Thursday, April 25, 2013

April 13 We were happy to be anchored and to see Alan and Cathy again and their great Maine Coon cat. Cathy took me to the market for a few last minute things. After an early dinner, they took us to a barbershop quartet show that was really Americana and fun.
April 14-19 I cooked all morning trying to get as much food prepared for John and Sam for their passage to Greenwich. Cathy and I went for a bike ride around the neighborhood. Got to love the flat land! Sam and his daughter Sarah arrived in the late afternoon and had cocktails. I had cooked dinner for John, Sam, Cathy, and Alan and they ate it while Sarah drove me to Charleston and to my motel for the night. After dinner, John and Sam left for their passage but didn’t go too far because it was hard seeing the unlit buoys in the river at night and it was now raining. They anchored for the night and started off the next am. I flew to NYC and went to my mother’s house in Greenwich to wait for their arrival. They had a good passage with a variety of weather but nothing horrible. I was glad to be off the boat. They anchored late in the afternoon off the yacht club, IHYC.

April 20 Sam had several visitors and they went for lunch nearby. John’s mother, Monaise, brought us some delicious paninis and we did some errands. Cocktails on board and Sam returned for dinner with Monaise at the IHYC.

April 21 We got up early in the morning and went all the way around Orient Point on the end of Long Island and deep into the bay between the two forks. Finally we anchored off the entrance to Corey’s mother’s condo complex where we would go the next day. The tender was launched and we went in to explore but didn’t find the right area where we were intending to go the next day. We did eliminate the other sections so had a pretty good idea where to go.

April 22 A sunny but windy day and we took the tender in to the right area of the inlet and found Chris waiting for us by the condo. Carol, Corey’s mom showed us around and then Chris took us to his house. We spent the day together and finally went back  the boat and were able to bring the tender up in the 25kts wind. It was a bit bouncy with a 2-3ft chop but it was too late to move so we rode it out. luckily, Windermere is heavy and it takes a lot to move her!

April 23 It was gray and windy but we left our spot and headed back out past Shelter island again and further East to Mystic and anchored off an area called Lord’s Point for the night.

April 24 The sun was finally out again and the conditions good for our last hop to Barrington. We made the 48nms in good time and were able to tied up at the dock and breath a sigh of relief. We had completed another round trip of 4308 nautical miles!

A post script: We are hanging up our cruising baseball hats and going ashore. We have had eleven incredible years and have gone about 50,740nms in three boats- two sail and one power. We have been from NewFoundland, in the North to the Grenadines, in the South and just about everything in between. We have met many interesting people and made some good friends we hope to keep in touch with and visit on land. The freedom to explore when and where we want will be missed but the boat repairs and other stresses will not. Our aging mothers and children and grand children are missing us and we them. There are things on our “bucket lists” we still want to do. Onward and upward!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

storm sky over ft. lauderdale

view down the coast from Arthur's apartment

here comes Oasis of the Seas

she is the largest cruise ship in the world

our Canadian friend's sailboat next to us

the stern of Oasis of the Seas

interesting sky overhead

John and Arthur and our possible land yacht brochure

dolphins off the bow on passage north

April 3 We loved our new anchorage because the water was deep and there was a dinghy dock nearby and a supermarket! I didn’t feel like cooking so we got Chinese takeout. What a wonderful thing. We hadn’t had that in many months.

April 4 We had planned for a pre sale survey so the first part was done in the morning by the surveyor’s assistant. Afterwards, we took the tender for an hour or so to explore. There was a smaller sailboat from Canada in the anchorage with us and we made friends and invited them over for cocktails. They had two very cute little girls so we got them settled in the bunk room with a good movie while we grown ups gabbed. As dinnertime approached, I suggested they bring their dinner over and cook it on our boat while we ate leftover Chinese food. That worked well and we all had a fun evening.

April 5 It was a rainy day so we just did things on the boat.

