Saturday, June 27, 2015

Cats on Board

Did You Want Something? - Kookie

   Living on a sailboat is pretty "out of the box" for may land-lubbers.  Add in, not one cat but, four . . . four!? . . . Well, let's just say that along with all the animal lovers that hear our story and cheer us on, there are plenty of others that have some "interesting" reactions.  We've heard everything from,"What do you do  with all that fur?" to, "That's too many cats.", to "Are they (the cats) ok with that?".  No matter what the reaction, most people are amazed, when they see for themselves, that we make our furry family work.  It really does work.  So, for those of you that are entertaining the idea of bringing an animal aboard or are just curious about how it works, I though I'd go over some points/tips that make living with four cats  on a boat a little more "purrrfect" . . . Sorry, I couldn't help myself . . .


   It's Their Space, Too:  It may not sound like rocket science but, before introducing our furry friends to our new space, we needed to keep in mind that they wold be living in the boat, too.  I know animals are adaptable and being flexible is usually not too difficult for them but, they needed that extra bit of consideration since we were about to rearrange their little world; A new environment can be scary.  Just as you would "baby-proof'" your home for a new child or make accommodations for a person with special needs, we accommodated the cats.  Will they be able to maneuver around the boat easily?  Where are the best places to put a litter box or food bowls?  Do they have safe places to go in rough weather? We kept these and a million other questions in mind as we began the moving process.

Our "Scratching Mast"
   What's Old Is New Again: We brought what we could from our current home.  Toys, blankets, litter boxes . . . we wanted them to have familiar things (with familiar smells) in the boat.  For an animal, if the place smells familiar, it will start to feel like home more quickly.  Their food and litter were important in this process, too.  A familiar feeding routine, the same brand of food, and even the same brand of litter (because they all smell differently) helped our kitties adapt more easily.  The biggest thing that we couldn't bring with us was a scratching post.  We actually had two scratching towers in our RV (our previous home) that would never have fit on the boat.  What to do?  I had a light bulb idea while working around our mast one day.  The mast was the perfect base for a scratching post and it wasn't very aesthetically pleasing (our mast runs all the way through the boat).  So, we wrapped the mast from the ceiling to the floor in sisal rope and voila!  A great scratching post that was nice to look at; a win/win.
Close Up


   Doctor, Doctor, . . .:  Of course, no matter where we are, we try to keep the cats up to date on all of their shots.  However this proves to be difficult at times because a new place means a new vet and, if you're out of the country, this is even more problematic.  So, we did our homework.  Since we knew that the first foreign place we'd be visiting was the Bahamas, we researched the fees and procedures on the Bahamian government's website as well as pet travel sites that told us about finding a vet there.  This allowed us to prepare ahead of time.  We were able to check the cats into the country without a problem and keep track of vet clinics, should we need one (thankfully, we didn't).  We also keep books on the boat that specifically deal with pet care on a boat.  Even the best plans can't ensure that there's a vet available every time you need one.  These books, allow us to have information at hand concerning administering medication, diagnosing common ailments, pet safety, and more; Should we need to treat the cats in a remote location on our own, these will be a big help (I have read them cover to cover).

Oliver Sporting His Harness
   A Safe Place:  This was a BIG worry for me before we moved aboard.  What if they fall overboard?  What if the seas get rough? I worried about this A LOT.  My fears only dissipated when we were actually able to implement a plan.  First, we made sure that we had solid rules.  For us this meant that the cats could only go as far as the cockpit while we were underway; they could walk around the deck only while we were at anchor or in port; they were, under no circumstances, allowed to roam free in a marina; and, lastly, we must supervise them while they are outside.  We follow these rules religiously and, thank God, they are all safe, sound, and no one has gone overboard.

