Tuesday, February 21, 2012


So here we are stuck in George Town waiting for our mail to come. It was sent priority over a week ago and it took 4 days to get from Jacksonville to Miami. Now it is in Miami getting "sorted?" Bad mistake--someone told us it took 2 weeks to get his mail. Live and learn!

In the meantime, we are enjoying beautiful water and weather and caught a slipper lobster the other day for dinner. We saw 2 huge lobsters yesterday but we were not able to get them-they had good holes.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A note on Pictures

Slowly but surely I am getting pictures uploaded. What I have done today is create new slideshows but the pictures will not be available all at once. Keep checking any slideshows from Highborne Cay on for new pictures.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Sailing the Exumas

Hello from George Town!! Burrrrr!!!!! It was 66o this morning when I woke up and the wind is still blowing although it has now clocked around to the east which is more protected. We got here Saturday afternoon.

The Exumas are the island chain on the eastern side of the Tongue of the Ocean.
When we left Fresh Creek we headed due east about 54 miles to Highborne Cay at the northern end of the chain. The wind sped us along and a lone dolphin joined us for a few minutes. We anchored at Highborne Cay just before sunset while we watched 2 seaplanes deliver guests to the live-aboard next to us. The next day we took the dingy to Allen’s Cay where there are Exumas iguanas. Boats from Nassau bring people there to see them and feed them grapes and the iguanas emerge from the bushes when they hear boat motors. We went over to a neighboring island which was ruled by a huge iguana. The water was crystal clear and the shallow reefs we snorkeled were beautiful.

Sailing is leisurely once in the Exumas. The islands are close together and for most of the way you usually have a choice of sailing on protected water either on the inside banks or the outside Exuma Sound. Over the next few days (they are all running together now) we Island hopped and snorkeled accompanied by Marion, Boyd and their dog, Zola on s/v Chinook Winds. From Highborn, the next stop was Norman’s Cay on Jan. 30. There is a harbor with beautiful water, a perfect little island, and the wreck of a cargo plane that was being delivered to the drug lord that used to live here during the ‘70s and 80’s. It is said that pilot ran out of gas and didn’t make it to the runway. Shortly after we anchored there was a rainstorm and the wind picked up but we still got a good snorkel at the airplane. It was windy and stormy all night but we were well sheltered in the harbor.

Next stop was the Exuma Land and Sea Park where we took a mooring ball for the night at Emerald Rock. We hiked up Boo Boo Hill and to the blow holes—and, of course did more snorkeling. Then on to Compass Cay where we spent a VERY rocky night causing us to move the boat the next day to a more sheltered part of the island. Marion wanted to see the Bubble Bath, which is a walk up a creek to a basin where the waves crash in and make a bunch of foam. While walking back we surprised an octopus who squirted a big bunch of ink.

Once we got out of the park we could fish again and look for lobster but all we have done is fish and not catch and the only lobsters we have seen were there because they had good holes. It used to be when looking for lobster you had to be wary of long-spined sea urchins and moray eels. The sea urchins disappeared for a while—a disease killed most of them but they are back now. A new impediment to lobstering is lionfish. They are everywhere and hang around holes in the reef where lobsters might live. They are not the least bit shy and do not move when you approach. I have come close to hitting one with an arm or leg before I knew it was there. Bill and I will come up, at some point, with the best way to spear and bring some lionfish up for dinner. They are good eating and my blackened seasoning would be great.

Staniel Cay was our next stop. This has become a very popular spot and many people were there for the Super Bowl Party at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club. Thunderball Grotto is a spectacular snorkel during low slack tide. This large cave, open at spots at the top, was a scene in the James Bond movie Thunderball. It is surrounded by coral and sponges and friendly fish inside and out. Inside sponges rule but it takes a camera flash to see the bright colors. We also found an interesting drift dive that I later discovered was called Blue Valley by the local dive shop. We just got out of our dingys and held onto the ropes as we drifted by soft coral, Nassau groupers and a large eagle ray. The dive ended at a shallow coral reef where we picked up a couple of conchs. The next snorkel was at a small reef near Fowl Cay where I found an octopus that posed for a picture. It suddenly disappeared and when I asked Bill if he knew where it went he replied that the octopus was hiding from the shark. Sure enough—I looked up to see a 6 foot reef shark—he was not very interested in us though, and just swam by. We did not tell Marion and Boyd until we were back at the boat eating conch salad.

Staniel Cay was the end of the road for Marion and Boyd since they have to be back in Sasketchtuan in April so they headed back to the park and we proceeded south stopping at Black Point to do laundry at one of the nicest Laundromats I’ve been to. Then it was on to Little Farmer’s Cay. The number of lionfish on the small scattered patch reefs there was quite remarkable. Often a dozen would be packed in and around one hole. The one lobster I saw there was not an option because it was surrounded by lionfish.

The winds had been light and from the south so there was not much sailing to be done. We motored between islands charging our batteries and didn’t even bother raising the sails for the trip from Farmers to Lee Stocking Island. It was a good opportunity, though, for making water with our R/O unit since we were now on the Exuma Sound side in deep blue clear ocean water. Still no fish! At Lee Stocking Island we got out the SCUBA gear and dove a beautiful reef just south of Adderly Cut then came on into the mooring balls field just off the CMRC research station. I was lucky to have spent a week working there about this time in 2003. Since then I have always had a piece of me there. The water colors are just incredibly beautiful. Bill wearies of me staring out and wistfully saying “beautiful water”.

I wanted to stay a couple of days at Lee Stocking Island but the wind was so favorable for the sail to George Town and the weather was predicted to be rather poor for the next few days. We glided down Exuma Sound at 8 kts. with no motors. So here we are anchored in front of the Chat n Chill bar, the gathering point for cruisers here. There are about 300 boats in the harbor right now and at night the anchor lights look like a city. Yesterday Bill and I played volleyball—haven’t done that in probably 30 years—we managed not to hurt ourselves. Thank goodness the sand is soft.

There are several things we will do while in George Town in preparation for the next part of our trip that will take us “off the beaten path” to the most southern part of the Bahamas. Internet is somewhat reasonable here so I will try to update everything before we continue.