Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Guest on Board

So after a long break of internet that has been poor at best I will try and post this blog over a month late. Hopefully it will get through and I can continue to catch you up on our travels but I think we will be back in the states before the next blog is written as we are beginning our trek north and east coast bound. So here goes…..Our friends were due to arrive at 3pm on the 6th of March, so that morning the last of the preps were done, the beer was put in the freezer to get nice and cold and we relaxed till it was time to head to the airport. I use the term airport loosely as it is basically just an airstrip with a wood shed that Dirk dubbed terminal one. Before heading out I threw a couple large black garbage bags in the dinghy as I have learned from past experience that it can be a wet trip and wanted the luggage to stay dry. We hopped in and headed out knowing right away this was going to be a rough ride as the waves were splashing over the sides. We were totally exposed to the west winds getting to the airstrip. Once we made it into the canal it calmed and we beached the dinghy at the Isles General store with intentions of picking up some groceries on the way back.  The Watermaker flight was on time and Dirk stood with a Terminal 1 sign so they couldn’t get lost.
Dirk & I standing at the terminal. Hope they don't get lost....
Yeah right…. As they approached us I noticed the shirts they were wearing and knew what it was they wanted that photo they asked us for.
We made it.....

How cool, there was a pic of our Renegade that our friends Tony and Robyn took while leaving Marco Island along with the saying I have on our boat cards “ Living The Dream” . On the back side it gives the definition of sailing. Later on we received ours that they got for us.

The four stooges

Thanks guys….After luggage was recovered we headed back to Isles General in hopes of picking up a few last minute items but they were closed at the moment, like so many other moments so we just hopped back in the dinghy and headed back to the boat breaking them in well for their vacation by getting completely soaked by the time we made it back. Such is life of a cruiser…..Our plan was to take them over to the yacht club for an early dinner but with the winds being what they were we decided to stay put and hop into the water for a swim and to get them use to the snorkel gear they brought.  The following morning we moved back over to Big Majors in front of the Pig Beach where Dirk & Mac tackled a water maker problem. We had been having no issues till we were in Highborne Cay and we noticed the parts per million for water quality kept creeping up.  We had a new membrane put in before we left so after calling and emails the manufacturer said it could be a bad one and he would send us a new one. Well with Mac & Margie heading over we had it sent to them and they brought it with them. After taking it out and installing the new one we gave it a shot and it seemed to be working well. So far so good.  At slack tide we took them over to snorkel Thunderball Grotto with a bag of boiled rice for the fish.
Margie with her rice feeding the fish

I was surprised how many people were here as I have never seen it so busy before. But then again, it was Easter weekend; all the big go fast boats had come over from the states for an extended weekend. Afterwards we hit the yacht club where we introduced them to the Bahamian beer Kalik and they wanted to pick up some beer for the week ahead. I’m glad we don’t drink much beer as Bud Light was $64.00 a case. Drink em slow guys, they gotta last 7 more days. We also made a run to Isles General to pick up a few more veggies and then we headed back to Renegade dropped off supplies and picked up some food scraps to feed the pigs with over at the beach. Everyone has to visit the pigs when they come and I noticed there are even a few new babies around and several pushy moms.
Here piggy piggy

Okay buddy that's close enough

Later on we headed over to Pirate Beach where we set up the horseshoes and sat back relaxing while Red, the new addition to the beach checked us all out to make sure we had no food to offer.
Dirk with Red, the new addition to Pirate Beach

