Month: March 2016
Danny and I were snorkeling a reef and enjoying the peacefulness and beauty, when all of a sudden two strange creatures went rushing passed us…
At any given time during your busy day if you happen to wonder what the Tanda Malaika crew are up to right at that moment, it’s guaranteed that at least a couple of us are up to something rather odd. In this case it was the Aidan and Mycah creatures ‘training’ for the next water Olympics. They will compete in the event where the athletes sprint on the ocean floor while carrying large, heavy boulders. They are both quite good at it.
We played with sting rays for a while as they kept circling us and rubbing themselves against our legs. They are so cute, as soon as they see us in the water, then swarm in like B52 bombers.
Danny caught a big fat tuna on a cedar plug. He fought the entire way in but Danny stayed with him and finally brought him onto the boat. We have had several large fish bite right through the leaders and take our lures.
We were sailing up to Freeport to explore it and the surrounding Cays, when the sky darkened and a funnel cloud formed right in the direction we were headed. So, we decided it’d be safest if we holed up in a safe little anchorage in the North side of Bimini.
Winds reached up to 30 knots today and thunder and lightning filled the sky, and a wonderful heavy rain washed the salt spray off our deck. Since it was dreary outside, after Emma completed her school work she made a wind chime from shells and sea glass she’d collected. She did a beautiful job.
We also did some organizing and then watched sea planes take off right next to Tanda Malaika.
This evening for dinner I made Chicken Tiki Masala with beetroot salad on the side, and blueberry cobbler for dessert. After that we watched ‘The Patriot’period together as a family since Mycah is busy studying about that time in her US History class.
It’s expected that tomorrows weather will be much like today’s, so we will probably stick around here till Friday morning. The veggie boat arrives tomorrow sometime, so we will stock up on some fresh fruits and vegetables.
We have not had wifi or cell service for 10 days. Now that we have it, I received over 300 emails as well as numerous texts, and some of them were from you, our sweet friends who were making sure we are okay. Thank you so much for your love, support and concern.
After we said our goodbyes to our sweet family that were visiting, as well as to Jonathan, we left Nassau and continued on. Five massive cruise ships had arrived that morning and made Tanda Malaika look like a toy boat.
Our adventures have continued to be so amazing. We have seen so much goodness and beauty. Nature in its own raw beauty, without the artificial layers that mankind places on it, is simply exquisite. It all makes sense, is simple and is breathtakingly beautiful.
We have also met people who are so filled with love and peace. People who enjoy the adventures of living frugally off the land and who try hard to leave as small a carbon foot print as possible. People who love and laugh openly and who are not afraid to give their all and open their lives and talents to those around them. We have made some wonderful friends who share the same passions that we do and we know we will be rubbing shoulders with them for the rest of our lives.
More importantly, we have spent all day every day together as a family. We miss our children that are not with us but are so grateful for the time we are having with the ones present. We laugh a lot, talk a lot and explore a lot. We eat every meal together, pray together and discover beautiful things together, and are constantly filled with deep humility and gratitude for this experience, and never tire of it.
Even though by now we have seen 1000’s of flying fish, every time a school takes flight, skimming the waters surface for several hundred feet, we point them out to each other and watch in amazement. Every pod of dolphins that bow ride Tanda Malaika hear our squeals of excitement and we take more photos. Each time we set out on a crossing, dive off the stern or pull the dinghy up on a new beach, our hearts are full and we love to be where we are.
While exploring we have sailed through seas so calm that the sunset is reflected perfectly in it.
Jude and Mycah jumped off the bow out in open ocean and swam around to the stern, just to climb back on and do it again.
This place, where the sky is made of swirled sorbet and the ocean is an endless glass of fresh grape juice, where the breeze fills the spinnaker pulling us forward to mesmerizing places and we can openly be ourselves…this place, is our Heaven.
We have found our favorite spot and haven’t wanted to move from it. Green Cay has a gorgeous white beach with tons of shells for Mommy and Bernadine to stock up on, the most beautiful reefs surround it to explore on snorkel and scuba, and the anchor has a beautiful firm hold.
Jude might as well join a circus at this point because she can climb the entire jib like a little monkey.
Danny pulled people around on a tube behind the dinghy for a while and Mommy really impressed us. He took her for a pretty wild ride and she stayed on and loved it!
In fact, the really funny thing is that he tried hard to send everyone flying off the tube but the only one that went flying was him. Danny, Emma and I were in the dinghy pulling Jonathan, and after a crazy fast slide to the right, Danny turned to the left to swing Jonathan the other direction and it caused a slack in the line and when it pulled tight, a wave came up from behind Danny and sent him flying out of the dinghy. It was the funniest sight ever. Later we lay on the trampoline laughing about it and all decided that for our family, all time has stopped and and begun again with Danny’s fall and will be now know as BF and AF. Before the fall and after the fall. So right now we are about 19 hours AF.
