Monday, February 21, 2011


We put the Big Majors / Staniel islands behind us and enjoyed a great sail down to our next port of call - Blackpoint Anchorage. Here we found the second largest settlement in the Exumas (the first being Georgetown) and with that we found one market, three restaurants/bars and the best laundry facility we've seen since our arrival. So chores took precedence over play - for one day and then it was back to fun.

One day Blair, Laurie, the Captain and I dinghied out to the cut and enjoyed some snorkeling. Blair and Laurie brought their sea doo torpedo pack with them and we had fun zipping around the water with little effort. We enjoyed the variety of coral and reef fishes which swam around, while a barracuda watched. We also spotted a fish trap that was doing its job as it contained several varieties of fish.

Another great day.

The Admiral

Thunderball Grotto...

Still in the Big Majors/Staniel Cay area there was just one more bit of exploring to do before moving on. A definite not miss - the Thunderball Grotto - made famous by the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball.
We entered the cave at low tide and were greeted by lots of reef fish who swarmed around us enjoying the corn we had brought for them to eat. The natural holes in the ceiling of the cave provided great light for some interesting photos. Overall, the best snorkeling we've seen so far in the Bahamas.
The Admiral

Staniel Cay...

Just around the corner from Big Majors is Staniel Cay. Blair, Laurie, Dave and I decided to dinghy over to check out the island.
It is a small community, with two small convenience stores, a boutique, a bread shop and the yacht club/marina. We bummed around town eventually finding our way to the yacht club where the pet sharks were in for their feeding. It was a great afternoon - then we decided to head back to the boats. Just one problem, we had all come in one dinghy and the propeller on the dinghy was slipping. Shortly after leaving Staniel Cay we turned around and headed back not wanting to tax the prop too much. Back at Staniel the search began for a new prop - the correct size not available - onto plan B. We asked a cruiser to take Dave back to the anchorage for our dinghy and tools. He returned and the boys began the task of 'bandaiding' the prop while Laurie and I took to task documenting 'our peril'. Within the hour the boys had the the fix in and we headed, in two dinghies, back to the boats.
Never a dull day in paradise.
The Admiral

Big Majors...

First iguana....then pigs??? Yes, pigs. And more specifically - swimming pigs.
We left Exuma Park and enjoyed a great sail down to Big Majors. Once at anchor we took some lettuce to shore and were immediately greeted by the grunts of enthusiasm of the local pigs. A bit too much enthusiasm as one of the pigs tried to hop right into the dinghy. It was a shock to both the Captain and I but fortunately the pigs front legs were not sufficient to give him leverage into the dinghy and he quickly slid back into the water.
Thank heavens!
The Admiral

Monday, February 14, 2011

Exuma Park...

Well, we can't have wonderful weather every day. A cold front has moved in and the winds have picked up out of the north. The sky has taken the sun and left us with lots of gray cloud cover. Winds have been brisk, averaging 20-25 (23-29 mph) knots the last several days with gusts up to 30 (35 mph).

We took advantage of the wind direction and sailed south to the Exuma Park where we have been enjoying life on a mooring ball throughout the blow as well as enjoyed many of the walking trails throughout the park.

Like many of the islands we've seen, the park is made of rock that the sand has worn over time making the walking paths quite interesting at times. Nonetheless we've found our way to the top of the hill experiencing the blow holes and Boo Boo Hill first hand while also enjoying some wildlife (pictured is a hermit crab we came across as well as the skeleton of a 52 foot sperm whale).

While we'd love to take in the underwater splendor of the park, we've opted to hold off until our northern journey in the spring when we hope the weather will be a bit more timid.

More to come.

The Admiral
2/12 - 2/14/2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Gone Conching...

Since our fishing efforts have yet to yield any 'edible' results and since our one attempt at lobstering was also fruitless - or is that lobsterless, we have decided to try out the sport of conching.

Perhaps a bit more our caliber, conching requires little skill. To successfully go conching you must (1) locate a beach with plenty of conch shells, (2) snorkel, wade, swim, dinghy, or through whatever other means seek out the shells with a full lip. These are the shells which are mature and available to harvest. Ah ha - I think we can handle this!

On our first attempt - yield = 5 conch vs. 6 conch limit - not bad!!! Dinner is served! Well perhaps not immediatly served because once you have the conch, you mush get the meat out of the shell, skin it, clean it and then cook it. As Admiral, I've opted to limit my conching efforts to the search and harvest. Cleaning, I've opted to leave to the Captain.

Nonetheless, we've had great fun, learned a lot, had a great meal and most importantly - have finally been able to put a fishing permit to use!!!

The Admiral

Allens Cay...

We left Nassau and sailed to Rose Island, a great jumping off spot for the Exuma Island chain. From Rose Island headed south across the Yellow Bank and into Allens Cay - our first stop in the Exumas!

At Allens we spent time with the locals - the last of the iguana population indigenous to the Bahamas. They seemed friendly enough, though one had a stare down contest with the Captain. Once we had taken in the action above sea level, we decided to look below and found clusters of beautiful purple coral. Unfortunately, the photos do not do justice.

