03 May 2010 | Big Major's
12 April 2010 | Sampson Cay
05 April 2010 | Bennett's Harbour, Cat Island
04 April 2010 | Bennett's Harbour, Cat Island
29 March 2010 | Cat Island
25 March 2010 | Conception Island
23 March 2010 | San Salvador Island
04 March 2010 | Sand Dollar Beach, Georgetown
02 March 2010 | Sand Dollar Beach, Georgetown, Great Exuma Island
28 February 2010 | Thompson Bay, Long Island
22 February 2010 | Calabash Bay, Long Island
18 February 2010 | Emerald Bay
14 February 2010 | Little Farmer's Cay
11 February 2010 | Staniel Cay
09 February 2010 | Little Farmer's Cay
08 February 2010 | Little Farmer's Cay
03 May 2010 | Big Major's
Cheryl/Dunno, I’m not there
David has been remiss. Apparently he is having too much fun to keep you all informed and update the blog. So if you don't mind your news second hand, here goes. After I left the boat David sailed single-handed down to Little Farmer's Cay. "Blue Blaze" and "Joyous" sailed there as well. Jason would be off the boat for a week working so he wanted to get Laura settled somewhere where the people were friendly, there was an airport and he knew she would be safe. Jason left for Florida just as David's dad, Harry, flew in. Harry stayed on the boat for about ten days. According to reports he said, "It was a trip of a lifetime" and that's saying something when you are 82. They were adventurous and hiked to the local cave where they swam with little curious shrimp. They sailed. They fed the iguanas on Bitter Guana Cay. They walked the beaches and the island. But it sounds like the best part was getting to know the locals at Little Farmer's. The people there are friendly, kind and respectful of their elders; they loved Harry. They truly appreciated his adventurous spirit and willingness to travel to such a remote place. They all ate and drank and played until the ten days had flew by and Harry had to leave. David couldn't say enough about how much he enjoyed his father's visit and the people who made it a success both the locals and our sailing buddies. Harry flew out on the same plane as Laura's brother and his partner who had also come to visit. Morgan flew in almost the very next day! Morgan having just finished up shooting his latest movie (see trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M7m3XDoM-o ) was able to arrange his schedule so he could spend the next three weeks helping David sail the boat back to the States while enjoying the trip of a lifetime himself. Since his arrival it sounds like the action hasn't stopped. They have fed the iguanas, visited the swimming pigs, swam with the sharks, snorkled daily, bonefished, sailed, drank and have eaten many a gourmet group dinner. Together they have started videoing some of these expeditions and promise to send those to me for uploading here on the blog as soon as they have solid Internet. That may not be until they reach the States but it will happen. "Joyous" has headed up the line and started the return to the States like our other friends, "Freedom" and "Sea Fox" and so many others. "Blue Blaze" and "Cloud Messenger" will start that trek as well this week. They have plenty of plans for excitement along the way but they are definitely turning the bows North. I, selfishly, am relieved. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE that Morgan and David are having fun and spending such an incredible time together BUT the sooner they head North the sooner David will be home with me. If you want to know what I have been doing since I left the boat, I have been showering daily, buying loads of fresh vegetables and not checking the weather forecast.
Stateside for the Crew
18 April 2010
The last few days on the boat were bittersweet. I had fun hanging out with everyone in Sampson Cay. The snorkeling was enthusiastic if not real spectacular. I did see some new creatures including a Peacock Flounder. We spent one day just hanging on the beach in a thatch covered gazebo, playing volleyball, eating, laughing and just relaxing in the beautiful surroundings. Jason and I teamed up for one game everyone seemed to think just because I grew up in California I should automatically be an expert volleyball player. Thank god we won and I didn't shame my home state with my total ineptitude. Saying good bye to David was heartwrenchingly difficult. But Ali I returned to the states yesterday. We are currently back in California although not quite home yet. We survived the travel day. It started at 5:00am so we could get to the airport two hours ahead. We made it through security and customs and onto the plane. But just after I gave the little-dog-man his tranquilizer they decided there was trouble with the batteries
(wouldn't hold a charge) and they canceled the flight. Great.....now
I had a drugged pup and four hours in the airport. Then they finally
sneaked me on...first class!... to the next flight, 11:30am. Everyone
else from my original flight had to wait for a new flight at 1:30pm.
