Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pam Tries (Unsuccessfully) to Kill Us

It started off so great. We met the kids at the airport. Boy, it was great to see Jackson (and Jen and Luke). He looks so different than he did at 2 weeks old when we last saw him!

We settled them in on the boat, did the obligatory walk to Potter’s Cay for conch fritters and then did our provisioning for our trip south.

Conch Fritters for Jackson
Conch Fritters for Jackson

We had been wedged into a dock space so Captain Chaos had a fellow dockster hold a bowline to keep the bow from swinging into the wind as we tried to turn a tight corner. We made a brilliant exit – except that the Captain had forgotten to turn on the engine cooling water (after a bit of maintenance) so that resulted in some major scrambling to turn it on before we overheated.

We had a good sail to Allen’s across the Yellow Banks. The wind was on our backs so Glen and Luke pulled out the spinnaker and we flew it for the first time! It was beautiful! As it filled with air, our fishing line screamed. We reeled in a barracuda (and let it go.) It wasn’t as big as the one Mike caught in almost the same spot but big enough for us to worry about ciguatera – a poison that larger fish may carry.

Closs' to Allens' with swab Jackson

First time spinnacker - huge!

Anchored at Allen’s, fed the iguanas, did some snorkeling and then bedded down. Jackson settled in to his new bed and we had a pretty good night.

Morning meetings...

Bathtime for bedtime!

Then off to Norman’s for a couple of nights. Same ol’, same ol… saw the plane, explored in the dingy, went to McDuffs!

Welcome to Normans'

Welcome to McDuff's!

Jen, Luke and Glen left Pam with Jackson and went over to Norman’s Pond. We scoped the area out and we are really not sure how we would ever get Blue Pearl in there. The entrance is very shallow and tricky. Too bad, it’s beautiful and secluded.

Off to Warderick Wells and… lucky us, we got a mooring ball right in front of the park office. The anchorage is very cool. It is a long cut around a huge sand bar. It is 20 feet deep in the cut but you can stand up to your ankles on the bar. And it really drops off. Jen and Luke swam to shore and a little later we saw Luke leisurely… and then with great haste, swim back to the boat. He reported that he saw a 6 to 8 foot nurse shark on the way back. Glen told him he had better go back and get his wife back safely. Luke heard, “you had better go back and get my daughter back safely.”

Swimming at Warderick



Later that day Glen, Jen and Luke took the dinghy and went exploring. The snorkeling is amazing. We saw dinner sized crawfish, great big groupers, rays and many other varieties of colourful fish. Later at dinner, Pam finished her gin and tonic and tossed the lemon into the current – only to hear a great ruckass as the yellow jacks fought over it. We probably broke all the park rules by feeding the fish but soon we had 8 to 10 yellow jacks and a couple of lemon sharks hanging around the boat. Several trips to shore to let Jackson “swim” in the sea and to get sand on his feet. We walked up to Booboo Hill where there is the most incredible view of the anchorage.

Boo Boo Hill


Bananaquit birds flew out to the boat and ate sugar from our hands. We read, relaxed and played with Jackson. A nice way to spend a few days. We enjoyed getting to know Jack and learning his routines – forty minute naps, smiles, diapers, maybe teething fussy times and bathtime. He celebrated his 3 month birthday with us.

We think this is when Pam tried to kill us. Not sure how she did it, or how she avoided the same fate, but over the next few days each of us succumbed to major stomach issues. Very uncomfortable.

We love Warderick Wells. We enjoyed some terrific snorkeling and weathered a small front that passed through. But it was time to move on so we headed south – taking time to cruise in past the Majors where pigs will swim out to your boat to eat whatever you give them – and then on to Farmer’s Cay. Glen and Pam’s friend, Berlington, told us we should go in to say hello to Roosevelt Nixon, owner of the Farmer’s Cay Yacht Club. We tied up at the dock so we were more mobile with Jackson and spent that day organizing for Jen, Luke and Jackson’s flight home. We were having trouble getting hold of Bahamas Air for their Georgetown flight so to make sure of their connection we decided to hang around this area for the rest of their stay. Jen, Luke and Jackson spent a pleasant few hours swinging on a porch swing, looking at the view, napping, checking e-mails and drinking coconut rum drinks.

