Sat 20 Mar 2010 00:33
23:43:169 N
76.01.307 W

This day feels so full, it's hard to begin. We woke in our little anchorage in Little Farmer's Cay and before we really decided what the day would bring, we had a visitor to the boat. Bill Edelstein and his adorable shelty dog, Laddie. He is single-handing a 36-foot ketch named Long Winded (named by an ex-girlfriend, he told us). Bill is a retired electronics engineer and hobby boat builder (he once built a Bolger folding schooner). He visited for about an hour. Laddie (a female, despite her name) was a very polite visitor and helped with crumb patrol. Bill mentioned that a friend of his recommended Barraterre as a nice settlement. After our recent spots at Staniel Cay, Black Point, and then Little Farmers, we were ready to go somewhere more private. Barraterre, which is a very large cay, surrounded by sand flats and mangrove swamps, has lots of wild places. It's about 2/3 of the way from Little Farmer's to George Town. George Town is the destination of so many cruisers. People spend months there. We've been toying with the idea of trying to make it down to George Town. Though, I suspect it will be too crowded for us. It has a big "kid scene" we hear, and we haven't yet met any kids Isabel & Rose's ages--or many kids of any ages. We never really thought we'd make it that far south. Going to Barraterre puts George Town within striking distance. So, we made an impulsive decision (due to winds in the right quarter) to leave our little sheltered spot and head out to the Sound to sail to Barraterre. The distance was about 23 miles. The trip took 5 1/2 hours. The sailing was exciting...good winds for most of it, large swells coming behind us, some towering over Amazon, which trailed behind us. Most of the waves were within our comfort zone, but a few were a bit beyond. It was a real team effort. The girls plugged in our way points in the GPS. Garth did all the sailing, and I picked our anchorage off the charts. After a few hours, Rose was hot, tired, cranky and wouldn't go below because she said she'd feel sea sick (it was very rolly). Isabel stayed below for the first few hours--she seems not to be bothered by the rolling. But even she had to come into the cockpit at some point (she brought her science work with her). Rose kept saying she wanted to jump in the water and get trailed behind the boat. (She was clipped into her jack line, so the idea was pure fantasy.) Along the way, we trolled a hand line. About 3 hours into the trip, Garth noticed that we had something on our line. As I rolled the line in, we were guessing what it was. A shoe, a patch of seaweed (the usual), a plastic cup, a guinea pig, a mini horse, a bag full of money, sandals--a pair, a soda can, a hanger with a shirt on it. Finally, the catch was clear: the front half of a barracuda-like fish which might have been two or three feet long, if whole. The girls poured through our fish books looking for what it might be. And what bit off the back half while it was attached to our hook? Rose called out the shark species from one of our books and we guessed again. Rose no longer said she wanted to get trailed behind the boat.

The entrance into the cut (Square Rock Cut), between Square Rock Cay and a giant rock called Square Rock was hair-raising. We did part of it by pure navigation by GPS, the other half by the seat of our pants. The tide was rushing out of the cut, and we needed to drop the motor to get through. Once inside, a beautiful, calm world of small islands and water was revealed. We tucked behind Square Rock Cay, a small cay more than a mile away from town across the shallow flats between the Sound and Barraterre. This is our kind of place. No other people or boats visible. We felt instantly restored. We walked around the ironshore and collected live whelkies and other interesting shells. The crowning moment was seeing an octopus. This little creature was a miracle. It seemed to put on a show for us, as we followed him along the shore. His arms stretched out thin and transluscent blue as he made his way across the shallow bottom. He bunched up and turned beautiful shades and patterns in brown and white, depending on what he was perched on. We were mesmorized. Just as we lost sight of him as he disappeared under a ledge in the ironshore, we heard shouts of greetings. We looked up and there were two sea kayakers who had seen us sailing in through the cut. They have been kayaking and camping throughout the Exumas for a month, from Norman's down to George Town. What a way to travel: right there next to the water. They see things most people pass by. John and Kristin, from Fredonia, AZ, were inspiring. They carried a month's worth of food, 10 gallons of water, sleeping bags, tent, all in their slim kayaks. And we thought we were roughing it.

We steamed the whelkies and ate them sauteed in butter, olive oil, and garlic and onions. Delicious.

Tomorrow we'll snorkel near our anchorage here, then we'll visit town.