Thursday, January 20, 2011

Jan. 7-10 Just went about our days, swimming, exploring and doing chores. At least we could get WIFI on the boat from where we were anchored and Cecil held during the several days of strong winds.

Jan.11 We did the final sprucing up of the boat and went into SCYC for lunch before picking up our next guests, Mike and De, who are some good friends from Maine. They were married on Windermere last summer in Bucks Harbor, Maine and we have known Mike since we have been cruising. Their plane arrived on time and we wisked them “home” and let them settle in. Afterwards, we gave them a quick tour of the area in the tender before the winds picked up. Back to the boat for an early dinner of shepard’s pie and bed as they were very tired from their trip.

Jan. 12 We took food scraps to the pigs and got some good photos to boot. Because it was windy and gray out by Twin Cays where I had planned to have a picnic, we went to our coev on Staniel instead and hiked around before having our picnic on the beach and a nice swim. At least we had sun and the water was not too cold. Cards were in order and then dinner was duck a l’orange, sweet potatoes, and broccoli.

Jan. 13 It was sunny but windy again so we went to Sampson Cay and walked around before having really great homemade pizza! I even tried a lite beer that wasn’t too bad. They have a new chef and he is doing a good job. The tender ride back was a bit wet but quick. I took Mike and De to the beach for a sheltered afternoon swim to work off some of the pizza. We had some other cruisers over for cocktails and a light dinner of soup.

Jan. 14 It was still quite windy so we went into Staniel Cay to walk around and show them the village. Afterwards, we had lunch at the Yacht Club. In the afternoon, we moved the boat down to Bitter Guana and anchored for the night. Our gurests taught us poker and we used shells as chips. Lobster newburg was the menu followed by a movie.

Jan. 15 After breakfast, we went into the beach and fed the iguanas our fruit scraps and walked across the island to the windward side. Then we weighed anchor and motored up to the western side of Bell Island to a new anchorage for us which turned out to be deep and good holding. De needed to practise snorkeling so Mike and I took her over to the edge of the island and she was able to see lots of fish! They even saw 6 lionfish which we reported to our local dive shop because they are from the Pacific, poisonous, and everyone is trying to erradicate them. It was a beautiful calm evening in our new anchorage.

Jan. 16 Our excursion for the morning took us up past Johnny Depp’s island and further to look at a reef we had been told was good. It looked good but it was too deep for snorkeling. Then it was around the corner to the sea aquarium and a good snrokel there. Mike and De loved the variety and quantity of fish there. Back to the boat, shower and have lunch underway to Warderick Wells where we anchored off the western side in a big bay. It was early enough to be able to take a long walk on the island and work off lunch. The going is pretty rough over pockmarked rocks but parts of the trail were it the sand. Our final stop was BooBoo Hill where we all looked at the boat names and other messages left on driftwood pieces. Back to the boat for dinner of pasta with cream sauce, ham, peas, and sauteed onions, and grated cheese and cards.

Jan. 17 Off to the ranger station to feed the banana quits but the rules had changed and no one is able to do that anymore, boo hoo! We took Mike and De to a good snorkeling spot we have gone to alot and they were not disappointed. Then we had a bumpy ride back to the boat because the wind had picked up. Everyone had lunch while we motored back down to the Big Majors anchorage which was crowded. It took us a while to find just the right spot with the right depth and swing room. dinner was chicken Marbella, red rice from France, sauteed spinach with garlic.

Jan. 18 To Staniel for groceries and very important half & half for the captain. Next, it was lunch at SCYC and quick emailing. De had fun taking photos of the nurse sharks and rays by the docks. Back to the boat for a quick change into our snorkeling gear. Off the Thunderball Grotto which was crowded but Mike and De enjoyed the fish and grotto anyway. Then we took them to my small reef on the back side of Big Majors and finally to the Fowl Cay cut where we were able to drift through the cut over the sea gardens and fish. They loved that experience! Dinner was homemade crab cakes, garlic mashed potatoes, zucchini & eggplant. There was a beautiful full moon and the weirdest thing- fog! The water was warmer than the air and an actual New England fog rolled in which made our Maine guests feel right at home. We were freaking out because we had never seen fog here before in all the years we have been coming to the Exumas.

Jan. 19 Today’s expedition was to Twin Cays by dinghy. We packed a picnic and our snorkel gear and off we went to our own little island! We beachcombed, ate our sandwiches in the shade under the trees and went snorkeling. We found a large seven year apple bush. It gets its name from the fact that, if you eat one of the apples, you won’t do it again for seven years! Afterwards, we showed our guests another part of the surrounding area where many boats like to anchor. We also looked at the work going on at the private island called Over Yonder Cay. Millions have been spent by its owner and he has so far put up 7 windmills, solar panels, dredged a small marina, and is building several houses. Quite an undertaking! Once back at the boat, we cleaned up our selves and our shells and got ready for dinner at SCYC on Mike and De. There wasn’t a breath of air so the dinghy trip was a breeze and the dinner was good as well as the company. The moon was again our “streetlight” on the way home.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Jan. 1 It was sunny but a bit windy. Today was the cruisers’ race and it went off pretty well. We could see it from where we were at anchor. As that was happening we left for our New Years lunch with Andale at Sampson Cay Marina Resort. John had helped Alan with a big boat project and he wanted to treat us. Our new Canadian friends tagged along and made the party even more jolly. The food was good but heavy and we spent the rest of the afternoon drinking ginger ale and making visits to the bathroom on Andale. I worked on their puzzle with Kat while digesting. We returned to the boat and made an early evening of it.

