Since day one arriving in the Islands we have learned alot. Most importantly the things we will forever appreciate, things that before may have gone un-noticed. We “planned” to stay only one night at Bimini Sands Marina. Well, you know how those plans go – they don’t. Filled with happiness and excitement 1 night turned into 3. Thirty dollars turned into ninety. But it didn’t matter. These islands are here for our exploration, with nothing but time and only funds to turn us back. Needless to say we took our sweet time soaking up the facilities the marina had to offer.

Let’s start with the Bahamian people. They are truly something. Welcoming us spoiled Americans with open arms and smiles. Each individual waves and smiles and makes you feel as if you deserve to be there. While walking around Alice town, North Bimini, even the middle school kids waved as you walked passed ” Hi there! How are you today?” After leaving Coconut Grove, Miami, I was pleased to receive a returning smile. Coconut Grove felt similar to Los Angeles. No one really gives a rats ass who you are or why you are there. While walking in the park at Coconut Grove I went out of my way to smile at every human I walked past, just to see if they would smile in return. Nope. Not even fifty percent. Ahh, it is so refreshingly different here. Thank you Bahamians for the love.

After 4 days in Bimini we finally made a move. Just south of Bimini is a strand of tiny islands, one being Cat Cay, where we are currently anchored. My surroundings are hard to put into words. If you could just see it with your own eyes. But you can’t. We are anchored right next to a tiny airstrip on a private island that we are technically not supposed to be on. Louise sits in a dark blue hole with plenty of water underneath her keel. Not even 75 feet in all directions is a sand bank that shows itself only while the tide is low.

While the tide is low, you can walk 1/2 a mile to the island just south of here that is completely uninhabited. The 4 of us (our greatest boating friends Bob and Madeline of “Betty L” whom we met back in Illinois) spent the day gathering conch. The first one I saw I was terrified to pick up because I swear to god it had massive woman eating claws. At least in my mind it did. Sure enough you can pick them right up and they suction themselves into their shell and hide. Reggie did a fine job of gathering conch himself. After he got a good look at what it was we were gathering, he dug up several conchs that put all of ours to shame. With sinking kayaks due to conch overfill, we went back to our boats which were rafted together, to begin the never ending “battle of the conch”

We had recently heard that if you hang them on a string, they eventually get too exhausted to stay suctioned to their shell, and muscle begins to give out. The most common way is to hammer a hole in the top of the shell, another way to destroy its suction. We hung them all from strings until it looked like Christmas. Wow, are they stubborn. They are slimy, and smelly, and secrete disturbing juices while trying to rip them free of their home. We had spaghetti for dinner instead. Next time I eat conch chowder, I will appreciate every bite knowing that 4 of us could not even get the damn meat out of one of them.

Today Katie and I explored alone until the sun no longer allowed us. We decided to dedicate the day to gathering all items vegetarian. I carried the hawaiian sling by my side – just to feel cool because I barely know how to use it. Eventually Katie, Reg, and I paddled on our single person kayak to some rocks far, far, far from land. We had been informed that these reefs are some of the most spectacular dive sites in all of the islands. It was kind of freaky. There is something comforting about having other people around, or a man maybe? Just the three of us, paddling out to sea in the tiny kayak. I swam for quite a ways, and could not help but dwell on the fact I had become shark bait, and was trolling myself behind the kayak. I imagined my body like the tuna we caught after it’s tail had been ripped off.

The reef we paddled to was well worth it. No need to explain it’s beauty, for once again – my description will give no justice. On the way home we gathered one too many coconuts with plans to crack em open for their goods. Have you ever tried to climb a coconut tree? Well, it hurts and I do not recommend it. Have you ever tried to open a coconut and get to the milk? If you do not have power tools, it hurts and I do not recommend it. Haha Katie and I spent the evening in the cockpit trying to open the freakin coconuts. Holding the coconuts in-between our feet like monkeys, using a machete, hammer and pry bar. We looked absolutely ridiculous. Eventually we got to taste what we worked for. Anything containing coconut will forever be appreciated by these gals. We later learned that it is the ripe green ones that are easily opened, not the brown dead ones on the ground which are a joke attempting to open. Lesson learned.

Katie gathered shells to make jewelry, I gathered leaves to make bikinis? No rush to attempt our next projects knowing that the ones we’ve tried so far are nearly impossible. For now I will enjoy this very moment and this dark blue hole upon which Louise is anchored. The cockpit looks as if it’s lived through a hurricane after our coconut party. My hair is close to dread locks if I neglect to brush it any longer. The hair on my arms is so sun bleached I look like an old man. The salt water has dried my skin to a point of no return. Not to mention every square inch of my body contains a bug bite. At this point I have more bug bites than freckles. And I have a lot of freckles. It’s only been one week. I am exhausted. Today, the sun won. Finally it has set behind this little island of palm trees. Nothing good happens after sunset. Bedtime.

