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Wednesday, 4/1/09                                                                        Day 424

When I think back on today, I think most of water and the sea.  To tell you the truth, I spent most of the day on Liberty, but I liked the ocean best.

We went back to where Dad lost the big hogfish yesterday.  We went with Tauá.  Josh and I shared my spear.  Dad got the only fish, a graysby.  I did really badly today.  I had very nice shots on a nice schoolmaster, a big saucereye porgy, a supper-sized Nassau grouper, and a massive bar jack (bigger than it should have been!)
L  On the snapper, a gorgonian got in the way and my spear jammed on it.  On the porgy and grouper, I missed excellent shots that I should have hit on.  And on the jack, I jumped the gun and took a shot when he was just out of range.  I'm quite disappointed.  The snorkeling sure was pretty.  I enjoyed looking at it.  I love snorkeling and the thrill of the hunt.  Even if I mess up, I still love the ocean. J J

We went diving with Tauá quite soon after lunch and school got done.  We, once again, did quite well with school and were done by 12:30. J  I only did two subjects - math and science - but I made great accomplishments in each.  Being quite bored with my science material, I read the last 60 or so pages in the textbook.  Now all I have to do is take the last test tomorrow and I'm done with science until next year - 9th grade! J  Also in math, I completed the last assignment in the first half.  Tomorrow I will take a test and a second big test on the next day and I'm 50% done with math!  Yippee!! J

Other than diving and school, I only did three things.  Those were:  fish with Dad and go to the beach, and go shelling with Ma, and say "Hi" to a kid boat.  Firstly, Dad and I fished on some little heads for some grunts, grouper, and snapper.  We got five things in out 1 ½ hour expedition.  The first was a bunch of grunt bites.  The second was a big squirrelfish (inedible L).  The third was a big Nassau grouper sighting, and the fourth was a big shark sighting.  And the fifth was bored.  Yes, we got bored.  All we caught was that dumb squirrelfish, but we had fun.  We gave up and went to the beach, where Ma, Bro, and Tauá were.  I found a lot of West Indian rice olivellas.  They are my second favorite shell.  My first is an emerald nerite, a rare and tiny shell, of which I only have one good one.  I have a second one, but the color is very faded.  Lastly, we said, "Hi," to O'Vive, a boat with two kids on it.  There is Alex (13) and Emily (15).  They have only been gone for a year and a half, out of Florida, but they've been to New Zealand and back.  We may meet up with O'Vive again, maybe not.  We're going south to Flamingo Cay tomorrow with Tauá.  So, that's the end of another great day here in Water Cay, Jumentos.



Thursday, 4/2/09
                                                                                Day 425

Today was a really fun day!!  We started by moving the boat to Flamingo Cay, Jumentos, via a blue hole.  There are three big blue holes off Water Cay.  The one we stopped at, off Melita Cay, is 113 ft. deep.  We snorkeled over it.  Dad did not snorkel, but drove the dinghy.  It was quite cool.  There wasn't much there.  We saw the bottom through the entire hole.  We didn't see much in the way of living things, just a queen triggerfish, a big 'cuda, and some blue chromises. It was all cool enough, though.

Afterwards, we also snorkeled on a big reef recommended to us by Mr. Oli on Dejarlo, the guy who really knows this area.  It was very pretty, ranking right up there with the Hawksbill Rocks.  There was a lot of newly growing Elkhorn and staghorn coral, and even some much larger colonies here and there.  There were tons of fish, too.  More than anything else, I saw dozens of queen triggerfish.  I got one photo with eight of them in the picture!  It was very beautiful.  Before we left, we collected a bunch of conch.  There were lots of them, many very large.

After that dive stop, we continued to Flamingo Cay with Tauá.  Bro and I did school while we traveled.  At the Flamingo Cay anchorage, we met two other kid boats, Miakoda and Side by Side.  Miakoda had two younger (8 yrs.) twin girls.  Side by Side has Parker (12) and Sabrina (10).  Also traveling with them is Cambrasion, who is just a couple, Chad and Leann.  Side by Side stopped to welcome us and said that Parker was in need of another boy to hang with.  A little later, I went over to their boat.  They (Mark & Angie are the parents) have a nice catamaran.  I hung out with Parker for what was left of the afternoon (it was already 4:30).  He's got some awesome Legos.  We also played a snowboarding video game on his Playstation 2.

