Friday, June 22, 2012

A Bahamas Adventure

The Texas group met up in Nassau on Monday. After a Bahamian dinner at the
Sea Heaven, a walk along the beach and a good night's sleep at the Towne
Hotel, we hit the Yacht Haven Tuesday morning to meet Captain Mark,
Chef-Mate Deb and to see Stray Cat. She's a beautiful 45-foot Privilege
Catamaran, ready to be set free from the dock to do what she was designed
to do – sail!

But first things first. Cabin assignments and a safety talk. Then off. The
first night is usually spent at Rose Island to get folks accustomed to life
aboard. But with the winds and seas just right, the Captain decided to make
for Allen Cay and so we were off.

To describe the entire 6 days in detail would take a book so here are just
some of the highlights:

*Day One:*

Nassau to Allen Cay: Under sail from Nassau. Visit the Iguanas, snorkel,
and anchor out at Allen Cay with Cornish Game Hens for dinner (well worth
the money for the Chef – three gourmet meals a day plus snacks and no one
had to cook or do dishes!!).

*Day 2:*

There's nothing like getting up, eating breakfast in the cockpit and then
going snorkeling! Perfect start to the day. Haul up the anchor and it's off
to Highbourne Cay for a visit to the store to get ice and to see the nurse
sharks that hang around the marina waiting for folks to clean fish and give
them the scraps. Left Highbourne and went to Norman's Cay for the night. Fresh
Grouper for dinner (after a lunch of burgers and bratwurst).

*Day 3:*

Motored from Norman's to Warderick Wells Cay and the Exuma Land and Sea
Park. No anchoring here so a couple of us helped pick up a mooring ball.
Captain Mark took us to shore in the dinghy so we could hike BooBoo Hill –
a bit of a rocky walk so sandals not recommended as footwear for the hike.
But along the way you can see Mangroves up close and, at the top, Blow
Holes that will take off your hat if you're not careful. The view from the
top is awesome as is the structure built by visitors, many of them
cruisers, who leave their ship's name and the date of their visit. We
trekked down the hill, and then hiked across the Cay to a cute beach. After
a couple of hours ashore, we took the dinghy back to the boat for more
snorkeling and a great dinner of steak on the grill (did I mention the
food's wonderful!).

*Day 4:*

After breakfast we dropped the mooring ball to head off to Staniel Cay to
see the famous Thunderball grotto. Stopped at Sampson Cay first to get ice,
eat ice cream and see more nurse sharks. Some of our party even got in the
water with these guys. Headed to Thunderball grotto, a worthy excursion
just to see the multitude of tropical fish that live there. The group
decided to go to shore to visit the Staniel Cay Yacht Club, see more sharks
and a ray, and to pick up a couple of T-shirts. Then back to Stray Cat for
a dinner of pork loin and twice-baked potatoes.

*Day 5:*

It's pig beach on Sampson Cay this morning. And yes, they are quite large
pigs and they will swim out to your dinghy and will try to get in – and
they will eat from your hand if you're careful. Leaving Sampson Cay,
Captain Mark took us through Pipe Creek, an amazing clear stretch of water
with an unbelievable array of colors. We exited the Creek and headed to a
cove on Compass Cay for swimming, snorkeling and just wading around. After
lunch (shrimp scampi with couscous), we headed outside into Exuma Sound to
experience true "blue water". The wind was just right so we got to sail all
the way back up to Highbourne Cay. Decided to spend the night at anchor at
Highbourne, feasted on a dinner of Chicken Milano and finally had a night
when you could see the stars!

*Day 6:*

Hung around at anchor and ate breakfast waiting for the Highbourne Marina
store to open to get ice and water. The wind was right so up went the sails
and we headed back to Nassau. The trip usually takes at least 6 hours, we
made it in just under 4 and hit close to 9 knots a couple of times. Finally
caught some fish, had been trying everyday to no avail. Unfortunately these
were all small so we threw them back. Anchored at Rose Island, snorkeled
and went to the beach. Met a couple that have lived aboard for 12 years and
played with their boat dog Bailey. Another awesome dinner, this time
Cracked Conch and Key Lime Pie. Several of our party slept outside (an
almost nightly occurrence) and got to see the stars.

*Day 7:*

Sadness – today's the day we had to head to the Yacht Haven in Nassau and
our flights back to Texas.

This was one fine vacation trip. Most of us had never spent time on a
sailboat and it was delightful. Captain Mark is a gracious host, a patient
teacher (we had a lot, lot, lot of questions) and a very competent captain.
Stray Cat is comfortable and spacious with roomy cabins and lots of deck
space so we could spread out and not be in each other's way. And the food
prepared by Deb Starbuck was delicious and plentiful and I'm sure we each
gained a few pounds. It was well worth the extra cost.

We would absolutely recommend a Stray Cat Charter – with no reservations!
Do not push the "reply" button to respond to this
message if that includes the text of this original
message in your response. Messages are sent over a
very low-speed radio link.

The most concise way to reply is to send a NEW message
to: "Mark" <>
If you DO use your reply button, be sure to delete
the original message text and these instructions
from your reply.

Replies should not contain attachments and should be
less than 5 kBytes (2 text pages) in length.

This email was delivered by an HF private coast station
in the Maritime Mobile Radio Service, operated by the
SailMail Association, a non-profit association of yacht
owners. For more information on this service or on the
SailMail Association, please see the web site at: