Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Fisherman "I'll Try Anything" Dave

cruising life, cruising activities, food
After much persistence, Dave catches ... something!
"I didn't have much money, so I just had to try things until I could get something to work."

It's a recurring theme from Dave, told with a self-deprecating smile and a shrug of his shoulders.  The guy doesn't give up; it's part of what makes him so likable, and, eventually, successful.

We met fellow cruiser Dave when he was on his way back from the store with Rum Cay local Bahamanians Marco and James (see prior post to meet them).  They'd helped Dave find a pot.  He needed to replace the one he burned when was so tired the night before, he was awaken by the scent of his own smoldering food.  That was after enjoying a fine cracked conch and frys dinner from Marco and his girlfriend Shawnee, followed by drinks and shooting pool at a local spot. We'll give Dave major credit to be smart enough to know the right thing to do was to clamp a lid on the pot, so's not to fan the flames.  "Even a sand scrub wouldn't clean it," he admitted a trifle ruefully.

cruising life, cruising activities, food
Dave now wonders...
What is this thing?  Is it edible?
Then there was the time in Nassau when Dave dove in 50 knot winds to untangle the anchor line that jammed when another cruiser not just dragged anchor over his, their chain cut Dave's anchor line.  Dave... and his boat survived and he even later recovered his anchor.  Even though Dave's anchor dragging neighbor gave him his car rather than his boat insurance info, his car insurer connected Dave with the right folks.  Dave got reimbursed.

So when Dave kept seeing the fish under our boats in Rum Cay's Sumner Point Marina, well, they were ultimately no match for Dave's persistence.  Eventually, after trying a host of poles, lines, lures and bait, he hooked a fish, on buttered corn!

"Here.  Take this.  I've gotta go," Dave said, handing me his prized catch.  "Got some black crabs to catch with Fireman [another Rum Cay local who took a shine to Dave].  Don't want to be late!"

cruising life, cruising activities, food
It's a porgy.  Edible?  Yes, quite.  Delicious, even!
Off Dave went. 

Fireman bagged a bunch of black land crabs, by letting them bite his gloved hands when he reached into their lair, then pulling them out.  Dave followed suit, bringing his crab back through sheer retraction speed.  The rest he left to Fireman.  Then, that night, they came back for more, when Fireman knew the crabs scuttled in the darkness....

Heck, if Dave could be that persistent in catching a fish, then generously giving it up, then I figured I could learn how to fillet it.  There was only room for improvement after my first fillet," a 4' mahi mahi caught while underway (sailing).  Better yet, Rum Cay's Sumner Marina had a fish cleaning station, and using a couple fish reference books, neighboring cruiser Paul identified Dave's catch as a porgy -- edible!

When Dave and Fireman returned, I was ready cook his already filleted porgy.  I dipped it in a seasoned oil mixture (olive oil, garlic, chipotle in adobo, thyme. salt, pepper and lime juice), dredged it in cornmeal and pan fried it in olive oil.  Dave ate one half and gave Fireman -- who approved -- a bite.  I ate the other half.  It was good.  Then Dave tossed the porgy skin overboard and the marina critters came to life!

cruising life, cruising activities, food
Paul's fish i d. books helped.  Betting the lemon shark was in
there too.  I wouldn't fillet that though I'd happily cook and eat
one of someone else caught and filleted it.
Getting a bit cockier, with Fireman's encouragement, Dave used first another porgy he caught, then a remora (shark suckerfish) to try to catch a shark.  This time, the sharks won, with a flick of their razor-sharp fins and tail.  They took Dave's bait and leader, twice.  After a goose egg's catch spearfishing, the next day (I went with the intent of seeing Dave demo how it's done) Dave decided to try to land a shark again... with another remora he caught, then came to his senses. 

"Tightwads on the Loose" author Wendy Hinman jokes that she caught more fish being nice than with a rod and reel.  Considering we met Dave because Marco liked him so much, he cooked Dave a conch dinner from the conch Mario caught, Dave will be kept in fish both as gifts and due to his persistent fishing efforts.

"If only I liked fish.... I'll learn...."

