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Monday, 12/15/08                                                                                Day 317

Today was really great!  Around mid-morning, we all decided that we had had enough of the horrendous swell and that we should try the west side of the island.  We fished on our way around.  The purple cedar plug we used didn't get any hits, but a little blue and white squid skirt did surprisingly well.  First, we had a series of small bites on the squid, as if a fish or school of fish was biting and spitting, biting and spitting.   We could never bring anything in.  But then, we hooked a marlin!!  I am 100% positive it was a marlin.  It jumped and we could tell it was a billfish.  There are 4 types of billfish - sailfish, swordfish, spearfish, and marlins.  It wasn't a sailfish because it did not have a large sail.  It was not a swordfish because those are very rare and are only caught in the farthest reaches and deepest depths of the Atlantic.  And it was not a spearfish because those are only found far offshore and only average 30lbs. and a couple feet long.  This one was bigger than that.  Plus, marlins are common here.  Unfortunately, it spit the hook.  We caught nothing today.  Boo, hoo, hoo.

We anchored just off the place Christopher Columbus landed.  The swells are much smaller and it is much more peaceful.  While diving on the anchor, we saw some dinner-sized grouper.  So Dad dropped the five of us off at the beach and went dinghy trolling.  We had fun playing in the breakers.  I liked to bodysurf.  I also liked to stick my head in the mini-barrels of the waves.  You feel enclosed by a tube of water, but can still breathe!  We had a ton of fun!!

Dad got no grouper for dinner, so we had steak.  After dinner, we played Trout.  Today could hardly have been better.  Tomorrow will be just as good.  It just will!

Tuesday, 12/16/08
                                                                                Day 318

Just as I predicted, today was just as good as yesterday.  We had so much fun.  Josh made pancakes for breakfast.  They were really, really yummy, like always.  After only an hour of schoolwork, we went in to Cockburn Town.  We went to the shops and got some fresh produce.  We had a good time walking around.  We saw houses, churches, shops, etc.  We did that for most of the morning.

Once, we returned to the boat, we had deli sandwiches for lunch and moved the boat closer to Cockburn Town.  Then, later in the day, we went snorkeling on an awesome reef.  There were some mooring balls meant for the resorts' dive boats, but we tied up.  There were thousands of fish.  My dive log records two pages of stuff I saw.  Though there were some extremely big and tasty things on that reef (a giant crab, a big porgy or two, hundreds of large snapper, etc.), we did not spearfish because the tourists feed the fish and it would be wrong to fish there.  We are very observant and courteous of the local ways/economy/culture.  I could have stayed in the water forever.

Tonight, we ate burgers and sweet potato fries.  They were delicious!  After supper, we watched part of The Incredibles.  We couldn't watch the whole movie because it was too long for one night.  Today was AWESOME!

Wednesday, 12/17/08
                                                                        Day 319

Today was great.  It's so great I'm just going to start at the very beginning and go to now, the very end.  I woke up at 6:45am.  After listening to Chris Parker (the weatherman who gives us weather via SSB radio), we ate apples and pineapple upside down cake for breakfast.  Und and Auntie bought that stuff yesterday.  Apples are a treat here in the Bahamas, being $1.50 a piece.

After 2hrs. or so of school, we all went diving.  You wouldn't believe where we went:  to the drop-off!!  We tied to a scuba dive ball and snorkeled over a 50-60ft. reef, ending at a wall that drops to somewhere between 150-1500ft.  We could see some snapper, grouper, jacks, 'cuda, a couple cero (a mackerel), and a shark over the reef.  The shark was approx. 60 ft. down, so it bothered nobody.  Aunt Carol thought it might be too cold, but the chill was worth it.  Luckily, Mom, Dad, Bro and I have shortie wetsuits.  It was the coolest place I've ever snorkeled in my entire life.

