Thursday, February 1, 2007

Fish On! Fish On! Fish On! Fish On!

The wind was right so we took flight bound northeast to Rum Cay. Rounding Cape Santa Maria with lures in the water I was optimistic seeing all the squally weather about. Most sailors stay in harbor during inclement weather saving perfect sunny days to make passages. We find the fishing is best on “crappy” days and who wants to be wasting the day away inside and anchored?
Fish On! Not another Barracuda I hope. He dives deep so we don’t know what we have. Bringing it closer to the boat we are surprised to see a fabulous Black Fin Tuna! 25 pounds of fun! I set out to bleed him out and filet him when I hear Sabrina scream, “Fish on!” again. And so it went for the entire passage, I remained on the transom bringing aboard and filleting 5 huge tuna. I did not have a chance to look up from my fish station until we were paralleling the beach of the Rum Cay anchorage with a freezer full of food from the sea. Angie has the best marinade for tuna and we ate a belly full before turning in for the night!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Hitchhikers Guide to Long Island

Walking along the desolate business district of Long Island we passed the usual island businesses of shop repair, building supplies, road house bar and Cosmetic Dentist! What’s that all about, I wondered? Well the good doctor was not in so I could not garner any information on the effectiveness of his location and marketing success for such specialized services.
A tattered dive flag at the top of a driveway was a clue to the cave we were searching for. We found Chris,the dive shop owner in his garage. Looking into the garage was like looking into a state of the art American tool and machine shop. Laser welders, lathes, saws, Craftsman tools, etc were organized beautifully with various projects in the works. I surmised that Chris’s diving business justified all theses supplies as “reasonable and necessary” duty free container shipments from the states. As for the diving business, he said he had four people arriving in about 3 weeks during the busy winter season.
He directed us to the trail head from the fire pit in front of the house to get to the cave. No lighting system, no handrails, no guides, no problem, we brought a flashlight and bread crumbs. The bat guano based floors made for easy walking. The cave extended back in multiple directions totaling several miles. There were stalagmites and stalactites, cavernous rooms and 5 of the 6 species of bats in the Bahamas. We were all brave and walked and photographed the thousands of bats bunched up just above our heads in the extension that lead to the back of their home. Dozens of little bats went whizzing by us as we walked under the clusters of chirping creatures. I was certain one of us was going to freak out and scream but the kids thought they were “so cute”.

That night we ate at the Thompson Bay Inn. I’ll cook for you. Be here at 6:00PM, she said. The Bahamian feast consisted of heaps of conch fritters, chicken wings, cole slaw, potato salad, French fries, and plantains. Angie got a huge hug and a bless you of appreciation for the business.
The next day, in search of an adventure we dinghied some 5 miles south to see the “not to be missed” Turtle Bay. The adventure became more of an ordeal as the walk was longer than we anticipated. Out of character for us, we gave up and made tracks back to the dinghy. Just as we were approaching the boat launch, Angie put the adventure back into the ordeal.
A local in a flat faced 80’s van stopped and wanted to give us a lift. Where were all the cars for the last hour before as we walked along the “highway”?
“I know where you want to go. Get in, get in. I’ll show you,” he slurred through his picket fence of remaining teeth.
Parker and Sabrina sat on the mismatched bald spare tires lying in the back. “Safety first kids, just like in the Michelin commercial with the babies in the tires. Just nestle into those tires and hang on.”
Angie and I squeezed into the front seat with the huge bug splattered windshield to protect us from whatever is coming the other way.
Angie sensed an issue when the drink he was holding did not smell like coke. “I've just had a little bit to drink, no problem. I’m all right. I’ll be very careful, no problem.” Drinking and drinking is the standard we are finding in the out islands. Oh God I thought, he’s drunk. Well we only have to go about 3 miles on a dirt road over to the ocean side.
Well away we go …in the wrong direction! Angie with her map in one hand and his drink in the other is trying to politely suggest that we need to turn around. Our driver kept rambling along with his stories about his accomplishments and his local knowledge.
“No! No! I know! I know where you want to go. You’ll see! It’s not far,” he said as we swerved down the Long Island Expressway (LIE). Fortunately we only had to avoid 2 cars, a dog, and a semi coming the other way.
Well, some 8 miles in the wrong direction and a truck backing out onto the road was enough to slow us down and me to open the door and say this is good here thanks! The sun is setting and there is no way we can walk back to the dinghy now.
“Thumb out quick guys!” I instructed as part of the life skills lesson of the day.
Another islander, actually Hispanic, stopped by with a brand new pickup truck. He was sober and delighted to take us the other way. No longer an allowed way to travel in the states, we all got to pile in to the open air bed and watch the scenery fly by. The kids loved it!