Sunday, 3/8/09 Day 400
Today was odd for one reason and one reason only. That reason is the stupid Daylight Saving's Time. This was good ol' Ben Franklin's big mistake. It doesn't do anything; it just messes up your body's time sensor thing-a-ma-bobby. We kept thinking it was earlier and being late, etc.
After hanging out all morning and having an early, no wait - an early, yet normal timed (12:15 L), lunch, we went to Staniel Cay for the first time. We beached the dink next to the Government Dock and walked through town. We enjoyed looking at how everything, from the houses to the mini-seawall to the mailboxes, was brightly colored. That's something that's not in the U.S. The water is all brown and the houses brick and the building steel in the U.S. The seawall would be made of plain concrete. L We bought coconut bread form a lady who runs her shop out of her kitchen. We also bought a fabulous cinnamon roll! J We went to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club and Cottage after a quick stop at the grocery store. We looked at a giant motor yacht called Altisa VII I/II, docked there. Peeking through the door, we saw a washer/dryer set, luxurious cushions and wood tables, and ... MARBLE floors! WOW! Also at the docks were a dozen+ nurse sharks from 6+ft to 2 ½ ft. I don't think I've ever seen so many in one place! They get fed when the local fishermen come in in the evenings.
In the afternoon, we socialized with Tauá. I went sailing and picked up Claudia. We sailed circles around the big mega-yacht Darling. The first time past (and coming close), the two crew on the back just smiled and said "hi". The second time around they said "hi" again, but didn't smile and said it in a "go away" type of way. So we continued on to the blue hole and back to Liberty where Ms. Monika was. We ate conch fritters and drank rum punch together (well, at least the adults did). Mr. Pete wasn't there because he was fixing Tauá, but he finally came to stopping point and Ms. Monika got him. We kids played Legos, ate fritters, and talked with the adults in a mix of English, German, Italian & French. The different languages are always cool with Tauá. Claudia and I were going to go waterskiing, but Mr. Peter had to get back to Tauá and Dad didn't want to because he'd already had 3 glasses of rum punch. L
Claudia is staying the night because her bed on Tauá is messed up because of Mr. Peter's important boat project. We had pasta for dinner and went to bed early, no ...late; I don't know. Times (body) and times (clocks) are different now. L But today was good. Dad promised to take Claudia and me waterskiing tomorrow morning before we leave for Pipe Creek, Exumas. I can't wait to go there and hunt! I soo want to do that! I can't wait!
Monday, 3/9/09 Day 401
We are now anchored in Pipe Creek, Exumas, off Thomas Cay, in a nice, protected hole with deep (16.5ft.) water and either sandbars, rocks, or land on all sides. We left Big Major's Spot at approx. 12:30, after a fun morning and had a delightful sail across the bans to the Pipe Creek area. On our trip up, we heard Rio Dulce and Priority on the radio. Rio Dulce had caught a 49" Mahi Mahi, larger than Brian, and were headed to Staniel Cay. We are sorry to have missed them, but they may come over to Pipe Creek sometime soon. On that note, Tauá took on fuel at the Sampson Cay Yacht Club and came to Little Pipe Cay this evening with plans to move in to where we are tomorrow.
When we arrived in the Pipe Creek area, Mom and I took the bow and guided Dad around the sandbars and into deeper water. When we got to a point where it looked as if we needed to cross multiple shallow rock bars to get into the anchorage, Mom and I took the dinghy and the portable depth sounder to find a route in. We talked to Leana Bea, the other boat anchored here, and they helped us. We were able to get in, get set, and enjoy the tranquil late afternoon and evening.
