Looking for Lobster in All the ……

Al learned to spear lobsters during our first winter here in the Bahamas. HIs buddy, Dan, taught him. But Dan wasn’t here in Hope Town yet, and after 20 months of land life, Al was a little rusty. ¬†He looked in a few of the old spots, but there were no antennae peeking out from under the ledges. We heard some talk that the lobsters have been pretty scarce this year. ūüôĀ ¬†Then one night (yes, night) as we climbed into the dinghy at the ¬†docks, Al shined his flashlight into the shallow water to find the second anchor. He gave a yell – “lobsters!” There under one of the Hope Town dinghy docks were two lobsters scurrying away from under our dinghy. Al was clearly excited and dismayed at his sighting. Finally lobsters, but alas, no spear and it was pretty dark! Oh well. Such is a hunter’s life.

Then Dan and Marcia, on Cutting Class, finally arrived in Hope Town on December 17th after crossing the Gulf Stream on December 15th (good weather windows have been few and far between.) The very next day, Dan and Al were out and about looking for lobsters again.

After a bouncing dinghy ride, we are hanging in the dink, Al is ready to go looking.

After a bouncing dinghy ride, we are hanging in the dink, Al is ready to go looking.

It was ¬†December 18th, the debut of the new Star Wars movie. I couldn’t help but think of an analogy……Dan, the wise master lobster hunter, (Obi-Wan Kenobi) mentoring Al (Luke Skywalker) in the ways of the lobster hunter. Light saber….. spear. Lobster…….. ???

Dan and Al head over to search under the ledge of this tiny rocky cay.

Dan and Al head over to search under the ledge of this tiny rocky cay.

Looking under the rock shelf - watch out for your heads!

Looking under the rock shelf – watch out for your heads when you dive underneath!

Consultation time, planning the attack. (Al is standing on a submerged golf cart. Really.)

Consultation time, planning the attack. (Al is standing on a submerged golf cart. Really.)

Master lobster hunter, Dan, spears a BIG one!

Master lobster hunter, Dan, spears a BIG one – a 10 inch tail.

Marica is ready with the bucket for this big guy.

Marcia is ready with the bucket for this big guy.

Al's first lobster of the season!! Yeah! Seven inch tail.

Al’s first lobster of the season!! Yeah! Seven inch tail. Success!

Spearing the lobsters is a lot of fun for these guys, but after that, what happens? You have a wonderful feast. Our combined efforts produced an awesome first lobster dinner onboard Kindred Spirit. Marcia prepares the lobster with spices.

Al, the grill master. Nobody grills lobster like this guy.

Al, the grill master, carefully cooks the lobster.  Nobody grills lobster like this guy.

The dinner feast - melon salsa, salad, rice pilaf, and finished plate. It was SO delicious.

The dinner feast Рgrilled lobster, rice pilaf,  salad, and melon salsa. It was SO delicious!

This dinner plate would rival any restaurant here. Dessert was grilled apples & pears in rum, raisins and nuts.

This dinner plate would rival any restaurant here.
Dessert was grilled apples & pears in rum, raisins and nuts.

The feast becomes extra special when shared with special people. A good night all around!

Good friends with full bellies and happy thoughts.

Good friends with full bellies and happy thoughts.

Our twinkly Christmas lights decorated the aft cockpit, making the evening extra special.

Our twinkly Christmas lights decorated the aft cockpit, giving a celebratory feeling to the evening. First lobster celebration!

Sun – Sand – Surf

We have had a week of pretty darn good weather, if you like it warm and sunny, a little humid, with a dash of thunderstorms thrown in, just to keep you off balance.  The week began on Sunday morning with on and off torrential rains for a brief time. The best part of this was the rainbows (yes, note the plural) that would follow each downpour. Not a bad way to begin the week!

One rainbow shining over the Inn and Marina.

One rainbow shining over the Inn and Marina.

Another one rainbow over the harbor entrance and the lighthouse. There was even a double rainbow for a moment.

Another  rainbow over the harbor entrance and the lighthouse. There was even a double rainbow for a moment.

A close up of a lower rainbow near the Elbow Cay Lighthouse.

The Elbow Cay Lighthouse with a lower rainbow leading to it.

We ventured out to Johnny’s Cay at a low tide. It was too windy with surf a bit higher than we like for snorkeling but it was a great ride.

At low tide this rock near Johnny's Cay stand up and out of the water.

