Green Turtle and Manjack

We are back in The Green Turtle / Manjack Cay neighborhood.  It feels a little like coming home-in a sweet way.  Almost immediately we reconnected with our friends Gregory and Lucie from Pushkar and got busy catching up and swapping stories about how windy the winter was.  We went to town and Martha and Scott, the owners of Sid’s Grocery, waved us in when the saw us walking past their storefront.  We had missed their sweet, immaculate little store.  And them.  We talked to them about the stores in the Exumas and they asked if it had been as windy down there.  Keith got his hair cut at the same little hair salon that is hidden behind a white picket fence and overgrown tropical plants as the last time, the owner remembered what he asked for and asked about our winter and where we had gone.  He told us how windy it had been there.  At Manjack we went diving on some of our favorite little coral heads and Keith came up with a hogfish for dinner within the first few minutes.  We haven’t even SEEN a hogfish since we left here a few months ago so it was pretty exciting for us.  Hogfish and conch for dinner, even our old Abaco routines returned so effortlessly.  We stopped by to say Hi to Bill and Leslie, the property owners at Manjack, and were invited in for key lime and coconut rum drinks served with Nutella on freshly cracked coconuts from their beach as an afternoon dessert.  (I think I’m going to have to start implementing an afternoon dessert on the boat, it’s quite delightful.) We talked about where we planned to go next and their plans for a new dock facing West to watch the sunsets on. And, of course, we talked about how windy of a winter it had been.  I guess  we weren’t the only ones who had noticed!

Sometimes it’s really exciting to sail into a new anchorage for the first time and explore a new town and search out new dive spots; and sometimes it’s just as nice to be somewhere that feels as comfy as a favorite pair of pajamas. 

^^ We love the trails on Manjack.  This is the beach on the anchorage side of the island, the pictures below are of the beach on the Atlantic side of the island.  They are both too beautiful 🙂

We also love taking the dinghy and exploring up Turtle Creek att Manjack.  It is appropriately named as at any one time you can probably count five or six baby turtles scooting about.  There is usually some small sharks and rays enjoying the shallow mangrove creek as well.

 

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School Days

Remember in school having to do the dreaded “word” problems in math class.  I hated them, they seemed utterly useless.  In case you’ve forgotten them they went something like this:

QUESTION: A small sailboat is sailing (motoring) straight into the wind that is blowing 13 knots and fighting a 2 foot chop heading toward a safe harbor 23 miles away.  A tropical depression is 160 miles away, also heading toward the same safe harbor from the opposite direction traveling at a speed of 15 knots per hour.  Tropical storm force winds extend 90 miles from the center. Will the small boat or the tropical storm force winds make it to the safe harbor first?

ANSWER: If you are aboard this small sailboat, forget the stupid math problem!  Hoist the anchor and GO!!! NOW!!! (See, useless)

That was pretty much our Monday morning drama.  We knew a tropical LO/depression/storm was forming and knew it would be passing close (and to the East) of us and the anchorage we were in was very suitable for the forecast we had received up until Sunday night when it came across that there was a chance that the storm may roll up on the West Side (or directly over us) in less than 24 hours. Total game changer, all of a sudden the anchorage we were in would provide no protection and we were looking at 40+ knots of wind.  Oh Crap.  At the very first light on Monday we pulled anchor and busted our butts motoring straight into the wind as the storm winds were supposed to reach the area by the afternoon.  We were literally racing tropical storm Kate to Green Turtle.  We figured we could get there by noon and hoped that was sooner than Kate by at least an hour or so.  As we approached we could see the storm’s edge.  We pulled into Green Turtle under blue skies, breathed a sigh of relief, and readied the boat for some wind.  I also took a long shower and put out the rain catchers ready to fill the almost empty water tanks. Then we waited for the winds.  And waited. And waited, all while swatting mosquitos in the hot, windless anchorage. We didn’t have internet but by 7:00pm it was apparent that the storm wasn’t coming our way.  We got nothing more than an hour of grey skies and a rainbow from Kate.  In an ungrateful moment, I began whining. We really needed to catch some water and had been counting on her rain!

