We had a lovely week exploring further south in the Exuma chain. We left our anchorage off the end of the airport runway at Staniel Cay and went to Black Point for laundry and to have a Bahamian lunch put on by the town to raise money for the school to send the kids on a field trip to Nassau to learn about their history. They were serving fish or chicken or ribs along with coleslaw, peas and rice and Bahamian mac and cheese.
We stopped at Oven Rock, a house sized island just off the shore of Great Guana Cay. We had been told there was a great cave near Oven Rock, so we landed the dinghy and wandered about, but did not find the trail to the cave. Oven Rock was topped by a huge osprey nest - they must have been working on it for generations - so the explore was still quite fun.
We continued on and anchored off the west side of Little Farmers Cay, right by the air strip (there seems to be a pattern here). We looked up the email about the Oven Rock cave that we'd gotten from our friend Andy "Andante" who said to bring snorkel gear and an underwater flashlight. We also checked a cruising web information site, Active Captain, which had the GPS coordinates of the cave and I could then plot it on our chart. With this information, we took the dinghy back to Oven Rock and this time found the trail and the cave. What a nifty place! The water goes back about a hundred feet into a hill and with the flashlights you could see about fifty feet down into the water. There were stalactites and stalagmites and little shrimp attracted to the lights.
The next day we headed south from Little Farmers, passing an island owned by David Copperfield (very fancy) and we tucked into an anchorage between Darby Cay and Little Darby Cay. It was very protected from all sides, so we knew it would be a good place to wait out a strong north blow that was predicted. Before the wind picked up, we went to see a sunken mermaid and piano sculpture reportedly placed in a nearby bay by the magician then we snorkeled the inlet nearby, ending up back at the boat (we were tied to the dinghy the whole way so could always get back!)
Jeff found two nice conch (pronounced "konk") which are sea creatures in lovely shells. Once back on the boat, we got out our cruising cook books to read how to get the conch out of the shell. It sounded pretty straight forward in the books, but the conch didn't seem to know that they should just slip out after a hole was pounded into the top of the shell. Finally after lots of pounding, till the shell was in small pieces, we got the creatures out, cleaned, skinned and into the fridge. The deck of the boat was covered in shell pieces and conch slime, but the washdown pump came in handy to clean up. We had "cracked conch" for supper - pounded thin, dredged in flour and fried crispy. It was delicious, but we have a lot to learn about getting conch out!
We had a walk on Little Darby Cay with a couple from "New Moon," a smaller boat that was able to get even farther into the area between the islands. They knew the island well from previous visits and showed us the coconut beach where the shore was lined with coconut trees. We found two coconuts that were edible - they have to have a bit of a sloshing noise when shaken indicating they haven't dried out. We were then instructed in coconut preparation - taking a big rock to smash the outer fibrous part of the coconut to get to the round brown fruit that is what I've always seen in the past. That was cracked open and the white "meat" of the coconut was very tasty.
I'm quite glad we still have lots of food on board from our provisioning trip to the Publix grocery store in Florida. Feeding ourselves from what's available here in the Bahamas would involve way too much smashing and crunching!
Now we are headed back north to await the arrival of David and Adam, our stalwart able seamen, who are heading to the boat for Spring Break! They'll be leaving snow and cold for the warm waters of the Exumas and we can't wait to see them. Sally