Fish and Festivities   Leave a comment

        I couldn’t resist the alliteration. Once again, I’ve let too much happen since my last post. It’s not like everything I have to write about is particularly interesting. I just feel somehow obligated record it.

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Boats anchored along Stocking Island in Elizabeth Harbor, George Town.

        I last reported in from Black Point, Great Guana Cay, which was such a nice place that Lee and I stayed for several days. Our friends, who were in a hurry to reach George Town, left the day after we arrived. Lee and I opted to wait a while, spending a few days running around the island, doing laundry, and catching up on computer business. The laundromat (spelled “laundermat” on their sign) in Black Point was very big and clean but expensive, as I expected laundry to be out here. Fortunately we’ve been wearing the same dirty clothes over and over again, for the most part, so there wasn’t as outlandish of an amount to wash as their could have been, considering I had not done laundry since Florida.
        There were quite a few cruising boats anchored at Black Point and a few turned up in the little restaurants in town. Lee and I hung out at Lorraine’s Cafe a little bit to use the internet. I spent a few hours there while Lee went on a coconut expedition down the island. He caught the coconut bug, so to speak, and was determined to figure out how to climb a palm tree, retrieve a coconut, and hack into it’s delicious center. This was all easier said than done, although he did eventually climb a tree and snag quite a few young coconuts. The young, green coconuts have softer shells but tougher husks. The meat inside is also softer. tastes different from the coconut we’re used to, and is supposedly very good for you. We now have 4 young coconuts on the boat, just waiting to go into smoothies and the like.

        Strong winds from the southeast kept us in Black Point longer than we intended. When the wind finally abated, we took off through the cut and tacked upwind towards Little Farmer’s Cay. The cut (narrow opening between two islands that connects the banks with the sound on either side of the Exumas) was rough because the tide was going out against the wind but once we got out a little ways the seas calmed down and we settled in to a pleasant, 10-15 knot beat.
        Lee put his fishing line in the water, as the sound is where everyone’s been catching Mahimahi. It seemed easy to snag a fish out there but we didn’t get our hopes up. Imagine our surprise when the line zinged out against the clutch and the pole bent over. Lee was convinced we’d just caught a hunk of seaweed but we hove-to anyway and Lee started reeling in our catch. The line came in so easily we thought maybe we’d lost the lure. Then I noticed a fish splash near our bow and the line went under the boat. Oops. Now we had a fishing line in front of our rudder and there was clearly something on the other end. There were even a couple of huge Mahimahi swimming next to our boat!
        At that point Lee got in the dinghy, which we were towing, and starting pulling the line in by hand while I cranked the reel. A big, shiny fish finally appeared alongside the dinghy. I handed Lee a bucket, pliers, and bottle of aftershave (we’ve heard that alcohol kills fish when splashed on it’s gills). He slung the fish into the dinghy and it flopped around for a while until the aftershave or the gaping hole from the hook was too much for the poor fish. We took a few pictures and stuck our Mahi in a plastic trash bag in the fridge (it barely fit). We then spent the rest of our sail wondering how we’d clean and cook our catch.

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        I ended up cleaning the fish. It wasn’t really too bad but that fish sure was a lot bigger than the trout I’m used to cleaning in CO. I cut open the trash bag and used it as a tarp on the cockpit table for my cleaning surface. There’s no need for gory details. We managed to gut the fish and cut it into steaks and filets. I marinated the steaks in some soy sauce and fresh ginger and Lee cooked them on the barbecue. It was a long, messy process but the reward was worth it! There is nothing like feasting on fresh Mahimahi you caught yourself!
        We only spent one night at Little Farmer’s but it was a beautiful place that I’d like to go back to at some point. George Town called and we knew we had a day of calm wind before some nasty weather moved in. We motored most of the way to Great Exuma and navigated through Elizabeth Harbor’s shoals in the late afternoon. A mis-programmed waypoint and some rapid shoaling led to our first grounding in the Bahamas. Luckily the bottom was sandy and we were off before long. I spotted a sea turtle as we felt our way into the harbor.
        The sheltered anchorages along Stocking Island were brimming with the largest collection of anchored boat’s I’ve ever seen. As we learned later, every cruiser in the Bahamas had descended on George Town for the annual Cruising Family Regatta this week. We passed our boat friends on the way in but anchored a little ways down the shoreline and hunkered down for the rain squall that followed. Lee managed to collect 5 gallons of rainwater, our first.
        After dinner, we joined the party onshore at the Chat n’ Chill, where a few of our friends were hanging out. The regatta kickoff party was going on and the free drinks were filled a crown of cruisers with exuberance and energy. Young and old took to the dancer floor. Entertaining costumes abounded. Lee and I took it all in for a while and even danced a few dances before heading home to bed.

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DInghies lined up and ready to go.

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Our team blasted off the beach with a huge lead!

        The following morning was the Coconut Run, an event in the regatta where teams of four paddle inflatables with swim fins on their hands in a race to collect as many floating coconuts as possible. The four guys from our group of friends teamed up in a dinghy and prepared for the race. Everyone started with their boats onshore, clambering into them when the race began. We girls cheered from shore and took pictures as our team blasted around the little bay. They were by far the fasted boat out there but they didn’t quite gather the most coconuts. They did, however, win the coconut bowling competition, part of a series of events held after the initial race.

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That’s a lot of coconuts!

        That afternoon Lee helped search for our friends’ dinghy, which had drifted away from their boat the night before. They didn’t find it that day but someone else salvaged it and got it back to them a few days later (minus the ruined engine). Lee did some windsurfing. I did some relaxing. We joined the group for a delicious potluck aboard one couple’s boat that night. Everyone in this circle is such a great cook – we always have yummy meals.
        The next day Lee and I went for a run in George Town, on the main island (Great Exuma). We picked up some fresh groceries in town and got drenched on the upwind dinghy ride back to the boat. That afternoon we checked into moorings for Pirat during the wedding. We found a place we like but getting in there is only vaguely possible with our draft (we probably found a better spot today). After a little hike around the island Lee took to the windsurfer again and I hung out on the boat. The wind continued to howl at 15-20 knots this whole time.

        Whew! That finally brings me to yesterday!
        Lee and I took the dinghy across to George Town again yesterday morning. A friend hitched a ride and took part in our second dinghy soaking. We didn’t have much luck finding internet in town (one reason for coming in) but we managed to pick something up outside the market and took care of some important business online (like ordering Lee’s wedding clothes).
        Lee windsurfed again and I went for a run on the beach. Last night the whole gang ventured ashore to a restaurant some friends knew about where a band was playing. Lee and I had dinner there and we all enjoyed an evening off the boats.

        Here we are, finally, at Sunday morning. We fly to St. Thomas for our wedding in exactly two weeks. It’s time to get out of George Town and get some sailing done before we have to leave! Our friends are continuing south today and tomorrow and we may be ready to go by tomorrow as well. We’re still figuring out a mooring for Pirat and we need to fill up on propane, water, and gasoline for the outboard. Now we’re off for another expedition ashore to get some of those things done. Fortunately the wind has calmed down quite a bit so we should stay drier on this trip.

        Next stop: Long Island? Rum Cay? Cat Island?

Posted March 3, 2011 by Rachel in Uncategorized

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