Saturday, February 27, 2010

February 25, 2010.

The first of the 3 fronts came through today. We had about 12 hours of 25 to 40 knot winds from the northwest under clearing skies. As a result, between the wind generator and the solar panels we were throwing a lot of amps at our nearly full battery bank.

At 1100 we started up the watermaker since we suddenly had all these spare amps lying around. Whenever we start the watermaker the first 2 gallons or so of product water is technically freshwater but not fit for consumption. We usually catch this water and store it in two 6 gallon jugs on deck. We use this water to fill the solar shower and for bathing the dogs.

We also use it for laundry and today was laundry day. That involved two 5 gallon buckets, a dedicated laundry plunger and a bit of effort.
The wind was cranking so hard, we couldn’t really hang the wash outside so we had to string a line across the back of the cockpit inside the enclosure.

While I did the wash, Christy baked some fresh bread. She’s been experimenting with different recipes and methods of cooking. Tonight’s dinner will be homemade bread and fresh caught fish. I’m feeling a bit like Jesus. To bad I couldn’t turn that laundry water into wine. Tideashevitz……hmmm.
February 24, 2010.

I know its starting to sound like a broken record but….we’re still dodging bad weather. Yesterday morning we were rudely awakened by a nasty squall line blundering through our anchorage. The wind was supposed to be from the south at 10 to 12 but came through from the southwest and west at over 30 knots. Yikes!

We were the closest boat to the western shore of Hog Cay. The unexpected wind put us in the unenviable spot of being ass-to-the-beach. We were just outside the surf zone with the occasional larger wave breaking as it swept past the boat.

The boats to the north and south of us opted to pull their hooks in big winds and driving rain in an effort to reset them further from the beach. Our hook was holding fine and the largest gusts we had seen were in the high thirties so we decided to stay put. The nastiness lasted from 0500 until almost noon.

During the height of the squall 6 boats anchored along Hog Cay and several more boats to our north decided that they’d had enough of the crappy weather and headed out for points north. It was bittersweet to watch them pull their hooks and go, I felt terrible for anyone that would opt to intentionally head out into foul weather. On the other hand though, there was that selfish part of me that keeps the boat safe, that started to do the math and figured out how much more room there would be in the few tight anchorages that provide some westerly protection. Not to mention, more fish for us.

The squall did subside by noon so we headed into the beach as the winds and seas died. The crew of Naked Sail brought a set of horse shoes in for a little recreation. Christy and a few of the women walked across the cay to do some beach combing. The sun came out, the winds abated and we spent a few hours throwing some shoes.

Today we moved into our chosen spot to hide from the next 3 fronts forecast to come through the area during the next week. We’re once again between Hog Cay and Ragged Island at N 22.13.755 / W 075.44.722. This spot has treated us well in less than desirerable conditions so we’re hoping for a bit more of the same.

We had the hook down well before noon so we jumped in the dink and headed into town before the first front was due to arrive here tonight. We found that the island’s internet was down so there was none of that. The only open restaurant on the island was out of everything except conch, so we skipped that dining experience. Conch is a very hit or miss thing with me. Sometimes its tough and flat out tastes like crap, other times when its fresh and well prepared its about a half step above Slim Jims. The only way I enjoy conch is in conch fritters, although the fritters would be better if they left the conch out. It’s a staple of the Bahamas and most people enjoy it…, I’ll take a pass.

So, no internet, no lunch on the island but on the plus side we did get to deal with Fichael. I might have spelled his name wrong but that’s how it’s pronounced, like Michael with an F instead of an M. Anyway, I brought an empty gas can into town with us in the hopes of buying a few gallons for the dinghy. There’s no fuel sold on the island so you have to find someone willing to part with a few gallons of their precious personal gasoline. Gasoline arrives here on the mailboat in 55 gallon plastic drums and all the fishermen have a drum sitting in their yard.

