Jan 27 to Jan 31 2012

January 27, 2012

It’s sunny and warm - perfect for a travel day J We have a nice breeze…on the nose which means we cannot sail much but that seems to be the way it goes lately. The only bonus of motor sailing is we get to charge up all our batteries.

We made it to Johnny Depp’s Island but we couldn’t stop in for beers as we were on a schedule. We hope he will forgive us ;) It was a little tricky getting to Little Halls Pond Cay but Steve at the helm and me as a lookout on the bow we were able to get in and out without incident.

Steve’s daughter, Val, is a HUGE Johnny Depp fan so the following is a step by step account of our attempt to get Johnny’s attention.

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Here is a map to familiarize you with area. I have pointed out his beach and where we think his house is. It’s gorgeous here - Johnny Depp has great taste in Islands!!

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His Island from a southern approach – his beach is around the corner on the left and his house is around the corner on the right.

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Diana rounding the bend to check out Johnny’s beach…

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Johnny’s beach located around the corner on the left. The white sign is a Pirates of the Caribbean “skull and bones” motif sign…lol so Johnny! ;)

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A security camera set up on the right side of the island…near a house…his house perhaps? We waved “Hello”, shouted “VAL LOVES YOU”, proposed marriage (no worries, Steve was ok with it) and even offered a sunset cruise on our lovely ship but he didn’t come out nor did we engage his security team. Oh well, I guess our little Diana isn’t very intimidating ;)

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We think this is his house, around the corner on the right.

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Close up of the house J

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View of Pasture Cay – South of Little Halls Pond

 

We anchored around 1630hrs just south of the Compass Cay Marina.

January 28, 2012

We were up early, ready to explore Compass Cay.

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We dinghied to the marina and tied up at their dock - really excited to be here. This place is amazing!! It is a private island but the owner has opened it up for cruisers and tourists. It cost us 8$ each to access the island and everything on it!

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The middle sign says “No Fishing - Please feed our pet fish – Don’t eat them” I love it!! Passing cruisers paint their boat name on a piece of driftwood, similar to Boo Boo Hill without the “offering to the ghosts” lore and it to the existing eclectic collection nailed to the walls of the Compass Cay Marina.

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This place is so great – Even Johnny Depp’s been here J

You may be asking “Why is it so great?”, well the below map shows an extensive trail system, the landscape is very diverse; a thick mangrove and river system runs through the center of the island, a conch nursery and goats are located on the east side, the west side has a rocky trail leading up to a place called Rachel’s Bubble Bath in addition to the many beaches and coral reefs surrounding this whole island. There are cave at a nearby island to snorkel on and at this very marina – we can swim with SHARKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is quickly becoming our favorite island.

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Map of Compass Cay – we hiked the trail from the marina up to Hester’s house then followed the rocky trail along the Exuma Sound to Rachel’s Bubble Bath.

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The road out from the marina leading to the trail system. There are pieces of driftwood and flotsam with boat names painted on them hanging from trees.Jan_28_Compass_Cay_Trail_Crescent_Beach_resized.jpg

A Crescent Beach located at a lookout on our way to Hester’s House

Hester’s House is a ruin. We suspect perhaps from a storm. We do not know why it was never rebuilt. Its location is paradise. The view from any angle of this house is spectacular. I think Steve and I have found our home base!

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A view of Hester’s House from the North end of the trail

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Hester’s House. It could us a little work but the views are worth it!!!

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The South East view overlooking the Exuma Sound from the deck of Hester’s House. I can picture enjoying a nice cold beer from here…mmm…cold beer…

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The North East view from the deck of Hester’s House…and me still thinking about drinking cold beer from here…mmmmmm…cold beer…

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The west side view overlooking a river and mangrove system running through the center of the island and yes, I am still thinking about drinking cold beer from here ;)

It is a hot and sunny day today. I could not be happier. This is the first day during this whole trip that I have had to use sun screen on my body!! Up until now, I have only used it on my face and have not burned my skin once. Today however, I can feel the heat. I guess that’s why I have cold beer on my mind J

This trail leads us up and down hills, along the rocky shoreline and beaches to a place called Rachel’s Bubble Bath.

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Rachel’s Bubble Bath is located at the far tip in the back to the right of the above photo. This part of the trail leads us along the shoreline where it is a beachcomber’s paradise – translation; Steve’s paradise.

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Steve beachcombing…oh what, oh what will he find…the possibilities are endless…some of the more memorable things are as follows:

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A perfectly intact light bulb!

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A hard hat with a completely smooshed bucket…

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A still inflated kids arm floaty…

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A trail marker in the rocks…

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Part of the rocky trail

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The Bahama Banks in the background. The island on the left is Fowl Cay and the two islands on the right are called Rocky Dundas. The one in the middle has the caves!!

