with. It is about the size of most people's lunch boxes...which makes the real estate that much more valuable!
Octopus On Board!
02/13/2012, Long Island, Bahamas
This season Maxwell has really hit his fishing stride. Not just fishing behind the boat while we are traveling but spearfishing too. Of course we are always on the lookout for spiny lobsters but as we learn more about the creatures on the reef, our options grow. The other day we were swimming the amazing and large reef off of the northern tip of Long Island together when we surfaced at the same time to Maxwell bellowing "OCTOPUS, OCTOPUS!" I looked down and there was a black cloud of ink just below my flippers. Once it cleared I saw the grayish blob still clinging to a nearby rock. It took Maxwell a few dives just to pull him loose.
Later when we were back at the boat, having speared a lobster as well, we were a bit perplexed as what to do with the thing. Maxwell's job is catching and cleaning and mine is cooking. I read about the octopus in a few of my books learning that they are actually in the mollusk family, have 3-D vision and memory but no real interesting recipes. There were the basic steps of how to tenderize and precook it--so that is what I did until I could figure out something appetizing.
The next morning after it was cleaned, cooked and chopped into segments it hit me...Octopus Pizza! I sliced the meat into thin rounds and sauteed it with shallots, garlic and lots of butter. I made my crust and smeared the buttery octopus mixture over the unbaked crust, topped that with big chunks of buffalo mozzarella and parmesan. After a spell in the over we dined on the most amazing seafood pizza I have ever eaten! Actually the taste was similar to that of scallops.
It was a lot of work, prepping and cooking, but a delicious step out of our normal food box.