We knocked on Fichaels door, asked about gasoline and he was only to happy to part with some. We walked around back and he quickly siphoned off enough gas from his drum to fill our jerry jug. When I went to pay him, he asked if we were coming back next year? We said we were and he told us instead of money now, could we bring him a few fishing lures NEXT year. These people are unbelievable in their generosity and honesty. We tried to give him cash, but no, we walked off with 5 gallons of gasoline and headed back to the dink. We’ll rummage through our ships supply of fishing tackle and see if we can put together an assortment of suitable unused lures so I don’t have this debt hanging over my head for an entire year.
February 22, 2010.

Most boats that head down to the Jumentos spend anywhere from 2 weeks to a month here. Some of the boats continue on, traveling south, while others head back up to Long Island to reprovision before heading back down this way. We’ve been down here for close to 2 months so we’ve seen a changing of the guard as one group of cruisers leave and another group arrives.

This latest group has me a little concerned. We met the crews from more than a dozen boats at a beach gathering last night and I noticed something a little bizarre. The majority of them were wearing watches. Wrist watches. WTF? Is there a meeting they don’t want to miss? Something on the telly? Are they all on medication? One couple wears his and hers Rolexes, yet they have to run here and there before they run out of water because they don’t have a watermaker. Is there something I’m missing? I just don’t get it.

I haven’t worn a watch in thirty years so there was nothing for me to give up when we moved onto the boat. When we’re underway the chartplotter displays the time so we can chart tides and arrivals. We have multiple clocks below so we are cognizant of the time of day.
Once we leave the boat, time just loses its importance. When we go hiking we walk until we’re done. We hunt until we catch what the larder will hold or until we get too cold. If we’re hungry…..its lunch time.

Once you get used to not being dependant on a timepiece its remarkable how close you can estimate the time of day by simple observations. I can usually guesstimate the time of day within 20 minutes by glancing at the sun or even by observing the tide against the shoreline. It’s not that hard and if I’m wrong, so what, besides if nobody was wearing a watch how would anyone even know I was wrong?

While I’m making observations, indulge me while I make one more. Cruisers that are still dependant on tobacco are fairly rare in our experience. I can think of only a handful of smokers out of the hundreds of cruisers that we’ve met. Yet in this group of timepiece wearers there are about 10 of them that smoke. Is there a correlation between time dependence and tobacco addiction? Is it coincidence that they seem to be traveling in a pack?

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. We finally got the chance to hit the cut between Hog and Maycock Cay. We landed 4 lobsters, a Schoolmaster, a Hogfish and a gorgeous 10 pound Mutton Snapper.
February 20, 2010.

We’ve spent a few days hiding from nasty northerlies but we were able to get to shore and do some hiking in between rain squalls.

When the rains finally subsided we were left with chilly temps down near 70 degrees. Most of the people walking across Ragged Island into town were wearing a little more clothing than I’m used to seeing down here. Except Christy of course, who is still generating heat like a runaway reactor.

The water is also way chillier than usual but we were able to get into the water to do a little hunting, so we hit a new section of reef and rocks out near one of the cuts. There was a strong ebb tide and as a result the water was full of suspended sand, severely limiting visibility. I was able to spear a 9 lb. Permit. We called it a day shortly afterwards because visibility was just too crappy. The next day we went to an area with less tidal flow and grabbed a lobster and a Schoolmaster.

On Friday morning we sailed off the hook and made the 9 mile trip north up to Middle Pen Bay on Hog Cay. There was a bit of a medical drama unfolding several miles to our north. Our friend Jerry on Poco Loco slipped and fell while hiking on some iron shore. He ended up breaking both bones in his forearm just above the wrist. He sails alone, but luckily he was walking with friends at the time. One of the women was a nurse so she splinted his arm with a piece of driftwood and diapers. Don’t ask.

The nearest doctor was a 2 day sail away unless you count our friend Bob on Savage Son, who is a retired orthopedic surgeon. Jerry is 72 years old so a broken wrist is more than a little serious. Bob was 15 miles away from Jerry but gave advice over the VHF to the attending nurse. After 6 hours of back and forth with the United States Coast Guard they decided that a broken wrist wasn’t life threatening so there would be no help coming. The disappointing part of that whole debacle was that the final decision took so long to come down the chain of command that daylight was lost and there was no way for Jerry to be moved closer to medical assistance.

