Our winter in the Bahamas is well under way, and even our first guest, our younger son, Chris, has come and gone already. Bob and I were thrilled to see him right on the heels of his trip to Thailand. He showed us wonderful photos and videos and told us so many great tales. He met people from all over the world, mostly young people who are taking off even more time than he is.
We used our week together to show Chris some of our favorite cays in the Exumas, which naturally included Allen Cay with the wild iguanas, the Land and Sea Park at Warderick Wells, and Big Major’s Spot where the wild pigs swim out to you to beg as you dinghy in to shore. This year there are baby pigs, and they are adorable! The big pink Mama pig swam out to us and three little piglets waded into the water and cried for her to return!
We visited one new spot with Chris called Hawk’s Bill Cay. It is a less visited place with beautiful white beaches. We ended the week at Staniel Cay where Chris could get a flight back to Nassau. Chris and Bob snorkeled into Thunderball Grotto together, and then we had a farewell dinner at Staniel Cay Yacht Club. It was a lovely time, all in all.
We walked to the little airstrip on Staniel last year, but this was the first time we actually saw the flight procedure! The gate is an outdoor gazebo, and there is a woman who shows up about a half hour before take off to check people in for the flight on her clip board. That is the extent of security. The plane lands and she puts the passengers on board according to weight (using her judgment! No one had to ‘fess up!), while the pilot stores everyone’s baggage in the nose of the plane. Then all the onlookers are shooed off the rough limestone airstrip and the plane departs. We miss Chris terribly now. Hope we can get enough bandwidth at some point to skype with both Rob and Chris.
We’ve had quite a bit of excitement on this trip. We’ve seen big sharks at every cay we’ve visited. Last year we didn’t see sharks until we got south of Georgetown. Chris got some great footage of a big nurse shark right at Pandora’s stern. While nurse sharks are harmless, we have also seen some large lemon sharks this year. It makes us take stock pretty carefully before going for a swim!
Somehow a little gecko got on board with us for several days. He was living in the main head (nauticalese for bathroom). I’m certain we each took showers for days without knowing he was there, but once we did come face to face, he was traumatized by us, and I was terrified of him! Bob and Chris were tempted to let him stay. Bob seemed to think he could live off fruit flies! Luckily for me, he is now ashore in the Land and Sea Park, and I hope he is happier there!
Yesterday a US Coast Guard rescue helicopter showed up right in our little anchorage off of Staniel Cay. It did some fancy maneuvers for almost an hour around dusk. It was amazing to watch! We imagined the pilot to be about 24 years old, and he could hover that big beast in a tight spot right off our port. He lowered the helicopter until it was right over the water, throwing up a wide circle of spray. I’d love to know what they were doing and why they came to Staniel Cay.
There have been other excitements as well. A Canadian couple we met last year got into some trouble in Cuban waters last week. They ran aground on a reef off the northern coast of Cuba and were stuck pounding on this reef for over 24 hours before Cuban authorities came to help them. Luckily they were in contact with other boats and the US Coast Guard (who could not help them at that location). All ended well, but it must have been such a traumatic experience. This morning we heard that the Bahamian Coast Guard (BASRA) has discovered there are foreign boats that have not properly checked in to the Bahamas, so they are now conducting ‘board and search’ missions on random boats in harbors. We have all the proper documentation, but I sure hope we don’t get boarded!
It’s been a good couple of weeks for getting some other things under way as well. I will write about that shortly. I am paricularly happy to have had a couple of calm days to get my tapestry loom warped and even start weaving! I’m having a lot of fun with those circles! I thought I could do some weaving today, but we have strong westerly winds that are kicking up quite a rukus in this harbor. I think we will head out shortly for a short sail to Cambridge Cay and a calmer anchorage. Farewell Staniel!