School Days and Beach Days

After leaving Warderick Wells we anchored between Bell Island and Cambridge Cay. The chart and other cruisers had told us of a great snorkeling place called The Sea Aquarium. The day we went was overcast and a bit cool but it was still spectacular site to see. There were large coral heads just covered in multi colored fans, tall tube corals and hundreds of fish. There were lots of fish especially the Sargent Majors that would come right up to you in touching distance. It was truly just like going to an aquarium only we were in the tank with the fish.
We took the advice of some friends we met on the sailing vessel Argo, Jason and Andrew and went hiking on Cambridge Cay. There was a large rock that looked like it was part of the island but when you got to the windward side of Cambridge we found the large rock was an island in itself. Stephen, Shawn, and Jaxson could not resist climbing to the top for a picture. We continued around the island seeing beautiful ocean vistas and the local flora and fauna.

On Sunday, January 19th we had a nice sail down to Staniel Cay where we had nice winds and sailed at around 6 knts all the way there. We motored to our chosen anchorage and found it wasn’t as roomy as we had thought. This was the first time anchoring we had to try several spots before we found enough room and good holding. We headed onto Staniel Cay to see what was available and found a great little restaurant/bar to watch the football playoffs. We don’t have TV aboard and hadn’t had internet in a while so we didn’t even know who was playing but enjoyed watching anyway. We stayed for dinner at the Taste and Sea and Jaxson also met another cruising kid named Syrus, the two of them and Syrus’ dog Zander became fast friends.

Two of the must see things to do on Staniel Cay is the Grotto and the pigs. We first went to Thunderball Grotto, a spectacular skylit underwater cave featured in 007’s 1964 movie Thunderball. As soon as you enter you look up and your surrounded by a cave with several holes that let sunlight pour in. There are a few different rooms in the cave and most are filled with fish. There are several entrances to the Grotto and we all took turns swimming in and out of them and exploring. Our next stop in the Staniel Cay area was Big Major, the island with the wild pigs. We were told to take some food to feed the pigs and not to let them get in our dinghy. As soon as we got close to the island and the pigs heard our motor, they jumped in the water and started swimming towards us! I’ve seen a lot of things but to paraphrase Mr. Disney “but I be done seen about everything when I see an elephant fly”,or a pig swim! These were not small little pink pigs, these were fairly large pigs of all colors. There were about 20 pigs that we could see hanging out on the beach and swimming in the water to get the food. It was a sight I don’t expect to see again any time soon.

The weather coming in was going to get a bit rougher then we would have felt comfortable with staying where we were anchored so we moved to a more protected area between Big Major and Little Major Cay. Shawn and Stephen went spear fishing and came back with a couple of fish. I used one of the fish heads for bait and caught a Nurse Shark. I reeled it up as close to the boat as I could so Shawn could cut the line close to his mouth and let him go. That evening we went to a beach were we saw several people the afternoon before and met lots of the Staniel Cay regular cruisers. There are several boaters who make the same trip year after year and stay anchored off Staniel Cay long enough to set up the beach with games, picnic tables, chairs and even a grill. Two of my favorite people from the beach were Lee and Cheryl Welch from the motor vessel Livewire. They are from Martha’s Vineyard and a hoot to hang out with. We learned how to use some of the many baits and lures we have aboard as Lee is an avid fisherman. Cheryl found out I love to read and brought me several books that she had already read. One of the coolest things about our travels so far is all the great people from all over we have met and I am looking forward to meeting many more.

Our latest stop is BlackPoint Settlement on Guana Cay in the Exumas. Here, we have been able to buy fresh veges and bread and get connected to the internet. We arrived on Thursday afternoon to the announcement over the radio about Happy Hour at Scorpio’s Restaurant from 4 to 6 with two for one rum punches. I was sold, I had been wanting a rum punch for quite a while. We all went to the island for Happy Hour and met up with several of the other cruisers that we had met on the beach on Major Cay. Jaxson met a few local boys and one in particular, Dante, he became very attached to. He was upset when the boy had to go home. His Mom said he had to get up for school in the morning and when Jaxson heard this he said he wanted to go to school too. I asked his mom if she thought Jaxson could go and she said she didn’t see why not. Early Friday morning Shawn and I went in to inquire about Jaxson going to school and the teacher said she’d love to have him. The school here has 49 kids on the island that attend. It is from preschool to the 9th grade and after that the kids have to go to Nassau to continue their education. Consequently, going to a school that small has made Jaxson a pretty popular and recognizable kid on the island. When we went to the island on a hike on Saturday pretty much everyone we passed young and old alike said hi to Jaxson.

I have met several locals as well, moms and grandmas of other school children, teachers and locals who hung out with us at happy hour and people I meet just walking down the street. Francis, who has 9 children and now weaves flat pieces of reeds she sells to Nassau where they make purses and hats out of it. Sam Smith who lives next door to Francis and weaves too. Mr. Berkley Wright who is a retired police chief and now live in the house he grew up in. He is working on building an apartment to rent out. Everyone here is super nice and the children say ma’am and sir. We have enjoyed staying here and getting to know the island and it’s people but we have a lot of places to see and soon we will be headed on down south.

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