Friday, 19 September 2008

Campari and Sapadillas

Ivan, the owner of a resort on Delectable Bay (I am not making it up), who took us for a Sapodilla hunt through the bushes.
Next to an old cemetery, we met two people hacking away into some bark, which turned out to be the main ingredient in Campari.

Blue holes and crabs in Acklins

Meet the two eccentric Brits, Liz and Paul the hardy sailors, though not too hard on themselves, from Wales who enjoy the ocean and their home with the equally mad horse named Alex whose favourite hobbies amongst others include eating from the fruit bowl and switching on lights. Alex and Liz convinced Mads one night to venture out for some nocturnal fishing from the enormous blue holes in the bay. These holes are known to run through from the islands' bank side in the west to the ocean side in the east. Apparently Jacque Costeau, the mad frenchman, in an experiment to determine the length of the blue holes poured dye in one and watched from the helicopter a couple of hours later the dyed water coming out far on the ocean side. I do not quite remember the precise distance but it was over 5km outside the eastern shore.
As Mads could certainly not miss the opportunity for fishing: he and Ingrid had tried for a solid hour, earlier during the day where the fish proved to be too big. Mads had also been swimming in the swirling bathtub and spotted 6 sleeping sharks, large fish, crabs so he was very excited to catch some crab.
However delightfully easy it may sound when a salesman tells you a crabtrap is the best way to catch crabs, don't believe them. It proved toughgoing and all the bait was just eaten clean by the time they pulled the trap up. So came Paul with the brilliant idea of jumping in with slings to spear hunt the crabs amid loud protests from Liz who was not impressed by her intrepid crazy man whose source of thrill that night was to be derived from diving, in the dark, into a huge circular hole with swirls and strong current. In the end, they jumped in.

Needless to say we had crab for dinner the following day. Ai Ai Skipper.

I wonder what the manufacturer was thinking. It is good chocolate at least.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Spring Point Settlement

Coby, once a bodyguard of a former Prime Minister, has a bar and cafe on the main road of Acklins which goes through Spring Point where he serves amongst other interesting things'pig's feet sauce'. Sauce is pronounced with a very strong southern Bahamian accent and sounds more like 'soous'. Apparently Chinese aphrodisiacs are also available at the bar. At Coby's bar, the local workforce; fishermen, waterworks people, road workers, stops for a midday Kalik, pig's feet and Coby's fresh baked bread.

An ancient cottage in Acklins- there are many of these abandoned houses around. Two thirds of the 300 000 strong Bahamian population lives in Nassau therefore many islands are quite empty.

One of Coby's goats. We could not have this one for lunch though.

The life on Acklins

What can we say. We have seen many beautiful sunsets and they are never quite the same. Optical illusion? Maybe. This particular sunset was viewed on Long Cay after a very appetising day- goats on offer, fish and lobster galore and not to mention the interesting population of Albert Town. The total number of the population kept changing with each person we asked. The first reported 19, the second 21 and the third 23. So we will stick with the latter. Even small settlements can feel very big (it is demanding work to make a census) and this former capital of the Bahamas felt indeed like that.

And we say hurrah to that.

We non-chalantly walked past this house and commended the workers for doing a great job restoring it. We were also secretly proud that someone has put his/her money to renovate this old cottage only to be told "oh no, no one is going to live here. At least no one living. This is going to be a mortuary" . Oh well, at least the departed will rest well. It turns out that the islands have no facilities and they have to transport bodies to Nassau for embalming before they are sent back to the island again.


From Rum our next destination was Mayaguana island lying south east of Rum and one of the truly remote islands of the Bahamas. At Rum we had been waiting for a north easterly wind which typically arrived much later that it was forecast and at that came at night when everyone had gone to bed swearing at meteorologists and the unpredictability of the wind. It was thus that we ended in Acklins; the wind was blowing a steady 15 knots from the east and we were making very good speed and not to mention that we were not heading straight into the sea. BEAM SEAS, who has ever heard of such a concept when sailing from the USA to the Caribbean. We took such a pleasure from the sail that we went through several dishes for dinner. Then the wind changed and in our recently acquired pleasure of comfortable sailing, we refused to give this precious commodity up and instead of sailing straight into Mayaguana, ergo, the waves, we changed course and decided to visit Acklins and Crooked Islands. And what a great discovery it was.
Long Cay
As luck would have it, sometimes it comes in abundance, we continued sailing due south and arrived too early at the entrance to the bight of Acklins. The captain heaved the boat to and waited for first light. After dawn coffee, we sailed into the shallow bight slowly doglegging around the green water, a very unsettling issue since one is used to the crystal clear water in the majority of islands. As we were about to find a good anchor spot, an enormous barracuda leapt out of the water and onto our hook. We discarded it for fear of ciguatera only to be told later that the stock in the area is perfectly safe to eat. A couple of hours of rest for the exhausted crew after a hearty breakfast was on the cards.

In the afternoon we dinghied over to the far lying docks in search of Albert town which lies on the opposite shore of the island. With the baking sun directly over our heads we made slow progress up the hills amidst numerous wandering goat herds. Close to the village we met a man skinning a goat and when we enquired about the roaming goats, he told us we could eat goat for dinner if we wanted to with the only provision being hunting one. It turns out that the goats are wild and with no natural predators the numbers have proliferated. I suppose it is less exerting to dive for conch than to spend your day with a dodgy hunting rifle in a scorcher hunting goat amidst thorny acacia trees.

Albert town is small picturesque settlement dotted with bright and luminious walls . At the centre is an old wooden church that sort of serves as a tourist attraction to the village. Judging by the response of Officer Wright, who overzealously enquired about our mission and religiously took all our details only to be miffed that we were not carrying our passports; one has to conclude that there cannot be that many tourists in the village.

From Georgetown to Crooked-Acklins Islands

Conception mangroves

Ingrid playing with the camera

the shark that got away with our fish

After spending too long a time in Georgetown, the chicken harbour amongst sailors, we had had enough and decided to start moving eastwards towars Conception and the rest of the east lying islands in the Bahamas.
At Conception, we were met by incredible beauty, unsurpussed if I have to say it myself. This is an uninhabited island of exceptional spleandour consisting of natural bays, corals and mangroves. On our second day there, whilst snorkelling with Mads, it was brought to my attention that a huge shark was just swimming past. Very close encounter indeed at about 10 metres away. In trepidation I looked at Mads for support, who then told me in sign language to just relax and sure enough the shark was gone after five minutes. We identified it as the White Tip which is not known for aggression, but hey, a shark is shark no matter what anyone tells you. Remember Jaws! OK, we know Steven S spoiled it for the shark population, not exactly good PR for the species.

We spent a couple of days at Conception (mangroves with clear water, turtles, more sharks) and left for Rum Cay some 20 miles south east of the island. We departed too late as we were entranced by the mangroves which then meant a late entrance at Rum which is literally covered in corals. We made it to the anchorage without much drama except our elevated heart beats. We swear not to do it again.