The Captain and I are quickly adapting to the sun and warm weather. Its been in the 80's each day and we've been keeping ourselves well oiled with SPF 45. Nonetheless, the sun is getting through and we are both beginning to show color - even the Captain who very rarely tans!

One more day of fun here and then we will move on.

The Admiral
2/8 - 2/9/2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

Nassau (Part 2) ....

To get to Paradise Island there is a bridge. A big bridge. We stood at the base of it on the Nassau side in awe. Afterall, the island isn't all that big yet the bridge is huge - 70 foot tall at center. On the far side stood the pink high rise of the Atlantis Resort. We debated, should we go or shouldn't we, and eventually grabbed a taxi to take us over the bridge.

What awaited us was an amazing blend of entertainment - shopping, a casino, waterpark, beach - all amongst a tranquil setting of sunny sky and water. While we were still absorbing the view we got a call on the radio from Ken and Francie on Release. Stomachs were grumbling and they were looking for dining companions. We strolled through the Atlantis marina - chuckling at how our 38 foot boat would be a wee small compared to all the 75+ foot power yachts tied up in the marina complex - before we caught a cab to Fish Fry Village.

Fish Fry Village was quite the contrast to Paradise Island - and much more my style. It is a collection of colorful restaurants along the water many serving meals outdoors on picnic tables. The menu was just as you'd expect - lots of fish - mostly fried. After a day of footing (mostly) around Nassau fried conch, fries and a cold beverage hit the spot.

One more crossing awaits! Then the Exumas!

The Admiral

Nassau (Part 1)

We left the solitude of our anchorage in White Cay and traveled 40 - 45 miles toward big city of Nassau, where 75% of the Bahamian population resides. Throughout the southeastern journey we attempted to contact our friends on Release and ChrisJen, but unfortunately could not reach them. We eventually gave up anticipating that they had trekked further south and out of radio range.

That afternoon we found a pleasant anchorage west of Nassau and eased in to drop the hook. Two other sailboats were inside and we were delighted to hear the radio come alive with Mike from ChrisJen welcoming us into their bit of paradise. Both ChrisJen and Release had been enjoying several days in the anchorage. What luck that we should meet up with them.

Our anchorage, as it turns out, is on just off the main street headed into Nassau. We were able to catch a bus just up the street and for $1.25 ride one way into the city. Mike, Lou, the Captain and I did just that. Spending the day with so much exploring that I am opting to break our adventure into two posts.

Our morning started at the corner of Bay and George Street where we left the bus and headed up the street to the Columbus statue. Plenty of photos later and a near miss of having the camera run over in the street, we left the famed explorer behind and began our own expedition. First stop - the ice cream parlor.

Having consumed our fill we headed in-shore towards Fort Fincastle. One of three forts near the city, Fort Fincastle sits atop a hill with a great overlook of the harbor. Nearby is the Queen's Staircase. An escape route from the fort carved out of the rock heading towards the sea. The staircase is remarkable. The effort to remove the rock and allow passage was immense given the depth of the cavern.
By mid-day our feet were beginning to ache. The pedometer said we had logged many steps and it was time to find some air conditioned comfort. So off to Paradise Island we went.

The Admiral
2/5 - 2/6/2011

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Are We There.... Really?

Did I say we were in the Bahamas. Perhaps I should have prefaced that by saying we are in the western - far western - Bahamas. For once we arrived in Bimini, I had forgotten that the next challenge would be the 60-70 mile stretch across the Great Bahama Bank to the Berry Islands. Huh....60 -70 miles....yeah my thoughts exactly. Who'd have thought a small grouping of islands could cover so much territory.

Nonetheless we were off - GO EAST! We sailed and sailed and sailed. It didn't help that we were headed into the waves and on quite the beat to make some mileage. We dropped hook the first night - or was it morning? - around midnight - not entirely sure where we were given the darkness surrounding us. In the morning we woke anticipating we'd see the Berry Islands to our north and east. No, that would be too easy. We woke and found ourselves surrounded by clear water and not a speck of land in sight.

Fortunately, within a few hours we found a delightful anchorage between Great and Little Stirrup Cay in the Berrys. Some of you may recognize these islands as they are private islands owned by Norwegian and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. We enjoyed the day at anchor with not a cruise ship or passenger in sight taking in the sun and scenery.

From the Stirrups we headed around the north end of the Berry's to White Cay anchorage. Our passage got exciting as my fishing pole started whirring - FISH ON! DINNER? Well no fish dinner tonight as the Captain reeled in the 2 1/2 to 3 foot fish and found it was a barracuda. We pitched him back to live another day.

At White Cay we would spend two days surrounded by a series of 4-5 islands each featuring at least one beach. We truly could have spent a week here sampling a new beach each day. We pulled out our looky look bucket - a new addition this season - and took in the scenery under the sea. We found ourselves chasing sting rays in the dinghy in an effort to get a glimpse of them through the bucket.

After three glorious days in the Berry's we've opted to move on. Another good sized passage awaits and then we hope to find Nassau.

The Admiral
2/1 - 2/4/2011

PS. Christopher on Tiffany Rose. Every time we pull out the looky look bucket we think of you and our day of fun at Sombrero Key. We hope you are enjoying the New Year!