Jan 2. This morning, we went over to visit our Canadian friends on their big fishing trawler, Sunset. They gave us the fifty cent tour and we were impressed with the homey feeling and comfort everywhere. In the afternoon, John went quickly over to Andale in the marina and said our good byes. They had decided to go back to Ft. Lauderdale and get their boat worked on and maybe put it up for sale. That evening, we had our Portuguese friends on Eliora, Chuck and Sondra, over for a Portuguese style codfish dinner. They provided the dried cod and we provided the rest for the dish. Afterwards, we taught them dominos and kept them up well passed their bedtime!

Jan 3 It was a beautiful and calm day so we headed south to a new anchorage called White Point. We were anchored off a lovely large white beach but some other tourists had gotten their first with children and “sea toys” and they stayed too long. Finally, we couldn’t stand it anymore and swam into the beach and walked the opposite direction. They soon left and we had the whole place to ourselves. We then swam back hoping it wasn’t shark feeding time! That evening, I decided to continue the Brazilian Cipirina drinking and was feeling no pain and in bed by 8pm.

Jan.4 Another beautiful day and so we moved down the island to another new anchorage only this one had bad holding which means the anchor wouldn’t go into the sand because it was too hard. Because there wasn’t going to be any wind, we decided to let the anchor sit there and we put out alot of chain for weight. If we dragged, it would be out to sea which was fine. Two other boats with us did the same thing. One boat we had seen by Staniel and we had been very curious about because it was a very small “camper looking” power boat. The owners were German and very friendly and waved us over as we past in our dinghy. They gave us a tour which didn’t take long. We invited them for cocktails aboard Windermere. We had never been to Little Farmer’s Cay so we took the dinghy to the town dock only to find out the restaurant we wanted to go to was closed for the day! Plan B was the local yacht club where were able to secure two good cheeseburgers and two rum punches. Once we were back at the boat I changed into my bathing suit and we both went to the beach in the dinghy. This one was deserted and we found some interesting shells and John found a big beautiful dead crab. Once we get it cleaned up, I will send a photo. Cocktails went well and we watched a movie afterwards.

Jan. 5 More exploring down the island chain a few more miles looking for anchoring possibilities. Musha Cay resort has been closed to anchoring for several years but we had heard it was possible to anchor there again. We did so off the lovely resort beach. David Copperfield, the magician, owns the whole thing and it has been well done as far as we could see. After anchoring, we took the dinghy north to Cave Cay and checked out the almost totally enclosed deep water marina which seemed deserted. We couldn’t get anyone on the radio and we were thinking of anchoring there for the next storm that was coming. Our friends on Eliora stopped by and we all went on a sand dollar expedition to a big sand flats that was almost dry at low tide. Freckles, their cock-a-poo, had a great time running around in the shallow water and we found a good bunch of sand dollars. John even found another gigantic sea egg like he found last year! Hew gave it to Sondra for her new shell collection. They invited us to cocktails on their boat, which was anchored about a mile away, so we went back and changed and dinghied over there for a nice time. It was dark when we left them but we were able to find our way home by going slowly and looking at the various lights from the islands and boats

Jan 6 We both got up thinking it would be better to go home to the Staniel area and anchor between the Majors (islands) for the next blow. When we had anchored the day before, we noticed an old mooring cement block on the bottom. Our chain was next to it yesterday but slightly curved around it today because of the wind shift. As we maneuvered the boat to get away from it, it became apparent the anchor was tangled in the anchors and lines that used to hold it in place. John had to take our heavy snubber down to our anchor and hook it to it. I had to winch the snubber in and lower the chain to flip the anchor enough to release it. This worked and John swam back to the boat and finished the job as I steered us out through the cut to deeper water. The west wind allowed us to go up the island chain on the outside and we came in the cut by the Majors where we wanted to anchor. Everyone had the same idea so we had to pick a secondary spot with medium holding. We were very protected from the wind at that point so we hoped we would be all right through the night. During the night, the wind shifted as expected and picked up. John stayed up most of the night because he is the captain and “the princess” needs her sleep or she is cranky the next day. The anchor, Cecil, held once again. Yipee!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dec.25 Merry Xmas to all! We went the Andale to Sampson Cay Club for a delicious Xmas lunch. During the afternoon and into the evening, the wind picked up but our new trusty, rusty Rocna (which we have named Cecil after a 350lb, 6ft 3” Bahamian taxi driver we used at Windermere for years) held wonderfully.

Dec. 26-27 We stayed put and did indoor projects while the storm raged outside. We were the only trawler surrounded by five sailboats. We felt like the mother hen and her chicks. Luckily, everyone’s anchor held and we all made it through. The winds were as high as 30 knots at times.

Dec. 28 The storm winds had swung around to a more manageable direction and the “conga line” of all of our chicks led us back through the narrow cut and into our usual anchorage at Big Majors. In the afternoon, we went to in the tender to Andale at Sampson Cay marina, where they were hiding, and watched the weather channel. We learned there was a big snow storm in the northeast and our next guest was snowed in and wouldn’t be coming for a few more days.

Dec. 29- 30 With nicer weather came trips to Staniel for groceries, swimming and visiting with new cruising friends. We even tried a new restaurant which was pretty good and had a good view of the beach.

Dec 31 Andale came over and joined us in our tender while we watched the Bahamian sloops racing off of Staniel. Kat had Bloody Marys and snacks so we were happy campers. Luckily, we were able to be right by the windward mark and watched the two big sloops come right for us! This year, they allowed cruisers to join the regular Bahamian crews and it made for a better time for all. The yacht club area was a zoo but we managed lunch afterwards. For New Years Eve dinner, we invited a Canadian couple over for dinner. They are on a big converted fishing boat trawler and were lots of fun. Champagne flowed but we did’nt make it to midnight.