 

^^It might be hard to tell with Keith’s feet propped up and all, but we really were rushing as fast as we could and were a little stressed at the moment.  That is Kate on the horizon looking closer to Green Turtle than we were.  Turns out, the worry was for no reason.

^^we SAW Kate, from a distance.

^^I would have taken the rain over the rainbow if given the choice.

With our unexpected diversion back to Green Turtle, we let go of the idea of getting back up to Double Breasted.  The water is already getting chilly and we are looking at heading South instead of North.  Weather has other plans for us at the moment though.  Kate may have completely missed us but a strong cold front is coming in to sit on us for a week or so and will be here in a few days.  All the boats took these last few good days before the wind to scoot along to where they want to hide out the “blow”.  We wanted to use the calm days for diving instead, so Manjack it is again. We also wanted to meet up with some more friends just arriving to the Bahamas.  Remember how we just got together with two other boats from our dock, well, we just met up with a third! “The Lucky One” is in town too!  Also, our friends from Pushkar arrived.  The last few weeks have almost felt like the first day back at school when you’re catching up with all your friends you haven’t seen for the whole summer.  Only it’s not school, so it’s much more fun. 

We’ve also been meeting new friends, at Manjack we were invited to a New Moon party on the beach by the local home-owners.  Three of the boats in the anchorage all belong to the same neat family.  The parents are on one boat, the daughter and her husband are on another, and the other daughter and girlfriend are on a third boat; they are all cruising together.  It is a musical family and they all brought guitars and harmonicas, other locals brought drums and more guitars, and everyone brought food and drinks. An unforgettable night of good music around a campfire on a beach happened.  I write this blog to help me remember my experiences, but this night I will remember regardless, in fact, I don’t really even know how to capture the night.  It was just one of those, I don’t want to be anywhere but here kind of moments.  Though I will admit, climbing out of the cockpit and stepping over a pile of stripped-off clothes that were caked in sand, soaked with bug spray, and reeking of campfire smoke the next morning was a gentle reminder of why my head felt like it had been used as one of the drums the night before!

 

 

 

 

Beach Bowling and Other Fun Stuff

^^lovely photos by Lisa **

After one good, much needed night of sleep it was game-on!  A little diving and collecting the makings for a seafood dinner was priority number one.  We hit the reefs and cuts with the crew of Saraid.  Unfortunately it was too windy to really make it out to the outer reefs of Manjack, the waves were breaking.  The inner coral heads we did dive were not the bright and vibrant ones we love but still a good dive and provided Keith with hogfish.  Later we investigated some shallower spots and were every one was rewarded with conch and lobster. Keith picked up a Mutton Snapper.   

Lisa looked pretty happy with her conch catch!  Ben cut his conch cleaning time in half.  Keith got his fishing fix in and I made an overflowing platter of very fresh seafood served family style.  After dinner, we got a lesson on the stars and constellations, something Keith and I know so little about and truly enjoyed. 

^^Lisa with two of her conchs :)**

^^The boys cleaning the catch**

^^Hogfish, Mutton Snapper, Mahi, lobster, and conch served with Lisa’s caraway coleslaw and mango salsa. YUM!!!  I am now searching the islands for caraway seed!**

 

The next morning Keith and I went out for a dive by ourselves.  In the conch-hunting excitement Saraid’s inflatable dinghy got a hole so they had to get a patch on it and in the meantime it was out of commission.  We found that we aren’t the only ones who like conch, this octopus looked quite happy with his catch!  Keith tried to tug on the shell just enough for me to get a better photo but the octopus just clung on tighter and dragged it further up into his hole. He kept us fascinated for quite a while. The camouflage is amazing!

