Friday, 5/1/09                                                                                Day 454

If it weren't for today's late afternoon and evening, the day would have been completely
L.  About the time I woke up, we were hauling up the anchor.  We took the boat across Elizabeth Harbour to do stuff in town without a wet dinghy ride.  We actually went to town before any of us had eaten breakfast.  Luckily, we picked up one tangelo apiece, a package of grapes, two little muffins, and a carton of chocolate milk.  It worked out fine.  Getting there so early, we were the second people at the laundromat.  We put all five loads in the washers at once.  While the laundry went, we did computer stuff, got gasoline, and got provisions.  I got to spend a good deal of time on the internet myself.  I sent e-mails, Googled stuff, played games, etc.  At one point, Mom and Dad had some major trouble with their bank account and checking it online.  Then, the internet went down for a whole hour!  We ended up being in town all day - from 8:15 to 3:15.

We motored back over to Monument Beach and anchored right next to Side by Side.  We then went wakeboarding with Parker, Casey & Mr. Mark.  Casey got up first, and just went, and went, and went.  Josh, after a couple dozen failed attempts, got up for a good long while.  I also did very well, though very well is an understatement.  I was wicked awesome out there, rippin' up the water, taking air, carving, etc.  I put my free hand down in the water and just was, like, scooping water up.  Then, just for fun, I bend down and hung onto practically every free part on the board - the handle (it was a kite board), my heel side of the board, my tip.  It was wicked awesome.

When Mr. Mark had to be done pulling us, Parker and Josh went to Side by Side to play, and Casey tried pulling me around.  I told him that he needed to go fast to get me up and going, so he went full throttle so that , when I finally let go, I went another 20 feet by myself.
J L  I told him he should go slower, so he went just slowly enough that I couldn't get up and go pulled along until I flipped.  Finally, he got it, but had a fun time goosing the throttle and slowing down at inconvenient times.  Eventually, we stopped because Casey remembered that his Mom had told him that he's not allowed to pull wakeboarders without an adult with him.  By that time, my hand was red and had an imprint of the tow bar. L  We still had fun.

For dinner, we went over to Side by Side for lasagna!  Pelican was also there.  After dinner, we watched the movie Paul Blart:  Mall Cop.  It was pretty good.  When the movie was over, we played with Parker's nerf dart guns.  In the confines of Parker's cabins, we had some intense battles.  At the end, we all had to say "good-bye."  We probably won't see any of them again. We're going south to the Jumentos, while everyone else is going north.  We all split tomorrow.  At this rate, being so tired, I'll be the first to bed.  I'm gonna keep it that way.

Saturday, 5/2/09                                                                                Day 455

Today was not all a fad day, but we didn't do too much.  Pretty much ¾ of George Town emptied out by 10:00.  We and Side by Side were two of the boats. Starting at approx. 6:30am, boats started streaming out of Conch Cay Cut.  We were the only boat leaving that went through the South Cut for the Jumentos.  We sailed all day.  We had to go through the very shallow Hog Cay Cut.  We bumped once in 4.1 ft., but got through all right.  Mom and I, who were on the bow watching the depth, saw a turtle.

We traveled all day and got to the Water Cay, Jumentos anchorage by 5:30, just 8hrs. and 15 min. after we left George Town, Exumas.  We dropped the anchor right next to the m/v Ohana, a 170ft. megayacht.  Also here are a smaller motoryacht and three Bahamian fishing boats.  Dad, Josh and I swam over to Ohana to say, "Hi."  We met a crew member.  While swimming, we found a big horse conch with a giant hermit crab living inside.  Also, I found a monstrous Triton's Trumpet.  There was a cushion sea star attached to the snail, and we guessed that the starfish was eating the snail.  When we pulled it up, we found the snail eating a half-eaten, decaying starfish corpse.  I brought it back to show Mom, and she photographed it.  That was cool.

Dad made burgers for supper.  They were big - much bigger than the buns.  They were sooo good - quite delicious, in fact!
J  I've wanted a good burger for a while now.  This really satisfied me.

