Kristen here - Yesterday was another amazing day in the Exuma Land and Sea Park. I followed the same trail for my run this morning with less trepidation and greater confidence. Oh! I forgot to mention that on my last run, I found an almost new wetsuit on one of the rocky beaches. I tucked it into my running belt and brought it back with me. I asked Chris if he could think of any use for it, but we couldn't. We ended up giving it to the park office.
Yesterday morning I was approaching Boo Boo Hill once again, and saw a beautiful Osprey standing majestically on the rocky shoreline. At first I thought it was a bald eagle, but then I remembered something that mentioned nesting Ospreys on this island. It didn't move as I approached it, and just stood there watching me run by. That bird on the cliffs with the ocean in the background was quite a site. I'll have to bring my camera when I go running from now on!
After my run, the kids and I did school. School is still going really well. We've picked up the pace a bit, doing a bit more work each day. The kids have been very cooperative and goof around much less during school time. Yesterday each of them started their new math books. I've learned that they do almost the same thing each year, it just gets a bit more complicated. Kaitlin started with place value, but this year it goes up to millions. Casey started with order of operation, but this year the problems are a bit more lengthy. Now I understand why they get bored!
After school we had lunch and then went snorkeling. Chris had met a family on shore, and told us what boat they were from. He said they wanted to go snorkeling too, so we headed off to their boat. When we got there, there was a woman on the bow of the boat. I asked her about kids aboard, and she said there were none. Huh...weird. Whatever, we headed off to snorkel by ourselves. As we were heading to the boat, we saw another sailboat pull into the mooring field with a young girl on the bow. I told the kids we should just see if she wanted to snorkel with us!
On the way to the snorkeling spot, Casey spotted Watercolor. This was a boat we had seen on Lake Champlain, and Chris saw it in Annapolis when he brought our boat there. We drove by, but nobody was on deck, so we decided to come back later. We stopped at the boat with the young girl and chatted with them a bit. They were on their way back to Canada, and the girl was very nice. We will try to hang out with them tomorrow.
By the time we made it to the snorkeling spot, the current had started to pick up. You see, its kind of a good thing/bad thing. The heavy current washes the coral reefs and keeps them their beautiful colors instead of turning green. But, it's very hard to snorkel in heavy currents. There were some other people snorkeling, and they brought us to a spot that had a bunch of lobsters. The man even dove down and pointed them out to us! The coral heads were about 6 feet tall, and the fish were just beautiful. After a few minutes, we couldn't keep up with the current, so we drifted back to the dinghy. We chatted with the other snorkelers for a bit, and they told us how to make a lobster catcher. Look out lobsters! As soon as the season starts and we're out of the park...you're in trouble!
On our way back to the boat we stopped on shore so I could show the kids the mega huge hermit crabs that live here. They seem to congregate under the stairs to the park office. Actually, I just realized why. Right above the stairs is a bird feeder that is filled with sugar. I think the crabs are eating the sugar that falls to the ground! Anyway, these are 5" diameter crabs. One of them even had big hairy claws!
Back at the boat, and a bit later, Chris came back with a friend for Casey. Chris was on shore and met a family from Saratoga Springs, NY. They were on their way up Boo Boo hill, and their 12 year old son did't want to go. How convenient! Chris offered to bring him to our boat for a while. So they arrived at the boat and we all popped our heads out of the cabin. It went something like this:
Chris - I brought a friend for Casey to play with. He is from Saratoga.
Casey - I was just in the middle of playing Roller Coaster Tycoon.
New Friend (Parker) - You have Roller Coaster Tycoon! I LOVE that game!
And that's how friends are made. They are going the same direction as us, so I'm sure we'll meet up again.
Yesterday afternoon, I felt like I needed some more snorkeling. I don't know what it is, but now that I'm over my fear of the water creatures, I just can't get enough of the snorkeling. The current was still going, but I felt able to handle it without the kids. I told Chris I was going to check out the sunken boat by mooring number nine. The swim there was with the current and quite brisk. A passing dinghy was laughing at me because I was almost keeping up with them! When I got to the boat, it was teeming with lobster. I saw one huge one just crawling over the wreck and about 5 other small lobsters hidden in various crevaces. Mmmmmm...soooooo yummy. At least now I know where to look for them when I *CAN* try to catch them. The swim back was not as much fun. I swam for a while and realized that I wasn't really making any progress against the current, so I headed for the flats to walk back. After making some progress on the flats, I went back to the water to try swimming again. With a bit more effort, I made some progress and after a bit got back to our boat. I can't wait to go snorkeling again!
