Monday, February 21, 2011

Little Farmers Cay

We spent several days at Black Point Settlement. We loved the friendly, small town feel. Everyone there was so nice and very welcoming to the cruisers visiting on boats. Lorraine’s was a great place to meet with other cruisers, get some internet and, of course some wonderful cracked conch. One day Troy and I, Shane, Steve, Rene and Stacy decided to see if we could spear enough lobster for dinner. We loaded our dinghies with spears and snorkel equipment and headed out. After finding a likely spot, we took to the water. We were a little disappointed that we didn’t see many fish, and only a few lobsters. Steve, Shane, Rene and myself did manage to get one lobster each but Steve’s lobster was a gigantic one! Stacy cooked the lobster for us for dinner that night and we were all very pleased with ourselves for capturing a delicious dinner.

One day I paddled my kayak up to a pristine beach. The water was crystal clear and the sand was beautiful and white. The wind rippled the water with the same pattern as the sand below the shallow waves. My footprints were the only ones on the beach. What a wonderful time for relaxing and reflecting. I wandered along picking up a few sand dollars and other shells and thanking God for the opportunity for Troy and I to be able to share this adventure together.

We finally decided that it was time to move on so we weighed anchor and headed south to Little Farmers Cay. There is a very small community here and everyone who lives here (about 60 people) is related to each other. All descended from one woman, Chrisanna, a freed slaved who brought her two sons and one daughter here and settled the island. Everyone is very friendly and I even got a hand written recipe for Bahamian Peas n Rice from Tasha, the owner of the small store. She even gave me a papaya from the tree in her back yard, some bacon to flavor my rice and a couple of goat peppers (same as habanero peppers).

Inside the Oven Rock Cave

We had heard about a cave at Oven Rock, about a mile from where we were anchored. We met a couple, Jim and Nancy on s/v Solitaire who spend every winter here in the Exumas and a lot of time on Little Farmers Cay. They knew the location of the cave and offered to act as our tour guides. We had six dinghies flying over the waves and ready to explore. It was about a 10 minute hike up to the cave and we weren’t sure exactly what to expect. We were in for quite a surprise. We descended into the cave and found cool, clear water. The cave was full of stalactites and stalagmites and we had a great time swimming in the chilly water. It was a really neat experience and I don’t have the words to adequately describe the feeling of swimming in that cold, clear, underground cave. What an adventure!
It was great to swim in the cave

We are still having the time of our lives and loving every new adventure. We have been baking a lot of our own bread, something I never did at home, but we are having fun trying our different ingredients. We made cinnamon, raisin bread, jalapeno cheese bread and white bread. I am cooking a lot as there are not many other options, but I can honestly say that I am even enjoying that. It’s fun to cook when you have time and the stress level is non-existent.

We will need to make some decisions in the next couple of days. Mainly, North or South? Which way next? The next destination to the south is George Town, which is a major cruising destination where we will probably stay for a couple of weeks. We are not in any hurry to get there though and Rene and Stacy (s/v Pipe muh Bligh) and Steve (s/v Anchor Management) are planning on heading back North to Staniel Cay for a week or so. Decisions, decisions. Watch the SPOT to see where we go next!

Some kind of sea cucumber

Hiking to the Cave

Cleaning Conch

Papaya Tree behind Tasha's Store

Monday, February 14, 2011

Black Point Settlement, Exumas

We ended our stay at Staniel Cay with a nice sail on Sea Yawl Later and then a quick trip over to an island called Big Majors Spot to see the swimming pigs that we had heard about. Sure enough, the pigs get handouts from cruisers so as soon as they see a boat or dinghy approach the beach they swim out to greet you and eat whatever you throw their way. Shane was the only one brave enough to get in the water with the pigs. They seemed friendly enough but they wanted food and I bet their hooves were sharp!

