Monday, June 4, 2012

The Girls visit the Exumas

Both Stacy & Susy graciously volunteered to retell the tail of sailing through the Exumas aboard the Tanqueray.  This was an All Girls Adventure plus Mike with the Sundborg clan: Susy, Stacy, and Mackenzie (honorable sister).  We started the first day on a mission to accomplish bucket lists: feed sharks, swim with dolphins, see swimming pigs and jump off high places.  Mike was not left out in the adventure, on the contrary, he was amidst many friends, Bahamian men, hoping to woo these "Ladies of the Tanqueray".  There was the marina staff at Staniel Cay, the men of Black Point, the tour guides of Farmer's Cay, the Rake & Scrape gang in Georgetown, and the boys of Stocking Island to name a few.  By, Sara

Mackenzie, Susy, Stacy, and Sara aboard the Tanqueray
The Exumas Journal 
By, Stacy Sundborg
Day 1: May 14th
 After a grueling journey to Nassau, we made it to our hotel, threw our things down and walked to Atlantis. After stopping into a police station to question if it was safe to walk at night, we decided taking a taxi home was our best bet. Getting to Atlantis was a journey in itself, after the long stretch over the bridge we found ourselves on the opposite side of the water, starved! Decided the best thing to do was to buy a $40 pizza and explore the mini-city. Young girls walked around in mini-skirts and heels as we continued on in our airport attire. Walking through the aquarium was magnificent. We then found the sharks under the giant waterslide just as a thunderstorm struck. Back to the hotel!

Day 2: May 15th
We didn’t realize how much excitement was in store for us when we boarded our plane to meet Sara and Mike in Staniel Cay the next morning. We met some locals at the boat docks, as they explained different types of sharks to us they banged on the fish cleaning table. About ten sharks swam over right underneath us! If that wasn’t enough for an introduction to the Bahamas…we decided to go diving into Thunderball Cave with bags of rice to feed all the beautiful tropical fish.

Getting ready to enter the cave!!
Sara and Mike had to drag us out of the cave so that we could go explore Sandy Cay. At the end of the day we anchored by Big Majors in hopes that the famous swimming pigs would come greet us. This is the moment I realized that everything looked HUGE on the islands…later to learn that the trees were actually just very small…Stacy size!


Day 3: May 16th
We all jumped in the skiff this morning as soon as we spotted some pigs on the beach. FOUR giant, snorting pigs came running off the beach into the water to our skiff. Screams let loose, food went flying!

We all begged to go back into Thunderball Cave before we left Staniel Cay. Mike, Mackenzie and I climbed to the top of the cave in hopes of jumping in. Didn’t quite realize how high of a drop that was going to be through such a small hole! Mike didn’t seem to have a problem jumping right in as Mackenzie and I sat up there quivering contemplating what would be worse: not jumping and feeling like wimps or dying of fright on the way down. We wimped out and soon climbed down. We sailed our way into Black Point to have one beer at the local bar. WRONG…we found karaoke. And everyone is SO friendly, you make friends in a heartbeat here.

The Pigs at Big Majors Spot
Day 4: May 17th
Sara and I woke up early and decided to go for a run through Black Point: grueling but well worth it. We sailed and anchored at Great Guana Cay where we scuba-dived for hours looking at the reefs full of life all around us. We speared two lion fish, which Mike cautiously filleted. And soon went scouting for conch shells. I was watching Susy as she swam off from the pack a little ways. She turns around and pops her head out of the water. Calm as can be she tells me while crawling into reliable little Tonic, “Hey Stacy, there is a shark in the water .” We all scramble aboard and head back to the mothership.
Stacy with Lionfish catch
Day 5: May 18th
We ended up spending way more time in Farmer’s Cay than we had expected. Explored the cute little town, met people at just about every corner, and then went to “the” restaurant for lunch. Afterwards, Monkey Mike zipped on up the coconut trees to retrieve Susy’s lifelong dream of getting her own coconut. To our surprise, they were “jelly” coconuts. Interesting new texture. Finally out of town, we dropped the sails and ended up at Prime Cay where we anchored for the night. In hopes of starting a fire on the beach, the girls went in the dingy to see how it was. Softest sand I have ever felt in my life. The only problem…we found a human jawbone.