   The cats also wear harnesses at all times. We initially looked at pet life vests (yes, they make them small enough for cats).  However, after doing some research, we found that this could actually be a hindrance to cat safety.  Unlike dogs, cats rely on their agility and ease of motion to stabilize themselves.  These life vests (and we looked at a lot) would have all restricted their natural movements.  So, instead of investing in something that would have been a possible hazard, we purchased harnesses.  These don't float but, it gives us a way to grab on to them for easy retrieval.  Our thought was that with our rules and vigilance in place, the cats weren't likely to go overboard but, just in case, we needed a way to pull them out as quickly as possible.  At first, the cats resisted the harnesses.  They even tried to walk backwards in an attempt to get out of them but, after a while they were fine.  Now, they are like a second skin (or fur) for them.  They don't even seem to notice them.

   The Day to Day:  This requires a good bit of extra work but, it is certainly worth it.  I clean their litter boxes once every day (we have two).  We make sure that they have fresh food and water, giving them two meals a day and topping off the water bowl as needed.  I also wash their bowls and mats regularly to keep away any bugs or germs that might want to hang around.  I have to corral their toys in a central location because they tend to get left all over the boat and I give out treats every now and then, just because.  I also do A LOT of combing.  In short, these guys are well cared for.
Simeon, Lounging As Usual

   So, that's my quick glace at bringing our kitties on board.  I'm sure there are things I forgot to cover but, these are the major considerations.  If you have any questions, please let me know. Hopefully this gives those of you would-be cruisers some food for thought.  For those of you that were simply curious, well, I hope you now see that we aren't quite as crazy as we seem for bringing these guys aboard and that it really can work. As for the question of why there are four cats . . . Well, that's another story . . .
Silas: In A Word, Silly

   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.)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Top 10 Galley Essentials

Our Closet-Sized Galley

   During the time that Bill and I have lived on the boat, curious non-boaters have asked a lot of questions about our way of life.  One of the questions I get asked a lot is along the lines of "Can you really cook on a boat?".  I suppose when people ask this question, they are conjuring up images of canned beans and soup being heated up on the stove or, possibly, a certain blue-boxed brand of macaroni and cheese being boiled up.

   While I will admit that this is the case at times, the vast majority of the time we do actually cook; chopping onions, grating garlic, roasting meats, stirring up sauces cooking.  Bill and I really do get a lot of use out of our galley and enjoy cooking up new recipes and old favorites.  My mother-in-law's lasagna (cooked up for every family birthday for decades) and my shrimp bisque are just a couple of our favorites.  Bill even bakes up all of our bread here.  Loaves, hamburger buns, pizza dough, and more. How do we manage this in a galley that is not much bigger than the size of most people's closets? . . . I'll admit that it is a challenge . . .

   Bill and I simply enjoy cooking together.  We are also pretty adventurous in that we'll try most anything once.  We even made sure that we found room for all of our favorite cooking gadgets and tools when we moved on to the boat.  We had developed a way of preparing food that allowed us to make nearly everything from scratch.  Moving onto a home that floats didn't mean that we should change our ways when it came to cooking.

   Many of these galley items are what we'd consider "tried and true".  They have stood up to plenty of use and abuse as well as the marine environment they've been exposed to over the past year (salt air can wreak havoc with many things, especially things made with metal).  I thought that I'd share a few of our favorites here.  This will give a little insight in to cooking on a boat and maybe even give you some ideas about what will work in your kitchen (on water or land).  I included links so that, if you feel so inclined, you can check out some of these items for yourself.

Corelle Dishes: I'm probably not revealing any secrets here.  Corelle is known for creating products that hold up to just about anything. When I first started to look for boat-proof dishes, I found brands I liked but, were way over priced and ones that were affordable but, not to my taste. This particular set fit the bill on both accounts (not a "frilly" style that often accompanies Corelle products) and has definitely held up to spending time on a boat.

Manual Food Processor: This thing is awesome!  It uses zero electricity (power is at a premium on a boat).  This one is made by Pampered Chef (because I used to sell for them).  It chops wonderfully, smooths out sauces easily, and an added bonus is an arm work out.  It even has a locking arm for easy storage.

Immersion Blender: I don't actually use this item that often but, when I need it, it works wonderfully.  It is also a big help when it comes to safety.  Why risk pouring boiling hot soup into a blender when this can be placed into the soup pot directly?  It purees soups and sauces in much less time and removes the chance of burns from spills.

