Friday, May 15, 2015

All You Need is Love...

Though Blackpoint Settlement was not one of the cays where there was much to offer in terms of good snorkelling or even fishing, we thoroughly enjoyed spending time here.  With a small population of less than 250 people, it was surely interesting to speak with some of the locals and get a sense of what being a part of the community is really like.  People here were extremely affable and always welcoming us with a smile and some small talk.  You could get a clear sense of the love the community showed one another and I found it to be very comforting to be a part of it.  Realizing that this is the way humans are meant to live, in a small communal society where happiness seems effortless and you could trust that you would have support when you needed it. This basic idea that happiness is found in simple things...friendship, love, health, family is something I'm learning over and over again in different ways throughout this experience.  

Even my relationship with Ashley has taught me lessons in closeness as our friendship has grown exponentially from living in our own little community.  It's an interesting viewpoint as it's not often that you spend innumerous amounts of time with anyone, even your spouse.  Time on a boat seems warped, as she's only been here for about 2 months now and it's felt like a lifetime.  I've learned from spending so much time alone with just the 3 of us, the invaluable lesson of communication.  In life, so many things are misunderstood and lost because we don't know how to communicate with one another, whether it's feelings of annoyance over something that person did that day, or simply expressing love and gratitude.  Communicating openly with the people around us is something we don't do as often as we all should.  Perhaps it's because doing this requires a little vulnerability, or perhaps it's because we are afraid to offend the other, but I'm learning through all of this just how important it is to say how you feel and not waste time with pleasantries with people who mean something to you.  If we all lived in this honest, open way, imagine how much easier life would be? It can be trying at times to share such a small space with someone and at other times, it can be incredibly rewarding as you develop a bond that not many people will ever have the privilege of understanding.  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Warderwick Wells

After spending a week relaxing at Staniel and enjoying the luxuries of having unlimited provisions and civilization, we moved on to Warderwick Wells.  Warderwick Wells is considered one of the gems of the Bahamas, as it is a marine preserve with a "no take" rule, forbidding anyone to fish or take anything off the islands.  On the first night of our arrival, as we were out in the cockpit enjoying the blanket of stars spread above us, we noticed schools of bioluminescent jellyfish floating by.  They weren't the typical phosphorescence we were used to seeing, they were actual glowing jellyfish with clear skin that you could see the it change from an electric blue to a lime green.  You could see the insides of jellyfish illuminate as it changed colors.  That was most definitely the highlight of the marine park.  After spending a day and 2 nights here, we decided to move on and not pay another $30 a night for a mooring ball as though the park was beautiful, we did not find it to be so extraordinary from the rest of the cays we have visited thus far. Next stop....Black Point Settlement.  

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Staniel Cay

After leaving Norman's Cay, we chose to go to Staniel Cay to re-provision so that we had fresh produce when going to Warderick Wells.  Since we wouldn't have an option to fish there, we were desperate to get some fresh meat and vegetables.  We anchored out off of Big Major's Cay.  Of all of the anchorages, this was the easiest approach as it was literally a matter of pulling up to the island.  This stop was a nice retreat and it was our first dose of civilization in 10 days.  Staniel Cay is one of the bigger communities in the Exumas, and it was great to be able to go to stores and see other lifeforms besides Frank and Ashley.  Upon arrival, we went straight to see the pigs.  We had heard about these infamous swimming pigs that farmers let loose on the beach.  It's a nice deal for the farmers because the pigs get fed by cruisers, and in turn, they don't have to pay for feed.  They were a rambunctious bunch and were unafraid to approach.  At one point, one of the pigs tried to climb aboard our dinghy and we had to back away so that its hooves wouldn't puncture our inflatable.  

We ended up staying here for close to a week, just relaxing and getting our stores back up.  We even visited the Staniel Cay yacht club and enjoyed the site of 20 or so nurse sharks getting fed right outside the club.  The guy feeding them would bang this stick on the dock, signifying to the sharks that food was on its way.  It was so cool seeing them gather and swarm the dock.  Frank and Ashley jumped in with them, but I couldn't because I didn't have my swimsuit on…:(  though it did allow me to take photos of this fanciful sight.  The club itself was a nice excursion because it provided us the opportunity to socialize and feel less like characters out of The Lord of the Flies. We bumped into our friends from St Augustine that had left about 2 years ago to go cruising and were actually on their way back to Oasis Boatyard.  Imagine my surprise when I hear, "Hey Yu!" coming from across the bar.  They were anchored out beside us and had noticed Moitessier, but didn't believe that it was us until Paula saw me climbing into our dinghy.  Small world…

We spent the rest of our days going out snorkeling and spearfishing on this really awesome reef.  We were even able to get Uni, which is my absolute favorite food!  Uni is basically the gonads of sea urchin.  It is an extremely expensive Japanese delicacy, and at most sushi places, you won't get away with paying less than $8 for 3 bite-fuls of this delightful treat.  Frank was able to spear a couple of small snapper during each hunt, and dinner was fresh fish nearly every evening.  We even visited Thunderball Grotto, which was an awesome cave dive.  You have to go during slack low tide as entering the cave requires ducking under water and popping up inside.   The currents here tend to be strong and you must be a strong swimmer if you're not entering during slack tide.  This was a really cool dive and I wish we got to spend more time alone as when we were there a huge group of tourists came and disrupted the peace in the cave.  Definitely a must see, with tons of fish that are not shy about getting fed.  Be careful of the red fire coral though as those were plentiful in the bottom of the cave.  The reef around Thunderball Grotto is also extremely gorgeous as well, and worth checking out. 

