Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Boat Food

Check out the Boat Food tab on our homepage to see updates on the food that we've been making and eating aboard the Tanqueray.  Lots of rice & beans, baked goods, fresh fish, lobster and conch.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Dreaming of the Jumentos

We’ve made the decision to travel south with Hans from the Exuma’s to the Jumentos.  Hans has traveled through the Bahamas twice on his own boat and twice with his family, but he has never been to the Jumentos.  So, the choice clearly seemed like a good one.  Traveling the unknown, uncharted territories, is always an adventure in itself and these little islands hold a marvel that keep drawing us nearer.
Hans at the helm
The Jumento cays are just south of Great Exuma, but north of the Ragged Islands.  They are an elusive chain of islands with very little land and lots of reefs.  Many people talk of these islands, but never make it out that far.  There are lots of cruisers that get stuck in Georgetown, if they are lucky.  Many never leave Florida, constantly working on their boat.  Well, so far we're on the right course, we've made it out of Florida.
Cave at Flamingo Cay
Georgetown is a fun place to hang out because there are lots of other cruisers here to socialize with and there's the Cruiser's Net (Channel 68 every morning at 8am) where all the daily activities are announced.  When you are isolated on a boat, sometimes you crave that relationship with other like individuals, friends.  Georgetown is the cruisers hub of the Bahamas, several hundred boats are anchored in Elizabeth Harbor year round, excluding the summer months (hurricane season). We will be stopping in Georgetown on our way back from the Jumentos.  Right now, we are in search of the desolate, new and untouched islands, less people, more fish, better snorkeling!
Snorkeling at Jamaica Cay
Trigger fish

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Bahamian Sunrise

Sunrise, sunset, that is the cruisers sleep schedule, with the sun.  Unfortunately, even though it feels like summer, the days are still short.  Sunrise is at 6:30, sunset is around 5:30.  I find that you pay more attention to these things when you’re on a boat.  I will admit, however, we don’t go to bed by 5:30, more like 8:30-9pm, but still, that’s early compared to our “old city life” in the Couve!  We’ve turned into morning people, if you can believe that!

Hans has also brought a new schedule to our boat life.  To name a few, the single side band radio, Rodney Yee yoga, eating more and band exercises.  I now have someone to share coffee with in the morning and since he brought us the single side band radio, we can tune into the weather forecast with Chris Parker at 6:30am.  This is a big deal, it means that we don’t have to rely on other cruisers for hand-me-down weather reports anymore and that we need to be up by 6:30 am if we want to get the weather forecast for the day.

We start the morning (after coffee, of course) with yoga exercises on the beach to a Rodney Yee audio.  We also bring our cat Nelly with us to the beach these days.  She uses the beach as her own personal litter box.  While we do our stretching, she digs her deep holes, does her business and then rolls in the sand and explores, meowing incessantly.

Later in the day, if we are not traveling (traveling can be a whole day activity in itself), we go on a snorkeling adventure and this is when we usually spear our dinner – grouper, lionfish, hogfish, lobster, or snapper to name a few.   If we are traveling, which we do a lot of, we’ll go snorkeling after our sail, as long as the sun is still up.  Sharks are more likely to be out on the prowl closer to dusk.
Sara snorkeling off the boat
Hans' speared us dinner - Hogfish
Since Hans’ arrival, we have also started doing band exercises, using rubber bands on the boat’s mast to work out different muscle groups.   Hans has been teaching us different techniques and workouts using these bands.   I still have my intense workouts to share with the group, that my co-worker James O’Brien put together for me before I left.  These are extreme workouts and may make the boys cry!  I will have to bring them out slowly.
On the Tanqueray
We end the day with cooking an elaborate dinner, maybe baking a dessert, reading a book, writing, playing cards, doing dishes (on the boat, this is an activity of it’s own), re-stowing the boat, and listening to music, while going over the days events and reviewing the charts and weather forecasts for the next days travel plans.  If I was able to make a tray of ice that day (meaning that we had enough solar energy to really crank up the refrigerator during the day), we may even have ice-cold cocktails with our meal.  It’s a good life thus far. 

Crew in the Jumentos - Flamingo Cay
Mike spearing a lobster

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Banana Bread

I’ve been baking this recipe long before living on a boat, but it’s a keeper and Mike’s favorite.  Plus, it’s simple and cuts down on waste – what a great way to use up over ripe food!  Living in a tropical climate definitely speeds up the ripening process!

