04/09/2011, Long Island
From Emerald Bay we headed back south towards GeorgeTown. We tucked in south of the area in the Red Shanks/Crab Cay area waiting out a blow. On Saturday I made a chicken, sausage and tasso gumbo. A guy on one of the boats in the area came by when he saw "Lacombe" on our boat. He said he had kept his boat in Oak Harbor Marina for 15 years prior to Katrina. His name was L.A., had a thick souther accent, he was alone as his wife had flown back home for a week. I invited him back later for some gumbo.. he couldn't hide his excitement. We invited another couple, Rich and Danee of Dolpin, neither were quite sure what gumbo was. We passed a great evening with food drink, great company & bad jokes. On our last night in the area L.A invited us over to his boat for a "sundowner"... around here this usually means drinks, snacks and conch horn blowing as the sun goes down. On Wednesday or Thursday (yes I have officially lost track of days) we headed out to Long Island. It was a nice sail and we put our fishing lines out and all we caught was one stinkin baracuda. The island is 76 miles long with many small settlements. We knew we wanted to rent a car here and our friends on Dolphin decided the same so we shared a very small car. It was quite the adventure with Dave driving on the left side of the road. We first headed south to Deans Blue Hole (I'm going to mark this on our google map) Its the largest blue hole and it happened to be Day 1 of the Worlds Free Diving Championship. We were able to get in the water and snorkel so long as you didn't get in their way. That's some crazy stuff.. we watched one girl try to go for 103 meters. She made it to the bottom and passed out about 1/2 way back up. There are other free divers stationed along the way back up in case this happens.. It's just a part of the sport.. people passing out all the time. On the northernmost end of the island we had to travel 2 miles on a rock and dirt road up to the Columbus Monument for one of the most fabulous views we have seen yet. We visited some churches, plantation ruins and bars.
Today we will head a little further north to Calabash, Long Island for just a day or 2 and get ready for our trip to Conception Island or Rum Island (depending on the winds when we leave). Each day we write our plans in the sand....
We do miss home, our families and friends, especially this time of the year.. We'd be getting the yard in shape, planting veggies, crawfish boils, French Quarter Fest, Wednesdays at the Square, Moms Day, Easter, Dads Day and Jazz Fest... and that precious little baby Roman. But we'll be back home soon enough.. time flies as we've already passed our 1/2 way point. Gotta make the best of what's around. Each place is more beautiful and different than the last.
04/02/2011, Emerald Bay Marina
After 2 days of luxury and armed with a camera it's time to go.....
We arrived here Wednesday at Emerald Bay Marina, Great Exuma, in search of a camera. This is a luxury yacht type marina with luxury yacht amenities ( at a budget price)....free laundry, wifi, hot showers with spa-like shampoos, conditioners, lotions and potions, an air conditioned cruisers lounge with plush chairs and couches and several large TVs, and a golf cart escort to drop off you off at the local markets. Someone invested ALOT of money in this place 5 years ago. We understand it closed for 8 months and changed hands and, sadly, I believe it's future is questionable. There are about 10 or so Luxury yachts here, but mostly just salty sailors like ourselves.
Now, we do have a water-maker on board... but there is still a certain amount of conservation needed and the engine needs to run to heat the water.. so the luxury of a nice, long, hot shower after several months was really, really nice! Plus the unlimited wi-fi.... we immediately decided we would stay 2 nights. Our driver took us to the Sandals Resort nearby and we were able to find a decent waterproof digital camera. Would have loved the nice Pentax with a ton of zoom, but considering our luck with electronics this trip, we went for the more practical, compact, waterproof fuji, with 5x zoom.
It's becoming rather hot down here now and when the breezes dropped off in the afternoon we took our computers and headed for the AC of the cruisers lounge. We met up with our friends Mike and Bree of Sea Monkey. She is the vet I mentioned in a previous blog. They were here waiting for a friends arrival by air. We eventually went back to the boat to gather drinks and snacks and then hung around the lounge until they kicked us out around midnight. During this time Bree and I were also running back and forth doing loads of laundry.
We spent our second day doing chores and spent a little time on the beach. Our second evening was spent much the same as the first.. minus the laundry. This morning we head back to the George Town area for a few days, the plan to head to some of the outer islands (Long Island, Conception, Eleuthera). Our friends will take their guest in a different direction, but we are certain we will meet up with them again soon!
Happy 26th Birthday Jason!!! I love you and am very proud of you!!!
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.