At dawn the next morning he was transferred to a large catamaran to make traveling more comfortable. The crew’s of the other boats in the anchorage all did a little shuffling around and one of the other captains was freed up to drive Jerry’s boat south to Hog Cay. As they headed south, Savage Son headed north and met up with the boat transporting Jerry. They dropped their hooks near a shoal out in the middle of nowhere and Bob went over to examine Jerry’s arm in person. Talk about a house call. He decided that the break looked clean with no deformity and that the nurse had done a nice job of immobilizing the injury. There was nothing else to be done for him but to get him to a medical facility.

After hours of phone calls it was arranged for a small plane to take Jerry from Ragged Island to Georgetown. Once there he was transferred to another small plane and flown to Nassau where his arm was put in a cast. After that he boarded another plane for the hop back to the states for a date with a surgeon.

So we all sit here in Hog Cay, with Jerry’s boat anchored, waiting for word from Jerry.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

February 16, 2010.

We probably won't have internet again until well after the 19th so.......Happy Birthday Randall.

The last front to come through also brought with it prolonged winds from the southwest. There's not a whole lot of places to hide from any type of westerly winds here in the Jumentos. While listening to the VHF I was able to count 29 boats and pinpoint their locations.

There are 2 “decent” places to hid and another 2 marginal places. Most of the boats were in or headed to Double Breasted Cay. So Far Niente, Savage Son and us on the Veranda opted to try some place we’ve never been before.

There's a cut from the banks side to the ocean between Hog Cay and Ragged Island that looked as if it would do the trick. Its open to the east but there were no easterlies in the forecast. From the west the entrance is a winding shallow affair between even shallower sand banks that will knock down any wave action headed our way, or at least that’s the theory.

Once inside the cut we found a sandy patch on the grass covered sea floor and dropped the hook and settled in for the 2 day event. A couple of boats dragged as the wind swung around through the west but everything worked out okay.

On Sunday morning all 9 boats in the anchorage headed out for the 2 mile trip up to Middle Pen Bay on Hog Cay. We were soon joined by an additional 11 boats that came down from Double Breasted Cay. The reason for the get together was that Maxine, who runs the grocery store on Hog Cay, holds a Valentines Day lunch every year.

Just after noon a half dozen locals brought Maxine and her food out to the beach where we had a grand time eating and drinking.

Maxine brought a cooked turkey, a bigass ham and the largest bowl of peas and rice that I had ever seen. All the cruisers all brought a dish to supplement the meal with a heavy emphasis on desserts (thank God). It was a huge turnout, especially down here with about 50 people in attendance.

The next morning the forecast once again turned to shit. So after a 2 hour walk on the beach there was a mass exodus as everyone headed out in search of a more protected anchorage. We had a great sail back down to Southside Bay at the southern tip of Ragged Island where we’ll most likely be hunkered down until Thursday or maybe even Friday.

Usually down here in the Jumentos we get a cold front once every 2 or 3 weeks. This year its been much worse with this being our fourth front in 11 days. I guess that this is just an extension of the horrible weather that’s been dumping snow all over the continental United States. Even though we’ve been having some crappy weather I guess it could be a lot worse.

Friday, February 12, 2010

February 10, 2010.

We need a bit of help from whoever can provide it. I need you to grab a weatherman and sacrifice him to the gods. This death doesn’t need to be cruel or prolonged but it has to be symbolic. If you can't bring yourself to kill him at least give him a "light and variable" ass whipping. Thanks.

We had a vicious front come through last weekend, another is here now (Wednesday) and the worst of the bunch is forecast for this Friday night. So we’re alternating our time between shelling, hunting and hiding like bitches from an angry pimp.

The weather in between the fronts has been nothing short of fabulous. After the last front we went snorkeling on a small reef right next to us in the anchorage. I found close to a dozen lobster tucked in amongst the coral. Most were smaller than legal but I did pick through the bunch and was able to take 4. Bob on Savage Son succeeded in finding and shooting the first lobster of his career.