^^The octopus is hard to see, look for his eyeballs.👀

In the afternoon, we picked up Ben and Lisa for a little shore-time excursion and took one of the walking paths to the oceanside beach.  After all these years, we now know what poisonwood looks like.  Thankfully we didn’t learn it the hard way!  Lisa is incredibly knowledgable about the local vegetation and wildlife and we learned a lot.  On the beach we made the best of the ever-present plastic garbage and an impromptu game of bowling kept us entertained.  Ben won on style points!  That evening Lisa made a conch salad like I’ve never tasted with a coconut milk base.  I am now obsessed.  She also made a curry version, Keith is now obsessed.

^^Poisonwood.  Very distinctive, you wouldn’t think it would have taken us that long to figure it out!

 

^^**

For the following two days we went back to Green Turtle.  It is a ghost town, season hasn’t quite started.  Saraid was the only boat in the marina and we were the only cruising boat in the anchorage.  Keith gave up on growing his hair out (it was getting in the way of his mask) and we found the island’s salon and got it cut. We spent a fun day touring the island with Ben and Lisa on their rented golf cart in search of pretty beaches and conch fritters.  The fritters were harder to find than you would think!  Finally at the Wrecking Tree they said they would make an order just for us.  They hit the spot!

L

^^**

 

 

I Belong on the Boat Wrightaway

 

After sailing up to Allens-Pensacola for a few days we had tucked back down into Green Turtle  expecting some windy weather.  We also needed to buy some more beer, about a quarter of the crappy Sands Lights cans Keith had bought were bad because the can wasn’t sealed right, he went for bottles this time and upgraded to the Kalik Gold. Green Turtle has kind of become somewhat of a base camp for us.  Every few weeks or days we seems to head back, it offers a little bit of everything we need.  Fuel, water, groceries, trash cans, protected anchorage….and of course diving is still only a dinghy ride away.

This time we even “splurged” and took advantage of the amenities that the Bluff House Marina and resort had to offer, well, a few.  We were anchored right in front of their docks and had already been entertained with their live music and I couldn’t get a good wifi signal in the harbour so we went in for an evening ashore.  The dinner prices started at around fourty dollars so we made an easy decision to do beer, soda, and a plate of french fries.  We hung out in the pool, took fresh showers and posted the last few posts too.  It was fun to play tourist for an evening, even if we still had to cook dinner when we got home. 

Green Turtle also turned out to be the place where it almost all went wrong too.  Keith went off in the dinghy one morning and I was down below.  I got startled by a double engine powerboat coming up along the side of the boat.  I flew out and a guy on the boat asked “this your dog?”.  “His tag says he belongs on the boat Wrightaway”. Confused, I reached out and scooped up a very drenched and salty Kai.  I didn’t even know he had fallen overboard.  It all started to register and I barely was able to choke out a thank you.  Had this been any other anchorage, I doubt the ending would have been the same.  Most of our anchorages have had a lot of current and been very open. Let’s not even think sharky.  It’s hard to think about how slim the chances were that he was delivered back to us safely.  We think he probably fell off the bow when Keith dinghied away without him, there is no netting at the very front.  (There will be soon) He never stays out when we leave the boat, but now he will always be accompanied by one of us.  When the fishing boat that rescued Kai came back in that evening we brought them a bottle of rum, even though it seemed like such an insufficient token of gratitude for being Kai’s heros; I hope all good things come to them.  They were on their way out fishing when they saw him swimming in circles with his head barely out of the water, They stopped, plucked him out of the water, and brought him home.  Thank You, Thank You!!!. Kai has been overloaded with hugs and nummies since.  I am so glad I changed out his tag, it says “I belong on the boat Wrightaway”, they said it was helpful. I think he might have almost gone to back to Florida with a new family. Too close of a call.

