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May, 2014:

Pete’s Little Harbour

Little Harbour, Great Abaco Island
May 20, 2014

When we awakened to a lesser amount of wind in our anchorage at Lynyard Cay, we decided to motor back to Sandy Cay to check the snorkeling opportunity there. Though the wind was less, the swells coming in from the ocean were larger than the previous day, making an undesirable water surface conducive to snorkeling.

Deciding to turn back south and motor to Little Harbour, at the lower end of Great Abaco Island, gave us the opportunity to revisit the small community. We had first visited Little Harbour with Ed and Cheryl in 2011.

Speaking of Ed and Cheryl, Gary and I had just reminisced that very morning about how we could not have had better mentors and guides as what they were during our first, introductory, trip to the Abaco Islands. Our second time going to the Abacos was in 2013 with the flotilla group of Gemini’s led by Jim and Deb. That was an awesome experience as well. We had the opportunity to go to a few different places than where we went in 2011, broadening our knowledge of the Abaco Islands. It seemed only fitting that Gary and I were meant to have the experience of touring the beloved islands this time on our own, being ever thankful to all who taught us about being successful navigators of the many cays of the Abacos.

Little Harbour was founded by Mr. and Mrs. Randolph Johnston, originally from New England. Their humble beginning at the harbor, included living in one of the limestone caves while they built their home.

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Literature indicates Mr. Johnston built (my hunch is Mrs. J. didn’t just sit idly by and watch) a beachside home and studio where he produced “lost wax castings” in bronze. From the foundry they built in the 1950’s, their son Pete* (whom we met) still makes bronze castings today in the same manner. Though taught by his father, Pete reported he taught his father (good humor).

Pete, hard at work in the foundry, working on a fish sculpture

Pete, hard at work in the foundry, working on a fish sculpture

Out of three sons, Pete is the only one who remained in Little Harbour to carry on the family legacy of creating magnificent sculptures.imageimageimage

Inside Pete's Gallery

Inside Pete’s Gallery

Pete also has a pub/restaurant in Little Harbour, managed by his son and daughter-in-law, Greg and Heather, and their adorable son, Fletcher, who is 18 months old and runs the place. Of all the restaurants in the Abacos, this one has the best island ambience, with sand for floors, a ceiling of teeshirts hanging from the rafters, makeshift benches instead of bars tools, picnic tables instead of linen tablecloths and napkins, and an eclectic mix of stuff for decorations. We loved it! It reminded us of restaurants we frequented when we chartered sailboats in the British Virgil Islands. The food was good at Pete’s Pub too. We not only ate dinner there, we went back the next day for lunch and dined on coconut cracked conch for the first time. DELICIOUS!

 

Use a rake instead of a broom on these floors

Use a rake instead of a broom on these floors

 

Hallway to the restroom - love it!

Hallway to the restroom – love it!

Doors to the kitchen with fish shaped hinges and porthole windows

Doors to the kitchen with fish shaped hinges and porthole windows

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*After reading my script to him, Pete Johnston edited it and gave his verbal permission to post his picture and this blog. 5-21-14 JG

Outer Islands

May 18, 2014
Tilloo Cay

We motored south from Hope Town, Elbow Cay to Tilloo Cay, anchoring in a cove just southeast of Tavern Cay. The anchorage protected us from the 15 – 20 knot northeast winds. Our goal was to get close to the coral gardens at Sandy Cay, so we could snorkel the area before starting our trek back North. Sandy Cay reef in Pelican Cays Land and Sea Park is a national park. According to our notes written on our chart, dated 5-15-11, it offered the best snorkeling in the Abacos. We thought it would be worth a few days of waiting for the wind to calm down to get the opportunity to snorkel there again.

Tilloo Cay National Park is a protected area for tropical birds. In our anchorage at Tilloo Cay that evening, we heard what sounded like a poorwill, though we think they are not indigenous to the Bahamas. Maybe this bird did not get the memo.

 

May 19, 2014
Lynyard Cay

Home on Lynyard Cay, looks like a postcard

Home on Lynyard Cay,
looks like a postcard

Even though the wind had not diminished from the previous day, we moved further south toward Sandy Cay. A downwind sail was delightful the first half of the trip. The second half required motoring with 3 – 6 foot swells on our bow ( front of the boat) and beam (side), until we got to the lee of Lynyard Cay (i.e.,the island blocked the wind).

As we turned toward our destination, we went directly into the wind enabling Captain Gary to easily take the mainsail down as we motored into the calm anchorage of Lynyard Cay. On our way to our protected anchorage of Lynyard Cay, we passed our snorkel destination of Sandy Cay. The holding ground had been reported to be poor at Sandy Cay, and it was recommended to be used only as a day anchorage. Therefore, we will backtrack, which will take a half hour of motoring, when we get the calm winds needed to return to Sandy Cay to enjoy snorkeling.

We noticed, by viewing the beach at Lynyard Cay with our binoculars, someone had made a signing tree. So when we went ashore the first time, we took our indelible marker to leave our signatures. This time we chose a white conch shell on which we wrote our names, boat name, and date. It reminds us of back-in-the-day when we would have written, “Gary and Jean were here.”

A selfie at the signing tree We left our names on a conch shell

A selfie at the signing tree
We left our names on a conch shell

For dinner, I made a Bahamian recipe of Peas and Rice. ( The recipe was posted on a display at the Island Roots Heritage Festival and I had taken a picture of it for future reference. ) The recipe called for Pigeon Peas. Knowing I wanted to make this recipe at some time, we had purchased canned pigeon peas when we were in Hope Town. I had no idea what pigeon peas were when we bought them, no idea how or where they were grown, what they looked like, what they tasted like, I’d never heard of them before; and since we didn’t have internet service at the remote island, I couldn’t find out all the answers to my questions. What I do know is we enjoyed the meal. We may stock up on pigeon peas before we leave the Bahamas.

Recipe for Peas ‘n Rice:
1/4 cup bacon, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 small green pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 10 ounce can pigeon peas
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup rice
2 cups water
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Fry the bacon until crisp. Add the onion, green pepper, and celery and cook until mixture is pulpy. Add tomato paste and cook until most of the moisture has evaporated. Add the drained pigeon peas, thyme, salt and pepper, and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in the rice and add water to cover. Cover the pot and simmer until all the liquid has evaporated. Serves 4

After dinner, we took a dinghy ride to another little beach that appeared after low tide. As we were getting out of the dinghy, I found a sea biscuit in the shallow water at the shore line. Gary and I continued to walk in the water to look for more sea biscuits, finding only a few more.

The sun started to set so we stood on the beach and watched it descend. As the bright fuchsia globe dipped behind an island, we admired the beauty of what we were seeing, standing on the little beach until the last dot of the brilliant color faded, leaving behind a pastel blend of pink and blue along the horizon.