Sunbathing
Back to the dingy…the boat didn’t seem like such a bad place for dinner after all. Jumped in the water and swam with a stingray to realize there was a shark nearby as soon as we got out of the water. Spent the whole evening feeding and filming the shark…so exciting!
Feeding sharks at dusk
Day 6: May 19th
Calm weather, Oceanside sailing = SUPER slow, but very exciting! Susy caught her first cero and then a barracuda that she let go.
Susy & Stacy with cero.
We stopped at Square Rock in order to jump from high places again…this time was successful. We then snorkeled around the rock where Mike found a lobster. A long battle, accompanied by some screams, Mike pulled that guy out of the water.
Sara & Susy jumping off the lower part of Square Rock
As we continued on towards Stocking Island, we spotted a school of fish, so (obviously) we sailed through that area a few times. Mackenzie caught a Little Tunny…didn’t look that little to me!
Mackenzie reeling in the Little Tunny
Day 7: May 20th
We spent the day relaxing, eating Chat ‘n’ Chill burgers (GREAT little burger place, somewhat addicting), and swimming with dolphins…just a day in the life. Mackenzie and I made friends with two little local boys. They came aboard for the cookies and soup! Mackenzie spotted two dolphins right alongside the boat. As if we had rehearsed a response to the arrival of dolphins, everyone dived into the water without hesitation. What an incredible experience…one that will never be forgotten by anyone that day.
Mackenzie, Stacy and Stocking Island boys.
Chat 'n' Chill's, Stocking Island, Great Exuma
Day 8: May 21st
It was a gorgeous, sunny day for our last one in The Bahamas. We decided to swim to land and explore a little. After collecting seashells to make jewelry later on that evening, we hiked up to the monument, sweating all the way up. Another round of Chat ‘n’ Chill burgers and off to Georgetown we went. After taking in the little town and eating ice cream out of the carton, we found Nicole and Tommy at their hotel.
Everyone outside Chat 'n' Chill
Weather was starting to turn at that point and we found ourselves amidst “Tropical Storm 2012!” We spent the night at a nearby bar with the friends we had quickly made there in Georgetown learning “Rake and Scrape” and “Stomp a Roach".
View of storm from Tanqueray
We were all sad to leave but extremely fortunate to have an opportunity to experience such adventures. Thank you Sara and Mike for the incredible memories we will hold onto forever.


The Exumas Continued

By, Susy Sundborg


Once upon a time Susy, Stacy and Mackenzie Sundborg ventured on 5 different planes to the land of crystal clear sea, rum, palm trees, sail boats, sharks and swimming pigs—also known as the Bahamas.
The Gang at Chat 'n' Chill, Stocking Island, Great Exuma
 We began the trip with a night in Nassau—with the resort Atlantis beaming in the distance, on it’s very own island.  We couldn’t help but explore our way to Atlantis, after all, it was where Mary Kate and Ashley Olson filmed their latest movie, which Mackenzie enthusiastically informed us of.  A 3-mile trek later, we were submerged into the depths of Atlantis, a resort where the rich people of the world congregate and eat over priced pizza and lounge on man made beaches.  We quickly realized it wasn’t our idea of a vacation, but hey, it was fun to see. 

 The next day, we hopped on our final plane ride, which to Mackenzie and my dismay, was a 4-seat plane that took off with the passenger side door open.  Stacy (a pilot) was elated and spent ample time reassuring Mackenzie and I that the plane would not go down.   Yes, I’ll be the first to admit that I have a slight fear of heights. When we landed, I’ll never forget the moment I saw Mike and Sara for the first time. I must start by saying that I have always had the darkest complexion in the Sundborg family.  However, Sara now looked like she belonged in Mexico and was easily 20 shades darker than me.  Mike was toned and looked like a straight up grizzly man and both Sara and Mike had bleached blonde hair.  So, this is what spending a year on a sailboat in the Bahamas does to your physical attributes.  Ah ha! 

 I could probably share every single detail of the trip, it was that great.  These memories are forever engraved in my mind because they were so unlike any other experience I’ve ever had.  Instead of chatting your ear off for 3 hours, I’ll highlight my top 5 moments on the Tanqueray. 
Girls below deck.
Mike & Sara paddling in the Tonic.
 1.  The underwater cave.
Our first day trip in the Bahamas was to Thunderball cave—think James Bond.  To prepare for the under water extravaganza, we filled zip locks with rice, gathered our flippers and goggles and said prayers that the sharks would not eat us on our first expedition into the open waters.  
The Thunderball cave at Staniel Cay
The cave was unlike anything I’ve swum into before.  It was like diving into a hole, not knowing where you would come out, only to surface to the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen—a vast room, with crystal clear water and thousands of exotic fish swimming around you.  We fed the fishies rice and they swarmed us and nibbled at our fingers.  This was wonderful.
Swimming in the cave
 2.  Our new friends.
One day, we were all having a pleasant time on the boat when Stacy and Mackenzie disappeared with the floaties.  Not too worried about it, Sara and I were enjoying some quiet time.  Next thing we know, we see the girls bringing two little Bahamian boys back to the boat on a surfboard.   

