Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Under the Sea - Abaco, Bahamas

Wink and Wilma Thornton - says "Hi to family and friends"
Above: Wilma and Wink Thornton at Commodore's Ball on Feburary 15, 2008. We have decided to give our readers an overview of a typical week.

Every morning Wilma goes on a 3-5 mile walk and talk adventures with a Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club group.
When Wilma gets back to the boat from walking, Wink has the skiff loaded and ready and sometimes we take along a few friend and we go out for an adventure. Oliver and Sally have joined us several times for diving.

The is a beautiful example of the starfish that are all around us. I've seen more starfish here than any other place I've ever been.
Everyday we see lots of fish. At least 3 times a week, we catch fish for dinner.

We also hunt for lobster. These guys hide in pockets of rocks and are very hard to find. Wink can free dive down to about 20 feet and he can hold his breath for what seems to be an eternity. There are about 5 lobsters in this picture. Only 2 were large enough to take.

Wink and Wilma have been perfecting their hunting techniques. Wink usually spears them, but occasionally one goes on the run (or swim) and Wilma can capture it in a net.
Some days, Wink goes out with some guy friends either fishing or snorkeling. Wilma takes these opportunities to do Blogging, catching up on email, spending time with girl friends or
in the case above, cleaning the boat.
Today has been an unually quiet day. The rain started early this morning, cleared for the morning walk, and then started raining again. Wink has enjoyed the day of rest, Wilma has completed some (not too much boat work, email and blogging), but mostly enjoying a day inside.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Memorable Day in the Bahamas

This week we have had a couple of major events. First, we all went out to dinner at The Jib Room for a rack of ribs to say goodbye to Jim (Andy's guest) and to check out the Lunar Eclipse from the outside eating area.Earlier that day, we celebrated birthdays as Thursday, February 21st, it was Wilma's son's birthday. Happy Birthday William. It was also Andy's guest Jim's birthday and another friend who's here, Brian. Happy Birthday to all. Wilma made a nice German Chocolate Cake to celebrate - so sorry William couldn't be here to eat it.
Then on Friday, the weather was really blowing with seas about 2 feet. Wink and Wilma donned their wetsuits and decided to give it a go. Thanks to the skiff, we didn't have any problems heading out to what is now a new secret location where Wink found and speared all 5 lobsters from a total of 9 lobsters seen that day.
Wilma was handy in taking the lobster back to the boat while Wink fought other lobsters. Wilma also was the life guard lookout and safety officer because snorkeling or scuba should always be done in pairs. Several times Wink would snorkel pretty far away and Wilma would up anchor and drive the boat to him to keep from back tracking.

From largest to smallest, Wilma enjoys the bountiful catch of the day, a day that will be hard to forget.

Wink cuts the lobster tails off and we put two in the freezer for later. Wink, Wilma and Andy enjoys lobster and fillets for dinner.
Wink and Andy decide to BBQ the dinner. Wilma get a night off from cooking, but not cleaning.
The last event of the day on Friday was a nice game of Apples to Apples. We had 14 total in our saloon. Several people brought snacks and a good time had by all. (I'll try to get a photo from one of the guest for next session).

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ordinary - Of course not - it's the Bahama's

Last Friday, Andy Allen decided to take seaDee over to Great Guana and have lunch at Nippers. So a bunch of us went along for the ride. The participants were his guest, Jim and us (Wink and Wilma) from John Henry and another couple Pat and Pat -from Salty Dog (we call them Mr. Pat and Ms. Pat) just to keep them straight.
Andy, Jim and Ms. Pat went to Nippers and had a nice couple of hours. Wink, Wilma and Mr. Pat had towed the skiff over and we went fishing (having PB&J sandwiches for lunch). We tried several locations, but finally we found Queen Trigger haven and caught all we could. It made a nice dinner for six on board John Henry that evening.
On Saturday, Sally & Oliver from 1 Oliver 2 came over and we went out snorkeling and lobster hunting. Wink caught the first lobster with no problem but no one had their camera out so Sally said "Wink just go over there and caught another one and I'll get my camera out" so he did. The picture above is Oliver taking a picture of Sally taking a picture of Wink with Lobster and Wilma in the background.

