Wednesday, June 26, 2013

To Blackpoint and Back to Pick up Our Friends

We made the short hop down to Blackpoint on the 25th so that I could do some laundry before our friends Mike and Denise came in. We knew the winds would still be coming in from the north east for a couple days so we found a spot on the north side of the harbor and dropped the hook. We look over and see that we have anchored next to a boat that we traveled with about four seasons ago. After the anchor was down Dirk took the dinghy over to catch up and I piddled getting laundry sorted and ready for a trip the following day. Next morning we loaded up the laundry and headed over before anyone else got there. I actually had to wait until the girl showed up to give me tokens for the machines. After a few hours of wash, dry, and fold time I radioed Dirk to come retrieve me. After getting all items stowed we sat around relaxing and later that evening had Jim and Ellie, our old buddy boaters on board for sun downers and snacks. On Sunday we called over to Lorraine’s Restaurant and made reservations to have her Sunday buffet. As usual the food was delicious and later we returned to our boat to relax. On Tuesday we were to head back to Staniel Cay so on Monday we took some time to walk the northern beach and see if we couldn’t scrounge up some sea beans and bay beans. Our first stop was across the harbor and out to the blow hole we located last year.
Dirk close to the blow hole
Once we both got soaked enough we padded on down the road until we found the beach. Not much was on the beach other than the usual bits of plastic garbage and flip flops and shoes that manage to fall over board.
Guess someone was bored and decided to line all the flip flops up. Perhaps they were looking for matches

Pretty rock formations
On the way back we got off the beaten path and found the vine that the bay beans grow on. We found several pods, enough to make several necklaces with so we headed back to the boat stopping by the graveyard on the way. After wandering the beach at the bay we headed back to Renegade.
Bay beans in the pod
Bay bean necklace with a hamburger sea bean that Dirk made and now wears

Blackpoint Bay with the grave yard. Talk about waterfront property
Tuesday morning came and we picked up the anchor and made the short trip back up to Staniel Cay. When picking up guest we like to anchor close to town so we found a spot by the Grotto and dropped the hook. Mike and Denise were due to arrive the following afternoon so we did last minute clean up and prepped the boat for their arrival. They arrived on time the following day. We picked them up at the air field with 4 nice cold Kalik Golds in hand, headed to Isles General to pick up some groceries and headed to Renegade.
They made it
Once on board that donned their new snorkel gear and tested it out. The next morning we moved the boat over to Big Majors and anchored by Pirate Beach. The girls stayed back at the boat and the boys took the dinghy out to fish for some Mahi. Several hours later they returned with 2 of them.
Mike beaming from ear to ear, a happy man

Dirk cleaning Mahi with Denise looking on
Mike doesn’t get a chance to fish often so when he does get the chance we try and let him get as many as possible. I knew we would be eating lots of fish while they visited but they didn’t mind at all. Mike and Denise are both great cooks so I turned my galley over to them on several occasions.  That evening we decided to pack up the games and head over to pirate beach to relax. We had it all to ourselves and stayed till the no see ums ran us back to the boat.
Setting up games at Pirate Beach

Denise happy to be playing Bocce ball
On Saturday the 4th we decided to head up to Compass Cay as the winds were returning and we needed to find a spot to hide. We selected a nice spot and after setting the hook took off to explore the nearby beach.
Renegade from the beach at Compass Cay
The next morning we did more exploring and since the winds were coming from the west we were able to take the dinghy out into the Atlantic side and pull it up on the beach there. Since this beach doesn’t get walked often we found several beautiful shells in the various tidal pools. I found 3 empty queen helmets and several bonnets along with several nice urchin shells. I also picked up a couple sea fans that had washed up on the beach and have a couple crafts in mind for them. Like I have spare time to do crafts…… Perhaps one day. 
Mike, Denise, and Dirk ready to snorkel Pipe Creek

Piling back in the dinghy after beach combing and snorkeling

The beautiful waters of Pipe Creek area
On Monday the winds let up some and we made the long trip up to Normans Cay going outside the park boundaries in order to fish. One must be 4 miles off shore in order to be out of the Park boundaries as the park is a no take zone. At one point we hooked 2 skip jack tunas and had fun reeling them in. Mike got to fight one in and I had the other. At one point it felt like mine was hooked up on something behind the boat and all of a sudden my line went loose and it and my lure were gone. As soon as Mike has his landed him and Dirk are trying to get it off the hook in order to release it and we spot a huge 7 foot white tip shark circling the boat. Whoa, guess that’s what happened to mine. We were all so excited that we forgot to take photos and when we did they weren’t that great.
White tip shark