Hope Town, Days 5 – 8

Hope Town
May 14, 2014 Day 5

Laundry day. $10.00 per load. Two loads.

While I was at the laundry, Gary washed a few items by hand and hung them on White Swan’s lifelines to dry. At $10.00 a load, we don’t do small loads at the laundry. Also, we wear our outer clothing more than one day since going to the laundry in the Bahamas is a luxury. I really don’t know how the local people manage the cost of living in the Bahamas.

After the laundry was done, we had a light lunch at the Inn’s restaurant, and then exercised in the swimming pool before returning to the boat.

Hope Town Inn and Marina  Bar/Restaurant

Hope Town Inn and Marina
Bar/Restaurant

Pool at Hope Town  Inn and Marina

Pool at Hope Town
Inn and Marina

Viani and Sue, along with their cousins, Conchita and Marco, came to White Swan to join us during happy hour. We enjoyed the conversations as Viani and Conchita talked about growing up in Cuba, and Marco talked of his life in Costa Rica. Conchita and Marco have a home there, as well as one in Key Biscayne. It sounded as though their hearts were truly attached to Costa Rica as they passionately talked about their huge project of making a walking trail through the island. It will be an amazing accomplishment when it is completed, and something people from all over the world will go to. Viani shared about his experiences as a professional photographer. He used to work for the Miami Herald. Sue and I are kindred spirits. She was born, raised, and went to college (where she met Viani) in Ohio, U.S.A. Our mid-west connection helped us feel like we’d known each other forever. We plan on reuniting with Viani and Sue in Coconut Grove some day, and maybe we will get to see Conchita and Marco as well.

 

Hope Town
Day 6

The scene of Hope Town harbor has changed since the opening of the Hope Town Inn and Marina in 2012. Now mega yachts frequent the harbor since there is a marina with large enough docks to accommodate them.

Mega yachts at the marina

Mega yachts at the marina

The morning’s excitement was watching a mega yacht leave the dock at the Hope Town Inn and Marina, and work its way through the mooring field to leave the harbor. All hands were on deck on every inhabited boat throughout the mooring field to watch the show. Someone once said, “If you’re not watching the show, you are the show.” So true in the boating world. Spectators surface whenever a new arrival comes into or departs a harbor. The “show” is watching the anchoring dance, the technique used to pick up the mooring ball, or how well the captain dock’s the boat or departs from the boat slip. Yep, if you’re not watching the show, you are the show. (My apologies for not providing credit to the unknown originator of this great line.)

Gary took the dinghy to shore before breakfast, to go for a brisk walk. I stayed on the boat to write for our blog. After breakfast, we visited the lighthouse. We had walked the 101 stairs to the top once before in 2011. The courageous thing about the Glenn’s doing such a feat, twice no less, is both of us are afraid of heights. The narrow spiraling staircase seemed steeper to me this second climb. Knowing I must write about our experience motivated me to climb to the top. We managed to get through the small opening that allows visitors to exit to the balcony at the top of the lighthouse. I sat and rested in the brisk breeze, while Gary stood, braced against the outside wall of the lighthouse, and took pictures of the town, harbor, Sea of Abaco, and the ocean.

Hope Town Lighthouse

Hope Town Lighthouse

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Spiral staircase In lighthouse

Spiral staircase
In lighthouse

View from the top of the lighthouse

View of the mooring field from the top of the lighthouse

View of Hope Town  From top of lighthouse

View of Hope Town
from the top of the lighthouse

A dip in the pool was refreshing before we went back to the boat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While we were relaxing, after having dinner on the boat, we heard Gary’s name being called out from someone on the water taxi. New acquaintances, whom we first met on Mother’s Day, were on their way over to the Inn for dinner. Gary and I hopped in the dinghy and went to say goodbye to Jack and Anita, who had spent almost a week on the island celebrating their anniversary, and were flying out the next day to go back to their home in Georgia. Jack had flown the two of them to Marsh Harbor in his two-seater plane, which he had built himself. They are plane fanatics like we are sailing fanatics.

 

New friends,  Jack and Anita

New friends,
Jack and Anita

 

Hope Town
May 16, 2014 Day 7

Rain came intermittently all day. We managed short stints to shore to go to the grocery and the H. T. Inn and Marina. This was our first somewhat boring day. Dark skies, with not a glimmer of sunshine. A good day to batten down the hatches and hope for a sunny tomorrow.

Hope Town
May 17, 2014 Day 8, Last Day

It was still overcast most of the day the last day we were at Hope Town. The sun didn’t come out until late afternoon, but it did come out.

We spent the morning at the beach. The northeast wind really kicked up the ocean. Regardless, there were a few snorkelers, three kite-surfers, and a few swimmers. Gary and I participated by watching all the activity from the lodge’s lounging chairs under an umbrella. While relaxing on the lounge chairs, we met a couple from Texas who were lounging on chairs next to us. Fred and Caroline are also retired, and cruising on their M/V (motor vessel), a Kadey Krogen 44. It always amazes us that strangers talk to us like they’ve always known us.

Beach in front of Hope Town Lodge

Beach in front of
Hope Town Lodge

On our walk back to the dinghy dock, we stopped at a new art centre in the newly renovated Hummingbird Cottage. My favorite piece in the lovely gallery was a watercolor with the prominent focus on a brilliant colored lobster. While talking to the artist we found out the interesting frame for her fascinating art was made by a man in Man-O-War. He had used old drift wood which had been ravaged by worms and it was covered with worm holes. I complimented the artist on the whole piece. The watercolor was vivacious and the frame choice could not have been more perfect. However, the price for the stunning artwork was way out of our league. Even though we were not there to make a purchase, we had great pleasure looking at all the artist’s creations which were on display.

Hummingbird Cottage

Hummingbird Cottage

Backyard at Hummingbird Cottage

Backyard at
Hummingbird Cottage

At 5:00 we went to the St. James Methodist Church to a recital of the local children who had taken music lessons from the youth pastor’s wife. All ages of children and teens participated in the hour long recital. Some sang, and some played the piano, guitar, or bongo drums. They all did a great job of entertaining the audience in the small packed church. Gary and I found the dynamics of the congregation interesting after seeing a lot of them working in various businesses throughout the island during our stay in Hope Town.

Recital at  St James Methodist Church

Recital at
St James Methodist Church

That evening we had to say goodbye to Viani, Sue, and their crew. We met their third crew member, Mike, who had just flown in from Key West. The next morning they started their sail south to the Bimini Islands where they will wait for their weather window to cross over to Miami.

Oh yeah…. we celebrated the return of the sun that day by treating ourselves to an ice cream.