I obviously missed my connection though so when I got to Atlanta I
went through security again so Ali could go outside. He was still
woozy but managed to go pee; standing on three legs was a struggle for
the poor intoxicated little guy. Ha. I then learned there was a
flight leaving Atlanta for SF at 2:30pm rather than the flight I had
been rebooked on at 4:30pm. So I made a mad dash, racing to another
terminal and just made the flight. I was the last person on and the
last seat on the flight. Of course the last seat was a middle seat in
coach. Squishy long flight later we arrived in SF. Ali was quiet and
fine the whole flight...I think the drugs were STILL working. I
arrived in SF at 5:00pm California time: late, tired and of course (since I
changed flights) no luggage. I got the rental car but with no phone I
just had to trust Jenny and Rhys were still expecting me. I drove there and was warmly welcomed, thank god...but actually I didn't have
much doubt that I would be. My luggage will be delivered later this
morning and I made it back in one piece to California so it all worked
out well. The only hitch is I miss David already, terribly! I LOVE that man. David enjoyed a singlehanded sail to Little Farmer's the day after I left. It unfortunately left him sore and beat-up because of the wind being straight on the nose the whole way there. Glad I missed it. :-) David's dad arrives today and they will have a week on the boat together. This is my last blog until next season but David has assured me he will carry on with the boat news until he puts the boat up for the hurricane season, possibly by June. I'll be reading right along with the rest of you.
12 April 2010 | Sampson Cay
We left Cat Island and sailed to Warderick Wells, the main area for the Exuma Land and Sea Park. The park is like an underwater zoo. No one is allowed to fish there, even in the surrounding waters, so the sealife is abundant. The day we arrived Laura and I snorkeled within sight of the headquarters. We swam with two sea turtles, not just in the same water as two sea turtles but swam right along with one of them. She cruised along nice and slow and Laura and I cruised right along with her. We could dive down and get right next to her and just keep moving right along side her. Blissful. It was magical. In this same snorkeling spot we spied the hugest lobster ever! Not just one but many. They were tucked into the crevices of rocks like most lobster but they were also out walking around on the sand! We even watched two lobsters battle it out over a hiding place. These were two truly massive male lobsters.....Lobzillas. It was epic. We also saw a large Eagle Ray although not as large as the one I saw at Cat Island. This one was darting along like he had somewhere to be and following right along was his Ramora fish companion. The fish here seemed to grow to enormous proportions. I saw the biggest File fish and Angel fish I have ever seen. The snorkeling was so impressive we went right back to the same place the next morning with David along so he could see as well. Later in the afternoon we went on another snorkeling expedition, this time all four of us. We took the dinghies and tried to move outside the normal snorkeling areas to find a place less visited. We found a rock cluster a few miles away and were rewarded with the most beautiful coral garden. The coral was spectacular and colorful. Jason took underwater photos which turned out stellar yet still cannot convey the beauty and majesty of the life we found there. We sailed from there to Sampson Cay on a clear sunny day. Sampson Cay has hot showers, laundry facilities, internet and a grocery store, ahhh civilization! I stood for extra long under a hot indoor shower and felt like I had won the lottery. Then I covered myself in freshly cleaned clothes and felt like a new woman. By late afternoon John and Roberta on "Freedom" sailed into the anchorage flying their red No Quarter pirate flag of the armada, where our two boats waited with our matching flags streaming a welcome in the wind. Yeah, we were reunited. A lively dinner followed that evening with everyone trading stories of their adventures. The second day at Sampson we all six snorkeled together during the day and our boats were joined by Paula and Barry on "Sea Fox" by the time we returned. We all met on "Sea Fox" for happy hour but soon dinghied into the Sampson Cay Club for a restaurant dinner to celebrate Laura's birthday. I baked a chocolate cake with carmel frosting and brought it along for dessert. We all had a grand time. Yesterday Laura, John, Roberta and I went drift snorkeling looking for some conch while Jason and David herded around the hundereds of bonefish on the flat they had found. That morning we had heard from Alan and Suzie on "Joyous" and they would be arriving by late afternoon, looked like another night of re-bonding was going to be in order. The whole group met on "Sea Fox", always the hosts since it is the biggest boat, and ate Hog fish caught by "Joyous" supplemented by fillets of Mahi Mahi generously donated by a boat that had caught more than they could store! Thanks "Candace Rose"! John and Rick joined us for dinner since they had kindly offered up the fish. Everyone had a great time and we seem to have taken over the Sampson Cay anchorage with our flotilla of boats. Hail, hail the gang's all here!
