We Swam With Wild Dolphins!!!

WE SWAM WITH WILD DOLPHINS!!!  A BABY dolphin too!!! My whole world feels complete!  

I can’t get over it-it was AMAZING!  

There were three of them, two adults and a baby.  It was the mom and baby that approached me first, just swam right up so close I pulled my hands in so I wouldn’t accidentally touch them (Any wild momma gets my respect). It was exhilarating how close they, even the baby, would come.  I’ve seen so many dolphins but never close enough to see all the details of their faces.  I loved the little wrinkles around their eyes and the way they looked at us so inquisitively. I was surprised by all the marks and scars on their snout, some quite deep. I had never noticed the markings around the blow holes, and how they were not round.  We just slowly circled each other and checked each other out.  All the while it felt unreal and magical.

Keith got in the water right behind me and they came over to check him out too.

After we all got a good look-over the dolphins started being playful-twisting and diving.  They seemed to like when we dove down too and would come close or swim over top of us.  The baby would dive down then come up and flip his tail out of the water.  Lots of nuzzling between mama and baby. Then all of the sudden they were gone.  We stuck our heads out to look for them.  A second later we saw one swim right under us.  I took a picture and was taking a breath to dive down when Keith and I both stuck our heads out and said to each other “that’s not a dolphin-that is a shark!”.  Same color, same size.  Thankfully not the same inquisitive behavior and it just swam on by.

The dolphins came right back but this time seemed to get on either side of us and instead of diving and playing they swam straight for our boat.  They would circle around get next to us and keep heading that way.  (We were swimming in the middle of the anchorage)  I try not to put human emotions on a wild animal but I swear they were escorting us back to our boat!

A soon as we got to the boat they started playing again.  Flipping on their backs and swimming under us.  We swam under the keel back and forth with them.  We watched them stick their whole nose (do you call it a nose? A snout?) into the sand and eat something.  The whole while they are clicking and squeaking to each other.  Maybe to us too? Their eyes always following us and looking right into ours. I know I’ve said it, but AMAZING!

 

Our friends Greg and Lucie on Pushkar were anchored right behind us and joined in too and we all played.  What a magical experience to share!  Then again we heard loud, fast clicks and squeaks and see momma and baby-snugged up right on her- zoom off.  Mr. Shark made a repeat appearance.  We thought that would be the end of our dolphin encounter but they came right back again.  We played with them for about forty minutes.

I can’t quite wrap my head around it, something so beautiful and playful, so smart and empathetic, an animal so wild and free chose to spend its day playing with me!  I keep wondering why.  Is it like when we humans go to the zoo and hope the monkeys come out of their houses so we can see them?  Did the dolphins swim through the anchorage hoping a human jumped off their boat?

I’ve sat in the cockpit all day today reading a book and looking up at the end of every paragraph looking out at the water in hopes they come back again.

 

 

 

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Happy Place

We are in our happy place.  We stayed two days at Great Sail Cay waiting for the winds to let up before moving further.  Actually we stuck our nose out the next day and turned right back around-sound familiar?! We had never really got ashore here before as we’ve only used it as a stopping place to stage for a crossing so we went exploring.  Our friend played tour guide. It’s a rather large island and uninhabited except for the wild pigs.  It used to be home to a US missile tracking station.  The foundations and bases for some tanks are all that are left. There is a long secluded beach so Kai was thrilled. Two days later we poked out again, it really wasn’t much better so we had a sporty ride down to Crab Cay.  We enjoyed the sail more than expected.  From there, you guessed it…….Manjack!  Our happy place!

 

We arrived at Manjack just in time for the weather to turn delightful and to help welcome the two newest inhabitant of the island, Daisy and Mae, two girl goats.  You know I just adore goats and was thrilled to lend a hand.  Actually I didn’t do much but escort them from the boat to the tractor to the new pen and tell them how sweet they were.  Keith, who actually used to have two pet goats, Dollar and Mischief, took one look at the pen and said they are were going to jump out.  The little one did. They have new and improved quarters now.

^^Any fresh fruit over here is a treat, getting a chance to pick some star fruit has to top the list.  Per a recommendation, I am planning on an upside down cake with a few of mine.  