At 6:30, we went to a bonfire party that got planned between the four kid boats (plus Cambrasion).  We also invited Onda, an Australian couple and a friend, so they wouldn't be left out (because they are the only other boat in the anchorage).  I talked with Mr. Stu (Onda) and he is really nice.  He seems to have been everywhere!  I also talked a lot about fishing with Mr. Chad.  He's very good at spearfishing, even though they haven't been cruising for that long.  Everybody brought a potluck item, so we all had a nice supper that ended with s'mores.
J  It was a great end to today. J J



Friday, 4/3/09                                                                                Day 426

If I had to guess how much of the day was morning, and how much was afternoon, I'd say 20% and 80%.  The morning seemed like nothing, for it was all school, but the afternoon was just so fun, that it felt like forever.

As I said before, school took up the whole morning.  We had a longer day than normal, getting done at 12:45.  Parker called us and asked if we wanted to play, and Bro & I went to Side by Side after lunch.   We played with Parker's Legos and looked at his Pokemon cards for a while.  At some point, we decided to swim to the beach.  Bro and I left our shirts on Side by Side, and I swam with my glasses on.  When we got to the beach, we hung out and ran around on the beach for a long time.  We got a plastic baseball bat when Ms. Angie came to the beach, and we smashed sandballs.  We just had a blast!!

When we were done with the beach, we swam back to Side by Side.  But we decided not to stop there.  After a quick breather, we swam halfway across the anchorage to Tauá.  We hung on their swim platform for a second break, and then continued clear across the anchorage to Liberty.  There, we rinsed off and hung out after our long venture.  We played Legos for a good portion of what was left of the afternoon.  I got my ultimate ship almost complete.  We also played with Josh's Attactix.

At about 6:00, Ms. Angie called for Parker to come home.  We ate chef salad with fresh bread for supper.  Claudia went with Sabrina to Miakoda to watch a movie with the other girls, so Ms. Monika and Mr. Peter came over here to play Spades.  They just left.  Today has been good (times about 50)!!!



Saturday, 4/4/09
                                                                                Day 427

We had a super day today!  I even did what Dad said I would never be able to do, but we'll get to that later.  I'll just go in chronological order to make it easy.  I'm quite tired.  It's been a long day.

We started the day with school.  Josh and I got going even before breakfast.  Our running out of cereal again meant that Dad made pancakes.  Since we're almost out of maple syrup, Dad made a really good syrup-like concoction.  I was all good.  I ate four pancakes.  Then Bro & I did school until 10:00.  We got a good day of work in in that time.  Surprisingly, both Tauá and Side by Side were almost done with school as well.

At 10:30, we went with Tauá to do the only thing you absolutely have to do at Flamingo Cay.  We went to this cool cave that you drive your dinghy into.  It is so well known that the electronic charts call it a "Dinghy Drive-In Cave!"
J  Josh went with Tauá so the weight was even and we zoomed off.  My first impression of the cave was that is was much different than I had expected.  It was a big, wide opening in the side of a little cliff.  Something made me expect a smallish hole in the cliff that you dinked into to get to some grotto.  My second thought was how cool it was.  As we entered, we saw an osprey fly around and a tricolor heron hop along the cliff.  When we entered, it was just really cool.  The reflection of something or other caused everything under water, from a line to the rocks to our feet, to have a turquoise hue to it.  We explored and added to the little cairns made of conch shells.  Dad made a cool discovery.  The rock that was not underwater, had conch shells in it, and not just conchs embedded into the rock, but the rock formed over the conch!!  It was really weird!  Ma took pics!  We also took a trail out of the hole in the back of the cave to a nearby beach.  We found some pretty shells.  The cave was really cool and fun!

On the way home, we stopped at Two Palms Beach (a beach with just two big palms) and Shipwreck Beach (a beach next to some shipwrecks).  Claudia, Mr. Peter, and I all tried to climb the shorter coconut tree, but couldn't.  I got the highest.  We stopped at Shipwreck Beach to see the two shipwrecks.  One is a big old steel barge that's been there forever and is on the charts.  The other is the wreck of a wooden sailboat, only a year or two old.  I liked the big barge.  I like those wrecks.  Unfortunately, we could not dive on this wreck.  We did some other diving, though.

After lunch, we went diving with Side by Side.  I hunted.  We dove all the way from a reef about a mile out into Liberty.  We stopped in three spots - a reef one mile out, a reef just off Flamingo Cay, and the heads leading into the anchorage.  It was all quite pretty.  The second spot was my favorite.  It was a big, pretty reef with big mountainous heads and giant piles of dead staghorn coral.  I also saw some unusually large groups of barracuda.