3 ripe bananas 
1 egg
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 cups flour

Mash the ripe bananas with a fork or mixer (if you are lucky enough to have one of those), and then add the egg, sugar, and softened butter and mix.  It is key to not use hard butter or melted butter.  Next, mix in the dry ingredients and then pour into a bread pan.  Sprinkle with sugar on top.  Bake for approximately 40 minutes or until golden on top and a knife comes out clean.  Can be served as breakfast, snack or dessert – Enjoy!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sailor Superstitions

By Mike “Daubie” Daubenberger

My Grandpa started the sailing Daubenberger Family’s sailing tradition three generations ago.  When we proposed the trip, Grandpa was full of advice, helpful information, and had a number of mementos to share.  There was the PT yacht club flag, the stone soup fillet knife, and a silver dollar to be fastened to the front of the mast.  With the silver dollar came the following note:

Dear Sara + Mike

I’m sure you know that sailors are very superstitious.  Never sail on a Friday, never whistle before the mast, no women aboard (yeah right) and never sail without a silver dollar at the base of the mast.

Enclosed is the one that served us well on the Stella Maris for 20 years.  May it continue to keep you safe and bring you luck and happiness.

Love Grandma and Grandpa

This is my Grandpa, he has a word of advice, a solution to a problem, or a piece of heritage to share for every adventure, problem, or opportunity that may come your way.  I’m happy to report the silver dollar has been secured and the ship and crew have safely arrived in the Bahamas!!!     

Friday, January 20, 2012

Nelly Chronicles Part 12

Suicide at Pipe Creek
Written by Mike “Daubie” Daubenberger in the voice of Nelly the cat

My people can’t read the signs!  Time to give them a scare.  We had just moved anchorages after the boys (Hans and Mike) returned home with a feast, a human feast that is, 8 conchs and a grouper.  Yuk!  Not ten minutes after we had arrived my people loaded into the dinghy and headed to shore.  Did they ask if I wanted to come?  No!  Did they offer me a treat?  No!  I can’t have them dashing of like this; I get no attention anymore.  It was apparent they needed a lesson. 

Since my last swim in Nassau, I assumed they had installed a cat ladder for cat swimming exercises.  Boy was I wrong!  Where we were anchored there was a lot of current so I jumped off from the bow and enjoyed a lazy Susan float down to the stern.  That’s when things went all wrong; there was no cat ladder just a shiny stainless steel human ladder.  I latched on with all four claws and tried to get a grip but my claws would not sink in.  I had heard stories of cats getting “Supercat” strength in life and death situations.  I was able to climb the swim ladder and launch myself onto the back of the boat.  A little suicide scare quickly turned into a near death experience. 

Sara arrived back at the boat just in time to see me all wet and disheveled and I think I made an impression!!  She coddled me and rinsed me off with a big jug of precious warm water.  My first bath!!  All night I was treated to the whispers of my people.  “Can you believe Nelly fell in?  Thank God she got back onboard, it would have been so sad if we lost her.  We need to get the cat ladder installed before we lose a family member. “     Guess I won’t be trying that stunt again!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Hans' Arrival

Enjoying the beach at Warderick Wells
From Warderick Wells, we booked it to Big Major Spot (2 miles north of Staniel Cay), the night before Hans’ arrival to the Bahamas – this was a big push, nearly 18 miles.  Big Major Spot is definitely worth a visit while in the Exumas to see the wild pigs that roam the beach.  They’ll even swim out to the dinghy when you head into the beach, in hope of food.  We fed them moldy hot dog buns and they loved them.  What an odd site to see pigs swimming!

The next morning we did a power clean of the boat and sailed into Staniel Cay and paid for a night at the dock ($2.00 per foot).  I counted over 15 nurse sharks off the dock.  They like to hang out where the fish are being cleaned.  A little eerie and needless to say, we didn’t go for a swim off the dock here.
Staniel Cay onshore
Mike and Hans in Staniel Cay
Hans’ plane arrived at 2:45pm that afternoon and we walked to the airport, which was less than 1/2 mile away and had an outdoor waiting station and No Security.  Nice and easy, no wait time, no hassle.  We welcomed Hans into the Bahamas with an ice-cold beer from our boat.  A little later that afternoon we went snorkeling at Thunderball Grotto, the cave where they filmed one of the James Bond movies.  Amazing spot with fish everywhere!

Hans & Mike aboard Tanqueray
The next day, after filling up our water tanks and jerry jugs with fresh water ($0.40 per gallon) we motored around the corner and anchored at Little Majors for the night, here we could get some snorkeling in without the waters infested with sharks (by the way, nurse sharks are a non-aggressive shark). 