When I got back to the boat, I plopped down with my book for a bit to let the sun dry me off. That's when the stinging started. I thought it was some sand at first so I ignored it. Then the stinging got strong enough for me to have to concede that it wasn't sand. I went to the bathroom with a bottle of vinegar in hand. Upon checking the affected area just above my belly and below my neck, I discovered a bit of redness. I wiped the area with vinegar, and nothing much happened. It eventually went away just before dinner. My guess is that a jellyfish landed inside my bathing suit as I was swimming vigorously against the current. Good thing I skipped the fresh water shower this time!
For dinner we had pasta with veggies and alfredo sauce, and watched the movie Bedtime Stories. While we were watching I saw a flash of light outside. Chris went up to look, but heard no thunder so we went back to the movie. After seeing the flash 5-6 more times, I went up to check it out. Then up in the sky, behind the boat the flash went off behind two big dark clouds. It lit up the whole sky behind them. I thought it was beautiful, but Kaitlin thought it was scary. My guess is that it was some sort of cloud to cloud lightening. There was never any thunder, just a beautiful light display. It was almost like fireworks celebrating another amazing day.
Today was a bit of a project day. After school the kids and I went for a dinghy ride to get off the boat. Chris had some phone calls to make and needed quiet time. We checked out another snorkeling spot, but it didn't look as spectacular as the one we were at yesterday. When we got back we had banana bread for lunch that I had made that morning. It was delicious, if I do say so myself! Then after as much procrastinating as possible I decided to tackle some projects. The first was to anchor our bilge pump. The last time I worked on the bilge pump, it was pulled up off of the filter it was anchored to on the bottom of the bilge. This means that without the filter, the pump was free to suck up all the nuts, bolts and miscellaneous items sitting at the bottom. This project went fairly well, and I only lost one screw to the depths of the bilge.
The next project was to tighten up the pressure water system. The bilge has been going off frequently when we turn the pressure water on. I knew there were a couple of leaks in the lines, but they weren't critical. Today I finally got around to tightening them up. I turned two drip..drip..drip leaks into one drip......................drip......................drip leak. Good enough for me! While doing that, I discovered a leak on the top of our port side fresh water tank. Every time I stood on the tank to get to some hose connections, water would come out of a tiny pin hole in the top of the tank. Ok, Chris is not a worry wart. All this time he was telling me that there could be a leak in that tank and I was just trying to deny the possibility. I still have hope though! I haven't seen any water entering the bilge coming from that direction. I'm going to hold on to that hope!
After the work was done, I *begged* the kids to go snorkeling with me. It is a bit chilly out, and they simply had no interest in swimming. *PLEASE* I said! I even tried to pout and guilt them into coming along, but with no avail. Then Parker (Casey's new friend from yesterday) and his family went by on their catamaran. The kids were ecstatic! We thought they were leaving today. I suggest we go snorkeling with them, and they had their bathing suits and gear ready in less than a minute. I must say I felt a little sad!
The kids and I raced over to their boat and we hung out for a while. Then we all went to the snorkeling spot we had been to the day before. We took seperate dinghys, and I was planning on tying up to one of the dinghy moorings. They told us that they just drift snorkel. They jump out of their dinghy up tide from where they want to snorkel. Then they just drift along with their dinghy. I tried it, and it worked great! You don't have to worry about how to get back to your dinghy because its always with you!
This time we saw a whole different section of coral. I thought it would be boering to see the same spot again, but that wasn't the case. Casey had been a bit hesitant to snorkel because he was worried about the stingrays. So while we were snorkeling, a large spotted eagle ray approached us. I pointed him out to Casey who watched it go by with wide eyes. Then we saw a group of two eagle rays, one of which had a remora attached to the bottom. Finally a school of 3 passed by. One came quite close, aiming right for us until he turned away about 20 feet from where we swam. Even I got a little freaked at that! Casey said he was a bit worried too, but I believe he's a bit less freaked out than before we saw them.
After an awsome time snorkeling, our friends (boat name: side by side) told us that a bunch of people were getting together for snacks on shore that evening. We got together with three other couples and had a great evening. The kids played with the hermit crabs while the adults got the chance to chat. I haven't had much of a chance to interact with adults, and tonight was quite a refreshing break in that trend.
Tomorrow we will head south with refreshed hope for more families to interact with!