May 18, 2014
10:15 AM
Right before we left Hope Town, a young man and his daughter came by White Swan in a kayak. We had previously met this nice man, his wife, and three children at the swimming pool. They had lived in Carmel, Indiana (a town just north of Indianapolis, where we previously lived before moving to Florida) before they began living on their boat and joining the cruiser’s world. The two kayakers stopped by our boat to talk to Gary. During the conversation, we found out the young man is the brother to one of Gary’s former patients. It’s a small world.

 

 

Hope Town, Days 1 – 4

Arriving at Hope Town
May 10, 2014

The name, Hope Town, sounds as sweet as the village is. Loyalists, fleeing from the American Revolution, founded this community in 1785. Generations later, descendants of the founders still live there today.

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Hope Town’s strikingly handsome candy-striped lighthouse, standing 120 feet tall, welcomes mariners in to the harbor. Once inside the protected harbor, one gets the feeling of arriving home. Thus, we planned on staying for a week, allowing Hope Town to wrap it’s protective arms around us and our White Swan.

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Tacking first to starboard and then to port, and repeating the maneuvers as necessary, we sailed from Marsh Harbour to Hope Town on Elbow Cay. The trip would have been shorter in duration had we motored, but not nearly as much fun.

Gary wanted to run the water maker, so upon our arrival we anchored for a few hours just outside the channel leading to Hope Town, in the shallows of the Sea of Abaco, before taking White Swan inside to be moored. While the water maker worked, we took the dinghy into Hope Town to play. Walking the streets of Hope Town is a pleasure, looking at the tropical colored painted cottages and interesting architecture. Unlike Marsh Harbour, one feels safe walking on the streets without sidewalks, because the general modes of transportation on this island are golf carts or bicycles.

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Wanting fresh fish for dinner, we went to two grocery stores to explore the possibility of buying some. The best we could find was “fresh frozen” and we got a pound of snapper.
We let it thaw while we dinghied back to White Swan and brought her in to the harbor to be moored.

Last year, when we came to the Bahamas with a flotilla of Gemini’s (our model of boat, not an astrological sign), some of the boaters moored on mooring balls owned by the newly opened Hope Town Inn and Marina. In so doing, they had access to the Inn’s facilities. We decided to explore it this year, and after mooring White Swan, we went to the Inn to enjoy their swimming pool. While there, we met a couple from Coconut Grove, South Miami, which just happens to be one of our favorite places to cruise to. By the time we left the pool, we had made arrangements to go with Sue and Viani to a Mother’s Day brunch the next day.

Hope Town Inn  And Marina

Hope Town Inn
And Marina

Back aboard White Swan, we prepared our snapper dinner. This is the newest recipe from White Swan’s galley:

Glenn’s Bahamian Fish
Serves 2
Ingredients:
1 pound mild white fish (snapper, grouper, sea bass, tilapia)
1 small yellow squash
4 sweet red bell peppers
1 small onion
1 small can carrots ( or pre-cooked fresh carrots)
Olive oil
Seafood Seasoning
Orange juice (approx. 1/4 cup)
Lime juice (approx. 1/8 cup)
Prepared couscous

Line a pan with heavy duty foil. Drizzle olive oil on foil.

Slice a yellow squash longways into quarters. Slice each long quartered piece in half. Place on foil.
Remove seeds from sweet peppers, cut in half or quarter. Place on foil.
Peel and quarter one small onion. Break apart the segments and place on foil.
Drain water from one can of carrots. Place on foil.
Drizzle olive oil over vegetables. Toss them to distribute oil.

Drizzle olive oil over fish. Sprinkle your favorite seafood seasoning on the fish. (I used Salmon Seasoning that we purchased at a seafood market). Lay the seasoned side of the fish down on the vegetables. Pour lime juice and orange juice over fish. Sprinkle top side of fish with your seasoning.

Bring sides of foil up to partially cover fish and veggies.
Lift foil out of pan and place on grill. Grill, using medium heat, until fish is done, approx. 30 minutes. (This could be baked in the oven as well, 350*)

Serve over prepared couscous. Use the juices from the fish and veggies as a sauce. YUMMY!

 

Mother’s Day
May 11, 2014

Mama and me February 2013

Mama and me
February 2013

Bittersweet… It’s hard to describe all the emotions one goes through when experiencing the first Mother’s Day after the death of your mother. Being in an island paradise doesn’t magically make all those bittersweet feelings disappear. Mother Clifton passed away last August, and not a day goes by without good thoughts of her. When she was alive, I always said, “Mama and Gary are my best friends.” If you can find one person on this earth who loves you unconditionally, you are blessed. I was doubly blessed.

 

A poem by B. Jean Glenn 6-5-14

 

“Mama”

 

Her voice is in the song of the mocking bird

Her presence is in the wings of the hummer

Her life is in the flower garden

And her face is in the beauty of the rose

 

She rises with the sun each morning

All her days are healthy and full of love

She slumbers when the light of day has passed

And her rest is painless and serene

 

In mortality she lives

In the thoughts of those who love her

In immortality she wears a crown

And is the royalty she should have always been

 

 

Mother's Day 2014 in Hope Town

Mother’s Day 2014
in Hope Town

 

My bittersweet Mother’s Day celebration started with waking up to a clean galley that was not left in good order the night before. Sweet! Thank you Galley Slave Gary for the nice unexpected gift. Then Barista Gary prepared our morning lattes which we enjoyed during our devotional time. Then we went with Sue and Viani to the Hope Town Harbour Lodge for a three hour cruise around their special Mother’s Day Breakfast Buffet. Mimosa refills were endless, so who needed coffee? Conversation flowed easily as we got to know our newly found friends.

Jean, Sue, and endless mimosas.

Jean, Sue,
and endless mimosas.

After our three hour cruise around the buffet, Gary and I walked on the beach for awhile. We ended up on the lodge’s chaise chairs, taking a nap while hearing the lullaby of the ocean.

The rest of the day was spent aboard White Swan, recovering from the endless mimosas.

 

 

 

 

 

Hope Town
Day 3

Morning routine done, picnic lunch packed, and swimsuits on, we rented a golf cart to take to the other end of the island to Tahiti Beach. Others were already there, enjoying the water, hunting for seashells, relaxing, or picnicking on the beach. Tahiti Beach is a huge sandy shallow area which become a huge sandbar at low tide. Many boats were anchored there and dinghies brought visitors to shore. Gary and I swam for awhile, looked for seashells, ate our picnic lunch, looked for more shells, and swam again before leaving the movie-like island paradise. We play so well together.

 

Golf cart ride around Elbow Cay

Golf cart ride
around Elbow Cay

 

 

 

 

 

We stopped at Sea Spray Resort and Marina on our way back to Hope Town. In our opinion, they make the best Macaroni and Cheese in the Abacos. Gary won’t eat Mac n Cheese in the U.S., but even he enjoys the Bahamian way of making it. So far, our pallets have discerned a small amount of red pepper flakes, a little green bell pepper, some onion, and a large macaroni noodle. While we waited for our to-go order, we had a cold drink at the open bar and chatted with two couples we had met at the Hope Town Harbour Lodge on Mother’s Day.