2-Quart Jugs: We have 2 of these and they are rarely empty. They are just the right size for our little fridge and pour easily.  We use one exclusively for tea and the other for orange juice.  They don't seem to hold odors either; a big plus in the world of Tupperware-style products.

Microplane Grater: I LOVE this grater.  It gets used nearly every time I cook.  It might surprise you to learn what I use it for most.  Garlic. Yep. Grating garlic is the easiest and quickest way to get it ready for the pan. This is a must-have tool in our galley.

Pizza Docker and Dough Roller: I put these 2 together because one is rarely used without the other (and we make a lot of pizza).  This dual-ended roller has a different size cylinder on each end. We have found that the larger end is great for a pizza and the smaller end works great for tortillas.  The docker is like a roller on steroids. It has spikes (they're not sharp) on the roller part that poke small holes into your pizza dough.  This allows the air to escape. So, no big bubbles in your pizza!

Pizza Stone: Bill and I will never bake the same way again.  It might have pizza in the name but, it actually makes baking, in general, better. It evens out hot spots in your oven, allowing food to cook more evenly. Allow the stone to heat up along with your oven and place the dish, pan, or whatever right on top.  The only drawback we have found to this is that, since it holds heat well, it makes it hard change the temperature of the oven quickly.  So, if you need to put a dish in right after another dish, you may have to pull the stone out if the temperature change is significant.

Flexible Cutting Boards: These are invaluable on a boat. They take up very little space, wash up easily, and it won't break your budget when they need to be replaced.  A triple win!  These can be found in sets of 4 (or so), have colors that are meant to eliminate cross-contamination (red for beef, yellow for veggies, etc.), and work in kitchens big and small.

Better Homes and Gardens Storage Containers:  These were not the cheapest investment because we needed SO many of them but, they were worth it.  These containers are virtually air-tight.  They have kept out critters as well as water (not that I suggest pouring water over these). I recommend wiping the lids down with a damp sponge instead of submerging them; this helps keep the seal in good shape. These also come in a wide variety of sizes. So, you can store pretty much anything in them. *note: the link I provided is for the starter set but, canisters can be purchased individually as we did*

Basic Cocktail Shaker: I can't talk about all this cooking without mentioning the drinks that often go along with it.  Bill can mix up some great drinks.  Margaritas, mojitos, tequila sunrises, and half masts are often shaken up on our boat.  This particular shaker holds up every time.  It washes up wonderfully, never drips or leaks, and hasn't shown even the smallest sign of rust (a HUGE plus).
*note: The shaker we have is made by Home Presence.  I could not find a link for it.*

   So, that's my list of top 10 galley essentials.  I'm sure that if you asked 100 boat couples/families what their essential items would be, you'd get just as many different lists; These are the items that work for us.

   By the way, this post has been in the works for a while and it's given me time to think not only about the above items but, how I get to use them daily. Since I am continually asked about cooking on the boat, I thought that sharing some of our favorite recipes would be a good fit for this blog.  So, I am planning on starting a new recipe page; one that not only provides the "how to" but, some background on the recipe and kitchen tips and trick to go along with it.  I'll keep you up to date about new additions to the page.  I hope that this will add more depth to the blog, more insight into our lifestyle, and inspire you to trying something new.  Check it out soon!

   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.)

Friday, June 12, 2015

No Go

   And now the conclusion to my miniseries (part 3) . . .

At The Restaurant In Highborne For My Birthday
 After another slow day of sailing, we dropped anchor in Highborne Cay.  There isn't much to Highborne.  There's a marina (pretty over-priced) and a restaurant that's actually pretty reasonable, as long as you don't go crazy with the alcoholic beverages.  The beers are $7 a pop!  Normally, Bill and I would have just cooked something on the boat and turned in for the night but, . . . we actually sailed into Highborne on my birthday.  So, Bill decided that I should at least be treated to a good meal that I didn't have to cook.