Here's a good picture of the two lobsters caught just before cleaning and making bisque.

On Left, Odyssey then Double JJ (both GH37's) and on the right, Pelican (N37) and then John Henry (GH47) . We're docked at Boat Harbour at Abaco Beach Resort. On Saturday evening, the Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club (RMHYC) held a Ball, you know-a dance. It was great. Wink and Wilma danced the night away.

Fred Reed from Amarse is far left. Paul and Sue Graham from Odyessey in the far back right. Andy is on the front right and his guest Jim is on the front left.

Judy Law from Amarse and Wilma (Me) were ready to dance.

Sally and Oliver from 1 Oliver 2 sat at the next table, but that didn't stop us. These guys are our lucky lobster guys. Wink has found lobster both times that they are out with us so ya'll will be seeing more of them.
On Sunday, after a relaxing morning, we decided to go out diving and fishing with Jim, Andy guest. We had lots of fun and managed to bring home some dinner. Lane Snapper at the top, three Key West Gunts (brown) two Yellow Tail Snapper and one small fish that we cut up for future bait. We served these fish fried with hush puppies, a green salad and Andy grilled us some pork medallions. We called it Surf and Sow.
Wink is out fishing now with a couple of guys - who knows what they'll bring home. Stay tuned for NOT Ordinary Days in the Bahamas.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Adventures of Denise Weston & Richard Ambachtsheer

It's been another great week in the Bahamas!

As I mentioned in a previous post, we had double duty visitors. Our walk-about friend Denise Weston from Australia arrived on January 31 while our Dallas Power Squadron Friends, Fred & Phyl were finishing up their wonderful visit. Denise's adventures so far have been posted as a good start.
Double Duty Again - Our friend Richard, the chef from Spanish Cay came for a few days while Denise is here. Denise gave up her room because Richard is a bit bigger than she is. Denise relocated down to the spare bunk room for two nights. We had turned that room into an additional pantry so it turned out to be convenient for midnight snacking.

Richard doesn't get many days off from his island life on Spanish Cay, so when he takes a few days out, it's a challenge to do all the things he wants to do. We gave it a good "go for the money" and had a lot of fun.

Our first night out with Richard, we went to dinner at SNAPPAS, a local resturuant only about a mile from the resort. Even though Richard is from Spanish Cay, he seems to know all the locals in Marsh Harbour as well. We spent the evening dining and dancing - what great fun.
Dinner at SNAPPAS, the local spot. Denise, Andy, Wilma, Wink and Richard.

Richard and Denise checking out the Cuban Cigars that Richard had acquired, as a gift while we were at dinner, a few cubans so everyone tried them out for looks.

The next day, on this is an amazing life, Richard rented a car and we all drove to Little Harbour at the far end of the island. We went to Pete's Pub a great little isolated cabana that's outside on the beach (bring your dog, but keep on a leash kind of place). We should have brought Sara, but didn't know at the time.

Denise and Wilma in the back with Richard and Wink sitting at Pete's Pub.
We had a nice lunch and lots of relaxation just walking the beach, seeing the sites. It's so isolated and quiet. Richard decided that he liked the slogan on the Pete's Pub Tee Shirts so off he went to buy one. The only size they had fit Denise. "Nice meet'n ya, Denise", said Richard as he tossed over the shirt. Front View - Pete's Pub Tee shirt. Back view and slogan of Pete's Pub, Little Harbour, Abaco, Bahama.
Wilma and Denise enjoys the nice day at Little Harbour.

The next few pictures are Great views from Little Harbour.

Sara, the sea dog, had a day at Mom's Spa. Wilma gave her a welcomed bath, trimmed her nails, cleaned her ears, and gave her a needed dental treatment (both scaling and scraping). Sara has a puppy perfume that relaxes and refreshes not only the sea dog, but the owners as well.
After Richard left, the weather started on a bit of decline. The temp has been pretty good, but the winds and some rain have started. Last night the winds reached 49 mph at times. Everyone was out at all hours checking their lines and fenders. Denise had a flight out this morning so we said our goodbye's and wished her well at 6:00 am which means we were up early today.

