Day Four: Mermaids and M*&%ER F&*@ERS
20.05.2014 - 20.05.2014
Day Four Itinerary: Rat Cay to Little Farmer’s Cay – 24 miles
I don’t know about everyone else, but I woke up EXHAUSTED.
We had survived Sailing in the Bahamas for Dummies on Day 1 and hoped the learning curve was going to get easier.
Our plan for the day was to sail from Rat Cay to Rudder Cut Cay, where we would anchor for lunch before continuing on to Little Farmer’s Cay where the first “settlement” after leaving Great Exuma waited for us. We were looking forward to finding the submerged piano sculpture that was rumored to be off Rudder Cut and have a dinner at an actual restaurant where we could eat at a table that didn’t rock back and forth and require you to hold onto your silverware to keep it from sliding into the floor.
The morning sail was uneventful. The water was beautiful. Starfish the size of dinner plates rested on the sand below and the bottoms of the clouds overhead were tinted with turquoise from water below. Everywhere we looked, there was a different shade of blue.
We enjoyed a calm, peaceful ride, alternating between naps on the trampoline and reading on the back deck.
We arrived at Rudder Cut Cay before noon. Rudder Cut Cay is beautiful, but the beach is off limits because the island is privately owned by David Copperfield. It holds the airstrip that transports guests to and from Copperfield’s gajillion-dollar-a-night private resort island, Musha Cay.
There were actually signs on the beach telling people to "keep off" and I have read that there are guard dogs that patrol the beach to keep riff-raff like us away.
It is said that David Copperfield had a sculpture made from a mirror finished piano that is a replica of a life size Steinway Concert Grand Piano. A mermaid sits on the bench, a sculpture fashioned after the woman who was Copperfield’s girlfriend at the time the sculpture was made.
Adam, the guy who checked us out on the boat, told us he’d never been able to find it. Finding a piano in the ocean is like trying to find a fart in a sandstorm.
We didn’t have a chance.
But we really wanted to find that piano.
Matt and John swam back and forth across the bay where we believed the sculpture to be. Back and forth. Back and forth. Forth and back. Back and forth.
Just when we were about to give up, a day tour boat passed and stopped at the cave on Rudder Cut. Matt swam over and asked them where it was. They directed us to go back one bay, around the point. "Once you see it, you can't miss it," they said.
They were right. From the surface, it looks pretty much like a piano in the water.
I hate to overuse the word awesome, but it was AWESOME.
I mean...A mermaid! And a piano! In the water!
We planned to visit the nearby 2 mile sandbar, as low tide was just approaching, but some ugly clouds and choppy waves were approaching too, so we decided not to try our luck.
This was as close as we got.
Instead, we made lobster rolls with lobster Sydney had brought down from Canada and buttered, toasted baguettes. Apparently, Syd does not like it when her hands smell like lobster. I was starting to wonder if she was going to make lobster salad or perform a rectal exam.
The morning had been fantastic. Our spirits were high. We had found the mermaid. We were sailing through the water like a hot knife through butter. We had a fantastic lunch instead of a rectal exam.
We had this Bahamas sailing thing DOWN. We were IN THE KNOW. We had this.
Life was good.
Until we got to Little Farmer’s Cay.
We were moving along fine, having just reached Little Farmer’s Cay, and then, all of a sudden, there was a JOLT. And we weren’t moving anymore.
One minute, the sun is shining. You’re sipping a rum punch. You’re cruising along with your favorite song playing and then. Wham. You’re on a sandbar.
The boat guide says, “If you do hit a sand bar, the first thing you should do is shut off the engine. Make sure that everyone on board is okay, because there is sure to be a hard jolt, and if you are not prepared for it you may go flying and get hurt. “
That’s as far as we got before the fight started.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get as far as “Stay calm. Getting irate will not help you dislodge your boat and it will only make things worse for the people on board.”
Fingers were pointing. Charts were flying. Sydney was waving her arms. Teresa was crying again. John and I had a shouting match that would have made our mothers wash our mouths out with soap. Everyone blamed everyone.
Thankfully, Matt kept reading as the rest of us alternated between screaming, shouting, crying, and curling up into a fetal position and repeating, “Mommy loves Daddy. Mommy loves Daddy. Mommy loves Daddy.”
“Disembark and make sure that there is no structural damage. If not, then then push your boat backwards from where you came.”
Before we knew it, we were off the sandbar.
We all calmed down long enough to find some mooring balls and secure the boat. The mooring wasn’t strong and it looked like a storm was coming.
This caused another shouting match.
The women on the boat were demanding that we use the VHF to call the Yacht Club because the guide book said you could call them if you needed help navigating your way in and someone would help you.
A man will drive 40 miles out of his way before he'll stop and ask directions. A man will put a bicycle together wong 4 times before he'll actually read the instructions. Did we really think they were going to radio some other guy and admit they needed help navigating in?