Ashley learning to dive
Thunderball Grotto...
Reef right outside Thunderball Grotto 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Norman's Cay

After our little debacle in West Bay, we decided to move Moitessier to right outside Old Fort Bay so that we would have an easier time leaving before sunrise from New Providence to make it to Allens Cay with enough daylight to spare.  Luckily for us, at that point, the winds had died down, so being unprotected was no longer a problem.  Waking up around 5am, we headed over to Allens Cay, it was pretty uneventful except when we entered the cut, we noticed that there was not a single place we could anchor.  The anchorage was narrow with shallow water on either side, and there were boats EVERYWHERE.  Turning around to get out was a little challenging as the current running through there was also pretty strong.   Since there were really not many other options to anchor our deep draft boat, we ended up anchoring outside on the west side of Highborne Cay, with a strong west wind.  This was incredibly nerve wracking as it was unsheltered, and the bow of the boat kept bashing into the water.  Since we didn't want to risk dragging into the lee shore, we decided an anchor watch was necessary through the night given our circumstances, we had no other choice but to stay wary and alert, in case we did drag.

After a restless night, we pulled anchor early in the morning to make our way further south to Norman's Cay which was the next place on our route.  We ended up getting stuck here for about 10 days, as a huge front came through, pummeling us with bad weather for a week straight.  It's a pretty remote little place with no stores or anything, except one bar/restaurant with overpriced fare, and so on our last couple of days, we were forced to be creative with our cans, as we had not prepared to be stuck for so long.  Those days were spent dreaming about all the foods that we missed….burgers, broccoli, foie gras, steak tartare, chocolate, arugula, mushrooms, ice cream.

Bad weather...
Ashley learning to play guitar

One of the highlights of Norman's Cay that you absolutely must see, is the sunken plane.   This was one of the drug running planes that had crashed during the height of cocaine smuggling in the 80's when the whole of Normans was under the control of the nefarious drug lord Carlos Lehder.  There is actually a reference to the island in the movie, Blow.    From above the water, you can see the hull of the plane, and it doesn't look like anything special, but the moment you enter the water, it becomes quite a magical site.  The plane is covered in a colorful array of coral, and there are fish in every nook and cranny.  I can't deny though that snorkeling in some parts of the plane creeped me out a little.  There was something very eerie about it, and I thoroughly enjoyed getting a little scared whenever I passed by the cockpit.  It felt a little haunted and at times, almost like something was watching me.  Irrational I know, but that still didn't keep my heart rate down.


Another highlight during our weather imprisonment was that we ended up hanging out with a group of young professionals from NY who had chartered a boat for a week and were passing through.  We had a little beach party on one of the tiny little islands, and since they weren't cruisers, they had plethora of goodies that we were dreaming about….fresh salsa, champagne, brie, and even pumpernickel!  What a treat it was to not only talk to some younger people but we got to indulge ourselves a little over a bonfire.  You'd think that we were some sort of primitive animal, being stuck on a boat with just the three of us for a week straight with nothing to do but sing songs, have dance parties, philosophize over the meaning of life, and elaborately plan meals out of the stores we had left.

Lil island we had the bonfire on

On one of our mornings there, I was awakened by hearing Frank go to Ashley, "We're about to get hit…"  Scrambling to get my clothes on, I thought for sure we were dragging into someone. When I got on deck, I noticed Frank at the bow of the boat fending off this big powerboat called "Daddy's Money" whose stern was bashing into our bowsprit.   Apparently this guy had somehow dragged into us or perhaps the current had swept him into us, but when we finally fended him off, all the captain's wife could manage to say was "Whoopsies!"  No apologies, nothing…just whoopsies….and then motored off.  Not even hailing us on the radio to apologize.  Some people really have nerve.   What I couldn't understand was, even through it all, why didn't the captain just drive the boat forward so that his stern wasn't repeatedly bashing into us?   Ashley and I had even thought of going to their boat in our dinghy afterward, and saying something like, "Hey, we forgive you for crashing into us this morning.   There wasn't too much damage done to our boat, but do you think you could give us all the fresh produce you have in your fridge as consolation.  We'll call it even then…"  But of course, we didn't have the audacity to do that, and left well enough alone, instead we just vented about it to each other throughout the day, getting more indignant with each re-telling of the "Whoopsies!"  Fortunately, they left the anchorage shortly after the incident, as our anger over the situation was starting to get the best of us.  I guess there is something to be said about acceptance, that sometimes in life, you are going to encounter people who lack wit as well as a fully developed brain.  You simply can't change the world, and making peace with that fact is all a part of growing up.