Fishing pole overboard

Mon 1 Mar 2010 23:08
24:37:25 N
76:48:54.5 W

Today we actually raised sail on Sea Fever. Our plan was to leave Norman's Pond for the day, sail south in Exuma Sound to the southern tip of Norman's Cay. There's a wreck of a plane seemed like it might be a good snorkel spot, and there is the one commercial establishment on Norman's Cay: McDuff's, a restaurant and bar that is renown for its ($15) cheeseburgers. Our hope was to buy ice, and maybe even the ever hoped for ice cream, and to skip the cheeseburgers.

We left the protection of the Pond under motor, and then when we were clear of the reefs and into the sound, we raised sail . . . and in the process, as the boom bounced along the cabintop, it knocked the fishing rod right out of its clips there. Over it went. It didn't float, as any sensible fishing pole should, and it went straight to the bottom. Garth said it was defective anyway -- it rarely caught fish. We have several handlines as backup. It was nice to be sailing again.

We sailed into the southern harbor of Norman's against an outgoing tide, though with a 10-knot wind behind us. We watched our speed go to 2 knots, 1 knot, and eventually 0.0. The motor helped us buck the current and we entered a beautiful sweep of beaches, with a deep channel leading through to the other side of the island. We determined that the plane wreck looked too jagged (it's half visible at low tide). We brought Sea Fever up near the beach, which is overlooked by the ruins of the compound of the notorious drug lord, Carlos Lehder, who once owned the most of Norman's Cay. Lehder's huge old dock remains, nearly rotting into the water. The island still uses his airstrip, which is how some of the Norman's residents get here. We walked along the beach and were pleased to see a sign, just outside the ruins, for McDuff's, located on the other side of the island, instructing people to walk up the once paved road and past the airstrip. (The sign included "Watch out for planes".) When we finally reached McDuff's, a sign announced that they were closed Mondays. Alas, no ice cream to justify the loss of the fishing rod.

We took a long walk on the beach, nearly around the whole southern tip of the island, finding beautiful shells, including what might be a Measled Cowry and a Hawkwing Conch. On our way back we met a boatful of men wearing "Caribbean Pest Control" t-shirts. An older American was obviously in charge. Turns out he has moved to Great Exuma from Michigan and has a business charging exorbitant rates to fabulously rich people throughout the Bahamas to exterminate termites. We asked if Johnny Depp was a client. The man said, "Not yet, but he will be!" His name was Termite Tim. The exterminators were at Norman's to be flown to their next job. Their pilot gave us advice for preparing conch and another Bahamian man told us we had to be in Georgetown by mid March for a huge pig roast and regatta celebrations.

We debated staying there, under the blank stare of the ruins, so we could go to McDuff's tomorrow (such was the ice cream disappointment), but another front is coming tomorrow
and we'd rather be safely ensconced in Norman's Pond.

Now, we're back in the Pond for the night, on a new beach, Conch Beach, which is littered with empty Queen conch shells. We wonder how they died. Most conch shells have evidence of human predation--a hole in the top of the shell. These shells are intact, their insides bright pink. The shallows here are crawling with live conch, of very decent size, but we've
caught our limit, and will not hunt these helpless and lovely creatures.

Tonight, we'll attempt our first conch extraction and make ceviche for tomorrow, and fry some up for tonight. We know that if you don't tenderize the meat enough you're in for "an all-day chew," as one person put it.

This morning I made yogurt. We haven't started sprouts yet, because each empty jar gets filled with shells before we have a chance to make a sprouter out of it. I'll have to save one out, though, because it would be nice to have a fresh vegetable of some sort.

To our friends back home, we hope the snow burden has lessened and that you are all doing okay.