Elizabeth Harbor.. 1/2 way thru the trip. We arrived Saturday and anchored out around Volleyball Beach & the Chat & Chill Bar. There's the Mainland (George Town, Great Exuma Island) then the large Elizabeth Harbor and then outer Stocking Island with several beaches and anchorages. There are a lot of boats that winter here and a Regatta that happens in mid March then it starts to thin out as everyone heads back North. We're behind the crowd, but thats okay with us. We quickly rode over to check out Georgetown and get a few provisions, then back over to the boat and beach to join the party. We soon met up with 3 other couples who have been on very much the same path as us for the last few weeks and by Saturday night we had 8 people on our boat for an impromptu birthday celebration. On Sunday it was more Chat & Chill, Kaliks, Rum Drinks and Fresh Conch Salad (so fresh you get to watch the preparer (Johnny) actually get the conch from the water, remove it from it's shell and chop and prepare everything while you wait. It's quite the show, but you need to order about 1-2 hours before you think you'll be hungry as Johnny is in no hurries. We have met some great people and I only wish it was possible to keep in touch with them all.
Turbo's been limping and not acting like himself since his adventure on Leaf Cay. One in our new little group is a Vet in her real life and she checked him out for us. He has some damage to one of the pads on his foot and hopefully with rest will heal up soon.
We've had no luck finding a camera here. They say the shipping could take a while and is very complicated. Some helpful people called the Sandals Resort at Emerald Bay. It's just about 12 miles north, so we're going to take a trip there in the next few days.
03/24/2011, Leaf Cay
Yep.. we lost him and were terrified.
After a short sail to our anchorage between Lee Stocking Island, Norman's Pond and Leaf Cay, we went off exploring and snorkeling. We brought along Turbo and after a couple of hours we were done and he needed a trip to shore. We decided to stop off at a beautiful beach on Leaf Cay. Quicker than David & I could secure the dinghy on the beach, Turbo was swimming to shore and then vanished! We called and called for him, then noticed several large iguanas coming out from the trees onto the beach. He was gone and we didn't hear any barking. We walked as far as we could into the island but there were no trails and it was thick with rocks, trees, brush and vines. Neither of us had shoes and little clothes. Iguanas are vegetarians and generally not aggressive except for the few touristy places where they expect to be fed. We already knew Turbo would be aggressive towards them so we had avoided the places we knew they were. Anyway, we didn't know if one swatted him with their spiked tail and he was off hurt, or if maybe there was some other sort of animal that might have gotten him. It was all very surreal. We traced his footsteps on the beach and then they just disappeared. After a couple hours of calling and searching we decided to head back to the boat to radio a marine science research center located on Lee Stocking Island to get their input as to how aggressive or what other animals might be on that island. The girl that answered was just a young volunteer and didn't provide any help.
We were thrilled when S/V Dolphin & S/V Janey arrived at this anchorage (friends that we had met at Little Farmers) and soon they were on the beach and helping search for him. We changed in to jeans, long sleeves and shoes and went back...literally crawling, climbing and making paths through the island. We were sure he was lost, badly hurt or dead, but needed to find him. David and I were on separate sides of the island. I thought I heard him bark, so I followed that sound and kept calling him. Then I thought I heard his collar. He's wearing 3 tags so it makes some noise. Then I thought I saw him running thru the brush, then nothing for a while. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me. I kept calling him and finally saw him again... he was very close and I thought he was coming to me, but then I realized he was getting side tracked by the iguanas and kept chasing them. I finally got close enough and grabbed him.. he was exhausted, but did not appear to be hurt in any way. He had been off for 4 hours chasing Iguanas!!!
We were very happy to see him, but he was definitely in the dog house for a few days.
On a brighter note, we're catching fish. Grouper and Snapper. YUM!
