Month: April 2016
Our return journey to Spanish Wells was fairly uneventful. We were once again headed directly into the wind, just like we were when we sailed from Spanish Wells to Nassau. I told Danny that it was like we went to school uphill both ways! When we were about an hour from our destination, Danny reeled in a huge Barracuda. It has become easy for us to tell when there’s a Barracuda on the line, because they fight like crazy in the beginning, and then give up to the point where you feel like what ever was on the hook had wiggled off, until they are close to the boat when they fight once more. This guy was so heavy that it took both Danny and Mycah to hold him up. We set him free once we’d removed the hook.
We anchored in the same spot as we did last time – just outside the harbor entrance. This time however, there were already 8 other vessels in the anchorage, and a few more have arrived since. Danny and I chuckled to ourselves as we sat on deck last night and another couple came in to anchor, and Danny commented that they were not new sailors because they had dark tans. As people come and go we are able to pick up on things now that we would never have noticed before, just by looking at their boats and how they have things set up. Some have their decks lined with extra diesel and water cans from long crossings. Some have come a short way in calm seas and have laundry hanging out to dry. Last night we listened to a couple singing out loud at their stern while others washed their dishes off their transom, others gathered their dried laundry from their stanchions, and still others took boat showers in their swimsuits at the stern. We as cruisers are a community, and it is a peaceful way of living.
Danny and I took the dinghy into town to take care of some business. The only place that was open was the post office since it was lunch time, so we mailed off the creatures exams and stopped at the Shipyard for lunch.
I love this guy. I never tire of spending time with him, and the longer we are together, the deeper in love we fall.
Kjira, our beautiful 24 year old angel creature just moved from working at the Big Sky Ski Resort in Montana,
to working at a resort in Alaska. She took this photo a couple days ago.
We spoke on the phone last night and as always it was so wonderful to chat with her. As a parent, nothing beats knowing that your children are happy, healthy and excited about life. That they love you and know that you love them and they feel hope and excitement for the future. Kjira has always been an amazing big sister to her siblings, and a wonderful daughter and companion to me. I love her so much. We all love her so much.
En route to Nassau, we saw a huge flock of seagulls splashing into the water then taking flight again, and turned to port to sail through the flock. They were feeding on little fish who were being hunted by bigger fish, and we wanted to catch one! In no time at all we heard the whiz of the reel and Mycah (for the first time) grabbed a hold of it and reeled in a nice looking tuna.
Nassau was as busy as ever. Airplanes flying in and out, boats packed with people going in every direction, and police sirens loudly blaring as they passed. Danny had a whirlwind trip, flying to Miami, picking up our feathering props and a couple other things we needed, then flying back that evening. We met him out on the road when his taxi arrived, and what pulled up was a big white limo (which was the same price at a regular taxi), and Danny climbed out with his lips puckered and his hand pushing his hair back like he was some sort of super star. We all bust out laughing.We really missed him while he was gone. Even Nassau seemed to celebrate his return, as fireworks were shot off over the bridge.
It felt good to leave the big city this morning, leaving the craziness behind and heading out to peaceful waters.
Tonight we are anchored on the south side of Rose Cay. A beautiful, calm little island covered in dense vegetation and a couple of gorgeous beaches. We arrived at low tide and took the dinghy to explore the beach.
Emma searched for shells while we all explored and waded through a large area of gorgeous shallow water. I love the patterns that the wind forms on the water, as well as the pattern of the waves.
I love seeing the world through the creatures eyes, and witnessing their love and interest in the world.
As we were returning to the dinghy, I came across a beautiful sea hare. Sea hares have a soft body with an internal shell. Their color is directly related to their diet, which mostly consists of seaweed. To defend themselves they can squirt an inky substance which is either red or purple in color.
In China they are fried and eaten with rice or some wrapped in grape leaves and eaten. We didn’t eat this little guy (nor ever will we eat sea hares), and set him free.
Tomorrow we will return to Spanish Wells, where Tanda Malaika will be hauled out on Friday for repairs.
We sailed from Spanish Wells to our favorite little island just outside of Nassau, that we call ‘our island.’
Danny was able to find an exceptional deal on some folding props that we have needed for Tanda Malaika, and it is cheaper for him to fly from Nassau to Miami to pick them up than it is for them to ship them to us, so tomorrow morning he will fly off for the day and return tomorrow night. We have to return to Spanish Wells as soon as he gets back, because our girl is going to be pulled out of the water there so we can replace a faulty sail drive seal and patch up the keels from our little run in last week.
When we awoke we got our swim suits on and prepared for some exploring time in the water. Jude and Mycah first rigged the fender up to the spare halyard line and we took turns flinging ourselves off the top of Tanda Malaika. It’s quite a rush.
With mask, snorkel and fins on, Danny and I went grocery shopping…he had his Hawaiian Sling in hand and I had a mesh bag. I came across a beautiful turtle who had three remora attached to his belly. We swam together for a short while before I hurried off to catch up to Danny who was already shopping in the lobster isle. He speared three lobster for dinner.
