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Old 11-04-2009, 07:57   #1
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Cambridge Cay 4-5 to 4-8 2009

Cambridge Cay 4-5 to 4-8 2009

As we left you, we’d had a lovely dinghy ride home in the gathering darkness from our excursion to meet many of the other cruisers in our mooring field/anchorage.
The next day, a trip was organized to Compass Cay, home of the famous pet nurse sharks with which visitors were encouraged to swim, if they liked, and to bring wet garbage, that being their, the crabs and the conchs’ food. The various trash bins there all had admonitions to not have any foodstuffs whatsoever, as the marine creatures wanted it! So, unlike everywhere else in this protected area, bringing food garbage was encouraged on this trip!

Also, being part of an expedition from the park moorings, and arranged by the host boat, the normal $8 per person (!!) landing fee at the marina dinghy dock was waived, but I’m not sure it wasn’t recovered in the $12.50 hamburgers! (The hamburgers were very nice, but not "special" in any way…) The beers and sodas were more normally (Bahamian) priced, but we’ve experienced anywhere from $4 to $14 (these with ample french fries and a salad, though, at Normans Cay’s MacDuff’s) burgers in our time in the Bahamas. Perhaps it’s just the nature of things which all have to be brought in at great expense…

On the way down, pretty far away from the boat, so we took advantage of that to do it at the same time, we stopped in to inspect the caves at Rocky Dundas. Like many other spots in the park, these had buoys outside of the caves, so we tied the dinghy off and got in the water. Once inside it was shallow enough to stand, and there were large openings in both of them that allowed the overhead sunlight to brilliantly illuminate the amazing view. Like underground caves in landside attractions, these had stalactites and stalagmites, along with some columns of joined c-and-g (remember your earth science? C for Ceiling, G for ground) limestone pillars, in a glorious array of colors. However, most of these were set in great holes in the walls of the caves, a different sight than I’d seen before. A great stopping point, having had the experience with the aquarium, Lydia’s mom was now encouraged to get in the water with fins, mask and snorkel. She was enchanted, despite the real workout she got against the current to get to the second cave. Coming back, of course, was a great deal easier :{)) At 83, she’s now very enthusiastically looking forward to the next snorkeling excursion!

Once at Compass Cay Marina, we found that the sharks, docile in any event, weren’t really "tame" but they didn’t’ mind the occasional stroke as they swam by. Despite the admonitions not to feed them while I was in the water, it was entirely ok to be in the water while someone else fed the sharks and other fish congregating there under the docks (??). The bonefish were thick around me, and I was quite comfortable standing right next to the sharks that Lydia fed our pizza "bones" (the crusts from our dinner in Sampson Cay Club) from the dock. Their mouths looked about like manta rays’ mouths, and they ate similarly.

Having observed nurse sharks investigating, pulling in and then rejecting lobster/crawfish leavings at the dock in Black Point confirmed my expectations of their feeding nature. I was reassured of my already gained (from my benefactor in the Keys, a marine biologist who specialized in sharks, who gave us the Suburban to pass on when we were finished with it) knowledge of their docile and non-predatory (at least not to anything my size) nature. Signs said we were not to pull their tails, but they seemed quite happy to be scritched between the eyes, and stroked along their bodies as they swam by. I took one of the pizza bones, this one with a long surface area attached, too, left by Lydia’s mom as she scraped off the toppings, the meal being more than she could eat, and fed one of the nurse sharks, until being chastised by Lydia for disobeying the "rules." Still, an enchanting experience…

The trip back was also interesting, as we took the outside route and explored some of the attractions along the way. Beaches here are generally isolated, deserted, pristine and stunning, and we’d been encouraged to look at the one on the far side. True to the hype, we found the beach, about a mile of curving shoreline, breathtaking. Much looking for "hamburger beans" – interesting beans which have a flat, round shape, with a white stripe around the edge, suitable for polishing and making into jewelry proved fruitless. However, the area was unspoiled, making for a great walk. The beach had a shed-roofed platform well up the dune, about in the middle, with several plastic patio chairs, into one of which I plopped myself and enjoyed the entirely empty sea and shore view while Lydia and her mom walked along, heads down, searching. We resolved to do more snorkeling and exploring the next day, and piled into bed happy and tired from our adventures.

The next day dawned brilliantly, but Lydia’s mom was well worn out from all the work swimming against the current in the caves trip so she decided to stay aboard and read. Lydia and I headed down Cambridge Cay to Honeymoon Beach, to look at the coral gardens there on the south end of the island. The wind had come up notably, a precursor to the blow forecast for later in the week, and at low tide the gardens were awash with waves. It was shallow enough that we beached the dinghy, considering the gardens unsafe to snorkel, and wandered around a bit looking at the coral, but there were no fish to be found.