Then we snorkeled on the second resort snorkeling ball, nearby the place from 12/16/08.  It wasn't nearly as good as 12/16/08's spot.  After we all got cold, I asked everyone what their favorite spot was between today and yesterday.  Here are the results:        
                Mom - 12/16/08 reef
                Dad  - 12/16/08 reef
                Josh - 12/16/08 reef
                Aunt Carol - last reef
                Uncle Gary - drop off
                Me - drop off

We all had an awesome time!!

Back at the boat, we ate lunch and hung out.   Uncle Gary helped me make a really awesome lobster spear.  We made it out of a piece of bamboo I found, plus three nails for a tip.  To make the spear, we trimmed the bamboo and wired the nails together so they would fit into the top of the rod.  We then used JB Weld to glue the nails in place.  It'll be done by tomorrow.   I creamed Unc, three times, at gin rummy.  I read much of my book The Alchemist, by Michael Scott.  Mom and Aunt Carol ran to the store and bought lamb for dinner.  And Aunt Carol brought us back ice creams as a treat!  We watched the end of The Incredibles.  Sunset was pretty.

We ate the lamb for dinner.  There is enough leftover for tomorrow.  Auntie and Unc leave tomorrow morning.  We had good times.  Now I'm in bed and it is the end.  I cannot wait for tomorrow.  It should be good!

Thursday, 12/18/08
                                                                        Day 320

Today was okay.  Dad made coconut French toast for breakfast.  We did school for the morning.  We said good-bye to Aunt Carol and Uncle Gary.  They left on a 12:30 pm flight to Nassau, Bahamas.  Dad also went in to work on the internet.  Unfortunately, he took his laptop, not Mom's, and a bunch of my e-mails could not be sent.

After lunch and a bit more school, we went into town to do laundry.  We did it ourselves this time.  Josh and I occupied ourselves by reading and playing with sticks for the 3 hours.  We went to the store because the supply boat just came in.  We saw that someone had bought a new couch.  We asked a local what you have to do to get a new couch out here.  He explained that there are three ways:

1)  Fly To Nassau, pick out your new couch, pay for it, fly back, and have it shopped to you on the supply boat.

2)  Tell a well-trusted friend in Nassau what kind of couch, and what color, design and size you want, have them pick it for you and then you send the money and have it sent on the supply boat.

3)  Call the store in Nassau, have them tell you what is in stock, pick one by their description, send them the money and have it sent on the supply boat.

I find that all pretty interesting.

When we came back to the dinghy, which we had left on the beach with an anchor, we were met with a surprise.  There were lots of big sneaker footprints around the dinghy.  We saw that the adult life jackets were moved from the top of the gas tank.  Then we noticed that someone (or a few someones) had siphoned all the gasoline out of our tank.  We told the shopkeeper across the street and he offered us a ride to the Shell gas station, but it was already later in the day than we had wanted it to be and Dad said there was just enough fuel in the bottom of the tank to get him back to the boat where we had more gas.  He loaded up the dinghy with the laundry and raced back to the boat.  He just made it.  On Liberty, he fueled up and came back for us.  Nothing, but $25 worth of gas was stolen, so it's not the end of the world.  And that's how we became victims of petty theft in Cockburn Town, San Salvador, Bahamas.

We had a quiet evening.  Lamb ragout was dinner.  Yum, yum.  We leave for Conception Island tomorrow morning, early.  Conception is known for good snorkeling.  I'd bet it can't beat yesterday at the drop-off, but we'll wait and see.  Life is good.  I am happy.

P.S.  I just noticed - Christmas is only one week away!

Friday, 12/19/08
                                                                                Day 321

Today was great!  We left San Salvador, Bahamas for Conception Island early.  Conception is 40 nautical miles away; 40 nautical miles offshore.  The southeastern Bahamas (like San Salvador, Conception, Mayaguana, etc.) are islands in the middle of the ocean, surrounded by 1500ft. of water only one mile from shore.  We all got somewhat seasick with the 20kts. of wind and 8ft. seas.

