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Shark Week, The Bahamas Edition

In honor of Shark Week, we’re showcasing our experiences with some of the best Bahamas’ shark spots.

Feeding a nurse shark in Compass Cay

From friendly to fiercesome, you can find a range of species making their home among the 700+ Bahamian islands and cays. We’ll give you a glimpse of our experiences with them at Compass Cay, Conception Island, and in the Jumentos.

Compass Cay

The best place to get up close and personal with dozens of relatively harmless nurse sharks is located 65 miles southeast of Nassau. Compass Cay is home to a large population of these bottom feeders who prefer crustaceans, stingray and the steady flow of marina scraps over humans for snacks. Toss out a few pieces of stale bread from your boat and they’ll be swarming around in no time. You can pet them, take pictures, and even join them in the water if you’re feeling adventurous. Their skin feels like wet leather and even though they’re benign, their beady eyes and slithering motion still make them seem ALL SHARK.

Nurse sharks at Compass Cay

Up close and personal

You can read more about our time at Compass Cay here.

Conception Island

Only accessible by boat or seaplane and mostly surrounded by a maze of coral reef, Conception Island offers unparalleled snorkeling and fish spotting. Which, also means unparalleled amounts of shark food. This “out island” is surrounded by deep Atlantic waters (as opposed to the more shallow sandbanks of the Exumas) that run right up to the shore of the island, which provides an attractive habitat for the sharks.

It was among these reefs that Christie set a new speed swimming record when she spotted a shark less than 50 feet away. A blacktip reef shark, about four feet long, was hovering near a reef as she rounded the corner and locked eyes with it. Most likely the shark was searching for small easy-to-snag reef fish (not a skittish swimmer) so we respectfully changed our direction and continued taking in the majestic underwater show.

Snorkeling the reef at Conception Island

For more about our time at Conception Island, click here.

The Jumentos

The Jumentos are the southernmost islands of the Bahamas. They’re pure wilderness with only a few small settlements that are home to the hardiest of islanders who share their waters with the largest and fiercest of Bahamian sharks.

Down there, you’ll likely spot large hammerheads, bull sharks, black tips, tigers and nurse sharks in abundance. And often times they’re swimming right by your anchored boat as the sharks are lured into the shallow waters by all the fish scraps tossed overboard from the plethora of fisherman in the area.

While there, we spotted a hammerhead behind Kaleo and swam with a few aggressive reef sharks who wanted the fish Matt had speared. He graciously obliged their demand and swam away from his catch (i.e.; their snack). If you’re ever that far south, be sure to keep your eyes peeled while in the water as you’re sure to be sharing your playground.

Well hello there!

Our trip to the Jumentos can be found here.

Mili Captures Kaleo

In addition to being an exceptional Cook, the Admiral of “Morning Glory” happens to be an excellent watercolor artist. While in the Jumentos, she turned that talent into charming image of “Kaleo” resting at anchor in Water Cay.

Kaleo captured in watercolor at Water Cay, Jumentos

It’s one of our most precious treasures from this trip so far. Thanks, Mili!

A “Gold Star” Week!

We’ve coined those days where we don’t spend any money, “Gold Star Days”. And we try to have as many of them as possible while not limiting our experiences.

We haven’t spent one cent in the past nine days, earning ourselves a whopping “Gold Star WEEK”.

Now granted, there’s been nothing to spend money on in the remote, uninhabited places we’ve visited the past week but we’re celebrating nonetheless.

Since moving aboard “Kaleo”, our typical expenses include fuel (though we sail as often as possible), groceries (expensive in the Bahamas), dining out (local cuisine tastings and date nights are a must), internet (ranges between not available and $15 a day), laundry (anywhere from $2.50 to $12 a load so far), and the occasional mooring ball or marina visit.

We don’t have a mortgage nor rent payments (we fully own our floating home). No utilities (we’re off the grid with engine and generator charging our battery-powered electricity and make our own fresh water from the sea*).  No car payments (we sold one and fully own the other that is tucked away in storage). No cable bills (no tv). No retail therapy (what the islands lack in retail, they make up tenfold in beauty and adventure). No gym memberships (would love to start a Bahamas Y). And so on. And so on.

Now that we’re back in Long Island, our spend-free spree will come to an end in the morning as we plan to hit up the grocery store (fresh produce!), top off our fuel (thanks to motoring into headwinds), and will enjoy a pool-side dinner at Long Island Breeze Resort tomorrow evening. It was a good run while it lasted but we’re going to savor the night out tomorrow.

*friends have shared the use of their watermakers until we install our new CruiseRO 20GPH watermaker.

The Jumentos

Over the past week we have truly been off the grid anchored in some of the most remote islands in the Bahamas.

 Kaleo under sail to the Jumentos

The Jumentos are a short chain of small rocky islands about 60 miles from Cuba at the closest point. There are few protected anchorages around these ocean-exposed islands and we became accustomed to the constant rolling motion of Kaleo being rocked back and forth in the cradle of ocean swell. Most of the time the swaying was tolerable but four times per day, when the tides changed, the motion caused a ceaseless clanging of everything shifting within the boat. Thankfully, the majority of our time was spent off the boat exploring the islands’ rugged beauty and hanging with Ted and Mili aboard their more stable, two-legged cat.

