So much has been going on since Hog Cay, Jumentos that I am daunted by the task of recounting it chronologically. So I'm going to share all of our goings-on by different categories. Some things may show up in more than one category. I'll keep it chronological within the categories, and give a few explanations along the way. Soooo......
.....OK, it's still daunting, but here I go.
THINGS THAT MADE US SAD:
1. Leaving the Jumentos Cays!
2. Parting ways with our friends, Anita and Bob on S/V Discovery after continuing to enjoy sharing anchorages and adventures with them since or time with them in the Jumentos Cays. We were with them at Buena Vista, Jumentos Cays as we started making our way back north; Black Point, Great Guana Cay; beautiful Cambridge Cay, where we got protection from some west winds, did some awesome snorkeling and took a dinghy day-excursion from there to Compass Cay; and lastly, Sampson Cay from which we took a dinghy day-excursion with them over to Staniel Cay.
3. Leaving one of our new favorite communities, Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera where we had a planned reuniting with Dena and Myron on S/V Hold Fast. We had spent time in the Jumentos with them, but temporarily parted ways after Black Point. Dena and Myron introduced us to the wonderful community of Hatchet Bay that they had fallen in love with earlier this year before we met them.
4. Parting with Dena and Myron when we left Hatchet Bay. We felt a special bond with them because of our shared faith....plus they were a lot of FUN and very helpful.
5. Of course, leaving lovely Bahamaland, a place we've come to love so much! It was sad to take down our courtesy flag as we entered American waters! We've made the decision to put off our adventure to the Caribbean one more year so that we can come back to the Bahamas again next winter!
THINGS THAT WERE FUN aka THINGS THAT MADE ME SAY, "WOO HOO!":
1. Movies (on the computer) and old-fashioned popcorn popped on the stove ("WooHoo!") almost every night that we weren't making a passage thanks to S/V Hold Fast, who shared a lot of movies from their extensive collection with us. We especially liked "Perfect Getaway", which became fodder for many little inside jokes...OUTSTANDING!
2. A last bit of cool snorkeling in the Jumentos Cays at Buena Vista Cay, which was a one-night stop on the first little leg of our trip back north to the Exumas. We saw two of the pesky but beautiful, non-native Lionfish and many more colorful fish and coral.
3. Awesome snorkeling at Cambridge Cay, which is part of the Exumas Land and Sea Park, with Bob and Anita. One snorkeling site is aptly called the "Sea Aquarium", and not far from there is an underwater airplane that took a nose-dive. It is still in a position with its nose in the bed of the sea and its tail up towards the surface. There is coral growing on it and beautiful fish all around. I also enjoyed just swimming around the Nancy Lu at Cambridge Cay.
4. Lunch, beachcombing and exploring with Anita and Bob on our dinghy day-trip from Cambridge Cay over to Compass Cay.
5. Lunch, stopping in at the bread lady's yellow house to buy some homemade coconut bread, snorkeling at Thunderball Grotto with oatmeal (courtesy of S/V Discovery) to feed the fishys,
and a stop at "Pig Beach" with Bob and Anita on our dinghy day-trip from Sampson Cay to Staniel Cay.
6. Flying the spinnaker and playing on the boom on our passage to Hatchet Bay... "WooHoooo!"
7. When Mark, Dena, Myron and I all turned off our flashlights at the same time inside the massive cave that we hiked 3 miles to get to at Hatchet Bay.... "WoooHoo!" It was pitch black!
8. Playing in the Queen's Bath with Dena and Myron ("WooHoo!") when we rented a car to travel north on Eleuthera from Hatchet Bay. Timmy didn't like the Queen's Bath much, though. He was tied to a rock while I explored until he finally wiggled out of his harness. Then it was time to go.
9. Waving and shouting, "Have fun!!!" to the passengers WAY up high on the Disney Magic cruise ship as they passed us in the channel as we were coming into Cape Canaveral, Florida and they were going out on their way to Nassau, Bahamas! They're the ones who said, "WoooHooo!"
