Throwback Thursday: The Still Lost City of Atlantis

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

It’s funny what a year can do to change one’s perspective.  The first time we arrived in the Bahamas in 2013 we had been a little underwhelmed by the islands that awaited us.  Expecting that every time we stepped off our dinghy we’d be greeted with the picture perfect resorts that you always find in ads, we quickly found out that the cruisers versions was filled with lots of dusty roads, low lying shrubs, and run down buildings.

Sure those iconic areas existed, if you wanted to pay for them, but that was not in our budget and we continued to lament, for awhile, that our life did not always resemble the cover of a Conde Nast magazine. Here’s what we learned in the one year we were away from the Bahamas though.  The inhabitants of these islands are some of the warmest and most welcoming that you’ll ever meet in your life.  Just because we weren’t strolling through perfectly manicured grounds with towering palm trees doesn’t mean that these islands can’t hold a certain kind of charm.  And most importantly, these waters really are the best you’ll come across in the western hemisphere.

So it was with a bit of sadness on our second visit through the Bahamas that we had to rush through them due to a schedule and that a good chunk of that time was spent in bad weather. After our few great days in Warderick Wells we were feeling the sand running out of our timer before our Atlantic crossing and realized we needed to get to Florida asap.  Making one long jump we left from there and sailed 36 hours directly to Bimini to situate ourselves for a Gulf crossing as soon as the weather permitted.

It may have seemed at the time like the weather was working against us once more by keeping us in Bimini a few days longer than we intended, but it’s one of the best things that could have happened.  One last chance to get as much as we could from a country we didn’t realize how much we loved until we made it back a second time.  With those few days we watched the waves roll in to Radio Beach and even had a chance to snorkel the famous Bimini road.  Just a few more memories to last a lifetime and make us remember what a special place we had originally cast aside.

You can find the original post here.

Thursday May 8, 2014, 

NW Bimini

Everyone has heard of the lost city of Atlantis, right? A highly developed society constructed  in script by Plato that supposedly sunk into the sea? Did you know that right here in Bimini Bahamas, they claim to have remains of this lost city? Or at least, the road leading to it. That’s right, situated on the NW side of the island just off Paradise Point is the Bimini road, an underwater rock formation that is so precisely laid out that it is claimed to have once been a man made road or wall, and is now currently sitting 15 or so feet below the water’s surface.

When we were here just a month ago I had desperately wanted to dive (snorkel) this site, but it was just waaaay more than our dinghy would have been able to handle, about five miles each way from where we had been sitting all the way up the channel inside. Since we had no reason to rush ourselves in this morning, in fact, we needed to wait for an incoming tide, we decided to time our departure from the anchorage in the afternoon which meant we had the whole morning to find and explore the Bimini Road. After our morning coffee to fully wake ourselves up, we checked the spot where I had plugged the coordinates in our chart plotter and with the destined spot now in mind, we hopped in the dinghy and sped off at all our little Mercury 3.3 could give us. Our guidebook along with the coordinates, also stated there was a buoy marking the site and you could not miss it. Only…we could. As far as we could see on the horizon, the only buoys that seemed to be littering our view were bright orange ones that were marking off construction zones for a new pier that is being installed.

At this point we realized that we should have put the coordinates into our little hand held GPS and brought it with us, but now, just like in that scene at the beginning of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, although we could still see the boat, we deemed that we’d ‘Already gone too far’ and didn’t want to head back to get it. The next best option was to have Matt stick his goggled head underwater each time we came up to a dark patch in the water only to find out that each of these dark patches was a bed of eel grass. There were a few rocks out in the water that were supposed to be marking the start, or end, or side, or some relation to the road, so we kept focusing on that area to no avail. Then we realized what we’d really been wanting to do all along. Catch some dinner at the end of our pole spear.

Four weeks in the Bahamas so far and we’d never been out for one spear fishing adventure. This was going to be our last opportunity, and if we couldn’t swim the underwater road to a mythological city, well damn it, we still weren’t going to go home empty handed. Based on the kind of below the surface life we found back at Emerald Rock in Warderick Wells, the rocks we had been skirting around all morning seemed like the perfect place to gouge things. Dropping the anchor to the dinghy in a sandy spot to the side we fell back in the water and were instantly greeted with bright purple fan coral and a small shelf of rock hiding glass eyed snappers below. I thought Matt would have to work at his rusty skills for awhile since it’s been over a year since he’s last stabbed anything, but on his third attempt he was already swimming to the surface with a punctured fish on his spear. Score! That was half a dinner right there, we just needed a few more to fill our plates up for a few nights.

Rounding all angles of the large rock now we first scanned to see what was available to eat before just shooting anything that moved. There were a lot of fish we hadn’t seen in quite some time, and a few new ones we couldn’t identify as well. Continuing around the edges we’d kick down the 5-6 feet below us to look in all nooks and I kept a close eye out for any lobster. We didn’t see any of those, but did come across something much much better. At the east side of the rock was a large tunnel that wasn’t visible above water, but once you got down a few feet you could see that it let from one side of the rock right out to the other. Except, you couldn’t quite see it clearly due to all the fish swaying back and forth in there with the tide. It was literally a wall of fish with a few specs of light filtering through here and there. Matt was completely ready to go in and do a little exploring, but my nerves got the best of me and made it apparent to him I would be waiting outside. He decided to forgo it if I wasn’t going along, we wanted to make sure to always have an eye on each other, and took the long way around instead.