Pretty Flower Outside Of The Restaurant

The Shell Turtle
   We invited the rest of our little flotilla to come along.  I think we were all in need of an evening out and we really enjoyed ourselves.  The food was delicious and the conversation stayed at a continuous flow the whole time.  Bill, Hans, and Roland seemed to be enjoying their conversations (in German, of course) and we were all able to catch up with all the happenings over the past few weeks that would have taken too long over the VHF.  I wasn't expecting any presents, since this was an impromptu gathering but, Knotty Kat surprised me.  They had apparently bought some items from the Shell Man in Bimini (a nice man that makes art out of shells) and decided to give me a "turtle" as a gift; Very thoughtful.  Thanks guys!



   We pulled out of Highborne early the next morning.  Bill and I headed closer to the Gulf Stream, Knotty Kat headed to a marina for a couple of nights, Uplifting headed in our direction but, (since they have a working engine) made different stops than we did, and Roland on Seabiscuit headed to Nassau for some work on his engine.  As we sailed, we all tried to keep in touch by radio but, eventually, we lost contact with each other.

Pick A Sand Dollar, Any Sand Dollar

   As we continued on, we found a few stops along the way and pulled a few night sails.  Eventually, we stopped in Cat Cay.  We stayed there for two days waiting for the wind to start moving in the right direction.  The wait wasn't too bad.  The weather wasn't great on the first day.  So, our already low batteries didn't get much help from the solar panels.  Staying an extra day allowed the sun to come out and the batteries to charge enough to get us back to the States.  While we were waiting, we took the time to snorkel around the boat and were astounded at the amount of sand dollars.  They were everywhere.  Bill and I picked up ten in just a few minutes' time.  We even found one that was partly purple. . . didn't know they could be colored that way.      
Here's The Purple One


Lighthouse On Cat Cay
   Once the wind was favorable, we set sail.  As we left, we started to feel pretty good about the wind getting us in the right direction.  However, not long after we left, the wind simply died.  In our efforts to get into and through the Gulf Stream, we spent a total of seven hours simply adrift.  The only reason we were still moving during that time was the strong currents in the Gulf Stream were pushing us due north.  If the winds didn't pick up, we'd be landing MUCH further north than Florida (like Massachusetts, maybe).  Luckily, the winds did pick up in the early hours of the next morning.  We were able to sail into the vicinity of Ft. Lauderdale and have Towboat U.S. take us the rest of the way into the City of Hollywood Marina.  This was about as close to Ft. Lauderdale as we could get and still avoid the exorbitant prices at the Ft. Lauderdale marinas.
Silas Wants To Know When We'll Get There


Getting Towed In By Towboat U.S. . . . Yep Through A Bridge 
   As we were being towed in, we actually spotted Knotty Kat off our port side and hailed them on the radio to let them know what our plans were.  We were making such good time (around 8 kts.), that we were leaving quite a wake.  Knotty Kat was able to stay out of the way but, Bill was thinking about all those times we'd been rocked by power boats.  He looked over at me and said, "Where's some power boats so we can buzz them?".  I had to laugh.  Everyone was staying clear of us once they saw the towboat but, it was a funny thought.
We Spotted A Waterspout Forming As We Were Being Towed

Knotty Kat Snapped This Pic
This Is What The Winds In The Bahamas
Did To Our Courtesy Flag

   So, here we are.  The Towboat U.S. guy did an excellent job of getting us in here; Not a scratch or dent to be seen.  We've been here a week and are going to stay at least two more because Bill was offered a two-week job working on a rental property for one of the other guys here in the marina.  This engine is not only getting our moral low but, it's really swamping our wallet. . . and, no, it is still not running.


   A repair guy came today (he couldn't come earlier because we had to have the starters rebuilt first).  He tried and tried to start the engine but, no luck.  He thinks the problem is either with the compression (which could mean SERIOUS bucks) or the fuel injection pump that was supposed to be rebuilt and working fine, isn't. He is going to come back with something to test the compression and help us further diagnose the problem.