We’ve all spent quite a bit of time exploring the reef, and every time return to the boat with exciting things to share with the family. Danny and I snorkeled and found a gorgeous section that we later went back and explored on scuba.
We also found an exceptionally healthy crop of fire coral.
We took the dinghy to the windward side of the island since it was so calm, and found some gorgeous little coves and places for the creatures to cliff jump.
I even got my Mom on scuba. She stayed on the surface and did really well for her first time.
We had a wonderful last day together and now have more beautiful memories tucked away with stories to share with future generations.
What a wonderful life, in a beautiful world.
It’s always interesting when we are asked where we’re from. The island of Tanda Malaika? The cool thing about our home is that our home itself and the comforts of it are always there – just like yours, it’s just that our yard changes all the time. Our home is where ever the anchor drops.
After leaving Rose Island we set out to see what we could see. We have passed many little islands with abandoned broken down buildings that have been damaged in previous hurricanes.
Mycah, the goof ball, fell asleep in Jude’s arms on this trip.
We came across a gorgeous little island that seemed to call to us, so we dropped anchor and as we did we saw turtles surface to check out the new visitors, and eagle rays dancing in the surf ahead of us. Mommy and Bernadine grabbed their bags to fill with shells and we all set out for shore to explore.
Usually my mom moves old dry debris around with a stick to see what treasures lay beneath, but for some reason on this beach she also wanted to see what lay beneath the large rocks on the beach, so Jude and Jonathan spent some time flipping rocks for her.
She collected so many shells!!
Emma found quite the stash too, and Bernadine returned with a huge collection of sea biscuits.
Jude has been learning how to splice line, and every time she finds old line on the beaches, she spend hours untangling it and practices splicing. She’s doing a great job.
What an absolutely beautiful, peaceful place this is!
When we returned to the boat, I grilled some lamb chops on the braai (BBQ) and served it with a nice big pasta salad I’d made earlier in the day. We all sat at the stern and watched the sun set on yet another amazing day on the water. Later in the evening Mycah, Jude and Danny sang and played the guitar and uke to ‘Southern Cross’ while everyone fell asleep to the beautiful lullaby.
We enjoyed our time in Nassau, but missed the tranquility of quiet islands and turquoise waters, so we set out to explore the the many little islands close by. We passed by a quaint little island with a beautifully painted home that was built to resemble a light house.
Many reefs and shallow sandy areas lay ahead, so everyone sat at the bow watching for things that might not be on the navigation charts. It felt to good to feel the wind on my face and hear the water moving under Tanda Malaika. Periodically we could see the dark forms of spotted eagle ray moving in the water around us.
We came to a beautiful island called Rose Island, where a white sand beach stretched long and wide and off to each end of it beautiful sandstone outcroppings lay in a bold picturesque manner. The water was bright clear turquoise and looked so cool and inviting.
The clarity of the water makes it easy to anchor, because we can easily see to drop it on sand and avoid damaging coral heads. Even after letting out 50 or 75ft of anchor chain, we can still see it clearly laid out ahead of us through the transparent turquoise. We haven’t fished for a while because our freezer was so full from the 10 we caught, and I haven’t wanted to catch another darn Barracuda. There were 3 men that worked at the marina in Nassau that were there to catch our dock lines when we arrived, and we gave each of them a filleted Barracuda as a thank you. They were thrilled.
We took the dinghy in to shore to explore the beach, and my Mom immediately began collecting shells and rinsing them off in the water. She is going to need an extra bag to take them all home!
Bernadine, Gary, Mommy and Jonathan will be returning to the US on Tuesday. Jonathan has decided that he wants to serve a mission for our church and wants to work to make some money to prepare for it, as well as take some classes that would help him prepare. So, he will be staying with my sister and we’ll continue to work with him and help him finish his last few home school classes so he can graduate and then head out on his mission. It has been wonderful having everyone visit us, and we are going to miss Jonathan so much. The Tanda Malaika crew will be down to 6!
The creatures and I grabbed cameras and set out on foot to explore the streets of Nassau in hopes of finding the famous straw market. Bernadine, Gary and Mommy caught a cab and we figured we’d eventually meet up. Danny would rather have a root canal with no block than join us in an adventure that might involve shopping, so he stayed at the boat.
