Six Bodies in a Boat
27 February 2008 | Cambridge and Fowl Cays
I'm happy to report that the family has survived - even thrived - on 56 hours of togetherness aboard Madcap.
On Sunday morning we motorsailed up to Cambridge Cay again - successfully navigating all the troublesome bits - and picked up a mooring ball. We were surprised to find several available. After a quick lunch we were all in the water to explore around the little island that we so enjoyed last time, and then we left Jim onboard to run the generator while the rest of us piled in the dinghy and went off to see the submerged plane and the "aquarium".
We were certainly blessed with great weather for this excursion. Five people very nearly overloads our dinghy - would overload it in anything but flat calm conditions - and those were the conditions we had. Snorkeling was superb again - no current - lots of sunshine. Our gang has taken to snorkeling and diving with great enthusiasm - diving down for pictures and closeup encounters, in and out of the water at every opportunity.
Jim and I took a run over to the beautiful sandy beach where a sundowners party was being hosted by Mike and Julie of Rachel - the host boat in Cambridge Cay that week. It was terrific to meet up with Jim and Jeannie (Estelle) and their guests Eugene and Florence, and also to meet several other cruisers in the area. Jim last saw Estelle in Florida where they shared American Thanksgiving with the crowd at Steve and Sandra's while I was on a visit home.
I had purchased some meat in Staniel Cay that we took to calling "mystery meat" - probably some type of lamb chops - but they must have been pretty big lambs! We BBQ'd them that night and served them with boiled potatoes and salad, followed by homemade banana bread from the Blue Store. The taste and texture of the chops were...interesting...
Liam put the pieces together for an extension that Jim had been planning to one cockpit seat, and flaked out there for the night. Mary Beth, Will and Alex arranged themselves on all the salon berths and Jim and I kept our forward berth for this experiment in how many people we can have overnight on Madcap. Despite minor complaints of a hard mattress on the port side and an insert that kept slipping out of a cockpit berth (now fixed by our problem solving expert), the gang was amazingly rested and good-natured.
I cooked up some corn grits (delicious - and an OK food for gluten free MB) and Jim fried eggs and we kept multiple pots of coffee going to start off Monday, followed by a walk for some of us on the Sound side of the Cay.
Because things had gone well, we opted to stay in the area for another night, and made a short trip through the southern approach to this anchorage - passing safely by Kiss Rock and across the channel to Fowl Cay - often called Chicken Cay. (There is another Fowl Cay down near Big Major's Spot.) Someone told us about this spot and it was a fine little anchorage for the winds we had - very light SW. We enjoyed snorkeling around all the edges of the little U shape, and finally being in an anchorage with just two other boats. It was a short dinghy ride over to the Rocky Dundas - another Don't Miss spot. The caves here were just fabulous - once again, we snorkeled in at or near low tide. Once inside, we could stand up and walk around, gazing at the stalactites and stalagmites. We swam over an impressive stag coral just outside, and when we chatted with other visitors, they said this was the best visit they had ever had there - the current and tide were just right.
The young hunter/gatherers tried to catch dinner (the park boundary runs through the cut so fishing was legal in Chicken Cay) but caught only a tiny little fish that happened to swim by as the big one swam away. We were back to mystery meat. This time, I chopped it up, browned it with lots of onions and garlic, added curry powder, canned tomatoes and some water and stewed it up till it was "fall off the bone" tender and served it with rice to sop up the gravy. Mystery meat stew received rave reviews! I had baked a chocolate cake just in case the main course needed a good follow up so dinner was a total success.
After checking the forecast, Mary Beth and Will opted to sleep up on the foredeck. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but around about midnight, a sprinkle of rain woke me up, and as I went outside to drop the butterfly hatches, I met the two of them scrambling for cover. We did a fast emptying out of the aft cabin (aka garage) and put one person in there so we managed to have everyone under cover. It was just amazing what could be done with some quick shuffling of equipment and bodies, and it was easy enough to put things back to rights in the morning.
After one last swim and snorkel followed by a pancake and maple syrup feast we left through Conch Cut and motored down through Exuma Sound to Staniel Cay. The wind was on our nose and the swells were big enough to give us some salt spray over the decks, but the wind kept us cool and the motion felt right. A highlight of the trip was the Barjack Jim caught - our first success at fishing! Liam had another nice one on his line but he got away. The entry through Big Rock Cut went smoothly even with the strong current that allowed us to make only 2.5 knots with the engine at 2600 rpms. We rounded the Crown of Thorns and tied up to one of the 7 moorings in front of Club Thunderball. The boats at anchor just north of there were sitting in really calm water, but because we wanted to spend most of Wednesday ashore, we chose a mooring ball for that extra peace of mind. ($20. per day - Club Thunderball)
We all went ashore to the Club for Happy Hour, a few games of pool and a beautiful sunset. I think maybe Club Thunderball is struggling a bit. Each time we have been in, there were hardly any people, but the food was tasty and the service friendly - it just hasn't been the "happening place" that the Yacht Club seems to be.
The wind came up on Wednesday as predicted, and Jim and I donned swim suits for the ride ashore. We rented a couple of golf carts and headed off to Ocean Beach. That turned into an entry into the "funny story" category because the electric cart Jim and I were in had hardly any power and we had to keep getting out to push it up hill. We made it to the beach, had a marvelous day there snorkeling and picnicking. Too bad for me that I decided to take my contact lenses with me and put them in my eyes there. One blew away so without my glasses I couldn't see worth a darn and missed all the excitement of lobster hunting on the reef. Jim and Liam each had their hands on one but he was too powerful for them and managed to pull himself out of their grips. Oh, to have had a spear with us...
While Jim traded in our failing golf cart for another, Liam and I headed out to Club Thunderball to have a look at how much Madcap was bouncing around. We laughed when we met another electric cart struggling to get up the hills, and we turned around to follow them back to town, Liam hopping out to help push, while I followed behind. When we finally got a look at Madcap, she was bouncing a little, but nothing like the boats out in front of the cottage.
We'll have one final dinner together tonight, celebrating this great vacation together, and then Jim and I will don swimsuits again for our journey back to the boat. We'll come back in to take the young'uns to the airport in the morning.