Boats are noisy, they move and the things in them and on them move, the water moves, you move, it all makes a noise of some sort.  The trick is to know what noises are normal and what noises are not.  We heard a new noise on our last sail.  A clunk. We were sailing down wind in less than ten knots of wind with just the jib, an easy very slow sail, but we kept hearing a clunk.  Like a can of food rolling around in a locker, but more worrisome because it wasn’t.  Keith spent close to an hour opening up all the lockers and floorboards in the aft cabin.  It sounded like it was coming from the steering gear box, but it wasn’t.  I took my turn looking and still couldn’t pin-point it.  Keith even dove in the water behind the boat to make sure nothing was on the rudder.  There wasn’t anything there but that was definitely where the noise was coming from.  Rudders are important, they stear the boat, but more importantly, there is a hole in the boat where the rudder attaches to the boat. Not a great place to be clunking. When we got to the anchorage we dove in again and started troubleshooting.  The sound is definitely coming from the rudder, the bottom bushing where the rudder attaches to the skeg to be exact.  Ok, so now we know what the problem is and even how to fix it but we will have to get the boat hauled out to do so. This was definately not the way we wanted the day to go.  Que Keith’s turn to get grumpy.

It’s not an emergency, everything is working, we just need to get it resolved.  I’m not sure if I have posted our upcoming plans on the blog or not, but we are headed back to Florida at the end of August anyway to hide out for the peak of hurricane season, see some friends, and reprovision.  (As you may have noticed we are running out of essentials) We had been considering hauling out and painting the bottom this summer as well but just the day before we decided to put it off one year. I guess not.  I mean, who doesn’t want to be stuck in a boat yard in Florida in the heat of the summer, right?!? Oh, without AC of course.

But we aren’t there yet, so here’s to soaking up some more pretty beaches and clear water until then!

 

 

 

Stranded Naked

Every year on July 3rd the Stranded Naked clothing line company throws a huge party to kick off the Abaco regattas, they are kind of famous for the Cheeseburger in Paradise party. We have only been to one before and it wasn’t so much our thing, but we kept being told things like “you aren’t a real cruiser if you don’t go to the party”. So we went to the party to meet the other “cruisers”.  

Maybe we have a different idea of what cruisers are!  All we found were rich kids that came over from Florida to party.  So it wasn’t what we were looking for, but it still made a spectacular day of dumb-and-drunk people watching! The party is held on the beach and all the boats (hundreds of boats) came piling in at the start of the party which so happened to be high tide (of a full moon extreme tide).  Keith and I pulled up shortly after the start in the dinghy because no way we’re we going to bring the big boat anywhere near the chaos! We wandered around dumbstruck by how many people let themselves and boats get completely blocked in, they couldn’t leave if they wanted to-like if a big squall came through.  Then Keith started giggling “wait till the tide goes out, it’s going to be a mess in here”.  We didn’t wait in the long line for our free hamburger, instead we went back to the boat for peanut butter sandwiches (I am working on those simpler meals you know).  Curiosity got the better of Keith and a while later and we dinghied back to the party.  The “stranded” part of the party was holding up.  Boats everywhere were high and dry.  Unfortunately my camera battery ran out before I could capture some of the best scenes.  Whole crews of drunks tugging and pushing, only a few successfully.  Many of the boats had their motors running in only a few inches of churned-up sandy water to keep the batteries charged up and the radio on.  Keith says their is going to be a lot of repair bills in the near future.  Even many of the sailboats in the anchorage were hard aground from trying to get up too close.  Great people-watching day!  Not so good cruiser-meeting day.

 

V

^^by the afternoon the catamaran in that photo was completely aground.

J

 

^^i love the guy in the water still drinking his rum. 

Green Turtle

I think I had envisioned us staying at Double Breasted for longer, but we got weather reports indicating that a tropical LO might be developing right over our heads bringing winds from possibly any, or all, directions upwards of fourty to fifty knots.  Being anchored just a few yards off rocks on one side and a few yards off a sandbar on the other side didn’t seem like the ideal spot so we booked it on out and sailed to Manjack Cay and then onto Green Turtle Cay and tucked up into White Sound for some all-around protection.

