Friday, 23 February 2018

A Typical Day on Staniel Cay

(written yesterday)

7:00 a.m. – rise with the sun to a blue-sky day, breakfast, etc. A brief visit from a passing sailor in his dinghy, asking if we want to trade DVD’s.

9:00 – Into our wet suits and snorkel gear for a swim in the Thunderball Grotto. Gorgeous reef and many varieties of fish in and around the entrance to the cave.

10:00 – back to the boat, bathe in the ocean, change into shorts and off in the dinghy to feed carrots to the swimming pigs who come right out to the boat for their handouts; then a dinghy cruise all around Big Major Spot through very large waves!

11:30 - back to Sea Change – Jeff lets me off to practice my choir music, and heads to the dock in the dink to refill our water tanks

12:30 p.m. – lunch in the cockpit and a rest

1:30 – boat work – Jeff removes the leaking solar ventilator destroyed by salt water; Marilyn waxes the fiberglass on the boat deck

3:30 – a break in the cockpit with “Bahama Mamas” (2 kinds of rum, 1 part each, orange and pineapple juice, two parts each– we skip the grenadine) ; blue cheese and crackers, garlic-stuffed olives

4:30 – 5:30 – both of us read and nap

5:30 – 7:00 – make and eat dinner – tonight: chicken marinated and poached in a citrus dressing, brown rice, stir-fried brussel sprouts and zucchini, three-bean salad

6:00 – pause in the above to blow our conch to celebrate the setting sun (a Bahamian sailor’s tradition)

7:00 – Jeff does dishes, I write this blog

7:30 – movie on Jeff’s computer - “The Visitor”

9:30 – ready for bed

It’s definitely better in the Bahamas J!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Hunkered Down in Staniel Cay

 Another upwind motor/sail for three hours took us to Staniel Cay a couple of days ago – and here we are, safely hunkered down while the wind rages at 30 knots!!

This place is truly wonderful – we could stay here forever J. We’re anchored just off Thunderball Grotto, where part of the 007 movie “Thunderball” was filmed. You can snorkel into the cave and see the amazing flora and fauna lit magically by shafts of sunlight streaming in through the top. We’ve snorkelled it in the past, but not yet this time – maybe tomorrow.

The other fun things to do here include feeding wild pigs who will swim out to the boat for handouts, and touring the island in a golf cart. We did that today, and visited two amazing beaches – one on the ocean side, with huge waves crashing dramatically onshore – making us grateful not to be sailing right now! The other one, called the Pirate Beach, was on a pristine bay on the inside of the Bahama Bank – calm, turquoise water and white sand.

The Staniel Cay Yacht Club is a happening place – everyone goes there to meet friends, drink, play pool, listen to reggae music and eat. We had a delicious late Valentine’s Day dinner there, and dinghied back in the pitch dark, barely recognizing our boat. Today we dinghied back from there in a sleeting rainstorm, after hiding under the fuel dock in our little boat while we filled up our portable water tanks with the dock hose – all part of the fun! We met a very nice Canadian couple in the land and sea park, who we keep running into at the yacht club – had lunch with them yesterday, and met their 22 year old daughter today, when she flew in to stay with them on their boat for a week.

So we’re waiting out the windstorm – happy to be here, freshly stocked with food, water, beer and gin – what more could anyone ask for? We even have internet again!

Monday, 19 February 2018

Exploring the Exuma Land and Sea Park

(Witten on February 18th – but not posted for lack of internet)

We arrived yesterday after a wet 2-hour motor, with waves on our nose again, and anchored just off Emerald Rock – with one other boat in sight.

My captain was tired, but I promptly got into my snorkel gear and jumped off the back of the boat. A short swim took me to a tiny perfect reef – filled with all kinds of tropical fish and many varieties of coral – so much life, right beneath us!

This morning we dinghied over to the park office, and then hiked from there to Boo Boo Hill – so named because a couple of hundred years ago, a boat sank just below it, drowning all of her crew.  Now sailors hike to the top and leave a piece of driftwood or a conch shell with their boat’s name and the date on it. Legend has it that this appeases the unfortunate souls who drowned there and haunt the hill, as well as King Neptune, in order to be blessed with fair winds and smooth seas.

We added our bit of driftwood, and then enjoyed the gorgeous 360 view of the Exumas, and a long talk with another couple from Canada.

Our afternoon was devoted to boat jobs – cleaning the lazarette (storage in the cockpit), securing the hole left by removing our fireplace chimney (no need for that anymore!), fixing our dysfunctional fuel gauge, and adding whipping to a grab bar on the stern.

 A great meal of tacos (in honour of our grandchildren who love them J) finished up the last of our fresh food – good thing our next stop is Staniel Cay tomorrow to reprovision – just on time!

A Bahamian Vacation Day – just what the doctor ordered!

(Written on Friday, February 16 – no internet for posting)

What a lovely day this was! We’re now “gunk holing” through the Exuma Cays – we stay overnight at one Cay, explore it the next morning, then move on to another, 1-2 hours away, on flat water, with consistent 78 degree sunny weather – perfect!

Yesterday we were at Shroud Cay, where this morning, we took a skinny dip bath off the stern in the turquoise water. Then we motored our dinghy through a curvy, mangrove-lined creek all the way from the shallow “Bank”, where we’re anchoring, to the deep ocean beach at the Bahama Sound. A sea turtle accompanied us for part of the way, and we used our hand-held depth sounder to make sure the ebbing tidewater was deep enough to negotiate.

Back on Sea Change after lunch, we weighed the anchor and had a smooth 1.5 hour ride over to Hawksbill Cay. We reanchored and dinghyied to a long white-sand beach – deserted except for one other couple, with whom we spent the rest of the afternoon walking and chatting. Sailors seem to have so much in common – it’s uncanny, and easy to make friends. As we sauntered along with our feet in the water, we needed to be alert to not step on the many little starfish basking in the sun at the water’s edge.

A steak dinner with wine finished another perfect day. Tomorrow we head off to Warwick Cay – the heart of the Land and Sea Park, and hopefully some excellent snorkeling and hiking for a couple of days. By then our provisions will have run out, as well as our tolerance for being totally disconnected from the internet, and we’ll need to high-tail it to Staniel Cay, and relative civilization - 2 tiny grocery stops called the “Pink Store” and the “Blue Store”, and a dock to refill our water tanks. Tough life!