We just beat a storm into the north end of Tilloo Cay and anchored with Shamrock, Jupiter’s Smile, Gone, and a few other boats. All of us spent the day snorkeling on the reef in the Pelican Cay Land and Sea Park. Being as how it was another park the fish were everywhere. I even grabbed a Nassau Grouper by the tail, that’s how close you can get in these parks. We saw a squadron of 5 Spotted Eagle Rays (well, since they fly, of course you can call them a squadron) glide by under us. The 3 of us had our 3mm wetsuits on and were completely comfy as usual. Pat was swimming with us and got cold, but plugged on regardless due to the fantastic sights below. The coral was magnificent even with patches of bleached coral areas. 10-15 pound snapper, grouper, mackerel, and plenty of parrotfish swam with us totally unafraid of our presence. Only 2 barracuda and no sharks made for a pleasant swim.
On Wednesday our flotilla of 8 boats left Royal Island at sunrise bound for the 55 mile passage across a piece of the Atlantic bound for Little Harbor in the Abacos. We left up to 45 minutes later than the first ones out of the harbor and passed all but one boat during the passage. Stardust performs very well and we are very happy with her. We averaged 7kts and saw 8.6kts max during the crossing with a 15-20kt wind on our beam from the east. We saw 3 whales. I said they looked brown, Rachel said they looked grey, and Kathy said they looked wet. So we didn’t positively identify them. Shortly afterward I hooked the largest fish yet, probably a Wahoo by the look of him 200 feet back. He rapidly spooled out all the line as I cranked down on the drag and Kathy and Rachel hurried to drop the jib to slow us down. But the 70 pound test line broke in my effort to avoid running out of line by using too much drag. Darn! Right after that Daniel on the French boat Gone hooked a 56 inch long Wahoo and brought him onboard. I asked him if my blue squid lure was in his mouth but he didn’t understand my joke so we had to talk about it upon arrival in Little Harbor while he divvied up wahoo steaks to anyone who wanted some. It made the best meal of our Bahama tour. Thanks Daniel! I even had time for some spearfishing upon arrival at Lynyard Cay and shot 3 good size snapper, the largest being a Schoolmaster, so we’re eating lots of fish these days. All 3 were in the cooler in the dinghy within 15 minutes and we were out of there before any sharks showed up. Cool.
The whole gang went to Pete’s Pub for lunch on Thursday. Pete is the son of Randolph Johnson, a sculptor who settled Little Harbor in the early 1950’s with his family. Mom and Dad loaned us his book, A Study in Self-Reliance, and man did they put up with hardship for years. Every 5 pages I’d think to myself that, ok, I’d quit now, but they never did. Finally Pete is now making a good living with his pub and various enterprises on the family estate. We toured the foundry for bronze casting, and walked around the island. Earlier in the day I scraped and cleaned Shamrock’s hull and prop and Jim forced a few bucks on me for the task. Hey, maybe I can make a living at this boating stuff. Not!
Tomorrow (Saturday) we’ll sail to Marsh Harbor and do laundry and shopping. We’ll be in the area for a few days at least. If anyone out there can drop what they’re doing and hop a jet into Marsh Harbor, we’ll stay as long as necessary to make the connection. Looking at the charts, the Abacos have lots of protected sailing and accessible reefs. It could be that we’ve saved the best of the Bahamas for last!