Our Family is Here!
24 February 2008 | Staniel Cay
Our "kids" were due to arrive on a private plane about 4:30 on Thursday... we thought. We rented a golf cart with Pat, Sean and Marg on Thursday morning and went off to explore Staniel Cay - up and down the hills on bumpy narrow tracks. We found gorgeous houses looking out over Exuma Sound and many unfinished building sites. We crept up such a steep slope that Jim and I - on the back - had to hop off to lighten the load. Eventually, we ended up at the Ocean Beach where we snorkeled on the Sound side of the cay, delighted in digging our toes into the warm sand and indulged ourselves with a fabulous picnic on a nice flat rock.
We made a stop at Isles General Store, noticing as we came out that there were people around a plane at the airport and thought, "That must be the flight that the kids couldn't make because the connection was so tight," and went on to the cottage we've rented to put things in the fridge. There, we met Bernadette - owner and artist - who said, "Your party has arrived at the airport and a taxi went over from the Yacht Club to get them!" This was a full half hour before what we thought was the earliest possible arrival time. So - in true Bissell/Lusby form, we were late. Fortunately the family is quite used to this and was unfazed. We scrambled back in the golf cart and tore off (remembering to stay on the left hand side) to meet them. We rounded a corner and there they were in a double golf cart... Liam, Alex, Mary Beth and her friend Will hanging out the back, with luggage, packages and an extra passenger everywhere else.
It turned out that MB and Will had breezed through customs in Nassau and brought only carry-on luggage. Liam and Alex had arrived in Nassau the day before and met them at the main terminal so their timing was wonderfully efficient. The pilot (in jeans and T-shirt) was leaning against a wall at what is now called Oddessy terminal. As they passed by him he queried, "Alex?" (one of the only two names he had). With an affirmative answer from one of them, he whisked the group into his little plane and away they went. Mary Beth said that she sure hoped he had the right Alex and that they were going to Staniel Cay! They were full of stories about the adventure. None of them had been in a 6-seater plane before so it was a grand start to the trip.
"Atlantica" cottage, like "Shipwrecked" - the one Pat rented - is just sweet. There is lots of room for the four of them, with visits from us. The décor is nautical, the view superb, and we had Madcap anchored right out front.
Since it was the final night for the Sullivans and the first for the Bissells, we all went out to dinner at the Yacht Club - Cracked Conch, Mahi Mahi, Chicken, with delicious conch chowder and salad to start, and cake and ice cream to finish. Some of the crowd retired early while Jim, Liam and I lingered a bit with Pat and Sean to stretch out this time of being neighbours again.
Friday was the mandatory visit to Thunderball Cave - two dinghy loads - and they all marveled again at the fish and coral, lit up by sunlight in the dark cave. We visited Miss Flo at the Pink Store, lounged about on Madcap, and generally had a low-key day to get everybody rested up - although card games seemed to go on into the night after our chicken BBQ on the deck in front of the cottage.
The plan was to go off to Cambridge Cay on Saturday, but you know what happens to schedules when cruising... The outboard motor chose that day to act up - it wouldn't start for the longest time, then when it did and I headed into shore, it quit halfway and wouldn't start again. After some rowing and a tow from a friendly neighbour, I landed on the beach. The boys tinkered with it, rowed it back out to Madcap where Jim tinkered with it, and then he rowed back to the Yacht Club where they called Jack to come have a look. He couldn't see anything wrong, but cleaned the carburetor and changed the spark plugs anyway, and it started up fine. Go figure.
With plans changed for the day, we ferried loads of people out to Big Majors Spot to frolic with the pigs. They were all delighted with this, although only avid photographer Alex seemed to be really excited by the discovery that one of them was munching on the remains of one of the goats we had seen there last week. Yech. Jim had to stand guard after another one tried to climb into our dinghy to grab Liam's red jacket. With that minor precaution, it was perfectly safe to be on the beach. Those pigs only wanted food - and if our hands were empty, they weren't interested in us.
The evening brought another BBQ at the cottage and more rousing card games. If everything goes well, we'll be off to Cambridge, and maybe Pipe Cays today (Sunday) for an overnighter or two. That will make for an interesting time - 6 of us all piled every which way into Madcap's cabin and decks! Stay tuned to see how that goes...