Thursday, January 19, 2006

Showing Paul the Exumas, Dec/Jan 2006

Picture: Paul and his Barracuda

It is our overall objective to head south east to the Dominican Republic, but we wanted to show Paul the fabulous islands of the Exuma chain, so we headed out of Georgetown to north Little Farmers. All the way, in the deep indigo ocean we dragged 2 lines, loaded with Ballyhoo. We had one strike off of Rat cay, and it took the back hook, and bait, but nothing for us. We continued on our way, and as Paul was bringing in the lines as we approached the cut, he said "I think I have a fish" and pulled in a 30" barracuda. Although we did not keep it, non Bahamians don't eat Barracuda due to Ciguatera Poisoning. But he still had the fun of landing it, and photo shot. Not much was open in Farmers. It seems that everyone went to Nassau for Junkanoo and holidays and probably won't be back until the New Year. (Little Farmers only has about 50 full time residents)

Next stop: Staniel Cay for New Years. We anchor just east of the Grotto, so that we are close to all the action and do the required snorkel of the Grotto and feed the fish (corn works well) Club Thunderball is finally reopened, (no mooring balls) and the music serenaded us until 330am. Saturday morning at 9am, the Bahamian boats were scheduled to race, However, as in the Bahamas, the first race didn't get going until about 11 am. They had a lottery of interested cruisers who wanted to crew on these small, about 20 ft sloops. They have a small foresail, and a long boom, allowing them to carry a huge mainsail. The crew is provided long boards to sit on, on the windward side to counterbalance the effect of the sail. Unfortunately the wind was light, so there really wasn't a lot of excitement but at least one of the cruiser crew did get dunked into the water. The marina and local bars were offering Pig Roasts and dances and Fireworks, but we spent a quiet evening on RAFT and even slept through the Fireworks.

Paul seems to be enjoying the slower pace. One afternoon, he took the dinghy and trolled with 2 lines dragging, in and out of the cut for a couple of hours, listening to his MP3 player. Didn't catch anything, but said it was fun anyway. Then he spent the rest of the day reading in the hammock, strung up on the bow of RAFT. He has read more on this trip, than he had read in the past 5 years.

We continued up the Exuma Chain, hiking the Exuma Park, snorkeling the plane at Normans and doing laundry with water from the cistern. The old resort is to be redeveloped, many construction trailers are on site to house the workers, but nothing else is happening yet. Ross did speak to the staff of McDuff's who are planning to reopen soon, and apparently one of the developers has diedÂ…. Paul wanted to see the iguanas at Allans, so we kept going north. Paul was documenting his trip with the digital camera, and he was particularly interested in all the animals he was seeing. At Allans we went through a serious front, our first bad weather since leaving Florida.

During the front, we found out that one of the solo sailors was in bad pain. He had had both knees replaced and something was very wrong, because within a few hours he could hardly move. Fortunately one of the sailors in the anchorage was a nurse, and Raquel took his blood pressure, checked his meds and figured he was dehydrated and had screwed up the dosages of some of his drugs. He wanted to return to Nassau to seek medical attention, and since we had an extra body on our boat, Bev volunteered to be crew for John, and see him safely back. He had a dock to go to in Coral Harbour, south side of New Providence, near the airport. So Paul and Ross sailed on RAFT and John and Bev sailed on Zafu. Then she caught a cab back to downtown Nassau. It felt real good to help someone out, after all the help we have received along our trip.

We were very busy in Nassau. We shopped, got water and fuel and then started to have fun. We did the bus trip to Bacardi's, those jitney buses are something else and a great way to see the real Nassau for only a buck. We missed the Bacardi tour, but we got enough samples at the bar....The next day we stopped at Potters Cay, where the local mailboats come in, for lunch. Under the bridge (to Atlantis) are all sorts of food vendors most selling from shacks, but Paul chose lunch from the lady selling out of the back of her van. Mutton, peas and rice, mac and cheese and coleslaw for $7. Nobody needed supper. Then we continued to walk over the bridge to Paridise Island where we snuck in the back entrance to Atlantis. Atlantis is quite the place, and we all enjoyed it. Paul especially liked the huge jewfish, the hammerhead shark and the waterslide, he wished he could have tried it.