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Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Shrew In The Grotto

Ayrton and I returned to Thunder Ball to take some more photos a couple days after our first adventure.  When we arrived we anchored the dinghy next to the side entrance because we expected the current to turn on before we left.  The only other dinghy there was boarding to leave as we entered the water.  As we entered there was a very slight outgoing current.  The amount of water flowing through Thunderball Bay during a current swing is amazing.  Baots that actually use the moorings at thunderball see a river flow beneath them.

Nearing the end of our dive we moved over to the side entrance to photo the fish that hand out in the eddies created by the cave walls and fallen rock.  As we snorkeled over to the eddies we passed the incoming group from Staniel Cay.  (Staniel Cay Divers or someone runs a daily grotto and pig trip)  I paused to allow the last of their group enter the cathedral domed grotto.  His eyes were as large as his mask and you could tell the fear of swift water (the tide had turned on) and entering a dark hole by swimming under the surface of the water were places he did not want to go.  He remained on the outside.  We continued on the the eddies.

This is where I became aware of the shrew.  We were minding our own business feeding the fish with a packet of tuna to keep them even closer.  I could hear a continuous babeling of the “Charlie Brown Teacher Sound”.   “Waa  Whaa wa wa?  Blaa Bla bla.”  I raised my head out of the water to find someones grandmother rambling on and on.  I could see the deck and from here tourist boat standing on the rock behind me so I tuned her out and continued to let the GoPro do it's thing.

After about 5 minutes or a little longer I could still hear the “Charlie Brown Teacher Sound”.  I was thinking how the hell does anyone put up with this. By now my curiosity was up and I surfaced long enough to find out what was going on.  Seems she hated me and I was invading her space.  Perhaps all those “Waa Wha, Blaa blas” filled with expletives and swears were directed at me.  Either way, as I stared at her through the mask not caring to ruin my day by engaging in the issue,  she made it very clear that she was talking to me.  Out came the index finger aimed directly at me and more undecerable words as I still didn't care about as a picture of the Nassau Groper was more important than her.

Then I could hear her clear as a bell for the first time.  “What the F#@% is wrong with you?”  “Do you not speak F#@% English?”  Really?  A bigoted hateful old white lady in the cruising community?  Did she really think that with all my freckles and Irish skin tones not speak English?  This was just too much I couldn't resist a simple “What's your problem lady?” as I returned to the fish.

Once we were done we swam over to the dinghy as the terrified teenager (the one that wouldn't go into Thunderball) drifted by toward Exuma Sound.  Once aboard we were about to retrieve him before he had a seizure or panic attack but the group boat was now making headway toward the young snorkeler. As they passed the shrew gave us the double middle finger salute.  I gave a cute little parade wave and blew them a kiss.  Their lost teen was picked up just past the first moored boat we our of site of the entry to Thunderball.  Hope their trip doesn't scar him  life.

Later Ayrton who had taken a seat  out of harms way to watch the show she was putting on filled me in on the details I had missed.  First it was HER spot and we needed to leave.  She and her grand children, teens like Ayrton, couldn't handle the fast current and she expected everyone else to vacate the Grotto for her.  She did use an ample amount of expletives and single middle finger salutes.  She ran out of bread to feed the fish and the crew told her to board the boat.  She yelled at the captain and crew on the boat because she didn't get enough time.

To highlight the day we watched To Kill A Mocking Bird.

Still at Staniel

The days are starting to run together but sometime during our first week here...

Day 4 or there about:  We took the dinghies south stopping at the first of two sunken airplanes here at Staniel Cay.  We continued on after a quick dip to the islands south that we felt were too far last time without a motor on the dinghy.  We only managed one Nassau Grouper and NO conchs.  I used the hand held depth sounder to check the depth of a trench between the islands and we are now able to go  below 25 feet.

Day 5 or was it 6 at Staniel Cay:  The strong easterly winds broke for the day and we chose to capitalize on the situation.  We took a dinghy ride around the island to snorkel on the coral heads on the windward side.  Too bad the GoPro has had charging issues lately and was DOA at the first dive site.  Today we saw a 6-7 foot nurse shark on the first place we all got into the water.  Not far from it there was a good sized turtle napping on the bottom.

Later as we hopped from coral head to coral head we managed to shoot 5 fish with the pole spears.  Two speckled hinds and 3 small groupers filled the stringer.  To our amazement we didn't see a single lobster even see a tiny langastino sized one.  We also saw NO conchs!

We finally had the crew from s/v Liberty over for dinner.  We have used enough supplies over the last four months that there is finally enough room for guests.  Blackened Grouper Alfredo Ayrton's favorite was on the menu.

Day 7 will get it's own post following this one.