After lunch we headed out to the reefs to the east of us along the ocean side. In a first for me; I found my first legitimate lobster hole. I always hear stories of Bahamanian lobstermen finding a spot where they just pull one bug after another out of a “lobster hole”. I was swimming along a plain flat bottom with no structure what-so-ever in sight when I came across a small hole with a deep ledge running the entire circumference. There were antenna poking out from every angle. I counted 6 lobster that I could plainly see. I shot 3 as quickly as I could while 2 escaped under the ledge and the sixth fellow was a little small.

In just a few hours we boated 7 nice sized lobster making 11 for the day. With so many lobster in hand we went from boat to boat making sure that everybody in the anchorage was having lobster for dinner. Since we’ve been here on the south side of Ragged Island we’ve taken 17 lobster and an 8 pound White Margate in the 2 days we’ve been able to get in the water. I’ve also been chased from the water by a Bull shark with horrible interpersonal skills.

On the last day of the last front was the Super Bowl. The only place with a television is on the north end of the island. We resigned ourselves to the fact that we would be walking the 1 ½ miles up the island to the Bonefish Lodge to watch the game. The walk there wasn’t so daunting, it was to be the walk home late at night in the pitch dark after a few adult beverages that might be scary. There were 5 boats anchored in the bay near us so we all headed in to town together. Businesses here on the island can be more than a little sketchy. The day before the game the proprietor of the lodge was still trying to troubleshoot the video feed for the television. The TV might be fixed, he “thought” that there might be some finger foods and he would try to get some beer in.

So we all headed in carrying our own snacks, liquor, laptops to check our mail (and to update the blog) before the game and even our garbage since we would be walking past the islands dump. As soon as we got rid of our garbage a pick-up truck happened along and picked all 9 of us up and drove us to the lodge.

It was too rough for the boaters anchored on the north side of the island to dingy into town so the lodge owner headed out in one of his fishing boats and crammed 17 people onboard and brought them in for the party. There ended up being about 40 people there, both cruisers and locals alike enjoying the game, the food and each others company.

The lodge owner was able to round up 5 cases of beer so instead of drinking what we brought most folks bought drinks from him. His wife cooked for hours and sent out one tray after another of conch fritters, lobster chunks, fish and chicken wings. His wife told me that beers were 3 dollars apiece and we would all just run tabs and settle up at the end of the evening.

So the lodge owner has picked up and will return everybody home to the north anchorage in his own boat. He’s arranged for a truck to take all of us others home to the southern anchorage at the end of the evening. His wife has slaved away in the kitchen feeding dozens of people and they’ve served us 5 cases of frosty cold beer. When we went to settle up with the man he told us it was his gift to the community and to the cruisers as well. I can’t begin to explain how poor the people of this island are and the hardships they endure and yet they’re willing to make a gift of this evening to us. There were about 15 cruising boats represented so we passed a hat and everybody happily threw in 20 bucks that was pressed into the lodge owners wifes hand. The locals here really are something special, it really couldn’t have been a nicer evening.

Until the next evening or course when we went over to Far Niente to celebrate Jays birthday. I thought Jay looked especially festive in his lobster horns party hat.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

February 4, 2010.

We’ve got the worst weather of the season headed our way. Cold fronts typically careen off the continent of North America and down through the Bahamas. They lose much of their destructive force as they head south through the islands.

Its not uncommon to hear weather forecasts that predict winds around 30 knots or more in the Abacos, 20 knots in the Exumas and 10 to 15 knots down through the Jumentos with each passing front.

This front promises to be a bit different. We’re supposed to have winds in the 15 knot range from out of the south as the front approaches. When the front arrives the wind will build to 20 knots from the southwest and then west. As the front passes we’re promised winds over 20 knots with squalls in the 30 to 40 knot range.