While spearfishing, I did what Dad said I would never do - spear a big snapper.  Dad, with his Hawaiian sling, and I with my pole spear, approached a head where we saw a big schoolmaster.  I took a shot, but missed.  I dove under a ledge and saw two big schoolmasters.  Dad, on the other side, was taking shots.  I shot once, and missed.  I aimed up a shot, but a glasseye snapper (evil - related to squirrelfish) got in my view.  I just shot at the yellow tail I saw.  I felt a wiggle, but there was nothing on the end of my spear.  A couple of seconds later, a large, wounded schoolmaster swam out of the head, and I nailed it!  I got it up and in the cooler!!  Dad claimed that he spooked it to me, but that's not true.  I got it all by myself!!  It was as big as another schoolmaster he got earlier.  I am quite proud of myself!  I also hit a red hind, but he got away.
L L  I should have had him.  I hate wounding fish. L  But I got the snapper and made it all good J!

This evening, we went to Side by Side for a party.  The only other boats in the anchorage are us and Tauá, and we both came over.  We had a potluck dinner.  Afterwards, all the kids came back to Liberty to watch a movie.  We saw Secret Agent: Cody Banks.  It was a good movie.  After the movie, we messed around with the adults on the radio.  We also had a pillow fight and just hung until everything was over.  By the time everyone got home, it was 11:00.  That was, like, 15min. ago.  Lights out on Liberty!



Sunday, 4/5/09
                                                                                Day 428

After staying up until 11:30pm last night, I got up late - 8:30am.  We were just raising the anchor for Johnson Cay, Jumentos.  Once we were under way, I poured myself one of our last bowls of granola.  Then, I ruined it by filling it up with sour milk!!
L  So, I wasted some of the last granola with the last of the milk!! L L

But things got somewhat better.  I did a bunch of school.  We sailed down the Crooked Island Passage with Tauá all day long.  As I said, Josh and I did school for most of the day.  We had five fish strikes! Two got away.  On our first hit, something big almost immediately bit through our heavy leader.  Luckily, it was only an old, beaten up squid skirt.  Next, we caught two big barracudas.  We had to throw them both back.  One of them broke the crimp/leader right next to the boat. L  Then, we caught what I think might have been a tuna.  It struck our deep/weighted lure and dove.  We never saw it because it spit the hook. Lastly, we caught and released a third big 'cuda. L  We did poorly, but Tauá caught a nice cero and a little blackfin tuna.

By 4:30, we had our anchor down in a calm and wonderful cove in Johnson Cay.  It is just us, Tauá, and Pay Dirt, a trawler that is leaving in the middle of the night for Acklins Island, Bahamas.  Mr. Peter wanted to learn how to make sushi with his tuna, so we invited him over and taught him, while Ma, Ms. Monika, Claudia and Bro went to the beach.  I made up some rice, and got out the sushi stuff, and we prepared for a sushi feast.  In the end, dinner was grilled cero in a special sauce of Ms. Monika's, salad, a plate of Nigiri sushi, a plate of sushi rolls, and some pickled ginger to go with the sushi.  It was delicious!  We had a great day!

P.S.  All the hermit crabs died!!
L  They only survived a couple of days.  I wonder what we did wrong? L



Monday, 4/6/09                                                                                Day 429

Today, a seemingly quite short day, was spent completely at Johnson Cay.  We started right out with school.  We were done by 12:30.  Shortly after we finished, Dad came home from a hunting trip - successful!  He had found Hogfish Heaven, and got two hogfish - one huge one at 24 ½ inches.  He also got a dog snapper.

After fish cleaning, some fishing, and PB&J sandwiches, we went to the beach with Tauá.  The sand was very soft.  When wet, it was almost like mud.  Mom and Dad had taken a little beach walk earlier, while we did school, and Dad took Bro & I to see some cool formation.  That's when Dad became MEAN Dad.  He gave us an hour-long talk on the formation of the area and other geological things around the island.  He gave us a huge, long, school-like talk - all after school!  Josh and I got bored fast.  Dad explained this and that about the landscape.  BORING!!
L

Eventually, it was over.  I helped Ma with a shelling project.  On her earlier walk, she noticed a bunch of pretty shells in some fish traps that were thrown on the rocks.  There are some fish traps near the anchorage just like these.  I tried to get some of the shells out.  I only got two with my bare hands.  There is, oddly enough, no way to open these traps.  I guess the fishermen just do what I did, and use a grabby tool and/or spear to get their fish out of the traps.  With that idea, Ma let me go back to the boat to get a good pair of tongs and a mesh bag.  Then we tipped the traps so I could grab the shells with the tongs.  It worked well, and we got lots of nice shells, including murexes, horse conchs, and tulips.  Surprisingly, most of the shells had creatures in them, either hermit crabs or snails, but all dead.  They've been being sun-baked in the traps for forever.  The critters crawled into the traps wanting the food, but couldn't get out (like everything else).  The fishermen didn't care about them and couldn't get them out, so they left them.  So, we got nice shells!  Yippee!