   We have decided that Maine just isn't in the cards for us this year.  We just don't have enough time left to get there.  We are thinking that if we can get the engine going relatively soon, we can make it to Maryland to work a big boat show there (this would help rebuild the cruising funds).  If not, we will have to find jobs here at least for a few months.  

   Engines are no cheap matter. . . full-time cruisers often have to stop and work from time to time . . . I just hope we can get out of here with our shirts still intact . . .
At Least We Are Able To Get Back To Cooking Like We Want To
 . . . Homemade Chile Rellenos And Spanish Rice . . . Yum! 
   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.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Sprechen Sie Engine?

   And so we continue with part 2 . . .

Amid Ships On Deck For This One 
  Once we were able to maneuver out of Staniel Cay, we headed over to Hawksbill Cay.  Our sail over was slow due to the lack of stronger winds but, it was definitely peaceful.  We went "wing and wing" nearly the entire trip (The Jib/Genoa out to one side, the Mainsail out to the other). This sail configuration is really only good for light winds when you're headed down wind, but those are the conditions we had.  So, away we went!  As you can tell from the pictures, I tried to show this by taking various shots from the boat.  This produced some interesting sail pics but, didn't show the whole boat (of course).  Oh, well.  I tried.

Taken From The Stern


Some Interesting Rock Formations On The Beach
   After dropping anchor, we settled in for the night.  The next morning, we went with the Uplifting crew (Tom and Linda) to see the cairn atop a ridge on the cay.  It was a quick but, steep climb and the views were impressive.  We could see for miles in all directions.  The cairn is something that has been built up over the years by sailors, each adding a stone represent their presence there.  So, we (Tom and Linda and Bill and I) took turns placing our rocks on the cairn, took a few pictures/videos, and headed back down the trail.
These Shells Were Part Of The
Conglomerate Rock Formations

Little Pool Behind The Rocks

Lava + Colder Water = Cool Rock Formations 

View From The Edge Of The Cay
The Tide Was Marked By
A Line Of Shells

View From The Top Of The Cairn

Interesting Flowers

Taking My Turn With The Rocks

Bill's Turn

   Later that day, S/V Knotty Kat sailed in to continue the journey with us.  Unfortunately, they arrived at a time when the swells were starting to pick up.  We all had a pretty uncomfortable night and decided to pull up anchor for calmer waters.

A Snail Attached Itself To A Mangrove Leaf

   Our next stop?  Shroud Cay.  Yes.  Shroud, as in a burial shroud.  Supposedly, the cay was named that because someone thought the aerial view showed it to have the same shape as a shroud . . . I don't know that I see it but, like I said, someone that got their first, did.  That being said, I think "shroud" is kind of a dark name for a cay that is so beautiful.  This was, by far, my favorite cay/island for exploring.
Heading Down Through The Mangroves


   Hans and Laura (Knotty Kat), Tom and Linda (Uplifting), and Bill and I spent a few days just exploring.  There were many little inlets and mangrove channels to explore.  We were only limited by the tides and the depths as to where we could go.  One particular trip, the longest by far, proved to be the best spot on the cay.  We wound our way through the curving waterway and around shallow areas until, finally, we made it to a spot that opened up to the Atlantic.  It was gorgeous and, although we knew it wasn't, the beach appeared virtually "untouched".

Our Platoon

View From Camp Driftwood
   There is a place on a hill in this beautiful place called Camp Driftwood.  In the 60's there was a man who came to this spot in the Bahamas and decided to make a home for himself out of driftwood.  He brought anything he could find on the beach to make and adorn his new home and even scattered load after load of beach sand up the hill to create a better walkway.  Years after the man left (don't know where he went), people continued to travel to this site and many left trinkets there (shells, stones, boat memorabilia, etc.).  This made it quite an eclectic destination.  Sadly, during the last few years, some very thoughtless boaters started to leave, not trinkets but, trash behind.  This, of course, did not sit well with the caretakers of the site.  The problem eventually got bad enough that the decision was made to put a ban on the leaving of items and to remove what was already there.  There is a sign where the house once stood, that states that anything left behind will be removed by the staff . . . must people be so careless?