Yes, Dave, no doubt you will.  We wish we weren't headed in opposite directions, because if we do get lucky fishing, we'd happily share with you, any day.  We know you liked that mahi, ... even the porgy, and of course, properly prepared, the conch, too.

Location Location
April 14, 2014, BAHAMAS.  This blog was written and scheduled to post from Sumner Point Marina on Rum Cay (N23.38 W74.50).  Most likely most likely we'll be enjoying our third day at Conception Island -- by the time this posts though it may be a few days before another post.  Conception is unlikely to offer internet.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Local Character, Rum Cay

cruising destinations, cruising activities, cruising life
Marco's cousin's dog, Whitey, at Rum Cay.
Marco's (smarter) dog, who wasn't there
that day,  is called Saxy (or maybe, Sexy).
Rum Cay would be called Rolly Cay if not for Marco's kindness, local knowledge and navigation skill in guiding us into Rum Cay's Sumner Point Marina (click here for more about that).

Instead, we decided to stay longer, even when the winds shifted, enabling our passage to Conception, our next planned stop.  Part of that is due to more than the protection of Sumner Point Marina.  It's because thanks due in large part to Marco and his friends, we're enjoying our stay here.

Marco insisted on cooking us cracked conch and fries, from the fresh conch he caught in a local salt pond.  He made it at the marina, so we could learn how he makes it.
food, making cracked conch, cruising destinations, cruising activities, cruising life
Marco dredging conch in a cornmeal batter, so
Wayne could eat it as he is on a gluten-free diet.
Tagging along was his cousin James, Marco's girlfriend and exceptional french-fry-maker Shanwee and Kevin.  Not quite sure who Kevin was attached to in the posse, but he enjoyed crooning and quizzing us on "Name That Tune."  Dave (more on Dave in the next GWT post), the catalyst for the whole event, pleased Kevin exceedingly with his prompt and correct answers.  Whitey, the "not so smart dog" was also in tow. Sadly, his playmate black boxer, Saxy was not feeling well enough to join the party that day.

food, making cracked conch, cruising destinations, cruising activities, cruising life
Marco improvises on his conch-beating tool.
Beating conch is necessary to tenderize it
before cooking.
I missed out on grabbing my camera when Dave's other newfound local friend, "Fireman" fed the local sharks with a porgy Dave caught, and then a remora, along with Dave's hook and leader.  Lemon sharks, Fireman said, "Are tasty!"

cruising destinations, cruising activities, cruising life
James and Whitey.
food, making cracked conch, cruising destinations, cruising activities, cruising life
Shawnee, Marco's girlfriend,
making fries.
In the midst of our hearty potluck, Marco invited us "In two years... to his wedding."  Not sure if Shawnee, not yet a fiancee, heard.
food, making cracked conch, cruising destinations, cruising activities, cruising life
Marco & Shawnee; a sweet couple.

"If we're not in the South Pacific," I told Marco, "We'd love to join you."
Pearson 365 ketch, cruising destinations, cruising activities, cruising life
Our Pearson 365 sailboat ketch, Journey,
in one of the less dodgy parts of
Sumner Point Marina, Rum Cay.

Location Location
April 13, 2014 BAHAMAS.  Recent retrospective of our time in Rum Cay (N23.38 W74.50) at the free! (but a bit decrepit) Sumner Point Marina.  By the time this posts we'll be in Conception, likely for a few days without internet.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Free Is A Very Good Price (Rum Cay, Sumner Point Marina)

cruising destinations, cruising activities
The tilt is NOT a camera trick.  Rum Cay's
Sumner Pt. Marina dock, tilts, undulates and
is rotting away.
"Embark on a journey where adventure is the norm rather than a once-in-a-lifetime experience.... Immerse yourself... in... a full service marina, dive facility with beachfront villas and a restaurant/bar." -- Sumner Point Marina ad, 5th Edition Far Bahamas Explorer Chartbook.

navigating, cruising destinations, bahamas local
Marco aboard, guiding us flawlessly into
Rum Cay's Sumner Point Marina.
Current chart books are important (see Ed's Dead for another note on that)!  A few hurricanes can transform a five star marina to, well, something quite different.  And yet, different isn't necessarily bad. 

