Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Back Home Again

February 29-March 4, Shroud Cay to Nassau
Shroud Cay would be beautiful in any weather. Its network of pale aquamarine mangrove streams shimmered in the sun. Driftwood Beach on the ocean side was even more impressive with pounding surf. Loren and Clairice loved the place as much as we do, but wind from the latest cold front produced choppy waves and soggy dinghy rides.

From Shroud Cay to Allans Cays, 25-knot winds propelled us at 7.5 knots with only a reefed jib. Once anchored, we went ashore to view the main attraction—the iguanas—close up. A little too close for Loren. He offered a chunk of raisin bread to a big iguana that expressed its gratitude by taking chunks out of three of Loren’s fingers, an injury that throbbed and bled off and on for the next two days. Keith picked up an iguana and received some sharp kicks from its claws. Both Loren and Keith emerged bloodied from their iguana encounters.

For Keith, the bigger attraction at Allans is lobster. Last time we stopped here, he speared three lobsters. This time wind and waves conspired to keep him away from that reef. But he and his dad snorkeled in a more protected area at the edge of the anchorage and he shot another big spiny lobster. We were excited that Mom and Dad could have at least a taste of really fresh lobster before they leave.

As we crossed to Nassau, Loren hooked a big one on the Yellow Bank and fought it admirably. He kept the line taut and reeled in the monster by inches. It seemed like the contest would go on all afternoon. But by the time he landed his catch, the only thing on the line was seaweed. The lure showed new bite marks, though, and Keith saw a couple flashes of silver. We think it was a huge barracuda. Foiled again on his last fishing opportunity!

Our passage to Nassau, where Loren and Clairice will depart from, could hardly be considered smooth sailing. Beam seas rolled us around, salt spray soaked the cockpit. It was one of those voyages you’re happy to put behind you. Clairice, who doesn’t have a particular affinity for rough seas, endured it admirably.

We’re happy to be back in Nassau. We walked all over town to tour old haunts together: Hilltop House where Keith and his parents lived from 1970-75, old and new locations of The Christian Book Shoppe where his parents worked, Calvary Bible Church where the family attended, Bay Street duty-free shops and straw market, and Potters Cay. Loren and Clairice commented frequently on how different everything seems thirty-five years later. One of the more obvious changes is the presence of Atlantis Resort. We marveled at the aquarium’s colorful fish and graceful manta rays floating by, their wingspan as wide as our boat, and at the grandeur of the sculptures and architecture.

Monday night Loren and Clairice treated us to dinner. Our taxi driver that night was nicknamed Goat. When Loren asked why he was called Goat, he told us the story. He was born in George Town and his family moved up to Nassau. They told him he was too “biggety,” meaning he was a bully. They left him behind to take care of their herd of 75 goats. Being all alone, he started killing one or two goats every week and cooking them every way he could imagine. After some months, the family asked him to come up to Nassau with the goats. His aunt loaded the mailboat with boxes of potatoes, onions, and vegetables from the Exumas to accompany him to Nassau. His mother met him at the dock and unloaded all of the vegetables, then asked, “Where are the goats?” He had to admit, “I ate them all.” “All 75?!” “Every last one.” He got a really good whooping. She must have whooped the biggety right out of him, because after thirty years in Nassau, he seems like a fine man.

Luciano’s, the restaurant where we ate, is an elegant waterfront location west of the Paradise Island Bridge. Dinner was delicious, the service impeccable, and outdoor seating cooled by an ocean breeze made for a perfect last evening in the Bahamas. We had such a good time together and hope that for Mom and Dad warm memories will outlast the winter back in Minnesota.

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