Rusty (on s/v Sea Yawl Later) has dubbed our group the "Texas Navy" since we are all from Texas. There are five boats in the navy so far – Storyville, Anchor Management, Kaleo, Sea Yawl Later and Guiding Light. We are looking forward to hooking up with Pipe muh Bligh this week so that they can be inducted into the Texas navy as well!

The Texas Navy decided to head down to Black Point Settlement since we were soon to be seeing strong north winds. There was no north wind on the way down though so we motored our way to the island of Great Guana Cay where Black Point Settlement is located. We found a very nice anchorage there and spent the first afternoon exploring the town. There is a great little café with internet and a book exchange. The café is called Lorraine's and let me tell you, Lorraine makes the best cracked conch in the world and her mom makes the best coconut bread in the world. If you think I'm exaggerating, then you will just have to come and try it for yourself! Lorraine's son Josh took a liking to me for some reason and sat in my lap and gave me lots of hugs. I think he recognized a lady that missed her grandkids and need a big hug from a little kid! He sure is a sweetie.

Josh and Me
Cracked Conch at Lorraine's

Diving for Lobster

Meeting on Storyville
Early the next morning we moved around to the other side of the peninsula where Black Point is located to an anchorage that is better protected for the north winds that were coming our way. The first thing that I did was dive into the beautiful clear water and check to make sure our anchor was set. Once I saw that the anchor was buried deeply into the sandy bottom, I grabbed my spear (Hawaiian Sling) for what I was hoping would be my first chance to spear a fish. I swam over to the rocky shore and within just a couple of minutes I had spotted a lion fish and a great big lobster. I was excited to have a chance to fulfill my biggest goal on this trip – to spear a fish and cook it for dinner. By the way, I have decided that a lobster would do just as good as a fish! Anyway, I started my hunt by trying to spear the lion fish. They are an invasive species here and in Florida and divers and fishermen as asked to kill them whenever they come across any. They do look really intimidating because they have lots of venomous spines. I have heard that they are good to eat and will attempt to clean and eat one if I can ever manage to spear it! I missed the lion fish and the lobster but I was still determined. After all, this was my first attempt to even use the spear gun. I managed to scare both targets back into the reef to I moved on to another area. By that time Steve had joined me and we were on the hunt while Troy managed the dinghies and provided support from above. We found several more lobsters and another lion fish. I hit one of the lobsters, but they sure do have a tough shell! It just bounced right off and moved all of the lobsters back further into the reef. Steve pointed out the lion fish and I made another attempt, but missed once again. Then, just as I was starting to get discouraged and decided that I needed a little more practice with the spear, we spotted a lobster on the move and out in the open. I headed over for and got a shot on him. The spear glanced off and I thought I had missed out again. I took another breath and dove again, I couldn't believe that he was still there. Maybe I stunned him the first time! Anyway, I got another shot and speared him straight through! I was so excited and couldn't wait to show Troy that I had speared a lobster! I surfaced with the lobster on my spear and looked all around me for Troy. He was over a little way and speaking to a woman on the shore. The woman lived in the house overlooking the anchorage and she had come out to tell Troy that it is illegal for non Bahamians to spear fish within 200 yards of the shore of the island. And here I was, waving a lobster around on my spear yelling "I got one!". The lady was very nice and we apologized and explained that we were not aware of the law. She told us to go ahead and keep the lobster and of course, we could spear as many lion fish as we wanted since they are considered an nuisance. I felt bad that I had speared my first lobster illegally, but it was unintentional and se we celebrated the victory anyway! Troy, Steve and I had lobster pizza for lunch. Yummy!

Matt, Christie, Shane, Deana, Rusty, Linda, Pastor Kevin Rolle and Troy
Shane had made arrangements for us to get a ride back into Black Point on Sunday so that we could attend the local church service. I think it may have been my fir st time to ride to church in the back of a pickup truck and to sit in church with sandy feet. We were all welcomed very warmly and we were in for a surprise. Shane had been to a service at this church a few weeks before and met the pastor and visiting missionary. The pastor asked whether Shane would like to give the sermon on Sunday. Shane is not a preacher and according to him, he would normally have said "no way" but since he had just finished a book called The Five Love Languages, he felt like the Lord had laid in on his hear to share what he learned. He didn't tell us that he was the guest speaker, but he did a great job and, since it was the Sunday before Valentine's Day, it was the perfect subject! We were all very proud of Shane!

