Saturday, April 18, 2015

Paradise Found

Coming Into The Channel To Bimini
   We started our jump to the Bahamas by splitting it into two day trips.  The first day we travelled from Marathon to Rodriguez Key. After anchoring for the night, we headed out before the sunrise in order to make it to Bimini with enough time to check into customs.  The trip was a bit rocky and, honestly, wore us out but, it was certainly worth it.
Flying Our "Q" Flag


   When we finally spotted land, one of the boats traveling with us called over the radio, "Land ho!".  We all raised our "Q" (quarantine) flags (these yellow flags must be flown when entering a new country) and slowly made our way through the channel to the marina. Once we were tied up to the pier (We were the last to arrive), Bill and the captains of the other three boats we came in with headed over to the customs office.

   While the guys were navigating paperwork and passports, the other ladies and myself took some time to relax.  We couldn't leave our boats until we were officially checked in.  So, we stayed in to read, nap, or (in my case) take a cool shower.  The customs run was surprisingly quick. I hadn't long stepped out of the shower, when Bill came down the stairs and asked if I wanted to hop in the pool. I had just gotten clean but, oh well. . . We donned our suits and, along with our travel companions, cooled off in the pool, had drinks, and chatted until the sun went down.

   Over the next few days, we walked around the town exploring the area and enjoying  being tourists. We were told that one of the things we "had" to do while we were there, was to buy Bimini Bread.  This is a sweet loaf bread that many shops on the island seem to make but, few get recommended for. All the locals seemed to be of the same mindset. When asked where to buy this local treat, they all responded, "Charlie's".  There was only one problem with getting bread at Charlie's; It was never ready.  I guess Charlie was on "Island Time".  When we walked up to get the bread the first time, the shop was closed.  On the second attempt we arrived around 11 and were told to return at 1 when the new batch would be ready. Upon returning again, we were told that the bread hadn't been started yet and to come back at 4 . . . Hmm . . . We decided to try another shop on the following day.  We did, and after two attempts at this shop (apparently the first batch didn't come out right), we had our bread.  It was delicious.  At least the taste was worth the effort.

  We also took time to eat at a couple of the local restaurants. I tried Kalik for the first time.  Kalik is the beer of the Bahamas.  It's a lighter beer that has a bit of a bite on the finish.  Since I'm partial to wheat beers, I found that I liked its taste. We, of course, had conch.  This sea creature is served up every way imaginable throughout the islands and is touted as everything from a cure for insomnia to an aphrodisiac.  Bill and I had tried conch before but, not like they do it in Bimini.  "The" way to eat it in Bimini is as a conch salad. The dish is a combination of fresh (as in raw, just taken from the shell) conch, tomato, green pepper, and onion doused in lime and lemon juice and seasonings.  So, it's actually more of a ceviche.  Nevertheless, it was pretty good. Add a few friends, some friendly locals, and a beautiful view from the shack turned restaurant we were eating in, and you've got a cool island experience.

The Bottle Brush Plant - For Obvious Reasons

Pretty Plant On Our Walk

One Of The Wonderful Restaurants We Tried

Steps To The Beach
   Something else I was dying to do was check out the beach.  I was able to get some great pictures. We picked up a few shells and bits of sea glass but, we could have combed for hours.  There were tons of shells, sea glass, and even coral.  It was amazing to see the amount of coral washed up and the intricate patterns each piece displayed.  The last night we were there, we had a home cooked dinner with two of the other boats we were traveling with brought to us by one of the local ladies.  Afterwards, we walked back down to the beach to watch the sunset.  It was gorgeous.  The pictures I took are beautiful but, this is something you really need to experience for yourself.



Cool Coral

Such Tiny Life


   Once we reluctantly left Bimini, we headed further southeast.  After meeting with a bunch of other boaters and discussing plans, we came to the conclusion that the winds were just not going to allow us to see the Berry Islands before moving on to the Exumas.  So, we're doing it the other way around.  We stopped at the bottom tip of the Berry Islands (Frazer's Hog Cay) for the night and moved on to Rose Island for another night (last night). Since the anchorage had quite a bit of swell, we decided that, instead of spending another night of off Rose Island, we'd stay in a marina tonight and leave in the morning for the Exumas. The marina here is beautiful.  Bill and I had a wonderful brunch at the restaurant and will be glad to get a good night's sleep.