Day 8 was Fryday! (Thursday)  We were on our way to the SCYC for an order of fries and soda, actually we were sitting inside when Ben decided it was better to buy a bag of fries after our 3 hours here last time.  So off we went to Isles and found them closed for lunch.  Off to the blue store and a small bag of fries.  Off to the pink store for cheese.  But the pink store didn't have cheese but did have a big bag of fries for only $7.  Back to the Blue store to trade the small bag of fries for cheese.  Back to the Pink store to buy the big bag of fries.  What would a day cruising be without making such a simple thing as an order of fries and a soda an adventure.  After we had the key ingredients we went back for jalapenos from Gemini Dreams.  Once on board Liberty we had fries, chili fries, desert fries eating the whole 4 or 5 pound bag except a hand full!

Day 9, yes day 9, we know because we arrived the day before the supply boat and today was a day after the supply boat day number two.  We are still getting pounded by the wintertime winds of 15-20 PLUS.  Two years ago we were already into the summertime 10-15 zone when we arrived here.  We were a little cabin crazy today and needed to go snorkeling somewhere.  The most logical place was just behind the boat and the small rock islands near the airplane.  But that was not for us.  We chose to go to the islands east of Staniel.  All was good taking Boo Boo Tin Tin down wind to the islands.  The first two spots really didn't live up to expectations but as we ventured farther out where most cruisers don't go we started to see more life on the coral heads.  This was now the time a very weak squall line passed over dropping a few rain drops, changing the wind 60 degrees to the minus and increasing the wind speed to over 20 knots.

We could turn around and run for it making our way to Gemini Dreams or we could go on to the next rocky island and anchor behind it and continue to snorkel.  We went with plan B giving Ayrton a shot at a lobster.  We now had half of dinner.  He was hyped and wanted to call Liberty on the radio and “rub it in”.  We were on the last island before Harvey Cay and Ayrton with his lobster had retired to the dinghy and was now rowing as I drifted down the side of the island.  It was along the side of this island that I saw the largest Nassau Grouper of our adventures.  I was not able to get a shot at him but surfaced and told Ayrton as I handed him the only conch I had found in days.  It didn't take long for him to dive in and try to find the grouper.  I saw the grouper one more time but still had no shot before he disappeared into the depths of the fallen rocks.  I settled for a Yellow Snapper.  We now had conch and lobster for an appetizer and fish for dinner.

Day 10 is the annual benefit at the Staniel Cay Yacht Club raising funds for the Annual Native Sloop Regatta on New Years Eve.

Thunderball and Staniel Cay 3-20/25-2014

We motor sailed the mile from Big Majors to our anchorage here in Staniel Cay.  This is due to finding out when we used more than just above idle speed we were still slipping the prop.  Oh well looks like we need to find a washer to tighten things up.

We also had a failure of the depth sounder again this morning.  It quit working on the way to the keys due to a little growth on the bottom in the perfect spot to give it an air pocket.  The a few days back it quit working on the way to Hawksbill but unplugging the sender and replugging it made all good.  Today that quick fix didn't work.  Digging under the two bikes, flopper stoppers, spare lines, and a kayak the sounder looked alright.  It was when I touched the sender that the problem became obvious.  The epoxy had failed.  Pressing the unit against the hull would not register any reading so I pulled enough slack in the line and tossed it out the front hatch and into the water.  Voila! We had a reading.  Now to epoxy it once again.

With the trouble shooting for two jobs done (we hope) we took the rest of the day off.  Heading out to the Purple restaurant we found them closed between lunch and dinner (closed from 1-6!).  Remembering they were cheaper than the Staniel Cay Yacht Club (SCYC) we reluctently walked back to SCYC after giving Ben and Darren the quick tour of the Blue Store (Burkes), Pink Store (Pink Pearl), and the New Store (Isles).  Tomorrow is boat day so we waited to make any purchases other than ice cream and soda.

We made it back to SCYC a little after 2 pm and secured a menu.  Twelve dollars for a hamburger and fries and eight dollars for wings wasn't as bad as we remembered.  If we skipped the cheese and sodas we could keep it to $20 plus a tip.  They also had a pool table (In serious need of repair) so that Ayrton and I could kill some time.  Little did we know how much time!  Island time at SCYC must be the definition of Island Time. We finally got our checks around 5:30!

Day two was a trip to Thunderball!  We took a little cat food this time to bait the fish in for better photos.  We went at high tide which didn't bother us because diving under the entry is not as intimidating once you have been here.  Besides there is a secret side entry you can use at high tide.  The problem was we missed the guess of high tide by enough that within minutes the gently flowing tide became a ripping river.  This made for some interesting “artistic photos” but very few good ones.

Day three was catching up on Boatschool, spending the day on the internet catching up the blog.