The forecast stalled and then fell apart and we ended up with nothing but some squalls and a lot of rain.  We were thrilled with the rain. The deck got scrubbed, the towels got rinsed, the water tanks got filled overfilled, every bucket we owned got set out, we rinsed ourselves, we rinsed the dog.  We may have rinsed him a little too much.  Cruising changes how you view rain 🙂

Green Turtle Cay is an adorable quiet settlement filled with rental cottages, cute shops, and delishious smelling bakeries.  So colorful and pretty in a pink and turquise with a white picket fence kind of way.  It was even prettier when I found that I could get wifi in the anchorage, (which is how I finally got the last several posts up).  It disappeared intermittently when the boat swung and I lost it completely after the weather moved through, but it made me quite a happy camper for a short while!  I hate to admit how much I have missed it.

Besides walking around the town and peeking into every shop and chasing a weak wifi signal from bow to stern, we had a good few days of meeting new friends and old.  We had a wonderful evening meeting three new cruising couples and sharing drinks and appetizers all while laughing maybe a bit too hard at a boat trying unsuccessfully to pick up their mooring ball.  Then we ran into our long time friend and old finger-pier neighbor Darryl and Debbie as they were anchoring.  A terrific surprise. We invited them over for conch and hogfish after the rains subsided and they invited us over for a yumm-o breakfast the next morning.  I love that breakfast with friends-on a weekday-is so natural now.  

Our friends, new and old, all headed south after the threat of any weather dissipated.  We headed north just a few minutes back to Manjack Cay.  We weren’t done diving just quite yet and Manjack has been a favorite of ours.  Within ten minutes on our first dive, we had our limit of conch and a hogfish in the bucket. Guess what is for dinner?  Actually, the next day Keith switched it up a speared a Margate for dinner, we liked it too.  Variety is supposed to be good for you. We haven’t even made it out to the reefs yet, that was all in the cuts between the cays they have some pretty neat snorkeling. I got most excited about seeing the tentical of an octopus in a hole and a moray eel.

Back on our first night at anchor at Manjack, when we were on our way to Green Turtle, we were so relieved that for the first time since Florida we were not going to be anchoring in a crazy current.  No water rushing along the hull all night, no tide changes, just a quiet peacefull night that we could sleep all the way through. You do know where this is going right?  

Around 1:30: BUMP.  Keith and I flew out of bed, down the “hall”, and up the companionway expecting to see that we hit or were hit by something.  Nothing.  Keith yelled at me to turn on the depth sounder, maybe we were hitting the bottom.  BUMP.  I ran back down the companionway, which is a six step ladder by the way, and flipped on the breaker, just as Keith was telling me to hurry-up and come here!  Back up the companionway (ladder) to see what was attacking our boat.  Two dolphins.  We could see them perfectly with our stern light and the full moon and we could see every blade of grass and urchin on the sand below us.  There were two of them, one bigger than the other, and for about ten minutes they kept swimming under the stern of out boat.  They would take several breathes, swim under and blow lots and lots of bubbles.  Sometimes they bumped the boat.  We both got dolphin spit on us.  We could hear their clicks and squeaks and if we had wanted to we could have easily touched them from the swim platform.  At the time we didn’t want to, we were still trying to figure out why it seemed they wanted to attack our boat.  Finally Keith saw the smaller one swim out from under the boat with a fish in his mouth.  Then they left.  That was a lot of work for one fish!  Keith said it wasn’t even that big.  

So last night was our first night back here in the same anchorage since we went to Green Turtle and we were awoken last night by a big burst of bubbles under our bed.  Keith woke up and said “they’re back”, I grabbed my camera and ran up the companionway but they didn’t hang around.  I have my camera ready just in case they come back tonight.  I like my sleep, but it was a too-cool moment..