This is what I was expecting.
Another adventure into the out islands this last week was really incredible, this is what I was expecting when I came down here, and it is awesome that it is finally happening. When Grandad made it clear that he wasn’t moving from Georgetown I was pretty bummed and thought I would be stuck here for the duration, but Mark and I have found plenty of opportunities to get out and explore the Bahamas and it is great. Rio Dulce, friends of Brian’s that have been traveling with us for a while, invited us to go along with them to Conception island one morning, and at a couple hours notice we were ready to go and out of there. So we headed out on Rio Dulce in the morning and got into Conception island that evening, traveling with two other sailboats Priority and Zola. Priority is a couple with two kids and they are an awesome family, the parents were a lot of fun to hang out with and the kids were really cool. Zola was a newlywed couple, just married in Vero Beach Florida, and they are out cruising for their honeymoon, a wonderful young couple and also a lot of fun. Rio Dulce is a family of 5 who have been cruising their entire lives, the boat is a 47 foot Catana catamaran and it is beautiful, we were really privileged to be able to sail on her. It seems everyone I meet out here I would be content sitting down for hours and talking about their lives, there is always something interesting, and these families were no exception, though I guess that’s what you get when you are meeting people who are cruising the Caribbean. On the sail to Conception we were cruising along with Zola and Priority probably half a mile off our beam and we kept hearing them on the radio talking about all the fish they keep catching on their trolling lines, we were trolling lines, but not getting as much as a bite. Dick, who owns Rio Dulce, was just flipping out every time they came on the radio, it was pretty hilarious, and no matter how many lines we put out, we got nothin. So we got to Conception fishless, but with friends who caught loads of mahi and tuna, so we invited them over and they brought over the freshly caught and prepared fish and damn was it delicious. In the morning we all went diving on the reefs around the island, the staghorn corals were absolutely beautiful and the immensity of the reefs was really impressive. After a while fishing on the reefs we got a couple grouper, lobster (a huuge one from Zola), snapper, margate. The island also has mangrove creeks winding through it that we explored a bit, the creeks are a breeding ground for lots of sea life and we saw some sea turtles flitting around, nurse sharks, and various other fishies. There is nothing like eating lunch, and being hungry because you were diving all morning fishing for the fish that you are eating. It’s a good way to live. Priority introduced us to the “slingshot” that afternoon, which is a crazy contraption, born of the mind of Dwane on Zola, which uses a dinghy and a halyard to send you launching through the air at high speeds, I think only a picture will do to describe it. Diving the next day was even more fruitful, Zola again caught the biggest lobster any of us had ever seen, I wont even do Dwayne the injustice of reproducing his daring feat of underwater lobster wrangling here, it was incredible though, and he and his wife Kim got 4 more lobster that day, it was enough to feed the two of them for a month I think.
Priority had a brilliant plan of drifting the mangrove creeks and we all set out, along with another boat, Wild Wind, and us 4 dinghys went way up into the creek, tied together and waited for the tide to go out, and drifted down the creeks with the current back to the entrance. We must have been quite a sight, Priority had a big umbrella up on their dinghy and we were just lounging along, every one layin around. A helicopter flew over and then circled back to get a closer view, buzzing us at 30 feet, it was sweet. Sitting there drifting along in great company through the mangrove creeks of Conception Island in the Bahamas, it cant get any better right? Then Dick hands me a Yeungling. I almost cried.
We set off for Georgetown the next morning, and in a quick mid trip decision decided to change our route to go to Long Island with Priority and Zola. On the way we stopped at a nice reef to do a little diving and we got enough fish to feed us for a couple days, I got my biggest jack yet. On the way we were trolling again, and we caught two barracuda, which was pretty awesome, but they are not edible, so it was less awesome. They eat all the little coral eating fish which get ciguatera from eating coral so they also have ciguatera, no barracuda meat for us. After making it to Thompson Bay for the night, the first thing I did was go into the Long Island Breeze resort and use Dick’s skype to call Kari and try to justify not talking to her for 2 weeks including Valentines day and our 1 year anniversary… so back me up here, the Bahamian Valentines day is a week after the American… right guys? So, later Mark and I took the other boats on a little cave tour in the caves we explored when we were on the island before and it was incredible all over again. The next day was an awesome adventure, Mark and I hitchhiked down the Dean’s Blue Hole after hearing from many people that we had to see it. After a few minutes walking down the road we get picked up by a big ol’ white Escalade and find ourselves in the company of three 50somethings, two guys and a girl, who when I asked them what they do there, they said they do what Michael Phelps does, swim and… well that other thing he is famous for doing these days, which they obviously did a lot of. And a little down the road, we stop in at a little dive shop and picked up William. William as it turns out, holds the record for free diving, a record which he set last year, in Dean’s blue hole, the very place to which we were en route. I chatted with William on the way, he trains free diving every day, with multiple sponsorships that is how he makes a living, and does spear fishing in his free time, or I guess probably both at the same time really. Once a year he attempts the record dive, he set it two years ago and broke his own record last year with a dive of 285 feet. Inconceivable. So they took us to the blue hole, got out and chatted a bit with us, and then left Mark and I to explore it. The hole is surrounded by cliffs, with parts you can jump off of that are something like 40 feet high. We sat around and marveled at the hole, 50ish feet in diameter and plummeting down into darkness to 600 feet deep. Both Mark and I then took the 40 foot plunge off the cliff into the hole, hopefully you see those pictures. We hitchhiked back, making a stop at Max’s Conch Bar, which had the best conch salad on the island and the best drink I had ever had- coconut water and gin. Man it was good. The next ride was Cecelia, we stopped for some homemade banana bread, and she took us back.
On our way back into Georgetown we ran up the spinnaker sail on Rio Dulce, a brightly colored giant of a sail, and show boated our way through the harbor and back to hamburger beach. I got back just in time to do my poker clinic at 3, the family was all over joyed to see us back, and now it is back to the good ol’ life in Georgetown. It is also worth mentioning a bit of excitement that occurred a couple days ago. I was planning on buying Kari tickets to come down to see me over spring break as a valentines gift, and when I tell her this on Monday… she tells me she already bought tickets and was going to surprise me, holy crap is that girl awesome, I gotta say I am a bit disappointed I ruined the surprise though. So now I have that to look forward to, Brian has volunteered as the chairman of Kids Day in the upcoming cruising regatta, so Mark and I will no doubt play a large part in that, so that will be interesting, and the cold fronts have finally decided to stop blasting us with 20 knot winds and chilling us to the bone with 65 degree weather every day, so we will be able to do some good diving over the next few days, so things are looking good around here in Georgetown, now lets see what happening, in your neck of the woods.