There’s no anchorage in the area that offers protection for the duration of the event so we’ve got to decide from which direction we’d like our asses kicked. The other option would be to hide in amongst several cays and move from place to place as the wind shifts around. I don’t want to chance having the wind shift in the middle of the night forcing us to consider moving. So we’re opting for a “controlled” ass kicking.

So we spent the morning hunting with the crews of Far Niente and Savage Son. We all were home at our boats, each with a lobster before 1130. We had the hooks up and were headed south to the bottom end of Ragged Island. We’ll be exposed to the south but with good sand and plenty of room to deploy chain we should be okay. Especially when the squalls come through bringing their higher winds. We’re tucked up just north of Wilson Point so we have a bit of protection from the west.

With the setting sun as a reference you can see that we are tucked in just enough to get ourselves some westerly protection. If you look at the map we found drawn on the wall at the local all age school; we’re down at the southern end of Ragged Island near the basketball. (The school here has just 9 students from K through 8th grades.)
February 3, 2010.

One of the new boats that joined us in the anchorage yesterday was the sailing vessel Savage Son. They’re from the same marina in Texas that Jay & Di on Far Niente are from. They had their boat trucked from Texas to Saint Augustine this December and headed out for the Bahamas.

They’ve been pretty much barreling along in an effort to meet up with Far Niente. They’re both experienced scuba divers but have never spearfished. Evidently the Far Niente’s have been spreading rumors about us being the great white hunters. The Savage Son’s asked if they could go along with us to learn about spearfishing in the Bahamas.

The wind was cranking a bit so after lunch we traveled the short distance to the next bay south of our anchorage. There have been a lot of cruisers through the area so its been pretty much picked over. I wasn’t expecting any real hunting but I thought it would be a good day for drift diving and just getting wet.

Of course, just 5 minutes after getting into the water I ran across a 4 pound lobster hiding under a ledge. I hope they don’t think that it’s always this easy. During the swim I harvested another smaller lobster and a decent sized Triggerfish. All in all it ended up being another very nice day in the water and I think the Savage Sons came away with a reasonable appreciation for spearfishing in the Bahamas. Tomorrow is supposed to be very benign day and I’m predicting a kill or two in Bob & Bevs future.
February 2, 2010.

Yesterday my back was feeling a bit better so we decided to head out for some hunting. We ended up taking another pair of lobsters and a 5 pound White Margate. While we were cleaning the fish and lobster we were beset by several large rays that came to snack on our cleaning scraps.

This morning we attempted to go out hunting again and it soon became a comedy of errors. We took the dinghy 2 miles north to the cut between Raccoon and Buena Vista Cays. As soon as we arrived we realized that I forgot to grab my weight belt. Crap. I usually wear a weight belt with 12 pounds of lead on it to counteract the buoyancy of my wetsuit. Without the belt I have to expend an enormous amount of energy to get to the bottom thus seriously limiting the amount of time I can spend at the bottom.

In an effort to make something out of nothing I spent 20 minutes diving a series of ledges that we knew were in the area. After spending 20 fruitless minutes I surfaced and found that Christy was in the dinghy and unable to get it started. Shit. The current was taking her out the cut and she dropped the anchor while I put it in gear and swam hard to get to her.

Once aboard the dink I got the engine started while she retrieved the hook. The dinghy didn’t want to run at low RPM’s so we blasted back down to the Veranda. We were back within an hour after leaving but decided to call it a day. Some days, you’re just not supposed to be out on the water.

I changed the plugs and cleaned the fuel filter on the dinghies engine which resolved the problem. As we ate lunch we heard that our friends on Far Niente were a few miles away and headed to our anchorage. It was great to see them again and they even brought us vegetables. We love those guys.

At beach cocktails in the evening we had a great time with the crews of 8 boats that all joined us in the anchorage today.
January 30, 2010.

Happy Birthday Colin.

The weather did indeed go to hell for a bit, but the anchorage was comfortable enough to be able to launch the dinghy and go into shore to do some hiking.

I pulled a muscle in my back so I had to lay low for a couple of days. Christy was able to get off the boat and go beach combing with our friends on Kokomo. They found a beach that was nothing short of a jackpot and maybe had not been explored yet this year. Christy found 15 Hamburger Beans and a gorgeous Triton Trumpet in perfect condition. I kinda just laid around the boat and read for 2 days.

My back was feeling a bit better and the weather was supposed to clock around and die tomorrow so I thought we’d try to get outta there today. I wanted to head back up to Raccoon Cay and do some diving on the ocean side on Sunday.

The spasms in my back had stopped although I still felt pretty sore and weak. I’ve been raising the anchor by hand since we left Annapolis, as the windlass barely spins. It was a bitch to do with my back hurting but I wanted to get outta there so we raised the mainsail, slowly hauled up the hook and sailed out of the anchorage.

The trip was a little less than 10 miles and went quickly in the 20 knots of breeze. Once at Raccoon we started the engine dropped sails and dropped the hook, yeah we were the only boat in the anchorage.

I’m sore as hell right now after dealing with the anchor and the genoa in 20 knots of wind but I feel much looser so I think there’s a pretty good chance we’ll be hunting tomorrow.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

January 27, 2010.

Guess who? That’s right, the Verandas. Guess where? Right again, Hog Cay in the Jumentos. We spent several days hunting, hiking and sunning while at Raccoon Cay. For 2 of those days we were the only boat there. It was a notch above fabulous.

On our last evening there we had a local resident stop in for a bit just before sunset. An 8 or 9 foot Hammerhead shark. It’s the first one we’ve seen while in the Bahamas. They can be extremely dangerous and it was a little disconcerting to see him here.

Raccoon Cay is about 3 miles long so imagine our surprise when we woke one morning to see 3 boats headed our way. I mean EXACTLY our way. The island is over 5000 yards long but they all deemed it necessary to anchor within 70 yards of us. Put on your clothes honey, its time to get on outta here.

We were thinking of heading outta there anyway, but I just couldn’t believe that with all the room they had, they thought they should snuggle right up to us. Our next stop was to be Double Breasted Cay. There was less than 5 knots of breeze but the trip was less than 5 miles so we sailed off the anchor and headed south.

We were doing between .5 and 1.2 knots as we VERY slowly sailed along. We’ve had a Barracuda living under the boat and we just happened to look back and there he was ghosting along staying in Veranda’s shadow. He probably didn’t even realize that we were moving. I can just hear him explaining to his toothy friends “I dunno, I passed out in Raccoon and woke up in Double Breasted”

We spent a couple of nights at Double Breasted catching up with some of our friends. We went hunting a couple of times and were rewarded with 4 lobsters one day and a lobster and a pair of Hogfish the next day.

We had to leave Double Breasted because of a front headed our way. We could have gone back to Raccoon and been safe but the promise of internet lured us south to Hog Cay.

Hog Cay is about 60 miles from Cuba. At this latitude we’re actually about 60 miles further south than Havana, Cuba. The anchorage here is shallow with high cliffs to the north and east, there’s also good protection about ¾ of a mile to the south. The nearest settlement is Duncan Town, about 3.5 miles away by dinghy. About a mile and a half of that trip is through unprotected waters and should only be done on a calm day. Unless of course, you’re the type of person who enjoys getting their ass kicked. The next nearest settlement is back on Long Island, about a hundred miles behind us. So this is about as out in the sticks as you can get.

We dropped the hook at about 1000 hours after the 8 mile trip down from Double Breasted Cay. The weather was supposed to deteriorate as the day went on with the world going to shit by tomorrow morning. The blow was supposed to be from the north through east for about 60 hours. So we’d be well protected, but there would be no chance to take the dinghy ride into town unless we did it before the weather hit. We’ll try and beat the weather for $400 Alex.

As other boats arrived from points north we all seemed to have the same plan. As soon as the anchor was set we dropped the dink and headed out for town. The heat was oppressive and there was not a hint of breeze, henceforth known as “the calm before the storm”.

