Yippeee the Aanonson family for a whole week. For the last few years before we left California, these guys were our ‘everyday’ friends. They’re homeschoolers that live a hop skip and a jump from our back door. Some mornings we would bike to the donut shop before school work, meet up on dog potty walks in the morning, 20 minutes of play between school work and classes and then there is always the afternoons and evening of play, dog walks and kids running, playing and eating at each other’s houses.
Scott, Krista, Tyler and Cody Aanonson
Last year they visited Makai in the British Virgin Islands, we met up at Grandma and Grandpa Aanonson’s house in Florida this year for the New Year, and another memory for the kids to share will be the last minute vacation week in the Bahamas.
Four days earlier sad kids were passing emails back and forth because their parents couldn’t agree on a date to visit. The weeks for Makai in the Bahamas were slipping away fast, so I send Krista an email that said, “Just come now!” Within minutes Scott made the reservation and it was done. After an entire day of travel their flight gave them a beautiful view of the islands. When they arrived in the BVIs last year, it was dark but we were at the airport jumping up and down in the terminal windows. Today all they had was the instructions to find a taxi and meet us at the Exuma Market.
The taxi driver called us on Eric’s Bahamian phone and we sent Roy to the dinghy dock to pick them up. We’ve had quite a bit of wind lately making the dinghy ride a bit wet and splashy, but no one melted.
The excitement in the kids was hard to control. They were all over the place, hopping around like jumping beans.
Or monkeys swinging in the trees.
First thing in the morning, as soon as the sun lit up the sky, they scurried about planning their trip to the beach. Four tired parents wandered around rubbing their eyes before casting them off.
Sand castles are fun again when you are with a buddy.
The gang went over the hill to the surf side of the beach.
The kids found an old cooler to cast Cody off in. It didn’t get too far before tipping over. So, no need to worry about little boys lost at sea.
Then of course there’s the sand hill. We discovered there is an updraft along the bluff. When the kids tossed sand about, it would fall up and drift over the top of the hill.
See there are pictures of us when someone else is taking them. The Aanonson’s photos from last year in BVI are what sold us on the Olympus T2 Tough camera. This year I found that our friends on C-Spirit had the previous model of this camera and liked it as well.
All the toys came out. Everyone got Hobie sailing lessons. The wind was a little brisk which always makes me nervous. The last thing I want to learn how to do is right it if it flips over. Oh, nooooo, we flipped. Scott and Krista were on the leeward side, I told Scott to steer for Makai and then head up at the last minute so I could run over and grab the side. At that very minute, with him turning and the three of us on the leeward side, over we went. I guess I needed to get some experience with capsizing. It was quite easy to right the boat. The float on top of the mast prevents it from turning turtle, so just unclip the main sheet, grab a line off the hull that is towering above me, stand on the one still in the water, and pull back. Easy Peasy.
Eric went off to run an errand so the rest of us overloaded the Hobie and sailed down to Chat n Chill and Volleyball beach.
Conch fritters in Staniel Cay and Conch salad here are the only local delicacies we’ve indulged in.
At the far end of the beach is a little shack next to the water. The chef wades out and scoops up a conch (tied of course so it can’t get away). His only tools are a special conch hammer and a knife for chopping. I watched him squeeze lemon on the meat and slice it this way and that. Then he diced up tomatoes, onions and green pepper. More dicing, squeezing, chopping and scooping. In the end we had bowls full of fresh conch salad one with a spoonful of spice and the other without.
Next to the stand is a bucket of conch bits that are trimmed off before making the salad. The kids grabbed up a handful of slimy conch guts and fed it to the habituated sting rays. These rays come out and greet any pair of feet that enters the water looking for a handout. This photo also shows the conch shells from previous salads.
Eric returned from his errand and spotted our brightly colored Hobie sail. We’re pretty much the only ones in the Bahamas with this sail so we’re easy to spot. Here it is, his new dinghy engine, delivered today on the mail boat from Nassau. There are a few reasons for this new addition to Makai’s equipment. First we can’t get the dinghy up onto a plane for speed and fuel efficiency when taking the family off on an adventure. Also, when the water is choppy if you go slow the waves hit the front of the boat and splash inside the dinghy. If we’re planing, then we’re skimming over the top of the water and the boat has moved past the splashes keeping us dry. The final reason is that the United States no longer sells 2-stroke engines which are lighter weight than the 4-stroke engines and this is one we want for Makai’s future.
There are a few things to get used to on it. We’ve all be driving from the port side of the dinghy but now there is a gear shift mounted on the opposite side. So where do you sit to reach both? We had to learn where the lever and pin are to raise the engine when beaching the dinghy, how about the strength needed to pull the starter cord (Marie can no longer do it), etc…..
Evening is a welcome time. Everyone is tired and ready to blow the conch horns at sunset.
Along the way we’ve found a few colorful shells without much growth to make horns. Eric fills in the hole, where the meat was released from, with epoxy and then slices off the tip. They’ve decided that the biggest shells are easier to blow and have the best sound.
Now that everything is in order, off we go to find some new adventure. The wind was perfect 15-20 kts behind us. Genny put on an audio book and the motion of the ocean kept everyone quiet and nappy. We snacked on delicacies they brought from Costco like Kirkland Steak Bits beef jerky, mmmmm.
The 30 nm trip took most of the day, but everyone was refreshed and ready for the next day’s activities. Musha Cay area is where the mermaid statue, low tide beach in the cave, spear fishing, and a little beach time.
Roy and Tyler have been planning their spear fishing expedition and now they’re ready to bring home dinner.
Scott grabbed the pole spear. This used to be my favorite weapon until Roy convinced me the Hawaiian sling is much more effective.
Tyler swam off with the sling looking for prey.
At the end of the day They got a Nassau Grouper and a squirrel fish.
With the work finished it’s play time again. The kids swung the boom over for swinging and jumping.
There all kinds of sea creatures to explore. The sea stars are pretty slow and easy for a bunch of kids to capture.
Tonight we’re having a little birthday celebration. Roy and Eric have birthdays in May but we like to celebrate with friends.
Krista brought balloons and banners, gifts and treats. At the end of an active day the kids play Minecraft. I don’t really understand the game, but everyone has their own device and can all access the same game. So, if they’re playing together, what’s the difference if it’s on an electronic device or a piece of cardboard with plastic pawns.
Our special dinner is cheeseburgers on fresh baked buns with lobster and vegetables.
Our secret treat is See’s Candy. Mmmmm, the kids got a back of Milky Way bites, but we got See’s Nuts and Chews.
The evening is wrapped up with brownies and a sparkler.
Last year Roy turned 12 in the Port Canaveral anchorage. He got to celebrate with his family, but he didn’t think it was so special. This year we’re starting his 13th birthday celebrations early, I’m sure you’ll see a few more birthday pictures in future posts.
A week goes by fast, now we have to head back to Georgetown. The blow hole on Boyse Cay was blowing so we stopped to check it out.
Surf crashes against the rocks, under the ledge and shoots out a whole on top.
Ok, here’s the worst moment of our entire trip. About 10 miles to our waypoint we decided to pull in the jib and motor on course so we wouldn’t spend the whole day tacking back. I looked over at Roy’s pole and the line was out in front of Makai instead of dragging behind. FISH ON! I figured it must be another barracuda, but that would be fun for Tyler to reel in. The gang started chasing the line around the boat as Roy reeled in. A MAHI MAHI, yippee yiperoo, just what we’ve been waiting for.