Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Active Captain

I have been to my fair share of beach bars.
And, I have been to a few airport bars.
But, this was my first airport/beach bar.

We found Ty’s Sunset Bar and Grill by accident as we were ridding our bicycles around Little Farmers Cay.  They had opened for business the previous Friday for the 5Fs, or the Farmers Cay Festival held on the first Friday of February. 

Business was a little slow because most of the cruisers had moved on, and the locals were still recovering from the 5Fs. 
We found the place to be charming with all of the touches that make a great beach bar, and the prices were good.  The cook brought us samples of sweet potato bread.  When we tried to buy some, she explained that she was still experimenting with the menu, but she gave us some to take back to the boat.
New places in the Bahamas are few and far between, so I submitted Ty’s Sunset Bar and Grill to so other cruiser will be able to find this little gem. 
Ty’s has a great sunset viewing deck.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Spear Fishing

With your Bahamian Cruising Permit ($150 for boats under 35’, $300 over 35’) comes a fishing license for the boat.  Each cruising boat can have up to 6 lines in the water and everyone aboard can spear fish.  When spear fishing, non-Bahamians must free dive using a Hawaiian sling type spear, no tanks, hookahs, or spear guns allowed.  Except for Lionfish, then all bets are off and you are requested to eradicate them any way you can.  

Spear fishing is not as easy as one might think.  You have to wrap the surgical tubing loop between your thumb and first finger, get a big breath and go down and look under a rock.  Should you happen to find something edible that does not find you edible, you have to be rather close because your firing range is not too impressive.

Should you happen to spear something, the locals warn you to hold the spear out as far as possible away from your body because Barracudas are known to come and snatch your fish.  Should I happen to spear something, my plan is to hand it to Pollie.

Another neat Bahamian rule has to do with beach access.  All beaches in the Bahamas are open to everyone up to the high watermark whether the island is public or private.  The beach behind me is on Musha Cay which belongs to David Copperfield.  Copperfield Bay is a great place to go snorkeling even with the Barracuda that was watching us.

Sandals Emerald Bay Resort is another great place to go snorkeling.

We ended up snorkeling with thousands of small fish and a few larger ones.  The water was warm enough that Pollie didn’t need the wet suit.

This black sea urchin could ruin your day; that is why it is always good to have on gloves and never wade in water where you can’t see the bottom without foot protection.

But, our biggest threat came from above – note the rudders sticking down.
Pollie noticed this Sandals Hobie Cat and gave me a “heads-up” before I was decapitated.  Turns out they had managed to get themselves in irons (dead into the wind with no forward momentum) and were drifting towards the rocks.  With Pollie pulling and me pushing, we were able to save yet another pair of sailors.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Curried Lobster

Buy your live lobsters from locals on a passing skiff ($25 for two very large lobsters), or if you must, buy frozen lobster tails at your local supermarket.  Lobster tails purchased in the U.S. are most likely spiny lobsters from the Bahamas, not Maine Lobsters.

 Dingis’s Curried Lobster

This treatment showcases the flavor of the rich meat without overwhelming it with butter.

1 large lobster (about 2 pounds)
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 large clove of garlic, grated
1 small cubanelle or green pepper, thinly sliced
¼ teaspoon seeded and finely chopped hot pepper (red pepper flakes)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 green onion, smashed and chopped
2 teaspoons white vinegar or lime juice
1 teaspoon (approx.) curry powder
1 tablespoon ketchup
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1.      Steam the lobster over boiling water (1 – 1 ½ minutes per ounce, or until shell turns red and the meat turns white).  When it is cool enough to handle, remove the tail meat and cut into small chunks.
2.      Toss the rest of the ingredients, except the oil, with the lobster meat.  Taste and adjust seasoning, adding a little bit more curry powder if necessary.  (There should be just a hint of curry flavor.)  Refrigerate for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to blend.
3.      When ready to serve, heat the oil in a heavy pan or wok until very hot.  Stir-fry lobster mixture for a minute or two.  Add about ½ cup water to create a bit of sauce and allow to cook for just a couple of minutes longer.  Serve over rice. 
Serves 2
Recipe from An Embarrassment of Mangoes, by Ann Vanderhoof

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Shark Petting & Swimming Pigs