Dad & I went dinghy trolling/exploring around Joe Cay and found the perfect lobster hunting grounds on the Exuma Sound side of Joe Cay! We got no fish and had sausage for supper, but that information is quite valuable. Unfortunately, Dad won't want neither Josh nor I to go out there with him in the current conditions. LL I want to go hunting soooo bad! Grrrr! >:-(
As for the morning titled before as just "fun," we had pancakes for breakfast with Claudia. I have been saving up my chocolate rations to melt and put on my pancakes. I softened the nuggets to a puddingy consistency and spread it on my breakfast. It tasted good, but syrup tastes better by just a little. After breakfast, Dad took Claudia and me waterskiing. We both did really, really well, taking air, flying outside the wake, doing silly, little tricks, etc. We also had some real nice falls. J What I'd rate as fall #1 (on top) was when I went zooming outside to the extent of the tow rope, fell, popped of the skis, and had my body keep flying out in the direction I had been heading. I hit the water hard that time. #2 was when Claudia was taking the last ride and Dad slowed down to practically nothing real fast as we came behind Tauá and Claudia lost her balance, acted as if she were dancing a jug, and flopped right on her back. That was quite funny, and Dad & I admitted that we should have told her we were going to do that. J We had a lot of fun waterskiing. Hopefully, we'll ski some more here in Pipe Creek. We had a whole lot of fun in Big Major's Spot/Staniel Cay and we'll (hopefully) have at least that much fun here. J
Tuesday, 3/10/09 Day 402
This morning we just did school, but this afternoon was FUN! To start this morning, I ate the last bowl of Oatmeal Crisp cereal, leaving only one bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios (blech!) as the vessel's only cereal. We will have to resort to oatmeal, pancakes, eggs, French toast, etc. for breakfast from now on. That's actually not that bad. J L J
After I finished school and lunch got served (stir fry J), Mr. Peter and Mr. Walter came by and asked if Dad wanted to go hunting for bugs in the spot we found yesterday. Dad jumped in his wetsuit, planning to come back in time to go hunting with the family (as was the plan) around 2:00pm. After lunch, Mom, Bro & I laid around on deck, listening to my MP3 music through my portable speakers for the time Dad was gone. He came back at 2:30 with reports of only rough seas and rock. The only bit of life was a lone baby Nassau grouper. They came home empty-handed. We made plans to go the 3.5 miles up to Fowl Cay at the Exuma Land & Sea Park's border tomorrow where there are some good reefs. Today, we went exploring like Ma wanted. We found a beach on Thomas Cay with a couple of posts labeled PCYC - Pipe Creek Yacht Club. We also found a path into the island.
On the trail, we first came upon what looked like a dried up salt pond. It was a low, flat bed of caked mud/sand/dirt covered in little salt crystals. It seemed as if water may come in at times, such as a big rainstorm, a hurricane, extra high tide, etc., but not now. The trail continued on through the salt pond up to a cliff/ridge looking onto Thomas Cut. There, the path branched 3 ways - to a tall point with a cairn and big buoy marker overlooking the cut, to a path along the ridge, and to a rocky oceanside beach. After looking up at the point, w went down to the beach. There were lots of little tide pools with tons of stuff in 'em. We found lots of pretty shells, but the critters were what I was looking for. We saw rock boring urchins, long-spined sea urchins, swollen clawed mantis shrimp, and something cool that we've never seen before - brittle starfish. We found dozens of blunt-spined brittle stars under the rocks, ranging from a total diameter of one inch to at least 6 in. When we picked up the rocks they were under, they squirmed and crawled into a new shady spot with extreme speed. We picked them up and they wiggled all over our hands! They were really cool!!
Dad found the coolest tide pools. They were each at least 3ft. deep and full of long-spined sea urchins - a species supposed to be mostly absent and only just starting to come back from a 1990's disease that practically wiped out the population of Diadema (scientific name) in the Caribbean. But they were all over here! Dad wouldn't let me pick one up because he didn't want me to get hurt and didn't know where the nearest clinic is. Also in the deep tidal pools were finger coral, starlet coral, a live sea fan, etc. That was really cool!
We hiked back to the dinghy and stopped at the boat and made a run to Compass Cay Marina. Surprisingly, the only thing on Compass Cay is a marina. No settlement, no clinic, no nothing. We went to get dinghy gas, but were told that the nearest gas station was Sampson Cay. That was sure a waste of dinghy gas. L
On the way home, we found a dry sand spit. It was covered in conch and some other shells. Surprisingly, I saw not a singly mature conch. All were juveniles, and about half were empty shells. We did get some nice finds. We are going to make a high-pitched horn out of an unconched juvenile shell. That'll be a good addition to our set of the other conch horns.
