Howard And The Remoras

November 30th

We again have acquired a school (?) of remoras under our boat. One is yellow…wait for it…ICK!! These things really creep me out, with their flat, suction heads and upside down-like mouths. Howard has somehow caught sight of them, and is now incredibly intrigued. He sits out on the swim platform gazing down off of the side and through the slats, hoping to catch a glimpse.

I insist on Howard being supervised when on these viewing missions. I’m terrified he’ll try and jump in after one if they are spotted. You may think that there’s no way a cat would willingly jump into the water, but you would be wrong here.

At our slip in Baltimore, Howard jumped from our bow…onto a duck…that was in the water! He landed squarely onto the duck, which would have been a victory had the attack happened on dry land. In this case, the duck rolled and Howard followed…into the harbor! I wasn’t so terrified that he’d gone into the water, but that he may grow a second tail from being in that “icky” water. Unfortunately, the Baltimore harbor, as you may expect, is far from clean.

Scott put his arm into the water, and Howard “climbed” it to get out (not pleasant for Scott). He careened into the boat, looking like a cartoon character, soaking wet with legs flying in all directions. He then proceeded to lick the ick off of him, and thankfully still only has one tail! He has fallen in twice since then, more by accident, but it the last has been almost a year ago. I’m worried that he has forgotten that we sit on water.

Back to the remoras. What scares me about Howard falling into the water here is the remoras sucking onto him. I don’t know their preferences..would they suck onto fur? I have visions of fishing Howard out of the water with a big bald spot on him. Yeesh.

Scott spends his supervising time educating Howard about the remoras, as they watch the water together.

Scott points out the remoras when they surface.

Scott then explains to Howard that they are in the water, and are “sucky.”

Howard seems to get it, although he hangs over the edge of the swim platform way to far for my comfort. I’m happier when he just hangs out in the cockpit, waiting for a glimpse.

His boat skills continue to develop!

Don’t forget to check the link to Howard’s photos, on Our Boat Cat page. We’re always updating it!

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

 

 

Trails And Beaches

November 29th

We’ve been stranded on the boat for most of our stay here, but finally had a wind reprieve and managed a full day ashore today..woohoo! Scott wanted to hike the south part of the main island, and I wanted some chill time off of the boat.

We had a choice of two or three beaches to anchor off of, for Scott to start his hike. The first one was a semicircle, with water that was as clear and still as a swimming pool. However, right on the beach was this sign:

What kind of sign is that? What the heck does it mean? Are there aggressive owls? Why the skulls on the sign? Do they claw you with poison talons? Seriously, I wanted to know what this foreboding sign meant! Scott did not seemed phased by the word “Danger,” and the skulls. What did he care, he was going to leave and hike! I, however, did not want to be left on some dangerous “owl” beach, so we headed to beach number two. No danger signs…check.

We anchored off of the beach and waded our stuff to shore. Scott suited up for a hike, and I flopped onto a chair in the sand. I quickly realized that I did not have the beach to myself. Two meaty lizards came over to eyeball me.  I’m guessing cruisers who come to use the picnic table on this beach feed them, because they came closer than normal. They  were quite persistent, coming right back after I would shoo them away. Lizards skeeze me out. I don’t mind one crossing my path, or getting a photo of one and continuing on my way. What I do mind, is the possibility of falling asleep and being woken up to a creepy lizard on my back…ick!

My “shooing” didn’t work, and neither did the “lizard stick” that Scott had left me. I then decided to give them an unexpected bath. I filled a cup with salt water and splashed it on them. This ran them back into the bushes and held them off for longer periods of time, but they kept coming back. Like I said, persistent little reptiles. I guess the Chex Mix in my bag smelled pretty darned good, but I wasn’t into sharing it.  Again, I was having flashbacks of petting zoo, bum-rushing animals!

Eventually, Scott returned. After laughing at my frustration and failed attempts, he fetched the massive water gun from the Princess. He uses it to suck up water that gathers at the stern of the boat, that the bilge pump doesn’t quite get (yes, the Princess has a bilge pump!). When the persistent twosome again appeared, he doused them. I can imaging it equated to opening up a fire hose on them. Poor things, one was running on his front legs, because his back legs were being held up by the water gun stream. Needless to say…problem solved!

The south end of the island gave Scott an even harder time, with overgrown and unmarked trails, but he managed. This end of the island had ruins of the colonial settlement.

He also came upon Pirate’s Lair, located near a hidden anchorage. Pirate’s would come ashore to drink from the well here, and sleep for the night. They left seeds which fell from their sleeping mats, and some grew, leaving a plants not native to the area.

Again, I would not drink this stuff. If I were a pirate, I’d stick to my rum ration!

This main island of the park is named Warderick Wells, because of the many fresh water wells on the island. The word “well” is a stretch. We’re not talking Evian here. These are small, dark, dank holes, that I would not drink water from!

