Monday, August 14, 2017

Living the vacation life

July 18, 2017
Green Turtle Cay

No exercise; attached to land not water; a/c; comfort; restaurants. Fun. But different.

We pulled into Green Turtle Cay and tied up at Bluff House Marina. Our water tanks were empty, the fridge was near empty, and the lockers only had flour, pasta, and a couple cans of beans. After over a week in the out islands, it was time to re-enter civilization, at least for a day or two.

A day or two turned into three as we enjoyed the comforts of being at the marina. A/c, TV for the kids (=babysitter for the parents), restaurants, golf cart rental, water, water water (at .30 cents/gallon). Marina life in the Bahamas is easy living, at a price of course.

north end of Green Turtle

"Almost as fun as the fair!"

The golf cart rides were so much fun - and so different from our previous cruising life. We toured the whole island via golf cart which was fast, fun, and easy, as opposed to 10 years ago when we dinghies, hitchhiked, or relied on other cruisers' rental cars and generosity. We went to town and to the north end - the girls screaming and giggling the whole way. We stopped at the dump to show the girls what happens to trash, why we recycle, and we we try not to consume so much.

We ate out, a lot. Almost every meal. When we left Manjack we were down to huevos rancheros and jam sandwiches. We were ready for some variety! The restaurants at Green Turtle were very good, especially considering the limited food options and lack of foodie culture. We always opted for "fresh catch" and it was never overcooked. Conch fritters never disappoint, but also never live up to the ones we made at Walker's Cay.
Princess spotting in the settlement.
fresh conch salad

We restocked our lockers from the few small grocery stores in town; we found souvenirs at a little gift shop; we had a Goombay Smash at Miss Bee's - reputed to be the home of the original Goombay Smash. We played tourist and, after two weeks of living the barebones cruising lifestyle, it was fun.

attracting the nurse sharks at the marina.

After three days, I was ready to leave. Living the marina life, we found ourselves connected to land instead of water. When we wanted to go somewhere we hopped in the golf cart instead of the dinghy. If we were hot we swam in the pool or sat in the a/c instead of jumping off the side of the boat into the clear Bahamian waters. Life on the hook is filled with exercise - swimming, hiking, paddling, sweating. Very different from the easy marina life.

Day 1 of a GI bug that plagued me for the entire trip.
I fell asleep and Matilda took care of me while I was sleeping. Sweet girl.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Boating friends

July 18, 2017
Manjack Cay

happily reunited after many months
 We arrived at Manjack Cay around lunchtime to meet up with "Peter Rabbit" on s/v Grace. We'd been dock neighbors in Jacksonville and he and the girls are great friends. We like him too. But the girls...they're in love. [Long story: every morning we had to leave for school five minutes early so we could stop by Peter Rabbit's boat. Matilda would race down the dock and yell, "Oh Peter Rabbit, hey Peter Rabbit." He'd come out, play tickle ninja with Freja and listen to Matilda while she yelled at him for everything he'd done wrong. Then he'd walk us up to the van or bike trailer, chasing the girls the whole way to get them moving faster. Every kid needs an adult friend who isn't afraid to play like a kid; and every parent needs an adult friend that will play with their kids. It's awesome.] Short story: Peter Rabbit has a "bag of fun" on his boat. That explains his relationship with the girls in a nutshell. Best item so far: sparkly gold nail polish.

So anyway, we arrive at Maniac and immediately start hanging out with Peter and his 81 year old Dad. Matilda was (surprisingly) shy, so she stayed home with me while Hans, Freja, and Peter went snorkeling. We met back at his boat for dinner - hog fish and mashed potatoes. The next day Hans and Peter went spearfishing in the morning; the girls and I pumped up our inflatable kayak (a present from other marina neighbors in Jax) and we paddled to the closest beach. It was our first try with the kayak and it was very successful. I sat in the seat and had one kid on the bow and the other on the stern. We paddled around and saw baby sea turtles. Also a big stingray and I found tons of milk conch. Back to the boat for lunch and a siesta.

Life at anchor. The girls created a fort out of sun blocking material,
while Hans looks at the chart to find a good fishing spot.
happy kids, Freja making a bracelet and Matilda writing a book.

Hans went fishing and came back a mere 20 minutes later with a dinghy that was taking on water through a crack in the floor. He took it ashore for an epoxy workshop. Peter came by around 4 to take us for a hike to the beach to look for "magic fairy wands." This is the kind of thing he does. This is why our kids love him so much.

It was a long hike for short legs and buggy, but the girls were real troopers. Freja stayed with Peter and Matilda stuck with me and pretended to be Catboy, one of her favorite characters. He has speed. It worked. She is usually a distracted, dawdling walker, but not with Catboy speed. (Thank goodness.) The bugs were intense, but I loved the twisty trail that wound through a private homestead, a gravel road, some mangroves, and finally the beach.

Manjack has a few private homes, notably the house and land closest to the anchorage owned by a couple that has created a self-sufficient homestead. Hydroponics, fruit trees, chickens, and a gorgeous house with  wrap around porch overlooking the harbor. The owners cut the trail to the beach. The beach. Three miles of wild, undeveloped, windswept beach backed by casuarina pines, sand dunes, and a few palm trees here and there. Crystal clear water and white sand.

We (expectedly) ran out of fresh water on the boat that evening so we knew we had to leave the next day for Green Turtle Cay, only a few miles away.