Conch Shell On The Beach
The Inside Of An Opened Conch Shell . . . Kinda Cool

Wilbur, Knotty Kat's Dog . . . Yes, Knotty Kat Has A Dog

   While in Shroud, we also met up with a man named Roland.  Roland (on S/V Seabiscuit) pulled into the anchorage not long after we did.  The winds had started to pick up and, we noticed that as he was pulling in, he was single-handing.  Trying to pick up a mooring ball on his own in strong winds was proving to be a rather laborious effort for him.  So, since were were right beside him, we decided to dinghy over and help.  Once he was secured, he thanked us (in a very thick German accent) and explained that his engine was nearly dead . . . hmm . . . that sounds familiar. His German accent caught us off guard since he was flying a Brazilian flag but, turns out this blonde-haired, blue-eyed man had European (German and Swiss) parents who immigrated to Brazil after the war.  Funny enough, Bill actually speaks German (so does Hans on Knotty Kat) and, since Roland's German was better than his English, Bill mostly conversed with him in German and translated for me.        

   When we weren't exploring, Bill and I spent a good amount of time with Roland.  Since we were both having serious engine issues, Bill would go to help Roland with his engine and Roland would come over to do the same for us.  He actually ended up helping us to repair one of our solar panels that was damaged by a Mainsail line.  Unfortunately, his help did not result in a working engine for us but, the conversation was interesting, the help was welcomed on both ends, and we even received a bottle of wine from him as a gift for our assistance.

   Next up, our fleet of four (Roland included), sail to Highborne Cay . . .

   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.)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Desperately Seeking Chubby

   Ok, so, it's been a while since I've posted but, when you're traveling around the Bahamas, a decent internet signal is not easily obtained.  So, I didn't post because, well, I couldn't.  We are now actually back in the States and since there is quite a bit to catch up on, I am going to do things a little differently.  My plan is to put up a series of posts during the course of this week.  This will allow me to post, and you to read, in reasonable chunks.  So, without further ado, here is the first installment in my catch up series . . .

Heading To Shore
   Once we put Black Point to stern, we headed (along with most of the boats we'd been traveling with) for Staniel Cay.  Staniel is certainly not the biggest island in the Bahamas but, it does have a few more resources than a lot of the little places we visited.  It also held the possibility of a diesel mechanic by name of Chubby.  So, we sailed the short jaunt and, with some help from S/V Five Flip Flops and their dinghy, dropped anchor across from the channel to the marina.  We'd have liked to get in closer to our buddy boats but, we just didn't feel comfortable maneuvering into that area without an engine . . . sigh . . . oh well . . .

Running To The Grocery Store
Bet Your Local Store Doesn't Look Like This
   We were there for a couple of days trying to track down Chubby and taking advantage of the small stores to do a bit of grocery shopping.  We did a preliminary trip around town on our first day, just to get a feel for the layout of the town. The next day, the mail boat actually arrived.  Knowing when the mail boat arrives in the Bahamas, no matter what island you happen to be on, is essential.  The mail boat is a huge cargo ship that not only brings mail, but pretty much anything else you could imagine.  Produce, toiletries, furniture, boat parts, . . . whatever the locals need.  As a cruiser, if you talk to the right people and get you order in in time, you can actually have what you need shipped in, too.  Mail-order groceries in the Bahamas . . . and you thought that was something started in the States . . .

   The Isles General Store had all that we needed.  Once the crates (two truck loads worth) were unloaded and stocked, the wonderful little lady that runs the store opened up her doors.  We (we meaning Bill, myself, and two other cruising couples) descended on this grocery haven.  Green peppers, grapes, butter, ground beef, sour cream, and  . . . is that an avocado? . . . and (Wow!) a new start button for our diesel engine?!  We loaded up with what we could and shuffled over to the counter to have everything weighed and totaled up on an old calculator.