As I snorkeled close to shore in search of more lobster among some rocks, an endless school of tiny silver fish circled around me. There were thousands of them in every direction and they swam with me for some time. I felt like a mermaid.
While we were diving and snorkeling around in about 25ft of water, we came across about 600ft of anchor chain lying on the reef. It had obviously become wrapped around the coral heads when someone tried to anchor as they zig zagged across the reef, and after failed attempts to raise it up they finally cut the rode and set it loose. It frustrates me when I see this because there are huge patches of sand that are so easy to see that can be anchored in, and yet people still anchor in coral and damage it. These people ended up losing several thousand dollars worth of anchor chain in the process.
Since we are always up for adventure (and a good challenge), the creatures and I decided that we were going to selvage the chain and sell it someplace. Danny tried explaining to us that first of all, there’s no way we could raise such a heavy chain without the right equipment – which we don’t have, and second of all, who on earth would we sell it to. The creatures and I saw no problem with either of the issues he mentioned, so we took the dinghy over to the spot, draped a tarp over its sides so the chain wouldn’t mess the dinghy up, and dropped the dinghy anchor in sand right where we needed it to be. When we looked down at the beginning of the chain, about five feet away by a huge coral overhang, a beautiful big black nurse shark lay fast asleep.
I had dinner rolls cooking in the oven back on the boat, so after about half an hour of tugging till my shoulders ached and our efforts seemed pointless, I paddled back to the boat while the creatures reconsidered their plan. I sheepishly gave Danny the report that the chain was a lot heavier than I expected, and had to look at the ‘I told you so’ look on his face. We kept expecting to hear the creatures return, but they never did, and after about an hour Danny and I took two of the paddle boards over to where they were and were instantly asked for food and bolt cutters. To our amazement they had pulled in about 100ft of chain (300lbs worth) and were all so exhausted but didn’t want to quit. They needed bolt cutters because they had reached a place where they couldn’t unravel the chain from the coral. Danny finally convinced them that they had done an amazing job but we simply didn’t have the necessary equipment to complete the job, so after a requested moment of silence, they lay the chain back down again.
I told the creatures I was so proud of them for their determination, team effort and perseverance. When they returned home, their legs and arms felt like jello, and Aidan walked into the hanging fly glue trap on three different occasions on accident. I guess his brain was fried too! This evening they are all feeling some muscles they didn’t realize they had.
Spanish Wells is considerably different from the Bahamian towns we’ve visited. Not just by appearance but it also has a different vibe. Many people notice it and either love it or would rather avoid the place altogether. Unlike the other islands, most of the residents are Caucasian, but still use the same Bahamian talk. Golf carts are the main mode of transportation.
Spanish Wells is a small town on the island of George’s Cay. Historically, the island was used as a last stop for Spanish ships returning to Europe, the ships refilled their water supply from wells built for this purpose and that’s how it got its name. The first colonists from Bermuda suffered a shipwreck on the reef known as Devils Backbone, and ended up settling in Spanish Wells. Today the town is the center for lobster fishing in the Bahamas, and the harbor is lined with power boats in every shape and size, packed with fishing gear and lobster pots.
We explored the town which is neatly lined with beautifully painted homes with well kept yards. Some of the paint color combinations would be seen a gaudy in other places, but here in the Bahamas, it’s the norm. Even the cemetery seemed and bright with many colorful flowers and surrounded by brightly painted homes.
On our first day here we walked the beaches on the north side of the island and were once again amazed at the blueness and clarity of the water.
On our second day we took the dinghy up the south side and found a gorgeous shallow area by a bridge that connects St George’s Cay to Russell Cay, and splashed around in the water for the afternoon.
The creatures played on a rope swing attached to the bridged, and climbed as high as they could for jumping tricks as well.
At one point they called me over and Jude mischievously said, “so Mom, it’s a really hot day, would you like something from the fridge?” I looked at the abandoned fridge and said “but of course, thank you…,” she opened it, and look what was inside…
A case of Mycah! Funny kids.
Jude found more twine to take back to Tanda Malaika which Danny tried hiding, but it didn’t work.
These adventures never grow old, and the people we share them with are so wonderful. Today a woman and her son were motoring past us and recognized our boat name from Facebook, and stopped by for a visit. They shared a huge delicious pasta salad with us, we chatted for a while, they asked for a tour of our home, and then were off on their way again. Before leaving she mentioned that she is a mathematics teacher and asked if any of the creatures needed help with math homework.
Our lives are so blessed as we open our hearts and minds with love and gratitude to the world around us.
Before leaving Harbor Island, we spent some time at a beautiful little beach. Emma found many shells and Jude found more of the twine that she seems to be collecting. In fact, she found so much that Mycah had to get a paddle board to taxi it back to Tanda Malaika on.
One man’s junk is another man’s treasures!