Sea Spray's  outdoor dining area

Sea Spray’s
outdoor dining area

 

 

 

 

 

Before dinner, we went to the swimming pool at the Hope Town Inn and Marina. Our new friends, Sue and Viani,were there with his cousin and her husband. The cousins had flown from Miami over to Marsh Harbour, and then took a ferry to Elbow Cay. They will be crew for Sue and Viani when they go back across the Gulf Stream.

 

Swimming Pool at Hope Town Inn and Marina

Swimming Pool
at Hope Town
Inn and Marina

Ambience of  pool area

Ambience of
pool area

 

We

 

 

Hope Town
Day 4

On our previous golf cart excursion, we had found a tiny restaurant, Mackey’s Takeout, that sold homemade cinnamon rolls. The morning of day four at Hope Town necessitated a ride back to the little restaurant to purchase two of the sinful treats to take to the beach, along with a pot of coffee from White Swan’s galley.

Mackey's Take Out on Elbow Cay

Mackey’s Take Out
on Elbow Cay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we were at Tahiti Beach the first time, the sea was at low tide, providing a huge beach area. It was interesting going back to the same beach the next morning at high tide. One would not have recognized it as the same beach. We enjoyed our time there nonetheless. We ate only half of our large cinnamon rolls. I looked for seashells while Gary exercised, trying to get rid of cinnamon roll calories.

Tahiti Beach at low tide

Tahiti Beach
at low tide

Tahiti Beach  at high tide

Tahiti Beach
at high tide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As if we didn’t have enough refined carbohydrates for the day, we stopped at Sea Spray Resort and Marina for a double order of Mac n Cheese. We made the unhealthy decision to do so, justifying it by telling ourselves it will be at least a year before we will have the opportunity for such an indulgence again. We ate one order for lunch and froze the other order to enjoy at a later date.

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We had to have the golf cart back to the rental lot by 11:30, the end of our 24 hour rental agreement. After riding the length of the island twice, we were ready to return the golf cart. (Opportunity for more cinnamon rolls and Mac n Cheese – over.)

That afternoon was spent back at the swimming pool at Hope Town Inn and Marina. By this time, more and more familiar faces brought more and more opportunities to socialize. The afternoon hours flew by quickly, ending with an invitation to have happy hour aboard Viani and Sue’s sailboat, Two Lucky Dogs.

Sue and Viani

Sue and Viani

It is always amazing to me how a friendship can happen so quickly with certain people. The four of us believe we have found lifelong friends in each other. We meet a lot of people in our journeys, and occasionally we are blessed with this kind of soul-friend experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COLORS OF

HOPE TOWN

iPhone 598

iPhone 682

iPhone 683

A garden of cacti

A garden of cacti

Sea Grapes

Sea Grapes

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iPhone 621iPhone 620iPhone 588iPhone 594

Marsh Harbour, Hub of the Abacos

May 8, 2014                                  (PICTURES TO BE POSTED AT A LATER DATE)
Day one at Marsh Harbour

Gary wanted to ocean fish so after breakfast we motored White Swan once again out the Man-O-War Channel. After bouncing around for a short while because the wind and ocean swells were against us, we aborted that mission. Instead, we turned the boat around and went the other way for an awesome sail over to Marsh Harbour. Sailors know they can either fight Mother Nature (done when it’s absolutely necessary) or work with her. It is much more pleasurable to work with her.

If Marsh Harbour didn’t have propane refills, easy access to a fuel dock, a hardware store, and the best grocery store in the Abacos, we probably would avoid the settlement. Also, there are quite a few nice restaurants along the harbour’s shores, making it easy on boaters who want to take a break from galley duty. There are few sidewalks in the town, but one could walk to their heart’s content as long as they stayed mindful of the busy traffic driving on the left side of the road. Pedestrians do not have the right-of-way in Marsh Harbour.

During our first evening in Marsh Harbour, Gary and I enjoyed our happy hour drink while riding in the dinghy re-familiarizing ourselves with the amenities of the harbor; after which, we went back to Chez White Swan for dinner. In the galley I found part of a tomato, a few slices of peaches, and some onion among our provisions, so I thinly diced each ingredient and added a splash of lime juice to make a salsa. (When you are living on a boat you can’t just run to the supermarket, so one learns to improvise with what’s available.) The salsa complimented soy marinated, grilled Mahi Mahi. From the previous evening’s meal, I’d kept the water poured off the garlic, onion, parsley potatoes, as well as a small amount of peas, so I used those ingredients to make a flavorful couscous. (Not much goes to waste while we live aboard White Swan. Even rinse water for the dishes is recycled to use as dish water for the next go around.)

 
May 9, 2014
Day two at Marsh Harbour

Desiring to use the internet, more than actually wanting to eat breakfast at a restaurant, we went to Mangoes Restaurant. I wanted to get some of our blogs posted, so Gary dropped me off at the dock at Mangoes so I could get started on my task while he went to take two of our four propane tanks to the local hardware to be refilled. (If the tanks are dropped off by 9:00 AM, they are ready for pick-up at noon. If dropped off at noon, they are ready at 4:00.)

We very leisurely ate our breakfast and sipped our second and third cups of coffee while I got the posts made to our blog (sans pics).

After dropping me off at the boat to defrost the refrigerator before re-provisioning, Gary went to retrieve our filled propane tanks. With the temps climbing during the early afternoon hours, we decided to delay our long walk to the grocery store until after 3:00. (Boring stuff, but this too is part of the cruiser’s lifestyle.)

Half way to the store, a nice lady stopped and gave us a ride the rest of the way. It’s amazing what you can learn about someone during a five minute car ride. Kathy lives beside the gas station, a block from the signal light. Yes, Marsh Harbour has a signal light – the only one in the Abacos. She makes banana bread and sells it from her home. She has chairs on her porch and invited us to stop for a rest any time. She almost lost her left leg from gangrene. Several doctors recommended amputation. Fortunately for her, she found a doctor who treated the gangrene homeopathically by packing the wound with freshly emulsified green papayas every day for 200 days. We can say what we will, but Kathy still has her faith in God, and her leg.

At the supermarket, we purchased fresh fruits and vegetables, which are luxury items in the Bahamas. That is a rather redundant thing to say because in general everything purchased in the islands is a luxury since all of it has to be shipped in, except the fresh seafood.

We treated ourselves to dinner (and internet) at Mangoes Restaurant, since we worked most of the day. Tomorrow we will play again, planning to sail to our favorite inhabited island, Elbow Cay. We plan on hanging out there for awhile at the quaint village of Hope Town.

