Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jan. 17- 19 We just puttered around and made sure we had a swim everyday somewhere. On one such foray, John found a hugh flat Heart Urchin that had already been bleached by the sun in the shallow water. One night, we and several other boats were invited to a potluck cocktail party on the beach at Big Majors. This was a nice chance to meet some of our “neighbors”.

Jan. 20 I want to move about a mile to a very protected anchorage nicknamed “Oz” just north of the Fowl Cay resort so my captain obliged. There was practically no wind so it was a wonderful day to explore new areas, that are usually hard to go to because of wind, in the dinghy. We found a nice cove and had a good snorkel and swim. For dinner, we were invited to the trawler ‘Steadfast’ for very good bacon cheeseburgers. Buz and Rosemary were friends from a few years ago when we were down here on Windermere 54. They had come by the boat a few days before and seen the name and wondered if it was us. Low and behold it was! They have a cute Havanese puppy that loves company.

Jan. 21 Buz and Rosemary wanted to show us a new snorkeling spot on the north side of Sampson so, even though the wind was kicking up a bit more, we decided to brave it and go exploring. On the way, John saw a large Spotted Eagle Ray jump right out of the water and do a belly flop. Their spot was too choppy so we went further north and then around the back side of another island where they showed us a wreck over which to snorkel but it was too choppy again. We decided to swim off the beach and on our way in to it, we saw a bottle nose dolphin and another osprey nest. This was our first dolphin spotted in the area and was exciting. After our swim, we braved the 2 ft chop for about 30mins back to the boat. Our bodies were sore but a hot shower made it all ok. That night we invited two friends, Steve and Victor, who were playing temporary bachelors while their wives were in the States, for dinner and a movie.
Jan. 22 It was a calm day again and our new anchorage is delightful. We are surrounded by islands and thus protected in all directions. Most of the day was spent doing odds and ends but in the late afternoon, I got to accompany Steve and Victor on a fishing expedition. We went in Steve’s big red dinghy and fished out in the ocean on the Exuma Sound side of the islands. Steve caught a Strawberry Grouper right away but the rest of the time, the fish just took their bait. They got me home in time for cards and cocktails.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Jan. 9 The adventure for the day was a snorkeling expedition to several spots nearby that we had never checked out. John escorted Mike and I as we looked at the various places. We even found the nest of the ospreys we had been seeing over the last month here. It was perched on a small rock island on the seaward side of the island. Some of the spots were definitely better than others. We saw a Lion fish which is not native and poisonous. Their population is growing and the locals are trying to spear as many as they can find. We landed the dinghy and walked the beach a bit to warm up. Dinner and a movie finished the day.

Jan. 10 It was overcast so Mike and I decided it was jigsaw puzzle time. We worked on it most of the day till Chris and Corey, his girlfriend, arrived. John had gone to get them from the airport and they looked like drowned rats when they finally stepped aboard. We all had a jolly dinner and went to bed early.

Jan. 11 We spent the day swimming and beach combing right in our anchorage area. The boys dove for sand dollars right under the boat to boot. It was too windy to go too far afield. That night the Biriba tournament started.

Jan. 12 It was up early and get into our bathing suits because today was scuba diving day. We had arranged with the new local dive operation to take the boys diving and Corey and I went along and snorkeled above them on their second dive. We had never gone in the area and the boys said it was good but not great. Our dive master was American, young, and very easy to be with. The water was cold from the previous windy days and we were all freezing by the time we got back aboard. Hot showers all around! After lunch, Windermere and crew went out the cut and up the chain to Warderick Wells. This time, we anchored off the western side of the island but we had to stay quite a ways out because the water was shallow. At least the wind wasn’t blowing.

Jan. 13 We all went into the Park Ranger station and had a good time feeding the Banana Quits sugar which they love. Then we hiked on the island over to several pretty beaches. The ground is basically limestone type rock and it is sharp and uneven. I had to really concentrate not to loose my footing and fall. Then we took the dinghy back to the boat and left for Shroud Cay which was further north up the chain but still in the Exuma Park. Lunch was enjoyed along the way and we arrived with just enough time for the kids to take a sunset kayak to a big protected beach. Dinner and Biriba rounded out the day.

Jan. 14 Shroud Cay is mostly made up of mangrove lined canals that zigzag across the wide island. Some are deeper than other and many are dead ends! The northern canal, John and I had explored two years ago so that was our destination. We all had to get up very early to catch the high tide. We all loaded up into the dinghy and towed the two kayaks alongside. When we reach the entrance to the mangrove canal, the kids then got into their kayaks and paddled along. Mike had his own and Chris paddled Corey who sat facing backwards on the back end of the kayak. We escorted them through the canal and to the beach on the sea side where we all walked around and climbed a hill for the view back across the island to Windermere in the anchorage. The paddle back was against the current but we had timed it so that the current wasn’t too strong. Once everyone was safely back on board and showered, we left for the trip south back to our old stomping grounds. We needed some groceries, so we anchored just west of Sampson Cay while John went in and got some goodies. We were also waiting for the tide to rise as we wanted to try to navigated Windermere through a gauntlet of small islands and shallows back to her spot between the Majors. After much concentration, we were back at anchor in our spot for the night. During the night, we rocked and rolled in the swell coming in through the cut south of us. We had never been there for a SE wind! Not pleasant!

