Thursday, 5/8/08 Day 96
School took up the whole morning today. While we were doing school, Mr. Meeno, Ms. Val, Daniel and John were on board s/v Sand Dollar fishing offshore at the drop-off at 600 - 1000 ft. They came in around lunchtime with a 6 ft. long sailfish and a 34 inch Mahi-Mahi cow! We might do something like that when we leave tomorrow.
After lunch, I sailed Independence while Mom and Josh were on the beach. Daniel and Josh showed up and were playing with Josh, so I landed my boat and played too. We played a war game and "retreated" down little dirt roads someone created. We ran all over the island (or at least I think we did), up and down hills, winding through little foot trails, and hiding from imaginary enemies in the bushes. When we were done and had to go home, I ferried Daniel back to s/v Eira, and Noah & Cody to s/v Sand Dollar. It was really fun!
In the evening, we went over to s/v Tauá for drinks for the last time. Tomorrow, they head south, headed for Eleuthera, Bahamas and we go north to Snake Cay, Abaco, Bahamas. It was great that we to know them. We watched Garfield 2: A Tale of Two Kitties with Claudia. It's too bad that they aren't going north as well. I'll miss the fun we had waterskiing. At least we have new friends on s/v Eira! Life is really great here at Lynyard Cay, Abaco, Bahamas.
Friday, 5/9/08 Day 97
We didn't' do much today (4 main topics max.), but it sure was great. To start the day, we took off fairly early and headed offshore to fish. We weren't outside the cut in the reef with our lines out for 10 minutes when we ran into a school of big Mahi-Mahi next to some big lines and floats of Sargassum Seaweed, which is abundant offshore. We had two really big ones on the line at the same time! They were jumping and running and crossing our lines. We all were helping with something. I had the gimble belt on and I was fighting one and then I'd switch with Dad and fight the other. Mom even helped hold and reel in a pole, a rare thing because, though she likes to eat it, Mom doesn't like to have anything to do with killing or catching it. We put most of our effort into one pole's Mahi, and I pulled it right up to the boat where Dad gaffed it. On deck, Dad tied the fish down, poured some rubbing alcohol on the fish, and threw a wet towel on it to calm it down. Then he stabbed the fish's brain with an awl to finish it. It still flopped around a bit and I had to sit on it. Then we started fighting the Mahi on the second pole, but he was finally able to spit the hook and all we had was a huge glob of seaweed. I think we may have had 3 or 4 different Dolphinfish on those 2 poles because there were times on both poles where we were reeling it in and asking ourselves, "Do we still have it?" and then it would start fighting again. I think that some were spitting the hook and others were grabbing it. In the end, we landed one 40 in. Mahi-Mahi cow. Whoopee!
We motored back and forth across the ledge that drops from 600 - 1000 ft., targeting the big seaweed floats for Dolphinfish. I almost never left the back deck, constantly clearing seaweed off the 5 fishing lines - 2 poles w/ lures & Ballyhoo, 2 hand-lines w/ artificial squid skirts, and 1 unhooked teaser to attract fish.
We were moving fast in the semi-calm Atlantic waters, so we turned around for another run. When we got to about the same spot where we caught the other two, we go another one! At first I thought it was a billfish because it was running like crazy without jumping near the surface. Finally, it jumped super high and showed itself as a big Dorado. Josh helped Dad bring in the 38 in. Mahi-Mahi cow.
When Dad filleted the 2 fish, we filled our largest bowl and largest pot with meat. This was one of our greatest days fishing ever! We have 6 quart size Ziploc bags full of some of the best eating fish of all time. I can't wait to grill some up!!!!
We stopped at Sandy Cay once more to go snorkeling. Only Mom & I went because Dad was exhausted from a morning of so much action, and Josh had a cut on his ankle that hurt when he put his fin on. We saw 3 groupers this time - a Black Grouper, a Tiger Grouper, and a Coney. I pretended that I had a pole spear and was going to dive and shoot the Tiger Grouper. If I had a spear and fishing was legal in the area (it is in the Pelican Cays Land & Sea Park), I would have had him!! We also snorkeled a bit further from the reef's edge than we did when we came last time. Inside, the reef was shallow and broken up and there were only little fish like wrasses and damselfish. We didn't stay out for long. When we returned to the dinghy, we saw a big Great Barracuda in the open water. We saw most of what we saw on 5/5/08, plus the 3 grouper and some sort of filefish that we couldn't identify. It was cool.
To end the day, we sailed up to Snake Cay, which is right off of Great Abaco Island. S/V Islamine, a boat we met first at West End, then at Lynyard Cay yesterday, and Sandy Cay this afternoon, is also here at Snake Cay. They invited us over for supper. We brought the movie Toy Story so that we could have something to do. Today was awesome!!!