Rum Cay's Sumner Point Marina (click here for their Facebook page) is a case in point.

cruising destinations, cruising activities
Yes, that support is indeed that cracked.
We anchored off Rum Cay's the Southern point, at Port Nelson, figuring it offered good protection from the Northerlies.  It was still pretty rolly.

Wayne radioed ahead to ask if anyone could give us an access status for Sumner Point Marina. Thanks Moonraker, to another cruiser's Sailblogs Rum Cay post, we read that the marina was closed and decrepit, but offered good protection and was free.  The boat we reached in the marina was not very encouraging and we knew from our charts the entry was treacherous -- shallow with a reef on each side and lots of coral heads and rocks.  In fact, we pointedly arrived at Rum Cay near high tide to up our odds of entering the marina, if desired.

bahamas wildlife, fishing, cruising destinations, cruising activities
A dozen yellow-eyed snapper brought
in by a local fishing boat look like they
got a case of the bends.  They were caught
in over 400 feet.
Wayne dinghied over to check out the marina after we anchored, and decided it was too challenging.  

As a respite from the shake-rattle-and-roll, Wayne suggested we take a walk shoreside.  Considering the chop, it took some urging.  We beached next to the laderless government dock.

bahamas wildlife, cruising destinations, cruising activities
Snapper heads were popular with the local nurse and lemon sharks.
Within minutes, we bumped into The Three Muskateers -- locals Marco, his cousin James, and Dave, another cruiser, who tied off in the marina (watch for more on this trio in future posts).  Marco assured us there was indeed room and offered to get on our boat and guide us in.  We all first walked back to the marina together; discussed our draft (4 1/2') and Marco showed us where we could tie off, next to Dave.

bahamas wildlife, cruising destinations, cruising activities
Where there's a forest of fins,
there's a shark feeding frenzy.
We returned back to our boat, soaked, carrying the three of us in the chop, and Marco, true to his word, guided us exactly onto the pink line course to the marina indicated our Navionics chartplotter and in safely.  We were a few hours off high tide, and the lowest point Wayne tracked in was 7'.  We had plenty of help tying off, including Dave from his dinghy.

bahamas wildlife, cruising destinations, cruising activities
Uhhh, no swimming for me in the marina!
We confirmed that once upon a time the marina was indeed a spendy, 5-star resort, with an excellent restaurant.

Still, it's a bit like visiting Venice, glorious even in its decay.   Unlike Venice, what Sumner Point Marina lacks in Venisian culture, it more than makes up for with crystal clear water, rich with vibrant sealife, colorful land characters, and no odiferous scent (when I went to Venice, discovered it is a stinky place).  Like Venice, there's even some pretty cool sculpture.

If you're okay with wavy dock deck with missing planks and the need to keep your tracks in the middle of the walkway lest the rotting nails give way... no water, no fuel, no bathrooms, no laundry, restaurants a bit of a walk away (Ocean View gets rave reviews -- can't say firsthand as we rarely eat out so the distance is a moot point for us) -- free is a very good price.  

cruising destinations
One of the many intriguing sculptures crafted by
Bill, Rum Cay Sumner Point Marina's owner.
Friendly people, beautiful spot, and free works for us!

cruising destinations
Sunset off a bit dodgier part of
Sumner Point Marina's dock.
Location Location
April 12, 2014, BAHAMAS.  We're Sumner Point Marina on Rum Cay (N23.38 W74.50); most likely we will set sail for Conception tomorrow.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lotsa Lobster? 3 Recipes

provisioning cooking lobster recipes cruising destination bahamas

Lobster cocktail sauce using locally caught lobster, sautéed
onion and bell pepper, locally bottled stewed tomatoes,
served over rice.
Despite anchoring just off Lobster Hole Point, we bought 1 pound of lobster meat from Maxine’s.  For $12 of cleaned meat, we got three meals for two out of it.  Yeah, we’re kinda embarrassed we haven’t attempted lobstering yet, but we did hear from cruisers who’d successfully lobstered there in years past, they weren’t able to snag any, either.