Matt on a quest for coconuts

Our anchorage in Water Cay

For what the Jumentos lack in conveniences and calm anchorages, it makes up for in rugged, untouched territory ripe for adventure. Our daily excursions had us:

  • Living resourcefully by catching and baking our food, making fresh water from the sea, burning to dispose of our trash, and keeping ourselves constantly entertained with nature and each other
  • Dingy exploring a large cave on Flamingo Cay

Coming out of Flamingo Cay Cave

  • Hiking cliffs overlooking the ocean while the gals hunted the beaches for washed-up treasures

The captain and his winged friend exploring

  • Visiting with “Maggie M”, a boat we crossed over from Marathon with, and meeting their friends on “Three Penny Opera”
  • Surveying the wreckage of a seaplane along a nearly perfect sandy crescent beach

Seaplane wreckage

  • Spearfishing where Matt speared his first fish, a Queen Triggerfish. On one trip out, Matt speared a fish that got off and hid under a rock. The injured fish quickly attracted two 5-6 foot sharks looking for an easy meal. Matt swam off deciding not to come between the sharks and the meal he had just prepared for one of them.
  • Hosting a bake-a-thon, whipping up fresh french bread, an apple crisp and vanilla ice cream
  • Enjoying Sunday boat church service, courtesy of, followed by conversation in fellowship that truly brings home the message
  • Beachcombing Water Cay for sea beans, tropical shells, and rare colors of sea glass
  • Sharing hearty meals and meaningful conversations while watching for the ever-elusive “green flash” at sunset

Our time in the Jumentos wrapped up as strong winds and sea states were forecast to move into the area by mid-week. So, we were early to bed on Wednesday night with plans for a 6:00 a.m. departure to make the 40 mile upwind battle back to Thompson Bay for Easter Weekend.

Ice Cream For Cruisers

They say “necessity is the mother of invention”.

The makings of a very cool treat

While we were in the remote Jumentos (no stores nor services within a full day’s sail), Mili baked the most enticing apple crisp one afternoon. Only one thing was missing from complimenting her beautiful creation. Ice cream. Creamy, cold, refreshing ice cream.

And that’s when it hit me.

A couple of summers ago, at FC Kids Camp, we taught our cabin of girls to make individual servings of handmade vanilla ice cream. What a perfect treat for cruisers craving this hard-to-keep treat (boat freezers are really small)!

So, I immediately dropped below the companionway stairs and into the galley to find the few ingredients needed to shake, shake, shake up a few batches. Here’s all’s that is needed to make your own.

What you’ll need:

  • Sandwich & Quart zipper bags
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tbsp rock or sea salt
  • 2 cups ice cubes (1 ice cube tray worth or use the ice when defrosting your freezer)

How to make it:

  1. Fill the large bag with ice, and add the rock or sea salt. Seal the bag.
  2. Put milk, sugar, and vanilla into the small bag, and seal it.
  3. Place the small bag inside the large one, and seal it again carefully.
  4. Shake, shake, shake until the mixture thickens into ice cream, which takes about 5 minutes or so.
  5. Wipe off the top of the small bag, then open it carefully. Enjoy!

A 1/2 cup milk will make about 1 scoop of ice cream, so double the recipe if you want more. You can also dice up and add dried fruit you may have aboard (mango, peaches, pineapple, apple) for flavored ice cream.

Dejarlo* French Bread

Also while in the Jumentos, we needed bread yet were no where near the convenience of picking up a loaf. So, it was round two of tapping into my inner “Betty Crocker”.  With Mili’s coaching, we baked (grilled actually) the following bread recipe.

Betty” going to town with her wine bottle rolling pin

A couple of freshly grilled loaves

Dejarlo’s* French Bread

Small Bowl – Stir together yeast mix and let rise

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 TBSP yeast

Large Bowl – Stir together

  • 2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 TBSP oil

When yeast mix has risen, add to large bowl

  • Add 6 1/2 cups of flour (if using wheat or multigrain, use 2 1/2 cup wheat or multigrain to 4 cups white)
  • Stir into ball and set aside
  • Grease large bowl
  • Put mixture back into large bowl and cover to let rise
  • Set timer to 10 minutes
  • Push down with spoon and stir around
  • Reset timer for a total of 5 times (yes, that’s an hour to let the bread rise and fall, rise and fall, and rise)
  • Divide into 2 balls (for 2 large loafs) and let rise once more for 10 minutes
  • Roll each ball out into rectangles
  • Roll up from long side and fold ends under
  • Turn over and pinch sides together
  • Place on greased sheet
  • Cut diagonally across 4 times
  • Cover and let rise to double
  • Bake 20-23 minutes at 400°

* Recipe shared by Pam of s/v Dejarlo during her “Eating Well While Cruising” infosession in George Town.

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