Supper ended abruptly when a rug, hanging out on the rail, fell overboard.  It floated away fast, and Dad, who jumped in after it, could not locate it in the twilight.  We all turned in early - by 8:30pm.  Tomorrow, we move south to Buena Vista Cay, Jumentos.  We hope to spend quite a few days there.  I'll report more tomorrow.  C ya!

Sunday, 5/3/09
                                                                                Day 456

Currently, we are in Buena Vista Cay, Jumentos, anchored alone, along the shore of a peaceful and beautiful place with a very big beach.  There are three large Bahamian fishing boats anchored at Big Nurse Cay, about 4 miles away, so fairly close, but we are here alone.  We left Water Cay at about 9:15 and went out of Man-o-War Channel south of Flamingo Cay to do some offshore fishing.  We did pretty badly today.  We got six hits, but only landed two fish - both of which were barracudas that we had to throw back.

Let's start at the beginning.  As we got to the drop-off, we dropped out two squid skirt lures, one on each pole.  Within the next 10 minutes, we had two hits and lost a lure.  We did not see either of the fish, as both got off fairly quickly.  We deployed two new hand lines, each with a similar squid skirt lure.  Dad and I rigged those hand lines the other day, and now we see that they are too short, but they will work for schooling Mahi.  A bit later, we got a nice Mahi Mahi on the line.  It jumped and tail-walked and we got it to no more than 5ft. from the boat.  But its mate, the "Freedom Fighter," was swimming alongside the struggling fish.  It also bit at the squid skirt and broke the leader, freeing the first fish.  It went on to bite a hand line, but almost immediately spit the hook.  Grrr - that was two more fish down the drain.  But, seconds later, we got a hit.  "Yippee," we thought, "We've got them again!"  NO!  It was just a barracuda, which we landed and threw back.  That's a total of five hits and one landed.  We got another barracuda later, to complete our day of fishing.  We released it.

We arrived at Buena Vista Cay 8hrs. after we left Water Cay.  It's a really nice place.  Dad cooked up some pasta and salad for dinner, and we played cards.  I got to teach Donkey.  Instead of playing Donkey, though, we changed the word to Coatimundi.  By the time we stopped, Mom had the letters Coatimu, so she lost.  Dad had Coati, Josh had Coa, and I had Co.  It was very fun.  Tomorrow night, we've promised to play Knock-out Whist, a game Josh wants to teach.  We are now turning in for a nice calm night.  It is peaceful.  I like it here.

Monday, 5/4/09
                                                                                Day 457

We spend today at Buena Vista Cay, Jumentos.  It was a pretty average day.  After Josh and I stared school, Mom and Dad went to take a walk on the beach and scope out the area.  They found a good diving spot, and noted the beaches along a bay around to the south as no good.  After they got back, Dad went out hunting and returned with one nice Nassau grouper, a nice dog snapper, and a blue striped grunt of good enough proportions.  We ate the snapper and grunt sautéed up for lunch.

After school was done, we all went to the big beach right in front of us.  It was very rocky, but somewhat nice.  Dad saw another, clearer looking beach to the north, so we went there instead.  There weren't as many big rocks there.  Dad and Josh went hunting along the island's edge, and Mom and I stayed on the beach.  We went shelling.  There were lots of little shells, including two of my favorites - emerald nerites and West Indian rice olivellas.  We also played some bocce.

When Dad and Josh came back, unsuccessful, we left.  They said they'd seen some lobsters, though they couldn't shoot them because they are out of season.  It gave me the idea to make lobster ravioli for dinner.  Dad had already gotten BBQ ribs ready, so we just made a lobster saucy filling for tomorrow (we still have lobster in our freezer from earlier).  We'll make the pasta homemade then.  The ribs were yummy³!  Yes, cubed.  That's the only way to get close to the great flavor.  I still like the Bahamian BBQ ribs better, but this was good.

Like we promised, we played Knock-out Whist after supper.  After a couple hands, though, it got boring, so we played Spades.  I went nil for the first time successfully!  Dad and I lost, but we had fun.  Cards is always fun!  We are going to bed at a decent hour tonight.  We have the whole of tomorrow planned, so that we can do school, go diving, and move Liberty to the Double-Breasted Cays, Jumentos.  It'll work, or at least, it should work.