Getting from one side to the other was a little tricky due to the shallowness of the coral and rock in some areas. We had to swim over rugged edges of rock that were mere inches away from our belly, all the while fighting against the crests of waves that were building up due to the shallow waters. Doing a circumnavigation of the rock we ended up on the south side for the best fishing, where a group of yellow fish that we can’t remember their name but ate all the time last year were hanging out. 15 more minutes in that spot and we had two more fish in the dinghy, ready to make their way to the dinner table that night.

Even though that spot had been treating us well we settled on a change of scenery and snorkeled past the dinghy to the next rock where we didn’t see many good fishing opportunities, but we did see parts of something that looked suspiciously like an underwater rock formation. The beginning of the Bimini Road perhaps? Hmmmm….I’m going to say yes just so I can say that we actually did snorkel it. Since we had lost sight of the rest of the road and had also lost sight of any good fishing, we moved ourselves and the dinghy to the northernmost rock of the formation. Wow. All I can say about this rock is wow. Best snorkeling we’ve seen in the Bahamas yet this year. Not only was there colorful coral abound, but there were underwater bays full of hundreds and hundreds of fish! We could have had enough fish to last us a year by staying in this spot had two unfavorable things not happened. The first is that the elastic band on our pull spear kept breaking. Matt was able to fix it two times, luckily since one of those time brought in another fish for us to eat, but after that it was deemed unusable for the rest of the day. The other thing was the biggest barracuda I’ve ever seen, and it would not leave our eyesight. It’s one thing just to swim with them, but when we have a bloody fish between us and them, well, let’s just say we don’t want to find out in person how they handle that.

I can’t say we were too disappointed with our day though. Great snorkeling, great fish gazing and spearing, and swimming the Bimini Road (yup, I’m calling it!). Once we had the fish on deck and cleaned into edible fillets, still need to hone that skill a little, we upped anchor to make our way out of the swells that were building and into the safety of the harbor where we were greeted with a calm anchorage and internet access. For dinner we enjoyed a breathtaking sunset and fish tacos where I decided that it was a special enough occasion to pull out my second to last Red Stripe (yup, part of the 24 pk I bought in Jamaica last May). Our time in the Bahamas now officially feels as if it’s at an end, we’ll probably be leaving on the next available weather window although it’s probably still a few days out. I can’t believe how fast it’s already gone by. Last time we were counting down the days until we could get out, now we’re savoring each day that we still have here.

Bimini sunset

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Throwback Thursday: Exuma Land & Sea Park

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

Once all the fun of the Family Regatta was finished in George Town, it was already time for us to begin our trek, slowly, back to the US.  We’d come down as far as we had time for, and with an Atlantic crossing still pending this season, we had to set our sights on getting back to Florida.  It wasn’t a race to the finish line though, and our plan was to hit a few islands of the Exumas we had missed the previous year.

Just a short jump up from George Town was Lee Stocking Island.  Known for it’s great reefs full of fish, we were extremely excited to get to an area where we could don our snorkeling gear to actually glimpse a few fish, but the few days we were there had us rained out, and even pinned against a lee shore with 42 knot winds for one afternoon.

Before you can begin to feel too bad for us though, we just had to sneak in one more visit to Staniel Cay and Big Majors.  I mean, how can you pass by attractions like the Thunderball Grotto and swimming pigs and not make a stop there?  We also had the weather on our side once more and spent a beautiful few days there before it was once again time to move ourselves a little further north.

Our final stop in the Exumas was Warderick Wells, one place we had sadly skipped the year before and knew we couldn’t do a second time.

You can find the original post here.

Monday May 5, 2014

Exuma Land & Sea Park

Keeping as true to my Exuma wish list as possible, since we’ve now already skipped the sunken sculptures at Musha Cay, when Matt asked what our next stop was, I told him ‘Warderick Wells!’.  This is one spot I’m actually very sad we missed out on last year, and as soon as we pulled into the anchorage and then brought the dinghy out by the park headquarters, Matt was as well.  This place is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l!  As well it should be, too.  That’s because Warderick Wells is part of the Exuma Land & Sea Park, a 22 mile stretch of sea and cays that are protected under the Bahamas National Trust where they like to promote the saying ‘Take only photos, leave only footprints’.  Meaning you take no fish, plants, flowers, ect, and do not leave any trash behind.  It’s a great concept and the island has definitely benefited from it.

