02/03/2010/2:53 pm, Staniel Cay, Exumas
We've been having a grand old time - mostly in the Park - playing during the days and enduring wind at night - and are now back in Staniel Cay for a few days. Charles and Linda fly back to Canada tomorrow and we'll stay safely on our mooring till this next front blows through.
We've snorkeled and swam/swum? We've eaten well - played lots of crib (Charles and I are the reigning champs!) - enjoyed a few bottles of Kalik - added a board to the pile at Boo Boo Hill - read our books in the cockpit in the mornings and generally taken advantage of the delights of Bahamian life.
More over the next few days when we have to stay still!
28/02/2010/11:29 am, Warderick Wells, Exuma Land and Sea Park
With one front (meaning cold temps and strong winds) out of the way, we headed north to introduce Linda and Charles to the Exuma Land and Sea Park. We have never managed to get a mooring in the North anchorage before, so we said yes when Darcy offered #1. It didn't seem like such a mistake at first. We'd have been bouncing in Emerald Rock too, but ooooh boy.... However, I'm getting ahead of myself.
We tied up, dropped the dinghy and got ourselves quickly ashore. After checking in, we lingered on the deck to feed the bananaquits - those pretty little Bahamian birds that love to pick grains of sugar from our hands - and to enjoy the view. While we were there, Pat and Wayne (Kolibri) came along and of course we had to chat with these fellow Bayfield owners last seen in Vero Beach. We made our way down to the beach to check out the almost 60 ft long sperm whale skeleton (he died from ingesting garbage bags in the early 90's) and chatted with Wayne and Patti (Bum's Rest).
That first night was just fine out there at the entrance to the mooring field, and we all slept well. There were no mournful booo-hooos from Boo Boo hill from where the moans of lost souls sometimes drift on the wind; the wind behaved itself and the surge from the cut to Exuma Sound was minimal. Thanks to the kindness of our friends, we have a new sirius satellite radio so we were able to listen to our beloved CBC as we sat in the salon after dinner. Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe has always been a favourite, and it was especially sweet to listen to his stories after a couple of months of deprivation.
On Saturday, we enjoyed an exquisite day in the water. We headed out to the snorkelling site by the red buoy, floated above the coral, admired the variety of colourful fish and then, while Jim moved the dinghy, the other three of us walked all the way up the centre of the mooring field on the sandy shoal. It is just amazing to be able to walk along so close to where boats are moored in deep water. After another exploration of the coral, we dinghied across the channel to our favourite little "Turnabout Beach" where we picnicked and basked in the sun. (It was warmer this time than when we were there with Oz and Star of the Sea!)
We had thought we'd go ashore to the Happy Hour on the beach, but by 6pm, the seas were beginning to pick up and after much "Will we go? Should we stay here?" discussion, we decided that prudence indicated remaining on the boat. (An interesting little aside here - I hate to miss a party and I wanted to go, but I'm also averse to making potentially dangerous dinghy trips in big waves after dark so I had a lot of trouble making a decision here. The others were non committal, but when I finally said, "I think we should stay home" we all breathed a sigh of relief! Once the decision was made, even I knew it was the right one.)
The night got worse. We pitched and rocked and rolled in every possible direction. The mooring lines coming up over the anchor roller squeaked. The wind generator howled (while producing great power), a halyard flapped and the anchor lying on the deck slid around until I wiggled up out of the forward hatch and secured them both at about 3 am. (We didn't want to disturb our guests in the salon berth - as if they were really sleeping with all that noise going on? - and I fit better up through that hatch than Jim does.) After a night of napping, and some queasy stomachs, we decided we really needed to get ashore for some solid ground under our feet.
Fortunately, the waves laid down a bit and we managed to get ourselves ashore without getting soaked. We had a good chat with Bill and Judy (Jubilee) and set off to walk the trail to Boo Boo Hill to add our driftwood contribution to the Boat Board pile. Because the tide was low, the blow hole wasn't doing its impressive "blowing" but we had a look anyway. The walk along the beach on the east side of the island and over the sharp limestone rocks through scrubby shrubbery was good for all of us. On the way home, we stopped for a great visit with Lynn and Peter (First Edition) who had come in the day before, and whom we had last seen a couple of years ago on our first trip to these waters.
We had hoped that the next night would be a lot more peaceful, but those 3 balls out at the opening of the north anchorage are just not quiet ones, and even though the wind was down, we still moved around a lot on Sunday night. Dinner was pretty simple - pasta with a bottled sauce - followed by some mean rounds of crib and then just getting horizontal!
25/02/2010/11:25 am, Staniel Cay, Exumas
It's amazing what opportunities a one-word photography assignment can provoke!
Our friend, Charles, had a mission when he set off to walk the streets and beaches of this bit of the Bahamas: take "laundry" pictures for his photography group back home in Ottawa. That assignment took him into a back yard in Staniel Cay where he and Jim shared some laughs and conversation with the owner and "hanger-upper". Jim was a little hesitant about entering someone's yard and taking pictures of the clothesline, but Charles is not easily discouraged so in they went! The lady of the house laughed at his story and kindly posed for pictures as well as telling them about her flowers and shrubs. They moved on to the government wharf where they purchased a hogfish for dinner - cleaned and split into 2 lovely big fillets - and picked out a beautiful conch shell for Linda. She really wanted to find her own, but just in case that didn't happen, the guys decided to choose one from the day's catch. While the fishermen cleaned their catch, and the locals lined the wall along the beach, Charles picked up one after another and the group indicated which was the best. I must say, he brought home a beauty - a large flared and rippled lip tinged with orange and gold, with a deep pink interior. It is gorgeous.
As they walked down the road, fish in hand, Stephen came along in his golf cart and it was time for another photo op and conversation. He agreed to have his photo taken and took one of them also, while agreeing that their fish purchase was a good one. Stephen is the local electrician - having grown up here with his grandparents after his mother died, studied in Nassau where his father lives, and after getting his accreditation as an electrician, moved back to Staniel Cay where he is able to make a sustainable living. (All students have to go off island for high school and further education, and most of them go to Nassau where they can live with relatives. Charles visited the school and learned that there are 17 students and 3 teachers.) Also of note is that Stephen has one hand. This guy is impressive - smart, skilled and determined. Among all the bits of information he gave the guys was some real estate info. It costs about $1.5 million for a 1.5 acre lot with a beach view. Whew - I think we'll stay on the boat! Staniel Cay is experiencing a building boom at the moment, but they are being smart about it - no high density development that might change the character of the island.
It was so windy that we had to panfry the hogfish rather than grill it, but it made a fine dinner with peas'n'rice and cole slaw, and we dipped into the bag of chocolate truffles donated by Sandi and Steve (Princess) to finish things off. Mmmmmm.
We stayed on our mooring ball in Staniel Cay another day because of the first cold front of their visit. After a night when the wind howled around, and we bounced some, but managed a reasonable nights sleep, we got up, ate breakfast and headed ashore to Club Thunderball. The club is closed, but the solid dock is handy for those of us anchored and moored in this part of the harbour. From there, it is an easy walk down the road, up the hill past the dump, and then down the sandy slope leading to Ocean Beach.
Despite the strong wind that set the sailboats rocking, this protected beach was perfect for walking. Unfortunately, the temperature was cool so it was not perfect for swimming - unlike the days we spent there on our last trip. Also unfortunately, there were few pretty shells and no sea glass to put in our pockets. On the other hand, Charles managed to take a few pics of shirts draped on rocks and boards, we got some good exercise and we managed to spend a chunk of the day on land!