Bum Knees and Beach Bums
When your living on a sailboat you never know what toe your going to stub or what finger your going to jamb but just realize it’s going to happen sooner or later. Unfortunately for Shawn, it was his knee. We were all headed into Nassau for some exercise when as soon as he stepped into the dinghy he heard a pop and felt pain. When we made it to shore he exited the dinghy but couldn’t straighten his leg or put much weight on it. While this is a problem when your home and it disrupts your daily life, it is much more serious when your in another country and your main mode of transportation doesn’t work properly. Thankfully, after some sound advice from our friend Molly and several days of rest, relaxation and defrosting our dinners each night on his knee he is feeling much better and able to get around quite nicely, albeit a slight limp.
The next few days we stayed in Nassau while Shawn was recovering just in case we would need to get him to a doctor. This was the last place in the Bahamas for a while we would have these kinds of conveniences available to us. While we were in Nassau we took advantage of the laundry, shopping and internet that were close. Stephen, Natasha, Jaxson and myself went into town a few days to shop, explore or just get off the boat. My favorite experience was the day Jaxson and I headed to a local park so he could burn some energy, we had stopped by the day before and he met a boy close to his age and he was hoping to find some more kids but did not. He played on the swings, went down the slide and then found some red beetles in the sand to play with. Soon he was bored with that and we started walking to the outdoor market at Potters Key. Jaxson is so friendly and frequently just walks up to people on the side of the road and strikes up a conversation. This time he happened upon Berry and Trever (or Trouble I could never understand what he said his name was). The two locals took to Jaxson right away and had us tasting a local fruit called juju, explaining the best way to crack open a coconut and then had us head off with one of their friends who presented us with a free order of conch fritters and a virgin strawberry daiquiri for Jaxson!
Our next stop was Highborne Cay in the Northern Exumas. Light squalls and clouds kept us in the boat for the first day doing much needed housekeeping and some sewing. The weather improved slightly the next day and we ventured out to hunt for lobster and conch. Our lobster efforts were not successful but some friends of ours on a neighboring boat Samana, speared a very large lobster. They brought it by so we could see what a spiny lobster looks like close up. It has no pinchers like the cold water New England lobsters Shawn and I are accustomed to but instead has two very long antenna. We have yet to have any luck seeing one to spear but we will keep looking. We took the dinghy into the Highborne Cay Marina to check out what they had to offer and maybe use the wifi. We were not able to get internet but we did get to meet some interesting people. Jaxson found a boy his age, Noah. Noah was with his older sister Tonya and they were on vacation from Canada. Jaxson and Noah had a very fun time running around, playing in the ocean and with Noah’s electronics. Noah and his family are French Canadians and spoke both English and French. Noah was more comfortable speaking French but any language barrier was not evident in two young boys, words weren’t important. Since coming on our trip and exposing Jaxson to other cultures and languages he has expressed a very high interest in learning another language. He often runs around making up words he calls Spanish or French. I guess I better get my but in gear and start teaching him (and learning myself) another language. When they say young kids are a sponge for learning they weren’t kidding!
Close to Highborne Cay are several small cays known for their population of the endangered Exuma Iguanas. The first cay we dinghyed to was the very small South West Allen’s Cay and as soon as we beached our dinghy to disembark several iguanas started creeping out of the edge of the shrubs and onto the beach. The posted sign that told about the iguanas also advised not to feed them but this practice did not seem to be the norm as the iguanas were clearly expecting to be feed. Later when went to Leaf Cay we saw first had why all the iguanas were used to visitors and some fruit. Several boats a week speed over from Nassau with a load of hotel tourists and bags of grapes to feed the iguanas. After a quick trip back to the boat for some lunch and a quick nap Stephen, Shawn and Natasha went out to try their luck at a new spot for lobster we learned about from our Canadian friends at the marina. Although the lobster again eluded their spears a White Grunt was not so lucky. The newly speared fish and a conch Shawn and I had gotten earlier made a nice appetizer to our dinner for that evening.
Saturday, January 11th brought nice wind for a sail on down to Norman’s Cay. We had the anchor up at around 10a.m. and arrived in a nice anchorage on Norman’s West bay. This was the first trip I was the helmsman and drove us out of anchorage sailed the few miles to our spot and put us in a nice spot to drop the anchor again. I felt pretty relaxed behind the wheel and was confident in my sailing thanks to the expert teachings of Stephen and Natasha. The next day we went to visit Battery Point at the Southern end of Norman’s Cay to snorkel the DC 10 that crashed off the tip of the island. The cay was once under the control of a drug lord so I can only imagine why a DC 10 would be flying in and out of such a small place. Where the plane lay was only a few feet underwater in spots and you could stand up on the wings and be out of the water. I’m not sure how long the plane had been there but it was definitely a popular spot for stingray, sergeant major fish, and a barracuda that liked Steve and Shawn so much it followed them back to the dingy.
Our latest stop in the Exumas is Shroud Cay. It is the first cay in a line of many in the Exuma Land and Sea Park. The Park is 176 sq miles of protected marine area and is one of 25 Parks managed by the Bahamas National Trust. We anchored just south of a mooring ball area and found it to be good holding. Shroud Cay is covered with mangroves and has paths leading though the cay to the Eastern side. After a little trial and error we found the path that we thought would take us through and away we went. The park has a no wake rule so we slowly motored though so as not to disturb trees and marine life. When we got to the Eastern side of the cay we found a spectacular beach with powdery white sand and turquoise water, paradise if I ever saw it. There were beaches to either side of us with rock cliffs edging the water in spots. The waves crashing on the rocks and then gently rolling onto the beaches were mesmerizing. I could have stayed there all day. As it were we stayed longer than my red hair and non-tanning complexion liked and I am paying for it tonight with a slight burn even after re-applying sunscreen a lot. We had all had enough sun and headed back for the day. The current was in our favor leaving so we all put on snorkel gear and floated with the dinghy in tow back to our side of the island. It was the best “Lazy River” ride I’ve ever had.