10. Saying hello to a curious and friendly manatee at Cape Canaveral, Florida
THINGS THAT WERE INTERESTING:
1. On our one-night stop at Buena Vista Cay, Jumentos Cays, we walked the beach with Bob and Anita. We found the house that belongs to the only inhabitant of this Cay. Unfortunately, he was off island, but his 3-walled house was wide open for us to look at from a distance on the beach. It is so interesting to see how some people live so differently from us.
2. Mr. Ferguson, the retiree and owner of the store in Hatchet Bay where we got ice cream, was very interesting to talk to. He was sitting out front of his store every evening that we went for a walk--most of the time with some of his friends. On Easter Sunday, after we got back from our hike to the cave, we sat down with our refreshments and had an interesting talk with him about Bahamas politics. He answered our questions, gave his opinions, and explained about the PLP and FNM, the two main political parties. We were so enthralled in conversation that he forgot about the Easter Cantata that evening at his church right across the street
until some ladies in their Easter finery came walking by on their way to the contata!
3. I wanted to go see "The Glass Window" when we were near Eleuthera last year. This year we visited it when we rented a car in Hatchet Bay with Dena and Myron. "The Glass Window" was once a natural stone arch at the narrowest part of the island. The artist, Andrew Wyeth, even painted it. The natural arch has been demolished by a hurricane, but they've built a man made bridge in its place. It is just wide enough for one car. One year, a rogue wave pushed the bridge over 6 feet. Tragically, life was lost in this event. In Bahamian style, they moved the road over to meet the displaced bridge.
"The Glass Window" offers a place where you can see the placid turquoise waters of the Exuma Sound and the deep-blue, turbulent waters of the Atlantic Ocean at the same time! I assure you, "The Glass Window" will show up in at least one other category.
4. When we got to our anchorage at Royal Island, where we stopped for one night after Hatchet Bay on our way out of the Bahamas, I saw a small boat motoring around the bay with a lady at the bow of the boat staring out at the water ahead holding a big net. Every once in a while two girls would jump off the boat and snorkel around as the boat followed. I yelled to ask them what they were hunting. They told me they were with the University of Florida and were tagging sea turtles for research. Finally, I saw them catch one!
They came over to show me the big one they had just caught and the other little ones that they had already caught. They stayed out all day. I don't know how those girls were able to swim and catch the fast turtles with their bare hands, but they did!
THINGS THAT TOUCHED OUR HEARTS aka THINGS THAT MADE ME SAY, "AWWWW!":
1. Page was a sweet, gentle, and mature little grade-six girl who we met in Black Point earlier this winter and again when we attended the school fundraiser this spring. At these fundraisers, school moms cook up a bunch of Bahamian fare and cruisers come in droves to buy and eat it. We usually attract the little kids because they love Timmy. All the other children who were sitting with us seemed to look up to Page, and she helped them out with telling me their names, eating their food, and relating to Timmy. Timmy even let her hold him. When we left, she said that she would miss me... "Awwww!"
2. The day of the fundraiser, Anita gave Hold Fast and us cards that she made thanking us for our friendship... "Awwwww." It is now displayed in my galley.
Also, Bob made nautical bracelets for all of us and a collar for Timmy... "Awww!" We all love them!
3. Walking to church in Black point, we came upon a "big" brother and little sister headed to Sunday School. "Awwwww!" I could totally live in Black Point!!
4. The LONG heartfelt hug that I received (the kind where you sway back and forth clinging tightly to eachother) from the woman wearing the blue suit and cream-colored hat who sat behind me at church in Black Point. It made me feel like family, which we really are!
5. When we arrived outside the entrance cut into the cliff that leads to Hatchet Bay, Hold Fast, who had been there for a few days, came zooming up on their dinghy to welcome us and escort us into the harbor... "Awwww!"
6. The grade 6 children at the government school in Hatchet Bay were very receptive and polite when I went there to teach them how to use my homemade "Knitting Nancy Lu-s" to make bracelets and necklaces with yarn. They even asked me to come back during their lunch break after Hold Fast spent an hour with them helping them get ready for their upcoming end-of-the-year math exams. The school kids spend their 30 or so minute lunch break in their classroom. Their teacher, Miss Goodman said she'd be happy to have me come during lunch. It's nice to have a chance to give back a little to the kids of this country that has given us so much joy!