Warderick Wells hosts two big claims to fame among the cays that make up the Land & Sea park.  Not only does it contain the park headquarters (ok, that’s not actually one of them), but it has a stunning horseshoe anchorage filled with mooring balls to preserve the seabed below, and just a few hundred meters away from this is Boo Boo Hill.  The lore of Boo Boo Hill is that many years ago, a schooner sank off the shores of Warderick Wells on a stormy night and that every soul on board perished.  They still like to haunt the area though, and legend has it that if you climb the crest of the hill at the bloom of a full moon, you can hear the voices of the lost souls singing hymns.  We weren’t up for night hiking, and I don’t think we were even anywhere near a full moon, but a hike up the hill sounded fun enough.

anchorage at Warderick Wells

The term hike should be used very lightly though, and after a few minute uphill climb in which I never even had the chance to become short of breath, we were at the top.  The views up there were spectacular, but that wasn’t the only thing we had come to behold.  For you see, there’s been a tradition going on here between cruisers for quite a few years now.  Keeping with the theme of the natural reserve, cruisers have been leaving their mark at the top of this hill in the form of driftwood with their boat name painted or burned into it.  We didn’t have anything to leave as a memento, nor were we planning to, but the stunning views we were afforded at the top was well worth the trip in.  Through the mass of driftwood we tried to search out friends that we knew left pieces behind, but the crowd of 2014 was exceedingly strong and we would have had to do a lot of digging to unearth anything older.

Boo Boo Hill, Warderick Wells

Jessica on top of Boo Boo Hill

looking down Boo Boo Hill

 There was one sight we spotted at the top of Boo Boo Hill that we weren’t expecting too see but extremely happy we did.  Sitting on a mooring ball was s/v Laho, belonging to our friends Kim and Jereme that we hadn’t seen or talked to after spending a night out in the Bahama Banks, something we still hope they don’t hold against us.  (‘Oh, this uncontrollably rolly anchorage out in the middle of nowhere?  We’ll be fiiiiine.’)  Getting back in the dinghy we planned on doing a ride-by stalking to see if anyone was aboard, whilst trying to pretend that we were just checking out the mooring field.  Coming up on Laho we saw that in was in fact their boat, but it didn’t appear as if anyone was home.  There were however a group of dinghies gathered in the center of the anchorage where low tide had provided a couple of lavish sandbars that would be the perfect spot to enjoy a sundowner, and we cut the dinghy over to see if they were among the crowd.

The crowd however, completely dispersed as we came up on it, and we think we saw Kim, Jereme, and Oliver riding off in a direction back toward their boat.  Not wanting to actually stalk them by immediately turning ourselves back around, we landed the dinghy at the sandbar and walked around for a few minutes before trying Laho a second time, where we were eagerly invited aboard and offered cold beers while the four of us filled each other in on lost time.  With both boats being stuck for at least one more day due to a front coming through, I made sure that Kim didn’t mind me stopping back over once more so that I could return her favorite hair clip that I borrowed during our casino night and forgot to give back in the excitement of Jereme falling out of our dinghy on the way back to the boats.  That was just a cover story though.  What I was really after was Photoshop lessons so my photos can begin to look anywhere near as amazing as hers.*

Matt on sand bar

Warderick Wells at low tide

 The promised storm did come howling through in the middle of the night, waking us up at 2 am while 35-40 knot winds straightened out all our anchor chain and left Matt in the cabin to sleep in case any quick action needed to be taken.  None did, and 30 minutes later everything calmed back down to the peaceful 15-20 knots we’re used to.  What the storm did leave in it’s wake though were larger than normal seas on the Banks side of the island, the one we were exposed to.  We have not been doing well so far this year in trying to hide ourselves from west winds, and the result has been us rocking back and forth, familiar to those dreaded swells we experienced back in Grand Cayman.  This now being our second day of experiencing them, I could not handle it anymore.  Calling up Kim on the VHF, I begged her to let me take refuge on Laho for a few hours. I think the phrase ‘I’m going to burn this boat down’ was starting to make it’s way back into my vocabulary.

Knowing that I couldn’t show up empty handed again, I made a quick batch of Johnny Bread after following a recipe on my friend Brittany’s blog.  For being a first time attempt I think it came out pretty good, albeit a little more burned than I would have liked, but coupled with a side of strawberry jam I figured it was a very presentable gift for my gracious host, who in turn, handed me a cold Bud Light upon my arrival.  You gotta love how these trades work on the high seas.  Plus all the valuable lessons and tools I picked up from Kim to use on my CS6, well, let’s just say I think I ended up in the black for the day.  (Or week)

storms over Warderick Wells

storms over Warderick Wells

Georgie watching fish

Today we got off the boat to do a little more exploration of the island in the form of snorkeling and hiking.  There are a few patches of coral marked off in the anchorage we’re in at Emerald Bay, and taking the dinghy over we dropped hook in sandy patches next to the reefs and devoured every colorful fish and piece of brain coral we could take in.  I’ll be honest, it didn’t compare to the diving we did in the Ragged Islands last year, but it was our first chance to see anything underwater this year and we were soaking it all in.  Once we had finished on the three pieced of coral in the bay we took to diving Emerald Rock itself and found much more life there.  Matt spent tons of time in the water sneaking into every little crevice he could find, but the 5 ft barracuda that kept eyeing me, even though I knew it wouldn’t do anything, sent be back to the dinghy to soak up some sun and get warm instead.