At 7:30am, we caught a Mahi Mahi!  I got to bring it in without Dad's help.  We threw the wet towel over it and then took pics and measured it.  It was a 28 incher!  That's pretty good.  School was underway by 8:00am.  We both finished school just as we pulled into the north anchorage.

The anchor set almost instantaneously in the pure white sand.  We all said that it was so beautiful.  This is one of the prettiest places we have ever been to, including Belize in 2005.  There are limestone cliffs, vibrant green brush, soft while sand beaches, calm turquoise water, and reefs galore.

We ate lunch at 12:30.  When we threw our leftovers over, a spotted trunkfish came to eat it.  He kept popping up out of the water to eat the lettuce that was floating.  That's because his mouth is on the underside of his head.  He also made kissy noises when he popped up and ate sometimes.

We immediately dinghied to the beach. I brought my skim board.  I had asked Dad earlier if it looked like a good skim boarding beach to him.  He said that it looked like a good anything beach.  Josh and I skim boarded for a long while.  I am good, and Josh is getting up there.  I'm still better.

We walked the beach to look for shells.  We gathered a nice collection that includes scallops, cowries, sand nickels (miniature sand dollars, about the size of a nickel), bleeding teeth, sunrise tellins, and much, much more!

After the beach, at about 3:30, Dad, Bro and I went hunting.  I got to use my spear for the first time.  The water was murky and cold, and the sky was cloudy, but it looks like it'll be great when the sun shines.  Dad almost got a couple of groupers, and I almost stabbed a big one.  After Dad hit two (both got away), a 4ft. reef shark came.  We immediately retreated to the dink, after he swam from between us and the dinghy.

We had the Mahi for supper.  It was delicious!  Afterwards, we read and worked on computers.  I made my header/footer for '09.  It is cool.  Today was great!

Saturday, 12/20/08
                                                                                Day 322

Today was great.  The morning was blah, blah until 10:30 or so. (That was school.)  As I finished school, Mom and Josh went to the beach (Dad dropped them off).  When I was done, Dad and I fished from the boat.  We had some old, stinky bait from San Salvador (12/10/08).  There were lots of bar jacks, some trunkfish, and a big horse-eye jack.  We had the horse-eye on twice, but it always spit the hook.  We caught 4 bar jacks.  Two were too small to keep, and two became lunch.  I also caught a trunkfish.  This fish fought like the devil!  It ran under the keel and some bottom paint actually rubbed off on my line.  When I finally brought the fish up, it was a solid, bulky fish.  Though only 8 or 10 inches long, it must have weighed 3-5 lbs!  There was also a nurse shark swimming around.  Eventually, Mom yelled for us to pick them up, so we had to stop fishing.  I got to drive in by myself and pick them up.  Later while I was on deck putting a fishing rod away, and skirting around the mizzen mast, I fell through a hatch!  It hurt (still does), but I'm alright.  No broken bones.

We ate the bar jacks in fish tacos for lunch.  Then we went exploring up a creek (with both paddles and engine
J).  It was awesome.  After going out into a shallow tributary creek, Bro and I got out and explored on foot.  We were on foot ... in a couple of inches of water.  We walked around all the mangroves into a little lagoon-like place.  I saw a checkered puffer, baby barracuda, and a school of mojarra.  I also found a nice conch.  We went further up the creek through the crystal waters and we saw baby turtles!  We expected to see them.  It talks about them in the guidebook.

This creek is very similar to the one at Manjack Cay in the Bahamas.  It did have fewer mangroves than Manjack, and has more sandy, shallow flats and wide lagoons than Manjack.  There was one deep blue hole that I swam in.  It must have been 20ft. deep - too deep for me to dive without my gear to get the conch on the bottom.  There were also some snapper in the hole.

We landed the dinghy and explored on land to end it all.  We walked to beach.  I got some little palm fronds out of which I am making bows for my Christmas gifts.  Dad, like always, found the great shell of the day - a king helmet.  That all was cool.  We raced out to beat the rapidly falling tides.  We were already an hour past high tide.   We had fun!