Porch swing

Thank you to them for a grouper dinner there. Luke had the lobster and was offered a “leftover” lobster tail, which he happily took off their hands.

We left Little Farmer’s for Darby Island. Glen and Pam had been there 30 years ago when they travelled from Great Inagua to Nassau on a sailboat so it was an opportunity to check it out again. After stirring up the sand in the shallow water we anchored in the bay – we were the only boat there. Darby Island was home to a German sympathizer during WW II who was trying to turn the island into a base for marauding German U-boats. He was very unpopular and was eventually forced from the islands. Luke and Glen got permission to go ashore and explore the home – called the Castle by the locals. It is a spectacular building – truly a castle - but has decayed significantly in the 30 years since first visited by Glen and Pam.







Following a back trail, Glen and Luke came upon an amazing cave in the limestone, with a hole in the roof typical of cenotes in this area and Mexico, only without the water.


We couldn’t keep Luke out of the water.  He and Glen snorkeled around the boat, checking the anchor, tightening the bolts on the zincs they had installed at Warderick and pausing to watch a baby nurse shark nearby. The next day we motored around Musha Cay and Cave Cay – a couple of nearby islands. We anchored off Rudder Cay Cut – once again having the place to ourselves. Jen and Luke took advantage of a little time provided by Grandma and the beautiful surroundings to take the dingy and do a little exploring and snorkeling. They were having a good look around until a barracuda came to check them out. It was either 2 feet or 5 feet long – depending whether you ask Jen or Luke!

We motorsailed back to Little Farmer's Cay.  Luke was the helmsman for the day, taking us through some very shallow water, avoiding coral and sand bars. Calm seas and light winds following us.  Fifteen minutes from our destination, our fishing reel screamed and we pulled in a 32 inch fish!  We were sure it was a wahoo and were disappointed when Roosevelt Nixon, proprietor of the Little Farmer's Yacht Club told us it was a barracuda!  We ate it anyway!  It was delicious fried in a fish fry seasoning and served in a fish taco.


Today we will attend the Farmer's Cay All Age School Fair and spend our last day with the Closs family.  They fly out tomorrow morning.   Our little sailor grandson is going home with his parents. We will miss them.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Atlantis to Omelettes

After enjoying Norman’s Cay for 3 days, albeit without water… we made our way back to Nassau. We had heard about Atlantis – the marine resort on Paradise Island. It is hideously expensive to moor there and they don’t allow boats UNDER 40 feet – we guess they don’t want riff-raff in the neighbourhood. So we suddenly became 40 feet and made a reservation. It is hard to believe how “over-the-top” the boats are. They are massive, all require a captain and crew (uniformed), outlandishly decorated and they have every gadget and piece of equipment imaginable.


It costs $100 per person per day to enjoy the attraction if you walk in but this is waived for hotel and marina guests… what a deal!!! So Gavin, Kal, Jinder, Pam and Glen went exploring Tuesday evening and enjoyed Wednesday at the attractions and pools. Just as we were deciding what to do for dinner on Wednesday a local fisherman showed up with lobster. Unfortunately for Jinder and Kal, Gavin has learned that he loves lobster!

Uh oh... Gavin loves lobster.

Daquiris too fruitiful

We had a visit with Shaun, Tom, Nicholas and Natalie Windt who were staying there after a Caribbean cruise and met up with Anita again before her return to Abbotsford. One evening we ended up in the middle of a Junkanoo parade!

Visit from the Windts Junkanoo

Thursday found us back in reality at the more mundane but functional Nassau Yacht Haven. The Sarowas treated us to dinner at the Poop Deck and then we settled in for our last night. The Sarowas left us for the airport at 7 am and we spent the day puttering at the marina. It is strangely quiet when guests leave. Pam decided on an omelette for dinner – is this our parting routine?

Kaliks at the Poop Deck

The marina was quite full when we arrived and they put us in a slip that would have worked if we didn’t have a bowsprit or a dingy hanging on davits. We spent the first night with a flashing light hung from our bow, hoping we wouldn’t be hit by a Bahamas Divers boat or one of the local fishing charters passing by. The next day Glen moved the boat to the next dock, removed the dingy and here we sit with our davits hanging out over the dock. Leaving on Tuesday might prove to be another adventure!

Don't fence me in!