The day was a nice reprieve from the wind and waves at anchor. Here are some great photos of the trails and beaches along Scott’s hiking route.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Boo Boo Hill

Friday, November 27th

One of the highest points on the main island of the park is referred to as Boo Boo Hill. It provides an awesome panoramic view of the central Exumas. Legend has it that on a wild, stormy day many years ago, a luckless schooner sank off  of Warderick Wells.  All souls perished in the disaster, and  not a single body was recovered for a Christian burial.  It is said that if you climb to the crest of the hill at the bloom of the full moon, you can hear the voices of the lost souls singing hymns.

Tradition has it that leaving an offering to King Neptune and the sea gods at the top of BooBoo Hill will incur good sailing and safe passage. It has become custom for cruisers to leave something with their boat name on it (usually driftwood), and the date that they were here. We hadn’t run across any driftwood, so Scott painted a conch shell that he’d found while we were in the Berry Islands as our offering.

We’d planned to climb Boo Boo Hill on Thanksgiving morning, hoping to leave our shell and maybe find a speck of cell service to call home, but the winds were just too much to launch the Aluminum Princess. By today, things had eased somewhat, so we gave it a go.

To get to shore, we had to anchor the Aluminum Princess off of a beach and wade in. We left dressed in shorts, and then changed into long pants, long-sleeved shirts, hats, and hiking boots. Any visible body part was coated in bug spray, and we were off. The trails were far from what I would call marked. Scott has done a fair amount of backpacking, and he agreed that they could be much better maintained. We had more than one “guess” at which way to go, but always managed to come out in the right place.

After a short hike up the first, smaller hill, we were already enjoying amazing views (that included our boat!).

As I’ve mentioned before, the terrain on the island changes dramatically. We started walking across coral rock, that resembles what I think would be on the moon’s surface.

That led us into thick fan palms, and then we came out to more rocky terrain along the cliffs leading down to the Atlantic.

From there, we traveled across sand and shrubs, and then made our way up Boo Boo Hill.

Once there, it looked like someone had dumped a pile of reject wood. The pile is quite thick and spreads across the top of the hill.

People have found many ways to leave their name on wood and other materials.

Some coming year after year, to mark their trip!

We left our “mark” on Boo Boo Hill.

After a short rest and enjoying more great views, we made our way back to the Butterfly Beach where we started.

We changed back into our wading clothes for the ride home, and I successfully eluded the bugs this time, what a victory!

Here more pictures of the beautiful scenery we walked through, and the awesome views (along with the usual sunset photos!).

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”

Exuma Cays Land And Sea Park

Wednesday, November 25th

On Saturday, we traveled a short three hours to the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. The forecast called for big winds to build and blow out of the south and then slowly move around to the west, north and north east. There is no good coverage in the Exumas from all direction wind, so we chose a spot and anchored with plenty of chain let out. The first night was pretty bouncy, even for our big boat. Whipping at 20+ knots, the winds pushed two and three foot waves right at us, but we had no issues other than having to be mindful of walking around inside.

A day later, when the winds slowed as they shifted directions we pulled up anchor and moved, to be more protected from the northerly winds. We couldn’t go as close to shore as we’d like, due to park restrictions, so we went in as far as possible (which wasn’t terribly close), dropped anchor and waited to be beaten again.

Over the past few days, Scott has explored the area by boat, and gone ashore to hike the park (he took our Delorme tracker with him, so you can see his route). It was challenging, as the trails were not well marked at all, but he managed to cover about half of the island. The terrain is really interesting, changing a lot along the way, and there are also some colonial ruins on the island.

There are many beautiful beaches along the shoreline of the park. We spent an afternoon on Tabebuia Beach. The sand here is much more powdery than at Big Major, and very pudding-like when wet. As usual, we had the area all to ourselves which was great.

With all of this wind, getting to shore is a challenge. You have to get into the Aluminum Princess as quickly as possible without breaking your neck, before she smacks into the swim platform. Even though Scott has fenders along the edge of the platform, the rough waters still bang her into it. Once you’re in, it’s a rough ride until you get closer to shore, where the land breaks the winds a bit. Scott has done more shore trips than me. A banging, rolling ride isn’t my favorite way to get around.

The winds have steadily increased, and today we are getting sustained 30 knot winds with even bigger gusts. Scott has decided to stay aboard today, as it’s just too much of a hard time to go out. We aren’t bouncing around too much, but the sound of the wind is getting pretty unnerving. At night, it comes gushing down the hatch (Scott says that it’s like a helicopter is trying to land on our bed). While the air makes for great sleeping, it is again unnerving. We hide under the covers, to escape the air beating down onto our faces. It doesn’t make for the best night’s sleep.

However, on a very positive note, we have discovered that our anchor is awesome! I have dubbed it The Incredible Hulk! At most anchorages the anchor has just laid on the bottom, not really digging in at all. The sheer weight of our chain has kept us in place. However, when pushed to extremes over the past five days, it’s become a beast, digging in hard. We’ve been taking a beating here, with conditions only getting more windy, and the Hulk hasn’t..moved..an…inch! Scott keeps track of our movement on our Ipad and checks it regularly, even throughout the night. We swing a bit, which is normal, but with all of this crazy wind we are shocked that there hasn’t been any drag. That big, giant, expensive Hulk was worth every penny!

Some photos from the past few days here.

“Shells Sink, Dreams Float. Life’s Good On Our Boat!”