Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ringling In the Summer with a road trip

  Having taken care of the initial chores on Freedom that prepare her for Summer we needed a break. Let's face it, changing oil, pickling the water maker, cleaning the dink, cleaning teak and oiling it doesn't add up to much excitement. So we got in the car and took off for Sarasota. Our destination was the Ringling Estate. Sound familiar?
 It should as in the "Greatest Show on Earth" familiar. The Ringling Organization is doing a great job of preserving what John and Mable amassed with the profits from the entertainment they provided. While the Estate is not as "Victorian" or massive as places the Vanderbilt family put together, I will say the Ringling's taste and collection was impressive to say the least.
 The house and the surrounding property is on the shore of Sarasota Bay and for the cash these folks had it seems modest. I say that because the buildings that house their art collection are massive. Anyway the house is accessed via a long path and as you can see Deb was in no mood to wait for me while I took photos because we were in between down pours and she had already showered that day. I had also but I was willing to roll the dice on whether or not I had an extra minute or two. Walking around the first floor, you wonder a little if the circus theme worked its way into the furnishings and collectibles distributed throughout the living space. A pipe organ, and various other amenities all work with the surroundings and you wonder if a trapeze artist is going to come swinging down on you.
 They wanted another 20 bucks a person to get up to the second floor and look at their bedrooms. I would have sprung for it but a passing squall laid down a ton of water and all of the exterior marble was soaked and that prevented access to the tower. Let's face it looking at someone else's bed and bathroom isn't all that thrilling so without the extra view of the Bay and property I lost my ability to dig a little deeper. Besides it was still raining.
 That meant we were out of the house and back wandering around the property as soon as the rain stopped. The marble deck that abuts the Bay was spectacular but slick as can be in flip flops. The time that went into assembling this alone had to be substantial.

 But the art museum. Wow. Here's a shot of the courtyard contained by the museum's buildings. I don't remember ever seeing a collection of art that rivaled the big museums in NYC. And the circus theme was alive and well here if you think about it. The first exhibit that was offered via the walk, took you through a display of art created by forgers. Several of them. It had the history behind their entrance into the practice and several of the works they created hanging on the walls. It was an amusing and enlightening display that shed light on how creative crooks can be when the want to. After this there are collections from various period dating back to the 1400's in room after room after room. Amazing.
 But this place was built with cash from the Big Show and someone decided that they'd start a model of the circus environment and the logistics around it. I thought I had some photos of it but it must have been too dark or reflections spoiled the image. Anyway the model contains everything you could expect that is a part of the circus. The 100 car train, locomotive, the tents, the make up tents, the animals the big top name it. It spans the whole top floor of a large building and is very impressive. And it's not done yet!
 Indeed even if the circus stopped performing the greatest show is still alive and well.


Monday, June 9, 2014

And it's a Wrap

 Having survived the East Coast of Florida on a major holiday weekend, yes, we chilled at Sunset Bay Marina for a night. Since we fueled up upon arrival getting out in the morning was easily facilitated. There was nothing in front of us except perhaps weather.
 So after hooking up with a great couple with the same boat over cocktails the night before we motored out of the marina and headed West. But this did not happen without a phone call to the lock master at the St. Lucie Lock. Lake Okeechobee and the waterway is managed by the Federal Government. When the water level gets low or to about 12.5 feet, the lockmasters are ordered to a scheduled opening as opposed to "on demand". "On demand" openings occur when boats approach the lock and call the lock on the radio. Regardless of when the lock was last used by the prior boat the lockmasters will flip the lock around and take you through.
 When we left Stuart the lake was at 12.55 feet. Pretty darn close and it was dropping everyday. Fortunately for us the lake held out as well as the Army Corp of Engineers and none of the lock openings were scheduled. All the way across Florida they all opened for us "On Demand". This was a huge relief because missing a scheduled opening can an quite a bit of time to the day of travel.
 At the Port Mayaka Lock, we were greeted to the fact that both lock doors were open at the same time so I did not have to pull the dink in. We did not have to stop, grab lines on the wall, wait for the doors to close and the lock to fill before the next set of doors opened up. All we had to do was motor on through the lock. Great.
 I am thinking this saved us just enough time to stay on the fringe of a rather strong squall that followed us across the lake. Fortunately there wasn't much wind associated with it but there was a heck of a lot of rain. But this was a good thing because Freedom had a good crust of salt on her from all of the traveling since, yes, Sea Spray Marina in the Abacos!
 With a tie up at the Moore Haven town dock and a quiet night of rest we were ready to move on to the West Coast. The rest of the trip West was uneventful until we passed the rail road bridge prior to entering the Fort Myers area. At that point the water was calm and Deb decided we may as well get ready to dock the boat. Even though we were about an hour away from the dock the chore had to get done and it might as well get started. So she is leaning over the starboard side setting up a fender when someone decided to jump out of the water right under her face.