Pipe Creek sandbar, is underwater at high tide

From there, we sailed back up north to Pipe Creek where we spent two days of exploring, snorkeling, spearfishing, eating, kayaking, yoga and enjoying ourselves.  In total we caught, 7 conch, 2 groupers and a giant lobster.  We’ve been eating seafood non-stop.  I filleted my first grouper on the beach.  And one night Hans cooked us a delicious meal of crack conch and fried grouper.

Hans with his lobster catch

Sara filleting grouper

After Pipe Creek, we headed south again, this time to Black Point, one of the larger settlements in the Exumas, consisting of around 300 locals.  They have a grocery store here and a couple restaurants and one bar!  We all enjoyed a cold Kalik (Bahamian beer) at the bar and were able to pick up Wi-Fi!  This is a huge deal, it means I can check email, upload our blog stories and reconnect with the world after a long while of not having Internet access.

Future plans while Hans is onboard:  We plan to head south towards Georgetown and then cut across to the north end of Long Island if the weather cooperates, otherwise we may sail down the west side of Long Island and then onto Crooked Island.  Third option is checking out the Ragged Islands (this is mostly uncharted territory).
Still Honeymooning

Friday, January 13, 2012

Nelly Chronicles Part 11

Exuma Life
Written by Mike “Daubie” Daubenberger in the voice of Nelly the cat

The 27th of December, the weather was right and it was time to leave Nassau for the adventures of Exuma life.  I had heard lots about the Exuma Islands from my people and was particularly excited to visit Allan’s Cay, our first stop in the Exumas.  It has Iguana’s.  I couldn’t wait to see the little lizards. 

Well, the sails were set and we started heading southeast under a light breeze.  I was situated in my favorite spot, in the stack pack, the sail cover for the main but two hours into the trip the breeze came up.  I dashed into my hideout under the dodger as my people shortened the canvas and we raced down to the Exumas.  It seemed as if we had hardly left and we were approaching the destination fast.  35 nautical miles away!!  Sailing 8 knots on a beam reach with a 25 knot breeze.  What a trip!  My crew sure can sail.

By two o’clock we had arrived and dropped the hook.  Mike and Sara were getting prepared to head to the beach and without me!  I gave them a quick meow to let them know I wanted to come and Mike just laughed.  Apparently pets aren’t allowed on account of the lizards.  I love lizards!  They remind me of dinosaurs and my ancestors, the Saber Tooth Tiger. 

The Exumas have been like that so far, a big disappointment.  Sure the islands and the crystal clear waters are beautiful but do I ever get to enjoy them? No!!  No swimming, no beach walks, no fun.  I just eat, sleep, and mope around.  I think I might be getting fat.  I hope my people can read the signs of depression.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Conch Cleaning

Imagine giant sea snails, with lots and lots of slime.  That’s what conch are like and this is what we eat!  They live in beautiful pink shells that people like to collect for horns and are easy to spot when snorkeling, once you know what to look for.  They lie on the sea floor bottom usually disguised in grass or sand.  However, cleaning conch is a whole other story.

Luckily for us, Mike is an experienced conch cleaner and very sophisticated in his cleaning method.  He taught me, on day one, how to clean a conch without being slimed!  This is a huge deal for those that know what it means to be slimed by conch.  The stuff doesn’t come off for days!!  

Step one: Gather tools (hammer, screw driver, mallet, knife) and head to the beach, far away from your boat as possible!

Step two: Hammer slit with screwdriver between second and third ridge on conch shell, about 1-2 inches in length.

Step three:  Place knife in slit and cut muscle away from shell.  Knife must be sharpened.

Step four:  Grab claw and pull conch out of shell.  If it does not want to come out, continue with step three.

Step five:  Most Important step if you do not want to be slimed!!!  Only hold on to claw and cut eyes and nostril off conch immediately, as well as the slimy pink skirt.  You should be left with just the white meat and brown skin that needs to be shaved off with the knife.

Step six:  Once cleaned, set conch meat on fish cutting board and hammer with mallet until almost see through.  