05 April 2010 | Bennett's Harbour, Cat Island
Cheryl/Puffy High Clouds
Each day starts with David tuning into the Chris Parker weather forecast on the SSB but immediately after he begins his collecting and adjusting of the numerous needs for the day of bonefishing. Rods and lines and flies and infinity other paraphernalia gets gently packed up. A piece of fruit and a cheese sandwich get tucked into his pocket and he's off. Not to be seen until dinnertime. It is so great to see him return, relaxed, happy and fished out---for the day anyway. Over dinner Jason and David excitedly tell fish stories from that day's adventure. Yesterday as they walked the flats a Lemon shark started up the stream straight for David. Usually harmless, this one kept coming closer and closer to David's bare feet in the water. Just as the shark got too close David pointed his rod down into the water and shook the tip to distract the shark and hopefully lure him in another direction. The shark instantly jerked his head toward the splashing water and snapped off the tip of the rod with a slash of its razor teeth! Good thing it wasn't David's toe! But not so good that it was one of David's fly rods! Luckily he has other tips on the boat and the repair was simple. They even had extra rods in the dinghy so it barely even cut into the day's fishing time. Yesterday morning, Laura and I snorkeled the reefs North of the anchorage and although the fish population was not very big it was good because it got me looking closer at the smaller sea life and I saw amazing little things. Laura found some incredible shells. I saw a Cow Fish and a Bristle Worm. Two things to check off my list of first time fish sightings. Then in the afternoon we went ashore and walked on the road for a bit admiring the flowers and the many stonework house ruins. We stopped in at the local roadside "bar" where we chatted with the locals. They convinced us to try the "bush medicine" they have bottled. They swear they drink a little everyday for good health but one tiny, tiny sip was enough for me to know I'd rather be unhealthy! Yuck! They have a variety for woman and a variety for men. Amidst much giggling and blushing they related that the men's variety is suppose to make them extra virile. We asked if it is suppose to work like the conch pizel and they laughed and agreed. You could see them chortling and shaking their heads wondering how us silly cruisers knew about the conch's Viagra like potential. Anyway, they invited us to their Easter celebration to be held the next day in the afternoon on the beach right in front of our boats. We told them we wouldn't miss it and headed back to the boat for our own private Easter dinner. We had the last of the lobster since the season ended on April 1st. We saved the last two HUGE tails for the dinner. We ate until we could barely move. This morning, Monday, the men headed off again to tame the elusive bonefish population and Laura and I snorkeled the South side of the anchorage including the wreck inside the government dock area. Just as we were returning to the dinghy I dove down to pick up a conch. As I slowly rose toward the surface I suddenly realized there were two ENORMOUS Eagle Rays swimming right behind me! It was like being snuck up on by a baby elephant. I actually squeaked with mild terror just at the sheer size of the creature lurking directly in my wake. I caught my breath and moved calmly towards the dinghy, swimming along with my new large friends. As I reached the dinghy I was amazed to peer through the crystal water and see an entire congregation of Eagle Rays moving out of the channel and right by me. Fifteen, probably closer to twenty, Eagle Rays of varying sizes silently glided past; beautiful ghostly birds of the sea. Just then Laura arrived back at the boat, just in time to witness the quiet underwater parade of spotted giants. Well satisfied with our adventure for the day we headed back to the boat for lunch and to get ready for the beach party this afternoon. Even the guys will be returning early to join us on the sand for some local festivities.
