Tuesday 4/22/08 Day 80
Today was fun - the morning exploring Cooper's Town; the middle of the day sailing to Manjack (pronounced "Munjack" or "Nunjack") Cay, Abaco, Bahamas; the afternoon exploring Manjack Cay; and the evening playing with more kids!
We spent the morning exploring Cooper's Town. We walked the town's two streets (that's all they need when the population is only 900 residents) and bought groceries. The buildings are all different colors, from lime green to banana yellow, with everything in between. Harvested conch shells are everywhere on the waterfront, but none are nice enough to keep. The little grocery stores sell almost everything you need. They don't have a wide variety of produce though, and everything is super expensive ($6.00 for a half gallon of milk!). It's a cute little town.
At around 10:45am, we pulled up the anchor and, under full sail, continued on our journey. We were gong to stop at Powell Cay, Abaco, Bahamas, where the White Tailed Tropic Birds breed and teach their young to fly off the cliffs, but the weather didn't look the best, so we sailed on to Manjack Cay. It was a beautiful sail and we could have done everything without a motor. We even sailed into the anchorage and dropped our anchor, but we had to turn on the engine at the very end to reposition ourselves and move the anchor.
Because of the upcoming weather, the anchorage has over 2 dozen boats in it. As we headed out to explore, we met a family with kids (3 daughters and a friend) and were invited over after we finished exploring. We explored a beach on the back side of Crab Cay (right at the south end of Manjack Cay) with sandy/grassy flats extending for 50 yds. or more. There were tons of live Inflated Sea Biscuits, Sea Buns (dead Inflated Sea Biscuits), and live baby conch. We saw a lot of crabs and know why it's called Crab Cay.
Afterward, we went dinghy trolling around a reef and caught two fish. I caught the first one. I got a hit and reeled it in until I saw a silvery fish wriggling around. Dad (like always) thought it was coral, even though I told him it wasn't! I told him I was fine, but he yanked on my line anyways and the line broke! I was super bummed and pretty angry. Josh caught a little Bar Jack at the end, but it wasn't a keeper because the inshore jacks don't taste any good.
Dad made conch fritters and we went over to s/v Ariana, a Moorings' charter catamaran that this family was renting for a week. We played with the 4 girls, aged 13, 11, 11, & 7, jumping through the hatches onto their beds below, locking each other out of places, and running around on deck. We all had fun playing together and all being crazy & wild. At sunset, while most people blew on conch horns, they blew on snorkels which sounded like fog horns.
We got back late and ate a quick meal and are about to turn in for the night. Today was great! Life is great!
Wednesday, 4/23/08 Day 81
Mr. John (the man chartering the Moorings catamaran with his family) came over in the morning to look at our boat. That kept school from starting until a bit later. We did school 'til just after lunch, then went exploring.
While we were doing school, Dad went out fishing by himself. He came back with a houndfish. We didn't weigh or measure it, but it looked over 2 ft. long. Unfortunately, the fish was so skinny that Dad couldn't get enough meat off the fish to eat. We are going to keep it for cutbait.
After school, we went to explore around the beach on Manjack Cay right by our anchorage. The people who live here welcome visitors, especially cruisers. They have games like bocci ball out, plus there are nature trails to hike. We took the trail that led to the beach on the Atlantic Ocean side. It weaved through the forest and over hills with a rocky terrain. Josh ran way ahead and ambushed me as I walked up the trail. He was mad and punched me in the gut before running along. Dad thought it was funny and jumped out and scared me later on. I caught on and ran ahead to ambush Mommy and Daddy. I tripped when I jumped out and Mom and Dad just laughed.
The Atlantic Ocean's waves were big and the water rushing in and out was strong. It could knock me down if I wasn't careful. The beach would probably be nicer when the seas were calmer. On the way back (another 30 min., 2 mile walk across the island again), I tried to ambush Mom and Dad a bunch. The first time, Daddy said, "Chris, I see you," and I replied, "You do?" He said, "No, but now I know where you are." The second time, I jumped out of the brush and scared Josh. The third time I said "Boo!" and swung my legs down from a tree, which scared Mom and Dad. I tried a many more times to scare Mom and Dad, but I couldn't.