We got home after 5:00, so we quickly showered and got dinner cooking. Dad made fettuccini in a mushroom-saffron cream sauce, accompanied by a side salad, and a butter bean salad. The pasta was dyed iridescent neon yellow-green by the saffron. The saffron even stained our plastic measuring cup!!!
We played Iron Chef Pipe Creek with supper. Each rating is 1 - 10, with 10 being best. Here are the results:
Josh had to bump his score to 45/90 to keep from losing seconds on pasta. We enjoyed a million dollar sunset and played cards after dinner. The game was Spades. Dad & I won. We are good! Today was good!
Wednesday, 3/11/09 Day 403
I finally got to go diving/hunting today! Not at Fowl Cay, but good enough. We actually hunted just inside Thomas Cay Cut. Josh was the only one to get anything - a small Nassau grouper, but it was just pretty snorkeling anyway. I saw probably more queen angelfish and rock beauties today than anywhere else! There were very few heads, and those were small, but mostly coral and gorgonians studded along a white sand bottom.
Dad had seen a group of fast, big snappers, so he and I went fishing from the dinghy when the current started running later in the day. We used a bit of grouper carcass and guts as bait, plus lures. The only thing we got all evening (and we were out for a couple hours) was a 3- 3 ½ ft. lemon or reef shark that I brought in. I literally had him a foot away from the side of the dink and a foot underwater when he broke the line! L We later wondered how we would have landed him in our inflatable dinghy and what Ma would have thought of our coming home with a shark taking up the whole bow. We tried to catch any good fish until 5:30, but we couldn't get a thing. L Dinner was Josh's grouper fillets (not much) and rack of lamb. The lamb was really tasty, cooked to perfection. The grouper was good too.
This evening, we played Spades. There were lots of nil hands. One round, Josh and I both went nil. I messed up on the first play. L I'm not that good. Josh is. He went nil with three queens once! Dad and I lost by about 200 points. L We'll do better tomorrow.
This morning, we did school. Dad made a cake-like thingy for breakfast and it was delicious. After lunch, Mom and Dad talked with Propinquity, another boat for about an hour. Then we went hunting, and the rest is history. J That's all for now, folks. ;-)
Thursday, 3/12/09 Day 404
We started this morning here in beautiful Pipe Creek with school, but that didn't last long. J At 8:45, we went dinghy exploring with the high tide. We went to a mangrove creek inside Joe Cay. Surprisingly, it was less mangroves and more sandy bonefish flats. We got in and looked up into the creeks. Unlike other creeks like this, this creek seemed like it was between limestone cliffs and sand spit beaches. We got out onto a limestone flat in approx. 2 in. of water and saw the oddest thing - bubbles! At first we thought it was a spring, but the water was still and salty as always. Then we notices what the bubbles were - air! Dad suspects that, with the tides, air gets trapped in the limestone ground and forces itself out when covered in water. How cool!?!
It started to get shallow as the tide started running out and we had seen the creek, so we just dinghied around Pipe Creek. When coming around Little Pipe Creek and Wild Tamarind Cay (aka Rat Cay), I saw some pretty little islands out on the banks, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. They were the Twin Cays (High Twin Cay, Low Twin Cay, and some big rocks). We decided to go explore them at low tide. We had planned to take Mom diving, but the new plan was to do school, go diving just before low tide, and go straight from there to the Twin Cays.
So we did just that. Josh and I did school, a full day, from about 9:45 until 12:45, while Mom cleaned shells and Dad worked on some boat project. I finished first, so I got to help Mom. I got our shell book, and identified some of the cool stuff we've found. Just the other day, I found a sulcate miter. It's kind of cool! J
Just as planned, we went diving at 1:45. The three guys hunted, but got nothing. Mom used our underwater camera in hopes of seeing all the angelfish and maybe one of the rays Dad saw last time. I did see a big 'cuda and a giant porcupinefish.