After lunch we took to the shore and let Georgie join us.  We’ve decided that even though she loathes dinghy rides, we want to get her off the boat when possible so she can add a few new sights and smells to her world.  As soon as she was dropped off on the beach she began rolling around in the sand and chasing Matt as he ran near the waters edge.  In short, she was acting kind of like…a dog.  We were even able to get her to walk on her leash and we hiked up one of the trails to some ruins, and as long as one of us was in the front leading the way, she was completely content to follow.  It wasn’t until we were back on the beach that we remembered all the signs posted asking you not to bring your pets on the trails and to keep them on the beaches.  Ohhh, right.  She is a ‘pet’.  I forgot.  Cats walking on leashes tend to do that to you.

beach at Warderick Wells

Davis Plantation Trail marker

Matt walking Georgie

Jessica at Warderick Wells

We could have spent all afternoon resting on that beach, and Matt had even picked out a little cove where he would love to anchor Serendipity for a month straight if we had the time, but true to the Bahamian nature we’ve been experiencing so far this year, the sun was quickly overtaken by approaching clouds and sending us running back to the boat to close all the hatches before something really nasty blew in.  With two and a half days here though, I think we still managed to get the full experience in. Verdict of Warderick Wells:  Exquisitely beautiful and well worth the stop.

5.4.14 (14)

 *Now that we’re back in Miami we are hunting down deals for me to buy a new DSLR body so I can stop shooting with my Cyber Shot.  I am so over the moon about the prospect of being able to shoot great photos again.  Thank you mom for the gift, you’re the best!!

 

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Throwback Thursday: Perfection to Sob Stories – All in a Day’s Cruising

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

After spending a whole week in Bimini, due to strong winds that kept us from traveling across the banks, we did finally make a break for it with our friends on Laho in tow.  The entire fleet that was trying to make it east that day was beating into the wind, and when our two boats stopped to anchor in the middle of the banks for the night, we were met with once incredibly bouncy night on the hook.

Even though Kim and Jereme had originally been planning to head to the south Berries with us, we ended up parting ways in the morning where they made a more comfortable change of direction to the north and we continued our slog SE. After a few more passages of beating and dodging storms we eventually passed through Nassau and made our way to the Exumas.

Making a getaway from the north end of the chain, we took the cut at Highbourne Cay and out into Exuma sound to get ourselves to Georgetown as quickly as possible.  Why the rush you might ask?  Not only was the Family Regatta happening here, but it was also a chance to meet up with our good cruising friends Kim and Scott again after not having seen them for 18 months.

Over the next few days we enjoyed the peace of a comfortable anchorage, time spent with good friends, and activities galore each night on shore. Even with all this perfection surrounding us, one can always find a reason to complain about something.  And here is my little sob story of our time there.

You can find the original post here.

Thursday April 24, 2014

Family Regatta - Georgetown

This morning was, in my opinion, the perfection of Bahamian cruising. Getting up just after 8 am, I found a shady spot in the cockpit where the breeze was blowing just a little bit, but only enough to be refreshing and bring around a whiff of the fresh air around you. Nestled next to me was a hot cup of Michigan sweet cherry coffee, and sitting on my lap was my computer, where work was speedily getting done as I took in the beautiful surroundings sprawled out in front of me. Then a gun went off, and as I sat in my perfect little cruisers throne, a slew of 18 ft Bahamian sloops began to glide past me to begin the races for this day’s regatta. I know it might be different than what other people’s, or especially cruisers dreams are made of (Get off the computer!, you’re probably telling me), but to me, it was a little slice of heaven.

Yesterday I can’t say we did much, except watch the races from our boat. Apparently when we first landed on Tuesday afternoon we had been right in the middle of the race track and ended up moving inside Kidd’s Cove a little more, which is fine by both of us because now we have a much shorter dinghy ride to town. I tried my hand at making bread again, and with a little tweaking I’m finding out that I’m getting better with each loaf. Then something that proves I have the best husband in the world happened. He bought us one week of internet services here through Bahamas Wii Max. Unlimited, 24 hours on the boat. I tried to promise him when we were leaving Florida that I wouldn’t be as crazy as I was last year about trying to find an internet signal, and as long as I could have at least two hours of internet time every seven days, I would be ok.  Having gotten one hour inside the McDonald’s in Nassau and not bringing it up again, I think I’ve held my part up pretty well.

Terrible rain storms have been passing through on and off since yesterday, so there wasn’t much occasion to get off the boat anyway.  I was prodded by Drena to make a trip over to Anthyllide in the late afternoon to watch the class-A regatta, but assuming I was going to spend the next three days in a frenzy of regatta and cruiser related activities, I declined stating that I needed one full night of internet time and then I’d be game for anything after that.  I really should have gone over since today has just been spent on the boat, watching the clouds pass over and playing a game to see how long we could keep the hatches open between rounds of rain to let fresh air in the boat.

