Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Staniel Cay

Staniel Cay Yacht Club

Staniel Cay Yacht Club has a marina. Mostly, it is a resort that has cute, pastel colored cabins, a restaurant and a bar. So, there is an interesting mix of vacationers that have flown in for a resort stay, mega-yacht visitors that come in from their big boats in their launches (all color-coordinated to match the mothership) and a couple of wayward sailboaters looking for a break.

Nurse Shark feeding frenzy near the fish cleaning station
Bar and restaurant

We are out on the end of the outside T-dock and, while we have had a few neighbors come and go, we have mostly been by ourselves. We are ahead of the seasonal rush. In a few weeks, there will be no slips available. We have run the AC all the time. Just because we can. The electricity is probably going to cost us an extra $20- 25 per day but, boy, have we slept well. We thought we would also fill up our water tanks with their pricey RO water. We assumed it would be high-quality since they charge 40 cents a gallon for it. Having learned that I should always test any water before tanking it (thanks Doug), I checked this before I started running it through our pre-filter. It measured in at 731 ppm. We can make better water than that with our watermaker. So, while we sit here in the cool air, we are running the watermaker and filling the tanks.

The marina facilities are not much. There are no showers. Due to construction, the single bathroom is shared with the bar and, therefore, is only open from 8:00 am until the bar closes. But, we are waiting on our pumps to be delivered here. That is another story. I will wait until we have actual pumps in our hand - supposedly, this afternoon's flight. In the mean time, there are things to do here.

The pigs of Big Majors swimming out to meet us
 One of the popular attractions, located just around the corner of the next island, is the beach of the Swimming Pigs. Yes, that's right. I never saw a pig fly but I have, now, seen them swim. They live in the low scrub behind this one particular beach. They have become accustomed to getting food from people in dinghies - to the point where they recognize the sound of the outboard motors, rise up from their midday naps, wade into the water and start swimming toward the boats. These are not cute little pink pigs. They are large, hairy boar-cousins and have been known to damage little rubber boats like ours. It is best to just circle by, toss food (cabbage, in our case) and keep moving. It is a riot to see them and hear them snorting along in the clear water by the beach.

The entrance to Thunderball Grotto

We then took a long dinghy ride around the island and ended up back at Thunderball Grotto. They filmed underwater scenes for part of the James Bond movie, Thunderball, here back in the 60's. It is an interesting snorkel trip. You need to go at slack, low tide because otherwise (a) the entrance is submerged and (b) the current is very strong. The thought of being slammed into rocks in an underwater cave being somewhat unappealing, we opted for the low, slack tide. We threw out the little dinghy anchor and hoped that it kept the boat there until we came back. We swam the 50 yards to the entrance.

Inside the grotto
The number of fish as you approach the entrance is amazing. The swim through the entrance with your snorkel practically scrapping the rocks above you is a little unnerving. Coming up inside the grotto, lit from above by the sun and from below by the sun from outside the entrances, is priceless. The domed ceiling is about 20 feet above, the sand and rock floor is about 15 feet below and you are suspended in the middle surrounded by tropical fish. Just awesome.

We have not done much snorkeling so far on this trip. Add to that the fact that we packed our big scuba fins and we were tired quickly. Today, we have aches and pains from the unusual exercise. But, it was well worth it. I am sure that Thunderball Grotto will be a tourist day-trip destination for a long time to come.

Junie has been playing with her new GoPro and has some amazing shots and videos of sharks, rays, fish and other underwater scenes. If you follow her on Facebook, you have seen some of the pics.

Late update. The electric bill was less than $15 per day and the pumps made the late plane! We are ready to move on. We need to get down to Black Point to hit the Rockside Laundramat for some clean clothes, conch fritters and carrot cake.

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