An hour and a half later, we finally make it to Rachel’s Bubble Bath. It is a rock ledge where the surf of the Exuma Sound rushes over into a small pond. The effect of the rushing water creates a fizzy texture to the pond sort of like a hot tube but without the heat. It has been describes as like “swimming in Champagne”. I’ve never swam in Champagne but I would say this is pretty close association. To get the full effect, arriving at high tide is best. The water splashes exuberantly over the ledge and gushes everywhere!! Playing in the rushes of water was so much fun. I giggled like a kid being tickled the entire time ;) Steve took a lot of video so I’m hoping to post You Tube video link soon.

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The ledge is on the left of this photo, I am in the pond waiting for the action.

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This is a very small wave…the more the tide came in the bigger the waves came rushing over the ledge - it was spectacular and totally worth the hike! Even the small stuff was a lot of fun J

Here are a couple of snaps from Steve’s Video: 

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View from top of ledge of rushing water

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View from underwater – very fizzy!!

Once we were cooled off, we needed to make the long trek back to the Marina where we were about to do something we would never have imagined doing.

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The Compass Cay Marina is renowned for this attraction. They feed 15 wild nurse sharks for the pleasure of guests to swim with them!! And they’re BIG!!! They aren’t aggressive so it’s totally safe…just slightly nerve wracking because THEY ARE STILL SHARKS!!!

We returned to the marina from our walk to see the crew from Amanzi; Lance, Marie, their daughter Leanne and her two kids Ziek and Luther having lunch. Leanne really wanted to swim with the sharks so we agreed to go with her – eeks! After Steve and I had a bottle of liquid courage - Kalik EXTRA STRONG- we made our way towards the sharks. Before entering the water, we found out that just moments before, a group of guests were swimming with the sharks and one had a camera in the water. Well, one of the sharks mistook it as food and bit it out of his hand – drawing blood!! Well, the shark just scratched his finger but still!!!! Disappointed, the shark later spit out the camera ;)

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I’m reluctantly hanging onto the dock while Steve and Leanne look on...there are seven nurse sharks in the water in this shot…there are also lots of big fish here too – bonefish we think.

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Ahhh…more relaxed…swimming right along with reassuring thoughts that nurse sharks don’t bite.

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After the swim we were much more relaxed and petted the sharks J They are amazing and their skin feels like sandpaper!

We bid farewell to Amanzi then ran back to the boat to grab our snorkel gear. We heard there were a couple of caves in the a place called Rocky Dundas near Fowl Cay.

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Steve in front of the Rocky Dundas Cave. The access to the cave is located under the crevasse on the left.

The reef swimming up to it was teeming with a variety of fish. We saw very large Lion Fish, Parrot Fish, Sargent Majors and many, many others! I’ve never done anything like this so swimming up under the crevasse to come up into a cave was pretty exciting. We came up from the water to see stalactites hanging from the ceiling and the cave walls worn smooth from years of water rushing up inside. It cave was lit by a hole in the top which let just enough light in to reveal the colourful walls of purple, blue, green and grey.

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Inside Cave

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Colour of the walls

We didn’t get back to the boat until almost dark – starving and thirsty – what a day!!

January 29, 2012

It’s another sunny day in the Exumas! However, we are expecting front to move in on the 30th and 31rst of January bringing in strong winds from the NE anywhere from 20 to 30 knts so we will need be well tucked in order to sleep easy.

We were underway by about 1030hrs headed for Staniel Cay and planning to anchor on the west bank of Big Majors Cay which offers good protection from NE to SE winds with good holding J

The trip was only about 12 miles or so and we were safely anchored by 1315hrs. The first thing on our agenda was to get rid of garbage. It is amazing to me how much we accumulate in such a short period of time. Within a week, we had one big black garbage bag FULL. For a little boat, that’s a lot of trash stinking up the boat. We will be happy to be rid of it.

Staniel Cay is about a mile and a half dinghy ride from Big Majors. We took a ride to find the Isles General Store who takes trash at 5$ a bag. Since it was Sunday, the store was closed. We didn’t realized this of course until we got there but we were able to leave our trash and left a note for the owner to let them know we will be back in the morning to pay.

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Anchorage at Big Majors…there are more than 20 boats in here! Diana is the second from the right.