At the boat, 10 minutes past 3:00pm, Dad and I decided to go fishing.  Mom and Bro didn't want to come.  Out on a reef, using the same old bait, I, almost instantaneously, snagged and broke my line on coral.  Next, in 12/20/08's Tale of the Unlucky Fisherman, we decided to move the dink closer to the reef.  A line then gets tangled on the propeller and, when I heave the anchor overboard, it gets stuck on a coral head.  We ended up leaving the anchor on a dinghy fender and going back to the boat to get Dad's snorkel gear.

We soon retrieved the anchor and our luck changed drastically.  Dad saw a giant Nassau grouper.  We dropped lines down.  Dad broke his pole and line on a coral head, but we had another big pole for him.  We started the Lookbucket Warfare.  That's where we use the glass-bottom bucket (Dad made it during school today) to find fish and set up our lines accordingly.  There were grouper everywhere - a dozen or so little coneys scattered over the reef, the gigantic Nassau grouper, a red hind, and two big tiger groupers.  There were also many gray snappers swimming around.  I caught the first fish.  It actually fixed a problem.  I didn't have enough tension on my line, causing it to do weird things.  Dad had called me over to look at his set up in relation to a tiger grouper.  Then he said that he thought I might have a bite.  I looked with the bucket, and sure enough, a coney was dancing down there!  Plus, it gave me just enough tension (it was only 4 or 5 in. long) to fix my line.  I thanked it by throwing the squirt back.

Next, I literally watched a red hind bite Dad's line.  He brought it in.  It was good sized.  The next fish was another coney.  We were running low on bait, so that's what Dad's fish became.  Using that, I went on to catch a good, dinner-sized, gray snapper.  I ended by catching a big coney (one foot).  We kept it.  We spent a long time trying to catch the big tiger grouper.  No luck there.  They just shrugged it off.  To end it all, our anchor got stuck again and we decided to leave it with a buoy until morning.

We ate all the fish for dinner.  I got the whole coney, plus some snapper.  We are spending one more day here at Conception.  It's so great.  It's late.  I'm tired.  Good night. 

Sunday, 12/21/08                                                                                Day 323

Today was great.  School got cut down short to 10:00 so we could go snorkeling.  Dad had retrieved the dinghy anchor earlier (and shot a tiger grouper at the same time), so we were good to go.  We snorkeled in three different locations.  The first spot was not that great.  There were lots of different corals, but barely any fish.  The second spot had less coral and  more fish than the previous spot.  The fish were mostly wrasses (probably a dozen different species) and parrotfish.  There were also some grouper.  The third and last spot was strictly for spearfishing.  Mom was cold and didn't come in.  Dad shot a red hind.  Once, the fish was flopping around, so Mom called me in to make it stop.  I ended its misery by ramming my bamboo-nail spear into its head.  I stuck it so hard, I had to use some pliers that were in the dink to pull my spear out.  Dad let me spearfish and I immediately nailed a rock hind, right through the head.  But, somehow, it got off my barb!!
L  Then we had to leave for fear of sharks.

When we returned to the boat, it was 1:15.  We ate a quick lunch of PB&J sandwiches and headed to the beach.  We played all afternoon.  I skim boarded most of the time.  Dad and I also made a big sand castle.  It only turned out okay.

We spent the rest of the late afternoon/evening getting the boat ready to go to George Town tomorrow.  We realized that we had left the 3 shovels at the beach and the dinghy was already on the davits, so Josh and I had to swim to the beach to retrieve them.  We swam to the shortest point, walked the length of the beach, got the shovels, walked back, and swam home.  On the way back, we collected sand dollars.  All but three broke.

We saw a green flash!  We couldn't get the video camera in time.  It was still awesome!

Now it's 6:30 and dinner time.  We will leave Conception Island tomorrow.  I hope we catch a Wahoo.  WAHOO!! Life is good in de Bahamas mon.