04 April 2010 | Bennett's Harbour, Cat Island
Cheryl/Lovely East Winds
We survived the wind driven chop that caused a rolling, bouncing anchorage at New Bight, Cat Island. So we were glad to move on to Fernandez Bay where we were more protected and the boat lay calmly in the water. This bay curves gently up to the powdery sand beach of an old established resort, Fernandez Bay resort. The resort is beautiful and most of the staff were wonderful. They have an honor bar, fully stocked, you write down what drinks you have then pay when your stay is over. The gift shop is also self-serve! I admire the trust and am not surprised that it works well for them. We met many of the regular guests and it seems a huge amount of their business is from returning customers. Some have been coming for literally years. The food is very good and two mornings we came in to have the sumptuous breakfast buffet. We rented a car and traveled the length of the island on the first day checking out all it had to offer. The people were friendly everywhere we went. The second day with the rental car just Laura and I went out and we spent the entire day stocking up on food from all the different little grocery stores. When we leave this island our plans are to go to the Land and Sea Park where there are no services, including no groceries at all. So now was our last chance for many weeks. Each little store has a slightly different selection of goods. One might have a good selection of fresh tomatoes while another is the place to get fresh baked bread. You have to search out all that each little enterprise has to offer. We found two restaurants, both run by hard-working Jamaican women, that we loved: Yardie's and Coconuts. We stocked up on conch salad at one and Jamacian paddies at the other. The paddies are meat turnovers filled with beef and exotic Jamaican spices. Marlene at Coconuts gave us locally grown sour oranges to include when we make our own conch salad on the boat so that it will taste as good as the native salad. Apparently that is the secret ingredient. She was so happy with us because when saved her run away conch. When we arrived Laura ordered cracked conch for lunch. But Marlene said she had all her conch in a bag in the ocean behind her shop and they had gotten away, so no conch today. Well Laura and I came to the rescue. We quickly grabbed our snorkeling gear out of the rental car and headed down to the water's edge. We spent half an hour and retrieved almost the entire batch of runaway conch. Thankfully they are very slow moving so they hadn't gotten far. We were heroes! We ate a huge amount of extremely fresh cracked conch. When we finally had our car filled to the brim with all our supplies we returned to the boat and began the laborious process of lugging all our purchases from the car to the dinghy to the boat. We spent a busy evening on our respective boats trying to find the space to put all the new goods away. The next morning we returned the car and then spent a leisurely afternoon snorkeling some rocky points not far from the boats. This was the first time I did a swim through snorkel. There was a cave like spot where I could dive under on one side and holding my breath emerge on the other side of the rock. Dozens and dozens of tiny tropical fish take refuge inside the rocky cave and it was a beautiful underwater experience. Also in this area was a remarkable amount of hermit crabs in abandoned juvenile conch shells. Laura and I dove down over and over to get an up close view of their little crabby pinchers hanging out of the shells and shoveling minute food particles into their tiny waiting mouths. Also really cool was the super tiny jelly fish swimming freely through the water. At first I just thought they were small bits of algae floating along but the miniature pulsing of one little jelly caught my eye. Then I looked closely at all the little specks and each one was a contracting, flowing, swimming creature. Fascinating and beautiful.
The next day we would be headed out to the next stop. Only twenty miles or so up the coast was the next bonefishing creek and the guys were intent on seeing if it could possibly be as great as the last. Cat Island was surely proving to be a great spot for bonefishing. The flats were pristine expanses of clear, shallow bonefish havens. David and Jason had story after story of huge bonefish and large schools. Each day they were returning to the boat with sunburned happy faces and fish tales to astound and amuse us. We anchored next in Bennett's Harbour. We had all driven past here just days before in the rental car but it seems like a whole other country when you arrive by sailboat. We shall see what this area has to offer, more watery beauty I am sure.
Conception to Cat Island
29 March 2010 | Cat Island
Cheryl/ from mild to wild
The weather has been completely cooperative here on Conception Island. Each morning starts with a beautiful sky, azure seas stretching as far as you can see in three directions and a silky, white sand beach sparkles in
the fourth direction. We routinely listen to the weather by Single Side band (SSB) radio each morning although nothing remotely alarming is in the forecast. We then savor our fresh ground Cuban coffee and contemplate how we will fill our leisurely day in paradise. Usually first up is a long stroll on the beach so Ali can madly race greyhound-like over the sand. He stops occasionally to frantically dig small holes just big enough to stick his nose in and get it covered with the soft, fine powder. Once he is thoroughly worn out we can leave him happily napping on our bed while we snorkel or I snorkel and David bonefishes until hunger drives us in from the great outdoors and back to the boat for lunch. In the afternoon we rest, read, bake, nap or fish together from the dinghy; any or all. Life couldn't be any less complicated or lazily blissful. The evenings are filled with socializing with other boaters. We enjoy the bounty we have gathered or rummage around in our stores to find some appetizing contribution to the potluck suppers. Our days are punctuated by small, interesting events. Yesterday we saw an immense sea turtle just drifting in the warm waters, soaking up the sunshine. Her head was the size of a cantaloupe. One day, after our afternoon fishing expedition, David was standing over the swim ladder preparing to jump into the waters off our boat to bath. Just as he took one foot off the rail he happened to glance down as a six foot Lemon shark glided out from under the boat and right directly under the ladder. I wish I had a camera handy. I would have titled the photo, "Look What We Found in the Shower!", and it would have shown the ladder, the shark and David's panic stricken, shocked, face. Close call. Overhead Tropic birds wheel and chase each other, a most intensely beautiful sight. These rare endangered birds are plentiful here and are answering the onset of Springtime with their echoing calls for a mate. They swoop and swirl around each other in mid-flight with their long, long white tails streaking out behind them. The snowy color of their breasts are so blindingly, bleached white that as they wing their way over the blue waters their feathers reflect the colors beneath them, so that they have a subtle, greenish tinge on their underbellies. We tossed some mushrooms overboard that we couldn't use. The floated along like in a perfect little row. Almost immediately a big Puffer fish arrived. I'm not sure what he thought the mushrooms were but he was determined to have them for lunch. He would approach one of the bobbing little caps and raise himself halfway out of the water to try and get his pinched little round mouth around the mushroom. You could clearly see his bulbous eyes above the waterline as he made attempt after attempt to snag the floating morsels. It was adorable and sad at the same time as each try at the buoyant tid-bits failed.