We retired back to the boat once the sun started to set and had a quiet evening on board. The next morning we picked up anchor and headed north up to Emerald Rock, close to the south mooring field in the Exuma Land and Sea Park. After finding a spot outside of the mooring field we dropped the hook and Dirk took Mac & Margie to snorkel the reef inside by the office as I stayed on board and prepared dinner. It was Easter Sunday after all and there were no eggs to hide or be found so cooking dinner was the least I could do. Mac and Margie had a good idea that somehow never got followed through with. They went out and bought all different kinds of alcohol in mini bottles and were gonna hide them all over the boat for a hunt. Instead we all picked our favorites out and left the others for some poor unsuspecting soul to get when they visit our boat. Dinner consisted of a cooked sliced ham with “real”, that’s right, “real” mashed potatoes, no instant this time with red cabbage and fresh hot brownies. I think we may have watched a movie or played cards afterwards before calling it an evening. Monday morning found us finding our way to Normans Cay where we anchored on the inside of the cut in front of “Palm Tree Island”.
Palm Tree Island
I don’t know what the real name is or even if it has one,but we and everyone else we know calls it that as that is the only thing on it besides a bench that some cruiser added as a memorial to a loved one.  We stayed there two days and explored the secluded beaches on the Atlantic side, poked around the remains of buildings left over from the days of the island being under control of drug lord Carlos Lehder and collected lots of beach treasures where ever we went.
Us checking out the remains and looking for bullet holes

Dirk deciding he wanted a coconut

Almost there

A spotted Sea Hare

The Sea Hare  after we touched him. He put out a magenta dye.

The beach combers stance. No wonder my back hurts

Posing for a pic with lots of discarded shells
A small thorny Sea Star, wonder if Sponge Bob is around

Dirk did some conching and as he cleaned them we watched the sting rays, nurse sharks and spotted eagle rays gobble up the remains. 
Cleaning the conch
We also had lunch at the Beach Club; formally McDuffs and all had the $18.00 hamburger with several of their Exuma Mamas, the signature drink while we soaked in the atmosphere of the cozy porch.

Dirk & his best bud Mac

Sorry buddy they are closed and have been for a while
On the 11th we headed back to Warderick Wells, but with the idea to stay in the north mooring field which is a beautiful cove.  Attached to the mooring ball we settled in and Margie went to work making a sign on her drift wood she found in Normans Cay for Boo Boo Hill.
While topside she had a bananaquit visit her. Very friendly especially if you have sugar to offer
A bit later we made the hike and visited the blow holes first although they were not that active due to the quiet state of the water.

Margie standing on top to the blow hole posing with her sign
We then went up to the top and they placed the sign among many others.

Adding the sign to Boo Boo Hill
 After returning to the boat we were all hot and sweaty from the hike so decided to inflate the floaties and pack up the snorkel gear and do some water activities.  After an hour or so we drug Mac & Margie back to the boat and settled in for the evening.
Mac & Margie relaxing as they get pulled back to the boat.
We decided the following day to travel on the outside to Compass Cay as the winds were light, actually too light to sail so we motored the entire day. It was calmer than I had ever seen it and we all took turns sitting on the bow sprit staring into the water below pointing out conch, and fish along the way. It was so clear that we finally lost sight of the bottom at about 90 feet. A couple hours later we were in one of our favorite anchorages and with the tide being slack Dirk took Mac and headed out to see if he couldn’t spear dinner. When they returned there were no fish but a couple conch they had picked up. With a full day planned Dirk just tied them together and hung them from the ladder in the water where they will hang out awaiting cleaning. Guess you could say they were on death rung. I know, bad joke and I hate it for them, especially since I don’t eat them.  We loaded the dinghy with all the snorkel gear, sunscreen, towels, and water and headed off to explore. First stop was the beach at the cut as we can sometimes find some good nice shells. The tide was still a bit high so we didn’t have too much luck.