Good Bye Denise Photo: Andy, Denise, Wink and Wilma - February 2008

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Lobster Wars (Wink -1, Lobster 0)

Team 1: Wink the Hunter (The Winner)

We took the skiff out and went snorkeling with our friends Oliver and Sally. The wind was blowing hard, so we found a small island, behind which there was some calm water, and with pole spear in hand, I (Wink) jumped and started hunting for dinner.
Wink hunting with spear pole.
After about an hour, I came across a couple of small holes in a flat hard bottom area, and there he was, antenna sticking out, no doubt with the attitude of just try, you’ll never get me. The depth of the water was about 12 feet, so I went to the bottom and peered into his hole, he retreated a bit (wise lobster). The only way to get him was to get right on the bottom and shoot at him straight. Not that easy, with a current moving you sideway. I came up for air, developing my plan of attack. I went back down, lined up, shot, and missed. He moved back into his hole a bit, but looked at me with that horned head, saying “I told you so”. In desperation, I reached into his hole (most likely not a good idea, as he might a large green moray ell as a room mate), and he was gone. Damn.

As I was heading up for air, I caught a glance at the other hole, and there was his little brother. OK, he’s not as smart as the other one, with head sticking out of his hole, so on the next dive, I got him from above, a much easier shoot. So much for the wisdom of youth. I took one more look into the other hole, but he was way in, so I gave up.

I continue on looking for other holes, with no luck, but after about 30 minutes, I just had to go back and see if old man lobster was really that smart. I made my way back to his hole, and apparently, he wasn’t that smart, as I could once again see his antenna. This time, I was going to win. I took a deep breath, sank to the bottom, took my time, inched up on him, and “wham”, I think I hit him this time, but when I pulled the spear out of the hole, nothing. With my brain screaming for air, I stuck my arm into the hole once again (dumb) as my old comrade moray might be upset, and take it out on my fingers. I couldn’t feel a thing. I popped to the surface like a cork, gasping and spitting out salt water. I took me a few minutes to get my breath back, and down I went. This time, instead of reaching into the hole up to my elbow, I reached as far as my shoulder would allow, moray ell be dammed. Got Ya’. I held on tight, and pulled him out, NOT! What I pulled out was a huge sea cucumber, hey it was the right size, round, anyone could make the same mistake, especially when your brain is oxygen deprived.

Back up for air, and to rethink my strategy. The next time, I’ll dive upside down, so I can feel the top of his “cave” instead of the bottom, that’s the only place he could hide, provided the hole wasn’t longer then my arm. I figured any self respecting moray ell wouldn’t have a sea cucumber as a room mate and if he was in there, he would have bit my finger off by now, so what the hell. Down one again, upside down, and determined. I stuck my arm in as far as it would go, felt his feelers, he was pinned. Just 2 more inches, and I’d have him. I kicked my flippers as hard as I could, hoping I’d be able to dislodge my arm when it was over, and got his head. He was kicking like Bruce Lee, and was not about to give up. I held on to him, pushed myself back with my left arm, and out he came, kicking and slapping all the way. We both popped to the surface, me screaming for air, and him, slapping his tale and saying to himself, I should have never stuck my head out the second time.
Team 2: Big & Little Brother Lobsters (commonly known as Dinner)
They made great lobster bisque last night, and as for the tails, they’re in the refrigerator, no doubt, Big brother is ready to slap me when I retrieve him for his visit to the bar-b-que.