Yeah, Flipper shows up. But I don't know about it. Deb let's out a scream like there's a body in the water and I am thinking it could be hers.
Deb you ok? Eyaaaahhhhh.......
Deb WTF?
Ok, HEY! What is going on?
Eventually she was able to calm down enough to fill me in. So I set up the auto pilot since there was no traffic or obstructions and took a moment to fire off a few more shots of the welcoming committee. Now look carefully at this last one. Does it look like it has a wise ass grin on? I think so. I'm convinced it knew full well that it was going to scare the heck out of Deb and it was fully aware that it did.
 Regardless, it was great to have been met, and the dolphin stayed with us for quite a while until we found our way into the marina channel. There's nothing like a natural welcoming committee when you arrive home.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Hawksbill Cay and points North

After spending some time at Staniel Cay the weather laid down again and we found ourselves an opportunity to move North through the Exumas, Chub Cay, Bimini and possibly across the Gulf stream to the United States so it was time to get going. The weather window was predicted to be one of the longest spanning windows the area had seen in quite a while. So the onus was on us to take advantage of it if we wanted to get back to the United States so we could fulfill obligations that were approaching.  Given the weather we had been dealt up to this point, and how consistent the forecasts were becoming we had no choice but to get going.

 And move we did. Some of the passages may not seem like much because of the short distance, but everyone has to understand we move at about 8 nm/hr. So a mere 30 nautical miles turns into five or six hours. Wait, that math does not add up you say? Ok, add in stowing in preparation the night before, cutting all of the umbilical cords and stowing them along with lines, maneuvering out of a marina and into clear water, and then slogging through the chop etc. to the point you are ready to reverse the process or pick up a mooring ball which is certainly more simple for the initiated. So now that I have laid down the basis for the excuse of going as far as Hawksbill from Staniel, that was our first stop. A mere 31.4 nm from Staniel Cay Y/C to the mooring field provided by the Bahamas National Trust at Hawksbill.

This was one of the most pleasant mooring fields we have had the good fortune to visit. With wind and water out of the East we were in the lee. As anyone can see the boat sat well and we had a very peaceful night here. But this one photo does nothing to present just how scenic this spot is. The 360 degree view from this vantage point is without a doubt one of the best I have seen throughout all of the years Deb and I have traveled the Carribean. That, and there are what seems dozens of park sponsored beaches to hang out of for a picnic lunch. And no one else is around. Ask the couple that was skinny dipping when we blew by in the dink at 20 knots. I am sad to say she was quick to react.
  But after a restful night on the mooring, we motored on up to Nassau. Our goal was the Palm Cay Marina because JJ the dock master had us booked for a night. To get up there, it meant traversing the "dreaded Yellow Bank" or going West of it and then North into Nassau. We opted to traverse the bank and we are glad we did. All of the chartography we had which included the soft copy of the Explorer Charts indicated we had plenty of water to make the passage. That, and the forecast was for calm weather. So we took that option and it paid off. We had plenty of time to react to coral heads we approached and once on the bank in calm water we could proceed slowly across water that was more shallow.

After filling up the tanks at the more reasonable price of 5.11 a gallon for diesel, we tied up and went to the on site restaurant for lunch.Walking in, we were soon presented with the fact that they were CLOSED. Damn. Anyway, the waiter who was in early hooked us up with a couple of very good personal pizzas and we were good to go with a couple of very cold and refreshing Kaliks.
 I have to admit the facility is laid out well, and has all of the amenities required for a very pleasant stay. That, and with all of the coral fronds on the South side of Nassau/New Providence I am sure a few nights at this place via boat would be a great time. But we had to make tracks. Weddings in the States were coming at us and we were committed to going. We could have stayed here a few nights and had a great time with the dink, but we had to keep going since the weather was good.
 So the next leg took us through Nassau Harbour and up across North West Channel to Chub Cay.
This place has had some very tough times. It has potential to be a stellar stop on the way to and from the Exumas but the project plan is ass backwards. The amenities favor home owners instead of transient boaters that will keep the restaurant going. The "members only" section of the restaurant was DEAD but the fringe areas were packed. I guess exclusivity has its price but the notion here, is if you want that place to be ready when you show up for your two week vacation, perhaps you should cater to the people that frequent the place more often than you do? Oh well.
 The place has a great pool but the water was not properly treated. There are signs of improvement in the offing, and we heartily wish the development well on its recovery. This development has all of the best working for it provided that can be pulled together. Once that happens it will be worth the price they are currently asking. The current dockage rate, and treatment of transients by the restaurant encourage alternative destinations as well as anchoring out. But we are glad we stopped in because it was a welcome stop in a long passage to Bimini.
 Bimini. This is the first step towards culture shock associated with the return to the United States. it was after all the Memorial Day weekend where everyone BBQs instead of remembering the fallen. Not only do they BBQ but the take off in their boats invading places close to home like Bimini.
 I don't blame the Bahamians for being sick of Americans. They landed at Bimini in droves and pitched wakes everywhere. Their stereos were loud and their egos flared. But oh well, we had to make time and fortunately we found a spot at Brown's Marina. Or so we thought. The locals had a rap fest next door that lasted well into the morning. Then Brown's charged us more than we bargained for over the phone. With that, Bimini is off the list. If I can avoid it I will never go back. It's mayhem on the water that is no escape from........

 Peanut Island. On Memorial Day Weekend. Everyone was out in their boat and the area was packed with boats and people swimming, wading, jet skiing, and playing tag with the dink we were towing through all of this.
 Talk about making a mistake. We should have never boated through this area during the holiday. But it is what it is, and we managed to get through this AND the Cross Roads up by Manatee Pocket without any serious incident. I thought I was going to lose it when the dweeb pulled up along side the dink and looked at the contents but fortunately he didn't see anything of interest. Welcome home.
 But continuing on we found ourselves at Sunset Bay Marina, cheaper fuel and a bar with some of the best appy's you can find at their restaurant Sailor's Return. With calamari, an eggplant stack, and spring rolls washed down with a couple of safe arrival cocktails order was restored and we camped out waiting for the next two days of travel home.

Monday, May 26, 2014

More Road Trips and Finally a break in the weather.