At low tide this rock near Johnny’s Cay stands up and out of the water.

This wind surfer was really cruising all around Johnny's Cay.

This wind surfer was really cruising all around Johnny’s Cay.

On one trip, we took the "big boat" out of the harbor instead of the dinghy. Anchored and swam off the boat just to relax and play. AL also took the opportunity to replace the zincs on the rudder. An easy job when you can see so clearly under the water.

On one trip, we took the “big boat” out of the harbor instead of the dinghy. Anchored and swam off the boat just to relax and play. AL also took the opportunity to replace the zincs on the rudder. An easy job when you can see so clearly under the water.

After that little excursion, we stopped by at the North End Beach. Although windy, it was such a nice day until........ we saw a dark storm cloud and rain passing over Hope Town's harbor. Uh oh. We left a hatch open over the bed! We raced back and reached the boat after the quick rain passed. Lucky - not too bad. ;-)

After that little excursion, we stopped by at the North End Beach. Although windy, it was such a nice day until…….. we saw a dark storm cloud and rain passing over Hope Town’s harbor. Uh oh. We left a hatch open over the bed! Such a rookie mistake. We raced back and reached the boat after the quick rain passed. Lucky – not too bad. ūüėČ

The next day took us back to “Church Beach”¬†on¬†the Atlantic side. Too much surf for swimming and NO sea glass this time! It was worth the trip just to watch the impressive¬†¬†surf on the rocky edge.

Church Beach high surf9 best Church Beach high surf13 good Church Beach high surf14

A calm moment for a stroll near the water's edge.

A calm moment for a stroll near the water’s edge.

Another day saw a return trip out near Johnny’s Cay with Magnus and Charlotte (Swede Dreams). We saw a pair of dolphins on our way out. Even better in the clear water. ¬†It wa since enough to snorkel around small reef out there.

A return trip out near Johnny's Cay with Magnus and Charlotte (Swede Dreams). Nice enough to snorkel around a small coral reef.

Al and Magnus snorkeling back to the boat.

The next agenda item was a  dinghy ride south to Tahiti Beach, one of the nicest little spots around here. We each took our dinghies (Swede Dreams and us) and packed a picnic lunch.

There's Tahiti Beach up ahead.

There’s Tahiti Beach up ahead.

Our picnic spot - Al, Magnus and Charlotte.

Our picnic spot – Al, Magnus and Charlotte are all settled in.

Snorkeling and hiking, let the pictures tell the rest of the story —

Tahiti Beach 8 dink Tahiti Beach 10 Tahiti Beach 13

We enjoyed more snorkeling time. The water is the perfect temperature for a northerner, a tiny brief chill and then cooling and perfect in the warm sun.

We enjoyed more snorkeling time. The water is the perfect temperature for a northerner, a tiny brief chill and then refreshing and perfect in the warm sun.  About 77 degrees and so very very clear blue.

What can I say?

What can I say?

All that snorkeling produces shells that need to be cleaned. After letting the sea biscuits sit in bleach water for a day, they get rinsed and left to dry.

All that snorkeling produces shells that need to be cleaned. After letting the sea biscuits sit in bleach water for a day, they get rinsed and left to dry.

A little kayaking outside the harbor on another day.

Charlotte and Michele ready to go kayaking.

Charlotte and Michele ready to go kayaking.

Al takes his kayak into this tiny little nook carved into the rock.

Al takes his kayak into this tiny little nook carved into the rock.

We finally feel like we are in the Bahamas, playing in the sun, sand, and surf. Not a bad place to spend some of our retirement, is it?

Our view from the aft cockpit - the Elbow Cay Lighthouse.

Our view from the aft cockpit – the Elbow Cay Lighthouse.

Art for the Parks, Abaco

The Bahamas National Trust was created by an Act of Parliament in 1959 to build and manage the national park system of the Bahamas. Among the many events throughout the Bahamas to promote national parks is Art for the Parks, Abaco,¬†the annual fundraiser specifically for the six established parks in the Abacos. We enjoyed attending the event on our last trip in February, 2014 and were thrilled to be here in time for this year’s art show, now in December.

Art for the Parks, December , 2015

Art for the Parks, December , 2015

 

Since the benefit was in December this year, the theme was ‚ÄúTwelve Days of Christmas; Abaco Style‚ÄĚ. Twenty local artists displayed their creations while live music played, champagne flowed, and treats were passed around among the party-goers.