We then zoomed over the banks out to the Twin Cays, zooming over starfish, gorgonians, etc. We went right in between High Twin Cay (elevation approx. 20ft.) and Low Twin Cay (elevation approx. 10ft.). A long sand spit almost connected the two cays, but there was a skinny, deep channel at the very end. We found a lot of pretty shells, including bubble shells, sunrise tellins, and partridge tuns. We also found two really cool starfish - a striped sea star and a banded sea star!! An interesting thing here is these streams. There are tiny streams of salt water that seem to naturally dome from underground. We like to play with them and make dams, tributaries, deltas, oxbow lakes, etc. A funny thing was that Dad walked around in his underwear all over. He and I have to wear underwear under our wetsuit because we don't have skintight suits like Josh and Ma have. When we got to the Twin Cays, I just changed into a bathing suit, we being the only people there, but Dad didn't change - he just took off his wetsuit. Mom wouldn't let him be in any pictures. J
We did have a silly idea with Dad in his underwear. It was that we take a week on the Twin Cays sand spit and have a 12 hour picture taking session of the tides. We actually had a number of ideas. First, Dad would sit in a chair in his underwear only, as the water came up to his neck and down again, with us taking a photograph every 5 minutes. Next, we could have him doing "The Thinker" pose. Next, him in a business suit or sport coat reading a 288 page contract (flipping two pages for every photo). Fourth, him in a bathing suit under the full moon. Then the whole family in their Sunday best on a couch, as if for a family portrait. And lastly, the dinghy, all decked out, anchored and beached on the sand spit. We think that it would be cool and we could sell it to a New York studio and then make a coffee table book. We would have 720 photographs of "How the Tide Effects Dad in His Underwear." Maybe we'll do it, but it's just a joke for now. J
We got home at 5:00 after a wonderful afternoon. Dad made fajitas for supper and we played Spades again. Dad and I beat them by over 300 pts tonight! J I think I'm getting better. Yeah! Tomorrow, we're going north to Rocky Dundas and Fowl Cay. There should be good diving, exploring, and hunting. That's just SWEET!
Friday, 3/13/09 Day 405
We did a lot of traveling today. We started the morning in Pipe Creek and ended the day at Big Major's Spot. But, believe it or not, we sailed north out of Pipe Creek. We sailed up to Rocky Dundas!
Josh and I did school on the way up. We anchored off Fowl Cay and prepared to go diving at Rocky Dundas' underwater caves that are like Thunderball Grotto. We went over there, but it was much too swelly to go into the caves The water was also too high to safely swim into the caves. There was an outbound tide, so we decided to go hunting at Fowl Cay first. Dad and I were the only hunters. He saw nothing, but I saw a large sailor's choice, a very big mutton snapper, and two dinner-sized saucereye porgies. After a bunch of stalking, the sailor's choice got away. The snapper was too fast and far, so I didn't even go after it. But for the two porgies, I went for those guys. They were together, so I aimed on a 45° course difference for them, not looking directly at them. The first porgy got away, but I was able to close in on the second and get bout on e foot from it. We got into a stare down and I nailed him. I tried to jam it into the ground, but he was thrashing so much, I could only get him up above the water and call for help from the dinghy. Mom came and I got the fish in the cooler. He was approx. 1 ½ ft. long. I did well. That's the largest fish I've ever speared!
The reef itself was quite nice. There were tons of little fish. I saw a giganto school of French grunts. The biggest fish I saw was a 3 ½ ft. barracuda. I also saw the king of the reef. That was a huge spotted eagle ray. The ray's wingspan was 4 ft. It was 6 ft. long. After seeing that gorgeous creature, I didn't want to hunt any more, at least not on its reef. It was just magnificent. J
The caves and coral gardens at Rocky Dundas were still too rough and the water too high to go into the caves. We came back to Liberty and decided that the anchorage was too rough, so we sailed down to Big Major's Spot to start working our way south and to try to catch up with Tauá. We want to meet and show them the Dripping Cave at Oven Rock. At Big Major's there were a lot of boats, including Gotta Life, Sandpiper, Priority, and Bird on a Wire.
We ate my saucereye porgy for dinner. We also watched MASH, a 70's-80's TV show about a U.S. Army surgical unit in the Korean War. It's one of Mom's favorite TV shows, and we have all 11 seasons on board. I like it. It's very funny. We watched the very first 3 episodes. We'll probably watch more tomorrow.