We wound up spending almost two weeks at Emerald Bay. It took another road trip and a couple of day passes at Sandals to help while away the time. I have to admit it was disappointing that we could not take advantage of the dink at Emerald Bay. The marina faces directly out into Exuma Sound and while center consoles and larger boats can punch through it, and yes our dink can as well, the comfort level required by some folks would have been exceeded so we left the dink parked along side of Freedom.
 And we set out for Sandals. If you were are going to be stuck at Emerald Bay, a day pass at 90 bucks a person might sound expensive, but it is totally worth it. There are a few swimming pools, plenty of lounge chairs around them, towels, lunch, and drinks are all included. The day pass begins at 10AM and that means, Mimosas! And no one cared how many you had so we enjoyed a couple of them poolside. Not too shabby. At lunch time we had several options at our disposal. Pizza, pub fare, a buffet with all of the trimmings and deserts, and yet another open bar. So we ate lunch twice and skipped dinner, had plenty of desert and a night cap. All by 6PM when it was time to leave.
 On our second outing with a a rental car we rode down to Georgetown again and almost took the ferry to Chat and Chill but we realized that once at Chat and Chill we were going to be stuck and unable to walk the beach on Stocking Island. That being the case, we took care of shopping and checked out other establishments while we had the car. We stopped in at Exuma Point, Shoreline, and Catch a Fire so we could decide where to enjoy some time on the next pass. I will say if you attempt to drive to Catch a Fire at night, you might break an axle on the car. So this place while it looked inviting, was off our list because it was going to be an evening instead of an afternoon kind of outing. The funny thing about this outing in the car, was that no matter where we went, and we know we were not followed because we are paranoid NYers, two people kept showing up on the scene. As it turned out they were on a 25th birthday celebration trip from the snowy midwest and finally we all hooked up for a couple of laughs at Sandals during our second day pass when the rain came. You know, making lemonade out of lemons? Great people they are and we enjoyed sitting around killing time while the rain fell. Rumor has it they almost missed their plane the next day. I believe it.
  Moving on, and I am sure they are glad I am, we wound up at Exuma point for the Sunday BBQ. It was terrific. All sorts of good grilled food and plenty of tasty sides. While we were there, a catamaran passed South into the wind and waves. It passed very slowly bouncing violently up and down. It seemed like they were making progress so we watched them disappear into the weather without concern. Later, we went back to Emerald Bay and went out to the point to reflect on the sea conditions versus the predictions. Since both sucked we said yeah, we ain't going anywhere and we were about to go back to Freedom when this catamaran appears at the entrance. Yes, the same one from up North. We watched them slide into the marina rather ungracefully and then met them back at the boat since they tied up behind us. They were four couples and three of them mutinied and demanded to come back in spite of the weather. The captain had  a broken finger and everyone wanted out. Nice vacation? Not. They all rented rooms at Grand Isle and gave up on the cruise after only a couple of days. This was a recurrent theme while we stayed put at Emerald. People came in and cruised out, only to return early. Oh well. We're glad we are retired and can sit weather out.
 Finally our patience was rewarded. We motored out of Emerald Bay and I let the dink out behind Freedom taking a couple of rope burns in the process because the waves pulled the line out of my hands. No big deal, we move North towards Cave Cay where we would get back into the shallow water and relatively calm conditions. We rolled along in the following sea but the auto pilot was able to keep up and we made good progress at about 8 knots.
 But to get on the bank we had to traverse Cave Cay Cut again and on this day, it was acting up.

The above photo of the waves was taken at Cave Cay Cut while the tide was running out and, the seas out of the South were piling into the outflow. It made for a "sporty" ride back onto the bank. I had to throttle Freedom up quite a bit to make headway. This was one of the times we were glad we went with Freedom instead of a low horsepower trawler. Normally at the power setting I used, we run 13 or 14 knots. Not so this day, we could only make 5. But it was all good and in spite of stuffing the anchor a couple of times we wound up back on the bank in calm shallow water. We know the dink (Madonna) was happy to be done with that passage.
 And later that day we found ourselves up at the Staniel Cay yacht Club where we would sit out yet another dose of wind out of the East that was bringing more unsettled weather. The Club was a more appealing place to spend some time because there is less traffic on the island and there are many more possibilities to explore with the dink. Being on the lee side of the cays now, we did not have to deal with Exuma Sound's conditions to get out in the dink. As long as we stayed close to the cays and away from the inlets we could move around quite a bit. We were able to make a passage to Black Point and walk around, visit the pigs on Big Majors, snorkel Thunderball Grotto, and pass through many places in between as the photo on the right illustrates. Some of the scenery is amazing.
 But soon enough the weather laid down again and we had the opportunity for a relatively calm passage on the bank up to Hawksbill Cay.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Socked in by approaching Weather