We both took video but that too was blurry. Trust me there really was a big shark and we watched him circle for a while. The boys even threw out a lure in order to tease him closer to the boat. My only thought was what are they gonna do if they hook this thing? Finally the boys got board as did the shark and we both went our own ways. As we got closer to Normans we finally hooked a Mahi, got it in and proceeded to get into Normans Cay so we could get an anchor spot and clean this bad boy up. Both Dirk and Mike decided to collect some conch to go along with the fish for dinner.
3 person operation, Mike reels it in, Dirk gaffs it, and I stand at the ready with the black garbage bag.

Posing with the catch
We ended up spending 3 days at Normans beach combing the various beaches, snorkeling through the shallows picking up pretty shells and hunting sea beans. Denise was excited as she found her first sea bean by herself. She actually found a few while she was there.

A nice Nassau Grouper that was a joint effort of the man hunt

Renegade from Palm Tree Island
Palm Tree Island from the boat

Mike cleaning conch

Pretty Pretty
On the 9th we decided to start making tracks south and the weather didn’t look too promising so we elected to stay on the inside. We got as far as Shroud Cay before the skies opened up so we pulled into the anchorage to wait it out. Once it was passed we continued on anchoring by the south mooring field of Warderick Wells. We made some dinner and called it a day. The next morning we wanted to make one more stop by the Aquarium for a snorkel and Rocky Dundas. Last time they were here I think we made the Aquarium but Rocky Dundas was far too rough as it is open to the ocean side and can get pretty nasty with a East wind. Today however the weather cooperated and we took the boat down to Cambridge Cay anchoring outside the mooring field, piled the dinghy up with gear and made the short trip back north for the sights. I have to say Rocky Dundas is probably my favorite place so far to snorkel. It is just a huge rock that sticks out of the water and if you didn’t know where to enter the caves you would miss them. There are two caves to enter, one being beautiful and the other being awesome.

The entrance into the cave
Denise checking it out

You can climb about on land inside and on both there are holes in the ceiling that allow light to enter. Thunderball Grotto cant even hold a candle close to these guys, they are truly amazing. Even Mike and Denise said that we saved the best for last. After an afternoon of snorkeling we headed back to Renegade and made tracks from Cambridge south back to Staniel Cay anchoring in front of pirate beach again.  That evening we headed back to Pirate beach and saw that our friends from M/Y Forever Young had returned from Georgetown. We played games on the beach, chatted and had some sun downers watching while crew from Usher began setting the beach up for some sort of party. Pretty soon the bugs got so bad we were chased back to the boat where Mike made some wonderful fish on the grill. Later that evening us and the entire anchorage had front row seats to a private fireworks display that the crew from Usher set off. Now these were not your run of the mill side of the road fire works, these were the ones you see when cities put on displays. It went on for some time and was a beautiful sight. The entire anchorage clapped and blew horns to say thanks when it was over.The following day Dirk and Mike decided to give fishing another try and took the dinghy out returning with 2 Mahi. Looks like its fish again tonight. Mike and Denise were due to leave the following day so they spent the evening packing up and getting ready, the mood on the boat was somber as we really enjoy our time together. They are boaters themselves and we know they really enjoy the time here in the Bahamas. The next morning we picked up anchor and took the boat closer to town near the Grotto. It would be a shorter ride in the dinghy back to the air field. Around 1ish we piled in the dinghy and made our way down the canal and parked at the new dinghy dock. Its about time they built one here as most times people just drag the dinghy to shore or park at Isles General and walk. We made our way to the air field and waited as people slowly started showing up. We know the plane is getting close to arriving when the ticket girl shows up in her golf cart. Sure enough she showed up and then the air craft. Saying goodbye was hard for all four of us but all good things must come to an end. We gave our final hugs and they climbed on board. Mike was lucky enough to get the co pilot seat and Denise sat right behind them. After we watched their flight depart we were gonna head to get some groceries before realizing that today was a Sunday and nothing was open. Darn it, so we opted for a late lunch at the yacht club before heading back to the boat where we lazed around and started making plans for our return trip back to the states.
Butters in his favorite spot resting his head on Mecky, Dirks childhood toy.

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