Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Staniel Cay to the Jumentos Cays and Ragged Islands

The weather was settled, calm winds and little to no waves.  We decided now was our chance to make a big jump south.  We moved from Black Point back to Staniel Cay to get fuel.  In the morning we got up early to get to the fuel dock at 8:00 AM.  Someone beat us to it.  We waited for them to go have breakfast and come back and finally made it over for fuel about 9:00 AM which worked out well as the tide was just coming to slack.
After filling the diesel tank and getting dinghy gas we sailed and motor sailed to Coakley and Duck Cay.  It was a little scary coming in after dark but we anchored safely and had a night of some rolling and rocking.  The next morning we started out early and made it to Water Cay just after noon.  We spent two wonderful nights with almost no wind and no surge.  Paul speared us three awesom fish.  The first was a trigger fish, next a rock hind, and a final was a Nassau Grouper.  The last was HUGE.  We ate fish for the next two days.

The wind finally picked up and we were able make a big jump all the way to Hog Cay.  We had a very nice sail and only had to motor for the last hour of the trip.  To our surprise we were hailed on the radio by our friends Alibi II and Lost Marbles.  
The kids are happy to see friends, even through the friends are adults they still enjoy the attention. 

We took advantage of the nice weather and decided to go snorkeling.  As we were swimming around Paul noticed a Caribbean Reef shark.  Samantha immediately got out of the water, followed by me.  Nicholas wanted to stay and see the shark.  It swam with in 10 feet of Nicholas and Paul but seemed more curious than hungry.  Not sure if Nicholas is very brave, curious, or just plain crazy.  We love him just the same.
That same day we went to the beach for a potluck.  There were large hermit crabs running around and Nicholas couldn't help himself but pick one up.  Samantha, very motherly told him to not touch it, but again Nicholas being Mr. Curiosity couldn't help himself.  The crab pinched the end of his index finger so hard it took off part of his nail.  I think the pain was beyond his comprehension.  He didn't cry but couldn't catch his breath.  He went to sit by Paul then passed out.  It was a scary few seconds that seemed like minutes, then he woke back up.  With in the hour he was running and jumping around like nothing happened.  
The weather changed and a cold front moved in.  We are hanging out on the boat more now and spending time with our friends on their boats Alibi II and Lost Marbles.  We are anchored on the south side of Duncan Town, Ragged Island.  Maxine's Grocery store didn't have much on our first trip into town but had groceries flown in so we have made a couple of trips in.  I figure it to be over a mile walk to town so it is good exercise for us all.  We used the free wifi at the clinic across the street from her store.  
Yesterday we walked past her store to the school and passed the most interesting pigeon coop.  Birds of all kinds were living there.  Ones I've never seen before.  There was also a pet goat that followed us around and started to give the kids head butts when they stopped petting him.  We named him Gary the goat.  He was getting a little rough so walked away and he left us alone after that.
We are starting our return trip back to George Town today.  The trip back should be nice wind and weather so we can meet up with our friend coming next week.  We are so excited that my friend Kelly is coming to visit for over a week.  We plan on showing her the Exumas in style on Shambala!
Paul climbing a palm tree, with great effort, to grab a jelly coconut that turned out to
be dry inside.

The kids climbing a much easier tree on Hog Cay

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Exumas

We have been to a lot of islands since our last post.  After Allen's Cay we went to Norman's Cay.  There we did our favorite things, snorkel on the sunken plane, go to the beach, and have conch fritters with the conch we found for dinner.
The wind started out blowing hard up to 20 knots out of the east, then just dropped off.  It has been light and variable for days now which keeps it hot and humid.
The light wind does make it easier to dive on spots that are usually to rough to get to.
After Norman's we spent time at Shroud Cay.  This is the beginning of the Exuma Land and Sea Park.  This is a no kill zone so Paul had to put his pole spear away.
At first we didn't see much sea life but then we anchored outside of the park quarters near Emerald Rock.  There we found amazing fish, lobster, rays and amazing sea life.  This is the first place we snorkeled without current so the kids were able to swim on their own.
We traveled farther south and found more caves to dive in and reefs to snorkel around.  This kids are now enjoying it more than ever.  They can name every fish they see. Rocky Dundas Cave was very cool, we are visiting more places now than we have before.
Pipe creek was next with the cool sand bar that leaves a small pond in the middle the kids love to swim in.  They call it their pool.  While we were spending the day there the kids noticed a small octopus in the pool that swam out to the big water.  As it swam it changed colors and we all felt so excited to see it all happen.
We stopped in Staniel Cay to provision at the Blue Store, Pink Store, and the Isle General Store.  You wouldn't think we needed to stop at all three but they all have different produce and items at varying prices.
We are now in Black Point getting our internet fix and then from here...
Not sure yet.  No wind keeps us wondering what to do next.

