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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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mmmmm conch!
80, cloudy, Calm to NNE Winds 10-15 (???) in the afternoon
02/22/2009, Frazer’s Hog Cay, Berry Islands

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The winds died down after a bit last night so we got some sleep. Lazed about this morning, then tried to see if I could fix the light in the head. It was brighter than the one Wayne uses for reading so he was going to switch them, only they were totally different and the one in the head broke when he tried to take it out. I couldn't fix it, but was able to remove it. We went over to the restaurant/marina to let them know we'd taken a mooring last night and to see if they had wireless (yes), showers (they're not working), and to see if we were still on for dinner (yes). Hilda was in the process of bruising the conch as I rounded the corner into the kitchen. So I got a short lesson in how to bruise conch. I told her I was looking forward to dinner - hers is the first conch I'll being trying out and when she had asked me yesterday how I'd like it served, I told her however she thought was the best way since I'd never had it (she thought this funny that I'd never had it). Wayne had zip, zero, energy today so no work - we dinghied over to the point of the Hog Cay to see what was there, then went ashore at the beach area. While going to the beach area a turtle passed under the dinghy - man can they move! It was nice to see one alive. I'd like to know what killed the one we found on the beach. The poor thing looked pretty much in tact. Saw some starfish, large nudibranch and a small jelly or two. Several small conchs, I picked up to exam, and then I had to take pictures of them before letting them go back in the water. Their little eyes were looking at me with curiosity. I felt bad - because guess what I'm having for dinner tonight...

We went over to the restaurant a little later than I planned. We're expected for dinner at 5:30pm but I wanted to go over an hour to an hour and a half earlier to access their Internet and check email, post to my blog and check the weather forecasts. I do truly not like having no radio contact. I feel blind - weather wise with no Internet access, VHF weather, or even AM/FM...Not really a good situation. Anywayyyyy... I packed up my laptop in a garbage bag so it wouldn't get wet, and when we got ready to get in the dinghy, the wind and waves kicked up in opposition with the mooring ball going under us (our boat follows the current) and the waves slapping at our stern. Messy situation. The dinghy was doing it's own jig so we decided to wait a bit until the boat swung around with the dinghy on the other side. I decided to package my laptop inside my tote then put that inside another garbage bag.

When the mooring ball goes under the boat and drags along the bottom popping up on the other side - the sound it makes is awful. You'd think we were running aground listening to it scrape along the side then go under the keel and up the other side - yikes! By the time we were able to get the dink by the stairs, out of the waves, and get to shore, it was already close to 5pm and I could see Brigid and Denny approaching in their dink.

The restaurant was locked when I got there, but Hilda opened up when she saw me peeking through the window. I asked if she was open - yes. Then if anyone else was expected for dinner (there was one table set up for four people) - no, just us. I felt bad about having her do this for only us four, then remembered that that's how they make a living and they only prepare what they know they will be able to sell, so I tried to not feel guilty about keeping her in the restaurant on a Sunday night. We ordered a couple of beers (it helps the economy) and I got my laptop set up but couldn't pick up the Internet connection from the tables or out front. It turned out that the wifi access is a 5 ft section of the bar (smart?), so Brigid & Wayne were chatting at the table with their beers, and both Denny & I sat at the bar sipping our beers, checking our email and me posting as fast as I could to the blog before I lost service or dinner showed up. While we were doing this, Hilda came out and wanted to know if she should start the service yet or not and I told her that whenever she was ready - I was looking forward to it, but we weren't in a hurry. After a half hour or so, she let me know it was coming out so I shut down and went and sat at our table for my first taste of conch. I asked her what it was called - the way she served it - it's cracked conch.

It was served with a traditional Bahamian slice of baked macaroni and cheese, rice and peas, and salad. I now know why everyone loves it! It was incredibly sweet, and the large pieces were tender - not rubbery at all like I expected. She set out a side of a sauce - like a mayo, cocktail sauce in case we wanted that. It was wonderful without the sauce and with it. Hilda set the standard by which I will judge all other cracked conch! I wish I'd have brought my camera! The table setup was so pretty (just for us) and the dinner - what a plate of food! I couldn't eat it all but I sure did try my best (I DID eat all the conch on my plate). It reminded me of sweet clams only more so. These strips were the size of chicken tenders or strips of chicken breast and oh so delicious! I made sure that I told her how good it was several times (it really was) and later she asked me if I knew how she made it. I said I'd watched her beat it, but other than that - and her deep-frying it - no. She said all she does is dip it in a mixture of egg and cream, and then into the flour and then into the fryer - that's all. I can't believe there's no secret spices or something - but she said that's all... I told her I'd watched some fishermen getting them out of the shell and she explained how to get them out also. I may have to try this - sorry little fellas if I get one of your relatives - or maybe I'll just continue to support the local fishermen.