Fowl Cay Preserve

May 6 – 7, 2014      ( PICTURES WILL BE POSTED AT A LATER DATE)

Fishing at Fowl Cay Preserve is prohibited. The grouper swimming around the hard and soft corals seemed to instinctively know there would be no threat of humans yelling, “Fish on!” in their safe watery paradise. We snorkeled some of the reef the day we arrived at Fowl Cay. We anchored White Swan on the sea side of the small island and rode in our dinghy over to the ocean side to the preserve. The ocean was calm and it was a sunny day, which made for a perfect day for snorkeling or scuba diving. Like us, many others were taking advantage of the ideal day to be at Fowl Cay Preserve.

We saw a lot of live coral, which is always a hopeful sight, since coral around the world is diminishing. Numerous kinds of fishes swam around the coral either feeding, gunk holing, or chasing one another. We floated above the scene and watched them in their home. Songs from the animated movie Nemo played in my mind as we enjoyed the underwater playground… “Under the sea, under the sea…”

A school of blue tang gracefully swam by us, which is always an exciting scene to see. I snapped away on our underwater camera hoping for a photo worthy of posting on our blog.

We anchored at the upper end of Man-o-War Cay for the night. There were five other boats anchored in the cove. Occupants from a catamaran went to swim near the shore and in their absence their little dog remained at the bow of their boat and barked endlessly. A neighboring boater went over to the distressed doggie to try to calm it. Upon seeing someone was at the bow of his boat, the owner of the dog zoomed back to his boat in his dinghy and immediately a shouting match occurred between the two men. We thought surely more than words would fly, but thankfully that did not happen. The unwelcome man from the other boat returned to his own domain and the yippie dog was placed inside the catamaran, where his muffled cries for his family became less annoying to the surrounding community of boaters.

The next day at ebb tide, we motored White Swan out Man-O-War Channel and delicately maneuvered through the reefs and anchored near them in a sandy spot. Caring boaters never anchor where there might be damage to the reefs. Some coral take a year to grow just one inch. Gary and I value the coral too much to deliberately put it in harms way.

We snorkeled a vast amount of reefs during our five hours stay in Fowl Cay Preserve. I saw one turtle but by the time I got Gary’s attention she was nowhere to be found. A school of small pompano followed us around. We wondered if maybe they were used to being fed by human visitors. We saw another school of the stunning blue tang fishes.

We snorkeled, went to White Swan and ate a snack, snorkeled some more and then ate lunch, and then snorkeled some more before calling it a fabulous day on the reef.

Instead of going back to the anchorage where the two men had their altercation the night before, we tucked into another lovely cove, not far from the upper end of Man-O-War. A quiet evening ended with yet another beautiful sunset.

No Name Cay

May 5, 2014      (PICTURES WILL BE POSTED AT A LATER DATE)

How can so many days be so exciting? One great day led to another great day.
Spending the day at No Name Cay and Gillam Bay, beach-combing and snorkeling, was one of those great days in the Abacos. I found 5 baby sand dollars, no bigger than a quarter. One broke while soaking in bleach water. If the other four make it home to Melbourne without breaking, our little neighbor girl, Isabella, will get to choose which one she wants for her souvenir.

My precious treasures from the sea were totally out performed by Gary’s find. While I was towing him with the dinghy ( he was snorkeling while hanging onto a rope which was tied to the dinghy), he raised a hand indicating he wanted me to stop the dinghy while he free-dived down for something. He came up with the largest sea-biscuit we had ever seen. Getting the thin shell home without breaking it will be a challenge.

No Name Cay is well known for its inhabitants, wild pigs. People will visit the island just to see them. We had been to the island quite a few times before in past years, but had never seen the pigs. We got to see them this time. Their appearance is different than any swine seen in the U.S., in that their snouts are much longer. The two sows had five little piglets following them around as they greeted visitors who brought them food. Gary and I wondered if they serve the pork from No Name Cay in the local restaurants.

We were going to return to No Name Cay the next day accompanied by Diny and her Adventure Quest, but since there was a possibility of stronger winds two days later, we decided to go further south to the lower Abacos. Sadly, this decision required a parting of ways for us and Diny because she desired to backtrack and go to some of the islands she missed between Allans-Pensacola and Green Turtle Cay. We will be able to stop at those places on our return trip. But, when she goes to the lower Abacos, she will go from there over to the Florida Keys. Hopefully, we will meet up with her again when she gets to the lower Abacos.

10th Annual Island Roots Festival, Green Turtle Cay

May 2, 2014          (PICTURES WILL BE POSTED AT A LATER DATE)

Diny had a cell phone with a local SIM card for the Bahamas from which she was able to get internet while we were at Allans-Pensacola Cay. During one of our dinners together, conversation about Green Turtle’s festival came up, so she looked up the dates for it. As luck would have it, the festival dates were May 2 – 4.

Diny sailed and motor-sailed Adventure Quest, and we motor-sailed White Swan with 15 – 20 knott winds just off our bows, i.e., a bumpy ride, to Green Turtle Cay. We had doubts Diny would finish the trip as rough as the water was. However, right as we were leaving our boat to go to the festival, she pulled up beside us in her kayak. Having already grown fond of her as a good friend, we were relieved to see her. She had arrived at Black Sound just two hours after we did, in good form. She is an amazing solo sailor. Gary and I had a nap after we got secured to a mooring ball at Donny’s Boat Rental. She, on the other hand, came straight to our boat upon her arrival, and was full of reserved energy to go to the festival.

Our traditional first stop in New Plymouth Settlement, GreenTurtle Cay was for dinner at The Wrecking Tree Restaurant. All three of us ordered cracked conch, and we were not disappointed. In the Glenn’s opinion, The Wrecking Tree serves the best cracked conch in the Abacos. While there, Gary introduced us to a couple he had met at the municipal dock in West Palm, Beach, Florida. Surprised to find each other in the Bahamas, they/we discussed our journeys and plans. Running into cruisers met or seen at other places, is always a fun and interesting part of the journey.

We enjoyed walking around the festival, looking at all the craft booths. The food booths did not appeal to us because we were stuffed with conch and fries. We lingered until the Rake and Scrape entertainer started his performance. He skillfully scraped his saw with a long metal screw driver, accompanied by music on a CD, while he sang traditional Bahamian songs. He had a pleasant singing voice and we enjoyed his performance.

The best part of his show however, was a little toddler boy who came up in front of the stage playing a homemade drum. The crowd enjoyed the little fellow so much, the smart professional entertainer had the little guy’s daddy lift him up onto the stage. Many of us spectators went forward with our cameras to photo and video the special little entertainer. He, in response to the attention and applause, ‘hammed it up’. The little guy played his drum and swayed to the beat of the professional musician’s songs. At one point the musician assisted the little boy in playing the saw. Too, too cute! The first time the daddy tried to take the boy from the stage, a temper tantrum from the new little entertainer facilitated a return to the stage. Later, when the professional thanked the little guy and told him he needed to finish out his show, the boy allowed his father, with no problem, to retrieve him from the stage. Applause, hoots, and whistles abounded for the little drummer boy as the proud father carried him away from the limelight.