Tuesday, 5/5/09                                                                                Day 458

Today was really great!  We did school like normal, yada, yada, yada.  We ate lunch.  But then, like planned, we got ready to go diving.

As we were getting ready to go out, we saw some skiff-type fishing boats laying out a big circular net, just out of the anchorage.  We went to check it out.  We got there just as they were pulling in their net.  It was so full of snappers and such that they covered the bottom of the skiff.  They were eight Bahamian guys from Spanish Wells, Eleuthera, who come to the Jumentos in their three big fishing boats (the ones at Nurse Cay) for two months our of the year to fish.  They use big nets that encircle a small coral head.  Then a couple of divers go into the net to scare the fish toward the edges and make sure the nets don't get stuck on coral.  Then they pull the nets up and dump the contents into the skiff's bottom.  They had mostly lane snapper, but a good number of margates, other grunts, and goatfish.  They also had a small peacock flounder and a hogfish that was a bit more than 2ft. long!  They guys said that they were on a break and just doing this with one of their small nets for fun.  They offered us some fish.  They gave us that giant hogfish, four lane snappers, and a yellow goatfish!  They were sooo nice.  They said that in their big nets, they can get a couple hundred pounds of fish.  Wow!  This was soooo cool!!

When we'd taken care of our fish, we did go diving.  Dad had seen a shark here yesterday, so we decided to not hunt and be careful.  I went in first to scope it out.  The first thing I saw was a shark in the distance.  I kept looking around, and then I saw it closer.  It was a 5-6ft bull shark, and I am positive on my ID.  Mom made me get out immediately, and she wouldn't even let me shoot an underwater photo.  We moved to another spot and dove there for a while before going back to spot #1.  It was pretty, and the underwater landscape was nice.  There were a lot of caves with big snapper.  I saw one lionfish.  I couldn't get Dad to shoot even it.  He didn't want the shark(s) to come.  We had a good time.  Also, there were lots of fish egg sacks around the reef.

When we returned to Liberty, we quickly upped anchor and sailed down to Double-Breasted Cay.  The large, shallow, protected area that includes Double-Breasted Cay (where you anchor) consists of seven cays - three small, three large, and a medium-sized one that marks the very edge of the area.  The small ones are Loggerhead, Big Pigeon, and Fowl Cay.  The large ones are Double-Breasted, Margaret, and Maycock Cay.  The last one is Darville Cay.  It is simply gorgeous here - much, much nicer than Buena Vista Cay. (Note:  This is Double-Breasted Cay, Jumentos.  There are the Double-Breasted Cays, Abacos, which are similar and we also liked very much.  We visited the latter last season.)  We are surrounded by unique rock formations, white sand beaches, and turquoise waters.  We made a video of the anchorage.

I did say yesterday about making lobster ravioli when we arrived here.  Instead, we decided to make lobster stuffed jumbo shells.  We had some jumbo shells that needed stuffing.  Dad and I made a real mice stuffing from ricotta cheese, lobster chunklets, the butter/white wine broth that we used to steam the lobster, and some heavy cream.  It was 100% gourmet!  It was just delicious!
J J  Josh and I watched an episode of Bonanza while Mom and Dad played backgammon.  We had a WONDERFULLY TERRIFIC day!!! J J J

Wednesday, 5/6/09                                                                Day 459

Today, we learned the real wonders of this area.   Josh and I did school in the morning while Mom and Dad scoped the area out.  They came back with unbelievable stories.  They said they went all the way around to the cut between Double-Breasted Cay and Maycock Cay and they found the huge area that almost dried at low tide.  They also saw a largish shark, some white-tailed tropic birds, and something better than anything - spotted eagle rays, eight of them!  They reported seeing two individually, and then a herd of six rays!!  I believed them completely, but I was really jealous.  They also talked about some good diving spots.  Still, as we were finishing up school, Dad went hunting and came back with a Spanish lobster.  Though the season is closed for both species of spiny lobster, there is no season for Spanish lobster.  They are always legal.