Just before lunch today we did stop by Anthyllide to say hi and see what we had missed the previous day.  Scott and Kim mentioned that for this evening’s class-A races they’d be tagging along in their dinghy to get photos, watching from the beginning line as the sloops raised anchor and sail, and at the time we agreed to tag along behind them.  But come five o’clock, the rain clouds were looming and I was in a foul mood.  Not just because I thought it might rain, but because I had spent the morning looking at Scott and Kim’s gorgeous photos of the races so far, and completely bummed out that I would no longer be able to take photos like that.  And not just because my photo skills aren’t as up to par as Scott’s.  Seriously, you should see his straight out of the camera shots.  No, as soon as we left Bimini I went to turn on my ‘good’ camera, my Sony NEX-5N, only to find out it wouldn’t turn on.  I thought the battery was dead and spent the next few hours charging it.  That night it still wouldn’t turn on, or the next day, or the next day.  Finally when I went to inspect it further I found out that it is not an issue with the battery, but with the body.  It gives an error message of ‘Camera is overheating, needs to cool’, gives a few strange clicking noises, and then goes black.  I don’t know how I did it, but it appears as if my 14 month old camera is toast.  All I’m left with now is my Sony Cyber Shot.  It took about five days for it to sink in, but tonight I finally broke down that I’m going to have to shoot Europe in JPEG with minimal settings.  Even Photoshop won’t be able to fix everything that made my NEX-5 so great.

Anyway, enough with my sob story about my camera.  I will still leave you with what mediocre photos I have been able to take of the past two days of races with my Cyber Shot. (Or at least I think they are, compared to my other photos)

 

Shots from Wednesday’s Races

Georgetown Family Regatta

Georgetown Family Regatta

class C regatta

sunset over Georgetown Regatta

Georgetown Regatta

 

My Perfect Morning

Kidd's Cove - Georgetown

regatta passing through Kidd's Cove

Shots from Thursday’s Races

Georgetown Family Regatta

boat's racing through Kidd's Cove

 Sunset at Kidd’s Cove

sunset over Gorgetown

Georgie on deck

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Throwback Thursday: La-Ho!

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

We knew we would be leaving Fort Lauderdale shortly and most likely not visiting again for a very long time.  This meant a night of sad good byes with the good friends we had made during our time there.  One part of cruising that I never enjoy.

When we thought we were ready to up anchor and become Bahamas bound, we found out that we’d be stuck at anchor for at least one more day when our running lights wouldn’t come on and we came to the realization this would be a much easier fix in the US than in the islands.  Plus, we didn’t want to be out in the dark until that fix could be made. The next night though, the anchor was properly up and we were on our way out of the US. It was a long and hard fight this time across the Gulf Stream, which was running very wide and a good speed, which drastically diminished our pointing and speed.

After a much longer passage than we’d anticipated, we pulled into Bimini with enough time to still check ourselves in and make our way to the beach for a little relaxing.  Plus an extra bonus for us, we had new friends, Kim and Jereme of Lahowind, that had arrived the same day we did!

You can find the original post here.

Tuesday April 8, 2014

Radio Beach, Bimini, Bahamas

As if it wasn’t enough for our engine to die on us yesterday just as we were entering the channel to Bimini, air in the fuel line we think, we were trouble shooting the engine after dropping anchor and found out that the alternator bracket we’d just had made in Guatemala in December had a crack in it. Which meant Serendipity was not moving an inch until we had that fixed. We assumed that with Bimini being the third largest settlement in the Bahamas that there would be a welder around, and the number one goal was to find them and see what they could do for us. Heading to the beautiful Radio Beach that I scouted yesterday after getting us checked in was a close second.

Just like when I had gone to check us in yesterday, the dinghy ride to town was about 20 minutes. Still, I will say, the free wifi we’re picking up from Resort World Bimini which we’re anchored in front of, well worth the extra time. It took just a little bit of asking around once we were in town, but one name kept popping up for welders, and that was Rudy. The only problem was, finding him. Everyone knew someone to ask about where he might be, but no one actually knew where he resided. After asking every other person on the road, we were about to just give up and hit the beach but decided to ask one last group of people that were enjoying a cold drink outside of CJ’s Deli. It turns out that one of the guys not only knew where to find Rudy, but was a cab driver that would take us there! Finally it seemed that a little bit of luck was on our side. Until we realized that we’d left all our cash back on the boat. Apologizing to the man, we told him that we’d be back in about an hour if he was still around, after running to the boat to get money and coming back.

A friendly Bahamian gave us a ride to the dinghy dock on the back of his golf cart, and when we mentioned that we had been looking for Rudy, told us that he was just up the street a little bit further from where he was dropping us off. Hmmmm, if we knew where to find him, we wouldn’t need to spend the money on a taxi anymore. Then while grabbing money back at the ‘Dip we had another ah-ha moment. Instead of driving the dinghy all the way back toward town and wasting fuel, why not just tie up at the docks at Resort World Bimini and walk the rest of the way in? Getting permission to land there, as well as a description of Rudy’s place from the Harbor Master, we were off on foot. Only to find out, 20 minutes later, that what we should have realized that if the dingy ride was long, walking that distance was going to feel much longer.