The next entertainment was to be the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band. Gary and I had seen them perform at the first Island Roots Heritage Festival we came to in 2011. We had enjoyed hearing them then, so we decided to wait an hour to hear them again. Unfortunately, trouble with the sound system delayed the start of their performance by another 1/2 hour. And, the sound was so bad for their first number, we got up and left. The embarrassing thing for us, and probably even more so for the performers, was we were sitting in the front row. BAD FORM, GLENNS. BOO-O-O!!! Truly, we were tired from the long day, and went back to the boat and went straight to bed… After we washed the dust off our feet.
May 3, 2014
Day 2 of the Festival

Swallowing our pride and hoping no one recognized us as the disrespectful people who left from the front row seats during the previous night’s performance, we went to the festival again the next day.

This time Gary and I had food on our agendas. There were lobsters there with our names on them and we enjoyed eating every tasty morsel. Diny wasn’t ready to eat her lunch when we had ours, but she became quite satiated as people at the table shared conch fritters and we shared our guava duff. We ordered the guava duff because we had never heard of it before. We frequently try new foods as we travel. It is part of the experience of learning new cultures. Guava duff was a dessert, more like a rolled sweet yeast bread with guava jam in it, like cinnamon rolls are made, with a light icing on top. One of the ladies at our table said it is served a lot in Key West, where she was from. Only there, it is served with a warm guava syrup over it.

Gary and Diny went to a lecture on boat building, that ended up being a boring presentation on the history of boat building. While they were gone, I sat at the water’s edge and talked to Marvin, a local young man who was cleaning conchs for one of the food booths where they made conch salad. I was with him almost an hour, so I got to watch him clean a lot of conchs. I know those of you reading this, who really know me won’t believe it, but really, I sat and just watched him for a long time before I started asking him questions. Seriously, I did. At least it seemed like a long time. Before our time together ended, I was allowed to video him while he cleaned a conch, so I can watch it and refresh my memory before I have to clean them again. My new friend was rewarded with a cold drink of his choice. Later, that day, Gary went up to Marvin and thanked him for his kindness.

As part of the festival’s entertainment, a group of young ladies danced around a Maypole. Not part of the festival’s entertainment, but very entertaining to us, was a group of men playing a passionate game of dominos. We watched them for quite some time and would have loved to join them in their camaraderie, but an appropriate opportunity did not arise.

The most fun during the festival was the “Junkanoo Rush” (pronounced junk-ah-new). The young people of the island wear fascinating masks and headdresses, and play musical instruments and drums, while parading through the festival grounds.

Some of the scheduled activities that we wanted to see did not take place: a raft race, a conch cracking contest, a gospel band; but we were content watching the people and the other activities of the festival. We stayed at the festival until 7:30 PM, planning to watch the evening’s entertainment, a Bahamian comedy troupe who presented “Election 2012: What Just Happened?” Frankly, we didn’t get the Bahamian political humor. We were smart enough to have sat near the back that night, just in case… Our exit was scarcely noticed.

Four Days at Allans-Pensacola Cay

April 28, 2014    ( PICTURES WILL BE POSTED AT A LATER DATE)

The light wind remained steady during the night last night but when the current shifted we heard the water slapping against the outside hull of the boat. White Swan’s shallow draft (only 18 inches beneath the water’s surface versus 3 to 7 feet or more on other boats) is a huge advantage as a cruising vessel; but, there are downsides to her features as well, one of which is the sound of the water slapping on the hulls. (A hull is the main body of a boat, including the deck, sides, and bottom. White Swan is a catamaran and she has two hulls parallel to each other versus a monohull boat with just one hull. A catamaran is also referred to as a multihull, as is a trimaran with three hulls.) Some times the water slapping the hulls can be light and sound like a lullaby during the night. But, last night was not one of those nights. I only add this comment to my writing so you realize the cruising life does not always provide a surreal journey. As with living on land, living on the water can have downsides. That’s LIFE. Gary and I consider any downside to our retired “salt life” to be minimal to anything we have ever experienced on land.

The rough ride during our sleeping hours was quickly rewarded with a stunning sunrise of baby blue, pink, and mauve, with the white fluffiness of cumulus clouds intermingling the pastel colors. Ah… Salt Life! What a way to start a day, with lattes in hand and nature’s beauty to behold.

Our anchorage destination for the evening was a full days travel, so we left Great Sale Cay early in the morning. “Early” has become around 8:00 AM since we retired. Any hour before that is “extremely early”.

We were able to sail part way before the wind died down to the point of having to turn on the engine and motor. Gary fished part of the time. The good news is he caught a nicely sized blue runner, which we skillfully cleaned and prepared for lunch. The bad news is he caught three barracudas, which increased in size with each catch. The last one was approximately four feet long. He was so heavy the hook tore out of his mouth as Gary tried to lift him up with the net. Poor fish. Lucky Gary. The bigger the barracuda, the bigger the teeth!

Before going into our anchorage, we motored to the ocean side of Umbrella Cay. When we visited this uninhabited island in 2011 with Ed and Cheryl, we found a path that went from the Sea of Abaco side of the island, through the small island, to the ocean. There we found a lot of sea glass, which Cheryl and I used to make necklace pendants. When Gary and I returned to this island in 2013, we could not find the path. We searched the whole side facing the Sea of Abaco to no avail. When we tried to walk around the island, the sharp jagged surface of the dead coral island prevented the venture. On April 28, 2014 the tide and wind was conducive to traversing the inlet between Moraine Cay and Umbrella Cay providing an opportunity for us to see what the ocean side of Umbrella Cay looked like, and possibly find a spot to land our dinghy so we could go ashore to look for sea glass. We did find a very small beach, since it was low tide. It probably would not have been seen at all at high tide. We anchored the boat as close to shore as we safely could and took the dinghy in to the small island. We had to hop out of the dinghy when we got fairly close to shore because the bottom of the shore line was rocky, and our dinghy has a soft inflatable bottom which could have been punctured by the rocks. We’ve discussed getting a hard bottom dinghy for this very reason, but there is always something else requiring costly repair or maintenance on the boat. Gary keeps a repair kit for our inflatable dinghy in the dinghy, and we have had only had to use it once.

I was disappointed we found no sea glass worth keeping on the ocean side of Umbrella Cay. However, I found a very lovely queen conch shell and a large nice whelk shell. One of my little neighbor girls requested a whelk shell as a souvenir, so that one has Sofie’s name on it. Her sister, Bella requested a sand dollar as her souvenir. That request will be more of a challenge because I have seen very few sand dollars in the Abacos, and only at one particular island. Hopefully, there will be one, lying on the beach of that island, with Bella’s name on it.