As soon as school was done and lunch was eaten, we wanted to get out and do something.  We decided to go out to the Elkhorn reef between Johnson Cay and Double-Breasted Cay.  The reef was nice, but the Elkhorn coral was mostly dead.  I went very far into the boneyard.  There were lots of big grunts and parrotfish and snappers in there, plus a big porcupine fish.  I hunted too, but for too short a time to get anything.  Dad got one schoolmaster.

We came home and changed into exploratory clothing (i.e. out of our wetsuits).  The two lemon sharks that everybody who comes here talks about showed up.  We are calling the bigger one Sharkey and the smaller one Sharkette.  The snapper Dad speared was pretty small, so we gave it to the sharks.  Sharkey slowly came to the surface, lifted his nose above the water, and ate our fish whole!  That was cool.  Mom won't let me get in to photograph them.  I can't believe it.  She's just scared of them.

Having the rest of the afternoon free, we explored a big sand spit at Maycock Cay that dries at low tide.  We saw a baby blacktip reef shark.  He was only about 1 ½ ft. long, but we saw him really close up because he was caught in a stream of water in the almost dried spit.  The tide was coming in, and you could actually see the water coming across the flats, only a few millimeters deep.  It was fast.  Out in the shallow water, a bone fishing boat from Ragged Island was taking some tourists fishing.  It was probably from the Bonefish Lodge.

On the way towards the channel between Maycock and Double-Breasted, we saw the spotted eagle rays!  First we sighted one, and then five others.  It was amazing, their grace as they flew like birds underwater.  It was so shallow in this area that their wing tips broke through the surface of the water.  They were just beautiful.  (I'm not a good enough writer to be able to describe it well enough in words.)  I had wanted to go search for them since Mom and Dad had seen them earlier, but we didn't need to.  They just showed up.  It was just awesome! 

We stopped at an oceanside beach that was right at the cut.  The three boys dinghy-trolled offshore, while Mom went shelling.  She got some sea beans.  We got nothing.  Too bad for us.

On Liberty, we hung out.  The big hogfish that the fishermen gave us was supper tonight.  We're all pooped.  Josh and I watched another episode of Bonanza.  Last night's was better.  Hasta mañana.

Thursday, 5/7/09
                                                                                Day 460

Today was great!  Since we did a good day of school yesterday and this place is so nice, Mom gave us the day off.  We took advantage of the opportunity.  For starters, Josh made pancakes.  I got to help.  They were good.

Then, by 9:00, we were in the dink to go hunting.  We went to the cut between Maycock and Double-Breasted.  First, we stopped at a coral head that was on a slope.  The base of the head was about 9-10ft. down at the start and there was a little bit more that was a good 20ft. down.  There was no game in that area, so we swam across the cut to some more coral.  On the way, we saw a pair of the magnificent spotted eagle rays, but they swam off fast.

This next reef was shaped like an "L" with the long side slightly curved.  This "L" was a string of little coral heads, ranging in depth from 5ft. to 20+ft. as it neared the cut.  There was an occasional large snapper and one hogfish, but they were too deep.  We ended up with no fish in the cooler.
L  We went to a beach instead.

When we came home, it was lunch time.  We ate the leftover stuffed shells.  Afterwards, we dropped Independence off the deck.  Then Josh and I sailed.  We scoped out a beach with some trails and chased a big stingray.  We named it Big Pappi after the big baseball player who goes by that name.  We had a lot of fun.  Josh has never sailed Independence much, so I helped him and taught him like a good older brother.

After taking a sail, I helped Ma clean shells.  I played some two-player Monopoly with Josh.  The evening ended on a downturn.  Dad was in minor pain from swimming and pulling himself up into the dink.  Then, Dad accidentally spilled a drink on Mom's computer, the one everything gets done on.  It's not working currently, but we called my Uncle Dave on the sat phone.  He's a computer dude, so he told us what to do.  We had a very small supper, just couscous and a little piece of meat.  Then I whopped Bro in our game of Monopoly, and he got mad.  Now we're going to bed.  Blech!
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