The boys were quite silly and adorable.  We were in the middle of baking cookies, which they discovered when they ran (dripping water from head to toe) down to the galley.  The littlest boy proclaimed, “I wish it rained cookies.” The boys devoured cookies and top ramen and sang an original Christmas tune, which made my day.   We were happy to have them on the boat, their mother, not so much.  Stacy and Mackenzie were scolded when they took the boys back to the island.  Uh oh. 

Nelly enjoying good company!
 3.  Dolphins, Dolphins, Dolphins.
I never dreamt I would see this day.  I swam with dolphins in the wild.  Mackenzie spotted the little guys when the 2 Bohemian boys were still on the boat.  We all forgot about the boys, grabbed goggles and snorkels and pounced into the ocean to swim with DOLPHINS.  If I had had my fins on, I know I could have touched them.  It was a mom and child and they were communicating the entire time.  You could tell that they were curious about us and liked us.  I tried to talk to them, you know, high pitches.  I also tried to touch them.  They hung out with us for 30 minutes or so and it was an amazing experience.  It felt like a dream.
Tubing off Stocking Island
Susy & Mackenzie returning with water
 4.  Sharks, sharks, sharks.
My biggest fear prior to my trip was the sharks.  Especially when my dad and Cindy planted the word in my ears.  Who wants to swim in waters that are shark infested?!?!?!  Well, I am happy to say that my perception of sharks has changed.   They are not my best friends, but they do not intimidate me from swimming in the water. We saw several sharks.  The first day in the Bahamas, the locals were feeding a group of Nurse sharks off the dock.  Next, we were snorkeling around a reef and I saw a shark approaching in the distance.  This was unnerving, but ultimately, I did not get the sense of danger, more so, curiosity.  After this, we baited a rope with a fish head and taunted the shark for hours-- cheap and fun entertainment.  While swimming in the ocean, I was always on the look out for sharks.  However, I was proud of myself for not letting the idea of a shark attack stifle my ability to enjoy the crystal clear open waters. They do there own thing, as we do our own.    

 5.  A coconut extravaganza
Anyone who knows me, knows that one way to my heart is the coconut.  I’ve loved them since I was little.  Each time that we adventured onto an island, I sheepishly grinned at the coconuts taunting me in the trees.  Oh how I dreamt of having one, yet there was no way I could climb the tree.  Don’t you fear, Mike is here!  For those who did not know, Mike can climb a palm tree like he’s tying his shoe.  I have no idea where he obtained this skill; however, it came in handy.  He picked 3 coconuts, cut them open and made me the happiest girl in the world.  Mmmmmm, I can still taste the heaven.
 This trip was bliss.  Thank you Sara and Mike for these unreal memories that I will carry with me forever.  

 Honorable mentions-


Dancing with the locals

Mike catching a lobster with his hands

Stingrays


Swimming pigs 
(Stacy covered this, it was quite traumatizing for me)

Drinking my morning coffee on a floaty in the water.













Stacy, Susy & Mackenzie with cero catch

Catching beautiful colored tuna



















Getting ready for the Chat 'n' Chill burgers

5 comments:

  1. Good job Stacy and Susie. Great story, super pictures. I really liked the facial expression on that final pigs shot Susie. and weren't those floatie tubes a good investment great water toy choice.

    I love this blog!

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  2. Almost forgot, the picture that quite caught my attention was Nellie in the arms of that small, kidnapped boy. Her eyes were popping out of her head, I could hear her thoughts as plainly as if I was in the room. Did that young innocent have any idea of the danger he was in? The comments of his mother might have included much greater abuse had Nellie acted on her impulses.

    Yes girls, sharks are dangerous, but nothing compared to a riled up calico feline.

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  3. So enjoying your blog, Mike, Sara and friends. What an experience! Molly Pearson

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  4. great story telling ,loved every second.feels as if we were there.i can really relate since i know the girls thinking patterns so well.....susy's love of coconuts,fear of heights.stacy afraid of nothing ,and able to make friends with anyone even little island boys (even if she has to kidnap them ha ha)I am so anxious to have sara nad mike home even if they have gone feral....love them any way love you all ,happy days!!!!

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  5. Great adventure and blog! I've been thinking about a similar trip (after we finish our current one). Really helpful to see the process from the beginning - all the prep work and learning the ropes...

    let us know if you want to meet in south america. We can swap rides and exchange journeys!

    ReplyDelete

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