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.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

West Bay, New Providence

This has been a nice place to anchor.  The boat rocks at night with the ocean swell coming in but Paul has a trick of springing the anchor to keep us faced into the swell.  Yea!
We have been to Clifton Heritage National Park to visit the beach and tomorrow may try and walk to the ruins.  
Today was a pretty average day for us.  I went for a run early, not on sand but on actual pavement.  Wow! I felt fast (Ha Ha!)
Paul took the folding bike over and rode to the store for provisions and updating our phone with a Bahamas data plan.  
Then we took the boat out to make water.  Since I am new to sailing and have not read much about it I am not familiar with this technique but now know the how and why.  We heaved to. This was a great way for us to make water and stay pretty close to shore.  Paul got to fish, I got to nap and the kids listened to some audio books while coloring and drawing.  
We made it back to the anchorage by dusk.  The sunset was nice and we are tucked back in for the night.  

Overall a great day. 
Our sunset tonight

Monday, February 3, 2014

Berry Islands

Long time no blog.  We left Bimini the same day we arrived and headed straight to the Berry Islands.  Our first stop was near Hoffman’s Cay (pronounced Key).  There are plenty of beaches to stop at and all pretty kid friendly.  I tried running on the beach one morning.  Wow, was that a wake up call.  Running in sand is a lot different that running on the solid ground.  It has been pretty warm and humid so the sweat started dripping into my eyes almost immediately.  Good thing there is cool blue water nearby, but not that cool.  Our temperature gauge reported the temperature about 77 degrees.  

There are fish and corral reefs all over.  Even in the shallow surf where the kids like to snorkel we could see a variety of tropical fish.  Paul noticed a turtle, then two swimming around our boat.  We got some good footage that I can hopefully download for everyone to see.  

We love it here!  Despite the sand war I have on the boat and the humidity, we all enjoy visiting the cool beaches, playing in the sand and swimming with the fishes.  

To keep busy on the boat the kids have been battling with school.  Some days go really smooth, others are a constant battle.  After talking with other cruising families I have realized that this is just the case with about everyone. 
We decided that we like home school because you can wake up whenever you want, you never have to rush breakfast, everyday can be a pajama day, and snack time is whenever you want it.  
There are some challenges.   For Samantha she hates being corrected because she likes to do it right the first time or not at all.  This reminds me so much of myself I have to laugh.  My Mom always said I would have a child just like me…or two.
Nicholas is like me in different ways.  He is very stubborn.  He wants to do it his way, no matter what kind of advice or direction given from anyone.  Not one of my better traits but…
It helps having both of us doing school with each of them independently.

After school Samantha’s favorite thing in the world is watching movies or having books read to her.  She loves to be entertained.  

Nicholas enjoys his legos, playing with Samantha and her Barbies with his Avengers, and going on dingy explorations with Daddy.  This helps everyone on the boat get some time to themselves.  Boy, boy time and girl, girl time is precious.    

They both love to sing.  One day Samantha asked what harmony meant.  Well, then Paul and I started to try and sing together, that was a laugh.  We told her our singing was the opposite of harmony. 

Paul loves to fish, so he trolls around in the kayak or in the dinghy looking for dinner or lunch.  Bread baking has been keeping me busy.  Last night my fourth attempt finally turned out good.  Yea!!

We crossed over today to West Bay, New Providence.  Nassau might be our next port before leaving for the Exumas.
The turtle near Hoffman's Cay

My fourth attempt.  French bread!
Still can't beat Uncle Mario's bread.