Monday, March 18, 2013

When Pigs Fly ….uh…Swim?

When we looked at the charts for our next stop – we recognized Staniel Cay as the island where the feral pigs live on the beach and actually swim! I think we’d seen a television show about it. “I want to go there!” I said to Cap, and he agreed.

According to the Explorer Chart Book – Big Major Spot (right next to Staniel Cay)–is actually where the pigs are. We had made friends with Jennifer and Graton from S/V Moon River at Warderick Wells and they had suggested Big Major as an anchorage, as it was an easy in –easy out spot to approach. We found that to be so and it was also the place where we found two other Krogens – Cocoon Two (a 48 whaleback) and Fat Chance (a 36 Manatee). We were excited to see other people cruising in our type of boat, because by and large there are mostly sailing vessels at these anchorages. I had remarked to Richard – I was wondering where all the other Kadey Krogens or Nordhavns were?-and then – finally –we did start to see some. For all you Krogen owners out there – I just wanted to say – “Come on down –the cruising is great!” These boats just slip through the water! When we first started cruising with our Krogen, I remarked to Cap that you could hardly see any wake behind the boat like with our old Grand Banks 50. Even though we loved our Grand Banks – these Krogens are a really made for the type of long range cruising we hope to do.  

The Feral Pigs!
These pigs can really swim fast!
So we anchored in a comfortable sandy spot and immediately went to our aft deck to watch the pigs swimming. It was amazing! When we lowered our dinghy and actually took a trip over to the beach – there was another dinghy with people throwing out oranges and lettuce to feed the pigs, and all the pigs swam out lickety-split to get the food! I was taking photos and then the dinghy left when they ran out of food to give the pigs- and as fast as flying- they swam over to our dinghy looking for more. We hadn’t brought any food with us –but that didn’t stop them from trying. They got so close to our dinghy – I thought they were going to jump in! It was fun.

We set off after that to explore Staniel Cay and took the dinghy around the headland and into the harbor there. There are many areas and coves to see and the most famous of them all is the Thunderball Grotto – where they filmed a James Bond movie and also Splash. You swim in and it’s a huge high cave inside with that crystal blue water!

So many nurse sharks!
Next we headed for Staniel Cay Yacht Club and tied our dinghy to a cement block on the dinghy “beach”. There was lots of activity there! There were many mega yachts and lots of tourists and cruisers alike. They were all hanging around outside drinking rum drinks and looking at the nurse sharks and Sting Rays in the low water there. There were so many - all over the area and often we could see a nurse shark swimming under our boat at our anchorage!

Staniel Cay Yacht Club
The road to "Pinks" Grocery
Again, the locals are all polite and friendly. In the Bahamas, it is the custom to say: “Good Morning (or Good Afternoon), How are you?” That seems to be the custom in all these small islands and people will stop and talk a while and tell you! Richard asked one local where would be a good place to get some shrimp and he gave us the name of a nearby restaurant that was “half the price of the yacht club” and very good food. We stored that knowledge and headed into the yacht club for a Kalik and some conversation. They had Wi-Fi there for $10 for 1 MB – which lasted us about an hour! I have no idea of megabyte usage – so I was shocked – but I’m learning. You see – you want to drop out – but it is so hard to give up internet. With my iPhone in the states, I could look up anything at the drop of a hat – weather – news – gossip- Facebook- e-mail (is there any other mail anymore?) etc, etc.  That is one habit that has been hard to break – so we are constantly searching for ways to connect. All our banking and bill paying is on the internet – we are virtually paperless. But that can be difficult when you can’t connect! I was getting worried that we hadn’t gotten our mail forwarded yet and we’d been away almost a month! But without internet we couldn’t even ask for it to be forwarded! Oh well – another thing that can wait – let’s just drink our beer and listen to the music. And we did. After that we decided to explore the island on foot and walked down the street to look for the restaurant, the Batelco Phone Company, the grocery store and whatever else we came upon. They use mostly golf carts on the island – except for the locals – they have cars and trucks. Tourists walk or rent a golf cart. As we were walking a guy went past in the golf cart and Richard asked him where the grocery store was. He said he was not a local – but crewed on one of the mega yachts. He offered to ride us to “Pinks” which was open (Blue’s was closed) and off we went for about 500 yards – and we were there. Good thing he took us – because to me – it just looked like a pink house! She actually had a lot of food inside and we got more eggs, vegetables and fruit. They had beer by the case (Kalik – our new favorite) and it was $96! – guess we won’t get that…..

