Ani’s Beach

Welcome to Ani’s Beach (aka Flamingo Cay)!  Brian and I headed to the beach first thing during our first morning at Flamingo.  We made a campfire ring, gathered some firewood, and pitched our backpacking tent to provide Ani some shade.  We wanted the scene set so that everyone could enjoy the beach throughout the day and into the evening.

Ashley & Ani

Ashley & Ani

IMG_8139That day everyone explored and relaxed…

Ashley & Ani visit Grandpa Don

Ashley & Ani visit Grandpa Don

Me, Tania, Ashley, & Ani hiking with Shellee (our photographer) to the shrimp pools...and beyond!

Me, Tania, Ashley, & Ani hiking with Shellee (our photographer) to the shrimp pools.

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Red shrimp, or should we say...appetizer?

Red shrimp, or should we say…appetizer?

The fishing posse returned!!  And they were successful!IMG_8153

Ren stands by while Bailey inspects the conchs

Ren stands by while Bailey inspects the conch

Brian & Jamel with their hogfish

Brian & Jamel with their hog fish

Ray & Genna

Ray & Genna

What a spectacular spread for supper at Ani’s Beach!

hummus, risotto, coleslaw, couscous salad, collard greens, cornbread, and of course cookies and s'mores for dessert

Hummus, risotto, coleslaw, couscous salad, collard greens, cornbread, and of course cookies and s’mores for dessert.

Ray, Ren & Brian fire up the grill

Ray, Ren & Brian fire up the grill

Jamel, Brian, & Ren - these boys love bugs!

Jamel, Brian, & Ren – these boys love bugs!

Tania braves Ray's spicy grouper

Ray unveils his spicy grouper

 

hogfish

Hog Fish seasoned with sour orange, salt, & pepper

Winding down after a stellar day…Ray, Jamel, and Ren share a jam session, unplugged.IMG_8180

Shellee, Genna, & Brian

Shellee, Genna, & Brian

 

 

Raccoon Cay

We departed Salt Pond, Long Island at 10:00am on a Saturday morning; our galley shelves overflowed with fresh produce from that morning’s Farmers’ Market and our hearts were filled with well wishes from Penny, John, Cathie, and Gary. We set the main, hauled the anchor, and caught an easygoing easterly breeze bound for the Ragged Islands. During the daylight hours we would sail the Comer Channel and then at the top of the Jumentos Cays we would exit the banks and sail overnight through the deeper, ocean water. Below on the screen shot of our chart you can see our route. Waypoints 0029, 0030, 0031, and 0032 directed us through the Comer Channel to our exit point between Stony Cay and Arturo Cay at the top of the Jumentos Cays. Waypoint 0027 marked our entrance onto the banks in the Ragged Islands.

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We sailed on a tack through the night, not our most comfortable sail. But the sky was clear, stars were shining, and there was not another ship in sight. Since the first night is always the most difficult to stay awake, and we were only sailing overnight, we changed shift every two hours. Just before sunrise we were making good time and decided to continue sailing all the way to the southern end of the Raggeds where we could round Little Ragged Island and arrive at Hog Cay. But a shift in the wind later that morning reverted us back to our original plan. We entered the banks through Johnson Cut on the southern end of Raccoon Cay. At 10:00am on a Sunday we dropped the anchor at Raccoon Cay, 24 hours from the start of our trip, and settled in for a few hours of sleep.

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Rested and fed, we began our exploration of Raccoon Cay. We kayaked north of our anchorage at House Bay in search of a blue hole and on the way stopped to chat with our only neighbor (in the next cove) s/v First Look. Bob and Vicki shared some great info about Raccoon Cay and sent us in the direction of the trail to the blue hole. Once ashore we followed the shoes…

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…along a narrow path…

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…all the way (not more than 200 feet) to the blue hole. Or should we say, greenish-brownish hole. No diving into that!
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I prefer the view across the banks.
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Our next stop brought us to an old foundation and cistern. We didn’t pause there long. Although we enjoyed the singing of several songbirds near the fresh water cistern, we did not enjoy the abundance of no-see-ums and mosquitoes. We set out once again in the kayaks and returned to our anchorage at House Bay where we found a trailhead at the north end of the cove. The trail brought us to a salt pond.
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We followed Bob’s directions and continued around the salt pond to reunite with the trail. It led us over the top of Raccoon Cay to the ocean side. We’d arrived a bit too early in the season for snacking on the not yet ripened sea grapes, but the view at the end was pretty as ever!
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Mind the sharp objects in the bush!
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Brian did plenty of spear fishing during our time at Raccoon Cay. I even got into the water with him to observe. For the very first time I watched Brian spear a fish! The victim was a bar jack. I heard the spear pierce the fish then watched the fish scurry away with a spear in it’s side as Brian swam to retrieve fish and spear. It was exhilarating! I remembered hunting once with my brother and feeling a bit grim as a squirrel fell from the tree (my brother has fantastic aim); apparently I am less fond of fish because my only reaction toward this hunt was, “Mmmmm, supper!” And of course, “Wow, that husband of mine is a mighty hunter!” I might ease my way into spear fishing…but don’t hold your breath. On the menu at Raccoon Cay were also lionfish and grey snapper. Even though the fishing was plentiful, Brian couldn’t resist casting his rod off the side of the boat. Too much is never enough! He caught a record, biggest fish yet on the lightweight rod, a yellow jack. I had to help with that one too, but since we already had supper the jack was released.
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We ended our visit to Raccoon Cay with a campfire on the beach beneath a nearly full moon. There was not another person in sight that evening. We gazed into the mesmerizing flames with rum drinks in hand and Jimmy Buffet tunes playing from the iPad. Welcome to the outer islands of the Bahamas!

Hog Cay & Ragged Island

Thanks to a persistent east wind, the 5-ish miles between Double Breasted Cay and Hog Cay were in reality 15-miles as we tacked back and forth to get into the harbor under sail. Once settled, we took in our new view of yet another white sand lined cay. There were three neighboring sailboats lingering here near the end of their Bahamian season; we hadn’t time to get acquainted during our brief visit.

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That evening, Serendipity offered us one of our most precious resources…water! After three weeks of use we’d just emptied one of our two 40-gallon water tanks and were happy to accept a 6-gallon jerry can full to the brim with RO (reverse osmosis) water. Then another resource, plentiful here in the Bahamas, fish! Brian and I took the dinghy just around the corner for what was his fastest spearing on record. We’d just anchored the dinghy and Brian slipped into the water. Within seconds he’d shot his spear into a school of jacks. Dinner is served!

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The following day we took a long dinghy ride to the next cay, Ragged Island, where lies the only town in this area, Duncan Town. It was about 4-miles into Duncan Town around the point of Hog Cay and then through a long, narrow, mangrove lined channel. To be as efficient as possible with our dwindling gas supply, Jessica and I rode with Matt in their hard-bottom dinghy with the 9hp. With three people Matt’s dinghy could get up onto a plane. Brian took our soft-bottom dinghy with our 5hp; ours can get onto a plane with one person. Both perfectly balanced we set out.

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Here is the view of the entrance channel.

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We tied our dinghies at the government dock and walked uphill into town.

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It was quiet in town. Several goats roamed the streets; several kids were baa-ing for their mothers. Ahead we could see the ocean side of Ragged Island and at the bottom of the hill was an enormous salt pond. Passing the local clinic, grocery, and bar which were all seemingly closed, we decided to head toward the airport for a tour of the guide book acclaimed Percy’s Eagle Nest.

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Along our way we discovered that the BaTelCo tower wasn’t working and a repair man had flown in from Long Island. Two women who had driven to the airstrip to watch the plane takeoff had offered us a ride to Percy’s Eagle Nest. We savored our moments in the air conditioned car. We drove into a driveway and honked the horn. Percy and his wife, Elma, greeted us as we walked from the car onto their property. Just as the guidebook had described, there atop the house (which was once an open bar/restaurant) sat a DC-3 airplane; it looked as though it had just crash landed on the roof! This DC-3 had crashed on the airstrip, as Percy explained to us, and was his inspiration for a bar/restaurant. Unfortunately, after a fire the bar/restaurant had to be closed. Percy and Elma are now building a new building which they hope to open as a new bar/restaurant and eventually add rental cottages. We chatted with Percy for quite a while; he shared his entrepreneurial ideas with us. We wished him luck in the pursuit of his dream and made our way back into town.

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Maxine opened the grocery store for us. The shelves were sparse, the mailboat was due to arrive in the next few days. Brian and I were able to restock our eggs and pick up a few canned items. Then we stopped in an adorable gift shop and chatted for a bit with Marjorie. Marjorie hand made most of the items in her gift shop; purses, handbags, coconut bangles, coconut earrings and necklaces, and pillows. Her work was magnificent! Marjorie encouraged us to continue our travels while we are still young. No problem!

Back at Hog Cay before we settled in for the night Brian and I made a trip to the Hog Cay Yacht Club where we met George and Sarah (sv/Mirador) for sunset cocktails.

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Cruisers had fashioned this “yacht club” and it was awesome! Everything was made from beach debris: nets, buoys, driftwood, etc. The neighboring building looked to be constructed of lumber with a newly thatched roof. During the winter season we’ve heard there are about 8-15 boats that are the ‘regulars’ of Hog Cay. It seems they’ve been busy! We browsed the buoys to see who’d visited and found our friends aboard sv/Glide had recently added to the mix.

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Brian and I enjoyed the company of sv/Mirador. As the sun was setting we made our way back home for dinner and sleep. Long day of sailing ahead as we trek north once more

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