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.