 So that means, ROAD TRIP. Fortunately we made it down to Great Exuma before the weather turned. I have to admit it wasn't with a happy heart that we left Compass Cay but it is what it is, and we wanted to move on to areas we had not visited yet.
 We probably could have run from Compass Cay down to Emerald Bay Marina in a day but we did not want to push it so we stopped in at the Cave Cay Marina. If we had run all the way to Long Island from Cay there was a good chance we would have arrived at dark and that would be a recipe for issues given the waters were unfamiliar to us.
 So here we are at Emerald Bay and the forecast for Exuma Sound is for very choppy rough water for the foreseeable future, like at least a week. Like I said when I started out that means we have plenty of time to explore the island and we set out by renting a car. Having been to a number of other countries and driven I was thinking I was ready for this. Abaco, Bermuda and various other islands all require driving on the left side of the road. But this was the first time that I was delivered a car that had the controls on the right side. What the heck was I supposed to do? Drive in reverse looking backwards so I was ok with this? It was bad enough I originally sat down in the passenger's seat and wondered what was going on. With a certain amount of trepidation I got out and hopped in the correct side of the car (in this land) and started up the engine. For one reason or another I found myself hammering the gas pedal when starting. I have no idea why it just happened several times.

So we set out on the wrong side of the road with me driving on the wrong side of the car. Deb often wondered if she was going off the road as a result of my abilities. After some time we found ourselves at the end of Little Exuma where we turned around and went back to Santana's which was close by at this point. We were greeted by big warm smiles and after a review of the menu board Deb chose shrimp and I went for the grouper. Both were batter dipped and fried to perfection. With an ice cold Kalik to wash it down life was good. The view was amazing and as usual capturing the colors with a photo was challenging. I was surprised to see license plates from U.S. cars and various states hanging from the ceiling.
 Many were obviously still valid and looked authentic. Just about all of the far flung states were represented so it looks like the notion you are from a remote frost ridden place like Alaska won't mean you would be welcomed any differently than someone from Florida. The license plate contributions, like the hand made and painted name boards on Boo Boo Hill and Compass Cay work much better than the arrogantly placed stickers the some folks slap up all over the place. It seems some people have no respect for anyone's property and they feel a need to express their presence with these oval shaped stickers about 5 inches long. They get slapped up everywhere. Canal lock walls, bathrooms, bars, fences, poles, seats, walls, you name it. People that slap these things up could care less as long as they make their visit known. Fortunately places like Compass Cay and Santana's peel them down from time to time. Works for us.
 At this point we were done with the South end of Great Exuma and we drove to the other extreme where we located some other establishments. We wound up locating Paradise Bay so we decided to check this place out once the "drive" was done.
 Fortunately the car was returned in the same condition it was delivered, and we were once again on foot. Since Paradise Bay is a short one mile walk away from Freedom we decided to hike on over for lunch. It's a pretty cool place to hang out for lunch but we were both left with the impression that they squeezed too much into the property. The views from the infinity pool and dining area were both blocked by a pair of cabins leaving a subset of the beach and water to look at. In spite of this the pool is inviting and lunch was quite good and reasonably priced, especially for the Bahamas.
 Perhaps being socked in by weather we do not want to experience "on the bank" is not so bad after all.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Warderick Wells to Compass Cay