We walked over the tall bridge, and from it could see the many vessels motoring back and forth. It was busy like a highway, some charter vessels filled with snorkelers, some delivering goods, some commercial fishing vessels and some private – all with important agendas to fulfill. Some of them were so loaded down with an assortment of things that I was amazed they still floated. A flock of lazy seagulls slept on a rooftop and below them, men on boats overloaded with conch hurried to deliver their fresh harvest.
We walked for about half an hour through an area where beautiful old buildings stood vacant and fading. Streets were quiet and a few cars hurried past en route to some place more lively. The Bahamian really love a particular shade of pink for their buildings.
In the distance we could see 3 massive cruise ships anchored, and as we neared the area, suddenly our surrounding became alive, bright paint and signs covered the walls and people talked and laughed as they mingled in the streets.
The straw market was an interesting place. A large building with booths lined in a grid pattern inside, all with “local” straw bowls and bags, bright backpacks and purses obviously made in Central and South America, wood work mostly made in Africa and China and t-shirts printed in bulk from various places. Each little lady at the neatly stacked booths called you to hers using the same lines of: “I want you to be my first customer of the day, what would you like from my store? A special discount for you. How about this hat. It is usually $25 but I’ll give it to you for $20 but, because you’re so beautiful, how about $15…just for you as my first customer.” The same lines used everywhere – even after an hour of people shopping I was still considered their first customer, just as everyone else was. I smiled as I watched people leave with big bags of goods, huge smiles on their faces as they felt accomplished in purchasing local hand made stuff at amazing discounted prices.
We eventually made our way back to Danny on Tanda Malaika, with exciting things to tell him about our adventure through town. Aidan was definitely the hit of the day, as every man and boy stood watching him in amazement as he rode his skateboard. What a fun place with happy, friendly people.
Our next passage brought us to Nassau, the Capital of the Bahamas. The city is large with a population of close to 250 000, and the locals speak with an accent much like Jamaican.
Our crew are doing so well with seasickness – even though we’ve had some rough water. Mommy has sat and taught Mycah to crochet, and she’s given the boys haircuts.
Bernadine and Emma have sorted through their piles of beautiful shells they’ve collected. School work is done and naps have been taken. Danny took this adorable shot of Jude and Emma all snuggled up together.
We are docked here in Nassau at a particular marina we’d researched because when staying here it gives all 10 of us free access to Atlantis, a huge resort with a water park, aquariums, zoo and botanical gardens. Since it’s Jonathan’s birthday, we figured it’d be a fun treat for him and everyone to enjoy together. The water park is huge with many pools, water slides, lazy river, beach areas etc, all in the Atlantis theme. Giant seahorses, dolphins and bill fish are on the sides and tops of buildings and water slides empty into pools of sharks.
Danny and I were like a couple of kids and hurried from one slide to the next. My Mom had a blast rushing down the slides as well, and Bernadine and Gary spent quite a while on the lazy river. The creatures spent hours sliding, swimming and exploring. Large tunnels with artifact replicas and huge aquariums have been fun to explore too. My Mom fell in love with the fish.
Bernadine, Gary and I went grocery shopping and were amazed at the crazy prices of food. Apples are $1.69 a piece. Peanut butter $9.96 a jar. Cold meat for sandwiches is sold by the roll! It’s a good thing we provisioned well before leaving for the Bahamas.
Today we hope to hit the Straw Market, where locals come together and sell things they have made. After Nassau, we will most likely hit the Andros Islands.
We continued on down the Berry Island chain, and came to an interesting area called Little Harbor Cay. The ‘harbor’ itself is nestled in-between numerous little islands, and to get to it you have to meander through at high tide – and even then it’s pretty risky. With our short 4 1/2ft draft we even ended up touching bottom at low tide when we were at anchor. A big African American man named Chester Darville, came on the radio and directed us…”keep the large rock about 30ft off your port side, then take a sharp turn to port…” it went on for about 20 minutes. Danny is a most excellent Captain, and got us in safely.
After dropping anchor in 5ft of water, we looked up to where Chester had been radioing from, and saw his little homestead which consisted of several small buildings. One particular building is a restaurant named “Flo’s”, after his mother, Florence. Aside from burgers, they serve conch fritters, pan fried conch and his famous rum punch. Their yard is littered with ducks, chickens and roosters, and in the mornings we were woken to the roosters crowing (not something you hear on a sailboat very often.)
At the dock, Chester prepares the fish and conch for his daughter, Lovely, to cook, and then throws the remains into the water below.
Four Lemon sharks were waiting ready for the easy meal, and each came in quickly when they heard the splash. I placed my foot in the water and splashed the waters surface, and one of them came over to investigate.
My Mom and I lowered a paddle board and with her kneeling in the front and me in the back, I paddled us over to get closer to the sharks, but they were a bit unsure of the paddle board.
