Winter Getaway Aboard Rode Trip – Week #2

It’s hard to believe that two weeks have already ended and our friends, Brian and Jennifer, are making their way back to Honesdale, PA. Brian and Jennifer adapted to Rode Trip with ease! They could practically sail and maintain this ship by themselves, not to mention that they totally kicked back and enjoyed the cruising lifestyle. I think it is safe to say that they had a spectacular vacation; and we were sad to see them go.

During our first week with Brian and Jennifer, we had explored Staniel Cay and nearby Big and Little Major. We had celebrated a festive Christmas on Great Guana Cay with the fabulous residents at Black Point. During week two, we island hopped southward along the Exumas.

At Great Guana Cay we followed the trail which led us to a cave just north of Oven Rock.

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Snorkeling opportunities were plentiful…even frolicking with mermaids!

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Fishing comprised a large part of each day. Fish tacos were on the menu the evening the guys harvested roughly 20 lion fish.

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Deep sea fishing was less successful. We didn’t land any mahi-mahi’s, although we did manage to select the best lure for barracudas…and each catch was larger! Finally we opted to take the line out of the water, we’d had enough barracudas.

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The guys tried their best…but sometimes even without fish a night of burgers and BIG beers really hits the spot! MMmmmmm!

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Glamorous sunsets were the perfect ending to each fun-filled day.

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Kayak excursions provided a nice change of pace. Brian and Jennifer took a turn and explored the salt pond at Normand’s Pond Cay.

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Fishing was a hit at Normand’s Pond Cay and the small blue hole provided a great backdrop for photo shoots. Brian landed this new find for us, a stone crab, which was delicious.

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On the trails a Stocking Island, we hiked to the top of Monument Beach for beautiful views.

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Termite mound.

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“It’s a starfish!”

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We chilled at Chat’n’Chill where we enjoyed rum punches, goombay smashes, and Kalik.

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It was a spectacular vacation and we are looking forward to Brian and Jennifer’s next visit…wherever Rode Trip may be!

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Mark’s Survival Guide to Cruising Lesson 1: Get to Know Your Community

Brian and I had welcomed Mark aboard Rode Trip for a vacation unlike any other! He’d have the opportunity to haul sails, haul the anchor, haul the dinghy and outboard, spear our supper, fetch salt water, sweep the floors, hang the clothes, and all the while I’d be basking in the sun finally reading that book I’ve been hoping to start. Ahhhh…I love vacations!

Ok, so we didn’t put Mark to work…well not all the time. He was eager to learn and eager to help. Mark wanted to embrace the cruising lifestyle; a change of pace from the hustle and bustle of Chicago. And so on day two of his vacation, we began our adventuring by first repairing the main sail. Because how else could we possibly adventure if we cannot sail!? And how best to repair the main sail but through the art of socialization. Let me explain.

Brian and I have met amazing cruisers along our travels. It is always exciting to get acquainted with new friends and always bittersweet to sail onward not knowing when or where our paths may cross again. While anchored between Big Majors Spot and Little Majors Spot, Brian and I spotted a familiar sailboat, Stormy Petrel. We’d last seen Ron and Kathy at Cumberland Island just after Thanksgiving. They’ve since traveled to Florida and through the Keys on their route to the Bahamas. Ron and Kathy visited Rode Trip for an impromptu reunion. I was thrilled to catch up with them! During our chat they offered us their sewing machine to repair our main sail; a huge relief since hand stitching would take hours and the main had some other areas in need of extra love. Ron and Kathy also suggested we meet the couple aboard the neighboring sailboat, Asante. “…they’re young,” they shared, “and heading south in your direction.” Fantastic!

And so when it came time to repair the main sail, Ron and Kathy were out and about. We had spare time but didn’t want to stray too far from the boat so that we could be ready to dinghy to Stormy Petrel when they returned. We spotted activity aboard Asante and thought it a good time to go and introduce ourselves. We were soon cozy in the cockpit of Asante getting acquainted with Scott, Brittany, and Isla. We felt good vibes instantly and even Mark felt right at home talking about familiar places in Chicago. We’d soon overextended our stay through lunch and had to get going to complete our repairs. Scott and Brittany offered us their sewing machine too! Talk about a great community passing it forward! We loaded the sewing machine into the dinghy as if it were as precious as gold, taking care to keep it dry and stable. Back at Rode Trip we set up shop and got to work.

Brian and Mark read through the instructions to thread the bobbin and the machine. Then we very carefully pushed our sail through to stitch the torn seams. Brian fashioned a patch to mend a tear and stitched along the leach of the sail which was also quite tattered.

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As we rigged our repaired main sail, we had a visit from Cliff. He was checking to see how our day was going as he and Brian had been comparing fishing notes. We’d been slowly getting acquainted with Cliff and Jennifer aboard sv/Kluane since we’d first introduced ourselves several weeks ago at Big Majors Spot. We were happy to see them again, thinking they had already headed north. After chatting and completely rigging the main Brian and Mark returned the sewing machine. Thanks, Asante! Brian and Mark rewarded their good work with a bit of swimming and snorkeling.

That evening we visited Stormy Petrel to thank Ron and Kathy for their offered sewing machine and explain the outcome of our afternoon. Ron parted with some extra track cars and gave them to us so that we could add them to our spare main sail. Thanks so much! We’ll be adding that project to our “after vacation” to-do list.

We dinghied to the west side of Big Majors Spot where we’d been invited to join our new friends at Pirate Beach. The campfire was already blazing when we arrived. We found another, more recent, familiar face. The crew of sv/Night Music, Nick and his wife, Stacy, and son, Ethan. We’d previously met Nick at Georgetown. We were also introduced to Patty and Fred. The community that keeps on growing! We so appreciate being part of the cruising community and enjoyed sharing this aspect of cruising with Mark.

Thunderball Grotto

Step aside, Mr. Bond, with your fancy ‘007’ status…the Grandjeans are here to save the day! Well, the Grandjeans are here to start their day with a tour of Thunderball Grotto. This cave was featured in the 1965 James Bond movie Thunderball. The scene was a helicopter rescue of Bond through the ceiling of the grotto; thank goodness, “…that locator capsule he swallowed is working…” oh how far Bond has come

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To visit the grotto, it is best to enter during a slack tide. We’d learned from the Staniel Cay Divers that slack tide for the grotto occurs approximately 45-minutes prior to low tide at Nassau. We set out at 8:30am to achieve optimal swim time. Our brave men entered the cave. They explored for minutes and minutes, poking in and out of the various entrances and exits, scaling the walls, and fish spotting.

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Then, they came to escort the ladies. Kathy and Bruce went swimming along into the cave, Kathy admiring the fish. Well those little Sergent Majors stopped me in my tracks! As did the Grunts and Schoolmasters. While everyone else was admiring, I scampered away back to the dinghy.

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Brian had a genius idea. “Why don’t you take your snorkel off and just swim inside,” he suggested. “You can’t miss this, it’s amazing.” That worked! Without seeing the fish swarming toward me (which they don’t actually do) I was totally fine just swimming inside above them. And it was well worth the swim!

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We explored the grotto for quite a while. Brian, Mark, and Kathy admired beautiful, huge fish. Too bad no fishing here! Bruce and I admired the immense cavern. And to “top” it all off, the boys clamored onto the outside of the grotto for a high jump into the sea!

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