We ran down along the west side of Hog, out across the open water and down the mile long mangrove lined channel into town. This channel is so shallow that nothing but small outboard boats can get into the towns protected harbor. When the mailboat shows up they anchor offshore and everything has to be ferried in via small open boats.

The town’s “grocer” was away in Nassau so we went down and knocked on her niece’s door. The niece has a key and opened up for us and the 3 other couples that made the trek into town. The 2 room grocery store is smaller than my Mothers kitchen. These people depend on fishing, goat hunting and what little supplements that arrive on the mailboat for survival.

Once we arrived, we found out that the internet has been periodically unavailable for the last 2 weeks. Fortunately for us as soon as we sat down at the open air internet patio it came back on. We were able to read our Email and post some replies before it vanished once again. We were sweating like crazy while we attempted to reconnect. Several of us commented on the wispy cool breeze that blew through every now and then offering some relief. Ut oh. A little breeze inland usually means alotta breeze offshore, the wind was building, we had to get outta there.

We walked back to the dinghies with our friends from Don’t Look Back. They had a little problem with their dinghy engine just as they were getting into town. It would only run at a high idle so they could only plod along at 6 knots instead of the 15 knots or better that most dinghies prefer to travel. We didn’t know what was wrong with it, and the weather was definitely building so we couldn’t take the time to try and figure it out. We stuck with them to make sure it didn’t crap out all together and made sure that they get home safely.

It was eerie calm as we followed the Don’t Look Backs dink out the mile long shallow channel. As soon as we hit the open water we found that the wind was already above 15 knots and pushing a nasty chop right at us. Crap. They were relegated to plodding along with one wave after another driving spray into their dink. Been there, done that, got the wet tee shirt to prove it. We opted to blast ahead riding over the tops of the waves. It was a very rough ride but at least we were dry. About ¾ of the way across the open section there was a tiny cay about 30 feet in diameter. We pulled right up into its lee to hide from the wind and waves. We watched the Don’t Look Backs make progress towards the anchorage. As they caught up to us we blasted back out ahead and home to the boat. By the time we got to the Veranda they came around the corner and finally made it home albeit drenched to the bone.
January 21, 2010.

So, what do we do all day while here in the Jumentos? Our favorite activity is spearfishing. We’ve been here in the Jumentos for less than 10 days and have already pulled 19 lobster and 20 various edible fish aboard. We’ve shared fish and lobster with our friends, and the freezer and fridge are both still full. We’ve had to take days off from fishing and do “other” stuff.

There is always “reading” but as it is, we already read just about every evening. We both put away a couple of books a week. Oprah should be calling us for recommendations. We also spend a good bit of time enjoying the company of the crews from other boats. Then there’s beach combing…….

Yesterday we spent a day wandering the ocean side beaches on Raccoon Cay. The beaches along the banks side (western side) of all these cays are as pristine as they were a hundred years ago. The ocean side is a different story. The eastern beaches are completely covered with modern day flotsam and jetsam. Plastic of every size and shape is evident as far as the eye can see. The number of plastic and foam based shoes that wash ashore is truly mind boggling.

On most occasions it would be foolhardy to land your dink on the eastern shore of these cays. So exploring these eastern beaches is most often preceded by a trek across the cay. Sometimes there are trails and sometimes you have to hack your own. A lot of the cays have dried salt ponds in the interior of the cay. Finding and crossing the dried salt ponds makes crossing the cays much easier (if you don’t mind the goat shit). We took up a collection of washed up shoes and flip flops (called Lost Soles) and re-marked some of the trails on Raccoon Cay. They are put back each year by the cruisers so that you can find and follow the trails because they get “blowed away” during the hurricane season. But once on the beach, among the refuse of society, there is a treasure that is held dear by most cruisers…….

That’s right, sea beans. Sea beans are the seeds of several types of fauna common in Africa and or South America. A surprising number of these seeds are driven by the Gulf Stream and tides for thousands of miles before coming to rest along the shores of the Bahamas.

It’s not uncommon for a half dozen cruisers to be walking along the beach looking for beans.

There is also the benefit of fresh air, exercise and conversation, but the beans are the driving force. There are Purse Beans, Hamburger Beans (pronounced Hang ga ber on the Veranda), and Heart Beans for example, some are common while others are exceptionally rare. Amongst the rarest is the “Mary Bean” which by the way, we had never found, that is until this year. Christy has found 2 in the last week and is quite excited!

The beans are commonly polished and made into jewelry. Some of the cruisers we’ve met are incredibly talented and some of the pieces they’ve created are truly beautiful. It’s not unusual for a cruiser to show up at a social gathering wearing a new creation to be flocked upon by the other women admiring her new creation.
January 18, 2010.

We spent the day yesterday doing boat chores as a bit of a front came through. There was nothing spectacular on the schedule. We spent the day cobbling up some muffin tins and a few conch horns. In the afternoon I went over to a nearby boat that was having some drive train issues. I was able to fix their problem while Christy took the dogs to the beach for a little swimming. Besides that, I really don’t remember what we did, it was yesterday. Wait, what day is it?

As the front passed through we had a period of very benign winds from the west. The bright spot in a forecast like that is that we would be able to head out to the ocean side of the cay (the east side) and attempt to do some hunting.

We headed out around 1000 hours and within a few minutes I had boated a 3 pound lobster. I figured that it was going to be a banner day but it was almost 2 hours til I found another decent sized lobster to harvest. Along the way we saw several fish that I was able to stalk and attempt to shoot. Usually I’m pretty deadly, today, not so much. I screwed up every thing I tried to do. A huge ass snapper, a swing and a miss. I wounded a nice Hogfish only to have him slip from my spear and escape into a deep cave, never to be seen again. Crap.

Finally, I’d had enough of the ocean side and we headed back onto the banks. Even though we had 2 lobsters in the bucket it was with a sense of frustration that we dropped the hook for lunch amongst a half dozen coral heads. After a quick PB & J sandwich and some soda we once again slipped into the water.

What a difference a PB & J can make. After lunch, the next 4 patches we swam all had a single lobster hidden amongst the coral. We soon had 6 lobsters in the bucket and were ready to head for home. Christy spotted one more coral head a short distance away. What the hell, we might as well hit the entire area. I swam the entire periphery of the last head and dove on every conceivable lobster hiding place, to no avail. Satisfied that no lobsters inhabited that coral patch I headed for the dink. As I passed across the highest point of the coral patch there was a small opening and it was there that I saw it. It was just a 2 inch piece of “straightness”. “Straight” rarely happens in nature. A lobster’s antennas are one of the exceptions. I’ve been fooled before by the spine on a stingray but generally, straight, means lobster.

Even though I was ready to climb into the dink with 6 lobsters onboard I decided to dive to the bottom and check it out. I pressed my mask into the small opening in the bottom and sure enough, lobster. Not just any lobster, but the biggest bug of the day.

All I could see were his 2 antenna and I was convinced that he was a biggy. After several dives I was able to find a small opening to catch a better glimpse of him. It was a crappy angle from the side and all I could see were several of his stout legs. I had to have that lobster. I kinda triangulated where his body should be based on the location of his legs and one antenna. The coral was so thick that I had to take a longer shot than I was comfortable with and I scored a solid body shot, but all I did was piss him off.

A Spiny Lobster has a pair of horns on his head just above his eyes that they will drive in to the top of their lair to prevent them from being pulled out of their den. This bastard did not want to come out of his den. Try as I might, I could not pry him from his home. I had my spear bent at a ridiculous angle but nothing I did brought this lobster any closer to our bucket.

After 45 minutes and several dozen dives, which involved the moving of several large rocks, the removal of several lobster legs and more than a little muscle, I was able to pry the little rat bastard from his hole. Resist all you want, tomorrow you are Lobster sRisotto.

We ended up retiring for the day with 7 lobsters and a pair of lovely Hogfish by 1400 hours. We gave 4 of the bugs away as we just don’t have any room in the fridge or freezer for them and then headed in to the beach to burn some garbage and meet with our friends for sundowners.