And then the sun came out
We've just enjoyed a couple of wonderful days here at Staniel Cay, made special by the people we have met around here, and gilded by the sunshine that has finally decided to appear, together with lighter winds. Add that to an absolutely beautiful place and it's a recipe for paradise.
We're anchored at the oddly named Big Major's Spot. It's a delightfully sheltered island with three little beaches, each of a different character. At the southern end is Piggie Beach, as we call it, because it is home to the locally famous swimming pigs. A group of six or seven porcines live on the shore here and have got used to being fed scraps by visiting sailors. At the merest sound of a dinghy engine they appear on the beach in anticipation and, apparently, if you go early in the morning when they are hungry they will swim out and try to get into your dinghy to grab the food you've brought out. We haven't managed to get up early enough (blame the time change, honest) and get more docile pigs, but it's still a sight to see.
The next beach along has been our Cocktail Beach. This is because on our first night here we made contact with Adamant, a boat built and sailed by friends of friends. In the way of this cruising life we had been told of their travels and that we were in the same waters when we hear them on the VHF radio. We call up and chat too, and arrange to get together here. When we do, there's a group of about eight loosely connected boats going to the beach and taking preferred drinks along with them. We join and have a great evening. Over the years, people have left a picnic table and about eight chairs on this beach, and built a little fire pit, so we go and chill out without being so rustic as to have to sit on the bare beach and get sand in our salads. We make new friends and even find babysitters for our wedding anniversary in a few days time. Very nice.
The third beach is empty, and makes for a great playground for the kids and a new friend they made when over on the main island of Staniel Cay - the kids met five year old Emma who is on holiday for a week with her parents, and their little cottage comes with a small powerboat so they zipped over to see us and spend an afternoon on the beach. We had a lot of fun.
Staniel Cay itself has about a hundred residents (many of these islands have less people than our volleyball club back in Cambridge!) and is based around a little yacht club / marina that dates back to the fifties when there really was almost nothing here. A delightful little village and community thrives here now, based a little precariously around the tourists that arrive by yacht or at the tiny airstrip. We walk the main road, buy a few things at the store and have a drink at the yacht club bar. Outside, by the quay, some guys are cleaning fish and lobster and throwing the unwanted bits into the shallow water where fifteen nurse sharks and a couple of big rays cruise around collecting scraps. The kids are fascinated.
Tonight we met up again with friends who we'd met in a bay a few miles south and we decided to take some food and drink back to cocktail beach and light that campfire. We had a magical evening as the sun set over the ocean and we toasted marshmallows as the last rays of orange light reflected off the anchorage.
Tomorrow is our ninth wedding anniversary. Many of you were at that wonderful party back in Cambridge in 2000 and we remember it very fondly. It's a short time but so much has happened in the interim. To celebrate we have booked to go to dinner at the Fowl Cay Resort. It looks amazing, and we have heard very good things about it - we are likely to be two of about six guests and twice as many staff so we're looking forward to a very rare break from the scruffy cruising with kids life that we normally enjoy. We've found other cruisers to babysit and will have to dig out some smartish clothes for the occasion.
If you want see where we're going, look at http://www.royalplantation.com and look for Fowl Cay, Exumas. I'll report back in a few days....
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