21 thoughts on “Katie and Jessie try to live off the land

      1. Totally understand; there are some classy folks here but sometimes, they’re a bit outnumbered.

  1. what about the nice florida guys you met that fed you? lol be safe….write that book! Rob

    Sent from my iPad

  2. Hi, there. You can eat the conch raw but ask someone for the recipe for conch fritters–they’re great! I’ve been enjoying your trip for several months now and look forward to each post. Collier

  3. Get thee deep into the islands. The Bimini chain is pretty but you’re playing in the doorway of something incomprehensibly bigger and even more beautiful and powerful. Cross the banks to the Berries or go north around Grand Bahama and spend hurricane season in Abaco where there are plenty of tight, safe little harbours to hide in.

    So wonderful to watch you ladies make the same walkabout I did in my 20s. There were no blogs or digital cameras back then. You get to share your journey in ways that previous generations never could (and you’re a talented photographer, too).

    Sail on! Sail on!

    1. Hey Dave. We are currently dealing with some engine issues. But will soon explore the Exumas. After that, I assume we will just keep on exploring and exploring. I hope. I am sure you are itching to see some photos and read stories of places you have been when you experienced this. Happy we can share this all with you.

  4. Katie + Jessie,
    I am almost speechless. Thank you for sharing this! I found the link on a post by Ralph on a sailing forum I frequent. I apologize for not reading most of the entries (yet)… I was too busy taking in all the incredible photos. I have dnload a few skies to add to my collection of skies. Your skies are incredible!

    I’m an old person who got a sailboat in ’85 before you were born and sailing it down to the Caribbean after 6 yrs of getting prepared… I cruised down there for 4 years in ’91. Still have the boat, back in NY and working and messing about on the boat.

    I am completely blown away by your experience and accomplishments.. and of course inspired. Finding this blog has made my day and I will now go back and read it from beginning to end. I don’t have a blog but got interview a number of years ago… http://interviewwithacruiser.blogspot.com/2010_09_01_archive.html

    I don’t know that I can do anything for you girls… you seem more than capable of doing it all on your own… But if you need a hand, some gear (I have lots of boat stuff in the garage…) I can send you a care package and maybe it can have a second life.

    I can’t thank you two enough for the experience of reading this blog. You two are wonderful examples of what a sailor is. One of the best sailing blogs out there… hands down.
    Jeffrey
    sv Shiva

    1. Jeffrey, I am flattered you say this is one of the best sailing blogs! I suppose it is more of a comedic take, as two young females on this adventure is not so common. It makes me happy to hear that all kinds of people are enjoying, and appreciate what it is we are doing. If I can think of anything we could possibly need, I will contact you. I know you understand how boat related items can have multiple lives – someones trash is someone else’s treasure. I will keep photos and stories coming for you, please share with anyone and everyone! Thanks again.

      1. I was absolutely serious about the blog and your adventure. It captures, in my opinion what a adventure cruising is and what an adventure it is to get there., The blog proves that virtually anyone with the drive and a buddy, some furry friends and a not very big sailboat can have HUGE experience and huge experience along they way. I am going to send the link to my wife’s daughter, is about your age to give her some inspiration an,

        Great move on the AP… really mission critical for cruising short handed. If you can make it to the windward islands.. you’ll have a blast… amazing things to see on that collection of volcanic islands. It’s a long slog to windward so it takes time and fair weather. But once you get there, you’ll love it. I wanted to do a photo essay about the dogs of the Caribbean. I think you may beat me too it!

        Fair winds and following seas and be careful!

  5. Glad to see you two make it down there. I have been regularly following your adventures since you stayed here at Cuba Landing TN. (I was the fella that cooked you up the spaghetti and meatballs on my houseboat.) Sure love the pics, What beautiful places you have been. You two have been inspiring. Got a couple more years to go. But gotta make the trip myself now! Something I would have never thought of before. Thanks Ya’ll

  6. Thanks Ladies, ya’ll Two Have Inspired My Son And His Girlfriend So Much , They Flipped Their 27′ And Just Graduated To A 31′ Hunter. Proud Of Those Two, Now Just Some Tlc And Maybe They Will Catch Up To ya’ll….

  7. Regarding the conch – I don’t think you’re going about it quite the right way. Hanging them is a good idea, but what you should do is snag the meat with a fishhook tied to a line and hang the conch from that. That way, the weight of the shell will cause it to eventually drop free as the conch becomes exhausted, leaving behind the hanging animal. Regards, R&R

  8. Sounds like you guys should have been paying more attention when I was opening coconuts for you down in Florida :P. Find a local to show you how it is done!

  9. It was a pleasure meeting y’all! We crossed paths while we stopped over in Chub. We were on the “Una Mas” and shared a few beers while we cleaned fish. I hope y’all were able to figure out what to do to repair the gear. We made it down to San Salvador, Cat Island, and a few places in the Exumas. Y’all have and exciting time ahead! Have fun, be safe! Everyday is a holiday, every meal is a banquette!
    Cheers!
    Ryan

  10. My Little Jessie Bessie! what adventures you two have been on!
    You are an inspiration to anyone who says “I wish I could…..”
    I enjoy all of your stories and am blown away by your creative (and hysterical) writing.
    Love and miss you. Please stay safe.
    Hugs,

  11. I LOVE the picture of Reggie shaking off the water in the kayak! Very funny! My Aunt Veronica “Ronnie”, met you in West Alton, Missouri, Harbor Point Yacht Club on the Mississippi River last year. I am enjoying your blog very much, and you have inspired us to begin planning an adventure of our own on her sailboat! Cheers!

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