Tomorrow we are going to leave Big Major's Spot and go to Bitter Guana Cay. There we can dinghy out to some rocks between there and Harvey Cays where there is great diving and hunting. We talked to Mark (Sandpiper) and he said they got 3 spiny lobsters, a Spanish lobster, and a big snapper. He also saw a Manta Ray! Now that would be a sight to see!! Mr. Peter (Tauá) also got some lobster, so I hope we can come up with a couple! We haven't eaten lobster in a loooong time, and we've never eaten a Spanish lobster. I remember a commercial on the Discovery Channel for a show called "Dirty Jobs." The guy always said at the end, "I can smell it now!" I say, "I can taste it (the lobster) now!"
Saturday, 3/14/09 Day 406
Yummy, yummy - lobster! Yummy, yummy - grouper! Yummy, yummy - lobster! Yummy, yummy - conch! We got lots of reef food today. Just as so many people had told us (Sandpiper, Tauá, a local), the rocks between Bitter Guana Cay and the Harvey Cays were just great hunting grounds.
After breakfast, we hauled up anchor and went around the Harvey Cays to Bitter Guana Cay. Bro and I did school during the trip. We got all prepared and went out to the rocks just after lunch.
It took quite a few hours (like 4) for Dad and I to get our mess of fish, lobster, and conch. We went through a rough ride to get our there and didn't find what we'd been told at first. We found little heads here and there, not too pretty and not that much structure. It was also fairly rough, especially close to the rocks. Mom didn't get in and Josh got out quickly. We did find a bunch of angelfish. I saw mostly juvenile French, but there were all sorts. I also saw a hawksbill turtle just sitting on the bottom. Out of curiosity, I dove down and stroked the back of its shell. I've gotten quite good at staring on the bottom and neutralizing my buoyancy. The turtle didn't mind, but I think I spooked it when I darted up to the surface to get air. It swam about 10ft. and sat back down. Also while hunting, I was about a half dozen yellow stingrays, a species I've only seen in books and aquariums.
As for hunting, Dad and I collectively got 3 Caribbean spiny lobsters, a Spanish lobster, and a Nassau grouper. J The spiny lobsters were smallish, but grouper was medium in size, and that Spanish lobster was big. The Spanish lobster's tail was as big as two spiny lobster tails. It's extra wide. We would have had a good sized schoolmaster and a Margate of the same size had I been capable of pulling the fish out of the hole I shot them in still on my spear! L Both got off. I even saw the Margate swim away with two holes on its back! LL At the very end, I got a bug. I saw it poking its head out of the hole, and I shot at it. My three pronged spearhead was too big and just scared him back inside. I asked Dad for his spear, but couldn't get a good shot. The hole only had one entrance, so we didn't have to worry about his running out. We tried everything to get that lobster out. Dad even tried to grab him and pull him out, as well as get him impaled on the dive knife. Nothing worked. We did use a conch shell to break in a thin rock wall that made the entrance larger. At one point, while Dad was taking a breath, the bug (now missing both antennae and about 3 legs out of six) crawled out. I grabbed Dad's spear and shot. I missed. L He swam back in and Dad yelled at me for ruining that perfect chance. Eventually, after about 30 min. of effort, Dad pulled him out of the hole. We called Mom to come with the dinghy. That was that for the day. My fins are a bit too small and all of my 10 toes were numb. We were exhausted. I did (and still do) feel good about helping get that feast.
And we had quite a feast for dinner! We ate fish, lobster, rice, and canned peaches for dessert. Josh likes the milder, sweeter Spanish lobster better than the Caribbean spiny lobster. I like 'em both the same, and Mom and Dad like the spinies better. Not that we'll ever turn down a Spanish lobster! J
We didn't watch any MASH tonight because Mom was too tired, it was too late, and, all of a sudden, Mom isn't sure MASH is appropriate for us. It was appropriate for a hour and a half last night! L L I bet it's because it had some PG-13 content, which Joshua isn't allowed to watch, but I am. Instead, the three guys played 3 player Hearts. I've never played this card game before. It was fun. I lost badly, but it was still fun. Now that I know the rules, I can play on the computer for practice. Now it's late. I go to bed.