Last night we were reunited with the friends we made in Harbour Island on "Mojo" and hosted them and Jason and Laura on Cloud Messenger for a lovely, lively dinner. We all six scrambled excitedly around trying to hook a large Amber Jack that showed up under the boat. No luck. Then today we heard other friends, also originally met on Harbour Island, on the radio. They are headed into our anchorage tonight. And if I know John and Christine there will be plenty of fresh caught fish on "Gabrielle" for us all to share. Tonight we and our friends have all been invited to cocktail with new friends on "Anastasia" on the beach where they have set-up for a bonfire. The recent day to day paradise we have been experiencing makes the trials of bad weather and hard work almost fade into dim memory.
"Gabrielle" did arrive that evening and in time to join us on the beach. Unfortunately hoards of flying squirrel size mosquitoes joined us as well and even though we doused ourselves heavily in repellant the festivities were cut short. The bug free dinghy ride back to the boat was like driving through the heavens, clear, dripping stars and the water was liquid velvet. The next day the crews of "Gabrielle", "Blue Blaze" and "Cloud Messenger" met up in the afternoon for some surprisingly sunny, warm snorkeling. Surprisingly because we unexpectedly woke up to 25 knot winds from the NW which had the boats rocking and us scrambling to close down the hatches as the dark clouds rolled overhead. Luckily the large squall passed after a few hours and Nirvana was returned. We saw beautiful Elkhorn and Staghorn coral. David loved this snorkeling the best. He said it felt like diving on Atlantis. To him, the large stands of coral rising up looked like stone pillars of a forgotten city. This was deeper stands of coral then we had been snorkeling and the feeling of swimming through ancient crumbling towers was awe inspiring. We swam and dove for hours filling our eyes with water soaked visions of grandeur. We swam through a small break in the coral to be confronted with a mid size Lemon shark slowly cruising by. We ducked back into our hole like wary reef fish and waited for him to pass only to leisurely swim out behind him and follow in his wake for awhile. It was a fitting end to our days at this beautiful uninhabited island. The end to our evening here was spent on board "Gabrielle" enjoying the bounty of John's fishing labors, as I knew it would be. Naturally he had caught fish on his way over from Georgetown the night before, he rarely goes without. Both of our boats brought side-dishes and we all ate our fill of the fresh fish. The next day we headed out for Cat Island and it was a brisk, smooth sail. We reached speeds of over 8 knots at times. Lobster season is only open until the first of April so finding some was one of everyone's top goals for the next few days. I was determined to find a lobster because it might be one of my only chances left and although I have eaten my fair share of lobster this season I have never actually been the provider.
Cat Island is beautiful. Laura, Jason, Ali and I dinghied into the shore and walked a mile and a half to the grocery store. David stayed on board the rocking ship. The houses are frequently made of stone and they are either completely ramshackle and abandoned or immaculately kept-up with fresh paint and lovely gardens. Everyone we met greeted us with smiles and cheerful hellos. We reprovisioned enough to see us through current wind from an unfortunate direction. Later when all calms down we will rent a car, see the whole island and make a huge grocery expedition. As we tried to make our escape from the shoreline we slightly miscalculated the timing on getting our bags of groceries, the dog and all three people in the dinghy. The outcome of that mistiming was a boat full of water, some bruised ankles, shins and egos. Jason had to remove the engine entirely to get the boat light enough while we bailed and pumped out the water to get it floating again. It was a dicey, adrenaline producing few minutes. Long enough minutes though for all three (+ Ali) of us to get completely soaked, like swimming in our clothes soaked, as well as all the groceries. Tonight we will stay on our respective boats, regroup our morale and hope the forecasted shift in the wind comes quickly.
Lobster success! I am the provider. Largest lobster tail to date. Photos to follow.