April 6 This was an exciting day. The sun was out and a friend named Arthur (who we know from NYC), met us at the dinghy dock and took us to lunch at Pier 66 marina restaurant. His friend, Robert joined us there. Our view was a big motor yacht called Cakewalk. We had seen it in the Exumas last year and our friends Sam and Susie know the owner from Denver. Afterwards, Arthur took us to his apartment on the 19th floor in a building that overlooks the channel to the sea. We got our drinks and sat on his balcony and watched 8 cruise ships leave the harbor. As each one passed by the building and blew its horn, many horns blasted in return from the buildings around us. It was loads of fun to watch. 

April 7 It was rainy a bit in the morning but cleared by lunch time. Our friends Milt and Judy Baker from Ft. Lauderdale picked us up and took us to lunch nearby and a very good and healthy restaurant. We were very happy to catch up with them. They even dropped me by the supermarket so I could get a few more groceries.

April 8 The main part of the survey happened on board and our broker came with the surveyor too. We had to take the boat out into the ocean and run it through its paces and test every system. This was stressful for John but the boat passed the test. Our idea was to find out if anything serious was going on that we needed to fix before anyone bought the boat. Arthur brought Robert to see the boat and they also brought really good pizza- another treat!

April 9-10 We left Ft. Lauderdale early but not too early as Arthur was waving an American flag off his balcony for us as we passed! The weather was sunny and we made the passage in the Gulf Stream and up the coast to Fernandina beach in good time. There was even a quick green flash at sunset! We arrived on an incoming tide, which is always nice, and anchored near the fuel dock we planned to go into the next morning.

April 11 First thing, we went to the dock and got some fuel which is cheaper down in Florida than up in CT or RI. Next, we headed up the coast to St. Catherine’s island, GA where we anchored for the night.

April 12 The next leg of our trip north was to go up on the outside to Port Royal Sound and then up the Beaufort river to just north of Beaufort, SC. We missed the 4pm bridge opening and had to anchor for 2 hours while the rush hour traffic used the bridge. Afterwards, we went the short distance to our friends Alan and Cathy Rae’s house. We have stopped there several times in the last 2 yrs but never arrived at almost low tide. As we came into their anchorage area, we scraped along the shell bottom slightly but were able to slowly work our way into our spot. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Red Florida onions at the Farmers Market

Time Square WWII lovers statue in Sarasota

passage breakfast of champions

time bomb crab pots

March 27 The wind was still blowing but less than before. As we were almost out of the long channel and in 20 ft of water, we suddenly and violently bounced on a 5ft 6” spot right in the middle of the channel! This was not a pleasant experience to say the least and really shook us up. We managed to finish the channel and turn north and make the short hop to Venice where we tied up at the Crow’s Nest Marina. The plan was to go out to dinner for once but we were not in the mood.

March 28 Our cruising friend, Alan, was dropped off by his wife, Kat, and he became our guide for our next leg of the trip. They live in Palmetto which is across the bridge from Bradenton in the Manatee River. He guided us to the dock at his house. With a cross wind at the dock, it took us quite a long time to get our tank Windermere secure. There were lines running every which way like a spider web but it worked. Kat made us a delicious dinner.

March 29 The wind was down and it was a beautiful sunny day. We had come to see some of the area so Kat took John and I to the farmer's market and flea market for the morning. Then our hosts drove us down to Sarasota for lunch in an area called St. Albans Circle. There were lots of restaurants and shops and people watching. Next, they drove us down to a RV place south of town where they showed us the small RV they were interested in buying. We were also intrigued by these “vans” that fit in a regular parking space. Maybe, if we can sell Windermere, we will buy a land yacht.
Back home for dinner and a movie on their big TV.

March 30 Our friends, Pom & Marsha, from Mystic rent a house for the winter on anna Maria Island which was nearby. We had called them earlier and planned to see them. They picked us up and took us out to the island for lunch a nice walk on the pretty beach there. After, they dropped us off, Kat and I did some errands. Dinner and another good movie.