All men should strive
to learn before they die
what they are running from, and to, and why.
~James Thurber

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I finally got a chance to get caught up on some picture posting!  Check out the links and don't forget to leave comments!

Warderick Wells

Shroud Cay

Staniel Cay

Black Point

Staniel Cay

Welcome to Staniel Cay
We finally pried ourselves away from Wardrick Wells. It was my favorite place so far. There was so much to see and do and it was our first chance to get to do some snorkeling. The water is getting warmer every day.

We anchored out at Bell Island where we snorkeled at a place called Coral Reef Sea Aquarium. It was as beautiful as the name sounds and it did seem like you were swimming in a big salt water aquarium. The fish were obviously used to being fed and were not shy at all! We were the only people there so it was nice to get to spend a little time in a really secluded spot. We also snorkeled a submerged plane – it was creepy to see an upside down airplane in the water, but the surrounding reef was beautiful. Matt and Christie treated us to Chicken Vindaloo for dinner and we decided to move on to Staniel Cay where we would wait for Steve to get back from his visit to Florida.

We motored our way up to Staniel Cay since the wind was right on our nose. It didn’t take us long to get there though and we hooked up to a mooring ball right behind Thunderball Grotto, an underwater cave where several movies have been filmed. We were excited because we heard s/v Sea Yawl Later on the radio. Matt and Christie had been on the lookout for their friends Rusty and Linda on Sea Yawl Later since we made it to the Exumas. We were also looking forward to meeting them because they are from Beaumont and kept their boat at Waterford Harbor in Kemah. We had been following their blog for some time.

We did a little exploring of the town in Staniel Cay while we waited for Rusty and Linda to get to the anchorage. The town is small and we were hoping for a little more selection in groceries because we had not seen a grocery store or market since we left Nassau. You can find what you need here, but nothing near what you are used to back home. Everyone is really friendly though and you can buy freshly baked bread right out of the bakers kitchen.

One other reason that we wanted to make it to Staniel Cay was so that we could watch the Superbowl. We watched at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club and we finally got to meet Rusty and Linda. We hit it off with them right away. They are truly wonderful and special people, we made friends really quickly. Linda invited us over to their boat for dinner the next day, along with Matt, Christie and another cruiser, Shane on s/v Guiding Light. We had the best time, sharing a wonderful meal of spaghetti complete with Linda’s home made bread. We played a game called Catch Phrase (tons of fun) and then watched a movie on their big screen TV. Life is good!
The next morning we got a call from Linda and Rusty inviting us to spend the day on their boat to take a ride through Pipe Creek. We had one of the best days ever! Troy, myself, Matt, Christie, Shane, Linda and Rusty spent the day exploring in places where catamarans with a shallow draft can get to lots easier than a monohull sail boat. We even got to park Sea Yawl Later right up almost on the beach so that we could go for a swim. We saw starfish by the hundreds and even got to feed some sharks!

We got back to our anchorage in the early evening and since it was slack tide we knew it was time to explore Thunderball Grotto. What an amazingly beautiful place. It’s an underwater cave that’s full of fish. There are several ways into the cave, some of the only accessible by swimming underwater. Later that evening Shane cooked us all steaks and fish on his boat, Guiding Light. Did I mention lately that life it good????

We are still just loving life and the adventures that it brings every day. I am amazed at how busy we stay. There is just so much to see and do and so many wonderful people have entered our lives. We sure do feel blessed.

Please take a look at Kaleo and Sea Yawl Later’s blogs. I know that they have done a much better job than I have in describing the wonderful days that we have spent here at Staniel Cay.


Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art.... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival. ~C.S. Lewis

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Allen's Cay, Shroud Cay and Warwick Wells Cay

It feels like the cruising has finally begun! The cays of the Exumas are breathtaking. Each new one is even more beautiful than the last. Small little white sand beaches and clear blue water with mangroves and other short but green vegetation along the shore. This is what we’ve been dreaming about.

Allen's Cay Iguana

We left Nassau early in the morning and had a perfect six hour sail over the Bahama Banks to Allen’s Cay. We set our anchor and dropped the dinghy to head over to Leaf Cay to see the iguanas that we had heard about. Tourists in “go fast” boats (think Boardwalk Beast) are brought over from Nassau each day and the iguanas are used to handouts. They come out on the beach and will run right up to you if they think you have food. We stayed at Allen’s Cay for two nights and spent the days exploring the surrounding cays by dinghy. The water was still a little too cold for swimming and snorkeling. The second night brought a tightly packed anchorage. Both Kaleo and Anchor Management had to move their boats. Between the strong wind and an opposing current no one got much sleep and we were all ready to move on the next morning.

Next on the chart was Shroud Cay. Shroud is part of the Exumas Land and Sea Park. The motto is take only photographs and leave only footprints. We had another great sail and were happy to see that the park had installed mooring balls. We were all glad to pick up a ball so that we could get a decent nights sleep. We were amazed at the beautiful clear water with a deep sandy bottom.

On the way to Shroud we heard our friends Rene and Stacy on s/v Pipe muh Bligh on the radio. They were our dock neighbors at Watergate in Kemah and we were planning to find them since we knew they were cruising in the Exumas. Luckily they were just over at the neighboring cay and they came over to join us at Shroud.
 We had a great reunion with them and then we all took an awesome dinghy ride through the mangroves of the park and all the way to the other side of the cay where we hiked a small hill and got some great shots of the water. That evening we enjoyed happy hour on Pipe muh Bligh with Rene and Stacy, Steve from Anchor Management, Matt and Christie from Kaleo and L.A. and Susan from Genesis. Good thing Rene and Stacy have such a big boat! We spent the next day at Shroud exploring by kayak and hanging out on the beach. This is the life!

Storyville from the top of Boo Boo Hill
We were on a waiting list to get a mooring ball at Warwick Wells Cay where the Exuma Land and Sea Park headquarter is located. Our sail over was picture perfect and once we arrived we just could not believe that a place could be so beautiful. We are planning to stay here for several days because there is so much to see and do. All of our buddy boats are here right now, Anchor Management, Kaleo, Pipe muh Bligh and Genesis.

Troy with a bananaquit

We made a hike up Boo Boo Hill where the views are absolutely breathtaking and we got some great shots of our boats out on the mooring field. Boo Boo Hill is a hilltop where cruisers make signs out of driftwood with their boat names on them and leave them on a cairn there. We made our signs and hiked back up to leave them this morning. It sort of feels like a right of passage as a cruiser to leave our sign up there.

Adding our Sign on Boo Boo Hill
We found some tiny little birds here called bananaquits. The love to eat sugar and will sit right on your hand to eat it or to drink water. We had fun feeding the bananaquits on Boo Boo Hill!

This afternoon we finally got to do some snorkeling. We snorkeled a small reef and saw many beautiful fish and coral. I even saw a school of squid that changed color as they moved from the coral to the sand. After the snorkel trip we all went back to Storyville to swim and play on the little sand beach that appears each day behind our boat at low tide. While we were there a sting ray and a nurse shark both swam right under our boat.

I still cannot be believe how beautiful it is here. We are loving every minute of this so far. I apologize if I am overusing words like amazing, breathtaking, awesome, but I really don’t know how else to describe the things that I am seeing!

We have very limited bandwith here so I will not be able to post all of my pictures. I will get them posted with a link on the blog as soon as possible.

The ocean looks like a blue rainbow! ~Stacy Foree