The wind had been blowing quite hard for a few days, causing some impressive swells and waves to crash through the three outlets from Harbor Island to open ocean. We decided to avoid the Devils Backbone and after waiting for 24 hours for winds to die down, set out on our next adventure to Egg Island.
We knew it was going to be a fun ride when we approached the gap and white caps stretch across the horizon. Jude positioned herself in the farthest seat forward and Aidan and Emma braced themselves at the mast for a wet and wild trip. Mycah decided to stay dry down below and Danny and I were at the helm.
Tanda Malaika raised up high over waves then dipped down into the troughs that followed, splashing water all over her bow. A huge spray also erupted through the holes of the trampoline, sending a beautiful mist over everyone and the entire deck. Jude and the twins laughed in excitement as they were drenched, bracing themselves for the next dip.
Once we got through the worst of it I tried to convince Danny to turn around so we could do it again, but he just smiled at me and we carried on and we enjoyed the rest of the sail to the beautiful calmer waters at Egg Island.
Within minutes of us anchoring we were all in the water exploring our surroundings. Danny and I harvested several Emperor Helmet Conch so that I could make conch fritters with the recipe Big Mama told me. The creatures swam to shore and Emma collected all sorts of shells and sea glass.
After we had enjoyed ourselves until we were completely saturated and our hands and toes looked like prunes, we returned to Tanda Malaika so we could clean out the conch and cook dinner.
Danny found that getting into the shells of the Helmet Conch is far more difficult than Queen Conch, but once he was on a roll there was no stopping him. Six conch later, we put the meat from three in the freezer and I cut up the other three for fritters. The key to working with conch meat is to slice it while it’s as fresh as possible, because if you don’t it’s like cutting into a frozen sperm whale.
I sliced and diced and before long had conch fritter frying in the pot. I never fry anything because fried foods aren’t good for you, but for these guys we made an exception. If you’re interested in the recipe I’ll have it in the recipe section of the blog under “Big Mama’s Conch.” Dip them into a fry sauce mixture and you’re in for a delicious explosion of flavor in your mouth. Danny and the creatures ate till they were ready to bust at the seams.
Egg Island got it’s name because there are many chickens on the island, and locals from a nearby island collect the eggs on a regular basis. We didn’t see one chicken though which can only mean that they are the inland variety and not the beach going type.
When we first started cruising last year we were told that the stressful times come when you’re close to land, but when you’re out in deep water you can relax. We’ve most definitely felt this several times, especially again after being hung up at Rocky Point (what an appropriate name) in Abacos. Being free and out in deep water felt so good, and even though we could have anchored some place since it was the middle of the night, all we wanted to do was keep sailing. Our Angel Creatures were fast asleep down in their berths, and the ocean was wide and deep and safe.
As the morning progressed, I hooked a big beautiful Mahi Mahi, who kept jumping high out of the water and thrashing around as I reeled him in. When he was fairly close to the stern, he finally wiggled loose and sped off into the depths. Later in the morning Danny was reeling in a large Barracuda, and when he was close to Tanda Malaika, a very rude shark swam up and bit his body off right behind the head.
About 48 nautical miles later, we saw Eluthera on our horizon, and sailed over to the east side to work our way into the beautiful bay at Harbor Island. Being in the bay felt like floating inside a large caldera. Elutheran islands surrounded us in a circle, with 3 small gaps leading out to open ocean – one of them called ‘The Devils Backbone! The bay was so picturesque with beautiful turquoise water, white sandy beaches, a small harbor filled with power yachts and quaint homes and businesses lining the shore. We motored over to where 3 other sailboats were anchored, and as we prepared to drop anchor, we were greeted by a beautiful big Lemon Shark.
We took the dinghy in and tied up to a small wooden dock. Seagulls and Terns were perched on the posts and seemed annoyed with us for interrupting them. Golf cart whizzed past followed periodically by a car, and friendly people went about their day. Aidan skateboarded up and down the hills following the rest of us as we made our way to the beach.
The pink sand beach is a beautiful three and a half mile stretch and gets its color from thousands of broken coral pieces and tiny pink and red shells that live in the coral reefs that surround the beach. When you look closely at a handful of sand it looks much like regular white beach sand with strawberry jello powder mixed in with it. With the UV filter on my camera, it picked up the color even more.
The small town on Harbor Island is called Dunmore Town, named after the governor of the Bahamas in 1786. John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, had a summer home on Harbor Island. When we past the town cemetery, we saw graves dating back to the late 1700’s.
Several of the locals greeted us, welcoming us to Bahamas, and people with friendly smiling faces waved as we passed fruit stands and a little shop on the beach. The creatures were impressed that even their signs are polite, using the correct magic word.
We returned to our trusty dinghy, passing a group of gentleman harvesting conch, and made our way back to our home on the sea. What a beautiful day in a beautiful place.
Sometimes it is difficult to update our blog when we’re in the remote islands with slow internet speeds. We’re going to try sending posts by email to update our blog. If you can see this, then it works!