Glen started our income tax, we did laundry and grocery shopping.

Doing taxes is OK in the Bahamas

We had drinks with neighbours, Barb and Daryl from SeaWind II and shared docking nightmare stories. One evening we witnessed the effects of the current and tide on a big sailboat as he docked nearby bouncing off the wharf and bumping a boat. We are learning that most boaters struggle with docking.

So, another adventure has ended and we are looking forward to the next… Jen, Luke and Jackson join us on Monday to explore the Exumas from Nassau to Georgetown.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

West Indies

In Like a Lion or a Lamb?

During our time at the Nassau Yacht Haven we connected with Anita McMahon and family.   Their friends from Paradise Island brought them over to visit in their boat.  We gave them a tour of Blue Pearl and said good-bye – maybe we will see them again next week if we return to Nassau before they leave for home.

Anita and Family
Anita and Family

When we had arrived in Nassau this time, Glen noticed that one of the motor mounts was broken.  Not a good thing.  Went to Albert’s Marine Service to get a mechanic to install the spare that we had.  The mechanic found that two more were broken.  Only four mounts hold the motor on and three had been broken.  Really not a good thing.  Extras were ordered from Florida and we were impressed with the service.  They arrived the next day and Jason from Albert’s Marine Service had them installed that afternoon.  Back the next morning for final touch-ups and a sea trial and we were set.  Turns out that Jason knows Jerome Cartwright, the headmaster from Matthewtown, Inagua in 1978.  That afternoon Jason connected Glen with Cartwright and they had an interesting reunion.  We will meet up with him when we return to Nassau next week.  Small world.  Actually the Bahamas is a small country.

The Sarowas spent three nights at a fancy Cable Beach Hotel before moving onto Blue Pearl with us.  We bought fritters and fish at Potters Cay, provisioned at the supermarket and the liquor store near the marina and took off.  As usual, Captain Chaos provided entertainment to everyone as we left the dock.  The strong current and wind, combined with the Captain’s uncanny knack for banging into things made for a spectacular departure.  We arrived at Allan’s Cay without further mishap and found a good place for the hook.  Alex and Kris from Blue Wind had followed us from Nassau through the Yellow Banks.  They anchored nearby.  Once ashore we amused ourselves looking at all the iguanas.

Jinder - Great iguana feeder
Jinder - Great iguana feeder
Sarowas meet Alllen's Cay
Sarowas meet Allan's Cay

There had been some bad weather so there had been no tour boats feeding them for a couple of days and they greeted all the boats enthusiastically.  Remembering our lesson from Pat on Kolibrie, we had brought grapes to feed them from a stick – too bad we hadn’t learned that trick before Mike learned from experience that, even without teeth, they can draw blood!

The wind wasn’t warm so we weren’t too interested in swimming but Jinder did take a quick dip off a sand bar.

On the beach we chatted with an Oregon family on the catamaran, Texas Two Step, Dave, Leslie and Michelle.  They had sold their house and were fulltime cruisers.  Michelle, a grade ten student, is doing her schoolwork by correspondence.  They dingied by the boat so we invited them onboard for a drink.  They were planning to make their own beer on the beach the next day – they had all the supplies and equipment onboard.  While talking about food, Dave mentioned that he didn’t care for conch.  Pam decided she would introduce him to her cracked conch and invited them for dinner.  Glen used the new conch mallet to tenderize the tough meat and then coated it in Zantarain’s Fish Fry then lightly fried in olive oil.  Paired with Spanish Yellow Rice and Kal’s Special Salad, dinner was ready.  Eight of us crowded around our table and enjoyed drinks, good food, laughs and friendship.  And Dave liked the conch.

Conch dinner with Texas Two Step
Conch dinner with Texas Two Step

We had a lousy night banging back and forth in the waves and current and bolted out of there early in the morning.  As we were raising the anchor, Dave and Leslie dingied over with a gift for us….  a cutting board to use the next time we made cracked conch!  Thank you, Texas Two Step.

We had big (6 to 8 foot) seas so the first part of the ride was uncomfortable but we decided to hole up at Norman’s Cay – only a little way away – where we could anchor with more protection and get some sleep.

 At Norman’s we all had a sleep, showered and then, feeling revived, we dingied ashore and walked over to McDuffs so Jinder could buy us all expensive drinks.