Since all the food we got could go for a while, we continued our walk and went down a few streets – checking out the BTE phone store and the local color. The houses are all painted bright colors and are so pretty.  We passed chickens and roosters, and wild cotton growing as well as all the exotic plants and trees and small flowers. Many are the same as in Florida – some different. I loved this little town and all its quaint buildings.  

A Peaceful Place to Sit
Cap taking a dinghy tour
When we dinghied back to Partners, we showered and changed and got back in the dinghy to return to Staniel Cay to the “Taste & Sea” Restaurant that was recommended to us earlier. It was in a purple house on the waterfront and we ate on the porch with a view of the setting sun glistening on that turquoise water. We ordered the fresh fish and had a Kalik and talked of all our experiences while we waited for our dinner. Although it was Friday, the place was not crowded, and it seemed as if many of the customers were locals – or very familiar with the place. They had a sign posted that said “the food was good, but the wait is long – don’t worry – be happy. “ And we were very happy. When the dinner finally did arrive, it was delicious! Fresh and light and tender and came with a salad! It was a great evening and after my beer I was relaxed – until I realized we had to dinghy back to the boat – IN THE DARK!!  We haven’t gotten our LED navigation lights on it yet (another project!), so I brought a flashlight with me for safety. But it was pitch black outside and you couldn’t see anything! I didn’t even remember how we’d gotten there – what direction? Did we make turns? Were there shallow spots? Humma- Humma- Humma!!! Of course Cap told me to stop fretting – he knew exactly where we were going – right between those two sailboats – that’s where we came in. Then past till you start to see the big Mega Yacht with all her lights on – then around the corner to the anchorage – which should have a million anchor lights on (some of the cruises called the anchorage we were staying in “The City” – there were so many yachts there!) And slowly and steadily he got us home – safely.  No biggie for Captain MacGyver!

Saturday morning we had a visitor come up by dinghy to our stern. It was the other Krogen owner in the anchorage– Tom from “Cocoon Two”. He was so nice and friendly and we talked for a while. Then we invited him and his wife, Phyllis to the boat at 5:15pm for cocktail hour. We had already invited S/V Moon River and since both couples were Canadian – we thought it could be fun – and it was! Phyllis was lovely and brought a fabulous pesto cheese spread she’d made herself – with herbs she grows on her boat! (This is sort of a sore point with me, because Cap pooh-poohed my growing herbs on Partners. He was afraid the pots would have to be screwed into the deck.) But Tom said they just keep them in their dinghy when they are cruising and it works.  Hmmmm…… Jennifer brought Salsa and veggie sticks (like chips)and I defrosted one precious pack of my Scottish smoked salmon and made little crudités of brown bread and salmon with a caper on top. Everyone brought their own drinks and it was a great evening and they all left just before nine.

Next morning we wanted to go to the phone “store”, so we dinghied into the SCYC and Richard had a full breakfast and I had some coffee and we did some computer work. Then we took the short walk up the hill to the Batelco office and inquired about a local phone service. The office was a fairly sound structure – made out of cinderblock and painted blue with yellow trim. A huge cell tower was next to it – so it was hard to miss! Inside was pretty official looking and there was a window like at a Swiss Bank with glass and a drawer. Daisy – the phone saleswoman was behind the window and we asked her about phone service. Daisy said they didn’t have a chip for an iPhone 4S (it’s smaller) and so we ended up buying the cheapest phone they had – a Samsung flip phone for $84 ($19 in the US)! Then we got a Data plan and phone plan card for $30 and Daisy gave us a brief explanation of how we call such-and –such a number to start the phone working. Next we checked Isles General Store to see about mailing a postcard to the USA and UK and did that and checked the place out – but I had already bought stuff a “Pinks” so we moved on and returned to the boat with our cache.

So….We were in a rush to get a phone – but then we ignored it for a day. As we cast off for the next stop - Galliot Cay – a very small island, just at the cut-through to Exuma Sound (for one night) and on to Georgetown,  I picked  up the phone and started to try and use it – filling in the time and date, etc  and then I started to have trouble working the email or internet. I thought maybe I’d put in the wrong information…I got frustrated… I tried again and again… Nothing….Richard was no help – although he is great at such things. He seemed to adopt the attitude that it was “my” phone and he could care less if we were “connected” or not. Really? Well…finally – after I started saying a few dozen cuss words – he chipped in his help and ---nothing. He couldn’t get it going either! So after some time we just quit and put it down and decided when we got to Georgetown we would go to the BTE store there and have them fix it…..

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