Our First Mission: The Swimming Pigs
Kyle and I had secretly agreed to seek out the "Pig Beach" in hopes of really surprising the kids! Let's just say it was a complete success and let you watch the video!
The pigs were too cool! I know how weird it sounds, but we would recommend them to anyone who finds themselves in the Exumas.
A boat full of young, single adults came in with food for the pigs. That's when we realized just how glad we were that we didn't bring any pig treats! The pigs were a bit aggressive with the food-bearing individuals, but we got a few nice shots of the big group and later shared over email.
As we were heading out a family of six pulled up. As soon as Orli spotted children, she ran over and asked me if she could go say hi! Oh my, how sweet the request! As soon as the family was done feeding their contribution to the herd, Orli ran straight over to greet them.
The kids played and the adults enjoyed some grown up talk! We eventually started getting eaten by bugs and said farewell after agreeing to meet at Thunderball Grotto the next morning. Little did we know, the family would become dear friends over the course of our mutual stay at Staniel.
Mission #2: Thunderball Grotto
We seriously couldn't have asked for more fun in one concentrated area! Aside from the obviously gorgeous water and the entertainment of the pigs, we were able to snorkel AND CLIMB one of the most famous sites in the Bahamas: Thunderball Grotto!
Entering Thunderball Grotto with all three of our kids was special and one of the most memorable moments on the expedition. Kyle swam Noah in and Zion & Orli snorkeled completely on their own! The family we had met the day prior joined us and did the same with their four children! We went at low tide so we were able to swim the little ones underneath the low area of the cave roof without submerging them fully!
My heart overflows with joy considering what a mermaid this little four year old has become.
Yes, I mentioned climbing the grotto. So here's how that went... after snorkeling the interior of the massive cave, we went out and dinghied to the backside. We tied off to a boulder which enabled us mount the beautiful fossilized slabs straight from the dinghy. Kyle was first to explore the climbing potential. The small cave island and it's fallen boulders were an adult playground for him. He eventually came back and reported of his findings which included photos of the hole from which the light enters the cave roof and a lots of poisonwood.
As Kyle descended into the dinghy, our buddies from High C’s who just happened to be in the area, spotted us and came to say hi! The cruising community has been such an amazing part of this adventure. I can compare it to being "back home" and running into a friend at the grocery store, then running into them a few days later at the park and then a week later at a coffee shop! I've joked with fellow cruisers, "Hey, I promise, we're not stalking you!" The truth is, no one minds at all! In fact, it's typical to buddy boat and coordinate stops as well.
By the time we finished snorkeling, climbing and free soloing it was time to eat!
Alex and David of Noonsun knew we were looking to upgrade to a catamaran so they invited us over to see their St. Francis 50. The family, the boat, the food and the fun were all DIVINE!
We were finally able to reunite with the family we had met at Cracker Boy Boat Works! S/V Frenchie joined us on Staniel and we introduced them to the Noonsun family. We all met up for sundowners and swimming... and then we were 15!
We had all moved to be in the same anchorage.
That night Zion asked if he could play walkie-talkies with his friends. He, Orli & Kyle delivered the other radio to the Noonsun crew. It was hilarious to listen to them hail each other and use sailor jargon and so good for our kids to have these new co-conspirators.
The next day we had another date. This time it was on our boat! We successfully served a taco salad lunch to 15 people on our 30' sailboat!
We ended the day back on Noonsun where only the bravest gave the rope swing a shot!
Then it was time to wish Frenchie and Noonsun farewell. As Frenchie headed north to catch up on some islands they had skipped, Noonsun set off toward Georgetown. These sailor-families both inspired and encouraged us greatly! Their stories were gold and their futures pure enchantment.
After the weather calmed down we decided to move to a different anchorage to prepare for several days of wind.
Don't feel guilty for leaving us @sailingnoonsun and @frenchiesails, but with no friends left to play with we resorted to coconuts! I totally hear Rocky saying, "Coconuts. Just a bunch of coconuts..."
We kept having fun... playing with coconuts, enjoying God's creation and exploring more of the island.
Then there was work to be done.
At Staniel we were also able to meet up with some friends from St. Augustine—S/V Purrfection and Orion! The wind was crazy so we all had to lay low a bit, but finally the sun and rainbows came out and we met up at one of the community potlucks!
The night before we were set to leave Frenchie came back south and stopped back at Staniel. We made plans for coffee prior to our departure. She stopped by to say hello and encourage me even further in my sailing abilities! The woman handed me a love note with a pair of earrings (an anchor & ship's wheel), looked me in the eye and said if I had come THIS far with my kids that I am a TRUE sailor too! This totally brought tears to my eyes, but please don't tell my crazy sailor girlfriends! After tea biscuits (aka cookies) and hugs we said "until next time" to Frenchie and Staniel Cay.