Jambalaya dinner, Bananagrams and Balderdash then to bed.  We thankfully had a very calm night on the anchor but woke up to discover we were out of water.  We couldn’t quite believe that we had used 157 gallons in two days.  Glen did all of the checks he knew and could not discover where the water had gone.  Luckily, Pam had a five gallon jerry can of water saved so we decided to enjoy the day and just not wash.  A day of exploring islands, reading and relaxing.

Principals' Meeting
Principals' Meeting

Just no washing.  Our second morning at Norman’s looked beautiful and we extended our “no wash” rule and spent another day in this beautiful anchorage.  The five gallons were stretching further and further as none of us really wanted to leave.  Dingy trips to Wax Cay and Norman’s Pond kept us busy as well as Margaritas and G&T’s.  Jinder and Kal treated us to Eggs with Indian spices and a Chick Pea curry, using spices they had brought from home.  Glen made his famous Boiled Fish dinner.  Beautiful sunsets, blue water, swimming from a deserted beach – priceless.

Swimming in Norman's Pond
Swimming in Norman's Pond
Exploring Norman's Cay
Exploring Norman's Cay

We are now off to Nassau and will spend the night at the Atlantis Resort.  Not washing can only last so long and we have decided to treat ourselves to this lavish resort for a night or two.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Looking Forward to March

After Mike and Charlotte left us at Staniel Cay, we had a strange afternoon.  We hadn’t slept well the night before as the approaching front had us rocking and rolling with the wind causing the boat to pitch around and the halyards to slap against the mast.  It was deafening!  So we were tired as we tried to adjust to being alone again on the boat.  We waved to two planes as they went overhead – one must have carried the Inmans and we wondered if they had seen us standing on the deck waving.  We moped around trying to get back into our old rhythm.

Pam gave Glen a much needed haircut in the cockpit.  One untrained barber plus one rolling boat equals one poor haircut.  Luckily hair grows.  An omelette dinner, a few games of crib and then to bed.

We woke to a calm morning and headed north towards Hawksbill Cay.  It is in the Exuma Land and Sea Park so we tied to one of their mooring balls.  We could have anchored but we like to support their conservation efforts.  A mooring ball is $15 for the night.  For about six hours we were the only boat next to a beautiful beach and island.  We are still amazed at the colour of this water.

Look at the colour of the water!
Look at the colour of the water!
Private Island - Hawksbill Cay
Private Island - Hawksbill Cay

As the sun was setting, two other boats came to join us.  Glen won two games of Bananagrams before we put on our mast light and went to sleep.

The Blue Pearl tucked in at Hawksbill
The Blue Pearl tucked in at Hawksbill

Another front was approaching so we knew we needed a secure anchorage for the night.  We had planned to return to Norman’s Cay but arrived there at 10 am so continued north to look at Highborne Cay.  We motored around that anchorage at noon and agreed that it did not give us the protection we wanted.  So, we spent the night back at Allan’s Cay.  Our great Delta anchor held us snuggly while we were hit by 30-35 knot winds with gusts to 50 knots.  The current swung us in circles as the wind clocked from the south to the northwest during the night.  It was a crazy night.  We slept in the main salon so we could hear the different sounds and be able to react if needed.  A clear sky and a big full moon allowed us to keep tabs on the three other boats in the anchorage and to check that our anchor held tight.

We snoozed ‘til late in the morning as the wind whistled around us and lessened to 20 knots.  Mike and Charlotte had restocked our fruit and veggies and loaded us up with wonderful bread from the Bread Lady and we are eating well!

We are listening to reports of the Olympic hockey gold medal game on the satellite radio.  We just heard that Sidney Crosby scored the winning goal in overtime.  Yay Canada!

Tomorrow we will head into Nassau.

We had such a great visit with Mike and Charlotte and we are looking forward to all of the visitors coming in March.  Jinder and Kal arrive in Nassau tomorrow and will come aboard on Thursday.  Jen, Luke and Jackson arrive later in the month and we are hoping Don and Pat can work in a trip as well.  So March will be another great month!  Another reason to look forward to March is that we heard the fronts come less often as spring approaches.  Plus, on March 1 we can restart our monthly crib game tally.  For February, Glen is winning 14 games to 8!