We’re generally kinda frugal, so figuring out what to do with lobster (or “lobstah” as our friends Dee and Ron Klaus from Ursa Minor like to call it) is a novel “problem” for us. 

Round I:  Lobster in Bahamian Cocktail Sauce
Maxine, an avid fishman who sold us the lobster, recommended this preparation.

1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 T olive oil
1 12 oz bottle stewed tomatoes (used local ones, which came in a repurposed Kalik [beer] bottle)
1 t fresh thyme leaves
lemon juice, to taste (start with a dash)
½ lb. cleaned, cooked lobster meat, chopped
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
rice, cooked

  • Sauté onion and bell pepper in olive oil in a saucepan, cooking until onion is transparent.
  • Add stewed tomatoes, thyme and lemon juice and bring to a boil
  • Add the lobster and turn the heat off.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Taste and add more lemon juice if flavors aren’t popping enough.
  • Serve lobster in sauce over cooked rice.
  • Added some Louisiana hot sauce to my portion.

Rating?  *** (ok)

provisioning cooking lobster recipes cruising destination bahamas

Easy to miss Maxine’s, Duncantown’s grocery store
(and lobster source!)
Round II:  Lobster Cheese Grits
Wayne, antsy to use up the lobster while it was still fresh, suggested adding the lobster to grits.

½ c grits*
3 c water*
2/3 c grated pepperjack cheese
¼ lb. cooked lobster meat, chopped

  • Bring the grits and water to a boil in a covered saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat and cook grits until they reaches the desired thickness (about 5 minutes).
  • Stir in the cheese, cooking until it melts > 1 minute).
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the lobster.  The hot grits and cheese mixture will warm it up without any further cooking.
  • Serve!  Top with salt, pepper or hot sauce to taste.

* The ½ c grits to 3 c water is the package’s suggested ratio.  I add either more grits or less water.

Rating?  ***** (excellent! Wayne’s favorite of the trio)

provisioning cooking lobster recipes cruising destination bahamas

Inside Maxine’s in squeaky clean and thoughtfully stocked.
Wayne peruses the freezer there.
Round III: Lobster Caesar
Another Wayne suggestion, who knew we had some romaine as well as the lobster to use up while it was still good.  For a guy who doesn’t cook, he makes some pretty inspired suggestions.

1 head romaine, torn into bite sized pieces
1 ½ t freshly minced garlic
2 T freshly grated parmesean or romano cheese
3 anchovies, cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
2 T lemon juice
1/3 c olive oil, preferably a flavorful extra virgin
¼ t salt (optional – the anchovies may make it salty enough!)
¼ t freshly grated pepper
¼ freshly grated parmesean or romano cheese (additional)
¼ lb cooked lobster, chopped

  • Place the romaine in a serving bowl
  • Whisk all the remaining ingredients except the additional ¼ grated parmesean or romano cheese and the lobster
  • Pour whisked ingredients over bowl and toss gently but thoroughly
  • Sprinkle the remaining grated parmesean or romano cheese over the salad and toss gently but thoroughly
  • Sprinkle the lobster over the top of the salad and serve

Rating?  ***** (excellent! GWT’s favorite of the trio.  This should be on the menu of every fine Bahamian dining establishment!)

Bottom line?
All good, though next time, I would make only the grits and the Caesar and not the cocktail sauce.  The lobster ad steamed hogfish crepes with béchamel sauce weren’t too shabby either, but the grits and caesar might be good enough to prompt Wayne to go for lobster again, even though it’s not a food he’d normally consider.

Do you have a favorite lobster dish?  What is it?  Are you a successful lobster hunter?  Or like us, did someone else catch yours for you?

Our slip is in a bit better shape than this section of dock in Rum Cay.
Location Location
April 10, 2014, BAHAMAS.  We're in a defunct marina on Rum Cay (N22.24.421 W75.48.970); we arrived here yesterday afternoon from Clarencetown Long Island.  It was rough in the bay, so we were grateful a local guided us into the anchorage and we got plenty of help tying off.  Sumner Point Marina, reduced to partial destruction from a couple hurricanes, is technically not in operation, but boats are allowed to tie up for free.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

SlowLane Wildlife of Stocking Island "Georgetown"

wildlife bahamas, cruising life, cruising destinations, cruising activities, hiking
My foot gives you an idea of scale
of this vibrant cushion sea star.

