Ottawa Faces in Staniel Cay
19 February 2008 | Staniel Cay
Beth -weather 30C humid - water sure feels good
What a treat it was to dinghy to the beach and find Pat, Sean and Margaret just alighting from the golf cart taxi. Pat and Linda and their sons Sean and Peter were our neighbours in Ottawa, and Pat decided to bring his son, Sean, and his mother Margaret south for a little sunny R&R. They have rented the "Shipwrecked" cottage, and will base themselves there while they explore the area with us.
We headed over pretty quickly to the Yacht Club where Margaret and I got acquainted while the fellows took over the pool table. We were too late to make dinner reservations (selections need to be made by 5pm in most restaurants around here and there is generally one sitting - the bell rings at 7pm here) so we ordered from the bar menu and were all happy with our mahi mahi (veggie burger for Sean). The place was loud, busy and friendly - a great intro.
We heard a cheery "Madcap, Madcap, this is Shipwrecked" on the VHF on Monday morning, and soon afterward, Jim ferried our visitors out to the boat. Sean had covered every nook and cranny within minutes and after a general tour we left Marg to relax on Madcap while the rest of us dinghied to Thunderball Cave.
This grotto was made famous in an early James Bond movie and is certainly worth a visit. Low slack tide was 11:30 am - the best time to go - and there were many dinghies tied to the two mooring balls. (Note - when we left we discovered another dinghy - a big, empty one was leaving too. It had been tied to OUR mooring line, not to the mooring ball. That bit of carelessness meant we had to motor back up to the mooring ball, uncleat his line from his boat, untangle it from ours, thread it through the proper place and tie it up again. It reminded us to be alert about multiple tie-ups.)
At low tide it was possible to snorkel through the opening into the cave without having to dive underwater. Great throngs of fish milled around in search of the breadcrumbs people often bring for them, and light shone through the holes in the roof, illuminating the coral, sponges, and fish. It was a bit of a crush as lots of folks swam in and out of the small openings, and the fish were really up close and personal. I think I prefer to snorkel over fish that just go about their own business on coral heads, and in less crowded places, but this is an interesting spot all the same. The shafts of light shining down into the water were beautiful and seemed almost like spotlights.
Sean had a blast feeding the fish and was a real trooper as he swam in and out of the grotto. He also proved to be a natural at handling the dinghy - exercising good control and getting us safely from one place to another. The three guys made a trip over to Big Majors Spot to feed the pigs. Two pigs waded out to greet them and received carrots and celery for their efforts.
We made the rounds of the grocery stores in town to top up the larder and fridge, and then it was time to gather on the beach for the school fundraising supper. Parent volunteers ladled up Chicken Souse, Conch Chowder and Stewed Conch. The Chicken Souse was a sort of stew with little chicken drumsticks - fall off the bone tender - potato and onion in a tasty broth. The difference between the two conch dishes seemed to be the colour and flavour of the broth - one was darker than the other. Jim had Stewed Conch (dark broth) and said it was delicious. It was a pleasure to meet many new cruisers and visitors and especially to discover Raoul and Karen (Issandra). We met them in a shed at Iroquois Marine back in Ontario last winter when they were hard at work repairing and preparing their bottom (boat bottom, that is) next to our friends Christian and Mireille (Nomades).
Margaret will enjoy the sights and sounds of Staniel Cay (yes - the roosters crow here just like in the Abacos) for the next two days, while Pat and Sean move aboard Madcap for a sail up to Exuma Park for more snorkeling. We'll be back in Staniel Cay late on Wednedsay.