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Our first stop after leaving Georgetown was Lee Stocking Island, about 30 miles north. It was an uneventful mostly motor sail, until we landed a mahi mahi on our handline. This was our first time fishing with the handline and we were really excited to have caught something. As Paul started pulling it in, we could see that it was a green fish and without a doubt a mahi, a highly prized and yummy fish. The boys were sleeping down below, but Ella was quite excited at the possibility of making use of the sushi supplies I had brought. As Paul got the fish closer to the boat, we were frantically trying to figure out how to gaff it out of the water, and into a large Rubbermaid container with lid (they fight less if in darkness) and to find the rum to pour in the gills to kill it. We had it right at the transom and were trying to gaff it, when it got free of the line. It was so heartbreaking to lose it and we had no more bites the rest of the trip.
Sailing in the Exuma Islands requires navigating narrow cuts between islands. The shallow banks of the Bahamas create huge volumes of tidal water that has to flow back and forth into the deep ocean through these narrow cuts. This creates strong rages (breaking seas) through the cuts when wind and tide directions are opposing. Approaching the Adderley Cut into Lee Stocking Island, we faced our first breaking waves in a cut, which was a little daunting. We really enjoyed Lee Stocking, which up until 2012 was the home of the Caribbean Marine Research Centre. The island is uninhabited and the many buildings and research areas are abandoned now. For those who watched the TV series “Lost”, it really reminded us of that. You can walk through most buildings and it literally looks like they moved out overnight, leaving behind computers, annual reports, research equipment and even some food. The kids had a blast playing in the old fish pens trying to catch crabs. The weather was really calm and the kids had lots of playmates with the crews of s/v Paisley and s/v Lost Horizon. We even met some nice cruisers that gifted our kids with their very own blow up rowing dingy. After playing with it tied up to our stern for a day, Gavin and Ella decided they wanted to try to row to a friend’s boat. After they drifted about 30 ft away Ella jumped off and abandoned ship, leaving Gavin to fend for himself. Our middle child has perseverance and he spent about 30 minutes rowing in circles trying to figure the rowing thing out. I had to eventually dingy out and drag him back in but he held his own and didn’t drift too far away.
We had planned to leave Lee Stocking and make small hops North, but due to some West wind, we headed straight to Black Point. On the way we caught a fish that we couldn’t identify, but enjoyed it anyway (turns out it was a jack). It was nice to actually sail for the day with the engine off, although we had to navigate a couple of cuts with tough conditions. Paul managed to fillet the fish on the bow as we sailed and I managed to bake some muffins. Black Point is a nice, small Bahamian settlement and we enjoyed exploring the town, the beaches, the blow hole, snorkeling and hanging out with our family boat friends. Paul helped out the Bahamian reefs by spearing a lionfish. I had not heard about this, but they are an Indo-Pacific fish not native to the Bahamas and an invasive fish that eats all the small reef fish and is wrecking havoc on the reefs here. If you spot one, you are supposed to shoot it and apparently they are very good to eat as well (although somewhat poisonous if cooked wrong). Read more about this threat here.
We are now in Staniel Cay holed up waiting for a front to come through. The weather really is the big boss when you are cruising. Tomorrow night the Staniel Cay Yacht Club is hosting a James Bond Casino Royale Party. This seems to be a huge attraction for the numerous mega yachts we are sharing the anchorage with. It has been quite interesting observing the lives of the rich and famous the last few days.