Sunday, April 13, 2014

Rum Cay

After a week in George Town we decided to take advantage of a storm front coming down and head to Rum Cay.  The wind was out of the east most of the week then SE.  This morning the wind started out of the S then SW as we left the harbor.  The first part of the sail was with the motor and relatively easy.  When we got around the top of Long Island we changed direction slightly for Rum Cay and were able to sail at about 6.5 knots.
I like it sailing down wind on a broad reach mostly because I don't notice the 4-6 foot ocean swell as much.  Although the boat doesn't seem to like sailing down wind.  It gets pushed from side to side.
While making lunch the wind shifted and the storm front moved in.  We had to do a jibe because of the wind shift to stay on course.  The wind also picked up so we pulled in the genoa and sailed with a single reef in the main, still going 5-6 knots.  It rained off and on as the front moved through.
"Land Ho!" Are some of my favorite words but we still had 2 hours ahead of us.
For my land loving friends and family realize that 5-6 knots is approximately 7 miles per hour.  I can run faster than our boat sails.
We zig zagged through the coral heads and made it to the only marina on Rum Cay called Sumner Point Marina. It is out of business now due to hurricane damage so free.  Yes!
Next thing was tying up which took and hour because the wind was still blowing hard and pushing us off the dock.
We caught a cero makarel along the way, so dinner was easy.  We fed the leftovers to the nurse sharks and lemon sharks.  The sharks possibly outnumber the residents of this cay.  It is small and extremely friendly.
We definitely had a great time here.
On this Cay there are a few stone sculptures.  This gargoyle the kids especially liked. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Back in George Town

It is getting close to Family Island Regatta time.  We are here in George Town, Elizabeth Harbor for a few days or a couple of weeks.  We never really know where and when we might go next.
While we are here we have been enjoying everything there is to do here.  Hiking, swimming, beach time, fresh produce whenever you need it, water, and more.

This is a great place to be for cruisers.  We also have good internet.  Finally!

So here are some pictures that I didn't get to post earlier because of our slow connection.

Our new family portrait on Boo Boo Hill

At Black Point with our cruising friends aboard SV Perry

Sand Man and Family

Samantha opened up a hair saloon on the boat.  Don't we all look nice?

A Junkanoo Outfit we found in the Ragged Islands.   Doesn't he look colorful?

Artwork made today.  We are working on ideas for all the shells we collect.

More mosaic art.
All the catch for our bon fire in Lee Stocking Island.

The Boyz at the bon fire.

Of course the Girls too!

More Conch!

The cutest Hikers on all the Islands

Nick's artwork.  

Samantha's artwork.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Highest Peak in the Exumas

We have been near Lee Stocking Island for a few days now waiting out some weather coming through.  In the meantime we have been having fun.
We had a big bon fire with our friends aboard Quartet, Baccaleiu, and Air Time.  We enjoyed fish, conch, and lobster caught by our on board fisherman and spear hunter Paul and of course marshmallows.  This island also boasts the highest peak in the Exuma island chain.
Elevation 123 feet.  And we climbed every one from sea level to the top. Yea!

Our plans as always are written in the sand and change as often as the wind direction.  Originally the plan was to keep heading south through the Caribbean.  We realize now that we do not want to rush through the island chain and we also do not want to deal with any hurricane force winds while there.  So our new plan is the head back to Florida and wait out hurricane season while finding work temporarily.  Then we will head back to cruise the Caribbean next winter.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Jumentos Cays and Ragged Islands

We have been without Internet for about 2 weeks since our decision to visit this distant island chain.  The Explorer Chartbook calls it a place for self-reliance, and they aren't kidding.
The sail over from Long Island was peaceful with the wind out of the NE.  We did have to run the engine a bit to stay on track through a couple of shallow passages.
Our first night was at Water Cay where there was one other boat with us.  There was not much going on, the island being unpopulated wilderness.  We didn't expect to see many other boats. 
Flamingo Cay was next to visit.  To our surprise there were already 5 boats in the anchorage and 5 more showed up later.  On this cay we found beautiful beaches, a cave we drove our dinghy in to explore and many coral heads.  Paul speared us nice fish for dinner which Nicholas ate most of it but we are all OK with that.  We wanted to spend more time exploring but needed to get south to a better anchorage for a cold front heading our way toward the end of the week.  
Buenavista Cay offered nice protection from the ESE wind and beautiful coral heads right next to our boat.  Paul immediately speared a couple of lion fish right next to where we were anchored despite the baracuda following him around.  He describes the lion fish as slow so easy to spear.  I guess I would be too if I didn't have any known predators, except humans.  All of the islands so far have been uninhabited and this one was no different.  Except for a rooster I am not sure anything else lives there.
During our trip Nicholas has been enjoying snorkeling with Paul and going in the dinghy while Paul spears the fish.  Nicholas waits patiently and feels like he is part of the fishing.  Samantha decided to start reading bigger books.  She just finished "Junie B Jones" and moved on to "Ivy and Bean".  Her goal is to finish a book in one day.  
Towards evening at Buenavista Cay while out checking the grill I noticed a large dark object swimming around our boat.  Paul and the kids came up and we watched it circle our boat several times.  It turned out to be a VERY large hammer head shark.  We left the next day for Johnson Cay, no swimming with that shark for us.
The next island Johnson Cay was by far our favorite in the whole island chain.  It was just our boat in the anchorage with a beautiful sandy beach all to ourselves.  Much to my surprise there are goats that live there.  I don't know how they survive but they seem to be thriving.  We saw a few baby goats too.
Paul is obsessed with spear fishing and continues to fish, despite the sharks.  I am watchful but as soon as I see one I jump into the dinghy.  
We moved to Man-O-War Bay at Racoon Cay for the north wind that came through but had to move to the other side of Racoon Cay as the wind turned NE.  There aren't that many places to weather out storm fronts.
Duncantown on Ragged Island was our next stop.  We sailed down and anchored near Hog Cay.  On Hog Cay is a cool Tiki Hut built by cruisers and hiking trails all over the island.  
While there Nicholas and Paul went fishing .  Nicholas caught a large trigger fish and soon after that Paul noticed a large tiger shark skirting the dinghy.   That was the end of fishing.  The dinghy ride to town was fun but a little bumpy and long.  Maxine is a wonderful lady that runs the local market.  We found eggs, oranges and a few other things but not much produce.  If we planned to stick around she would order food from Nassau for us to be delivered on the next mail boat.  We didn't want to wait a week for the extra food so we headed back north, another storm front was coming through.  We weathered the storm in the same place as last time but this time with 7 other boats, 3 of them were family boats. We had so much fun with our new friends.  Bone fire at the beach and beach time with other kids is always a great time.
We have caught so much fish we eat it for pretty much for every meal.  Paul was determined to find a lobster before we left the Ragged Islands but better luck next time.
Paul cut his foot while hiking with Nicholas so I have had a crash course in learning all that Paul does.  Pulling up the anchor, raising the main sail and securing the dinghy.  Whew!  I have had the easy life until now doing two people's jobs.  I have a greater admiration for those that single hand big boats.  
Yesterday was Nicholas's birthday and he is now a big 6 year old.  His wish came true for a lego birthday thanks to some quick shopping before we left the US.  He said it was the best birthday he has ever had.  
The wind is pushing us along for our return to Long Island and Internet. We will spend the next day or two there then back to Georgetown.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Philly Cheesesteak at Long Island

Our sail down to Georgetown was wonderful.  The wind was out of the west at about 15 knots so the boat sailed beautifully with no engine sounds. Yea!
Once we got into Georgetown we were surrounded by boats.  There were easily 3 times as many boats compared to last year.  Of course we are here earlier than last year by about 2 months but, Wow!  So now we are overwhelmed by all the cruiser activities like bocce ball, exercise classes , volleyball tournaments, baseball games, ect.
We provisioned at the market and spent a day at the beach when a cold front moved down from the north.  This offered a rare chance of a change in wind direction so we could sail to Long Island. Both Nicholas and Paul where sighing with relief, seems neither one of them like being surrounded by a lot of people.
So yesterday was another great sailing day from Georgetown to Long Island with winds up to 20 knots out of the north.
There is a nice store to provision and a cool beach within walking distance from the dinghy dock at the restaurant.  We had a nice inexpensive dinner which included one of the best Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches I have ever tasted.  Yummy!
Next stop will be the Jumentos and Raggeds.  We are currently sailing there with another nice wind out of the ENE.
Here is a picture of a rainbow as we left the harbor.

Pictures of Sam and Nick with Conrad and Mark from S/V Perry enjoying some body surfing at the beach near Lee Stocking Island.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Exumas where every day is like Sunday

On days where we don't travel it feels like Sunday.  We still do home school in the mornings but then have the rest of the day to play, nap, hike, swim, or visit friends.
Allens Cay was exciting and since then we have not had any exciting weather.  That is a good thing.  
We had a nice sail down to Normans Cay where we didn't need the motor, just the nice offshore breeze. 
While at Normans we found a ton of conch in the pond.  We are still pretty much "conched" out from that feast.  My favorite way to prepare conch is conch fritters or cracked conch.  Deep fried goodness, yum.  Paul has been doing more spear fishing and was able to spear two lion fish.  After safely cleaning, it is actually good eating.
This was Nicholas's first time snorkeling around the plane crash just off shore.  He loved all the fish and seeing the plane.  

