Oven Rock at Great Guana Cay is a perfect name for this oasis in the Exumas. It’s a big rock protruding out of the water with a large oven like hole on the side. Naturally we climbed up and explored but couldn’t get around to the oven side to see what was cookin’. We met up with a fantastic group of guys on Vagabond several days prior and spent the entire day playing around with them. We enjoyed their camaraderie immensely! We love each other but it’s nice to bum around the island with other adventurers. The guys even snorkeled in a deep, brackish water, cave. The stalagmites were so incredible that we forgot to take pictures. I didn’t have a dive light and sharing theirs didn’t get me very far (because the 3 of them were all huddled around it) so I turned around and swam some laps at the anchorage instead. We were sad to see Vegabond go but they’re rotating out the crew in Georgetown and had to blow out.
A mile from Oven Rock we anchored at Little Farmer’s Cay. This is one of the few islands in the Exumas that is inhabited which makes for a completely different experience. We did quite a hike around the island in search of free wifi, to call home, and for a bottle of rum. Trent likes to have a sip before bed. We killed two birds with one stone and purchased some dark rum and 2 beers as we sat outside the liquor store/bar and talked to our loved ones. Score! That afternoon we followed the crew from La Luna around and did tons of snorkeling and even deep water snorkeling in the cut to the Exuma Sound side of the island. The current was horrific and the waves were pretty good size too. They taught us how to hold onto the dinghy so we could just drift along with the current then start the engine when we tucker out. It was comforting to have that dinghy rope on my arm as a black tip shark came to check us out. That was a first! I was pretty proud as we city slickers stuck it out as he darted away into the depths of the ocean. That deep water stuff is pretty intense. Etienne showed us how to use the spear gun and snagged us a grouper and snapper. Fish look a lot bigger underwater, let me tell ya. I think we were all surprised by how small they were when we threw our bodies over the dinghy to watch him slide the fish off the spear into the boat. Two fish did not make a dinner for 4 like we hoped but we sure as heck cooked them up and put pieces of the fillets on some fresh bread, as happy hour appetizers.
This is our big fishing story; it’s about the one that got away. Upon our 17 mile passage to Lee Stocking Island, on the Exuma Sound side of the islands, we hooked a gorgeous mahi. This is painful to tell because we haven’t dined on any fish whatsoever in the Bahamas. It’s all fished out! Eating out just isn’t in the budget (though we did share a burger in Bimini but that was a long time ago). I ran the boat as Trent was reeling him in and my only other task was to get the mahi-mahi (a.k.a. dolphinfish or dorado) onto the deck. Easier said than done. I totally screwed the pooch on that one and he flipped right off the hook back into the Sound. I was just overly excited. We were within an arm’s length of having our first fresh dinner in the Bahamas.
An hour later we caught a barracuda on the hand line. He lives to see another day. It’s not like we’re out of food stores or anything like that but a mahi would have been a real treat. We ended up making a meat lovers pizza for dinner.
It was a close hauled 24 mile sail to Stocking Island that began in tears for me as I finished reading the book When Breath Becomes Air. I’m so lame but it truly was a heart wrenching non-fiction. I dried my tears as we were entering the channel to our next anchorage and Trent asked me to reel in the fishing pole before the lure could snag the bottom. With the line already halfway up, I felt a little tug and could no longer reel it in. Trent laughed (thinking I was kidding) and we quickly realized we had a fish on the line! He strapped the fighting belt on me and I went to work.
About 5 minutes later a huge mahi was hanging over the side. Trent very skillfully gaffed him, we had never done this before, and threw him in the cockpit. There was no time for good pictures; the boat needed our attention because we still had the jib and main in play and we hit a big, wavy current approaching the busy channel, not to mention, it was getting shallow. The jib went in quickly but Trent has to go out onto the deck to fold the main up as I drop it. I drove us into the wind and began pulling in the halyard and the mahi went absolutely buck wild. It was like his last fight for life. I jumped onto the bench behind the helm and performed my boat duties as best I could but I’ve never been so terrified of a fish in my life. He thrashed around and un-gaffed himself as well as removed the 6 hooks on the lure which also went flying. If you’ve ever seen a deer hung up in the fence, that’s what this was like. The only thing you can do is put it out of its misery. The mahi flipped up near my head and I was already standing on the bench! He bounced on everything in the cockpit. It was so hard to stay focused on the boat but we got the main down and Trent finally came to the rescue and pinned him. I guess we should have done that immediately but he was so quiet the first few minutes out of the water that it didn’t seem like it would be an issue.
I breathed a huge sigh of relief as we stared at him to make sure he wasn’t going to make another fight for life. The brilliant color on his body disappeared so quickly after he died; his gills went flat and he turned grey. Now, we still had to get the boat into the anchorage and there was still another mile to go. Blood was splattered everywhere. It was all over us, the cockpit, engine starter panel, binnacle, gps, cushions and even the bimini. Since the mahi had rearranged himself in the cockpit he was now laying lengthwise, with his head under the helm, head to tail, touching both sides of the cockpit; that was a 45 inch long fish!
We had blackened Mahi and rice for dinner. Wow! I also filled the bottom of the freezer with fish and left enough out for us to eat on for the next few days. Now that’s a fishing story for ya!
We haven’t been into Georgetown yet but it looks like a mecca for liveaboards. There are 310 boats on anchor and the cruisers net is full of activities to entertain those interested in partaking in The Cruisers Regatta. The net (radio) is full of silly competitions like coconut dinghy races. This is probably our last big stop in the Exumas. The jib has two small rips which I’ll need to repair before we get going. The boom has a few minor problems that need to be addressed as well. Georgetown should be a good place to grab some groceries and refuel. I’m looking forward to finding some broccoli!