 After a stop at Spanish Wells and making our way to Highborne Cay for an overnite at each we pressed on to Warderick Wells which is part of the Bahamas National Trust, or the Exumas Land and Sea Park. The welcoming committee is always on hand looking to make sure you arrived safely and are well situated. If you cruise the Exumas please join and contribute to the Trust. They do a wonderful job of providing moorings as well as other land based facilities people of all ages can enjoy. Many of them are spectacular. Especially if you are willing to put on a mask and fins so you can swim around or you have a good dink for exploration. The membership fees are incidental and any help will provide support for an organization that is doing quite a bit with not so much. This organization goes much farther than those "raising awareness" type shops that in my humble opinion are nothing but sponges.
 Anyway, before moving on I will say the marina at Highbourne Cay offers very good protection and the convenience store usually has fresh produce. The break water here is excellent and when the water is rough the place offers a restful stop and wow did we appreciate it after the run from Spanish Wells. Make sure they have space for your boat before traveling there since this is a popular stop on the way to and from the Exumas from Spanish Wells and Nassau.  We were lucky to get the last available slip after a long day. Anchoring out was certainly an option but with all of the wind and water we put up with it was time for a break.
Having had a restful one night layover at Highbourne we moved on to Warderick Wells which has to be one of the most favorite stops for everyone boating the Exumas because the moorings offer protection from just about every direction and the Cay has many trails for hiking. One can walk up to the top of Boo Boo Hill and check out a 360 view that will challenge just about any other natural setting you could locate. I will warn you that photography has a difficult time capturing the color but you can try. Note the banner page for this blog is a shot of Freedom on mooring ball #9 at Warderick Wells and we both still think that photo while very appealing does not do the place justice. Anyway, we did the hike again, and found our name board contribution on Boo Boo Hill. Name boards placed on the mound are a supplication to the Gods asking for benign weather. While we have had our issues with weather on this trip all in all we cannot complain so perhaps our presence on the mound of boards since 2011 is paying off.
 Saturday nights at Warderick Wells are reserved for a beach front pot luck gathering so we pulled together some bits and went ashore where we made many new friends and enjoyed some tasty treats which were more than enough for a meal. It never ceases to amaze me to see what kind of treats Deb can crank out for one of these gatherings.    
  And now we find ourselves at the Compass Cay Marina in the Exumas. The ride down was less than pleasant with some chop coming right at us all the way. I suppose if I could have throttled up to about 13 knots the ride would have been better but with the dink in tow I took it easy.
 Regardless it was worth the irritation to get here. I have to admit this is one of our favorite stops in the Exumas and it's for a number of reasons. You will not find a more friendly staff, and the location is beyond comparison. When the weather is bad on the bank stopping in here is without question a rare pleasure on this Earth. The water is clear, and remains that way in spite of the mega yachts that come and go. For one reason or another they never stir up the bottom. Some really sweet rides pull in here on charter. If you have the cash, you can have a really good time on one of these boats. But you had better be ready to PAY.
 Perhaps the strong tidal flow through the area has swept the bottom clean enough to prevent the large propellors from stirring it up. With a stout dink, one can make several trips to nearby anchorages and Cays all of which offer scenery that defies description.
  There are two appealing stops one of which is  Staniel Cay Yacht Club. But make sure you call to see if they have gas before you leave nearby facilities or, make sure you have enough fuel to complete the trip in both directions. We made that mistake but fortunately had enough for the return trip. With an out going tide the Exuma Sound is not far away and a tidal ride when out of fuel could get you into a genuine mess. Staniel Cay has a pool and a restaurant in addition to many cottages. It's also a good stop because they will include a skiff to run around in as part of an all inclusive deal.
 The ride over to Staniel included a pass by Big Majors which is a very popular anchorage. Boats of all sizes and type frequent this anchorage and on this day with East to South East wind many boats pulled in and threw the hook up close to shore. I guess the proximity to the Staniel Cay Yacht Club is an attraction to this anchorage but there is one other attraction that draws plenty of people.
 The pigs. And there are a gang of them. All sizes as well but the polka dots seem to dominate the gene pool here. It's quite a bit of fun to pull in here for a few minutes because the more mature pigs will make an effort to swim out to your boat in an effort to garner a treat. Just about anything will do but we try to keep it reasonable with veggies and lightly skinned fruits. We were surprised to see how many people were on the beach with the pigs given they can be aggressive but everything seemed to be working well. It is worthy to note that these are not wild animals to the extent one might expect. They have been planted here and I have to believe people go out there every now and then to thin the herd. There is a fresh batch of piglets on the beach now and I am thinking some ribs are in the offing for someone.
 So after a burger and a beer at the Yacht Club we piled into the dink and headed back to the Compass Cay Marina because the day was wearing on and we had plans to travel the next day. We passed by the failed Samson Cay Marina and development, and Over Yonder Cay. If you have some spare cash, and it might take a fair amount check this place out if you want a special place to hang out. We passed by on the West Shore and noticed the place had all the toys. A yacht, a float plane, several "smaller" boats, and a private golf course.
 In spite of all the opulence around us, and wishing some would rub off on us, we arrived back at Freedom and settled into a great evening meal and sunset from the aft deck facing the West.
 The GPS data is up to date and you might find "flying" a track from Compass Cay to Staniel and back interesting.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Sometimes you're the bug

