Brad, Dan and Scott's Sailing Adventure

"There she is boys! The SS More Powerful than Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and the Incredable Hulk combined." This space will be used to post updates of our odyssey.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Moving south again


The week with Dan’s family has flown by. Every day has been action packed. Staniel Cay has provided us with endless entertainment. The first day of snorkeling was spent at Thunderball Grotto a rock formation home to a beautiful reef. The Grotto is an island formation off Staniel Cay that opens for snorkelers. We entered through one cave and found a whole reef inside a spacious cavern. Life was all around. Schools of fish flowed with the current in and out the numerous entrances. Apparently, the impressive geologic structure and the vibrant reef captured the hearts of the director of the James Bond film Thunderball who filmed at the location. Back on the boat after snorkeling we hooked a huge stingray with the skin of a fish Mike, Dan’s brother, speared. The stingray put up a great fight before taking our terminal tackle. In hindsight it is good that the behemoth severed the line because we had no way to land it and what do we want with a 4 ft wide stingray. Moments later on a similar note, Dan spotted a fish under the boat. Rushing to the harpoon he managed to find it in time and throw it before the fish swam away. As the spear entered the water the fish bolted. Initially I thought the fish spooked but turns out it was in response to the barbs of our harpoon entering its flesh. The fish took the harpoon with it until the line ripping into Dan’s flesh produced enough resistance to pull it free. Fish-2 Us-0. Again it proved to be fortuitous that the fish got away because it most likely was an inedible Barracuda.

We took a sailing day trip south to Guana Cay. The sail there started with light winds but they improved enough to show off the speed of Kaleidoscope. The Schlauchs were right at home on the sheets and at the helm. The anchorage we traveled to had a beautiful beach and yielded a lobster the instant Brad entered the water. The day sail gave Dan’s family a look at what this trip is really about and I think they thoroughly enjoyed it.

The following day, Bob and Phyllis were kind enough to rent a Boston Whaler so that we could explore locations off limits to Kaleidoscope’s draft. We towed our dingy to increase capacity. We stopped near Overyander Cay to snorkel, then continued on to Compass Cay. Compass Cay Marina was more than just a lunch stop. Their burgers were good but the real draw was the feeding area off the dock where fish and sharks gathered. We swam and petted the local nurse sharks. Fiver or six sharks call the dock their home and feast on the scraps tourists toss them paying no attention to the fish swarming around them. Our swim ended prematurely as Brad was stung by a jellyfish. The marks still can be seen on his arm and chest, but are now only a small reminder of the giant scar like welts they once were. An hour or so after the initial sting he still found tentacles strung over his skin. On the way back to the boat we separated, Brad and Mike went spear fishing and the rest of us went to Pig Beach to see the swimming pigs. As we approached the beach one of the two huge pigs swam out to the boat inspecting for food. It is quite a thing to see a swimming pig. They twist their snout keeping it dry and using it as a snorkel. After Dan proceeded to taunt the pigs trying to get them to chase him we retired for a home cooked meal at the Schlauch’s rental cottage. Brad and Mike returned with 4 conch which we prepared for tomorrows lunch. Preparing conch proved more difficult than previously thought. After lessons from a local in removing the conch from it’s shell we still had to skin the conch which took far more time and left hands permanently slimy.

We spent the next day motoring around in the golf cart that came with the cottage. We managed to cram 7 people in to a four person cart. Amy, Dan’s sister, sat on the front with Mike driving, Bob in the front seat, Phyllis in the back with Brad and Dan and I hanging off the back. In this fashion we crept up hills and flew down hills to the beach on the ocean side of Staniel. Cliffs of limestone beautifully surrounded the sand beaches. After snorkeling we returned to eat the conch salad. I am growing to enjoy conch more with each bite. That night there was a Brigg named Fair Jeannine from Canada on the yacht club dock. The sail training vessel had a square rigged foremast and lateen mainmast. Its appearance was aptly timed for I had just reached the description of a sister vessel to the Fair Jeannine in my novel. It was impressive walking down all 110 feet of the ageing vessel. She was not a sleek boat but beautiful nonetheless.

On the 18th we took it slow and spent the day split between snorkeling on the ocean side again and visiting Thunderball Grotto again. Although our time spent on the ocean side was uneventful, after leaving Thunderball Brad managed to spear a slipper lobster. Now this creature is weird. You have to see a picture of it to understand how archaic and strange this guy is. The meat however, is delectable. Later at the yacht club pier, a local spear fisherman was cleaning his catch. He had a half a dozen fish by the time I arrived and apparently he had sold many fish and 10 lobsters all caught over the course of three hours. So, I guess we aren’t quite pros yet. He tossed the scales and innards into the hunger mouths of 8 sharks and rays that joined in the moment.

We departed from family and Staniel Cay on the 19th and made our way to Little Farmers Cay. The 15 mile trip was quick motoring through light and variable winds. We had our Jib out for some of the time and made mediocre time. Little farmers proved to be an excellent location. After difficulty setting our anchor in grass Brad and Dan went hunting and returned with two large lobsters. One of which was over 15 inches long with a 9 inch tail. We had a light early lunch and still were not able to finish two lobsters among the three of us for dinner. They were so big, one needed to be sectioned to fit in our largest pot. The other we tried grilling for the first time. It turned out very good as it was basted with garlic butter. The shell caught the butter, kept it from running into the fire and effectively boiled the meat in butter. What a life we lead.

Schlauchs, thank you for all your hospitality and generosity. The week went very smoothly and we enjoyed your company immensely.