Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Finally….A New Country!

We decided to stay an extra day in Mayaguana to get some rest as well as enjoy the spearfishing offered on the island.  Initially, we had planned to leave that night after a couple of hours of sleep and continue on to the Turks & Caicos, but after seeing the water quality (we dropped a quarter in 35 ft of water and were able to see it on the bottom from deck level), we couldn't resist exploring the reefs.  As well, our buddy boat, Sailboat Furminger has been having a bunch of mechanical problems lately, the most recent two being setting the engine room on fire while underway from Long Island to Crooked (a wire had shorted out and ignited their oil absorbent rag under the engine…see their site for more details), along with losing their throttle control cable also while underway from Crooked to Mayaguana, the day after the fire.  What had happened with the cable was that they had paid a marina back in Baltimore $4K for someone to install new control cables and a dual action control arm as their binnacle mounted controls had broken at that point.  Since they are new to the whole boating arena, they didn't notice that the mechanic had improperly routed the morse cables so that the throttle cable was sitting against their exhaust riser, which ended up melting and seizing the cable (you can't trust anyone!).  When Nico went to throttle back, he broke the control arm as well.  After they finally got anchored up later that evening, Frank was able to go over and jerry rig a simple system for them consisting of lines and pulleys so that they could again control their throttle from the helm.  The sea always manages to find the weaknesses in any system so it pays to be handy...

After a good night's rest, we spent the next morning hunting in some of the clearest waters we've seen so far.  Of course, the day's haul was stupendous, and we were able to spear some Slipper lobsters to boot.  Frank and I have been looking for these elusive Slippers now for many, many years (at this point, I'd say close to 10).  Ever since we've heard about these things, we have been hoping to spot one.  This time around, not only did we finally see them but we managed to catch 4, and they were absolutely delicious.  They are a lot like Spiny lobster in flavor and texture except a little sweeter.  They however don't hide in the same way Spiny lobsters do.  Normally when in search of Spiny lobster, we look under a rock or coral head, and they are usually just tucked up under there, sitting up, just staring at you, antennas waving around just waiting to be captured.  With Slipper lobsters we found that they usually cling on to the undersides of the rock/coral in a nook very well camouflaged, so when you're peaking into a hole, instead of looking down, you would look up and along the sides of the walls.  Though hunting them was slightly different than hunting Spiny lobster, preparing them was just as easy.  We simply steamed them and dipped it in melted butter.  In the same meal, we also prepared Stone crab, which were also just as delectable.  It was a real treat as crabs tend to be a little more rare.  I now know why they call them Stone crabs, as the shells on them are rock hard.  I lost one in a reef trying to spear it, with no luck as my spear wasn't strong enough to puncture the tough shell, and all it did was deflect off before the little critter ran away.  How frustrating!  Frank, with the better spear and skills, managed to spear one that Nico had spotted right between the eyes (as you can see from the photo). All in all, our brief stay in Mayaguana turned out to be very worthwhile, and I wish that our weather window wasn't so short so that we could've had more time to spend exploring this beautiful, remote island.  

They really look like slippers!
I love Mayaguana!!!
This poor crab didn't know what was coming….

After sharing our feast with our Nico and Lindsay, we took a nap and awoke at 11pm to continue on to the Turks.  With the winds at 10-15 knots on a close haul, we were able to have a beautiful night sail with a sky full of stars and a trail of phosphorescence in our wake.  Getting through Sandbore Channel proved only mildly challenging as the 10 miles of the shallow "channel" was sprinkled with coral heads, so visual piloting was absolutely necessary.  We are now anchored in Sapodilla Bay on Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos.  We will spend the next couple of days here awaiting another weather window to open up so that we can take our next passage safely.  I'm not sure what we're going to do in terms of fun activities as spearfishing is highly forbidden here and lobster season is over.  I'm sure we will find something…

Beach that we are anchored in front of….
Sunrise underway….
Chalk Sound, Providenciales

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