Mac & Margie taking a closer look at some starfish
 As usual, Dirk had put on his gear and gone into the waist deep water to look around. Soon he was back on shore telling tales of two sharks that had scared him pretty bad. These were real sharks, not nurse sharks and he would prove it as he had video. This was the same spot that he was approached by a shark the last time. Hummmm, note to self…….so we loaded back up and headed down into the Pipe Creek area for some snorkeling and beach walking. Usually at low tide there is a great expanse of sand that is dry with a deep canal surrounding it. This would be the first time we hit it where it was completely covered with water so we found a shallow spot threw out the anchor and proceeded to snorkel. Once we saw all there was to see including a large sea turtle we headed back with one more stop in mind. We pulled the dinghy into the Compass Cay Marina which is on a private island so they charge you $8.00 per person to dock your dinghy. In years past we said, no way are we paying. Last year was the first time we did and while that is a lot to ask we keep doing so as it is a nice visit. They have a wonderful beach which is a nice walk across the island but with the winds being from the east fairly strong we knew it wouldn’t be the best beach time so we opted to hang out on the docks and wait for feeding time for the nurse sharks.  While waiting we popped into the store and got a round of Kalik Golds which is the beer of the Bahamas. The gold has a 7% alcohol level so it makes for a nice strong brewsky.  Dirk and Margie decided to snorkel and swim with the sharks as Mac and I walked the docks watching from above.
Margie getting her time with the sharks
When it was obvious that feeding time had been forgotten we sat around playing checkers, talking and before we knew it one beer had turned into three.
 Whooo hoooo, time to get back to the boat and get something to eat.
That evenings sunset from the boat
The next day found us travelling back to Staniel Cay as our friends vacation was coming to a close.
Margie got put to work hoisting sails as Mac looked on
Margie really enjoyed sitting here soaking up the scenery

We trolled the entire time hoping for a mahi for the grill but no such luck. We decided to anchor in front of Thunderball Grotto as it would be a shorter trip to the airport and the winds were predicted to be blowing yet again from the east. Soon after we anchored, another boat came in and anchored in front of us. With the winds beginning to blow Dirk wanted to make sure the guys anchor was set, especially since he was in front of us. Dirk took the dinghy over and looked through the lookie bucket at his anchor. It was laying on its side but told Dirk he let out enough chain and it would be fine. We can’t make him do it right, just hope when he drags that he drags past us without hooking our anchor. That evening of course in the middle of the night, the winds picked up and both Dirk and I went topside to do a check of the anchorage. It’s surprising just how many people don’t have anchor alarms and thus have no clue their boat is travelling while they are all cozy in bed. When we went up top we noticed the boat in front of us was in fact a bit closer and hopefully his anchor had caught, we would keep an eye on him. Throughout the night he did inch closer but as soon as daylight broke he picked up and moved. Dirk spoke to him the next morning and he apologized for getting so close and said he spent the evening in the cockpit on watch. With the winds being so strong it was too bad to move that evening. Well duh….that’s why you do it right the first time. I kinda felt bad for him though as one of the people he had on board had gone ashore in the evening and when they returned they had not properly securedthe dinghy and it managed to come untied and was never seen again. Amazing how many people lose dinghies’ in bad winds each year. I never hear of any being retrieved so there must be some pocket of the Atlantic that they end up in just floating around forever. The following day we headed into Staniel Cay for lunch right as a downpour was beginning.
 As we ate the rain came down in buckets and we were glad to be dry with a great club sandwich sitting on each of our plates.The following day we headed into town once again, parked the dinghy at the yacht club and walked over to the Blue store but they were closed due to a death in the family. The Pink store was open but in the past it usually only has dusty shelves with little to no provisions so we bypassed it and kept going. We did find a “boutique” for Margie and she was able to buy a new Kalik T-shirt, her new favorite beer and a new beach bag.
Margie and I with lots of color
 After that it was back to the boat where we played our last game of cards and had a quiet and early evening, they had a long day ahead of them as they were flying back to Ft. Lauderdale  and then had a 7 hour drive back to Tybee Island only to have to go to work the following morning. Early up the next morning and we took them over to the yacht club to check into their flight for Watermaker.  Once the plane was 10 minutes out they let us know it was a go and to head over to the airport. The yacht club took them and the luggage as Dirk and I made the trek in the dinghy up the creek. We met again on the air field and after too many good byes we gave them a final hug and said so long. We headed back to the boat and both ended up taking a nap. We would plan on heading south to George Town but had to first wait on the winds that were still too strong from the East to make the passage on the outside. We did make it to George Town but the story from there to here will have to wait till next time.

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