Attempted self portrait of us all.

My two favorite snorkelers in the whole world.

Boo Boo Hill

The lizards like to pose.

Our sign is below Majestic and above Dutchess in blue with the antlers next to it. 

This is our addition this year to the drift wood pile on top of Boo Boo Hill.

At Exuma Land and Sea Park the remains of a Sperm Whale.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Top of the Exumas


We are at the top of the Exuma chain of islands.  

We left Rock Sound Thursday on our way to Ship Chanel Cay.  Before we left we provisioned at a well stocked grocery store just a short walk from a dinghy dock.  This was a relief for our tired feet.  The day before we walked a long distance to get to the ocean beach.  The walk started with a short distance to the blue hole in town then we talked the kids into walking to the ocean beach.  After over an hour of walking we made it.  The beach is famous for its pink sand.  We agree with our boating friends S/V Perry, if you look really hard and maybe squint a little, you might say it looks pink.  The kids entertained themselves on the way there but then had a lot to complain about on the way back.   

Note to self: when walking over  two hours wear sensible shoes, not flip flops.  

While under way near Powell point - Cape Eleuthera, we heard a mayday call from a boat named Delila about a kite boarder with a severe cut on his leg from a possible sting ray.   The rescue boat came out from the Island School to get them within about 20 min.  We were about 3-4 nautical miles away so couldn't do much more than listen.  He was rushed with his significant other (young girl about 22 years old) to the doctor in Rock Sound.  We were closely followed by a catamaran named Sea Sleigh, on there way to assist in securing the boat.  
We were close enough so we decided to detour and help secure the boat.  When we arrived it was quickly decided that the boat was not in a safe place and we needed to bring it into a secure anchorage.  
We radioed the Island School to see where we could bring their boat and when they responded they informed us that young man with the injury did not make it.  
I wasn't sure how to take this news.  Paul and I didn't know them but Sea Sleigh did and told us they were a lovely young couple.  
It is sad to see someone so young and active come to an untimely end.  
Paul drove Delila into Cape Eleuthera Marina while I led the way on Shambala and Sea Sleigh followed.  Paul secured the boat and went over to talk to Sea Sleigh.  We exchanged information and then took off to continue our journey to the Exumas.  We had mixed feelings about sticking around but decided we didn't know anything else we could do by staying there.  
It was a very sad day for us all.  

Back to some lighter news.  We found a sunken plane wreck off of Ship Channel Cay and an amazing coral reef between there and Allens Cay.  The whole family got to do some snorkeling and we saved the way points for future reference. We also shot a nice red hind that we had for dinner.

Ocean beach with pink sand.  

The kids entertained themselves on the long walk by picking  plants and flowers.  We actually passed a kind of garden with tomatoes, broccoli, corn, and peas of some sort.  

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Glass Window

The Glass Window is an interesting geological feature at Eleuthera's narrowest point.  It was a natural bridge until the ocean slowly eroded the weak point and broke it in two.  A man made bridge was used to keep the two parts of the island connected but was pushed sideways by a rogue wave in 1991.  After a while it was repaired and this is what it looks like now.
We had fun walking all around on the limestone and checking out the clear blue water. 

We decided to head slowly southeast along Eleuthera Island anchoring out in different spots.  

Halls Bight was an uncomfortable anchorage with a swell rolling in.  No beaches to visit here so the kids and I stayed aboard and Paul went spear fishing and shot four lion fish.  We feel we are doing our part to save the reef fish from getting eaten.  They are tasty fish but have very little meat on them.  

Hatchet Bay is a well protected anchorage from all directions.  The bay is man made from a salt pond for a cattle venture that never took off.  We all got off the boat to walk around Alice town.  It is a sleepy town without much going on.  It could be because we visited on a Sunday. 

Alabaster Bay is where we are now.  This is a beautiful beach and a wonderful place to relax.  With small sand bars and no current ripping through it has become one of our new favorite spots to play at the beach.  

We started homeschooling again, did laundry by hand, and made water along the way.  Paul is in the midst of repairing the water maker.  Tough when the nearest hardware store is miles away and we can only get there by boat.  He attempted a repair that resulted in a broken fitting.  So....

We sailed (no motoring yay!) to Rock Sound.  Along the way we caught a nice cero mackerel for dinner.  We hope to find the high pressure hose and fitting to get our water maker back up and running. 

The plan is to keep traveling along the coast then cross to the Exumas.