22 April 2013

Heading North

You read that right.  It is time to head north.  But, we will drag our feet for a bit.  At least, up until it is time to really pick up the pace.

Next stop, central Exumas.

I am tempted to not even post this update, just to keep this location a secret.  It is that nice.

Unlike back home in Ontario, spring is starting to settle in here.  The days are getting hotter.  The sun more intense and mercifully, the winds a little lighter.  You add all this up and it just means fun.  We have fished more.  More fish are biting.  We have dove more.  The water is clearer.  Changing locations  is not quite as thrilling as some trips past.  And I am good with that.

Leaving Georgetown, we fished most of the 76nm that we travelled that day up to Black Point Settlement.  There was literally fish everywhere.  We saw over 15 bait ball feeding frenzies.  There were tuna launching themselves all over the place.  As a result, we zig zagged all over the place.  We tried going straight through them, we tried going beside them, we tried circling around them.  We caught nothing.  Fortunately, through it all, we managed to catch a couple Mahi mahi when nothing seemed to be going on.

More nice weather gave us the freedom to play around for a bit.  My parents were coming and we had already put ourselves safely in position.  Time to go scout out some fun places before they get here.

One little gem that we missed on the way down was Compass Cay Marina.  Now, Compass Cay Marina is a fine marina on it's own, but we were there to visit their 'pet' Nurse sharks.  Tour boats from all over the Exumas bring customers in to see Tucker's sharks.  The added bonus was meeting up with some old friends that we have met along the way.

A wedding party shows up to see the show.
Macara holding court.  Telling these girls all she knows about sharks.  And more.
This is what this trip is all about!
Yes, Kerri needed her turn.
Of course I got in the water with them!
Nurse shark teeth.
And a Compass Cay sunset for good measure.
After leaving Compass Cay, we made a very short trip into the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park.  Right smack, dab in the middle of the Exumas, this is what the Bahamas is all about.  Protected by the Bahamas National Trust, fish populations here are through the roof.  The Park is working so well, this is the only place that we have seen Lionfish in any numbers.  I guess the locals outside the Park have figured out Lionfish are tasty.  In our very first snorkel after leaving Compass Cay Marina, we saw a Green Sea turtle, a juvenile Lemon shark (both first for me in the water), a Caribbean Reef shark, 3 Nurse sharks and a Stingray.  Most of which brought Macara a lot closer to me, but she never asked to get out.  Slowly,  she is getting over her fear of sharks.

Back to Staniel Cay to wait for my parents to arrive.  Our only worry is figuring out which order we will visit all these great places.  Snorkelling, fishing and some kid time, we should have no problems making a week of that.

First up, the swimming pigs at Big Majors Spot.  I wanted an over/under shot, but I think they had already had enough to eat for the day.  They weren't playing.  They just sat on the beach and stared at us. But, this stingray seemed very interested in our dinghy.  In I went.

Next up, Thunderball Grotto, the same Thunderball Grotto of James Bond fame.  The trick to snorkelling at Thunderball is waiting for slack low tide.  Any time that the tide is ebbing or flowing, the current is too strong.  If you go at high tide, you had better be able to swim a long way under water to get inside or bring your scuba gear.  But at low tide, you can snorkel all the way through.  The day we were there, it was a light tide and we were able to get in several minutes before scheduled slack tide.  As a result, we had the place to ourselves for most of the time that we were there.  Definitely not the norm.  Normally, you can expect 15-20 people all at once.
Macara and Papa
My Bond girl 
It looks like my dad's having fun.

After Thunderball Grotto my plan was to take my parents up to Compass Cay and get them used to sharks before we did much more snorkelling.  In the Bahamas, you are not going to spend much time in the water without seeing sharks.  After seeing Macara out on the dock petting sharks they said they had to make a decision, either call Children's Aid or get in and join her.  I am happy to report they both came down to pet the sharks.  My mom totally shocked me by getting in the water and wading around with Macara and there was sharks all around them.

With a wealth of snorkelling sites in the area, the only thing left was to get them out fishing.  We tried once earlier in the week and the Sound was a little rough forcing us to turn around.  After that attempt, we were worried that would be our only chance to get out fishing.  The wind gods favoured us and we actually got out fishing twice.  The fishing right now is on fire.  Day 1 started slowly.  We had a release and then nothing.  We watched another boat reel in 3 in a row, not 100 yrds from us.  Still nothing.  Then the fun began.  First off, we got one for dad.  Then we tried to get one for mom.  We had 5 rods out and three released all at once.  One was a miss.  Another was a huge bull that we could not stop and finally it broke the line.  I watched it jump and flip several times as it took off.  But, the third was also a bull, but smaller.  We let mom reel the fish in right up beside the boat, then my dad and I switched spots.  I came down to gaff and I let him take the wheel.  "Keep her pointed into the waves.  Nice and slow", I said.  Somewhere after that things went bad and we lost mom's fish.  I think that the Captain (not the one on the wheel) will have to wear this one, even though mom gave my dad a hard time.  With all that action, we tried again the next day to get Honey her fish.  We had 3 fish dart through our spread and never actual strike a lure.  We had two more on, they took to aerials and spit the hook before we could set the hook for good.   And we had yet another hit hard enough to release the outrigger and yet we brought home nothing.  That's fishing.

Can you guess who's island this is?  Big fans of his on this boat!  The story that we were told was that when he is home, the flag is up.  We saw both, so we assumed he was home.

The other day we were sitting at Staniel Cay Yacht Club and it dawned on me that Staniel Cay was not a Port of Call.  I had thought that because my parents had flown in and out, that I would be able to fix our immigration problems there.  Nope.  You see, Bimini had only given us a 90 day immigration pass and it expired all too quickly.  So, it was either back to Georgetown or all the way up to Nassau.   I wanted to see more of the Exumas, but we probably needed a kick in the butt or we never would have left.

As soon I am done typing this, I need to come up with a plan.  I know, my life is tough, isn't it?