Farmers Cay Exumas Bahamas

After a really good breakfast at Staniel Yacht Club we headed out. We are definitely on our own out here. We haven’t seen any other sailboats. I guess all the sailboats are back in Florida. We head into Little Farmers Cay, our last stop before Georgetown. Little Farmers Cay is a unique island, surrounded by white sandy beaches. It was originally settled by a woman named Chrisanna a freed slave from the island of Great Exuma, who moved there with her two sons and daughter. They bought the island from the English and willed it to their descendants as family property. The land can only go to descendants of the original family.

The town numbers about 60 people, and there are several youngsters we saw when we pulled up in our dinghy. They were having a great time jumping off the dock, trying to keep cool in the oppressive heat. Most of the islanders in the small town farm or fish. They take such pride in their island and their heritage that they even designed their own flag, giving thanks to the sea, the environment and to the oneness of all creation. I love that! And even though it is pretty small and quiet here, there is an airstrip. Most of the islands in the Exumas have an airstrip. This probably accounts for the several submerged planes we have seen. We were lucky to see a plane make a safe landing shortly after we pulled in.

We headed into town in search of groceries and laundry. The guidebook said to call the Ocean Club on the VHF if you needed anything, but we decided to walk into town first and see if we could find it. It was easy to spot, a little blue building at the top of a small hill. It was pretty nondescript from the outside but we were pleasantly surprised when we went in. It was a bar/restaurant, with cream colored walls and deep dark wood tables and trim. Hung from the ceiling were different boat flags yachties had left from their last visit. Narrow archways lead to a small bar where we were greeted with a big hello and bright smile from Meghan who was tending bar. She had just moved back from Nassau When I asked her why she told us about it being a family island. A family or generation island means she is guaranteed free land on which to build a house. She seemed a bit young to be worrying about a house, but she was tired of living in Nassau.

A young man sat at the end of the small bar, the only other person in the place. I noticed he had some kind of badge around his neck and I asked him about it. Turns out he was the police; the only policeman on the island. Meghan laughingly added that he was a policeman with no car and he had to walk to the scene of the crime. There was very little crime there, lucky for him.

The prices looked good so we decided to hang around for an early supper. We have been so hungry for lobster. Lobster season doesn’t start until tomorrow, but they had one 16 oz tail in the freezer. We ordered that and a steak and sandwiches for the kids, and set a time for 5:30. It was about 4:00 now and we didn’t feel like heading back to the boat so we hung around looking at all the memorabilia on the walls. Meghan put in a movie for the kids “Arthur and the Invisibles”. It is not really out on DVD yet so she must have her own “Geno” who can get DVD’s. When the food came it was delicious. We couldn’t decide which was better, the lobster or the steak. The lobster tail was huge and they only charged us twenty dollars for it. The Ocean Club had such a great atmosphere we hated to leave. I asked her about getting bread at the grocery store and she said they didn’t sell bread there, only a few canned goods and no milk. I asked how the restaurant got their food and she said the boat came from Nassau. Then she added that the boat hadn’t come for 3 weeks!

As we left to head back to our boat we saw another Osprey resting on the beach. As we got closer to him he flew off. That night sitting in the cockpit we saw a beautiful, orange moon rising up on the horizon. We were the only ones on a boat in a big harbor to enjoy it.

When Wild Drunken Pigs Go Bad Staniel Cay Bahamas

Our garbage on our boat is starting to overwhelm us.  We haven’t found a place to dispose of it since we left Marsh Harbour 9 days ago.  Also we are out of bread and milk, so we decided to stop at Staniel Cay Yacht Club overnight.  We had to stay at the yacht club as that was the only way to get rid of the garbage.  The yacht club was expensive for what we got, and the anchorage was very rolly.   They wanted to charge us $2.50 per bag for the first 2 small bags of trash and then $25.00 for every bag after that, and this was if you were at the marina.  If you didn’t stay at the marina you couldn’t  dump garbage.  We had 3 BIG trash bags, each containing 2 smaller bags so there was no way we were going to pay that.  In the dock across from us is the mega yacht Blackhawk owned by the owners of the Blackhawk hockey team in Chicago.  They are all very friendly. It seems they have all their extended family on the boat for a big cruise. 