Instead, we again did beachcombing, looking for shells and, especially the elusive hamburger beans. Unfortunately, they’re (still!) very elusive, and are reportedly washed up on the beach after either a trip from South America or Africa. I don’t know that either is right, but for sure they aren’t common, and require uprooting all the seaweed which collects along the top of the high water line to find any at all. To find one, let alone several, in an excursion is a treat. In all our time in the Bahamas, Lydia’s found exactly one…

However, on the second beach over, one which required some climbing to get past the rock dividing them, we found many shells of great beauty, just itching to be made into some sort of jewelry. Lydia proudly carried them home, more on which anon…

We left Honeymoon Beach and pounded our way through the building waves, fighting the outgoing tide-induced current, and stopped off at another popular snorkeling site, a couple of tiny rock islands near our boat. The current through that area was too much to see all of it, but in the lee side, it was enough to encourage us to come back another time.

We found beautiful coral, a miniature wall dive, and a few fish. The coral included some we’d not seen, very interesting, and all of it very colorful. Unfortunately, the majority of the fish were on the other side with the strong current, so we didn’t get much wildlife exposure on this trip. However, it was right in an area which is scoured by the current, and it was very interesting to me to see a huge valley, falling and then rising sharply on the other side, all made of sand, just off those rocks.

The sandy parts were largely unoccupied by interesting stuff, but it was curious to me to see what I’d otherwise expect, say, in the mountains of West Virginia, but populated with sand instead of, as suggested by the terrain, a rapidly moving and falling creek, trees and leaves! Of course, all this may be routine for the Bahamas, but having spent the first 60 or so of my years on the hard, exploring landside attractions, it proved entertaining to me :{))

Immediately on our return to the boat, Lydia plopped all the shells into a bowl and poured vinegar on them, thinking to clean them so there would be no smell. The immediate fizzing was a clue that doing so wasn’t a really good idea, but she thought it might be just cleaning action. Instead, just like you’d use vinegar to remove the inevitable scale that forms in marine sanitation plumbing, the vinegar was dissolving the shells. The result was that the gorgeous cowrie lost its color and luster, as did the many bivalve, multi-hued yellow shells ranging from less than an inch to over 4 inches in length. An entire afternoon’s harvest ruined in about 10 minutes…

Tuesday’s chat with Chris Parker revealed that the blow we were expecting for Wednesday and Thursday was apparently coming a bit earlier than previously forecast, and, sure enough, the wind built early in the day. We’d wanted to revisit the aquarium, catching the plane wreck nearby to it, and also revisit the couple of islands south of us, but the weather and sea state were entirely unsuitable for that.

Lydia’d wanted to return to Honeymoon Beach to see if she could find more of the yellow bivalves, but the sea state continued to deteriorate as the wind built. Instead, she headed off in the dinghy into 2-3’ seas to the beach next to the mooring field, where there was a path leading to the ocean side, usually the place to find the hamburger beans. Unfortunately, the area was so rocky and sharp, and very deep, resulting in a short beach (faster fall of the shoreline) that shells were pulverized rather than just laying in the sand. Likewise there was little in the way of the sea grass to overturn for hamburger beans, so it was a relatively unproductive trip, other than the, as usual, stunning views of the crashing seas.

If the weather cooperates, forecast for diminishing winds on Wednesday, she may run down to Honeymoon again early in the morning, as we expect to hoist anchor at low, slack tide, to move up to Warderick Wells.

Unfortunately, or otherwise (things always seem to work out!), the wind’s in the wrong quarter on Wednesday morning. However, a sistership from Annapolis is in the neighborhood, and instead of our meeting them in Warderick, they’re coming here. Lydia’s making bread, while I get on the water pump hose resolution, which I believe I have in hand…

Well, another example of both "Cruising is…" and "what goes around comes around" resulted from my excursion into the engine room. Despite having just been rebuilt, the problem isn’t the hose at all. Instead, the water pump is just RUNNING water from the hole intended to tell you when your internal seal is gone. Raggasnaggagiggafratz! However, our sistership has a spare aboard they’re willing to sell, and they’ll be here shortly. As it was the only item off the engine I turned him onto, and which he bought, from another, who had taken it out during an engine swap, that I’d wanted, it all fits. So, while it’s taken quite a while, I’ll wind up with the part, anyway :{)) I’ll install it after we finish our meet-and-greet, and perhaps an immediate departure to the snorkeling grounds…

As this is getting long, as usual, we’ll leave you here, until next time.

Stay tuned!


Skip and crew

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Old 11-04-2009, 11:43   #2
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Skip seems to be posting duplicates - probably unintentionally
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Old 11-04-2009, 11:47   #3
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Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
Skip seems to be posting duplicates - probably unintentionally
That's curious - my view of the General Sailing Forum has only one of each title. Are there some which have the same text, but different titles?

(I'm on a limited bandwidth server, so can't easily open each one to check - if that's the case, I'm upset with myself, because I thought I'd made extra effort to avoid doing that...)


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