Step seven: Use in conch salad, crack conch or fry up into conch fritters and enjoy!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Exuma Cay's

Giant Iguana’s, white sand beaches and cheap rum – this is the life!  Our first stop in the Exuma Chain was the northern island, Allan Cay.  We had planned to spend ONE night here and check out what the island is famous for - Iguana’s (it is one of the few islands in the Exuma chain to still have iguana’s inhabit the land). 
Iguana at Allan's Cay
Allan's Cay sunset
However, island time grabbed ahold of us and suddenly we were into our fifth night at Allan’s.  The days washed away, one blurring into another, while we spent them hanging out with other like-cruisers: snorkeling, fishing, building beach fires, eating conch salad, and spearing lionfish and on and on.  We met two couples both traveling with families and babies.  Ohana, a 45 foot ketch, owned by a fun loving couple, Tony & Ella, with a 5 month old baby aboard!  Sea Schelle, a 52 foot Gulf Star, had a full-time live aboard family, Matt & Erika, with an 8 & 6 year old along with a 3 month old baby, quite the crew, all girls!

Allan's Cay Anchorage
Finally after our sixth night at Allan’s, we woke up at daylight and headed south to Highborn Cay.  Highborn had a pay phone available (not all of the islands have phones, internet or even a store, so this was lucky for us) and a beautiful 3 mile beach that we went for a walk on.  We had planned to phone home and check-in with everyone, especially with Mike’s brother, Hans, who has round-trip ticket to Nassau, but will be taking an island hopper to whichever island we are at when he arrives.  Not all of the islands have airstrips, so we needed to coordinate with him and find out where we should be on the 8th of January to pick him up, so having phone access was key to our secure plans (this was similar to the old days when you didn’t have cell phones and you had to make actual plans with people).
Ocean side of Highborn Cay 
After a few hours at Highborn we continued on south to anchor at Norman’s Cay, we now have 6 days until Hans arrival at Staniel Cay and over 50 miles to go!  Keep in mind that miles in sailboat time take a lot longer to travel than by car.  So far, down the Exuma chain, we have only been traveling 5-10 miles a day, if at all!
3-mile long beach at Highborn
At Norman’s we tucked into an anchorage at the south end of the island in anticipation of a strong Northwest wind to strike later that evening.  We set our anchor alarm; this is an alarm that goes off if you deviate from a specified distance from the location of your anchor.  We set the alarm from our Garmin GPS device with a distance of 20 meters.  This is handy to have and relieves some of the stress of dragging anchor at night and not realizing it until it’s too late, but the faults are; it does wake you up several times a night, especially if you set the distance too tight, like we did.  Better save than sorry was our rationale.  The boat does swing as tides change and/or wind shifts, so setting the anchor alarm is a bit of an art and maybe more a science, but it’s better to be woken up with a false alarm than not at all!

At Norman’s that night our anchor held strong in sustained winds of 30-35 knots.  We did wake up several times that night to check on it and opted to not leave the boat the next day because the storm carried through until late that next evening.  So, we spent the whole day watching other boats drag anchor, lounging about, watching movies and of course drinking rum & cokes.  Still not a bad day!

From our cockpit we saw 2 sailboats drag anchor and man does it happen FAST.  Our neighbor, Puffin, popped loose and was heading straight towards us, but luckily their anchor alarm went off and they were able to get the engine started in time and re-anchor.  This was definitely eye-opening to see what happens when your anchor drags or pops loose.  You have to be ready to react quickly because there is not much time before you end up ashore or on another boat.  This is why Mike and I spent the day on the boat checking our GPS every hour to make sure we were not dragging or that others were not going to drag into us!

The following day the winds had died down, so we continued further south to Shroud Cay.  This island is part of the 30 miles of the Land and Sea Park in the Exumas.  The park is protected, so fishing and taking anything from the park is prohibited.  Luckily we still have lots of frozen meats and pastas, rice and beans from earlier provisioning, but it will be nice to get back to fishing soon!  Shroud Cay is known for it’s expansive mangrove forests with shallow waterways cutting through the island, allowing you to dingy across to the east side.  It has beautiful beaches, lots of conch, and amazing mangroves.

Beach on east-side of Shroud Cay
Waterway cutting through Shroud Cay

Two and a half days until Hans' arrival, time to continue south and FAST!  We leave Shroud Cay under sail and head to Warderick Wells, 15 miles away at a clipping 1.5 -3.5 knots.  We’re going to have a long day of sailing – no problem – the sun is out, we have the time and we still have cold beer in the fridge! 

We arrive outside the entrance to Warderick Wells as the sun is setting and although our plan was to be carbon neutral for the day (using no fuel whatsoever), we turn the engine on for 40 minutes to motor in before dark, maneuver through the proper channel and charge the batteries.  There are miles of trails here, which I plan to run in the morning and the snorkeling is suppose to be great, plus the weather keeps getting warmer since our last front.  In the evening, we see 16” Jacks swimming through the water off the transom.  Diving is going to be good!