Monday, April 26, 2010

We settled into one of our favorite anchorages just outside Sampson Cay to get ready for our company. Who should be there but Vic and GiGi from Oconee! What a nice surprise so we joined them for happy hour and Vic shared his underwater photos of the spots we were soon to snorkel with the Olson’s. Can’t wait!

We filled up water, fuel and tidied up the boat. Then off to Staniel Cay to get the last of the provisions because company is coming in one more day! There is a quick cold front scheduled to blow through tonight (yep, again they say it should be the last one of the season!) and we decide to stay put since it was to move through quickly. Well, blow it did…with a brief burst of rain at about 11:30pm. Now that that is out of the way we have 2 straight weeks of projected BEAUTIFUL weather as a high pressure ridge hangs out over the Bahamas. The Olsons live right because we had amazing weather for their entire stay!

Off to pick up the company from the airport as they are scheduled to arrive at 2:45pm. I am 15 minutes early with Kaliks in hand for the adults and a Sprite for Jake. At 3:30pm I decided to check in with the local flight agent, who also is the cashier at the local general store, and I am assured the plane is on its way. The little twin engine plane, from Nassau, finally arrives at 3:45pm. Not bad considering everything runs on Island Time! The first passenger out was Harvey as he basically unrolled himself out of his pretzel-position and poured out the side door. Gretchen and Jake came out next looking a bit ashened. Apparently it was a bit of a claustrophobic 30-minute flight. You knew it had been an interesting flight when the Kaliks were refused, even by the veteran flight attendant Gretchen!

We took a short walk to the dinghy and piled in…luggage and all. By now the Olson’s were probably wondering what they had gotten themselves into but once we reached Boto, settled in, went ashore to walk to the northern point of Sampson Cay for a look at the incredible colors of the water (with Kaliks in hand), the plane and dinghy ride were forgotten! Let the adventure begin!

There is something magical about having guests. Day-to-day chores and maintenance projects go to the back-burner and it is all about FUN!

The next day Jake, Harvey and Ed hopped in the dinghy with fishing gear in hand and headed for Pipe Creek. They dropped off Gretchen and Vicky on the beach for a relaxing morning of soaking up some sun. That afternoon was the expedition to Thunderball Cave snorkeling at slack tide (right when it switches between high and low tide so the current is less). We had met Zach (also 14) and Alex at Sampson so they planned to join us. Just as we were departing No Agenda (Susan and Ray) passed by and invited us to a fish fry on the beach afterwards. How could we refuse as the fishermen from Boto didn’t get any fish that morning!

Thunderball Cave was really neat. This is where they filmed a scene from a James Bond movie. You swim into a cave that houses beautiful fish that hang out in the shade of the cave. Then, off to Pig Beach on Big Major for the fish fry. There are pigs and goats on Big Major and cruisers leave leftover food for them on the beach. If you are lucky you will catch them on the beach eating and sometimes they swim out to meet your boat! I thought Gretchen was going to hop back into the dinghy as one pig rushed out to meet her!!

Jeanie and Jim, from Pirate, had caught a bunch of fish and they are set up to feed a crew. They brought their portable deep fryer to the beach and made conch fritters, cracked conch and various fried fish along with homemade, hand-cut French fries! Nummy! Together with the macaroni salad, cabbage salad, corn on the cob, brownies and cheese cake…no one left hungry. Pirate even had beach games so it was a real treat. Jake even got to go on a Jet Ski ride with Zach. The slow dinghy just won’t do now!

The next day we go for our first sail up to the Cambridge/Bell Island area for snorkeling. It is a preserve where you can’t take fish, conch or shells so it is teaming with fish, sand dollars galore, etc. Harvey really got into sailing and in no time was at the helm. The chart plotter really captured his attention and he was amazed at how easy sailing can be if you use Auto Pilot.
That afternoon we piled into the dinghy and went to the ‘Sea Aquarium’. It isn’t a normal glass aquarium. It is a mooring ball that you can tie up to by a reef where there is spectacular snorkeling. We went to an amazing beach to dry off and warm up where there were hundreds of sand dollars on the beach. Then it was back to Boto for ‘Boto Burgers’ and rum punch!

The next day we went over to the Rocky Dundas and snorkeled briefly until Harvey spotted a shark. Not one of the nurse sharks that are all over and won’t bother you, but a BULL shark! Harvey, the next time you spot a shark it would be a good idea to tell your wife so she isn’t the last one in the boat! We decided it might be time to head across to Compass Cay, dry off and hike over to the marina for a burger. The 1.25 mile hike to the marina was pretty interesting. They have marked trails but the trail ended twice at water so we had to wade to get to the other part of the trail. The trail was called the ‘Jungle Trail’ and you did feel like you were on a safari! While we ate we watched the kids swimming and playing with the nurse sharks at the marina. They were so friendly so not all sharks are scary. But, since I can’t tell the difference I’ll stick with a shark is a shark!

The next day we are off to Black Point for the Junkanoo. It was Family Island weekend where kids that attend school in Nassau or other places come home for the week of Easter. Basically the kids on the islands go to an all-grades school until 6-8th grade and then must go to a boarding school at one of the larger cities to complete their schooling. There were a lot of kid’s activities (games, clowns, face-painting) followed by a basketball tournament and then the Junkanoo band and dancing. A lot of the basketball players were also in the Junkanoo band so it was hard to imagine where they got all the energy to play and then dance for hours.

We also had the chance to see a couple Bahamian race boats being constructed. Our next stop, after the Olson’s depart, will be the Family Island Regatta in George Town where we will see these boats race.

All good things must come to an end so we must head back up toward Staniel Cay so we can see the Olson’s off at the airport the next day. With Harvey at the helm we sailed to Big Major for our last night of playing with the pigs, sipping rum drinks and thinking about how fast the week went.

Thanks for the good memories Gretchen, Harvey and Jake!