Things were tense.
We finally called the Little Farmer’s Yacht Club and they told us how to get in and where to find a stronger mooring. When we got the boat secured at the second mooring, I practically leapt off the boat.
There are moments on a boat when the only thing that matters is getting off that boat.
Matt and I had Keith take us over to Little Farmer’s on the dingy and drop us off. I needed some “me time,” and Matt got dragged along for the ride.
Little Farmer’s Cay was unique.
Little Farmer’s was settled by a freed slave from Great Exuma named Chrisanna. She bought the island from the British Crown and moved there with her three young children. Mostly undeveloped, this small cay is home to about 50 residents who are mostly descendants of the original residents.
There was nothing “fancy” about Little Farmer’s. It was simple and basic, but it was pretty. As we walked, we noticed most people were outside and every single person greeted us with a happy, friendly greeting. These people were not rich, but they were happy and they were kind.
They had a very interesting Post Office:
Given the sight of the Post Office and the Grocery Store, and the fact that there was an honor box on the beach where you could either buy a cabbage for $3.00 or drop off garbage for $3.00 (I never was sure ....), I knew Matt was making a mistake when he strolled into this Bar thinking he was going to find an actual BAR.
The rusted out Jeep should have been a clue. There were more posters of alcohol on the outside of the door than there were actual bottles of alcohol inside.
There was a counter with 2 bottles of rum and a can of pineapple juice. Oh, and some warm sodas. He didn’t have any ice.
Well, once you are the only patrons inside, you are going to be ordering something, now aren’t you? So Matt had a rum and pineapple juice. No ice.
We met a man who was collecting buckets and had his tennis shoes tied with blades of grass. We found a tiny stray kitten. We were followed by laughing children.
We also found what appears to be the Farmer's Cay hotel, although, I would SERIOUSLY like to know who is going to walk up to that door, ring that bell, and tell them they want to sleep there for $10.
Maybe if I had just spent 3 weeks on a life raft. No. Not even then.
Eventually, I had regained enough normalcy that I thought I could be with other people without slapping anyone, so we made our way to the Ocean Cabin, THE restaurant on Little Farmer’s Cay.
Ocean Cabin is owned and operated by Terry Bain and his wife, Ernestine. Terry was born in the Bahamas but was sent to England and to Libya for his education. It shines through in his articulate manner and his ability to talk about any subject whatsoever. When you go to the Ocean Cabin, you don’t just get fed well, you get entertained and you get educated.
When Matt and I walked into the Ocean Cabin’s small bar, the others were gathered around the bar, staring at a blue drink.
“We’re trying to guess what’s in it,” Sydney said.
Terry told me that the drink was not blue, it was aquamarine. It’s the Ocean Cabin’s signature drink and it is pre-mixed in a jug, so you don’t get to see what actually goes into it. We spent a good 30 minutes trying to guess all of the ingredients. Spend a few days on a boat and that’s what happens to you. Everything becomes entertainment.
We finally managed to guess them all, but by then, we were all drunk, so no one remembers what they were.
So that’s how he keeps the ingredients secret. Terry is a smart man.
We had pre-ordered dinner via VHF radio shortly before I leapt off the boat for sanity purposes, and as we moved into the dining room, delicious plates of food started arriving.
Matt, Teresa, and I all ordered the lobster. 1) The lobster tails were HUGE. 2) We have no idea how they cooked them, but they were the most delicious, tender lobster tails any of us had ever had. They had some sort of hot sauce butter mixture on them that was out of this world.
After dinner, Terry told us that we could have any flavor of ice cream that we wanted.
As long as it was rum raisin.
The drinks, the conversation, the amazing dinner, the ice cream….the long evening had been filled with wonderful things. And every time we thought that was it, it was like that old Ginsu Knives commercial.
“But WAIT! That’s not all. You also get seven free kittens and a new car!”
After ice cream, Terry went around and handed everyone a piece of paper. On it was a song.
We sang it.
As a group.
We rocked it.
Little Farmer’s Cay –
smiling in the turquoise sea,
lazing in the sun at noon,
dreaming safe beneath the moon.
Where sky meets sand and sea –
my precious island, Farmer’s Cay.
This is home to me and it will always be.
“But WAIT! That’s not all! You also get a bag of diamonds and a bubble making machine!”
Just when we thought there couldn’t be anything else, Terry showed up with a tray of shot glasses and a bottle of Nassau Royale liqueur, which he proceed to pour, light on fire, and teach us how to dip our fingers into it and take the fire to our mouths.
WE ATE FIRE.
That’s better than 7 kittens and a bubble machine.
The best part was that Terry reminded us how much fun we were having and how much we loved each other. Spending the evening with Terry at the Ocean Cabin was worth getting tossed around, flooded, banged up, and run aground.
I even forgave John for calling me a M*&%ER F&*@ER.