Our fishing woes continue. Steve still has not caught anything (other than a nibble here and there) since the lone fish at Great Harbour Cay – and it’s not from a lack of trying. He went out again this afternoon while I hung out on Diana and came back skunked again!! Our only reassurance is that every other cruiser we’ve been talking to are having similar problems. So, we will try not to take it to heart. Fortunately, I have canned meat on board L

Big Majors Cay is home to a group of feral pigs. It’s quite the attraction for cruisers as they dinghy to the island to feed them their food scraps. We heard the pigs can be a little pushy if they see us carrying food so we are instructed to throw it at them. Pigs are also great swimmers and have been known to swim out to the dinghy and try to board it!! I had just peeled a squash when Steve suggested we go check them out.

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This is a mama…

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She was nursing these little guys when she saw us pull up and quickly ran to the beach to greet us!

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There were three adults in total on the beach this evening and were very happy to have our squash snack.

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There were big too!!

Steve was dreaming of ham with mustard sauce for the rest of the evening. I served him squash with canned chicken – poor guy!

January 30, 2012

The clouds are rolling in and the winds are slowly picking up. Turns out we might be getting the front after all.

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Steve and I ran some errands this morning in Staniel Cay; we headed back to the store to pay for our garbage, pick up some fresh groceries, ice and fill a propane tank. We ran into the Lance and Leanne from Amanzi, they too are anchored in this bay J and are doing some groceries this morning. The store didn’t offer too much as it was the end of the week and the shipment does not coming in until Wednesday but I was able to get cheese, eggs, milk and a few oranges and potatoes.

Once back at the boat, the weather looked like it was clearing so Steve went of fishing while I worked on the blog and baked bread.

He came back a couple of hours later – skunked again. We decided to check out the beach instead where were met up with Amanzi who later invited us on board for drinks and a delicious dinner.

January 31, 2012

I would like to wish my beautiful mother a Happy 39th Birthday today J J J J J

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“Big Majors Exuma – Happy Birthday Mom” written on the Big Majors Beach the part without the pigs. Mom, I wish I could be there to celebrate it with you – I will have an extra rum in your honor tonight!

As predicted the winds howled most of the night but this anchorage is excellent. Other than the noise, the boat barely moved. We will be safe here another day!

We have had a few minor rain showers this morning but we manage to get to Thunderball Cave in between rain drops J Jan_30_Thunderball_Cave_resized.jpg

Thunderball Cave at high tide yesterday. The entrance is behind the boat.

This is the spot where they shot several scenes of the James Bond movie Thunderball. I was told by some fellow cruisers there are a lot of fish in here and it would be good therapy for me to visit…but where a wet suit because the fish are used to being fed crackers by tourists so they are really “friendly” with people. The fish are known to bonk you in the mask, face and/or body!! I was really happy to have been warned of this prior to entering.

We packed up our snorkel gear, squeezed into our Super Suits (which is what we call our wet suits teehee!) and made our way to Thunderball cave to be terrorized by fish. Steve made sure to pack a little baggy of crackers to drive them crazy – excellent – just what I need – hungry fish in my face! Jan_31_Thunderball_Cave_Outside_resized.jpg

Me at Thunderball Cave at low tide – the entrance is the crevasse to the right of my head. I’m not worried at all…I had a shot of rum this morning in my coffee – bring on the fish ;)

There is quite a lot of current flowing through the cave as it is open on both ends so we attempted to get here at low slack tide – around 0800hrs. We weren’t exactly at slack tide but with fins, we were able to swim through the current to get in and out without any trouble.

I am so happy I was warned about the crazy fish!! I felt fully prepared. The majority are Sergeant Majors; which are about 5 or 6 inches in length, yellow and white with back vertical stripes AND are NOT afraid of humans. In fact, they pretty much surrounded us. I could have touched them but I didn’t – baby steps. There were also a number of angel fish, parrot fish, snapper, Nassau Grouper…and many, many more. The reef was beautiful and filled will vibrantly coloured coral. I can certainly feel my “irrational fear of fish” waning to an “uneasy feeling” around them J…then Steve unleashed the crackers!!!!!!!!!!!! It was a feeding frenzy!! Fifty fish swarmed Steve’s face and poked at him, at the bag in his hands and quickly gobbled up the crumbs. It was quite the sight and I was very happy to have viewed it far enough away to have not been affected.

Here are some stills from Steve’s video:

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Inside Thunderball Cave – that’s me in the back

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Proof I swam with all these fishes!!

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Feeding Frenzy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The cave itself was gorgeous. Mother Nature can sure create some beautiful formations. However, I will have to re-watch Thunderball as I remembered the cave being much bigger…

We were back at the boat, cleaned up and our gear put away by 1000hrs. The wind is howling today which makes it a perfect day to hang out on board, eat a big breakfast, do some writing and read some books J

Tomorrow we will go to Black Point – about 5 miles from here to get some FREE Internet from a place called Lorrain’s Café and do some laundry. I have been told by many cruisers that Black Point has the BEST laundry – excellent because we are due.