That got your attention, huh? Well…read on!
On our way to check in to the Bahamas on Green Turtle Cay, we spent a night at Manjack Cay. We were only there long enough to eat some dinner and catch some zzzz’s, but we knew we had to get back! The crazy winds that were forcing us to hang out on a mooring ball in Green Turtle let up for 24 hours, so we booked back north (well…as fast as we could book in our sailboat!) to explore Manjack Cay. We’d already paid for the mooring ball in Green Turtle for the next several days, so we wrote “Radio Waves” with a Sharpie on one of our life jackets, tied it to the mooring and crossed our fingers that we wouldn’t have any issues getting our ball back when we returned. We were hoping to stay on Manjack for two nights, but the weather only allowed us one, so we made the most of it.
We motored the short distance north from Green Turtle to Manjack, dropped anchor, and as soon as we were certain that the boat was secure, dinghied to shore and followed the signs and path to the “ocean beach” on the other side of the cay. What we found astonished us. The shore was littered with all sorts of trash and debris. Not from the few people who lived here, or from the folks like us who were just visiting, but tons of junk that had washed ashore. We saw countless empty water bottles (and some full ones), shoes of all types and sizes, fluorescent light bulbs (even some four-foot long ones which were still totally intact!), liquor bottles, gas cans (every single one of which was burnt/melted on top…so weird, and we really wonder what the story was with those!), lines and fishing nets, pieces of foam, fish floats, parts of another shipping container, and the list goes on. We also saw tubes of mini M&Ms, bottles of mayonnaise, FrontLine flea treatments and syringes, all items we’ve heard may have been cargo on El Faro when it sunk on its voyage during hurricane Joaquin. This was not the type of beach combing we were expecting to be doing!
About a week later we were back on Manjack once again, but now had more time to do some leisurely exploring. We found some natural pools in the rocks on the south end of the island, one of which looked like a natural hot tub. So beautiful, and fun to play in! We also happened to run into a group on a tour boat on the opposite side of the island, and crashed their ray feeding party! Just love the soft feel of the rays as they brush up against you!
We were introduced to Bill and Leslie, a couple who lives full-time on the island (with maybe a half a dozen more folks!) and maintains the trails for cruisers like us to enjoy. They invited us to come to shore later that evening to enjoy a bonfire with them and the folks on Beacon Won, a large partially home-built charter sailboat, on its way to Nassau to pick up some charter guests, and wow, what a great party that turned out to be! We listened to great stories told by Bruce, the captain on Beacon Won, of his adventures through the years. We also shared a couple of fresh coconuts. First, we drank the coconut water (spiked with scotch of all things!), and then the coconuts were set in the fire for about a half an hour or so before being dug back out, left to cool for a bit, and then cracked open. Oh my! Soooo good! You could even eat the inner shell at that point. It had such a good, smoky flavor, almost like a smoked meat. Cannot wait to try this again!
Bruce invited us for coffee and blueberry pancakes on Beacon Won the next morning, when we also got a tour of the boat. Apparently, someone had started building the boat about 25 years ago, but then died and it had sat covered for all that time until Bruce and some of his friends acquired it and finished building it over the next three years. They even found two brand new 25-year-old Caterpillar engines which they installed because they wanted something easy to maintain themselves. Very cool boat and we were glad to have the chance to check it out!
We also had a chance to check out Crab Cay, a small uninhabited cay just to the south of Manjack. One of my favorite things to do is walk around and explore beaches when there’s no one around except for the two of us. I thought this was the case on Crab Cay…until we spotted some footprints…hoof prints actually, and then we eventually ran into two pigs and three adorable little piglets who live on the island! The two larger pigs would walk near to us, hoping for handouts I’m assuming, but the piglets were kinda shy.
Next stop on the dinghy tour du jour was Fiddle Cay, a tiny island just a hop, skip and a jump south of Crab Cay. Apparently there is a Stranded Naked Cheeseburger Beach Party held here each year, with free cheeseburgers for all, and on the beach were several picnic tables, a grill, a makeshift bar and a couple of tree swings. We’ve heard that families come from all over the Abacos to enjoy this party, which keeps getting bigger every year. Not sure where the name came from, but I’m guessing that since it’s a family affair no one is actually “stranded naked”! At least I hope not…
Next stop, the world-famous Nippers Bar!