7. Of course, I returned to the school after Mark and I visited with our friend, Robert on S/V Okyo, at an open air bar and restaurant popular with the locals, "Da Spot". He treated us to lunch in return for us having him for dinner on N.L. back at George Town.... "Awwww!" On that day, "Da Spot" was providing the lunches for kids who didn't bring their own from home. "Da Spot" is owned and operated by two of the grade 6 students' grandmother. I've found that having a local eating establishment take orders in the morning and cater for lunch is how they do it in a lot of the government schools around the Bahamas where there are no school cafeterias.
8. We had to hitchhike places on Eleuthera. People are so good about stopping and picking up hitchhikers in the Bahamas. They will even stop to say sorry if they're not going very far or in the wrong direction. We got a ride in the bed of a truck to the town of Governor's Harbour to go do Internet at the library. We were actually the second pick up for this nice driver. We shared the ride with a young man on his way to a court appearance (uh oh). His girlfriend rode in the cab of the truck with the driver. On the way back, Aaron, a business owner in the village of Lower Bogue, gave us a ride in his big truck. Dena and I enjoyed talking with him as we rode in the cab with him. Mark and Myron had to ride in the bed of the truck again.
We also got picked up for a ride from the caves in Hatchet Bay back to our anchorage by a Swiss family living in Governor's Harbour who were there showing the caves to their cousins visiting from Switzerland. They're the ones who told us about the Queen's Bath! People are so nice in the Bahamas! "Awww!"
9. Grade 6er, Jameisha Land, found me after the Good Friday service that we attended at St. Stephen's Baptist Church to show me that she was wearing her necklace
and another little boy was wearing the bracelet he made to church on Easter Sunday.... "Awwww!" Like Hold Fast, we now have a soft spot in hearts for Hatchet Bay!!
10. The Bahamas Holiday that they call "Homecoming Week" is in conjunction with the Easter Holiday. At the Easter service in Hatchet Bay, we were called by name and given a special welcome along with the many visiting family members of the congregation who had come home to Hatchet Bay from other islands--heartwarming!
11. I couldn't resist this little round-bellied baby boy in his white t-shirt! He was toddling all around with his mom and aunt close by at Current Settlement the day we rented a car... "Awww!"
12. The only other boat, Baccaleiu, anchored at Royal Island the morning we got there, came over in their dinghy to meet us. Brad and LeeAnn had left their eight-year-old daughter, Abbey, on their boat. I told them about the "Knitting Nancy Lu" after I noticed the rubber band bracelets they were wearing that their daughter had made for them. I invited them to bring Abbey over later if she wanted to learn to use the "Knitting Nancy Lu". They all came over later that afternoon, and we had a great time getting to know them! While the grown ups talked, Abbey enjoyed playing the keyboard after she made a necklace and anklet with the "Knitting Nancy Lu" and taught me how to use her rainbow loom to make jewelry with rubber bands. She suggested that we all get together for a potluck the next day... "Awww!" Too bad they were on their way to the Abacos and we to the Berry Islands the next day.
13. Mark has started to treat me to my coffee in bed some mornings, and he makes it for me EVERY morning... "Awwww!"
THINGS STIRRING OUR SPIRIT aka THINGS BY WHICH WE WERE BLESSED:
1. We were so encouraged by the service at Bahamas Holy Bible Mission Church! Terrance, who preached under the training and teaching of the Crossing Cultures missionaries, Charles and Sharon Vassalo when we attended there 2 years ago has become the pastor of this small church. We attended Sunday school and church along with Dena and Myron. What a blessing!
2. The Good Friday service at St. Stephen's Baptist Church in Hatchet Bay focused us on Christ's suffering for us. Seven different lay people preached short sermons on the last sayings of Christ. We sang hymns in between each sermonette. What a blessing!
3. Easter Sunday was a two-hour true celebration of Christ's resurrection! There was singing, praying, preaching and even a special praise dance done by a mother and two little girls. What a blessing!