We hung out and played for the rest of the afternoon.  I skimboarded.  Bro and I hung out with Claudia and boarded, and played Frisbee catch, and built sand castles, etc.!  We just flat out had fun!

To finish today, we went to Tauá with out hogfish to have supper.  They don't eat reef fish because of ciguatera poisoning, but hogfish can't have that.  They eat shellfish (we proved it - we found tellins in their stomachs).  They don't eat what gives ciguatera, or fish that have it, so they are clean.  Tauá liked it a lot.  We played with Claudia while the adults played cards all evening.  We had more fun.  I like fun.  The Bahamas just equal fun!!



Tuesday, 4/7/09
                                                                                Day 430

Today, for me at least, was like completely wow!  Or at least the afternoon was!  Wait 'til I get to the stories!!
J  As always, we did skule (L school L) all morning.  Just before lunch, we moved over to Man-O-War Bay, Raccoon Cay, Jumentos.  It is the only good protection from a Norther in the Jumentos.  Also, the bay is full (like, completely lined) with coral heads.  We anchored there along with Tauá, Miakoda (now in this area with us), and a French catamaran.

After lunch, and school, we went snorkeling in the bay, starting at the outer point and going in to the beach.  Mom and I snorkeled the heads to the beach, while Dad and Bro hunted farther out at the start and eventually came to the beach with the dink.  It was very pretty, with tons of life.  I filled up multiple pages of my dive log.  We saw a number of big hogfish and snappers too.  There was lots of Elkhorn coral, some dead, but some alive and coming back.  We did swim through a boneyard or two.  Also, I found a viper moray!  They are like the awesomest of the moray eels.  I saw it coil through some dead Elkhorn coral.  I only actually got one good view of his menacing head, but I watched it slither its body around quite a bit.  Later, I also saw a spotted moray going into a coral head.  I touched its back just to see what it felt like.  It was like wet and somewhat slimy skin - very smooth.

When Ma & I got close to the beach, we got out kind of fast because we saw a lemon shark close to shore.  It was just swimming around, and I actually swam after it, but Ma freaked out and made me get out.  After talking with Sebastian and his girlfriend (two of the five on the French cat), Dad & Josh got back.  Dad was hunting close to shore where I had seen the biggest hogfish.  I told Mom I was going to go get that hogfish.  She said, "Yeah, yeah, whatever," and I went off.

True to my word, I got that big guy soon after getting in with my spear.  I had told Dad about the two things I'd seen earlier - the lemon shark and the hog snapper.  Well, I blasted the giant fish straight in the head and got it stuck up out of the water.  Dad helped me bring it to shore.  As we got about half way back, we saw the shark.  In my book, the reaction to divers for the lemon shark reads, "Considered dangerous - especially in the vicinity of spearfishing."  Well, I looked up and saw blood dripping off the hogfish.  I had Dad's Hawaiian sling, and I cocked it and kept watching the shark as we swam as fast as we could.  Dad, with the fish above his head out of the water, was in front of me.  I saw the shark go behind me and started swimming on my back.  About 15ft. behind me, there was a little cloud of sand we'd puffed up.  I saw the shark pass through that once, pass through again, and come straight towards me because he was looking for the source of the blood.  I could tell he sure meant business!!  He wasn't just meandering around this time.
L  I can still see the shark coming out of the sand and the head-on view.  I dropped Dad's shaft and ran backwards out of the water.  I was scared, but the lemon shark, which was, in actuality, only 3-4ft. long, turned away and continued to swim around the shallows near shore.  We got the fish, though! J  (Dad went back and got the shaft when the shark left.)  It was 22 ½ in. long and the biggest thing of the day.  All Dad got was a red hind and a little hogfish.

We went home soon after that and had an early dinner.  When Dad threw the fish carcasses over, a 4ft. reef shark came!  Dad tried to make it grab a carcass off some line, but it didn't.  We had a grouper - hogfish taste-off.  Hogfish won, but grouper was close behind.  Dad & Josh said tie, and Mom said hogfish was slightly better, and I voted all out for the hogfish.  Not that I'll ever turn down grouper.  We'll eat my big hogfish mañana.  We've just hung all evening.  The Norther came in.  Oddly enough, some weird swell came in and we are rolling.  I thought this was a good place to ride out a front.  Maybe it's just the only place, and therefore the best.
L  Whatever.  Nothing we can do at this hour.  Good night.