Saturday, 5/10/08 Day 98
We explored a dinghy trail marked in the Steve Dodge guide book early this morning. The trail led around Snake Cay's south end, over a blue hole, back into an area of large flats between Deep Sea Cay and Great Abaco Island, through some more windy mangrove flats, past the southern end of Deep Sea Cay and the northern side of John Doctor Cay, and out to the Sea of Abaco past Iron Cay. Around the south end of Snake Cay, there are ruins of a shipping terminal that was in use from 1959 - 1970, according to the Steve Dodge guide. Because of the ruins, some of which are in the water, the rusting metal wall that borders the area and extends into the water provides a good artificial reef for fish (snappers, grunts, parrotfish, etc.), coral, and gorgonians. While going over the blue hole, which drops from 5 ft. deep to 25 ft. deep, we saw some larger Gray Snapper, Bluestriped Grunts, as well as a baby Nassau Grouper. The inside flats looked great for bonefishing and provided nice scenery, as the area was dotted with tiny limestone and mangrove islands, and you could see the huge forest on Great Abaco Island less than ½ mile away. When we got to the shallow (sometimes too shallow for the dinghy), windy mangrove flats, we kind of lost our direction, but finally we navigated out to a beach on the north point of Iron Cay. It was almost nothing and we didn't stay long.
We met Mr. Ron from s/v Islamine in his dinghy going fishing as we raced back along the two mile stretch between Iron Cay and Snake Cay, along the edge of Deep Sea Cay. We came back to the boat and decided to go fishing too. Dad, Josh and I used some of our little inshore jigs and lures to try to fish the blue hole's edge. We had some trouble because the tide was ripping dead against the wind. Our lures wouldn't go very far when we cast downwind, but the tied would make them drift away from the boat. We didn't catch anything, not even seaweed.
When we got back, we ate lunch and set off for Tahiti Beach on Elbow Cay, Abaco, Bahamas. We arrived at 1:20pm, and saw both s/v Eira and s/v Sand Dollar anchored nearby. We were all at the beach playing together until about 6:00pm. There is a big sand spit and sand flats that are all exposed at low tide. We play-fought for a long time and ran around the flats when they were exposed, and even when they weren't exposed. Daniel and I were teamed up against John, Noah and Cody. Josh stopped playing after getting hurt in a game of Marco Polo. Noah and John could do some damage, but Cody (only 7 yrs. old) was just a distracter. He was like a ball on elastic string. He'd come up and we'd push him away and he would come back and we'd push him away. Sometimes Cody would fall down, but he'd get back up and keep fighting. If he got to me, he could knock and hold me down!
Towards the end, Daniel and I were crawling on our hands and elbows through Manatee Grass to try and scare Josh, John and Noah who were playing football. We were stung by something in the grass all over our torsos and arms. Ms. Diane said that it was jellyfish larvae that live in the Manatee Grass. We all left after that, and Mom made a meat tenderizer paste and put it on the stings.
For dinner, Dad made pan-seared Mahi-Mahi fillets with lemon pepper butter sauce. He also made honey & balsamic vinegar carrots. They were surprisingly good! Today was busy and great!! Life is slower out cruising, but still great!!
Sunday, 5/11/08 Day 99
Today was kind of a mess and kind of boring for one part. The other part was just plain okay. We left at around 9:30am from Tahiti Beach. We spend about 5 hours just sailing north and around the Whale to Green Turtle Cay. As we sailed into the Loggerhead Channel, a Great Barracuda bit our line, causing some trouble with navigation because we were headed for some channel markers and had to slow down to deal with the barracuda. We threw it back. The Whale was quite calm for offshore with 2-4 ft. seas, but there were 15-20 kt. winds.
There are two sounds (harbors) at Green Turtle Cay - Black Sound and White Sound. We tried to go to Black Sound, but it was crowded and the anchoring was bad, and we didn't want to take a mooring ball. White Sound was also crowded, but we were finally able to find a good spot and make the anchor hold after a bit of trying.
Though it was Mother's Day, the day was a bit frustrating at times for Mom, and it's too late for the dinner she wanted, so we are just going to have Mother's Day tomorrow! That's how flexible we cruisers are!! Tomorrow will be better than today for sure!
Monday, 5/12/08 Day 100
Today was a nice Mother's Day. We did school all morning and Mom & Dad did projects. After lunch, we worked on more projects with them, like cleaning shells and fixing the cockpit drains. Later in the afternoon, we went to say "Hi!" to a couple of boats. We went to s/v Hands Across the Sea and s/v About Time. There is also s/v Syzygy (my Aunt Carol's favorite word), s/v Air Force, and s/v Synergy (my swim team last year) that we want to talk to tomorrow.
Back at the boat, I, with a little of Dad's help, make a Quick Caramel Cake for Mom. I found the recipe in The Joy of Cooking. It was a thin tea cake with a rich flavor and texture, but it wasn't super moist. We had to try to whip the butter by hand which was hard. On top, we put caramel icing. That was made from brown sugar, cream and butter, with vanilla for a little different flavor. The icing also had pecans in it. We ate the cake after supper. Mommy loved it and we all joked about how much sugar was in the cake! It was all really good and really fun!