THINGS THAT MADE ME GIGGLE:
1. Ida, who owns the Rockside Laundromat in Black Point Settlement along with her husband, Pastor Terrance, also gives haircuts to cruisers and locals alike. I had to giggle as I watched a little boy get his shearing totally unaware of the faces he was making. At least he had the beautiful turquoise harbor to gaze upon as he braved Ida's clippers!
2. When we visited Compass Cay two years ago, we explored around the ruin of what used to be Hester's cabin (I don't know who Hester is or was). This year, we discovered that the S/V Living Large has taken on the project of converting it into his own personal gym, the "Living Large Gym". It's really impressive and quite quirky! Seeing the big barbells made out of stumps and boards and other creative touches made with found objects made me giggle. A testament to the lack of crime in the Exumas: He just leaves his tools such as his circular saw and sander in their containers out in plain sight on a shelf.
3. There's just something I love about seeing roosters and hens walking around towns, but when I see "beach barnyards" like the one at Big Majors Spot, I just have to giggle!
4. Who could keep from smiling and sneaking a picture of the bunch of boys we saw the day we rented a car with Dena and Myron on Eleuthera?! They were enjoying their Easter holiday and "Homecoming Week" at the ocean. They were having such fun barreling down the pier and jumping into the water, swimming, splashing, laughing and playing as their dads cleaned fish at the dock in Current Settlement
all unabashedly in their underwear!
BEAUTFUL SIGHTS FOR OUR EYES aka THINGS THAT MADE US SAY, "WOW":
1. The stars at 4:30 in the morning at Buena Vista Cay, Jumentos Cays when we got up to weigh the anchor and start our long passage to Blank Point in the Exumas... "Wow!"
2. The anchorage at Cambridge Cay plus "The Aquarium" where we snorkeled there.
3. The view from "Living Large Gym" on Compass Cay... "Wow!"
4. Surfer's Beach, north of Hatchet Bay where we visited in our rental car with Dena and Myron. We enjoyed watching one of our fellow cruisers, Russell on S/V Blue Highway, as he surfed at this beautiful beach! We want to take lessons next year!! Also, I found a piece of lavender seaglass there--very rare!
5. "The Glass Window".
THINGS THAT WERE A LITTLE NERVE-RACKING aka THINGS THAT MADE US SAY, "WHEW" WHEN THEY WERE OVER:
1. We led the way as we took a very narrow channel of water deep enough for Nancy Lu all the way around Bell Island when we left Cambridge Cay for Sampson Cay with Bob and Anita. We took this route because it was the only choice for the conditions of the day, but we also got a 360 degrees view of all the impressive buildings and amenities on this private island owned by Aga Kahn who is listed as one of the top 10 wealthiest men in the world by Forbes magazine. It was pretty spectacular!
2. The first lift that we got when we hitchhiked to Governor's Settlement on Eleuthera was given at a very high speed, but we made it to the courthouse safe and sound where the other hitchhiker was going, and it was right next door to the library where we were going ... "Whew!"
3. Our next lift that we got from Aaron was not at a high speed, but he had two tires blow out with us on board. The 4 or 5 big pallets of sodas, which were stacked and shrink-wrapped together in the bed of the truck where Mark and Myron were riding, just missed crushing Myron when the tires blew out. Luckily, we were just around the corner from a gas station and they took care of the tire in no time as we waited. We hopped back in and the truck limped along on a used tire and the spare the rest of the way back to our anchorage.
4. Mark had to drive on the "wrong" side of the road on the "wrong" side of the car when we rented a car with Dena and Myron, but we got everywhere we went and back to the anchorage with no mishaps.... "Whew!"
5. Driving across "The Glass Window" more than once!!
6. When we left Hatchet Bay to go to Royal Island, we had to go through Current Cut, a narrow opening that leads from Exuma Sound to the Northwest Channel where we needed to go. It has a notoriously swift current and only a narrow path deep enough for us to get to it.
