White Cay Beach Tours – Day 1

On Wednesday, we were finally settling into our own schedule. Weather came first, of course, with an early morning wake-up call at 6:30am. We were hoping to hold onto that Thursday departure date but it was moved back to possibly Saturday on account of the front moving through bringing strong winds in the wrong direction for our next intended stop. After weather Brian made breakfast while I did around the house type chores. After breakfast, we took turns with Spanish lessons before getting ready to hit the beach.

Our goal for the remainder of the week was to spend ample parts of our days on the various little islands surrounding our anchorage. This way we could see the sights, get some exercise, and spend time on solid ground. We needed a break from the boat which had been bobbing to and fro at anchor thanks to those strong winds. Brian gathered his fishing and snorkeling gear and I gathered books, beach towels, and snacks. We took the kayaks and paddled to the farthest beach.

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Here we took a walk around the island, which incidentally is for sale if anyone is interested.

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Brian found a swim fin and kept is as a spare because it was just the right fit.

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We settled on the beach for an afternoon of reading, dipping in and out of the water, and fishing.

Bonfire at Hoffman Cay

Brian and I were puttering around the boat deciding what to do with ourselves. The weather report told us we wouldn’t be leaving White Cay until possibly Thursday. For some of you I’m sure having at least three, possibly five, days with no schedule would be glorious! You’re probably jealously reading along right now thinking, “those lucky, ungrateful, little devils!” Well we weren’t being ungrateful so much as we just weren’t sure how to approach a day without scheduled events. For us staying put in an area that seemed to offer few opportunities for exploring was a challenge! We did our usual breakfast, wash the dishes, shake rugs, sweep floors, tidy the boat things. Yup, Brian even helped since his boat projects are few at present. I went about cleaning out cupboards to ensure that things were staying dry. Then, a pleasant interruption. Our neighbors whom had introduced themselves the day before stopped by to invite us to a beach party later today. We were to meet at 4:00pm at the beach near the Blue Hole trail, bring something to share and bring any burnable garbage. Great!

The afternoon came and went. Brian did some fishing which is quickly becoming the ‘ol standby of pastimes, and I got started on Spanish lessons to prepare for our possible Western Caribbean venture. I also prepared a pasta salad and packed our drinks, plates, and utensils ready for the beach party.

At 4:00pm dinghies were on the move from the five neighboring boats. We headed ashore and were looking forward to meeting other cruisers. All the dinghies anchored at the beach and out came coolers and buckets be be used as tabletops. Brian helped to find scrap wood for building a fire. I discovered I’d brought the wrong dish as nobody had brought their own plates and utensils. The sharable things were brownies, cheese and crackers, and chips and salsa. Doh! I apologized and was told, “it’s not a pot luck, sweetie.” Beach party and bonfire at dinner time translated into picnic to me. I envisioned spread out blankets, roaring fire, swapping stories and maybe someone would have a game of bocce…fun times. At our next grocery opportunity I’ll have to find some sharable finger foods to keep in my back pocket.

Some of the guys started a fire, which wasn’t really for admiring but was truly for burning garbage. Brian and I sipped our drinks and chatted wherever we could find common interest. Everyone was very nice but we felt we didn’t have much to add to conversation, this being our first visit to the Bahamas. The others had been coming here for years. At sunset a conch shell was blown. This tradition was introduced to us in New England by The Great Catsby, also a yearly Bahamas cruiser. Shortly thereafter the no-see-ums came out in full force. It was time to go, I was being eaten alive by bugs and was also quite hungry myself. We gathered our non-sharable things and politely excused ourselves from the party. Back at the boat we had left-over porgy to eat along with a delicious pasta salad!

Conch Salad

During the afternoon following our Blue Hole expedition, we took the dinghy ’round neighboring islands where Brian scouted the coral lined shorelines for fish. He lucked out when he found a group of conch on a sandy patch below the water. What do you call a group of conch anyway…a heard, a gathering, a flock? He pulled up six! “That should keep us busy for the rest of the day,” I said. Brian continued snorkeling for a bit while I sat, cornered in the dinghy on the opposite end of the conch. They were making gurgling noises and starting to turn themselves right side up. I backed as far us as I could now sitting next to the outboard on the wooden support. Then, one spatted out little fish! EWE!! I screeched and called Brian, “um, can we get these back to the boat!? This is NOT fun anymore.”

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Back at the boat I was able to distance myself from the gurgling, squirming conch. I fired up the computer to review the directions for getting the conch out of their shells from our electronic copy of A Cruiser’s Handbook of Fishing (thanks, Scott & Kim). Then I directed Brian through the process of breaking the shell, cutting away the conch, pulling out the conch, cutting off the eyes, and peeling away the skin. Sounds gross, eh? It was. It took approximately 30-minutes to process the first conch. It was a slimy mess.

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Mid-processing we had some visitors from a neighboring boat. They were also Seven Seas Cruising Association (SSCA) members and came by for introductions. Not a great time for visiting as we were covered in slime, but they encouraged us and gave us some conch cooking tips.

After the second conch was ready we’d decided that two were plenty and threw the other four back into the ocean. I took the meat below, chopped it, and added lime juice and spices for a makeshift conch salad. We didn’t have any fresh produce but typically a conch salad has tomato, onion, and pepper. Brian stayed on deck fishing with his newly acquired bait, conch bits.

Success! Out of the water Brian pulled a porgy. Hopefully this fish would be delicious as it was plenty for both of us for supper. Living on the outskirts may not be so difficult after all with all this good food just swimming around.

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