   So far, our experience in the Bahamas has been a beautiful one.  We still have quite a bit to discover.  We'll see what we can of the Exumas and sail over to the Berry Islands from there. Once we have seen much more of the Berry Islands, it'll probably be time to head up the east coast of the States (don't want to be in the way of a hurricane). Until then, we'll keep enjoying the islands and updating the blog when possible (internet is iffy at best).  I wondered how we'd fare without most of our connections to technology out here but, the magic of the islands must be working.  Already Bill and I seem to be a bit on "Island Time" ourselves.
This One's My Favorite

   Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments. (If no one has commented yet, there will be a "No Comments" link near the bottom of the post. If someone has already commented, there will be a number and the word "comments" beside it. Just click whichever of these is there, click, "add comment" when the window opens, and type away.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Gett'n Wild In The Keys

   Have you ever found that when you are constantly looking for something, it remains illusive no matter what you do?  Then, when you stop looking, you practically stumble over it?  Well this is exactly what we experienced with the manatee and, in general, the animals of the Keys. 

  Back when we were actually in the Manatee River, due to the cold, we never saw a single manatee.  Ever since then, we have been looking, in vain, for this gentle giant. By the time we arrived here in Marathon and still had yet to see this animal, I had all but given up.  Low and behold, after a few days here, we pulled into the dinghy dock to find a large bull manatee. This guy was huge. I couldn't believe the size of this guy.  He just hung out around the dinghies, munching on sea grass and making himself relatively photogenic.  After hanging around for several days, he moved on. 

How Much Is The . . . Rooster . . . In The Window?
   We did get a chance to take a bus trip to Key West to visit Brian and Erika.  Two other couples (Tom and Linda of Uplifting and Paul and Jane of Peace) went with us.  So, the eight of us (nine if you count Scupper, Brian and Erika's dog) spent the day wandering around the town, munching on treats, and taking plenty of pictures.  The animals here, mostly roosters, made their presence known and proved to be rather entertaining at times.  It was nice to spend the day hanging out with friends and enjoying new experiences.
These Little Guys Were All Over The Outdoor
Restaurant During Lunch


A Fake Palm Tree Painted To Look
Like A Pencil . . . ?
World's Largest Fork!

Tarpon - Large Fish Around Harbors At Key West

Cool Tree Outside Of Little White
House Museum

Bill Says I Never Post Pics Of Me.
So, Here's Me.
   We also had a chance to visit the local beach twice.  Sombrero Beach is a nice little spot to hang out.  The first time we went just to see what it was like.  The second time was for the Easter sunrise service being held by several of the local churches.  The service was very enjoyable and the setting couldn't have been better. 
On The Way To The Beach

On The Way To The Beach

At The Beach . . . Notice The Clear Water

These Little Guys Were All Around Our Dinghy.  Anemone?

   One of the other animals that seems to have a constant presence here in the iguana.  These guys are larger that you might expect and can display quite the array of colors, especially the males.  Despite their abundance in the Keys, snapping a picture of an iguana is not as easy as you'd think.  These oversized reptiles are fast and can even swim and climb trees.  So, if they don't want their picture taken, you probably won't be given the opportunity.  Thankfully this particular specimen was sunning himself and didn't seem to care that myself and several others were capturing him digitally.

   Last night, we even got an interesting dinner, well, really an interesting recipe.  I had planned on making a dish that used Soba noodles.  These noodles are quick cooking and the recipe seemed straight forward but, it said to "Follow package directions to boil noodles".  So, I checked the instructions on the back of the package.  What I found was rather funny.   Check out the instructions in the picture . . . reading this easy was not :) . . .

   As far as a weather window is concerned, we are simply keeping our eyes peeled.  The other couples that are planning on traveling with us are checking multiple sources and so are we.  As of today, the forecast is looking promising for the end of this week.  Whenever we actually do get a decent window to leave, we'll spend our fist day traveling to Rodriguez Key and anchor there for the night.  The next day, we'll head out into the Gulf Stream and follow it up to Bimini.  Once in Bimini, we'll check in with customs, stay a night or two to recharge the batteries and take hot showers, then move on down to the Berry Islands.
This Is "Harbor Hillbillies" - A Restaurant Right In The Marina

Marina-side Bar Band - Fiddle Rock
    For now, we'll continue to try to enjoy ourselves.  The people here have been great.  We've made a few friends, progressed on our project list, and seen some pretty interesting sights . . . Oh, and Bill hasn't had to even think about putting on a pair of socks since we got here . . .


   Please let us know what you think. Feel free to ask questions and leave nice comments. (If no one  has commented yet, there will be a "No Comments" link near the bottom of the post. If someone has already commented, there will be a number and the word "comments" beside it. Just click whichever of these is there, click, "add comment" when the window opens, and type away.)