03/22/2011, Little Farmers Cay
Slowiy making our way South and finally, fish!! and lobster!! Spent a few days checking out Black Point Settlement on Great Guana Cay (3/17-3/18). There we were able to do laundry and pick up a few fresh provisions (Asparagus, Cabbage, Onions and Lemons) and some canned goods. We explored the island by foot and enjoyed cheeseburgers, fish sandwiches and a few cold, cold Kaliks along with internet and CNN at a local cafe. Oh.. and Ice Cream!! What a treat. Next stop was just about 5 miles south in anticipation of a strong "blow" we tucked in at Hetty's Land, Great Guana Cay (3/19-3/21). It was a great place to be as we barely felt some of the reported 25-30 knot gusts. Here we spent a couple of days snorkeling and fishing with good results.. fish and lobster!! It was a nice sized lobster and was cooked 3 ways. First I steamed it, then divided it up and made a lionfish and lobster creole (see below about lionfish), lobster with lemon, butter and garlic over angel hair pasta and finally lobster in cream sauce. Here is where we also found out we could not call (or use the internet) to add minutes to our Bahamian phone, so we are out of touch again until we could get to a real town.
On 3/22 we made our way to Little Farmers Cay. There are said to be 55 people who live here and I think we met almost every one of them. We loved this place. Everyone was so warm and welcoming. We were able to pick up some phone minutes and fresh bread. We enjoyed a very nice dinner at the Ocean Cabin of fresh grouper, baked mac & cheese and the standard side here rice and pigeon peas... then a few beers at the local bar with a mix of other boaters and locals. The weather is perfect and we are anxious to do more snorkeling and fishing and explore some caves at our next stop so.. on we go. We will definitely be back here.
So about Lionfish....
Lionfish are native to the Pacific region, often kept in aquariums. Since 2000 they have been seen in coral reefs along the southeast coast of the US from North Carolina to Florida and throughout the Bahamas and Caribbean. Thought to have escaped from an aquarium or Atlantis during a hurricane. Since they have no natural enemies, there is concern that they may adversely affective the native fish populations. In addition, the fish have venomous spines and may pose a danger to divers and fishermen. The spines are deadly to their prey, but not usually to humans. The Bahamas Department of Fisheries is looking for ways to deplete the lionfish population.
That being said.. I put in a call to Jason to have him check the internet for ways to cook them and now Dave & I are helping to save the Bahamas, one lionfish at a time.......
more later trying to catch up on 1 1/2 weeks.
03/17/2011, Bitter Guana/Great Guana
We spent yesterday at Bitter Guana Cay... beautiful, rock cliffs and a habitat of endangered and rare Iguanas. They were not bitter.. though TurboDog was and would have liked one for lunch.
The sea is a fickle mistress and sadly the harsh salt air has taken another one of our electronics.. our camera. Hopefully we can find one online and have it shipped to us in Georgetown. Our phone can take pictures, but we haven't yet figured out how to get them from the phone to computer. The picture posted with this blog is from Staniel Cay.
Heading today to Great Guana Cay. There is laundry, cafe with high-speed internet and a couple of shops. We also heard an announcement on the VHF this morning that there would be a St. Patricks Happy Hour and Jam!
03/12/2011, Staniel Cay
Staniel Cay is also popular for Thunderball Cave. It's a huge skylit cave/grotto. A couple of Bond movies were filmed there and "Splash". Google it if you can. You can swim in at low tide and snorkel around some beautiful reefs.
We walked around town. There are a couple of stores "The Blue Store" and "The Pink Store" and a bakery in "The Yellow House". All the houses near the waterfront and in the community near the harbor were painted brightly... very Bahamian!
Very happy to have fresh veggies and bread.
We hoped to catch some fresh fish or lobster by now, but no luck so far. The reefs that we can reach by dingy are surprisingly (or maybe not) lacking fish.
Sorry the blogs are getting shorter but internet is getting slower.
03/11/2011, Big Major's Spot
We stopped at Big Major's Spot for an afternoon and night on our way out of Exuma Park. Its harbor is big and well protected and there are many large trawler/motor vessels anchored there. Apparently this is a place many station themselves for the season... just a short hop to Staniel Cay for provisions, airport runs, etc.
Seems the further we travel south the larger the boats. There are a few smaller than us, but very few.
The picture here kinda speaks for itself. There is a small population of pigs who swim out to great you as you're dinging to shore. They got really close and were circling the boat. Out of concern for Turbo, we headed for a different beach.