Eric (Sonny Son) Visits, and Long Island to Nassau Journey
Eric arrived late into Long Island on Saturday, May 16th. He flew into Deadmans Cay airport, and I was waiting for him at “Sou’ Side Bar and Grill” in the town of Salt Pond. I was super stoked he was coming since we had such a good trip last year spearing lots of big fish. Eric and I lived together in Miami for a year and he really got me into spearfishing. After a celebratory Kalik, we walked to the dock and dinghyed to the Floridian. It was late in the afternoon but we decided to go try and dive a couple of blue holes that were close to the anchorage. We managed to spear a small hogfish and a Nassau grouper. Have I mentioned that The Bahamas always produces?!
The next morning after a quick Ice and Grocery run, we sailed north to an Anchorage near Stella Maris called Hog Cay. I had anchored here last year with my dad, and I knew there was good diving on some heads a few miles outside the anchorage.
It was a great sail up (22 miles) with good winds. After fueling up with some fresh made Velveeta mac and cheese (thanks Eric for importing) we got our gear together and headed out to the coral heads. This spot is unique in that it is super clear water with large vertical heads scattered in between super white sand that sits in about 35-40’ of water. The heads are beautiful array of live coral, tons of reef fish, and grouper, hogs, and muttons scattered randomly about. We shot 4 hogfish in about an hour and half of diving. All of them were over 7 lbs, and Eric got his personal best, a 13lb’er, and I got my personal best, an 11lb’er. A very epic dive. We also saw lots a reef sharks, and a tiger shark. One reef shark we nicknamed “stubs” because his tail was cut off at the top and he had a little “stub” there instead. Stubs followed us to almost every head we dove. We even got in the dinghy and moved ½ mile to some other heads, and sure enough Stubs was there to greet us. We think he must get fed a lot by divers. There happens to be a scuba dive location nearby where they feed sharks…
So one thing I forgot to mention about this anchorage (Hog Cay) is that it is super super rolly. You can hardly stand on deck without falling over. Needless to say, I did not sleep very well that night. I even tried to rig a “bridle” for the anchor to put my bow into the swells but it didn’t work. Eric says he slept like a rock and didn’t know what the big deal was. I think he’s full of it. We went for a dinghy tour of the creek nearby and then went out to the heads again for another dive. Both days of diving were pretty rough in the dinghy. I would say 2-3ft chop. Lynn is a champion and an amazing person to be able to run support for us in those conditions. I am blessed to have her. We were able to spear an array of species from grouper to hogs to muttons in a very short time. We came back to Floridian and cleaned up the bounty. Eric plans on taking an entire cooler of fish home so that is why we have been spearing so much fish. He also brought me a vacuum sealer to keep the fish fresh. Which is an awesome addition to the Floridian.
An hour or so after we got back to the boat from diving, Lynn received some very sad news that her brother in law suddenly and tragically died. This required an immediate change of gears and planning on how to get Lynn back to Tallahassee, Florida ASAP. We found her a flight out of Stella Maris, Long Island to Nassau the next morning along with 2 other flights to Miami then Tallahassee with Lynn returning to Nassau in 10 days. I dropped her off at a resort nearby to catch a taxi to the airport. It was very sad and hard to see her leave. My heart is with Lynn and her Sister, Laura. This news is hard for anyone to handle, and I am keeping them in my prayers and thoughts constantly.
After Lynn departed, Eric and I changed gears and started our 4 day journey to Nassau. The weather was perfect sailing and calm conditions. I decided it was best to have Eric with me to make the 160 mile journey to Nassau and then Foxy and I would wait anchored there for Lynn to return.
The first leg was from Cape Santa Maria to Lee Stocking Island in the Exumas. It was smooth sailing except for the fact I ran out of diesel 3 miles from the cut. I guess my engine has been burning more fuel than it has been and I was off by about 15-20 gallons per my estimate (no fuel gauge on board). I always carry spare fuel so this was not as bad as it sounds. After refueling, we continued on into the anchorage. We dove a little that evening to try and get some bait for trolling, and then we dove the next morning outside the entrance. We managed some large groupers, and a big conch. Eric missed 3 shots on a beautiful Hogfish that I wont let him off about. He claims he didn’t really want it…
The next leg of the trip was Lee Stocking to Staniel Cay (where they sell diesel). It was another beautiful sail with great conditions. We arrived a few hours before dark but the fuel dock was closed. We anchored and went for a little dive, came back and cooked dinner (cracked conch and summer crab) and even caught a mutton snapper while fishing with a piece of conch. The next morning we fueled up the boat, restocked on ice and ballyhoo (mahi bait), and continued on the next leg from Staniel Cay to Highborne Cay. We caught 5 mahi on the trip and kept 2 of the bigger ones. The freezer is about full at this point. We arrived in highborne just before sunset and went for another quick dive for conch. We got 2 of them and ate a quick meal and passed out. We were exhausted.
The last leg of the trip was from Highborne to Nassau with an in-between stop at a place called “the middlegrounds” . This is an area in about 15-25’ of water that is scattered in coral heads. We anchored in the middle of them and dinghy’ed around and dove on them. I have dove them before and have done quite well. This time we didn’t manage too much but got a few small mutton snappers. There were a large group of extremely aggressive reef sharks that seemed to like to eat any chum we put in the water. We took our muttons and got out.
We arrived into Nassau harbor Friday evening (the 22nd) before sunset. It was a great journey with smooth sailing and a lot of fishing. Eric was an awesome crew member to have onboard and it was sad to see him leave. It was a bittersweet journey because I definitely missed my girl a lot and was thinking about all the emotions her and her family is going through. Eric left Saturday morning, but before we were heading to airport we got boarded by Bahemian defense force. They tore apart my boat looking for evidence of gun smuggling /drug smuggling. After a 2 hour shakedown, they took my speargun (which they gave back to me later) and went on their way. Eric made it to the airport in time luckily. I stayed anchored in Nassau Harbour with Foxy Lady for the next 5 nights cleaning and organizing the boat for my baby to return.