Like wet silk perhaps? Or running your fingers along the top of a pan of jello? No, it’s softer than that. I’m trying to think of how to describe it. The silky smooth belly of a stingray. While I’m not sure any words can quite capture it, I’m proud that I can say, now, I have experienced it. And, it was all because of the “Stingray Whisperer.” Ahoy followers! We’re back on Bahamas blog time, having just wrapped our “magic moments” at stunning Powell Cay in the Abacos and weighed anchor headed for Manjack (pronounced Nunjack) Cay where we kitesurfed, chased turtles and stingrays, and cracked our first coconut (and I honestly can’t tell you which was more fun). Fantastic video and photos for you below. Enjoy!
Ahhh … sailing! Boy, were we thrilled that day to be sailing again.
Honestly, in the Abacos, each of the islands are so close (2-3 hours, usually, at most), and there often wasn’t enough wind or too much wind to comfortably sail, so we would just motor from one to the next for the first 5-6 cays we visited. While this was great for kite-surfing and glassy snorkeling once we got to each island, Phillip and I LOVE to sail. So, when our plans to weigh anchor mid-morning and head from Powell Cay over to Manjack Cay also afforded us perfect winds of 12-14 kts over the starboard stern to spend the day sailing there, we were thrilled! We took the long way and spent the day happily jibing our way slowly to Manjack Cay.
Jackets? In the Bahamas?! We’ve had folks ask us often what the weather and temps were like in the Bahamas in December and January. Honestly, a little chilly. When we first got into the Little Bahamas Bank and the Sea of Abaco, the sunny days allowed us to snorkel and dip in the water without our wet suits, but if we were going to be underwater for any period of time (snorkeling or diving) you would definitely start to go numb if you didn’t wear a wetsuit. Then, as the fronts started to come in and the days were often cloud-covered and windy, the water got way too chilly without our full wetsuits. That also meant jackets and layers when we were sailing in the chilly wind. Once ashore and protected on the leeward side, bikinis and board shorts were fine. But most of our time in December and January was spent in a hodgepodge of layers ranging from full wetsuits and booties to string bikinis.
Here’s Manjack (not sure why, but it’s pronounced “Nunjack”) Cay. Just east of Powell Cay and a very short hop from Green Turtle Cay. We were definitely watching the weather very closely when we were in the Abacos as the northern fronts build quickly and can sit on you for days, with bitter winds of 25-35 kts. They also clock around so you have to make sure you are protected from winds coming at you from different directions. All of that wind is great for kite-surfing, which was awesome for us, but we always wanted to make sure we found good protection from the wind directions we were expecting. We spent a beautiful two blue-sky, sunny days at Manjack, with the plan to scoot over to Green Turtle Cay (playing the tide because the inlet reportedly got down to 6 feet at low tide, thanks for the intel www.ExplorerCharts.org) to hunker down for a nasty storm that was coming. We decided to stay at the marina in White Sound because it was so well protected and it would allow us to tie up secure, top off the water and give the boat a thorough wash-down. Wait till you see that footage. We got 36 kts of wind on the boat, even tucked there in the sound. It. Was. Windy.
And, what do we like to do when it blows?
Get our kite on baby! But, as I mentioned, the water was chilly (probably around 68-70 degrees) and with cloud cover, you definitely wanted your wetsuit. We dawned our shorties that day and my winter alter ego, Vladimir Platypus, makes a cameo in the video. Enjoy!
It was a full day of surfing which left us happily exhausted and hungry. You know you’re living the good life when you watch (from the cockpit of your boat) the sun not only set …
But also rise!
Day Two! Time to go exploring!
The island at Manjack Cay is really stunning, with lots of little trails and walkways. You could easily spend the day walking the island and lounging on the stunning shores. Pack a picnic and a book and you’ll spend the day in heaven!
The north shore on the Atlantic side (and this was true for most of the islands in the Abacos) was the most breathtaking, with a half-mile stretch of Bahamas brown beaches, butting up to jewel-toned green waters that roll and lap the shore. The sound of the water churning is therapeutic.
This little log, poised perfectly before the rolling ocean, provided the perfect backdrop. Phillip called it immediately: “PHOTO OP!” he said, as I squealed and shed my cover-up for an impromptu photo shoot!
Man … island life is rough.
During our walk back to the dinghy, we found this post with a log-splitter-type blade sticking out of it and a hammer where it appeared locals (or perhaps vagabonds like us) cracked many of the coconuts that were lying around. It was the first time I had ever cracked a coconut and saw the husky, stringy interior. Man, are those husks hard! I didn’t know the actual coconuts were little hard balls in the center. Boy, are they pretty too. A glossy jet black exterior, with white as snow coconut meat inside. We also got to drink the coconut milk (still warm from the sun) right as we cracked them. Even that small experience, brought immense pleasure and was definitely a highlight for us. Not to mention the amazing toasted coconut oatmeal I made for us the next day. YUM. Life sure is tasty.
So, the stingrays. How did we just happen upon a pod of five pretty-domesticated stingrays that will swim right up to you and let you pet them? Because we’re the most interesting people in the world and we travel with a miniature giraffe! We don’t always pet stingrays, but when we do we do it with a GoPro in hand. Ha! I’m kiiiidddiinngg. This actually worked out as many very cool things that we are lucky enough to experience and do: because Phillip was following his Paddington the Bear hyper-active sixth “travel sense.” I’m telling you that man just starts wandering, looking at maps, talking to locals and literally following his nose at times to truly immerse us in an environment that’s new to us and it often takes us to places where the locals hang out, ends up bringing us into the fold of some very knowledgeable locals who take us under their wing and show us around. All I can say is he’s just the absolute best person to travel with. Most days I have no idea what my day is going to look like, where we’re going to go, what we’re going to eat or do or see and I LOVE IT. I absolutely love it.
This day we were initially dinghying around to a specific lat and lon spot a fellow cruiser (who had done the Bahamas the previous season) told us about where he had seen a ton of sea turtles and had swam with them. While we didn’t find any turtles there, during our rather long dinghy ride home, Phillip saw in one of the coves this center console power boat up on the shore near a dock with several people standing in the water. It piqued his curiosity, and he threw the tiller over and steered us in that direction. As we got closer, you could tell the people were all looking at something down in the water and I immediately got excited. “Turtles!” I shouted, just because that’s what we’d been on the hunt for all day and I had turtles on the brain. But I was thrilled to find when we got there, that they were stingrays. Five of them! And they were all swimming around this man on his knees in the center. He was like the Stingray Whisperer. I eased up to the group and he was nice enough to let me in on the action and kneel down near him so the stingrays would swim up to me too and let me feel the underside of their bellies.
It was like a soft satin blanket, fresh out of the dryer, only wet. It’s very hard to explain, but I think it just might be the softest thing I have ever felt. And ever will. And, where the folks on the boat had paid (probably a pretty penny) to be taken out here to this spot where this captain knew how to conjure the stingrays, here Phillip and I were, cruising bums, getting the same mesmerizing experience for free. I had no clue when I woke that morning that I would be petting stingrays that afternoon, but that’s the absolute beauty of cruising and a life of travel. I find it immensely exhilarating not knowing where my day will lead.
But, I know who I will be following! Love you babe!