On the topic of cooking, we of course got in some diving and have found the lobsters to be plentiful at the moment.  We keep saying we don’t care for lobster, but while in Florida we had lobster hot pot and changed our minds.  Lobster hot pot, the best as I can describe it, is like a Chinese fondue but with a spicy, chili broth for both veggies and lobster-and other meats.  You dump your veggies and meats in, let them cook in the boiling broth and then retrieve them back out with chop sticks to eat over rice. Friends had us over for dinner for this amazing experience and I can’t wait to have it again! Unfortunately it is an involved meal and quite a production so I decided to finally find some recipes that worked for the everyday and decided to experiment while we were not trying to serve guests. My undertaking has resulted in our own version of Bubba Gump on board. We’ve had: lobster and grits, lobster Mac-n-cheese, steamed lobster, lobster egg rolls, pan seared lobster, lobster buffalo dip, fried lobster with four dipping sauces, and lobster salad. All in the last 2 1/2 days! To be fair (and so you might not judge so harshly) I did reduce all the recipe sizes by half or more. We still prefer conch but the egg rolls and fried lobster are keepers.  We will leave the lobster Mac-n-cheese and pan seared.  I wish I had taken some photos of our experiments-you would have seen one messy galley in the background! Tonight Keith asked for anything but lobster for dinner.  We had grouper piccata.

Besides diving and cooking, we’ve been enjoying the beaches, trails, and mangrove creeks filled with baby sea turtles.  The plan had been to shoot threw the Abacos quickly this year, but why-it’s our happy place.  We are going to give ourselves a few more days of the diving we know we will want for later and then we will start putting some miles in.  The water is already cold so it’s time to get south.  Besides we are eager to go beyond the Bahamas this winter.

 

^^baby turtle in the turtle grass.

  

 

Tuna!

The last post ended with us headed towards the Current Cut passage, we made it there 15 minutes before slack tide, in other words, perfect timing to shoot straight on through.  Sometimes it does all go according to plan.  The next morning we made the jump to Little Harbor, Abacos. It was a super fast crossing for us, we averaged 6 1/2 knots and towards the end of the day saw a lot of seven plus and a few eight knots with a double reefed main and jib.  But the highlight of the sail was the fishing.  Remember Keith’s birthday tuna challenge (made complete with cedar plug and wasabi marinade)?  Success!  Not the biggest fish in the sea, but just as tasty.  The day started with two nasty barracuda.  We even pulled in the lines for a bit until we saw a flock of sea birds.  Keith started to put the lines out and almost immediately got this little tuna. At first we thought it was another barracuda when we saw the silver, not so.  A little bit later he got a bull Mahi-Mahi and we called it a day for the fishing.  

With the biggest jumps behind us we can sigh with a little relief that we will not be stuck in the wrong end of the island chain when our friends sail across and we will get to met up with them.  We still have a couple more days of sailing, but it’s easy stuff from here on up.

^^I didn’t have an extra hand for the camera when things got a little sporty, but this was the view from inside the dodger this morning as we left for Lynyard. The dodger was so caked with salt we could barely see out, guess we did get quite a salt bath yesterday!

^^ Todays sail was much more mellow.   

Manjack (still)

  

Keith’s hand has healed up enough that with a pile of super-sized bandaids and waterproof tape he has returned to the water.  All is well again aboard the boat!  Our cool little cruising vibe has been restored and we are once again soaking up this amazing adventure.  

Check it out- I am always on the hunt  for helmet conch and both Keith and I found one on the same dive! (Helmet conch are not the same as the ones we fry up for dinner) I  found a queen helmet (rounded) and he found a king helmet (pointy). Aren’t they so gorgeous?!   Both of these shells had inhabitants so after their glamor shots they got nestled back down into the turtle grass to do what ever it is a helmet conch does for hopefully years to come.

You would think that we couldn’t get away from Rat Cay fast enough after our nasty visitor but we are still here in Manjack, we just can’t get our fill of the reefs here.  They have our hearts.

  

I am still having camera issues so not so many photos, but we have seen two more octopi, lots of eels, turtles, spotted eagle rays, and rainbows of reef fishes.  I did catch a trunk fish and a happy little puffer fish on camera.  The puffer fish always look like they are smiling up at you.  They have adorably big eyes too. This little hogfish must have known he was too tiny for dinner because I think I could have tickled his tummy he was so close.  Grow up big and strong little fish (and have lots of babies please).

The next one was big enough for dinner though. He tickled our tummies.

Even though Keith was dying to get into the water again we made good use of our mandatory dry time and walked the trails on the cay that led to the ocean-side beach.  It ended up being quite a hike and sandy flip-flops might not have been the best foot attire, but who cares when the view is this beautiful! No one else around.  Just us and this pristine beach 🙂

We didn’t have all the beaches to ourselves though.

We found these wild hogs on the beach where we were going to take Kai for a walk (Crab Cay at Manjack).  They weren’t barnyard piggies-definitely hogs-but they didn’t seem aggressive. In fact they curiously watched the dinghy as we went by and even came a little closer.  We still surrendered  the beach to them, maybe we are still a bit skidish of the wildlife. At least I don’t think that one of these would be able to play hide-and-seek with us on the boat!

And just to keep some sailing in this sailing adventure, we sailed to Green Turtle one morning to take in our one bag of trash and buy some fresh veggies and eggs.  We then sailed right back to Manjack.  Still haven’t soaked up enough of these reefs 🙂