Back at the boat we ate dinner and turned in early. Josh is already asleep. Today was great!
Thursday, 4/24/08 Day 82
Today was awesome to the max! We saw tons of stuff, from sharks to turtles. The early morning was kind of boring, as all we did was school and website, but post 11:00am was magnificent.
After lunch, around 11:30am, we went to Mangrove Creek to explore. Many people had told us to explore it, but only at high tide, even in a dinghy. The creek's depth varied as it split into smaller creeks (too shallow for us) and larger lagoons (deep enough for a sailboat). We saw a big fish (probably a Mutton Snapper), a small stingray, and at least three baby sea turtles. Most of the turtles raced off, using their front fins like wings to propel them forward faster than a ray. One of them stayed close by and we followed him for about 5 min. before we decided that we had scared him enough. The whole time we were watching him, he never took a breath. I wonder how long he can hold it?
From there we went to Manjack Beach on the island's northwestern side. I found a dead West Indian Sea Egg (a type of sea urchin) on the beach, as well as some nice shells. Right at the edge of the water, we saw 2 big stingrays that came inches from my feet. There were also a couple of small Lemon Sharks and Reef Sharks making passes near the shore. We followed one in our dinghy until it swam off and then we saw at least 4 more Reef Sharks after that. We chased them for a while and Mom took pictures, but they could always turn sharper than us and get away.
Back at the boat, Dad and I went fishing by the rocky/corally ledges on Manjack's western edge. Josh didn't want to come. We were successful, catching a baby scamp that we had to throw back, a big fish that broke the line, and a barracuda that we kept. We tested the 'cuda for ciguatera poisoning with a test kit that another boater gave us. It tested negative for ciguatera, and we are frying it up for dinner right now.
The anchorage emptied this morning, but it filled up again in the afternoon. Kokopelli Too came up from Green Turtle Cay and will stay here for a few days. Dad, Josh and I will start a game of Risk after supper. It's great here!!
Friday, 4/25/08 Day 83
My day started at 6:38am when I got up with Josh and Dad to continue last night's game of Risk. I lost pretty quickly. I don't like that game very much because I never win. Dad beat Josh, like always, and won.
We did school until lunch and then played until around 2:00pm when Dad took Mom, Josh and I to the beach while he worked on a project. I found 2 live baby starfish washed up in the surf and I put them into deeper water after letting them crawl over my hand. Starfish tickle when they move their suction cup feet and can "run" amazingly quickly. I also found a sea urchin skeleton.
I needed to go back to the boat for something, but Dad hadn't left us the dinghy, nor would he answer the radio, so Mom bummed me a dinghy ride with a couple leaving the beach to return to their own boat. They are from Boston.
I helped Dad and read my book (Kim by Rudyard Kipling) for a long time. Just as we were finally finished and Dad and I were cleaning up, Mom and Bro popped up on Kokopelli Too's dinghy. They were done on the beach and bummed a ride with Kokopelli Too, who were also returning to their boat. We took showers, played and worked on the website (which is not working) until it was time for a fabulous dinner of steak, potatoes, and stewed tomatoes.
Right before dark, we dinghied to Crab Cay to search for 2 shipwrecks that we can fish off of. We were successful, thanks to my knowledge of the charts and Bro's great eyesight. We made plans to go fishing tomorrow morning at 6:30am. We'll troll past the two shipwrecks and an area or two or rocks and coral. At the final area of rocks and coral, we will bottom fish before returning. Today's been great and for tomorrow I can't wait. Hey, that rhymes!