Once we were docked we ate a good lunch inside the Yacht Club we went exploring. The town is not that big, and it was incredibly hot, but we had our trusty map.  The map of course got us lost as it had us looking for roads that didn’t exist.  There was a lot of construction happening on the island so maybe the person who drew the map  was being optimistic.  A local,  walking on the road, not sweating near as much as we were, gave us the correct directions to both stores.    With hopes high we entered the nearest place, enthusiastically called a Super Market.  From the outside the “Super Market” looked smaller than my garage back home.  Inside it wasn’t any better.  It was dark and it was hot. It was over 90 degrees outside, and inside the store with no breeze, I am sure it was a hundred degrees!   As she watched us enter, one of the ladies shouted to the one in the store to “Turn on the refrigerator”.  That was not a good sign.  I looked around for bread but couldn’t find any.  When I asked for it, she showed me this old hard loaf that someone had made.  I decided to pass.  The diet coke cans were actually hot, not warm, but hot like they had been out in the sun all day.  There was no fresh food, just some overpriced dishwashing soap, a few canned goods and strangely, EVIAN water.  Dan looks at me and says “Who drinks Evian water any more?  These must have been here since the eighties!”  There is nothing I can buy but Dan says we have to buy something since they made a point of “opening” for us.  I don’t know what to buy.  I don’t dare look in the newly started up refrigerator.  Finally I settle on a can of pineapple juice, grossly overpriced at $6.00, and 2 small bags of chocolate chip cookies.  We leave the oven posing as a grocery store and head back to the boat.

A long dinghy ride away is a place called Pig Beach on the island called Big Major.  We are going to surprise the kids with a trip there.  I examine my chocolate chip cookies from the store and see that one package has a hole chewed in it and the other one is somehow opened.  I sigh.  I don’t want to think of what animal lives in that store and chews holes in bags of cookies.  Well, they are perfect forPigBeach and I take them along with the leftovers from Tessa’s lunch.  As we dinghy into the bay atPigBeach we pass a mega yacht 123 feet long called Milk and Honey.  Also anchored nearby are our new friends, Pat and Victor on Dolphin Dancing.  We had met them at Warderick Wells as we were leaving and as we were having lunch at the Yacht Club, they called us on the VHF.  When I spoke to them they said they were anchored offPigBeach and I told them we would be over later and would stop by. That was before things turned traumatic. 

As we pulled our dinghy up on the beach, the tender from Milk and Honey was there with a man and a woman sitting inside.  A few feet from the beach our kids finally saw what we came to see, pigs on the beach.  A large pink pig came out to greet our dinghy as we pulled up on shore.  In fact she tried to crawl into the dinghy!   After shooing her away we were able to get out of the dinghy.  Another brown pig was sitting by himself in the water, looking a little spaced out.   The kids at first were surprised and a little scared of the pigs at first, but soon they were feeding the pink pig cookies and running with her on the beach.  The brown one came up but the pink one was more aggressive with the food so she kept him away.  The pink pig eventually left, leaving the brown pig to get all the attention.  We had two pieces of meat left over in the dinghy and I gave him one and then left to talk to the people from Milk and Honey, who were looking at a shark not very far from our dinghy.    The guy said they had been on the beach awhile and had given the brown pig four beers.  I am not sure why you would do that, but ok.  I started to ask him questions about his mega yacht when I hear Dan, a few feet away, desperately calling my name.  I turn to look and the brown pig is almost entirely in our dinghy.  His entire front body and legs are in and he is trying to get his back legs in.  Dan is inside the dinghy trying to push him out.  I have no idea what to do.  These are wild pigs.  The pig is looking for more food and he is rooting around in our dinghy like a crazed animal.  I rush over and try to grab the back of his body while Dan tries to push him out.  I am so afraid that his hooves will puncture the side of the dinghy.  He does not go easily.  He slams his head into Dan’s hand forcing it back into the edge of the dinghy seat, opening a cut on the side of his hand.  His hand is now bleeding.  Noticing he is bleeding the mega yacht guy suggests rinsing it in the salt water.  Weren’t you just watching a shark in the water by our dinghy???  Finally the pig reluctantly gets out of the dingy but he is very aggressive.  I am now between him and the dinghy, holding my camera in my right hand. He thinks it is food and chomps down on my arm.  HARD!  Thank God he didn’t break the skin, but he bit hard enough so that a HUGE lump (about an inch and a half high) instantly forms on the outside of my forearm and inside of my forearm and scratch marks from his teeth.  I am very lucky he didn’t get my hand or my wrist as I am sure he would have broken something.

“He bit me!”

The woman says “He bit me too yesterday.  On the butt!” 

 I can’t believe she came back. My arm hurts and I am not happy.  I slap the pig hard on the nose.  Dan tells me not to do that.  I first I thought he said it because he thought I was being mean to the pig but then I realize he said it because I just hit a wild animal that has a very bad history of biting.  The pig nips me on the leg.  I am very upset with this pig.  I never get bit.  Animals love me.  Even if he mistook my camera for food, he has gone over the line.  We decide to get out of there.  Milk and Honey are leaving too. 