We’re amid breathtakingly spectacular scenery that feels like mother nature had a field day using big fat pastels with all the exuberance of a kindergartner playing with finger paints.  We’re wowed by the swift watery dramatic flight of rays, dolphins sharks and more.  We’re cautiously intrigued by other toothy aquatic predators like the ever-present barracuda, but also their more nervous prey, the colorful tangs and grunts, and a whole host of less flashy fishies….

Thus, it takes some settling down to appreciate life in the slow lane.  They’re easier to overlook, but hey, at least they move slow enough to easily photograph – as long as I slow down enough to take a snap.

It doesn’t get much slower than starfish, sea slugs and snails.

This more delicate starfish measured
about an inch and a half.
In St. Francis’ harbor, there were hundreds of nudibranch grazing like cows on a forest floor of lime green seaweed.  Their less colorful and prolific kin, the black sea cucumber, was also present, though I was unwilling to risk the only sometimes waterproof feature of my supposedly underwater camera to capture them.  Maybe Jodi of Country Dancer wants to post or share the videos or images she took with her camera when we snorkeled together that day….

We found this nudibranch (a sea slug),
beached at Sand Dollar  Beach. My sandal
offered a safe tool to nudge it gently back
into the water.
Aptly, when we hiked by Sand Dollar Beach, another couple found a perfect sand dollar there.  We didn’t, but given the distance still to go to return to our dinghy, coupled with their fragility, it was just as well.

Happy rescued nudibranch swimming away. 
Location Location
April 2014, BAHAMAS.  Recent retrospective of our time in March at Stocking Island near Georgetown (N23.31.877 W75.46.377), pre-posted from the Ragged Islands (N22.14.5 W75.45.3), posting when we first begin our slow alternative return trip to the States via Long Island, Rum Cay, Conception, Cat Island, Little San Salvador, Eleuthra and the Abacos.  By the time this posts, we'll most likely be in Rum Cay.
hiking, cruising life, cruising activities, cruising destinations
From sea slugs to land snails... wildlife slow enough
to photograph with ease.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Happy Trails Stocking Island “Georgetown”

hiking cruiser destinations cruising life cruising activities
One of the few areas the Stocking Island trails were too rough;
we turned back.  What a ruggedly beautiful view though!
Georgetown is a great stop for provisioning, doing laundry, catching up on internet, cruiser get-togethers, meeting guests, and resource sharing with loads of safe places in the area to anchor.   Three hundred plus boats anchoring in Georgetown’s Elizabeth Harbour is not unusual.  Still, our Bahamas Lonely Planet Bahamas guide dismissively notes, “Georgetown is charming, though there’s not much to keep you from moving on quickly [to other more interesting places in the Exuma chain of islands].”

hiking cruiser destinations cruising life cruising activities
Palm fronds form nifty natural
arch, artfully framing this
Stocking Isle trail
We’re not that keen on long stays in heavily populated anchorages, yet there are far worse places to be “stuck,” and we were.

First it was waiting for guests, Wayne’s Dad Phil and his wife Gunnel.  Then we were too concerned to push quickly on when our diesel engine made a disconcerting new noise (which did not repeat itself, and anchorage neighbor and longtime Pearson 365 owner Ross of Sundance assured us given the circumstances it was not likely to, and we were a.o.k.  --  so far, so good.).   Weather report squall warnings gave us too short a time period to head elsewhere quickly and confidently enough to hole up for the predicted blow and make it back in time for Phil and Gunnel to catch their flight back. 

hiking cruiser destinations cruising life cruising activities

Gunnel sets up for one of many photos
at Stocking Island’s Monument viewpoint.
Thus, we remained anchored mostly off Stocking Island, across the harbor from Georgetown’s Great Exuma Island for a few weeks.

