The Big Turn...North
03 April 2013 | Black Point Settlement, Exumas
As usual. Sunny and hot 86F
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
- Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224
When we arrived in Black Point Settlement yesterday, there to greet us was a small flock of a particular kind of bird; a different colored bird. Shaped the same as a small seagull, we are all accustomed to seeing. As they flew over the boat, the underside of their wings was an unusual shade of cerulean blue. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t get a picture of one while in flight. However later in the afternoon we saw them sitting on a dock nearby at Regatta Point. They looked pretty normal. When they spread their wings the blue shade on their underside was gone. Can you imagine water so clear and cerulean, that its color reflects off the underside of seagull’s wings? It nearly defines the beauty of this place.
Located approximately halfway up (or down!) the Exuma chain, this place reeks of paradise. I know that I have said that before, maybe about every place we have been, but this one so far ties for first place. Just another small community, of less than 300 polite and generous people, happy with their lot in life. Born into a place where the streets are safe, life is simple enough to understand, and help is just a neighbour away. No luxuries here, not only because they don’t need them; they already have the best that nature provides. Located in a bay where the water is so clear you would not hesitate, except for its saline content, to pick up a glass and drink it. There is nowhere in the whole harbour that you cannot make out every lump on the bottom, in water that is over ten feet deep. You become mesmerized by the shadow of your boat and dinghy on the bottom, the large black manta rays leisurely gliding along, suspended halfway to the surface. They have the same amount of urgency the people have here.
Looking out to the Bahama Banks from the deck at the ‘laundry-mat’ we become almost hypnotized by the water color against the background of the blue further out framed by the rock ledges and short beaches on three sides. Ok, so it is not just the ‘laundry-mat’, but mainly known as the best laundromat in the Exumas. It also is a small convenience store, with very little of a few things; some staples, some motor oil, metal cleaner, and WD40. While you are doing your laundry you can also get free WiFi but best of all if you sit on a chair with your back next to the window, between the washers and dryers, the owner will give you a haircut! This one person operation also rents guest rooms and cottages if you wish. She also does the cleaning and always takes time to chat everyone up, and pass out a few hugs.
We arrived here after leaving an anchorage at Lee Stocking Island which was just off the abandoned Perry Institute for the Study of Sea Life. John Perry Jr., the son of newspaper baron John Sr., who funded the Foundation, was a pioneer in a number of things; aviation, deep sea diving, and the promotion of environmental concerns. The organization he set up on the island was designed to be organic long before green became popular. It is a shame to see perfectly good buildings, ponds, tools and machinery being given over to the elements or probably soon to be pirates. Just walking around it appears that one day the funding dried up and everyone left the next morning, with just their personal belongings. Everything is left behind right down to the open box of cornflakes sitting on the table and the grapefruit juice in the fridge. Really sad to walk around and see the investment of millions of dollars, at the start of its deterioration. Hopefully something will happen to rescue it.
Just up from there we were able to take a short trip to Leaf Cay, which we had been trying to visit ever since we arrived in the area seven weeks ago. This is the home of pink iguanas, although the pictures will show you they are really not pink. A bit smaller than the iguanas on Allen’s Cay, north of here but just as anxious for handouts. We read in the literature we may see some peeking out from the underbrush but these guys were out in force. Had we brought the literature with us I’m sure they would have eaten it! A family from Calgary were already there when we arrived and their children were feeding them vegetables and the “king” iguana was allowing himself to be lightly stroked. We went around to the Atlantic side to look for sea beans but the swell was so high we felt we wouldn’t be able to leave if we managed to make it to the beach. Instead I trolled a line behind the dinghy and right away something grabbed it, jumped to the top of the water and decided it would prefer to stay in the Bahamas rather than my stomach. I had the darn thing on for a minute with a steady pull but should have given it a jerk to set the hook.
So with that I will end with a bittersweet story. On the way from Lee Stocking to here, at Black Point, I decided to throw out a couple of lures and let them trail behind. Within fifteen minutes I had a three foot Mahi –mahi (also known as a dolphin fish) hooked and in the cockpit with blood all over the place. Because it was flailing around I got the hook out and threw the lure back into the water so it wouldn’t get tangled in the flapping fish. Before I had the line out thirty feet I hooked another one. I could tell this was big compared to the one inside. I’m thinking I can’t have two fish flapping away in the cockpit so I will draw it up to the port side of the boat. After a few flips and rolls he came up alongside as peaceful as a four foot dolphin fish could be. You can imagine the excitement. Chrissie got the gaff ready but thought the hook was really set and this one is easy to get aboard. I gave it a yank with both hands and over lifeline he came. He also came alive doing two foot thrashes on the side deck spewing blood everywhere; all over the deck, the windows, canvas and worst of all Chrissie. I was just about to do a belly flop on it when it spit out or tore out the hook. Ever try to tackle a four foot flapping fish on a side deck of a boat? The fish won and left to go see Dr. Fish deep down, about his cut jaw. Damn, I could already see the picture Chrissie was taking of me with a bull mahi-mahi across my lap, the dorsal fin from head to tail and with the smaller one lying on top of it.
That was the fourth fish I hooked with that lure so to make the story more interesting, I continued with the stupidity. Thinking the line was tangled up on the life lines, it would take a miracle to unravel it. Not so. You know that if you had the misfortune of sliding down a cliff to your death that you might reach out and something would snag you? Not going to happen you reply. On a boat with so many lines and ropes something is always tangled and knotted at the very time you need it most. Well, this was not one of these times. The line that was still coiled on the Cuban Yo-yo that appeared to be tangled around the winch, a couple of stanchions and both of the life lines was not. As soon as I pulled the end of the line around the lifeline, the yo-yo fell in the water and took the rest of the line and my best lure. There it was...gone. Now after the air turned blue and red all around me, I realized I lost my prize fish, my best lure, my mind, and my temper within minutes of each other. To say the least I almost lost a wife as she threatened to divorce me or throw me overboard, if I didn’t stop screaming in the new language I just discovered.
It will take me years to recover from this but I’m doing it in Paradise. We did fillet the first one and although we didn’t take a picture of it, (still too upset) we did get four nice filleted steaks from it. I could post a picture of those!
Have a great day.