Sure enough the Chickcharinies got us. After we returned to the boat after the last post, we found Slick was being tossed all about in the current eddies on an incoming tide. We returned just in time to find that she was being pushed up onto a bank that was pretty low water. After some effort we secured a third hook out in the channel and managed to pull ourselves away from the shallow shelf. That night was miserable, absolutely terrible. It was too dark to navigate to a better anchorage in the numerous shallows and the currents kept us swirling about. Sometimes the boat would sit in a metstable position where she would be in 2.5 knots of swirling current and none of the anchors would be loaded, other times it would seem still but all three anchors would be seemingly at capacity. In the morning I went into the marina to see what they had to offer, we moved into Staniel Cay Yacht Club around noon. Things got significantly better after that.

That evening was the regatta party where the skippers of the Bahamian Sloops put on a fundraiser with free food and drinks and an auction. We spent the evening drinking away and getting to know some of the locals. Turns out that Nate and I were both selected as crew to race on the sloops the next day. These sloops are rigged with a long boom that sweeps the deck, and a mast that is really far forward. They carry about 1000 square feet of sail area on a ~25 foot boat, mostly main sail. The most interesting thing though is that they have boards, called “pries” that extend off the sides and are changed on each tack. The crew climbs out on these boards to provide the righting moment instead of using a keel. It was a lot of fun, and our boat won the day. I think though it probably helped that it was a four time national champion in the last six years. Never-the-less, it was a great experience.

That night was New Year’s Eve and there was a big party at the yacht club. Boats from all over the Bahamas come to participate and I got to know some interesting people and went out afterward with some of the locals that run the club. It was a really great time and I am glad I got to experience it. Nathan slept though the whole thing. I got home about 4:30 am. The next morning I decided to start off the New Year right and woke up at 7:30 and went for a four mile run, which mainly meant seeing every road on the island. I realized that I was doing it because, well, I fucking hate myself. Since that epiphany, which seems to be more like a New Year’s resolution, the trip has gotten a lot better, even when it sucks.

Speaking of suck, we were blocked in by a huge power boat and eventually left to go back to the first anchorage that was really good as a big blow was coming. The next day, the blow arrived, the highest winds we saw was 32.5 knots but it seemed so much easier than other blows. It was warm and easy and Slick behaved mostly well. I went back into town to get the inverter fuses at the local hardware store. It took three trips to the store, just to get them to open. I eventually found a pseudo-replacement for what I was looking for, but Lady Vivian, the shop keeper, didn’t know how much they cost so I had to leave her a 20 and come back later for my change. I pretty much spent the rest of the day trying to find her and she eventually passed me off to Reverend Burke who gave me my whole $6. Ahh, Islands. We hung around one more day to wait for the seas to calm down then sailed to Lee Stocking Island. We had a really great time and met lots of nice locals on Staniel Cay, I have pretty much decided that I will know what I am looking for when I feel like I need to stop and go back. Staniel was very close.

Lee Stocking Island is home to the Perry Institute for Marine Science. A research outpost in the Exumas for all things ocean. On the way down we caught two decent derados. The first one i was cleaning and then just ripped in half, I can’t describe how primal this felt as the fish was torn. I may have let out a little scream and then started feasting on him, well eating at least. My lunch was interrupted by the whurring of the reel as nate had another one on. We anchored as close as we could get after negotiating a pretty shallow bar. I went into the facility at night to see what it was all about and the place as like a ghost town. It was surreal and seemed like something out of a thriller movie where everyone is dead due to some virus or accidental monster. The lights were on, the diesel and water plant where going, TV’s and a radio where on, even a truck was running but no one to be found. We went back the next morning and met Tori, the manager of the facility. She gave us free reign since everyone was gone for the winter. We also met Ichamond the maintenance man. They are the only two on the island. It was a pretty cool facility but shamefully under kept. We shared our fish that night and learned more about the research. She also told us not to leave so soon but to check out a few things tomorrow. So the next day, we snorkeled over stromatolites, 3.5 billion year old fossils, then went and played with the iguanas. I also tried to get some lobster in what seemed a great spot. I hopped in and went down after a quick look around, it looked pretty good. I came up for air and was preparing to go down 25 feet to see if I could find something, instead a 6 foot bull shark showed up so I got out of the water. Its a good thing Nate wasn’t in the water because he is like a dog chasing ducks and probably would have gotten some shark attention. That night we fed sharks off the back of the boat and I got a video. The next day, we sailed, or rather motored, to Georgetown.

The trip to Georgetown was easy, and we caught a tuna. He was a real fighter and pretty much all meat, and I think he was only like 8 lbs. It is a warm blooded fish and they have really warm flesh when you clean them. He was delicious and I couldn’t stop eating him as I was cleaning him. Georgetown is much smaller than I thought, it pretty much consists of a circle surrounding a pond. There is free water though and a pretty good store. On the docks we met Kathy, who we were told to look up about conchs while in Lee Stocking. We had a good chat about resource management in the Bahamas and sadly, our suspicions were confirmed that things don’t look so good for the Conchs. This place is also full of cruisers. There are 130 boats in the anchorage and this seems to be where they all end up. We spent sometime on a beach looking at an anomalous formation of sand and eventually realized it was a dredge pile that destroyed at least 5 acres of habitat. We are nerds.

We have pretty much had enough of the Bahamas so tomorrow we head for Grand Inagua, and then wait for a good weather window to skip to Jamaica via the Windward Passage. If we just keep hating ourselves, things will always be good!