March 31-April 2 The weather was looking good for a few days so we said our good byes and untangled ourselves from the dock and took off for Ft. Lauderdale. Our first night was great but the day was full of crab pots. We kept catching them and having to stop, go in reverse, circle around, etc. to try to work them off or cut their lines. Most of the time this worked but there was one stubborn one that would not budge. We stopped and John got into the water with his snorkel gear on and was able to free it. The rest of the way, we really had to pay attention. Around 5pm, we went under the Marathon Key bridge. Another hour or so of pots and we were in deep water outside the reef that follows the Keys east side. Beyond the reef is the Gulf Stream so we angled over to it and rode up the western edge the whole way to Ft. Lauderdale. By 9 am, we were just about there. We have a new anchorage there but we had not actually taken the boat there so we went cautiously up the Middle River to a cul-de sac where we could anchor for our time there.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

stilt house in Biscayne Bay

egret guarding a boat

feeding the tarpons

Kathy and John

ever hopeful pelican with tarpon

Joe and his new diet

white pelicans in the Ding Darling

John and White Angel's Trumpet

star fruit tree in the Edison garden

waves from the shoal to our left on Boca Grande Pass

March 19 John dropped me off so I could go to the market and then our air conditioning man came out to the boat and installed the needed parts. Later in the afternoon, at the high tide, we pulled up the anchor, went under the west Venetian Causeway bridge and headed down Biscayne Bay to anchor off Key Biscayne. This got us a jump on the next day’s trip down to Long Key. It was a beautiful, calm evening with a different view of Miami all lit up.

March 20 Another sunny calm day which made it perfect for a 70nm day down to Long Key. As we went out the Key Biscayne channel, we passed the stilt houses that have been there for years. We were planning to meet up with Joe and Kathy Ogden who were camping there in their RV. (We had them on the boat in Dec.) Once we had anchored out in the harbor and launched the tender, now we had to find a way to get ashore. There were no marinas on the island except on the far side which was where the wind was coming from the next day and not a good possibility. We saw a man coming in to the bay in a small fishing boat so I said “follow that boat”. He went through a channel into the mangroves and kept going and going and I had to “drop bread crumbs” as we wound our way through the canals and houses to where he finally stopped. We asked if he knew somewhere for us to tie up our tender the next day and he said his neighbor was away but would probably let us use his dock. He called him for us and the man said yes. yeah! now we were set. Back out to the boat picking up the bread crumbs.

March 21 We used our new dock spot and were picked up by Joe and Kathy and some friends that were visiting them for a few days from Michigan. Joe drove us all up a few islands in the chain to a fun restaurant that had some docks where the tarpon hung out to be fed by the tourists. After lunch, we went out on the dock to watch this fun. Then we went to the campground to see their RV and hang out some more together. Finally, it was time to leave and we said our good byes, took the tender out to the boat, raised it, and decided to leave the harbor while the tide was high and go a few miles down the way. We ended up anchoring off the camp ground! (but very far out as the water was shallow). Joe flashed his lights so we could see where he was sitting in the line up ashore.

March 22 We were both eager to get going so we left around 6:30am on our passage to Sanibel. First, we had to go down to Marathon Key and go under a big bridge there and then we were able to head north. What was not expected was crab pots everywhere! we had to dodge them for most of the day all the way north till almost Marco Island! As it grew dark, they stopped, thank heaven. The conditions were wonderful and we made good time.

March 23 Around 3am, we anchored off the bridge to Sanibel island in a spot we hoped would be out of the way. After some sleep, we had breakfast and called a friend (Anne Kimball) of ours from Mystic who now lived down there in a retirement place called Shell Point near Ft. Meyers. She answered and we arranged to meet her in the nearby marina after lunch. The tender was launched and we went in and were happy to learn we could leave the tender there. As we were eating our lunch, the dock master came in and said the Coast Guard was calling Windermere on the radio. He knew that was our boat and found us. We hopped in the tender and went out to ask them where they needed us to move. They told us and we did so and went back to the marina and met Anne. She gave us a wonderful driving tour of Sanibel, Captiva, and the Ding Darling nature preserve. She then took us to her house for drinks so that we could see her husband, Dick. Then back to the boat for the evening. 