If you like laid back hiking, the Georgetown area’s worth a stop for that alone.

hiking cruiser destinations cruising life cruising activities

View down the backside of Monument Trail,
where crushed white limestone, lush
green foliage and Exuma Sound’s waters
shimmer in a vivid palette of blues.
Stocking Island’s chock full of trails, both on the placid Elizabeth Harbour side, and traversing over to the more rugged Atlantic Ocean’s Exuma Sound.  For a relatively tiny place, there’s a decent variety of interesting terrain, and despite all those boats anchored in the harbor, it’s not unusual to be alone on a vast stretch of beach.  Most of the trails are well marked (discarded shoes -- usually flip-flops or crocs -- are favorite cruiser trail markers), and well maintained.

hiking cruiser destinations cruising life cruising activities

If there was any doubt we were following
a shoreline trail…
We hiked for hours every couple of days.  Only on the Northern tip on the Exuma Sound side of Stocking Island did the trails become too much of a bushwhack.  That time, we just doubled back and before long caught a good cross island trail to our favorite out-of-the-way spot on Stocking Island, quirky FlipFlop Beach.

hiking cruiser destinations cruising life cruising activities
This is one big trail marker!  Wayne,
all 5’10” of him provide scale….
We’re not sure who created or maintains Stocking Island’s trails.  Cruisers?  Locals?  Cooperative efforts?  Grant-based NGOs like Bahamas Trust?  If anyone knows, please chime in!

hiking cruiser destinations cruising life cruising activities
Wayne scaling a steeper section
of Stocking Island’s Monument
trail. Strategically placed rope
 made it an easy up and down.
hiking cruiser destinations cruising life cruising activities
Wayne’s expression says it all.  There are bugs
in paradise and on that calm day, we needed the
insect repellant, badly for noseeums and mosquitos.
Sunscreen, drinking water and insect repellent
are the holy trinity in my daypack.
Whoever you are – thank you, thank you, thank you! 

Alas, even in the sandy sun-filled garden of modern-day Eden, there are a few ants -- well, mosquitos and noseeums -- to spoil paradise.  They remind us when it's too windless to hike, or approaching suppertime -- theirs precedes ours as they arrive around between 4 and 5 pm.

Outside these tiny winged vampires, there are sand burrs.  These herbaceous pests deploy wickedly barbed velcro-like seed pods.  They rely on their freewheeling nature for excellent dispersal and appear their strategy is proving quite successful throughout the islands.

hiking cruiser destinations cruising life cruising activities
This is the sand burr plant and its
evil but exceedingly effective seed.
The beauty of these islands makes these potential inconveniences well worth the hikes.

hiking cruiser destinations cruising life cruising activities
This is what happens to croc wearers
hapless enough for cross paths with
sand burrs.  Yes, you can feel them
through the shoe and they really hurt!
Location Location
April 2014 BAHAMAS.  Retrospective --Stocking Island (N23.31.126 W75.45.544) is part of Elizabeth Harbour, which encompasses Georgetown.  All are part of the Bahamas Exuma chain of islands, a popular cruising destination.  We anchored in the Stocking Island area at various times through February and March 2014 to provision, explore, meet guests and find shelter from various storm fronts.  We're in  in Long Island's Clarencetown Harbor at this post's writing, crossing our fingers the Southwesterly forecast  holds long enough for a good passage to Rum Cay.  It's about 32 nm, and the 2nd leg of our deliberately slow journey back to the States.

hiking cruiser destinations cruising life cruising activities
Usually, there is no warning sign
for sand burrs.  We usually find
sand burrs the hard way, so
we appreciated the heads up.

hiking cruiser destinations cruising life cruising activities
Not hard to guess how this trail it got its
name, Shoe Tree Trail.  Shoes, often found
washed ashore Bahama beaches, are
commonly used to mark trails in
cruiser-populated areas.
hiking cruiser destinations cruising life cruising activities
Rainbow over the onshore reefs on Stocking Island’s
Exuma Sound side.
hiking cruiser destinations cruising life cruising activities
Even without the rainbow, the island colors were luminous.