On Chester’s property there are massive piles of conch shells from over 100 years of conching, and beautiful flowering cactus. My Mom fell in love with some tiny purple flowers that covered the ground in whispy stalks.
We went for a walk, and Aidan and his Ouma explored the trail together.
Little Harbor Cay provided us calm waters and wonderful shelter, as well a a beautiful setting to soak in. I will never tire of the blueness of the water here in the Bahamas.
The sail to Hoffman’s was a little rough with swollen seas and whitecaps in random directions. I love how safe we feel on Tanda Malaika. She handles the waves crashing into her hulls so gracefully and carries us safely over them, ready to greet the next one.
Hoffman’s Cay forms a beautiful circular bay, almost like a caldera, and in that bay the water is calm and clear – protected from the chaotic seas just over the hill on the windward side. It’s an interesting feeling to sail in rough ocean, then turn a slight corner and be in a lake like calmness.
We anchored in about 8 feet of turquoise water, lowered the dinghy and broke out the paddle boards, while some swam to shore. The creatures excitedly ran up the sandy and sandstone slope covered in a variety of small bushes, and disappeared over the crest. Periodically while walking up, a lizard with a big curl in its tail would scurry into the bushes and hermit crabs slowly crossed back and forth across the path like drunkin sailors. The view from the top was so beautiful. White sand meeting light blue water which gradually darkened into bright turquoise then deep blue. Brown patches of seagrass in linear and swirling patterns could also be seen, like one giant gorgeous aquarium.
Danny flew his drone overhead in search of the famous Hoffman’s Blue Hole, while the rest of us cooled off in the water. He has recorded some amazing drone footage of our adventure in the Bahamas thus far, including that of spotted eagle rays dancing below the paddle boards. A young couple from Canada on a monohaul anchored in shallow water and forgot to account for the tide change, and found themselves tipped over this morning. They will have to wait 6 hours till high tide before their home is upright once again. Thanks to the sandy bottom, it appeared that no damage had been done to the hull or rudder.
Once Danny had located the blue hole we all loaded into the dinghy and motored through water that looked like blue koolaid, past rays and beautifully contoured sand, and pulled up on a small beach where the trail began.
After a short walk we found ourselves looking over a blue hole about the size of a baseball field, a 600ft deep vertical cave explored by Jacques Cousteau and possibly created by a meteorite strike.
I grabbed my mask and GoPro and pushed off from the 25ft ledge, wanting to be the first to jump to make sure it was safe for the creatures. The cool salt water was a refreshing treat and I watched as one by one, Danny and the creatures jumped in, swam around and climbed back out.
I swam the circumference of the hole, stopping to take pictures periodically. Thousands of tiny blue wrasse swam in synchronized schools and minute snails and crabs moved slowly through bright green fuzz ball alga. Thick heavy walls of mussels hung down along the sides in 8-10ft wide sections and then dropped off into the abyss below.
A fascinating place in the middle of dense foliage, with only the sky above to reflect down into it. This is one adventure this tribe will be reflecting on for some time.
We anchored at Petit Cay in the Berry Islands, and once again found ourselves nestled among breathtaking beauty. Limestone and Sandstone outcroppings, bright white powdery fine sand and the colors of blue that seem photoshopped.
The morning was cool and breezy, and Tanda Malaika softly bobbed on the waves. We lowered the dinghy and motored toward the long stretch of white sandy beach that sprawled across the horizon. Various homes in soft yellows, blues and white were perfectly spaced giving them full view of the beautiful clear water. About 20 yards from short it became too shallow for the prop so Jonathan and Mycah jumped out and pulled us in. The sand was bright white and finer than any other I’ve ever seen. An inlet called Shark Creek, flowed west from the bay and disappeared through the mangroves.
We walked the beach, stopping periodically to admire shells and seaweed. The creatures disappeared into the woods chatting about Sasquatch adventures, and Mommy grabbed a stick and began sorting through mounds of dried grasses, seaweed and sand. She knelt down and picking up tiny hidden shells and other treasures and I smiled, loving how sweet and at peace she looked.
I walked into the trees when the creatures called, and found them lying on the soft bed of needles, asking if they could sleep there for the night. The girls looked so beautiful all curled up together and I was filled with gratitude for not only the love I feel for and from them, but for the love they feel for each other. What incredibly tight bonds they have.
Eventually dark clouds filled the sky from the south and appeared to be moving toward us in a hurry, and periodically I’d feel a cool drop on my skin. The tide had come in enough at this point that we only had to drag the dinghy out a short ways before being able to lower the engine and motor back home.