Famous for the location of the James Bond Movie – Thunderball, Staniel Cay was only a short 2-hour morning sail from Compass Cay, our previous night’s anchorage. Our water tanks were almost empty, as was the fridge, so we booked into the Staniel Cay marina for a couple of nights to once again, re-provision the boat and have the freedom of being able to get off the boat easily for some escape time from each other. The marina had a great restaurant, pool and a dozen or so pet sharks to entertain us. Crazy tourists think it’s fun to wade with the sharks and sting-rays, patting and hand-feeding them! We decided to heed the warning sign that advised not to pat the sharks, and I was particularly careful getting on and off the boat as there was often a grey nurse or two lazing under our stern!
Like most of the islands we had been visiting, Staniel Cay had only a handful of shops, however between them all, we could replenish with enough food to last till we got to George Town the following week. We also timed our shop for after the ferry had arrived with fresh fruit and veg. As the township was spread out over a mile or so we hired a golf cart for the day so we didn’t have to lug bags of washing and food. The boys love zooming about the island, hanging on as we hit bumps on the rough road. I think Pete and Ben had some special time in the cart doing donuts in the sand (although they haven’t fessed up to me as they know I wouldn’t have approved!).
Our two nights in the marina were not as idyllic as anticipated, due to rough weather that had us bouncing off the dock every few seconds. I was glad to leave and head out to an anchorage, this time only half a mile away, in front of the cay that was home to the Thunderball grotto. First stop before our dive was a visit to the original swimming pigs of the Bahamas. These pigs have been featured in You-tube videos and seen by millions. Unfortunately, about six of them died recently which created quite a bit of media attention as initially it was thought they died due to being fed alcohol and unsuitable food. Autopsies however found that they had an excess of sand in their bellies – so new rules are now being put in place to ensure that all food they are feed is via feeding bins, rather than food being thrown in the sand. The small pigs were very cute, however, the older pigs so enormous that they looked a little bit scary. I think our first visit to the pigs in the Abaco islands was much more interesting, or perhaps we are just plain old pigged out!
We loved diving in the grotto. Despite the current being extremely strong, with tidal flow rushing through the centre, it was fun to swim in the cave, and also dive through a little hole in the wall which led to the outside. Although the distance we had to swim underwater was only about half a metre, it was still lots of fun.
We still had enough time in the day to move to our next destination, Blackpoint, a short sail away, via deep water of the Exuma sound (Atlantic side of the islands). Unfortunately, too short for Max as he had spent most of his time in the Sea Park over the last week and a half, extensively reading up on fishing techniques (and I mean extensively, the topic of fishing was starting to dominate our every conversation). He was so keen to try out a few new approaches. Rodriguez (our Brazilian friend) had kindly given Max a new pink octopus skirt lure, and had also shown us his “teaser”, which was a wooden bird that is placed before the lure and is supposed to be very successful in attracting fish such as mahi mahi and tuna. Max had made his own version and it was all good to go. In true sibling rivalry style, and much to Max’s distress, Tom and Ben (with Pete’s help) also carved their own version of a “teaser”, so the competition was on as to who would catch the first fish.
Well, not a bite until just before we crossed back into the protected waters of the Exuma banks (the west side of the Atlantic). Another barracuda, on Ben’s line which surprisingly didn’t break. It was only a thin line which we thought wouldn’t hold much weight, and fortunately the fish was only a small one that we decided to throw back. We have been told that the small barracudas can be eaten without the risk of ciqaurterra poisoning, although we are still reluctant to test this theory out!
Whilst anchoring up for the night Max spotted a flock of birds diving in the water not far from our boat. He and Pete headed out with the fishing rod, and surprisingly, came back about 20 minutes later with 3 very nice fish!
With plans to leave early the next morning, we headed to shore to explore the township. It was Saturday night, and the main street (ie the only street) was full of people and kids out socialising, listening to music, playing basketball and generally enjoying the beautiful weather. We stopped at Lorraine’s Cafe for a drink and snack of some amazing fried chicken. Max spent most of our time glued to the TV fascinated by the latest news about Syria. We have not been keeping up with the news at all, which I must admit I don’t miss! It is very easy to just live day by day, besides, with 3 boys in a small boat we have enough battles close by to worry about.