Saturday, 4/26/08 Day 84
I was up at 6:00 am sharp this morning to go fishing. By 6:45am, Dad, Josh and I were motoring towards the two shipwrecks off of Crab Cay where we would start our expedition by trolling. We didn't catch anything, but Dad and I did see a huge stingray that we were afraid would strike my lure as we went right over it. Stingrays can be nasty fighters. They jump and swing their tails all over with the poisonous barb sticking out. Dad tried to take us through Manjack Harbour, a lagoon that is no more than 3 ft. deep at high tide in the deepest parts. It was low tide, too shallow for even the dinghy outboard, and Dad tried to pole us through with a paddle and even pull us. We got halfway into the ankle-high lagoon before Dad turned us back and we planed around Crab Cay to the more offshore reefs. We stopped at one reef where we bottom fished for a long time with no luck. Dad was casting and got a bunch of bites, plus brought in a small Redband Parrotfish that we had to throw back. We were going to pick up the anchor and leave, but the anchor was stuck on coral. We fished for a while more before Dad decided that he would strip down to his underwear and dive down on the anchor, even though he didn't have a mask or snorkel. We continued to two more reefs to fish, even though Daddy wasn't feeling the best after his dive. After the 3rd unsuccessful reef, we decided to troll home. When we reached the lagoon, it was deep enough to power right on through because the tide was now coming in. We got back to the boat at around 11:00am, approximately 4 hrs. and 15 min. after we had started. We were completely unsuccessful.
After lunch, we all went exploring some more. We went up the main creek, but stopped into some of the tributaries and inlets. We went into one as big as the main river. There was a second tributary off of that, where we saw lots of little reef fish, including Bluehead Wrasses, Sergeant Majors, Needlefish, and Yellowtail Damselfish. There was coral in that one tributary, but nowhere else.
The large tributary led all the way to the lagoon and we went around a bend and onto a beach. Josh and I found a huge Cushion Sea Star. We picked him up and he was heavy. His arms must have been at least a foot across. From the beach we could walk around to the Atlantic Ocean side of Manjack Cay. The views were beautiful as the waves crashed up onto the reef nearby. The water was almost fluorescent blue right where the reef was and the waves were snowy white against it. Around this side, Bro and I found a cave in the limestone that the water rushed into via a hole as the waves broke. If you were stuck down there in the cave, I don't think you could have gotten out through the hole alive with the waves crashing in, pressing you up against the sharp limestone. It was cool.
We left there and went back past the shipwrecks to show Mom. We found a 3rd wreck that was mostly submerged. On the two wrecks marked on the charts, we saw rusting engines exposed. They were super neat.
At the last part of our exploration, we dinghied to the beach on Fiddle Cay. The beach wasn't that nice, and there wasn't anything special. We didn't stay at Fiddle Cay for long before returning to the boat for a relaxing evening.
To end my day, I made a bunch of paper targets for my flicker. A flicker is a rubber band with some paper clips tied to one end and is shot like a sling shot, but you don't let go on one end. Flickers are good homemade weapons to bring on a school bus, where things for self defense can be necessary. Josh set the targets all over the boat, and I shot them. Dad got mad at me, though, because he thought I would chip something on the boat. So he banned my flickers.
We had a lot of fun today. We have been at Manjack Cay for 5 days now, and have been to all the surrounding islands. We will leave tomorrow for Great Guana Cay, and go around the Whale, I think. Life's great and I sure hope it stays this way!!
Sunday, 4/27/08 Day 85
Today was awesome! Mom and Dad decided we were going to spend another day here at Manjack Cay. To start the day, we had a small church service on the boat. Mom played her flute and we followed the basic format from an old bulletin. Dad got some Bible readings off the web and we all took a turn reading them. We had a good time singing, reading, and worshipping as a whole.
After church, we went on a dinghy ride to look for the people from a boat named s/v Lady Galadriol whom we had heard in Belize and Guatemala 3 years ago on our last trip. We ended up finding them on a beautiful beach on the northern point of Manjack Cay. Mom and Dad talked with them and some other people and then walked down the beach while Josh and I played in some tide pools. There were lots of Mudskippers and baby Sergeant Majors that I was trying to catch with no luck. Josh found a little tide pool full of baby hermit crabs. They were the smallest hermit crabs that I have ever seen. Some had shells smaller than 1 cm. They were pretty cool.