One of Gary’s reasons for wanting to go ocean side was to fish through the inlet. He was disappointed when he caught nothing going or coming back through the pass. He is anxiously awaiting his first BIG edible catch. We had to eat grilled chicken that evening, much to my fisherman’s dismay.

The anchorage at Allans-Pensacola Cay was a short run from Umbrella Cay, and the anchor was dropped at 4:30 PM. This anchorage is my favorite among the uninhabited islands of the Abacos. I love to walk the path through the island that goes to the ocean. The ocean side beach is cluttered with signs hanging from trees with boat names and crew names written on an eclectic mix of signage. We had left our contributions twice before, and surely there will be another before our departure.

The beaches of Allans-Pensacola Cay, in the past, have offered various shells as well as nice pieces of sea glass, so I am anxious to see what we find this year.

After dinner, we sat on the hammock at the stern of our boat and watched a lightening show on the horizon as a storm slipped by us in the distance.

 

April 29, 2014
A Lazy Day at Allans-Pensacola Cay

We lazed away most of the day, since we had been traveling the four days prior. By late afternoon, we decided to beach-comb the sea side of Allans-Pensacola, saving our favorite part of the island, the ocean side, for another day. We also beach-combed Guineaman Cay, a small neighboring island.

We found numerous abandoned milk conch shells, which we kept. Upon finding shells with live milk conchs inside, we rescued them, placing them back in the water, probably to be displaced again onto the beach at the next high tide.

Sea-biscuits littered the shore as well. These beautiful shells make a marvelous display when numerous ones are put in a clear cylinder vase.

Only one queen conch shell was worthy of its taking. As we have collected sea shells over the years, I’ve become more selective in what I take home to add to our decor, or give away as gifts.

On our way to the beach, we stopped by the only other boat in the anchorage, a 26′ Balboa, to say hello to its captain and introduce ourselves. We met an interesting lady sailor, named Diny (“i” pronounced the European way, like a long “e”), who single-hands her sailboat named Adventure Quest. She originally came from Holland, she has homes in Colorado and California. She said she had not been home for a long time, so we assumed she had been cruising aboard her boat for quite some time. Her dinghy was a Hobie kayak with one small sail and foot pedals like on a bicycle, used instead of paddles, to make it move. We saw her expertly maneuver it around the anchorage.

During our introductory conversation, Diny talked about snorkeling at Umbrella Cay. I thought to myself, “what a courageous lady, sailing and snorkeling by herself.” Honestly, every time I snorkel, I always think about there being more sharks in the Bahamas than anywhere else in the world. That information came from a marine biologist professor whom we met in Hopetown, Abaco, Bahamas in 2011. With that knowledge in mind, I think I’m pretty brave every time I get in the Bahamian water with Gary. And this lady snorkels by herself!

When we returned to White Swan, Gary got in the water and worked on scraping the green growth and barnacles off the bottom of the boat. He wants to work on it a little at a time while we are in the Bahamas, so it will be cleaned off by the time we go back to Florida.

Evidence in the sky of stormy weather surrounded us that evening. Fortunately, we only got a light shower of rain. We couldn’t pick up the local weather reports with either our Sirius weather service on our chart plotter or any local radio station while we were at Allan-Pensacola. We had to translate information received from Sirius about the Gulf Stream, and watch the sky, to predict our weather.

 

April 30, 2014

Ocean Side of Allans-Pensacola Cay

With a picnic lunch in our backpack, and snorkel gear in a mesh dive bag, we hopped in the dinghy and rode to S/V Adventure Quest, picked up Diny, and went ashore. We were happy to have Diny’s company.

It is always fun to guide new participants on the trail through the island to get ocean side. Their reactions to seeing all the signs hung in the trees as soon as one gets to the ocean side is always similar to our own initial reaction at seeing it for the first time in 2011. We took with us an indelible ink marker so we could write our names and boat name on a sign hung by someone else, but the sun had totally bleached out the prior writing. We had written our info on signs two times previously, but they too were faded to nothingness. All the more reason to return every year to leave our mark anew. This year we left our mark on an old bath brush. Diny used a big blue plastic jug on which to write her info. It was just a fun, silly thing to do, and for us it’s become a tradition.

All three of us cooled off in the clear water of the ocean. I left Diny and Gary floating in the refreshing water while I walked the shoreline looking for sea glass. I found a few good pieces, and the pieces that were still too shiny and had sharp edges I tossed back into the ocean for more tumbling.

We sat in the shade under some trees to have our picnic lunch. Conversation flowed easily as we got to know each other better. Diny is a fascinating person, with many tales of her world travels and life experiences. I told her she should write a book, but she expressed no interest in doing so.

Gary snorkeled while Diny went with me to a cove we had found the first time we visited the island. The low tide made it possible for us to walk around the shoreline of the cove to look for shells and sea glass. As Cheryl taught me in 2011, I taught Diny what good sea glass looks like. Upon finding a sea-biscuit and showing it to her, Diny wanted one for herself so we looked for one for her as well. We ended up finding another one rolling in the surf on the ocean side. Diny was happy with the beauty of it and pleased to have found a unique souvenir.

We found Gary where we had previously stopped to have our picnic. He did not snorkel very long because the current was too strong. We gathered all our things, stopped by the “signing tree” again to read more signs, and then hiked back to the Sea of Abaco side of the island where we were anchored. Gary had the forethought to leave the dinghy in the water with an anchor off the stern and the bow tied to a tree, rknowing the tide would be receding while we went on our excursion. When we got back to the dinghy it was dry docked, so we had to pick it up and carry it out to the water. It was great having Diny with us to assist with the procedure. Gary lifted the outboard motor up, while Diny and I lifted from the sides.

We had such a grand afternoon visiting with Diny, we invited her over to White Swan for happy hour and dinner, enabling more familiarity with our new found friend.

 

May 1, 2014
Conchy Glenns

After lunch we took the dinghy over to Adventure Quest and picked up Diny and went to shore to hike the path to the ocean side of Allans-Pensacola. Diny went by herself to explore more of the island. Gary wanted to hunt live conch in the ocean, and he took all the necessary tools to clean them once he had found them: a hammer, screw driver, pliers, a fish knife, and a gallon zip lock bag to put the meat in. This was a man on a mission.

Gary had seen some conch the previous day while he was snorkeling. So he and I ventured out into the water quite a ways from the shore to find conch. We took a mesh bag with us in which to carry them back to shore.

Gary found the first conch, which looks like a grassy bumpy mound on the ocean’s floor. He easily free-dived down 10-15 feet and flipped the grassy shell over to see if it had a live conch in it. The foot of the conch pulled back into it’s shell, telling Gary it was indeed what he was hunting, so he picked it up and brought it to the water’s surface. We placed it in our mesh bag, and it was so big it filled half the bag. I spotted the next conch, and we repeated the process, filling our bag with just two conchs.