   As we each had our turn, the lady running the store struck up conversations with us all.  When Bill and I got to the counter, I told here that I was glad to have found a small jar of mayonnaise because I was going to make chicken salad with the grapes, celery, and chicken I found.  She told me that mayonnaise was good but, she usually used Italian or Ranch dressing (since mayo is hard to come by).  Hmmm . . . I never thought of that.  Ranch dressing would make a great stand in for mayonnaise.  I thanked her for the tip but, joked that she just cost herself some money.  I was going to put the mayonnaise back because I already had a bottle of Ranch on the boat.  She simply laughed and said,"That's fine, honey.  You just make sure you eat something healthy.".   She even dipped into her own personal stash of coffee when Bill couldn't find his regular dark coffee on the shelves.  This sort of generosity isn't hard to find in the Bahamas.  Warm, friendly locals are the norm.

   While anchored, Bill and I continued to sweat it out trying to fix our stubborn engine.  As for Chubby, well, we never found him.  The closest we got was a conversation with someone we actually met in Black Point.  I first talked with this guy in Lorraine's when he asked me how long I'd be in town to teach (I didn't have to ask how he knew I was "the teacher".  I did kinda stick out).  He seemed sympathetic toward our situation and offered to get Chubby to come to us.  By the time we left Black Point, we still hadn't set sight on this mechanic and figured we'd find him in Staniel.  As I was waiting outside the marina on our last afternoon for Bill to fill up our gas can, I heard, "Hey, Teach!" behind me.  I turned around to see the guy from Lorraine's waving at me.  He told me that although he'd been trying, he couldn't quite pin Chubby down either. . . So, the illusive Chubby stayed that way.
   I stated earlier that the locals are, on the whole, wonderful people.  The people that stay at the marina in their grandiose power boats . . . well. . . they, on the whole, leave something to be desired.  I was working my way though my old-fashioned laundry methods one afternoon, when I looked up to see a rather large power boat barreling towards us.  I nervously called over to Bill to warn him about this potential t-boning situation.  The boat was moving closer and I was about to grab the air horn when the boat turned hard to straighten out and pull alongside us (still moving enough to cause a wake).  "You MIGHT  want to think about moving your boat out of the channel!", the captain yelled.  Ruffled, I yelled back that the channel was clearly over there (pointing off behind our stern).  "NO IT ISN'T!" he retorted.  "It's right here!  I've been coming here for thirty years!  It's always been right here!".  Bill yelled over that we were anchored on a sand bar (shallow for his sort of boat) and that, surely, he didn't need to run through the sand bar. . . This screwball's answer to this? . . . "The sand bar is part of the channel, too!"  After trying to explain to Captain Sunshine that our engine was dead and that we couldn't move even if we were in the channel (which we weren't), he exploded, started talking into the wind, and said something about "moving anyway".

   I couldn't believe the audacity, the gall, the stupidity . . . First of all, he could have been a whole lot nicer.  Second of all, there were two other boats around us that actually were in the channel.  He didn't say a thing to them. . . and third, we were NOT in the channel.  We checked the charts.  We really were not in the way. . . I have very little tolerance for blatant ignorance but, couple it with arrogance and I have NO tolerance for the resulting "better than you" attitude . . . ugh . . .

Brain Coral Outside The Cave
This Little Guy Was Almost Too Quick

   So, as a way to relax, cool off, and actually enjoy this place we were anchored in, we and a few of the couples we were cruising with went to the grotto.  The grotto is a snorkeling site in a cave not too far from the channel.  The cave is accessible and best entered at slack low tide.  Once the tide starts to change again, the current becomes too strong to make swimming in the cave safe.  This was just what we needed.  It was certainly a worthwhile dinghy trip out there.  Fish and coral were everywhere and in a rainbow of colors.  We even brought some frozen corn (a tip from a friend) and released handfuls at a time.  The fish gobbled it up; It was a fish frenzy.  You could even hear the fish's mouths smacking closed as they snatched up a kernel.  This was a really cool experience.

So Many Fish

Looking Out From The Side Of The Cave

These Little Jellies Were All Over  The Place

Looking Up At The Cave

Lots Of Stripes

   Well, this finishes up our stay in Staniel Cay and my first catch up installment . . . Next up . . . Hawksbill Cay . . .

   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.)