7. When we rented the car the day before, we visited the cut from the shore and got pointers from Myron and Dena on how to approach it and safely get through it. They had been through it before. We timed it with the tide just right and went through with no problem.... "Whew!" Last year, we watched a boat try to sail through when the tide was against them. Luck for them, the worst thing that happened was they had to turn right around and go the long way.
8. When we got to Cape Canaveral, we had to go through a drawbridge and then a lock to get to our anchorage. We have never navigated a lock system before. It wasn't difficult, but the first time you do something can be nerve-racking. We did just fine... "Whew!"
THINGS THAT WE SUCCESSFULLY ACCOMPLISHED:
1. A 109 mile route from the Jumentos Cays to Black Point that we did in one day. The route we took is not marked on the reliable Explorer Charts that almost all cruisers use to navigate the Bahamas. We had heard about it from another cruiser that had tried it, recommended it, and reported to us what to expect. This route allowed us to bypass Long Island and George Town and effectively took days off the trip back north. I'm glad we had Hold Fast and Discovery traveling with us as we tried something off the beaten path. We had a great sail!
2. Getting the laundry done at the wonderful Rockside Laundromat with the wonderful view of the bay in Black Point.
3. Replenishing fresh produce at the nice grocery store in Rock Sound, Eleuthera.
4. An impressive spinnaker-take-down witnessed by our welcoming committee, Dena and Myron, when we got to Hatchet Bay. They gave us a rating of 10 out of 10! I wish I had it on video, but I was doing my part in the process.
5. We FINALLY caught a fish!!! We caught a 52inch Mahi Mahi on our motor-sail from Royal Island to Great Stirrup Cay in the Berry Islands, our last anchorage in the Bahamas ☹ . I'm looking forward to making fish tacos with some of it for my parents when we go through Arkansas on the way back home. We caught the fish at 10:00am, and Mark filleted it on the deck. It took me until 12:30 to skin and cut it up in the galley.
6. I don't know if this is a great accomplishment, but since we left West Palm Beach it has been 91 days. There are 273 meals in those 91 days. 182 of those are lunch and dinner meals. We ate out 17 of those 182 meals. We never ate out for breakfast. I actually enjoyed cooking on Nancy Lu this time out. Digging in the refrigerator is still a pain, but for some reason I found enjoyment in preparing meals these last 3 months on Nancy Lu (not the norm for me). I hope it will carry over to our land home for the next few months until we head back to Nancy Lu!
MEALS FROM THE SEA THAT MADE US SAY, "YUM!":
1. In exchange for 2 eggs, a couple we met on S/V My Sharona at Buena Vista gave us 2 Bahamian lobster tails!! Crazy exchange, I know, but they said they had lobster in excess that had been given to them by their friends who like to hunt it, but not eat it. While we were at Cambridge Cay, I got on the VHF radio and asked another boat for suggestions on how to cook it since we don't have a grill. They suggested that we steam it. It turned out GREAT. Thanks for the cooking tip, Cat Tales!
2. We heard about fishermen bringing in their catch of stone crab, steaming them right at the government docks in Hatchet Bay, and selling them there. Mark, Dena and Myron went up there and he scored 10 claws for us.
The crab was DELICIOUS! I roasted some eggplant, one of our favs, to eat with it.
3. Dena and Myron gave us a big wahoo steak from their catch. I tried it in two of our old favorite canned tuna recipes: Tuna Salad Polynesian and Tuna Salad Crescent-wiches. I was really pleased at how they turned out!! Thanks Dena and Myron!!
4. With our catch of Mahi Mahi, I made fish tacos for lunch the day we caught it...YUM!!!!! That night, I made teriyaki Mahi fillets just guessing at how one goes about making teriyaki marinade. I was pleased at how they turned out!
Well, we weighed anchor in the Bahamas for the last time this year at Little Stirrup Cay in the Berry Island chain. We're at a marina, spending a week cleaning Nancy Lu and working on boat projects. In the past 15 months, we've spent 12 of them on Nancy Lu. We've had a wonderful winter in the Bahamas! I'm going to miss life on Nancy Lu, but I'm excited to see my family and friends back home! Arkansas and Texas, here we come!
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