 

 

 

 

The Abacos is home to six national parks that protect the land and marine biodiversity of Abaco:

  • Abaco National Park (est. 1994) 20,500 acres of pine forest in southern Abaco – ¬†breeding and foraging areas of endangered Bahama Parrot, unique for ground nesting behavior.
  • Pelican Cays Land And Sea Park (est. 1972) 2,100 acre park, featuring undersea caves, extensive coral reefs with a rich diversity of marine life.
  • Tiloo Cay Reserve (est. 1990) 11 acres of pristine coastal shoreline important for nesting seabirds.
  • Walker‚Äôs Cay National Park (est. 2002) 3,840 acre park with stunning coral formations and marine life.
  • Black Sound Cay Reserve (est. 1988) 2 acres of dense mangroves on Green Turtle Cay, an impotant habitat for waterfowl and other birds that winter in the region.
  • Fowl Cays National Park (est. 2009) a popular recreational area for ¬†boaters and divers with exceptional marine like and coral reef formations.

The 3-day event is held at The Pavilion and on the grounds of Abaco Beach Resort in Boat Harbor over on Great Abaco Island, near Marsh Harbor. Froggies, a local Hope Town dive shop, donates their dive boat to act as a ferry and take people there for the special Friday evening cocktail party opening.

Getting the boat ready to leave the dock.

Getting the boat ready to leave the dock.

On the boat to head over to Boat Harbor with Anthony and Annette (s/v Magnolia.) It's fun to get a little dressed up and go to an "opening"cocktail party.

On Froggies’¬†¬†boat to head over to Boat Harbor with Anthony and Annette (s/v Magnolia.) It’s fun to get a little dressed up and go to an “opening”cocktail party.

Froggies dive boat travels at 14 knots to make the trip to Boat Harbor in 35 minutes. It felt really really fast to us! Double our speed.

Froggies dive boat travels at 14 knots to make the trip to Boat Harbor in 35 minutes. It felt really really fast to us! Double our speed. The splashing water was literally a blur.

An almost sunset.

An almost sunset as we make the crossing over to Boat Harbor.

The tent was festive and filled with colorful rows of displays by a varied assortment of artists and craftsmen.

Entering the tent, you are greeted by the welcome table with information about the Bahama National Trust.

Entering the tent, you are greeted by the welcome table with information about the Bahamas National Trust.

IMG_0616 IMG_0615

This amazing quilt by Green Turtle quilters will be auctioned off. Each block captured something special about Bahamian life.

This amazing quilt by Green Turtle quilters will be auctioned off. Each block captured something special about Abaco life.

Hope Town's Kim Rudy was all decked out for the holiday season.

Hope Town’s Kim Rody was all decked out for the holiday season.

Our purchases at the art show were relatively small compared to the possibilities. I selected a small Kim Rudy bowl with dolphins, two little Christmas ornaments for next year's tree, and a floating key fob for the bike lock.

Our purchases at the art show were relatively small compared to the possibilities. I selected a small Kim Rody bowl with dolphins, two little Christmas ornaments for next year’s tree, and a much-needed floating key fob for the bike lock.

Al and Ben (s/v Loon)  in the back of the boat, and folks that are huddled up front to stay out of the wind.

Al and Ben (s/v Loon) sitting towards  the back of the boat, while other  folks are huddled up front to stay out of the wind.

We got back to Hope Town around 9:30 pm, a late night for cruisers! A “late” night, but lots of fun. Glad we were here to attend this event. One of the things we enjoy about the Abacos is the diversity of things to do; outside fun such as¬†snorkeling, swimming and biking mixed¬†with community and cultural events, too.

The Sound of Sunshine ….. Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

If this blog had a music score for this past week, it would alternate between The Sound of Sunshine by Michael Franti & Spearhead and Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head by BJ Thomas, if I were the musical director. ¬†I love the Michael Franti number, upbeat and “islandy.” And you can’t beat the old Raindrops from the 1970’s. It’s a jaunty little¬†rain song to keep our spirits up during the downpours and the drizzles. In the 9 days that we have been in the Bahamas, 3 have had enough sunshine to count as a good Bahamian day!

Finally, finally, we went to the beach here on Elbow Cay and went swimming and snorkeling. That was Day 8. Imagine that.

"Church Beach", as we call it - walk down the path next to the St. James Methodist Church and there you are. This is what we have been yearning to see!

“Church Beach”, as we call it – Walk down the path next to the St. James Methodist Church and there you are. This is what we have been yearning to see!