March24 Anne and Dick picked us up at the Sanibel marina and took us to lunch at a place in Ft. Meyers but near their house. We all had a delicious lunch and good conversation. She took Dick home for a nap and then drove us to the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford museum in Ft. Meyers. The museum consists of both their houses and gardens and Edison’s botanical lab. We enjoyed the whole thing. She then took us back to the boat and we said our good byes.

March 25 The wind was blowing but we decided to move up the coast from Sanibel to Boca Grande anyway. Well, the seas over here on the Gulf are different from what we are used to on the eastern side of Florida. It is shallow so the seas are choppy, no big swells. With the wind basically on the nose, we “hobby horsed” our way up the chain of barrier islands. Not comfortable and we had to rev up the engine to get the power to push through the chop. To make things more “interesting”, there were more crab pots almost the whole way. The channel leading into Charlotte harbor is wide and deep but on the north/left going in side of the channel is a shoal. There were breaking waves on it just to our left and the wind was also coming now from our left so we rocked and rolled for the 20 mins it took to get in to more protected waters. We were very glad to have that experience over! We anchored off the inside of Boca Grande island where there wasn’t any channel to stay out of-yeah. 

March 26 We just sat on the boat and vegetated.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

John and a lot of baby conchs

Marcy with her treasures, some of the dead conchs

dinner at SCYC with both girls

lunch with Exodus and One Love

Wendy and Robin off Over Yonder Cay

dinner on Steadfast with One Love

John and Robin hamming for the camera

what is left of the pole and light at NW Channel light

Feb. 23 Judy who owns the northern half of Little Majors island now has a wonderful young American caretaker named Gage Parrot. We invited him, with a visiting friend, for dinner. His father was a good, life long, sailor and fellow CCA member. He also owned a salvage company that he eventually sold to an other bigger one before he died last year. All this to lead up to our evening entertainment! Gage spent last summer in Italy working on the salvage of the Costa Concordia cruise ship that hit a rock off of an island  in western Italy. He had plans of the operation and lots of photos of his time there. He is in charge of local logistics for the salvage so he had to drive all over Italy to the various companies involved. It was a very interesting evening to say the least!

Feb. 24 Our friend Marcy Porter joined us on Windermere. It was her first trip to the Exumas and we were pleased to be able to show her our little part of the world. For the next several days, we took her around in the dinghy, had cocktails on Exodus, and let her try swimming in Thunderball Grotto. 

Feb. 26 There was a storm coming in a few days and John felt we should move between the Majors (islands) so we gave Marcy a thrill and took her through the small cut by Fowl Cay. This cut we have done before but the wind had piped up, the current was running with us, and it is a narrow cut. After you go through, there is a curve that makes a 90 degree turn to the right. The current took us and made the stern fish tail a bit in the curve but John steered her well and we made it. Then we anchored in a pretty good spot and it held, which is not always the case. because the bottom is hard sand over soft. It is hard to get the anchor to go through the hard and to hold in the softer stuff. Next, it was Exodus’s turn to try the cut. I took John over in our dinghy and put him on board Exodus. They had never done the cut and Arnie, 80 years old, needed some help. I waited around in the dinghy and watched the process which was nerve wracking as the current was stronger. John offered advice and support and they made it too and anchored near to us. 

Feb. 28 This was double bunking day. Our friend, Robin, arrived in the afternoon and Marcy wasn’t leaving till the next morning. They had met each other in Mystic so they were fine with sharing a bathroom. We all wrapped up in warm clothes and went to Staniel Cay Yacht Club for a good dinner.

March 1 After Marcy left, our friends Rosemary and Buzz on Steadfast arrived and invited us for dinner. Another couple, Jeff and Karen who were on One Love, joined us for a jolly dinner. 

March 2 Late in the morning, it started to rain and the wind picked up. At this moment, our friends on Steadfast decided to move to the marina at Compass Cay, and go through the cut (for the first time). They asked John to lead them through in the dinghy. He got soaking wet but was glad to help friends. As the day progressed, so did the wind increase. The tidal current runs through the cut between the islands and we all swing 180 degrees with it twice a day. That night, with the wind blowing down the cut at 25 knots, and the current coming up the cut, some of us didn’t turn all the way around. Boats were facing all different directions depending on how much “undercarriage” they had. We have three keels so we are very governed by current and less by wind. Several of the boats got too close to each other and had to move and re anchor in the dark. John stayed up for a while to watch what was happening but Robin and I went right to sleep. Our anchor had been holding well since Tuesday and continued to do his work!

March 3 What do you do when it is too cold out to swim or go to the beach? Have a Sunday luncheon. I made some good hearty soup and we invited Exodus and Jeff and Karen to join us. Everyone brought something and we had a warm and cozy afternoon.

March 4-6 The weather continued to be cold for the Bahamas. Every day, Robin would emerge from her room in one glorious bathing suit after another with matching cover up only to return to change into my extra sweats and a sweater! We did manage to have a fun time but not in the water. Luckily Robin had not seen the sights in our area s she made a good tourist. Every day the wind was coming from a different direction so we had to figure out where we could go to play. Sometimes it was a small beach away from the wind and sometimes a long lunch at Taste & Sea with a short walk on Staniel afterwards. One day it was a dinghy ride to Pipe Creek with lunch at Sampson Cay and some shopping. Our friends from Steadfast were also there by chance so we joined them. 

March 7 We had a slow relaxing morning while Robin packed. Then, we loaded up the dinghy and went to lunch at SCYC before Robin left in the pm. Later, when the tide was high, John drove the boat back through the Fowl Cay cut so we could anchor in Big Majors Spot for the night. Gage came by so we could give him our tomato plants and to have a good by drink. Faring happened by too and they were very interested to meet Gage. They are both engineers and were able to talk the same language with Gage about the salvage project. 

March 8 Time to get underway and head for Miami. We were leaving earlier than usual but we had a generator that needed fixing in the States. This leg of the trip took us up the Exuma chain as far a Highborne Cay where we anchored off the small marina and resort for the night. Our friends, Jeff and Karen, were anchored just north of us so we conspired with them to go to dinner. The restaurant, Xumas, was open air and quiet with a great view of the sunset. The food and service were superb! The company as well. It was so nice to not see mac and cheese, conch, and fried grouper on the menu.

March 9 This was a long day 79 nms to Chub Cay which is north and west of New Providence island where Nassau is located. The weather was fine and the shallow water on the Exuma bank a beautiful color of turquoise. The water north of Nassau is deep and dark blue and there were swells but well spaced which helped our ride. We anchored in our usual spot just off the channel and had dinner. 

March 10 After breakfast, we raised the anchor and headed for the NW Channel and the Bahamas bank. Along the way, We passed a small sailboat that John recognized from Big Majors with a New Zealander single handing her. He was headed overnight to Ft. Lauderdale. Of course the cameras came out (we both had the same kind of camera!) and we took pictures of each other. After the last hurricane rolled through, there wasn't much left of the NW Channel light pole (see photo). Our trip went well till about 30 miles from Miami when we hit the main part of the Gulf Stream. The wind was at 15-20kts from the east blowing us towards Miami but the current was north so the seas were 4-6 and we rolled. Both of us stayed up and listened to show tunes and passed the time. It was slow going because of the current against us so it took longer. Around 4 am, we came in the Government Cut, followed by two cruise ships, and turned left to a new anchorage we had checked out beforehand in the fall by dinghy. Our anchor was slowly dragging but then held so we were able to go to sleep till morning. 