After the Exuma Land and Sea Park we motored down to Big Majors Spot and anchored.  Big Majors is noted for pigs that live on the island and swim out to greet approaching dinghies hoping to be fed.  They swim up beside your boat an open their mouths wide hoping that you are a good shot.  Pollie wasn’t, but her bread didn’t go to waste as there are fish below betting on the poor shots.  It’s a great system, the tourists feed the pigs and the locals occasionally have a pig roast.
South of Big Majors is Staniel Cay and home of the Staniel Cay Yacht Club where we were able to watch the Super Bowl and enjoy a buffet dinner.
Having the high speed dinghy gives us the opportunity to leave the mother ship and do some exploring.  Above is the cut (a lot of current) between Big Majors Spot and Fowl Cay.  You might want to consider Fowl Cay for your next vacation, click here.
North of Fowl Cay is Samson Cay where we stopped last year, and then Over Yonder Cay (pictured above).  Over Yonder Cay is home to another high end resort and hailed as an example of sensitive development, see Bahamas Local.  For an example of not so sensitive development look further north at Bell Island.
North of Over Yonder Cay after traversing Pipe Creek and passing several other Cays that are private or uninhabited, we arrived at Compass Cay for their famous hamburger and hotdog lunch.  Tying off the dinghy, we felt like we were crashing a party, but soon the gracious staff made us feel at home.
With lunch comes entertainment.  Note the bucket with bloody water.
We arrived just as the resident shark wrangler was giving instructions to the next group of bait, I mean tourists.
Everyone in the water!  Don’t pull on the fins or tail.  Keep fingers that may look and smell like food above the water.
Pollie took part of her lunch over to share with the sharks.
Once she was assured that they were well fed, she petted a couple of them.  Next time "Leftie" says she will take her bathing suit and go swimming with them.
I didn’t share my cheeseburger.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Blown In

Weather reports indicated a big blow was headed for the Bahamas, so we decided that Warderick Wells in the Exumas would be a good place to ride it out because or guidebook stated, “During the Storm of the Century, March 13, 1993, Warderick Wells experienced 70+ knot winds and every vessel (21) in the anchorage rode out the storm in comfort and safety.”  Besides, we like the Exuma Land and Sea Park.
So we slipped our mooring at Spanish Wells went through Current Cut picking up and extra 3 knots of boat speed through the cut.  Just past Current Cut, something hit my lure breaking my reel before parting the 40# test line.  Pollie says it was for the best because I didn’t want to try boating that large of a fish.  Reel parts are on order.
Before Warderick Wells, we stopped at Allans Cay for the night.  On nearby Leaf Cay there is a large colony of iguanas that run to the beach expecting to be feed when they hear a dinghy approaching. 
We were able to slip right in and get a mooring in the well protected north mooring field.
Two five foot nurse sharks greeted us at our mooring.  Pollie declined my offer to let her dive on mooring to make sure it was in good repair.  The next day we did snorkel on the nearby rocks letting reef fish swim right up to our masks.
Because the ELSP is a no take zone the wildlife show no fear.  This little Bananaquit found our galley window.
There is a reason the rangers warn against feeding the wildlife.  They move in.  We had a Bananaquit visit every day.
The Bahamas is not as litigious as the U.S. and the hiking trails around the ELSP are better for it.  In this tidal pond, two small rays swam over to watch us.
Large ray are a common sight.  The black spot in the water is a ray moving over the sand bottom, or a large moving rock.
The wind was blowing and the surf was pounding when we made our pilgrimage to Boo Boo Hill.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Last year we were not very enamored with Spanish Wells, so this year we debated about returning.
After a rather rough open ocean passage from the Abacos we entered the long dredged channel into the harbor.
Then you contact “Bandit” on Channel 16 who assigns the mooring balls and collects the money when he is not fishing (no anchoring in Spanish Wells).
Last year we stayed in the marina at the west end of town and missed watching the working harbor.  Above one of the skiffs is playing stern thruster for the mother ship.
Also, by staying in the mooring field, we met Jean and Tom who live in the house tucked in behind the pink house with the darker pink shutters.  They run a cruisers lending library and host sunset services on their front porch most evenings.
Jean also volunteers at the local museum, so she is a great source of information about the area.  The lobster boat above is the mother ship for small skiffs that go to the “lobster condos” to harvest the lobsters.  Lobster condos are structures made of corrugated tin on a wooden frame about 4’ X 8’ that are placed in about 30’ of water.  Divers using hookahs dive down and lift the condos and gather lobsters with a long hook.  The skiffs return to the mother ship where the lobster tails are flash frozen.

Besides the lobster boats, there was constant ferry traffic.
And, other boat traffic.
Spanish Wells has a very active boat yard.
But, at night everything calmed down and we had a pleasant mooring field.

Because Spanish Wells is virtually a dry island, there is no fine dining.  Pollie was able to pick up the slack.
Should you need to replenish the liquor cabinet, one can see liquor store over on Eleuthera from the mooring field.
All in all, this time we had a great visit.