We were going to download the pictures I have of Aurora to a CD or jump drive for Brigid & Denny only we didn't have either so that will have to wait. We did check out the weather and it looks not so good for Andros and a northerly exposed anchorage until at least Thursday.

Hilda is from Andros and has been here since April. I guess there's no work to be found there so she came here. She's been here since April and pretty much runs the place by herself. Her boss lives in Nassau and the owner lives in Texas.

It was really dark when we left and still choppy. The winds are really picking up again and I have a feeling that they'll be running against the current again before to long.

The Day Continued
02/21/2009, Frazer's Hog Cay Berry Islands

We dinghied to the beach and walked back to the lake (yes it was a lake). It was a bit more dried up than when we saw it yesterday so it must be open to the ocean somewhere not visible to us. We followed the sand/coral road (more path) northward and came upon some ruins that appeared to have been someones home at one time. It had a garage/workshop out back and steps built into the coral/stone that led up a path to the house that had a wonderful view of the water and Aurora (Den & Brigid's boat) Naturally I had to take a picture. On the way back to the road we ran into Brigid & Denny. They were coming back from the other ruins further up the road. We decided to walk to the Berry Yacht club for beers and maybe some conch fritters. We got the beers but no conch - they only had fish and chicken wings so we ordered both. Half an hour later the lady called me back to the kitchen to tell me they had no fish. So we all had chicken wings, which she served to us with a small salad and fries. She said she'd have conch for me tomorrow so we said we'd be back for dinner at 5:30 (you have to let them know ahead of time if you want dinner or they won't have it). This is a cute little place & we met the progeny of the man that built it. They were here to scatter their dad's ashes and were telling the lady that they'd bring pictures of the place and how it looked back then. Pretty cool.

After we left the Berry Club we walked to the other side of the island where the water was very shallow. We passed the area where all the trash is taken. It looks like nothing ever leaves the island that comes on to it. We collected some shells and wandered the coral rock then headed back for the beach. The waves were up out of the east and the wind was howling. I was glad to see Kolibrie was still at anchor even if her back end was pointed toward the shore in shallower water. When we got back to the boat (wet dinghy ride through the waves) the depth was reading 7.5 ft and we were close to high tide. The anchor alarm showed we'd moved 60 ft toward the shore. With the wind pushing at us toward the lee shore we took a committee vote of two to move. We considered moving out to where Aurora was, only they looked like they were rocking more than we were so we decided to pay up the $15/night for a mooring and take one in front of the Berry Yacht Club. The winds are picking up again as I write this.

Heavy Winds
02/21/2009, The Berry Islands - Frazer’s Hog Cay (N25*25.782 W077*49.871)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wow, what a night. The winds picked up and we were hobby horsing. Every two and a half hours I was up and checking to see how far we moved and in which direction. It was interesting because I loved having the breeze come through the hatch above the bed and feeling it blowing across my face, but every time it gusted, I thought about the boat rocking and kept listening for the anchor chain and waiting for the boat to chatter. I laid in bed until I could make out Wayne's features in the twilight then got up and looked around outside. The moon is a small crescent and the stars were fading with the light. Brigid and Denny were still at anchor a distance away to the north, the yellow boat was getting ready to leave and 3 other boats on the moorings were pulling out at first light. Two of them came our way as they hoisted their sails into the wind then swung around and out of the channel.

I played a couple of computer games and downloaded pictures from my camera while having my morning coffee then made some blueberry pancakes for breakfast. I thought I'd be using the last of the blueberries but still have some left. Guess I'll have to make some muffins soon.

Wayne took a look at the energy dissipater and tried to do something with it and I swept up the cabin sole and cockpit, shook out the rugs and did the breakfast dishes. Enough work for the day - now lets go explore some of the island.

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