March 11 We had to go to our next anchorage at high tide which was 10 am so we got up and raised the anchor only to find out it was hooked on a big cable! luckily, we were able to slip it off by tipping the anchor. Now we knew why we held so well! We only had to wait for one bridge to open and then we were able to go along the north side of the Venetian causeway to our usual anchorage of the Sunset Marina. We will be here until we can get the generator fixed and decide what our next step is going to be. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

big ray with remoras on board

pretty in a pink bow

Bahamian sloops racing

our turtle

Erick entertaining us

Mike and De in the cave

Jan 16-30 We passed these days just doing the usual with a few different moments thrown it for extra fun. Some new friends wanted to go shelling and she wanted to learn to snorkel so that meant and expedition. We didn’t go far but were able to accomplish our goal and they had a great time. 

dinghies and tenders- Everyone down here has one or the other because they are our “car”, “mini van” or “full size van” and we can’t get ashore,etc without them. The sailors have small dinghies and the good news is that they can be pulled ashore or “beached” as they are not heavy. The powerboats usually have bigger tenders and they have to be usually anchored just off the beach so we can go back “home” when we want and not when the tide tells us we can. They all need to be pumped up and that happens usually when the weather turns cooler and the air inside shrinks. They have engines that don’t like ethanol so there are various additives you have to put in the gas when filling up. Being the Bahamas, the gas availability can be a problem from time to time. Going to get your groceries or going on an expedition or going ashore for lunch all involve your “vehicle” so you always check the gas level, take a hand held VHF radio (in case of any trouble), get the right clothing on for the conditions and bring other equipment as needed, and maybe even bring some water. Tying the dinghy securely to your boat is very important as loosing your dinghy can really ruin your day! Around here, if they get loose, they end up in Andros which is 60 miles to our west. There are no stores around to go buy another one. Dinghy etiquette involves not going too fast in the anchorage and throwing up a big wake. This makes the smaller boats rock and roll and makes you not a popular person.

Jan 31st We went ashore and had a fun lunch at Taste and Sea with some friends who just happened to show up. Then we went to the airport to pick up Mike and De, our friends from Maine. They were so glad to get south to warmer weather. As soon as we got them aboard, we took off south toward Little Farmer’s Cay. About halfway there, we anchored in a nice bay with a sandy beach and spent the night.
Feb. 1 There is a festival every year at Little Farmer’s called the first Friday in Feb. festival at Farmer’s. We motored down to the cay and anchored off the west side thinking we were in just enough water. The wind was howling but we took the tender around to the other side and tied it to a dock. Then we walked along the airstrip to a restaurant where there was very loud music but a good lunch and a perfect view of the Bahamian sloop race. These were the smaller versions of the ones we usually watch by Staniel Cay around New Years. There were 8 of them and they all had to be lined up at the start with anchors and sails down. At the gun, they raise their anchors and sails and head up wind to the mark. About halfway there, one boat capsized and sank and another had rig problems. The rest somehow were able to finish the course. The wind out on the course was clocked at 30 knots! We were all sitting on the beach watching all of the excitement. Finally, we went back to the boat and I made dinner. The boat was actually aground for hours but we can rest on our three keels nicely. It is the slight bumping on the way down that is disconcerting! We had invited our friends Gail and Erick for dinner and he brought his guitar. After dinner, he entertained us which was a special treat.

Feb.2 The weather was still gray and windy so we brought up the anchor and moved a few miles north and anchored off the beach by the path to our cave. I led Mike and De tot he cave and they loved it. Afterwards, John picked us up and we moved the boat up to White Point. Mike, De, and I took a late afternoon swim into the beach and a walk. It was nice having the place all to ourselves.

Feb. 3 The sun was out but it was still a bit windy. We moved the boat back to Big Majors, went for a swim and enjoyed a Super Bowl party on No Agenda. I watched more football that evening than I have watched probably ever. 

Feb. 4-6 There was lots of snorkeling, playing of Biriba, eating and drinking and playing on the beach with the “gang”, fixing friends boats, and fixing our boat. 

