Rum Cay

Several ofthe boats in the Conception anchorage decided to pull anchor Saturday morning and head southeast for Rum Cay. Sumner Point marina was the destination, a 20 nm hop. Paul on Independence, our host for the dive outing, keeps his boat at Sumner Point and is part of the community there, and was the last boat to head into Sumner’s Point. Instead of taking the more direct route, he followed the depth contours where the water drops off from 60 ft to 600 or better, prime fishing territory. His persistence paid off in the last hour of his run when he had a hit from a wahoo. He and his mate Sue were successful in landing the fish, and were the day’s talk at the marina as they came in with the 60 pound fish. The nurse sharks and the cats both found places by the fish cleaning bench to await the scraps. The filets came off in great slabs, the whole operation lasted about 45 minutes, and yielded two 5-gallon pails full of filets even after having given some away. Quite a fish. The evening meal at the marina restaurant was fresh wahoo and cracked conch. A meal we unfortunately passed on. We were told it was excellent. Next time!

The following day’s activities included the offer by Bobbie, the marina owner to host a cruise around Rum Cay on his boat. The boat is an old wooden workboat, originally from Georgia, now in service in the Bahamas as an all-purpose boat for the marina. The day would include some beach time, snorkeling, surfing, paddle boarding, a visit to the caves on the northeast side, diving for those who wanted, hunting (general term used for conch, lobster, grouper and other stuff found in the coral heads that you have to hunt for), or just plain relaxing, and would be wrapped in a cruise around the island. Oh, and the cruisers with dogs were to bring them all along. They’ll be fine, after all they live on the boat, right? We headed out around 11 with the roof of the boat loaded with boards, the inside with gear, 14 people and 4 dogs. We headed for the beach on the north end, spent some time there, and then moved around to the northeast. It was interesting to watch Bobbie thread the boat through the maze of coral heads and reefs in the shallow water, a skill acquired from many years of experience. He grew up on Rum, his parents ran the marina and the restaurant for many years and it was his home.

On the way to our second spot, J-J, his Bahamian crew mate, hopped off the side and after a short time scoping the bottom with mask & snorkel, dove to the bottom some 25 feet below. He came up with 5 conch. Lunch! Although everyone brought some light lunch, J-J supplemented it with fresh conch salad. Neither Barb or myself had eaten fresh conch salad before, and it was delicious. The conch is cleaned and finely chopped, then onion, peppers, and some other ingredients we’re not sure of are mixed with fresh lime to cook the meat. Then it’s topped off with some fresh orange, the juice cuts the tartness of the lime and sweetens a bit. In addition, there was also fresh wahoo salad from the previous day’s catch. The wahoo was scrumptious! Barb, who is known for turning up her nose at anything seafood, loved it. It doesn’t come much fresher, and we’re learning that there is no comparison to fresh-caught fish, and the nose is strangely not so turned up these days! After lunch, the anchorage was moved to further around the coast, to the east side. Some of the group took off in the two dinghies that were towed along, and went hunting. Some took advantage of the large ocean swells that were developing and went off surfing and paddle boarding. Some just enjoyed the view. The dogs had had a great romp on the beach during the first stop, so they were happy to snooze. Afternoon brought a bit of wind and considerable surge on the ocean side of the island, so the cave explore was nixed due to the surge. Conditions on the boat were not uncomfortable, but some sizable rollers were coming in from the ocean. Great conditions for the surfers! We returned to the dock around 5 PM, a fun day with the cruising gang.

Our original plan was to depart the following day, Tuesday, but we decided to stay on another day. Some of the marina dogs are not particularly dog-friendly, in fact, they’re mean and unpredictably agressive toward visiting dogs, and that made us uneasy. Chrys, Bobbie’s Brazilian girlfriend, couldn’t have been more accomodating; she made arrangements with us to coordinate dog comings and goings to avoid confrontations, so our concerns were put to rest, and no dog conflicts occurred. She is very friendly and contributes to the relaxed family atmosphere at the marina. A Tuesday project was the dinghy prop, as I worked with a makeshift mandrel to hammer out the damage from contact with the reef a few days previous. Some improvement, but still over pitched and very slow to plane with crew and dogs, so a replacement is in the works. We’ll need to get to Georgetown to retrieve it, so we may head that direction and then re-trace our steps and visit the Jumentos.

Later that day we biked around the island, and stopped at the “Last Chance” store and the Batelco site for more cell minutes. We were surprised to see pointsettia plants growing among the plantings along the walkway to the building. A small area that’s nicely maintained and landscaped directly adjacent to scrub growth and accumulated trash- typical Bahamian style. We took a side road to the Salt Pond where we picked up some dried sea salt for the table. The area was a prime source of salt for the salt cod industry many years ago, ships would bring gooods from New England and return with salt for the cod industry and evidence of that enterprise remains, although the salt industry in the Bahamas is for the most part, gone. Rum Cay at one time was home to over 2,500, now about 100 residents call the island home.

We departed Rum Cay on Wednesday morning under sunny skies and good weather conditions, with Innu in the lead- headed for Long Island and Salt Pond. A sidebar on Innu– we met Luc in 2008 at Vero as we both were making our way to the 1st east coast Selene Rendezvous at Hutchinson Island, near Stuart FL. Luc is from Montreal, French Canadian. He nearly always cruises with guests, and we joke about his charter service since it seems he’s always heading to or from an airport to shuffle crew. Always with a smile and an offer to help out, he’s been a great buddy boat. We kept some roe sacs I took from the Mahi when I cleaned it, but we didn’t try them, so we offered them to Luc. We figured that given the culinery reputation of the French-Canadians, he’d be one to ask. That hunch was spot on! So we added to the breakfast menu aboard Innu!

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