We got back to the boat around 1:00pm. We had planned to be gone for less than a half hour, but we ended up being gone for around 2 hours. We ate a light lunch, and Josh and I spent a while shooting each other and targets with paper wasps. There was no real winner, but I shot Josh more. The only part I had trouble with was dodging and reloading at the same time. It was fun anyway.
Daddy asked Joshua and me if we wanted to sail Independence. We said yes and got everything ready. We sailed to the beach, where we had a good time talking to some people from another boat and trying to open coconuts. I was able to bash open coconuts using the back end of a hammer, but it didn't turn out too well. We had a great time until Josh said he was thirsty and wouldn't drink coconut milk and forced me to take him back to the boat to get water. I dropped him off and kept sailing.
Daddy was helping Ms. Micah on s/v More Patience set her anchor and sailed through the anchorage to say hi. Then I sailed to the wrecks on Crab Cay. I tacked back and forth to get to the first wreck, and then sailed on a downwind run to the other two. I must have been in the lee of something because the wind lessened and my boom kept jibing. After I thought everything was under control, the boom jibed once more and hit me hard upside the head. It hurt for a few minutes, but I was okay.
I sailed back over to s/v More Patience and watched Dad help Ms. Micah, while I tootled around the boat. There was stiff breeze and Independence took water over the gunnels about three times. Once, I got caught in a puff of wind, and I came inches away from ramming into More Patience.
Lastly, I sailed all the way past Rat Cay to the far beach on the point of Crab Cay by the lagoon. A lot of things weren't ideal, but I figured out a solution. First, when I got near the shallows, the wind died because I must have been in the lee of everything. I solved that by jumping out and pulling the boat in to shore. Secondly, the shore was made up of slabs of rock, not sand. I dragged Independence to a sandy part, but there were a lot of small rocks there. I decided to use my anchor and keep her floating, but made a mistake by putting my anchor on the beach which pulled me towards the beach. When I realized that, I threw my anchor into the water, but left too much line out. I usually let my sail flop around, but this time my boat was sailing away from me, so I dropped the sail and brought some anchor line in. Then, finally, I went ashore.
Mom had seen my sail drop and thought I was in trouble, even though I was no where near in trouble. She sent Dad over in Justice. He found me A-Okay and collecting shells on the beach. We talked for a while before he told me that I should head on in.
I sailed back in on a downwind run, and jibed twice, getting hit in the head once more. I arrived at around 6:00pm and we ate dinner. After dinner, we saw a campfire on shore. I remembered that the people we met at the beach said something about a marshmallow roast on the beach.
Dad, Josh and I went to check it out, at the same time tying Independence up on the beach as a place to store it for the night. We met Lenny from s/v Dreamer, Bob and a lady from s/v Pecadillo, and another couple from s/v Chiqui around the campfire. They welcomed us and even offered Bro and me a couple of marshmallows. While Dad talked, we fed the fire all the best fuels - palm fronds, coconut husks, etc. We got back kind of late, but at least Mom said that it was okay she missed it. We had to take showers because we smelled of smoke. Today was fun!
Monday, 4/28/08 Day 86
We didn't do a ton of stuff today, but what we did do was exciting! We just hung out for half the morning, and then we went to the beach to launch Independence. Josh did not want to come with me, so I sailed alone. I went all the way through the anchorage and back, where I sailed back and forth in front of Liberty, waiting for Mom, Dad & Josh to come back in Justice.