Reef Diving

About 4 miles from Abaco Beach Resort and just south of Elbow Cay, there are a lot of coral heads located in 6-15 feet of water. The water is extremely clear and the reefs are spectacular in color. Wink, Wilma, Denise and Andy went out for a day on the reefs. Everyone had turns snorkeling and life guarding from the skiff. Wilma and Denise tried a little fishing while Andy was our photographer. Wink was free diving for adventure and looking for lobster and large fish. Wink found a very pretty conch for Wilma on one dive. A short time later, Wink arrived back at the skiff with a 6 lb. Hog Fish. This was a great day on the reef (no lobster today).
Andy's Island (NOT)
Wilma, Denise and Andy go walking every morning for about 3-5 miles. We usually find something interesting along the way. Several islands around us are privately owned, so Andy is out looking for a island to buy for himself. This little island only big enough for a snow cone shop is all Andy could afford (he’ll probably have to wait for awhile).

Denise says Hi to all her friends and you may not get her back as Wink and Wilma would like her to stay longer. Wink threatens to kidnap her and keep her for our boat crew.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Supplemental Pictures

It's been another gorgeous day at the Abaco Beach Resort. Wilma and Denise got up early and went walking with the daily group. Andy and one of his guest Roselee also went walking. Wink and Sara stayed in bed.
After walking Wink, Wilma and Denise went out fishing for several hours. There will be no pictures of fish because there were no fish caught. Sorry! Although we did see a small shark, but it wasn't interested in our lures.
Wilma and Denise went to the pool for a while and then over to Andy's for snacks at Sunset.
Wink and Sara were still tired and took a nap.
Here's a couple of extra pictures for the Fred, Phyl and Food segment that was posted yesterday. We collected several coconut from around the marina and then Wink peeled them and Wilma cracked them and we made great snacks.
I forgot to mention that my grandchildren and neice and nephew drew these great fish that I turned into port hole covers. I was able to make a set of 4. I love them.

The white gadget in the middle is soda maker by Soda Club. We don't buy soda's in the can or botttle anymore, we just make our own. Very Economical.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Fred & Phyl Denton & Food

Friends and Food in Paradise!

Fred and Phyl Denton arrived from the Dallas area of Texas for a weeks visit. Fred and Phyl taught Cruise Planning at the Dallas Sail and Power Squadron where we are members. They also have a sailboat in the MED named “Perception”.

During their visit, we went trolling, snorkeling, biking, walking, eating out, and fishing. All were great fun. We even took John Henry out for a spin and Fred took the captains chair while the crew did a little fishing. Andy (Sea Dee) came along for the day and everything was enjoyable. We didn’t catch any fish on the outside, but the dolphins were exciting. Wilma caught an 8-10 lb. Yellow Jack coming back thru the cut. The Royal Marsh Harbour Yacht Club had a rendezvous at Sea Spray during this week which John Henry did not participate, but we were available as dock hands as the fleet returned to Marsh Harbour. Sara watches Odyssey and Double JJ return as they are right across from us.
Wink took this great picture of Wilma, Phyl, Andy and Fred eating at Curly Tails restaurant just a few blocks away from the boat. Curly Tails is the name of the local lizard. They are cute, but don't touch....

We have had some mighty interesting discussions around food, groceries and the Bahamas. Here are some interesting facts: In Marsh Harbour there are three major grocery stores. Maxwell’s is my favorite. They have anything and everything you might want to buy grocery wise. The cost in most cases is about one-third more than USA. In some cases, it’s less than the USA. The island has lots of coconuts lying around during this time of year. Wink husked the coconuts, Wilma made a Hawaiian Treat and Fred made Coconut Cream Pies.
We have caught & cooked lots of fish (baked, fried, grilled, & sautéed). We’ve made Pork Schnitzel, Watercress Soup, Coconut Cream Pies, Coconut Shrimp, Hush Puppies, Chocolate Pies, Homemade Bread, Corn-on-the-Cob and lots more great things to eat.

Denise Weston, our friend from Australia came in yesterday and today Fred and Phyl returned to Texas. This afternoon, Wink, Wilma and Denise all went fishing for a couple of hours. We caught enough pan fish for a nice meal (probably on Sunday). Even the fish were fishing as Denise reeled in one of her catches to find there was only a head left (Barracuda was on the prowl).