And sometimes you're the windshield. In this case, we were the bug flying into a fast moving windshield that had the wipers on. When we left Spanish Wells we did so with a good forecast in hand. We both looked it over, and took advantage of some special subscriptions. It was supposed to be calm, no chance for a squall and light winds out of the South and South East. Yah. We got this.
 In reality it was 15-20 gusting 25 out of the South West. It's a shame we didn't run into this until we were well across the bank from Fleeming Channel towards Highbourne Cay. It turned into about 4 hours of snot on the nose. It was certainly better than having it on the beam so I shouldn't complain. But after having a great ride South to Spanish Wells we thought we were going to be back on the shallow water with calm seas and sunshine. I mean, how could a day on the Atlantic in calms seas that are 3 miles deep be an omen for genuine snot on the bank while you are dodging coral heads? Oh well.
  We were both apprehensive about the route across the bank I chose to take since it was a direct line from Fleeming Channel to Highbourne. It was loaded with coral heads and there are all sorts of rumors about how you cannot make it across this bank without crashing. While I suppose that is true for some folks, we only saw two coral heads we had to alter course for. Part of the reason for the confidence I had was based on what we learned from folks at the Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club seminar on the Exumas. At this seminar it was said, and abundantly, that you can pick the coral heads out well in advance and take action in a relaxed manner to avoid them. Yet another reason to become a member and we are always glad we have. Good camaraderie and at a very cheap price. But I should have taken a movie of the trawler that came at us on the South side of the bank. It was like he was choosing a parking spot in an empty parking lot. To each his own and when we are on your boat we'll do it your way. 
 When we left Little Harbour after a couple of great nites we set out on the Atlantic and relaxed. It was so calm Deb sat there playing Yahtzee on a small electronic game while I kept the helm. We watched Dolphins hunt for a while and saw hundreds of flying fish take off from the area in front of Freedom and carry on for what must have been 100 yards some times. On occasion a dozen or so would take flight all at once. I wish I could have kept a camera online and focused but they are always a surprise and difficult to photograph. Dolphins are much easier to capture because they tend to travel in a consistent direction for a while and you can almost predict where they will come up for air again as evidenced by my luck with the second photo.
Spanish Wells is waking up. The Spanish Wells Yacht Club is finally getting a healthy dose of cash that will rebuild docks, add more amenities thus encouraging tourism. There is actually a restaurant on the island now! It's amazing how long this is taken given this is a busy community as well as a very good spot to pull into when traveling by boat. Hopefully this island has learned to be cautious with over developing or allowing big money to come in and create huge eyesores that fail.

 But Little Harbour is still a great hang. Especially with all of the great people down there. It seems someone is always willing to host a pot luck dinner or snack session and everyone is willing to stop at Pete's Pub for a fish sandwich and commiserate over a beer.
You never know who is going to drop in for a nosh and if Pete's doesn't work for you Carlton is cooking up some good food on the Asian and BBQ nites at Sea Spray. They bring in the Limbo Man Desmond at Sea Spray. The food is good, the times are great no matter how old you are. It's always fun to watch the kids push their limits and the older folks refuse to give up. Me? I don't go there I leave it to the pros. This man can carry people under the bar his strength is so great.