Friday, November 15

Great Harbor Cay

We have seen it all when it comes to boats.  We've encountered the smallest of run down sailboats, fishing boats, sailing cruise ships, tall ships, "pirate" ships, mega yachts and the infamous charter boats.  It wasn't until we rounded the northern tip of the Berry Islands did we run into the ocean going mega cruise ship.  Holy cruise ship, those boats are monsters!  They dwarf everything in sight as if it were a make believe model of an island.  We'd heard they were abundant in the Bahamas, but we had to see it to believe it.  And there is really no way of getting away from them, they are so tall that you can see them over the tops of the islands.  How do those things float and not tip over?  At first site, we wanted to turn around and go back to our deserted islands.  However, we were on to them.  We knew their schedule; when they arrived and when they left and we planned our visits accordingly.

At the top of the Berry Islands sat a small 'cruise ship only' island called Great Stirrup Cay.  The guide book said you have to have permission to go ashore from the cruise ship captain.  There were multiple ships 'parked' along the shores of Great Stirrup Cay.  I smugly thought to myself that it was a little fake  that these passengers thought that this was a deserted island only for them.  I guess it was and I shouldn't judge, but it doesn't seem deserted if you are sharing it with 5000 other cruise ship guests and there are hundreds of lounge chairs lined up along the beach.  I'm just saying.....

Needless to say, we kept right on going.  In fact, one of the cruise ships was preparing for departure.  As we sailed closer and closer, we watched as the passengers were loaded back onto the ship and the smoke stack started spewing black smoke and then the anchor went up.  Oh boy, we'd better call to make sure he sees us.  Do those things have a back up camera??  We were about to sail right behind him.  So, we hailed Mr. big ship and told him we were sailing behind and would he please not run us over.  He was happy to oblige.

We were headed to the western side Great Harbor Cay in search of wifi.  We were preparing to head back to the US and that meant a gulf stream crossing.  We needed to know the weather forecast for the next several days.  We anchored outside of Bullock Harbor and dinghied in to see what we could find.  A whole lot of small island town is what we found.  There were Manatees lounging around the yacht club docks.  We went back across the harbor and tied up the dinghy in an abandoned or perhaps newly constructed (thinking positive) deep water boat launch.  We walked ashore and found a boat yard, post office, a small grocery store and a restaurant.  That's about it with exception to the homes in which the locals live.

 I reel in the extra lines while Craig reels in the fish

Oh man, it's another barracuda.  We caught 3 of these on this particular day.  It is such a bummer they are not good eatin'!

 See what I mean about the ship dwarfing the island (and that is no small island)

 Finally, a fish we can eat, a really nice big eye tuna.  We are not letting this one get away

A BIG tuna!

 A quiet sunset

 A hungry Manatee greets us at the dock where we stopped in the dinghy to ask for directions

 Eating lunch at Coullie Mae's restaurant by the sea - local Bahamian fare

Ouch, another toe casualty.  It's a good thing we are almost home, Craig is running out of toes to hurt.

 Liv reels in her catch

Leaving the rough Bullock Harbor Anchorage behind, we sailed across the shallow water to make our way back around the north tip.  Our plan was to see how many cruise ships were anchored and determine if they were all leaving for the night so we could stay the night in their protective anchorage before heading back to the eastern side of Great Harbor Cay.  Once we were underway, Olivia begged Craig to fish.  At first he said no because the water was too shallow and all she would catch was a barracuda.  Well, her persistence paid off or Craig was worn down, what ever the case may be, Olivia threw in a line.  Not only did she cast her line, she challenged Maggie to a little fishing tournament.  Maggie declined.  Once Olivia caught a little Cero, Maggie decided she was game.  She threw her line in and waited.....and waited....and waited.  Just as we approached the deeper water and were making our turn north, Zzzzzzzz, the line took off.  This time it didn't stop!  The fish was strong and fast.  He ran the line out to 900 feet!  Craig and Maggie fought the line while I slowed the boat down.  And then slowed it down more.  And then slowed it down to a stand still.  The fish was still fighting.  I turned the boat around and started heading towards it!  It was insane.  This fish was a fighter.  We could tell he was dodging in and out of rocks trying to cut himself loose.  The beast was eventually reeled in and victory was declared for Maggie!

 Liv's Cero (we let it go cuz it was kinda small)

 Craig attaches the fishing pole belt so Maggie can reel in her determined fish

The fish lost the fight.....Maggie's huge Mutton Snapper

 Passing the cruise ship island again - can you make out the hundreds of blue lounge chairs and the imported palm trees (not judging).

We arrived at the cruise ship island at about 3pm and there were 3 cruise ships getting ready to leave.  Ahhh, peace and quiet.  We pulled into a small protected area where several other boats were anchored (presumably awaiting departure to the US).  We jumped in and swam a bit and then it was time to make dinner and go to bed.  We didn't even venture ashore to check out all those lounge chairs.  The following morning, we moved over to Sugar Beach on the eastern shore.

 Making homemade tootsie rolls

The girls built a swing to pass the time

 Our anchorage between Shelling Beach and Hawks Nest Cay - at low tide the sand is out of the water (all the light green color in the middle of the screen)

 Maggie going out for a spin

 There goes Olivia

She looks like a pro - even if she has adult work gloves on!  Those are her "sailing gloves"

 Last look at our boat floating in clear water alongside a Bahama beach

Last picture of clear water and white sand beaches

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