Feb. 7 Mike and De left in the morning so it was time to do the laundry, get fresh food because the mailboat was in town, and pack. I had to go to Greenwich to be with my mom for a week in the cold and snow. John will be looked after and probably fed lots of meat by our friends in the anchorage.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

the arrival at Staniel Cay

Wendy and Chris on the Moon

Mike in a big tide pool on the Moon

some of our sand dollar finds

Newly weds in the cave

the whole gang

spotted eagle ray in the cut by Over Yonder Cay

snorkeling in Thunderball Grotto

Jan. 7-9 My Mike, Chris, and his new wife Corey arrived in the afternoon. Everyone went immediately into the water and swam to the beach. Of course, I can swim around this harbor for months and see a random ray, nurse shark, small fish, and big barracuda but C&C saw a spotted eagle ray and a really cool big crab on their first trip! We introduced them to the “gang” and they played some of the new beach games.
Since they have been here so many times over the years, it is harder for me to come up with new adventures. Well, I succeeded! There are some big rocks out near deep water that form a broken wall the shelters a bay and John took us all out to them and dropped us off to explore. There were big tide ponds, shells on the one beach and rock climbing possibilities. We all loved the new spot until a squall hit and John had to come in the tender and rescue us. We had packed a picnic to have on Judy’s beach but had it on board instead as the rain started just as we got back there. That evening, John had to work on the generators (only maintenance) so the kids and I played a new game called Quirkle. 
The next day, we went to Thunderball and found shells on the sea floor for the first time. Then, it was lunch at Taste and Sea which was a success. After lunch, we all went swimming to the beach to play games and on the way back, there were several good sightings- a very large ray buried in the sand, a sea turtle, reef squid, a big nudibranch, a horse conch, a helmet shell, and an octopus inside a conch. Chris found the octopus and Mike swam it to the boat where he put it into a bucket for photos. All in all a good natural science day!

Jan. 10-14 
It was time to move the boat (which we did none of last year). The kids had never been south of Black Point settlement so we headed south to an anchorage along the coast of Great Guana Cay. Our mission was to find the trail to the big cave that is inland near a big rock called Oven Rock. John took us down by dinghy and dropped us off near the rock. There were a nesting pair of ospreys on the rock and they were not to happy about this! They cried and chuffed at us and almost dive bombed us which was disconcerting to say the least. After much searching, we found the beginning of the trail and were able to walk inland and up to the cave. I had been there last year but this year, we did more exploring and even walked in the tidal salt water inside. When we got back to the boat, we found she had been aground in the very low tide so we had to wait to leave till she floated a bit more. The kids and I went swimming in the unusually crystal clear water and had incredible visibility! John was able to slowly move the boat to deeper water and we went back up the coast to anchor off the beautiful white beach at White Point for the night. The next morning, we returned to Big Majors and our usual parking spot.
The kids wanted to find some sand dollars so we all went to North Gaulin Cay by tender, mom driving, and had great success. Afterwards, they wanted to swim the cut by fowl Cay again and in the shallow area of sand near the cut, Corey spotted a small octopus trying to eat a crab out in the open. Much excitement! Lots of “talking” through their snorkels. Swimming the cut was almost a let down but the saw more good fish and corals. That night, the Biriba tournament started. 
I had heard about some new places to snorkel in the area so, of course, this meant another expedition. I was tender captain again and we found and snorkeled the new area but it proved not that great. As usual, the kids found some good things. The other thing I wanted to check out was a “hole” (a very deep roundish spot in the water). There was a lot of current so I dropped them off to snorkel over the hole. Mike dove down and got some close up photos of one of the 5 spotted eagle rays that were down in the hole. This was another exciting find for them! Mike then found a nurse shark that was resting nearby the hole minding its own business. That night, more Biriba.
Their last day was slow and relaxing in the morning with an expedition in the afternoon. This time we took them to the big sand bar in Pipe Creek to look for sand dollars and shells. With the extra low tide, the bar was bigger and we found a lot of good things. After the hunt, we went to the cut nearby where we usually see spotted eagle rays and were not disappointed. As we neared the cut, a big ray jumped right out of the water right in front of us! The kids got their snorkel gear on and went snorkeling with about 4 of them. This time there were no sharks around which was nice. This was a perfect ending to a perfect weeks visit.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

John and Joe enjoying the day

Heather and John serving the enchilladas

Mexican Train dominos

the catamaran being patched

Tida Wave with its bow damage

the girlies with our tender driver

working on the puzzle