While we travel down the islands we are surrounded by other boat families.  This fulfills my need to socialize.  We spend time talking to other adults and the kids get to run around with other kids.

Our next stop was Shroud Cay where Paul and I each took turns having a peaceful kayak through the mangroves to Exuma sound.  I am still in awe of the color of the water.  This place also seemed like a good place to make water and do laundry.  The kids still love to do the plunger bucket method. 

The next place we stopped was the Exuma Land and Sea Park.  The wind has been predominately out of the SE so we have been motoring along on the inside of the island chain.  The north mooring field offers a nice place to rest and decent protection from the wind.  The park has a lot to offer so we did as much as we could in 24 hours.  First stop was snorkeling next to the park office.  The park is a no take zone so there is a lot of fish and sea life to see.  Next was Boo Boo Hill where we put our driftwood sign last year with Quinn.  The sign was still there and in decent shape so we took it back and put this years date on it.  The next day we hiked in to put our sign back then left the mooring by noon.  Whew!

Pipe Creek was our next stop where we found a nice sand bar near low tide.  the kids found a pool of water in the middle and had fun swimming back and forth through it.  They have both been sleeping really good at night, all that activity pays off.  Paul heard from another cruiser that Pipe Creek was a beautiful place and they stayed a month there.  I agree it was beautiful but we needed fresh fruits and vegetables.  So next stop Staniel Cay.  
We went to all three stores on the small cay and found them all pretty much empty of produce.  The mail boat comes every week and was due in from Nassau the next day.  In the meantime we went snorkeling in Thunderball Grotto.  This was a first for Nicholas to snorkel in a cave. What a trooper.
The next day the mail boat arrived, yea!  there was an announcement on the VHF that the Isle General Store would open at 1:00 PM.  This seems to be the main store for provisions in Staniel so we arrived 30 minutes early.  The doors finally opened at 1:25 and it was a mad dash for all the cruisers to get food.  Imagine over 20 people shopping in a store about 500 square feet.  We didn't need much so were third in line to pay.  Problem being it was so hot and the check out taking so long that the ice cream we promised the kids was melting.  Paul put the ice cream back in the freezer and waited until we were at the register to retrieve it.
Now that we had produce we motored the 5 miles to Black Point to enjoy the laundry facilities and to see the blow hole.
Today we are leaving Little Farmers Cay where the town is small but the people so nice. We bought an awesome wood carving of an owl from JR that the kids call "Feather".  We stopped at the general store where I wasn't sure if we should go in but decided to go ahead.  The store owner was sleeping on a small cot near the register.  She was sweet and introduced herself, said she didn't sleep well last night.  The restaurant on the island was closed but the owner opened up for us so we could have ice cream.  Only one flavor, rum raisin, and we all liked it and it was cheeper than most of the ice cream we have had in the US.

Next place is Lee Stocking Island.  The research center there we hear is closed but we will check it out anyway.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Nassau to Rose Island to Allen's Cay

We arrived safely in Allens Cay Sunday along with our friends on S/V Quartet.  The sail over was more motor than sail with the light breeze and it was hot.  No problem crossing the yellow banks because the coral heads were huge, easy to see and easy to avoid.

We have been enjoying the iguanas, the beach and the snorkeling.  We went to check out another beach and found our friends on S/V Perry.  Paul and Matt found some lobster for dinner and our kids had a little lego party.  4 peas in a pod, can't go wrong with Legos.

Since then we have met another boat named S/V Shamrock with kids the same age as Quartet's.  So the beach is full of kids and lots to do.

This is a very different experience than last year where we met only one or two boat families.  We are all enjoying our time aboard Shambala.

Last night was the first night of the storm system moving in.  We decided to stay here because this is a fairly safe anchorage with good holding in the sand.  There aren't many places to tuck in for weather so we are surrounded by boats.  If weather is coming in it seems to always happen between midnight and 3:00 AM.  Of course the first squall hit about 1:30 AM.  One boat dragged up onto iguana beach, another two went aground, S/V Shamrock almost dragged right out the channel to sea, and one boat anchored in a bad spot with two anchors got in the way of another boat as it was swinging on its anchor, then it dragged and nearly hit S/V Quartet.   They would not re-anchor their boat and kept arguing and blaming everyone else.  They finally moved, Whew!  Oh well.  After the first squall ended everyone was able to recover.

Today and tonight are supposed to also be a bit rough but right now the sun is shining.  This is a beautiful place.