Dad made braised lamb in the pressure cooker with my cake for dessert. That was a great end to our Mother's Day. Tomorrow we'll dinghy into the town of New Plymouth and then sail to Manjack Cay later in the day. Life is great here in the Abacos for certain!
Tuesday, 5/13/08 Day 101
Our day was pretty much split in half. In the morning, we went to the historical town of New Plymouth. In the afternoon, we went to Manjack Cay.
We went to New Plymouth fairly early. We met Steve and Debby from s/v Air Force and talked with them about things like sea beans. Ms. Debby collects sea beans and makes jewelry from them. That sounds fun. We went to the Albert Lowe Museum first. It was like Hope Town's museum, so I knew a bunch of the stuff about the Bahamas and Abaco already. The museum's curator gave us a tour. They had a ton of artifacts, including photos, beds, pipes, etc! It was pretty interesting.
We also visited the statue gardens and the cemetery while walking around town. The statue gardens were kind of boring. It was full of busts if important Bahamians with plaques telling about them. The cemetery was a bit more interesting. The burial places all had gardens on top and some of the gravestones were ornately carved and some even had pictures of the person on them, while others were just piles of stone.
We went grocery shopping quickly and had lunch at Laura's Kitchen. This was a treat because we hardly ever eat out. Laura's Kitchen was similar to Rita Mae's in Morgan City, LA. (see 2/14/08) It was a small house like Rita Mae's, and the service was just as slow and the food was just as good.
Back at the boat, I went with Dad to fuel up the jerry jugs and buy Goombay Punch, a soda that is carbonated fruit juice. I love it! Mom and Bro got us ready to leave for Manjack Cay. We motored to Manjack and saw many boats that we already know - s/v Air Force, s/v Rhapsody, s/v Rachel, s/v Pickles, s/v Scandia, and s/v Toucan Dream. The people staying in the house for Mr. Bill and Ms. Leslie (see 4/28/08) have kids, and all of us got together on the beach and played. There was a slide set up on the dock and we all went on it. Under the dock, by the slide, there were lots of little crabs. I caught ½ a dozen crabs and wanted to keep them for bait. I had to let them go. We are going to go spear fishing tomorrow with Mr. Bob and Bobby (from the house). We have been gone 100 days today! Today was good ... really good!
Wednesday, 5/14/08 Day 102
Today was totally awesome to the most extreme! We went out spearfishing on an uncharted wreck in the Sea of Abaco with Mr. Bob, Bobby, and Jenna in Mr. Bob's skiff. Ms. Tricia and Mom took our dinghy to a beach to look for sea glass and other stuff. The wreck is kind of secret and is 6 ft. under water, so it was special that we went there. There were schools of Atlantic Spadefish, Gray Snapper, and grunts. Dad got two Spadefish and a Gray Snapper. There were lots of conch, and we found 5 mature ones that we harvested. I also saw a lionfish! The book says they are migrating to this area from the South Pacific.
At the end, Dad let Josh and me try fishing with the pole spear at a different wreck. I missed a couple, hit a Spadefish that got away, and nailed a White Grunt. I was using a 3 pronged paralyzer tip and all three tips hit him in the head. He died almost instantly and I got him. He was a bit small though. Dad said that when we get back to the United States, he will by Josh and me each a smaller pole spear so we can hunt too next season.
Back at the house, at the cleaning station, Dad learned how to clean conch. Mr. Bob told Dad and me to "eat this thing from the conch to increase our manliness." It was a conch penis! Josh didn't eat one, and we laughed at him for a while and he just said how gross we were.
We played with Bobby and Jenna for a while, and even saw two octopi on the rocks under the dock and cleaning station. They were Caribbean Reef Octopi and we watched them for a long time crawling along the rocks. When they got agitated, they puffed up and changed color! That was cool.
We went out in out dinghy to the island's north inlet after lunch. We found a few sea beans and tons of green Variegated Urchin skeletons. The waves were huge and were coming in from the ocean and breaking near shore. We had to stay out of the water because it was very strong. When we tried to leave, we couldn't get the dinghy out past the breaking waves! After taking multiple waves into the dinghy and scaring the heck out of us all, we finally made it out.
At 6:45pm, we went to the beach to have a fish fry with s/v Pickles, s/v Air Force, and the people form the house. It turned into a bonfire and marshmallow roast. I had fun controlling the fire's hottest part and only got burned once! At the end, I was told to dump some water on the fire. It made a huge puff of steam and we all shouted, "More!!" We kept dousing it until the fire was completely out and we were bored.
We got home at 9:45pm, exactly 3 hours after we left. We are all exhausted and are about to go to sleep. We will go to Powell Cay tomorrow where the White-Tailed Tropicbirds are. Today was great times 10!! Life here at Manjack is awesome!!