Finding conchs in the ocean was too much fun to quit looking. However, we had to stop after finding two more, because our load was getting too heavy.

Our next task was to get them out of their shells. We had only observed this process and had never actually done it before. We knew we needed to punch a hole through the shell and cut the muscle attached to the shell so we could extract the conch through the opening at lip of the shell. We may not have performed the process perfectly, but we managed to retrieve the conchs from their shells by using the flat tip screw driver as a chisel and beating it with a hammer to put the necessary hole in the shell just large enough to slip the fishing knife in it to cut the muscle away from the shell. Then we were able to use the pliers to pull the conch out. Voila! We were so proud of ourselves and celebratory high-fives went flying!

Gary and I had a hard time killing the conchs, and the fishes. This was the first time I’d ever killed anything, other than bugs and spiders, and a rabbit I accidentally hit while driving when I was a teenager. To ease our minds about taking their lives, we would thank the sea creature for its life and for giving us sustenance. Now I get why the American Indians prayed for the animal’s spirit before they would kill it. It is so easy to go to the supermarket and buy meat, fish, and poultry and not think about the person who killed it. When you see the thing looking at you, or feel it’s pulse in your hand before you kill it, it’s a different story. I can better understand now why animal rights activists and vegans are sometimes dogmatic about their platforms. Experience does open one’s mind to different ways of thinking. However, are the Glenns still going to eat meat, fish, and poultry? You bet!

We threw the part of the conch that isn’t edible for humans back into the ocean, and it wasn’t long before a shark came close to shore and consumed it. The shark was respectful enough to not eat us while we were in his territory hunting for the conchs, so he deserved to have a good meal in return for the favor.

We had our bounty in a ziplock bag, in our cooler backpack, and were ready to go back to the boat to finish cleaning them, but Diny had not returned from her adventure. So I stayed and cleaned one of the conchs while Gary went to find Diny. A short time later they returned and she was impressed with our catch. She also found some nice items from the ocean on her excursion: sea-biscuits, a beautiful queen conch shell, and a couple really nice pieces of sea glass. She gave the sea glass to me, so I told her I would make them into pendants for her and send them to her if she is ever in one place long enough where I could mail them to her. She plans on cruising in the Bahamas until July or August, and sometime in August she is going to Indonesia. Diny is such a fascinating free-spirited woman.

We couldn’t leave our empty conch shells on the beach since they were “our first”. So we packed them up with everything else we had to carry and schlepped them back to the other side of the island.

We invited Diny to dinner so she could partake of the day’s catch, accompanied by black beans and rice. She was delighted to receive the invitation. Gary made plans with her to pick her up with our dinghy at 5:30. I finished cleaning and thinly sliced the conch before Gary went to get Diny. We waited until she got to the boat to “beat” the conch with a meat tenderizer mallet. We thought she would want to see the process, which she did enjoy, and also she helped Gary with the task of beating the conch. The more the beaten conch looks like lace, the more tender it is. The two of them did a great job because the “cracked conch” was tender and perfect.

Last year when I fried cracked conch for the flotilla group, the batter came off the conch while frying. I’ve since learned, from watching a cooking show on TV, to dredge the conch (fish, chicken, whatever) in flour, then dredge it in whatever wet ingredient you are using (I used beer), and then dredge it again in flour, before placing it in hot oil to fry. This method worked perfectly.

Before Gary had gone to get Diny to bring her to White Swan for dinner, I finished cleaning and thinly sliced the conch while Gary worked on stringing our fresh conch shells so they could hang over the edge of the boat allowing fish and other sea creatures to eat whatever conch was left in them. Otherwise, the shells would have not only drawn flies, they would have become quite stinky. He couldn’t get the string through two of them so we ended up just throwing them into the clear water for the night. Easily seen, Gary dove down and picked them up before leaving the anchorage the next day. We thought the effort in keeping the four queen conch shells would be worth it. We had a feeling they would always be our favorite souvenirs, reminding us of an awesome day at our favorite uninhabited island, Allans-Pensacola Cay.

Fish On to Great Sale Cay

April 27, 2014 (PICTURES WILL BE POSTED AT A LATER DATE)

A leisurely morning of sipping lattes, discussing our morning devotional reading, and enjoying breakfast, slipped by easily. We weighed anchor and the light winds insisted we motor all the way to our next anchorage at Great Sale Cay, a 4 1/2 hour journey.

Gary’s determination to catch edible fish, i.e., not barracuda, beckoned him to bring out his fishing gear and troll for fish while he motored the boat. When he yelled, “Fish on!”, I dropped whatever I was doing and went to man the helm (steering wheel). Gary would grab his fishing rod from the holder, and as I slowed down the boat, he reeled in his catch.

He had three strikes for the day: one blue runner, one barracuda, and one got away. You should have seen the one that got away! (Actually, we didn’t get to see the one that got away.)

The barracuda gave Gary a good struggle as he reeled it in and removed the hook before releasing it. We hate catching barracudas because we don’t like hurting them while getting the hook out. And we don’t want them to hurt Gary with their ominous thorny teeth as he removes the hook. It is not a pleasant deal for all involved.

We kept the blue runner since the fish guide indicated it was okay to eat, rating it the same as a blue fish. I don’t particularly enjoy eating blue fish but Gary does, so we kept the small blue runner fish and I prepared it for the evening’s appetizer. It was necessary for Gary to remove the head, i.e., the pleading eyes, and the guts and scales, before I took it to the galley to skin it and fillet it. I chose to sauté the small pieces of fish in coconut oil, after breading them in hush puppy mix. Prepared in this manner, the blue runner was delicious, with the pleasant taste and texture of any other mild white fish.

Earlier in the day, I had removed some chicken breasts from the freezer and placed them in the refrigerator, intending to prepare them for our evening meal. I mistaking thought they would be thawed by evening, but apparently our refrigerator is doing a better job of cooling than I thought. Good to know. Switching to what was available, we dined on a salad consisting of a bed of lettuce topped with grilled pears sprinkled with cinnamon, boiled egg, fresh avocado, walnuts, grilled smoked peppered salmon, and a salad dressing made with blood orange olive oil and cinnamon pear vinegar. Captain Gary complimented the galley slave with the comment ” I would eat this anytime”. Dessert for the captain was a piece of cake we had purchased from a local lady at West End, who pushed a cart up and down the docks of the marina, peddling her home baked goods.

The “piece de resistance” at the end of the day, after watching yet another magical sunset, was sitting on our hammock at the stern of White Swan, star gazing into the night sky. If you have never seen a Caribbean night sky, with zillions of twinkling stars lighting up the sky as far as one can see, we recommend you put that amazing pleasure on your bucket list.