 “Get in the dinghy!!” we yell to the kids.  Of course the pig is coming too.  At this point it’s every man woman and child for themselves.  Dan is pushing the dinghy out, I dive inside, the kids are racing along side, and I am yelling “Get in! Get in!”.  I pull them to safety.  The guy from Milk and Honey yells  to me to put my arm in salt water.  I yell back that it’s not bleeding, it just has a big lump.  

 “Put it in saltwater anyway.  It will help.”  Apparently saltwater is his answer to everything.  Thank you doctor.  How about next time just not giving the pigs beer!

Dan’s hand is still bleeding, and my arm is looking worse, so we do a quick circle around Dancing Dolphin and not seeing them out, we head the mile and a half back to our boat. The swelling in my arm is going down some but now it is starting to hurt more.  When we get back to the boat, I ask Dan to get me some ice from the freezer.  Of course the ice is at the very bottom and you have to lift nearly everything out to find it.  He can’t find it and instead hands me a bag of COLD WATER, not ice, and says, (THIS IS UNFORTUNATELY A DIRECT QUOTE) “Here use this.  It’s colder than ice.”

I just stare at him a long time before I reply. 

 “If it’s colder than ice, wouldn’t it be ice???????” 

 So much for good medical help on the high seas!!!                                                                                                                                                       




Cambridge Cay Exumas Bahamas

We spent the night in Cambridge Cay, another beautiful, remote anchorage in the Exumas Land and Sea Park. The anchorage is pretty empty except for two big motor yachts. We wonder where all the sailboats have gone since we haven’t seen one since entering the Exumas. There was one moored in Warderick Wells but it was there permanently.
We are surrounded here by unusual rock formations, white beaches and plenty of coral. That afternoon we took a short dingy ride to O’Brien Cay to see the Sea Aquarium and Rock Grotto. On the way there we stopped at another interesting spot, a light plane crash. There was a mooring ball to tie your dinghy up while you snorkeled over the plane in about 15 feet of water. It was very clear from the surface and we were just about to jump in when we noticed 3 big barracudas guarding the area. After very little discussion we decided to leave the plane to the fish and head for the sea aquarium.

The Sea Aquarium was perfect snorkeling for kids, consisting of a miniature wall dive with plenty of fish and the most colorful coral we have seen yet. It’s an explosion of color, bright yellow trumpet fish, yellow with black stripped sergeant majors, the greenish brown grouper, purple damselfish, all accentuated by the oranges, browns, purples, reds and golds of the coral. A dark green netted barrel sponge, which resembled a huge vase, smaller on the bottom flowing up and out to a larger opening, was a great hiding place for an angelfish. On the ocean floor, Tessa and I saw something with brown and with cream markings, with a snake-like body, and at first we thought it was a snake. Later when we got our reef identification book we discovered it was a Tiger Tail sea cucumber.

The current was a bit strong here so we kept a sharp eye on Tessa, She was so excited to see everything and yelled when she saw something, so we always knew where she was. I finally had to tell her that she needed to save her yelling in case she was really in trouble and if she wanted us to see something to tap us on the shoulder or talk in less than a yell, as we were starting to tune her out. Tristan is the opposite. He’s the very quiet snorkeler, and can stay at the surface for a long time watching the fish, and then suddenly dive deep below the surface to check it out. If he sees something he wants me to see he will swim quietly next to me and point where he wants me to go. Both Tristan and Tessa dive really well, and if the current seems ok, we will let Tessa take her lifejacket off for a few minutes so she can dive down closer to the reef with Tristan. All the snorkeling really tires them out and when we got back to the boat, we sat on the front deck for awhile to watch the sunset. Later I made a big dinner and the kids went to bed early.
We took an early dinghy ride the next morning to Rocky Dundas. There are some caves here which you can go into. At this time of day they were still underwater and with a strong current running, Dan and I decided against going in, so we snorkeled off the rocks for awhile. When we got back to Alegria, and were preparing to leave, the guy from the big 60 foot motor yacht EXIT came over in his dinghy with his two dogs. He told us to be sure to take the kids to the Sea Aquarium and we told him we had. I asked him where he was going and he said his wife and him were down from Florida for the month. He seemed surprised we were heading south. He was very nice and asked us if needed anything, like ice or anything, and we said no. He gave us a great compliment when he said it looked like we were pretty self sufficient. And we really are. The solar panels do a great job of electricity for us, the generator is there if we want to run anything special and not use our batteries, the water maker is wonderful and makes great water and the freezer doesn’t make but will keep ice as well as doing a great job of keeping food cold and frozen. The refrigerator makes an excellent “cool” spot for the vegetables and our vitamins. We have a big supply of books and DVD’s and an incredible view out our windows every day. What more do we need?

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