Thursday, October 17

Deserted Islands

What would you take if you were going to be on a deserted island?   Lucky for us we had our home!  We had everything we needed when we arrived at Hoffman's Cay.  There was not a soul around or a boat in sight as far as we could see.  Spectacular!  We inched our way around the north end of Hoffman's Cay but it was too shallow to get into protected waters if the wind were to shift.  What? Too shallow for a catamaran?  Get outta town!  I know, it was crazy to think that was possible.  We did drop anchor in a spot that we thought would be okay.  The sun was high in the sky, we had plenty of time to decide.  Heck, we had nothin' but time.

I jumped in the water to explore our surroundings, hoping to score more sea treasures.  If you have snorkeled before, you are familiar with the quiet sound of fish feeding on the coral reefs and not a whole lot of anything else.  It was a peaceful feeling floating along on the surface of the calm water and the afternoon sun warming my back.  So you can imagine my fright when I turned my head and was being stared down by a big ugly barracuda.  I let out an uncontrollable squeal and decided my exploring was complete.  At least in that area.  I swam to the boat and climbed up on the swim platform, only to be confronted by two girls getting suited up to snorkel.  We decided to go the opposite direction of the barracuda that I encountered.  There wasn't much sand on the shallow bottom.   It looked more like an under water golf course, with long green grass swaying in the ebb and flow of the waters movement.  We swam over to a sand trap and found a handful of sea biscuits and shells around the perimeter.  As we made our way back to the boat guess what we happened upon?  Yep, you guessed it.....a ginormous barracuda.  It must have been the granddaddy to the one I saw earlier.  He was huge and UGLY!  Those teeth are menacing and reminiscent of shark teeth.   He was staring Kate down.  At first, Kate was oblivious.  Then I brought it to her attention when I called her name, muffled by my snorkel, and motioned her to swim to me (FYI....Liv was already next to me).  Rationally, I knew he was not out to eat us but emotionally I thought he was going to attack Kate.  Particularly because every time Kate moved, he moved, in the same direction.  It was like a game of cat and mouse.  Needless to say it made me very uncomfortable.  And if he hadn't been sooo big, I might not have reacted like a lunatic (I prefer protective) mother.  So I immediately raised my head above water, spit out my snorkel and hollered over to the boat to get Craig's attention.  I was screaming and he couldn't make out what I was actually saying, so he and Maggie assumed we were in trouble and proceeded to drop the dinghy in the water in record time.  In about 60 seconds flat, the dinghy was there and we were scrambling inside.  Kate was shook up and my heart was racing and Craig was left feeling relief that it wasn't a shark in the water (cuz that's what he thought!).  All was well and we decided that if we couldn't swim by the boat without a family of barracuda preying on us, we'd move anchorages.  We scooted across the way to Market Fish Cay which had a white sandy beach and access to the ocean side.  It proved to have better protection from wind and swells and be a better place to snorkel without barracudas!

 View from the back door

 A pelican walks along the spit between islands in our anchorage 

 Checking out the scene on shore

 Hey, look what I found...a lost marker?

Fort building by Kate - held in place by the wind

A little daddy, daughter time in the fort

Did I mention we were all alone?

Nothing but the sea, the sand and the sun

 Collecting sea treasures

Upon snorkeling in our private anchorage I saw as many as 20 sea biscuits making tracks in the sand (underwater)!  It was so incredible to see them alive and moving.   I also spotted a finger star fish crawling along the sea floor.  I picked it up to show the girls and even contemplated keeping it as a souvenir but I couldn't bring myself to kill a living thing.  I put it back on the bottom and watched it make new tracks across the sand.  So cool!

 Craig spends his time making new lures for our next fishing expedition

Collecting and rinsing off the shells and sea glass we collected

Craig took Maggie and I to the ocean side of Hoffman's Cay to collect sea glass.  We had to swim ashore because it was a steep beach with breaking waves (impossible to land the dinghy in those conditions).  Once on the beach, we found lots and lots of sea glass.  We told Craig to come back in 30 minutes to get us, which in hind sight was not nearly long enough to thoroughly comb the beach.  We also saw several sea turtle tracks leading from the waters edge to the berm where mounds of sand were formed (presumable with lots of turtle eggs).  These were no small sea turtles either.  We could tell by how big the tracks were, that these were big mommas!  The tracks literally looked like a tractor tire.  In fact, Maggie asked me if they were tire tracks when she first spotted them.  I was really bummed that I didn't have my camera with me.

Sorting by color

Lots and lots of pretty shells

Sea Urchins

Perfect sand dollar

Collecting fire wood

 Building and lighting the bon fire

 Watching's mesmerizing.  Don't be fooled by the fact that we have girls and Craig might be the only pyromaniac in the family.  Girls are equally entranced.

 Playing a little limbo while the bon fire gets big and hot

Sunset on our very own deserted island

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