Jan. 15 First order of business was to move to a calmer spot. We decided to go back behind Thunderball Grotto where it was calm. After anchoring, Chris said he wanted to explore a nearby rock outcropping and cove area so we all hopped into the dinghy and went over to see what it looked like. We spent the rest of the morning exploring up and down and all around with great success. Chris then treated us to lunch at Staniel Cay Yacht Club. I had my first lobster salad there and it was delicious! After lunch, we all swam over to Thunderball Grotto and snorkeled all around the island. We finished up the card tournament and John and Mike were the winners by a wide margin. Chris, Corey and I working as a team just couldn’t do it. During the middle of the night at low tide, we bumped lightly off and on for more than an hour. The aft part of the boat was just touching a sandbar behind us. I couldn’t sleep so I sat up and took periodic depth readings off the stern with our handheld fathometer.

Jan. 16 First order of business yet again was to move about 30 feet and anchor in deeper water. John then loaded the kids up and took them to the airport for their flight to Nassau and then home. The rest of the day was spent doing laundry and chores and unwinding.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dec. 31 Well, it’s not over till it’s over! After anchoring in our new spot and swirling in the current for several hours, our anchor chain was thoroughly twisted with the snubber line. The tide was rising but the light was fading. A joint decision to move was made and we slowly eased our way out through the shallow channel and out into open “deeper” water. Big Major’s Spot here we come! Because we were loosing the light, we anchored in the outer area of the anchorage for the night. Now, we could break out the champagne, play cards, have dinner, watch a movie and be in bed by 9:30pm.

Jan. 1 We moved in to our usual spot closer to the island. It was calm and wonderful to be back “home”. There was a race for cruising sailboats which we were able to watch from the boat. For this race, everyone had radios and the whole thing sounded very official. The larger Bahamian sloop ‘ Lady Muriel’ beat everyone! She is light and fast and there wasn’t a true upwind leg to the course which was to her advantage. The smallest boat was 12 feet long and the largest one was about 70 feet long. That night, a front came through with some stronger winds so John was up and down many times during the night. I basically slept.

Jan. 2 It was still windy so we worked on inside projects most of the day. Exciting news! We have our first cherry tomato on our plant and we are watching it grow like new parents. It feels a bit weird to think we are waiting to eat our tomato child.

Jan. 3 Finally, a beautifully sunny and calm day. I decided to launch the kayak and paddle around the harbor visiting some of the other boats and exploring along the shore. There are wild goats on the island and we always see them going into a cave on the shore in bad weather. I went over to it and could see that it was quite big with a dirt floor and would be nice and dry for them in a storm. In the afternoon, we took the dinghy over nearer to Staniel Cay and floated around with both our computers on doing our emails from the WIFI signal from land. We made a funny sight to the other boaters. Since we had moved further from Staniel, we had lost our WIFI signal on the boat. Another nice calm evening was a pleasure.

Jan. 4 It was windy again and we knew there was another front coming on the weekend, so we decided to move somewhere more protected. By the afternoon, the tide was high enough to get through the shallow bank by Staniel Cay. First we tried anchoring in several spots behind Thunderball Grotto but there were too many boats already in residence. Then we went around the corner to a cove behind Big Majors island and anchored there. We were protected from the wind but there was a small swell that came though there and made the boat rock. The chart said the holding was not good in that area but I swam out and looked at the anchor and we were fine. We stayed the night but rolled a bit and our “jury rigged” snubber didn’t keep the anchor chain from clunking back and forth over the roller.

Jan. 5 Some new friends, who happened to be anchored up ahead of us in a channel between Big and Little Majors, and suggested we move up there so we did and liked it. John had to fix our outboard motor first by taking the carburetor apart and blowing out a small piece of gunk that was causing problems. Our new home is very cozy and will be tested over the weekend.

Jan. 6 It was windy but we had errands to do at Staniel so we took the dinghy in to the new manmade lagoon near the docks. It really helps to have a protected place to come into to load and load the dinghy.

Jan. 7 Michael, my son, was arriving on the afternoon Flamingo Air flight, so we went in early to have lunch and find groceries and beer. The mail boat had brought lots of goodies so our search was fruitful, pardon the pun. Mike arrived safely and helped us get all of our groceries and his gear into the dinghy. He had never seen the boat and was impressed and settled in rapidly.

Jan. 8 It was a beautiful calm day! Mike took a nice long kayak trip around the area checking out snorkeling possibilities. One day earlier on, we had found a large gray inflatable king size mattress just abandoned on the beach and decided to take it back to the mother ship. Now, since we had help, we worked on getting the sand and water out of it, and inflating it. and getting it up to the flybridge. Luckily, there was only one small hole. Later, we all went to the little beach on Little Majors and shelled and swam. Cocktails on the fly bridge were in order as it was a calm and delightful evening. Dinner and a movie finished out the day.