Though today's plans were to leave Manjack Cay, Abaco, Bahamas at around 11:00am for Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco Island, Abaco, Bahamas, we decided the winds would be better for sailing tomorrow, so we stayed here at Manjack Cay and went to shore to meet Bill & Leslie, the very hospitable owners of a large portion of Manjack Cay, who have a sign saying "Yes, Trespass Please." They talked with us for a long time and we helped them with their garden. We also helped them unload m/v Sea Story, their boat which they had just taken to Florida, USA to make a supply run. They let us hand-feed some Black-faced Grassquits with some birdseed. The birds would eat every piece of seed dropped on the porch before they would eat out of your hand. There was a family that fed for a long time. The baby wouldn't feed from your hand, but the male actually stood on my hand as I stroked its belly.
After we finished with Mr. Bill & Ms. Leslie at their house, we explored their garden and barn. They have a backhoe and a tractor/forklift. Back at the beach, a guy named Ben was windsurfing. He asked me if I wanted to try. I started, but the wind was a bit strong and I couldn't hold the heavy sail up. Ben went out with me to help me and I even did it by myself for a minute. When I had the sail, a puff of wind came and pushed the sail down. Instead of letting go, I held on and it pulled me into the water! It was fun and Mom got some great pictures.
On Liberty, Josh and I watched the movie "Sky High," while Mom and Dad talked and drank wine with Vinny & Maria from s/v Amante. They left around 7:45pm and we all turned in early. Mom is already asleep and I'll go to sleep soon too. Life is great!
Tuesday, 4/29/08 Day 87
We finally traveled around the Whale to Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island, Abacos, Bahamas from Manjack Cay, Abacos, Bahamas. Mom and Dad had us underway by 7:30, which is when I got out of bed. We were under full sail up until the Whale and made an average of 6 kts. in the 15-20 kt. winds. As we entered the Whale Cay Channel into the Atlantic Ocean to get around Whale Cay, Abacos, Bahamas, we saw amazing breakers on Whale Cay's rocky shore and the surrounding reefs. Mom got a few good pictures and a movie. The seas were 6-8 ft. rollers, but not as bad as m/v Liberty had made it seem to us on the net. At noon, we arrived in the crowded anchorage of Marsh Harbour. The harbor is surrounded by marinas, and s/v Indemnity, s/v Un Sea Sing, and s/v Kokopelli Too have all taken slips here, so we are back with our friends from West End.
We hung out on the boat and did a little school for the rest of the day. Dad made venison burgers and beans for dinner, and I accidentally made Josh sit in his plate. That was funny! We will stay here for a day or two and do laundry, get propane and groceries, and try to fix the watermaker which conked out yesterday. All of a sudden, I'm really tired, so I am going to go to sleep soon.
Wednesday, 4/30/08 Day 88
We didn't do anything particularly fun today. All we did was hang out in the morning. Then, we went to Harbour View Marina, the marina our friends on s/v Un Sea Sing are staying at, to go to lunch and do laundry. We went to a restaurant named Jamie's. I ordered cracked conch, which is very tender conch fried in a light batter. It is very hard to get the conch so tender. I liked it a lot.
We did laundry next, and Josh and I did school while we washed and dried our clothes. It is expensive in the Abacos (around $4 to wash and another $4 to dry), so Mommy only did what we needed and is saving everything else for Jacksonville, Florida, our first planned stop in the U.S.A. We saw Mr. Charlie and Ms. Sonja and they gave us a movie called "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill." It looks good and we'll watch it tomorrow morning.
We returned to the boat for a short period before going back out again to run errands. This time we tied our dinghy up at the Union Jack public dinghy dock. We saw Mr. Greg and Ms. Betsy from s/v Kokopelli Too and walked to the store with them. We went to a propane store, a hardware store, and a grocery store. At Maxwell's Supermarket, we met Peter, Monika and Claudia from s/v Tauá. Claudia is a girl about Josh's age. Mr. Peter is going to help Dad with the watermaker tomorrow.
To end the day, Daddy made lamb we bought at the grocery store today. He marinated it in red wine and garlic, and it was superb. Though it was supposed to be shoulder chunks, Josh and I got rib chops. Go figure! Dad is using the bones to make a broth for soup. I hope that that tastes good. Today was pretty darn good!