What can I say? Been waiting for this sight.

What can I say? Been waiting for this sight. Foot prints in the sand next to the gorgeous blues of the water and sky.

A nice walk on the beach turned into a decent day of beach combing. I had forgotten to bring a plastic baggie along to collect our finds, ūüôĀ ¬† so I sacrificed my new hat. Priorities!

My hat filled with the finds. I’m inspecting the treasures.

Top picture is the sea glass that is too raw. Al returns it to the ocean to be "cooked" longer. Bottom picture - The Keepers! Some nice sea glass and a lovely sunrise tellurian shell, along with some pottery pieces.

Top picture is the sea glass that is too raw. Al returns it to the ocean to be “cooked” longer.
Bottom picture – The Keepers! Some nice sea glass and a lovely sunrise tellerin shell, along with some pottery pieces.

Al, my own Neptune, coming out of the sea.

Al, my own Neptune, coming out of the sea.

Do I look happy?

Do I look happy?

But, as we all know around here these days, into each life a little rain must fall. A little is ok, but day after day???? There was a  torrential downpour this morning.

Look at this rain! A least it only lasted for a short time.

Look at this rain! A least it only lasted for a short time.

There is a benefit to the rain, what one might call the silver lining. Our water tanks are still full and we haven’t filled them at a dock since Florida on November 30th. Remember how Al was playing around with his sunshade one the bow to turn it into a rain collecting system??

Left Picture - See the water streaming into the bucket under the sunshade? Right Picture - Two buckets of water on each side, port and starboard = 4 buckets of water = 14 gallons in 20 minutes. Free.

Left Picture – See the water streaming into the bucket under the sunshade?
Right Picture – Two buckets of water on each side, port and starboard = 4 buckets of water = 14 gallons in 20 minutes. Free. We couldn’t use the hose system to add the water directly into the tanks because the tanks are too full!

Al pours the buckets into the water tank opening on the deck. See how clear the water is??

Al pours the buckets into the water tank opening on the deck just to top them off. The buckets then refill with more rain water.  See how clear the water is??

After the rains, we could almost see clearly……. NO, not quite. The morning was overcast and heavy feeling with the damp air. So what did we do? Brought the bikes to shore. We will leave them locked to the fence at the dock, along with other folks bikes so that Al doesn’t have to go through the process of getting them from the flybridge to the dinghy to shore over and over every time we want to bike.

Our bikes hanging out with the other cruisers's bikes at the dock.

Our bikes hanging out with the other cruisers’s bikes at the dock.

People post these signs for their hometown with the distance along the road Colorful. There seems to be many more than there were 2 years ago.

People post these signs for their hometown with the distance along the road Colorful. There seems to be many more than there were 2 years ago. We found a few from Connecticut.

A view of the Atlantic Ocean form the road to Abaco Inn.

A view of the Atlantic Ocean from the road to Abaco Inn.

The surf rushes into shore below us.

The surf rushes into shore below us.

A short story about ice cream in Hope Town and while cruising in the Bahamas — ¬†Simply put, ice cream is a luxury. If you know Al, you know he loves his ice cream.¬†The “Sugar Shack” in town was Al’s most favorite spot to hang out. Don’t look in the bars for him, go to the ice cream shops!

The "Sugar Shack" in town - Al's most favorite spot for the ice cream. We were very sad to hear that a fire has closed it. You can see some of the fire damage.

We were very sad to hear that a fire has closed The Sugar Shack. You can see some of the fire damage. We hear there are no plans to fix it back up. What a loss!

We heard a rumor that there was ice cream outside of town on the way to White Sound (different White Sound than the one on Green Turtle Cay). As we rode our bikes we kept sharp eyes out for any sign of an ice cream shop. Lo and behold, we saw the sign for “Sweet Shop” and the words ICE CREAM.

Amanda in the Sweet Shop

Amanda in the Sweet Shop. Amanda and her husband just opened this shop 3 weeks ago. It’s pretty far out of town so we hope they get enough business. Not everyone is willing to travel far and wide for ice cream, like Al is.

By the afternoon, the sun was shining in a blue sky, with only some clouds. would this be partly sunny instead of partly cloudy??

By later in the afternoon, the sun was shining in a blue sky, with only some clouds. Would this be partly sunny instead of partly cloudy??

Let’s face it, you need some sun and¬†you need some rain in your life.¬†They both fill a need. It’s all good!