The biggest differences between the Abacos and the Exumas (for me) are the water changing hues from a blue base to a green base (with the presence of a excess seagrass on the seafloor), three sixty degree protected anchorages (definitely a bonus!), more people and even colder water… however, that hasn’t stopped us from having a crazy good time 🙂
We have been moving north to the Abacos for several weeks now…when we looked back at our log, of the 28 days in February, 19 were spent in different anchorages! We had a race against the clock to be back up there before Travis’ parents arrived for a visit and the weather was pushing us north a bit faster than we had originally intended because finding a sheltered anchorage from a strong west wind in the northern Exumas is definitely more difficult to find if you want a good night’s sleep! When we started cruising we had no idea how hard it was going to be to plan for people to visit… we rely so much on the weather to pick our passages and anchorages, getting to one particular location on a specific date requires early planning and thankfully we were able to pick them up on schedule, so let me catch you up on what we’ve been doing.
We had several big days at the helm, the route from Ship Channel Cay to Spanish Wells provided us with an excellent coconut curry fish dinner as Travis caught a large mutton snapper which yielded enough meat for both families to enjoy it. I’m pretty sure you can envision it as I think I’ve included similar pics before 🙂
Our last major crossing from Spanish Wells to Little Harbor was planned perfectly with three foot waves at ten second intervals. You need to plan for the crossing in light weather as entering into the cut at Little Harbor has to be done with pin point accuracy to ensure the large rolling swell doesn’t push you into the reef which covers 3/4 of the entrance! Timing the waves and riding them in made me think a bit too much of rodeos, but we made it with some space to spare. The highlight of the crossing however was we sailed by what we thought to be a routine trash burn but actually was a home going up in flames! We quickly anchored the boats (still traveling with Isla Bonita) and Travis zoomed over in the dinghy to see if there was anything we could do to help, but there was no way to stop the flames that had already engulfed the 2 story residence. Thankfully it was not occupied full time and there was no one inside when it caught fire.
We decidedly needed a rest from the daily navigation and with some hard blows coming, we holed up in Hopetown, Manjack and Treasure Cays for several days at a time and waited for that weather window to match picking up Travis’ parents. Hopetown was great as we took advantage of our mooring stay and enjoyed ping pong, a fresh water pool, grocery a short dingy ride away, and hot showers! On our most recent visit to Manjack, the kids were able to take advantage of the wind and get in some great sailing on the Zumas which Bill and Leslie (permanent residents) so generously let the kids take out. Manjack has become a definite favorite Cay! We also enjoyed a pig roast and bonfires as we met new friends and stretched our legs on the well tended hiking trails.
One of the nicer things about being in a well protected anchorage for a blow is that you get to take advantage of land based activities, so at Treasure Cay we all rented bikes and headed to one of the 3 known blue holes in the Abacos. After a longer than anticipated bike ride, we arrived at the blue hole which definitely surpassed my expectations. The dark surface was decidely round and evenly surrounded by tall, majestic pines and a few low palms. One of the cautions we learned about with blue holes is that they have a layer of hydrogen sulfide (a toxic gas created by bacterial colonies and decaying organic matter) and if we were to pass through it, we could have some serious side effects like disorientation, nausea and itching, just to name a few. So we all agreed to stay topside in the freshwater layers of the hole… and if you are more interested, National Geographic did an awesome story about Bahamian Blue Holes. Just to spark your interest, one of the neat things about them is that because of the lack of oxygen mixing with the lower salt water levels, bones that are found inside do not decompose! They have even found skulls from the Lucayans (the native population that Columbus encountered) and even the Cuban crocodile (which haven’t been around in hundreds of years)!
The last thing I wanted to highlight was the excellent Cook off between our kiddos on the boats. Both groups: planned menus, recorded recipes, shopped for the necessary items, did the food prep, cooked, served and cleaned up for us parents! It was an amazing experience, the best dinner meals I have ever been served (the actual dinner took four hours from start to finish!), I have never felt so pampered in my life (or pleased all at once)! I challenge all you kid readers out there to do something similar for your parents… make it fun, a competition even… the categories we were judging on included: drinks, main dish, presentation, and dessert. Rewards were very generous (ice cream all the way around and a full day golf cart rental:) Here are some of the wonderful dishes our pallets enjoyed: lasagna with spinach, nainamo bars with strawberries and whipped topping, black bean and chickpea salad, mutton w/ asparagus, chop suey, fresh homemade rolls, and mixed berry crepes… yes folks, this is one extra happy mom!