It was just as we came up to Rudy’s that we vowed never to do that one again. We were able to get right in to see our new welding friend since the cab driver back at CJ’s had phoned him to let him know we were all to be on our way shortly. Taking the bracket out of our hands, he scruntinized it for a few moments before saying that he could help us out and hopefully make it stronger than it was in the first place. The whole thing only took about 15 minutes while we waited, off to the side of course so that we weren’t blinded by the welding. It’s kind of funny because Matt made sure to drill into my head not to look anywhere in that vicinity while the welding was happening unless I would like to blind myself. So I settled on a group of kids playing in a nearby field while the work was being done just off to my side. But I could still catch just a little bit of it out of my periferals. Suddenly my eye began burning and I silently cursed to myself thinking I’d just done permanent damage, and how am I going to explain this to Matt after he’d just explicitly told me not to look anywhere near there? Turns out it was only a beat of sweat that had rolled down my brow and into my eye, but for a minute there I thought I was going to have to explain the biggest let down ever.

Back on the streets we had a (hopefully) stronger than new bracket and were ready to spend a few hours relaxing at one of the most gorgeous beaches I’ve ever seen. Sprawling out a blanket in the shade of one of the few trees there, I could barley keep myself still for 90 seconds before I was up and running around, sprinting into the waves like a little kid. There were some big breakers rolling in and I wouldn’t let myself get fully submerged in them, lest I be swept away, so I just played in the tide and let the waves crash over my legs.

Having one more goal in mind for the day, I set off down the beach alone. It turns out that we happened to arrive to Bimini the same time as another young cruising couple, and the two of us have been trying to meet up for months now. Kim and Jereme of s/v Laho and Lahowind are brand spanking new to cruising, but Kim and I have been conversing through Facebook ever since last summer. Back when we were in Mexico and waiting for a weather window, I kept hoping that we’d make it to Key West right when they were heading that way from Naples, and even though I thought we were going to be the ones held up by bad weather, it turns out they were held up by a never ending list of boat projects and didn’t make it to the keys until after we got to Ft. Lauderdale. I thought we’d missed our chance to ever meet up and possibly do some buddy boating, but the fates smiled on us and led both of us to the Bahamas right at the same time.

I had mentioned to Kim this morning that after some errand running around town, Matt and I would be hitting the beach and we hoped to meet up with them there. Every time I saw a new face arrive I’d quickly sprint down the beach hoping it was our new friends, but each time I’d find out that whomever had just wandered onto the beach, did not even come close to fitting the description of a young cruiser. We hung around for a little bit longer and enjoyed the turf, but since we’d had such a late start due to fixing our engine issues, it was already late afternoon. Taking the long way out (while making sure to avoid the cab driver that never did end up getting our fare), I showed Matt this cool shipwreck on the beach that, from the front, reminded me of a beached whale. This path took us right out to the entrance of the channel, and we watched the current rip through there, shuddering at what might have happened yesterday had we not been able to start the engine again.

beach at Bimini

beach blanket

walking through surf

strolling on beach

rocks on Bimini beach

shipwreck on Bimini

shipwreck on Bimini

 Wandering back through town and towards the dingy dock we came across Brown’s marina where I knew Laho was staying. Luckily they were the closest boat to the road, and as I peeked my head through the chain link fence, I saw movement in the cockpit. “La-ho!!!” I yelled out, hoping to get their attention since this marina has a locked gate and we couldn’t just stroll right in. It was Jereme that heard my call and just a moment later Kim poked her head out too, while the two of us frantically waved at each other as if to say “We finally caught up with each other!!”. Moments later they were at the gate to let us in and walk us over to Laho.

Once on their boat we had the chance to meet their cute little poodle, Oliver, and instantly went into boat talk, poking around at the different electronics, and Matt instantly falling into a spiel about his latest research on all the gadgets they owned.  Even though all four of us were sitting in the cockpit, the boys kept talking shop while Kim and I would try to interject little bits about actually traveling over their comments on radios and antennas.  Unfortunately we didn’t get in as much fun girly talk as we hoped while the boys were prattling on since a storm looked like it was coming our way and Matt and I still had a long walk back to Serendipity.  It sounds like we’ll all be here a few more days, so we’ll have to make sure we get together again, this time where Kim and I can run off and talk travel and photography.  Hopefully over a glass of wine.

s/v Laho

Kim & Jerme

Matt & Oliver

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Throwback Thursday: I am a Nice Shark, Not a Mindless Eating Machine

Now that we’re sitting in Indiantown Marina and it’s obvious that we’re going to be here for quite a long time while we fix up Daze Off to sail, I don’t want to bore you with stories that are only related to boat work (but don’t worry, they’re still coming).   I know that’s what some of you crave, but if you’re like me, you also need a little fun in there.  A little travel and a little adventure.

So for the foreseeable future while we are doing nothing much more than boat work I will be adding a Throwback Thursday post in every week as well.  Cataloging our trip so far, giving you that needed sense of travel and adventure, and for those of you that haven’t started with us from the beginning, catch you up on some of the most important or memorable parts of our travels.

This week still finds us traveling the Bahamas with our good friends Brian and Stephanie on s/v Rode Trip.  After a few very enjoyable weeks in Long Island Bahamas the 4 of us decided to trek to the lesser traveled island group of the Jumentos and Ragged Islands.  Very private, beautiful, and filled with some of the best coral and fishing we’ve come across in our travels.

Having visited three islands in the chain already we were indecisive of where to stop next but found ourselves tucked into the beautiful little treasure that is known as Double Breasted Cay.  Surrounded by the clearest and most tantalizing waters we’ve ever seen, we found out after our first afternoon there that it would be wise to keep out of them.  We were sharing our anchorage with a group of sharks.

You can find the original post here.  To see the post on Picturesque Double Breasted Cay, with more photos of this beautiful anchorage, click here.

Friday April 12, 2013

4.12.13

Even though Buena Vista Cay had been previously described to us as ‘not to miss’, we decided the empty coral heads and lack of challenging walking trails were not enough to keep us there and we hauled anchor once more. Slowly making our way down to Ragged Island and the only settlement of Duncan Town, we thought we’d stop at one more cay on our way since we were in no real rush. Our biggest goal in mind now was not which island held the prettiest beach or a good pit for bonfires, but one that would shelter us from the terrible swells that would constantly rock our boats back and forth all day and all night. One of the days we had been on the radio hailing each other while traveling, we were overheard by another cruising boat a little further south that mentioned they were at Double Breasted Cay along with a few other boats and the swells were not bad there. This boat was now headed toward Hog Cay which is right next to Ragged Island, and we were invited to a beach get together should we decide to continue on the extra 15 miles south. Since we chose to visit the Jumentos and Raggeds mostly for their seclusion, a harbor full of other boats did not sound tempting so we planned to anchor that night at Racoon Cay which is the island just north of Double Breasted. It had a large cove that hooked around and we were sure the swells could not wrap around it and reach us. (I know this sounds like a geography lesson, but these islands are literally within 3-4 miles of each other and I feel the odd need to list them all)

Stephanie had listened to the weather on their SSB that morning, and according to weather guru Chris Parker, winds were supposed to be 17-20 knots out of the east. Coasting under the protection of Buena Vista Cay still (see, there I go again) we did see those light winds, but once out of the shelter, they settled into the 20-25 knots that we had been experiencing all week. This was fine as we were used to it and I still liked the speed that would carry us to our next destination as soon as possible. I should quickly mention here that one of the reasons we also decided on Raccoon Cay was that the harbor was easily accessible from the banks, and since we hadn’t broken our ‘no engine’ streak yet, we didn’t want to mess with all the necessary tacking to get into the impossibly hidden harbor for Double Breasted. Or at least, that’s how it looks on a map when you know it will require at least 18 turns and sail trims to get into it. On our way to our intended anchorage for the night the winds not only picked up to the 25-30 range, but began shifting so that we were pointing further and further into it. Not only did this make it harder to sail, but it also looked as if our spot we had picked out at Raccoon was not looking as protected as we thought it would. With a quick talk on the radio on the radio to Rode Trip we decided that even though it would be tricky to get to, Double Breasted probably would be the best place for us.

Matt and I had already been having issues at this point while sailing where our self tailing winch that was no longer self tailing had gotten the line wrapped in it to the point we had to tighten the line to another source, take apart the winch, free the line, and put it all back together. I was getting to the point that I was happy with our no engine streak, we proved that we could get through multiple days of sailing under sail power alone, but I was ready for it to end if necessary. Stubborn Matt on the other hand was ready to make those 18 tacks if necessary since, as he claimed, ‘What does it matter if it takes an extra hour?, We don’t have any place we need to be.’. Mmmm hmmm. So while we were on tack #4 avoiding a 3 ft sandbar just to our boat north and I accidentally let the line for the traveler slip out of my hand where it flew through the cleat and up on the deck causing the boom to now be permanently stuck on the port side until the line could be retrieved and fed through again (something I tried to do, but was quickly yelled at to get back in the cockpit even though I was on the high side), we decided to stop fighting fate or nature or whatever was causing our bad luck, and turn the engine on after 100 miles and three anchorages without it. The streak was now over.

I was even happier not to be messing with sails once the wind began gusting into the mid 30′s. Even though the mood was a little tense I couldn’t help but look at Matt and say, “I thought that 17-20 knot winds would be a lot less gusty than this. That Chris Parkers’ full of shit man.”. (Do you get the movie quote?) Luckily I was able to wrangle a big smile out of him too. The bay ended up being empty of other boats which was a nice relief to us, and we anchored Serendipity in ten feet of some of the most beautiful water we’ve ever seen. Even though it had been a slightly stressful twelve mile trip, it was still early in the afternoon and we were not ready to spend the rest of the day sitting on the settee and watching tv. Matt and Brian were excited to have new coral heads to check out for fish and Stephanie and I were eager to check out a new beach. The boys set off in one dinghy while us girls took the other, me with an ice cold Sands in my hand since, hey, it had been a stressful morning. Greeting us right on the shore of the beach where we landed the dinghy was a fire pit, but a much better set up than the one we had just used at Buena Vista. This one came complete with wooden benches and logs to sit on, along with a table made of milk crates and decorated with plastic owls. A little out of the norm, but entertaining nonetheless. We hiked a trail while barefooted which was not a good idea, so soon we quarantined ourselves to the sandy beach.

Along the shore were dozens and dozens of conch shells. Nothing new, there were literally hundreds littering the beaches of the last few cays we’d been to, but something about these ones made Stephanie very excited. These ones were not left overs from fishers after a clean with holes in the top of the shell where they had cut the conch away from it. These shells were untouched, as if the conchs were using them as hermit crabs do, willingly leaving a perfectly good one behind to move into a bigger or better one. Soon she was stacking them up in her arms, excitedly claiming that she could make horns from them or save them as gifts for family (sorry if I’ve ruined an early surprise for anyone). It got to the point where they were toppling out of her arms and I thought I might need to have an intervention for her. I’m not sure how it would go, but I think it would start something like “Stephanie, I really care about you…but I think you have a problem”. Scooping up just a couple myself, I mean, I do want a horn too, we piled 10 of them back in the dingy to head back to the ‘Dip, where we intercepted the guys on the way back from their fishing adventure. While we had been safely strolling beaches, albeit Stephanie’s new addiction, the guys regaled us with a tale of how they had a shark encounter while fishing and Brian flew out of the water and onto some rocks while Matt heaved himself back into the dinghy. It hadn’t stopped their fishing adventure though, they just moved to a new spot, and were still able to bring back a good number of fish for cleaning.

Since Brian decided he had too many fish and the lion-fish which was on his spear would probably not make it’s way to the dinner table, he flung it back into the water to let it be eaten by other fish once it’s poison’s had worn off. It hadn’t even been able to float away for five seconds when we saw a dark shadow rush past and snatch it up. It had been moving so fast that although we hadn’t been able to get a good look we assumed it could be nothing other than a shark. Sure enough, as if it knew where it’s last meal just came from, it sped back towards Serendipity and began circling the side we were all standing on. Now we could make out that it definitely was a shark, probably just over two meters long. This being our first encounter, we were all excited to watch it zip around at lightning speeds and dart from one side of the boat to the other. Soon it had a buddy join in and we thought we’d turn it into some kind of dinner theater. With all the fresh fish on the boat that need to be cleaned, we brought out the cutting board and fillet knife, ready to throw the scraps overboard and watch the sharks go at them.

Each time some guts or a head flew into the water the two sharks would race toward the surface and snatch it up before it even had a second to submerge. After the first two fish, we had the bright idea of tying the remaining body of one of our catches to a string and dangling it just off the side of the boat so we could get them to come in even closer and get a really good view of them. Even though the waters in this cove are crystal clear, there is constantly a 10-15 knot breeze blowing through causing ripples on the surface and obscuring anything below. With the string tied around the backbone of the fish and Stephanie and I stationed on each side with our cameras, Matt slowly brought the fish down to the surface of the water. I don’t know why we thought it would be any different than when we threw the scraps 10 feet out from the boat and the sharks still managed to be there within a half second, because this fish had barely touched the water before one of the sharks whizzed by, cutting the string with it’s razor sharp teeth and speeding off with the fish. We all sat there dumbfounded for a second with our mouths agape and thinking ‘Did that just really happen?’. Then we all broke out into a nervous laughter and made jokes about how we were definitely not going to dangle our toes in the water now.

The close up of the shark was enough for us to get a much better look at it and determine that we thought it was a black tipped shark. There actually are a few kinds of sharks in the Caribbean that don’t pay much attention to humans and shouldn’t cause worry, such as nurse sharks and lemon sharks, but black tips are not one of them. They are known to be aggressive and unpredictable. Now that water that had been looking so tantalizing earlier, calling my name to go for some refreshing dips, was now not looking so friendly. The most beautiful bay we’d come across yet in the Bahamas, and now I couldn’t even go for a swim in it. It was somewhat of a happy trade off though, to get to experiencing a couple of sharks up close and personal. They had no intent to leave us alone anytime soon, and so we kept doing whatever we could do to bring them close to the boat, throwing over scraps of lunch meat, leftover lobster and contemplating Georgie (aka: shark bait). I don’t know what their thoughts were on us, but one of the sharks actually did begin to show aggression a few times when it would swim cautiously toward our dinghy that was tied to the stern, and then smack it’s tail against the hypalon side before rushing away. It was then that we decided to call it a night. Brian and Stephanie carefully got back in their dinghy and she was even allowed to choose one of her conch shells to take back to Rode Trip with her. The rest were tossed over board, possibly in the direction that the sharks were still sitting. You know, … just to see what they would do.

4.12.13 (1)

To help you further your geographic education.

4.12.13 (2)

4.12.13 (3)

4.12.13 (4)

4.12.13 (5)

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