Paradise Next Door - Bahamas Cruise
| ~ Flo's Restaurant off
Little Harbour Cay ~ | Barry and
the Beguiling Bay
April 10th, 2011
in Little Harbour Cay
Don and I pulled anchor
around 10:00 in the morning, and glided through the Market Fish Cay passage into a windless day of smooth
motoring. Our course to Little Harbour Cay was a mere 6 nautical miles to the south, and our last destination in the Berry Island chain.
Little Harbour Cay’s entire population consisted of Chester Darville,
his menagerie of farm animals, and a few staff members that worked at Flo’s Place, a quintessential
island Bar and Restaurant that was our cause for the pause. Flo, Chester’s mom, had
recently passed away, but Chester kept the legacy going and the cruising guide stated this little bistro was
not to be missed. It promised meals made to order using the freshest ingredients, rum punches that were out
of this world, and yarns spun late into the evening hours - all of which we craved. Besides,
who could’ve resisted the opportunity to patronize an obscure beach bistro that was inaccessible
by any other means and thus exclusive to a select few?
Per instructions, we hailed
Chester via the VHF radio to make our dinner reservations. Chester promptly answered and just as promptly
requested that we choose between fish, lobster, or conch. Breakfast was still digesting, so dinner menu
options were far from the forefront of our appetites. Moreover fish and conch were something
we had in abundance, so paying for these options seemed inane.
we anticipated that this little bar might be just the place to encounter other cruisers and
enjoy some lively repartee. Though Don and I still savored our solitude, for close to three weeks we’d
only each other with which to converse and were feeling a bit deprived on that front.
~ Re Metau at Anchor ~ |
also hoped to partake in some refreshments that had become extinct this far into our journey;
fresh bread, a crisp, green salad, and crunchy veggies. Even after factoring in the remoteness of the
restaurant, and our ignorance of our meal's accompaniments and price tag, our desires overwhelmed our instincts,
so we apprehensively proceeded with the plan.
By 1:30 we passed through
Little Harbour Cut and dropped the hook in completely tranquil, crystalline waters just west of Cabbage Cay.
With nary a ripple to define where the vast empty sea met the clear, cerulean sky, it appeared as if we were
floating in space. Re Metau wasn’t even relying on her anchor; the chain rode laid in
a lazy ‘S’ on the sandy bottom.
for a Brave Queen Conch We donned our snorkel gear straightaway,
and went to investigate the warm, shallow pool. The area was a veritable royal courtyard full of large,
beautiful queen conches. I plucked one up but rather than cower in her catacombs, the noble
little snail inside defiantly stared me down, so I let her continue on her quest. She lumbered away
at an impressive pace, hauling her extremely heavy but magnificent shield along.
Soon after, a large
barracuda swam over to inquire if he might team up with us. In the Florida Keys we'd often dove with schools
of sergeant-major damselfish, gangs of grunts, packs of porkfish, or troops of blue tangs in tow.
During one of our Bonaire dives, a large, lone yellowtail snapper swam alongside the entire time,
often checking to ensure we were keeping up. Whenever we stopped to more closely
inspect a coral head or colorful anemone, our little marine guide would swim over to scrutinize the specimen
as well. I realized the relationship was symbiotic, in that these aquatic pets hoped to scavenge
anything edible that might be kicked up during our exploration. Nevertheless it was always enchanting
to be accepted by these amphibious attendants - to blend in with the natives as it were.
~ Barry - My 'Cudda Snorkel Buddy ~ |
However, I’d never had a large, fearsomely fanged predator try to
fraternize with me during one of my underwater forays! I consented to the escort, as long as
he kept his distance but stayed where I could see him. We made each other’s
wishes known with some tenacious persistence on his part, and some lunging, intimidation, and domineering
behavior on mine. Once the boundaries were set, I rather enjoyed snorkeling with my barracuda bodyguard.
The three of us started to fin our way into an invisible, yet rather strong current
that ran around the clump of islets. Amongst the sparse grassy seafloor, we spied
a splendid spotted sea hare grazing away undisturbed. This fist-sized slug derived its name from
the long, rabbit-eared tentacles waving around on top of its head. The barracuda wasn’t nearly
as engaged by the gastropod as I was; fully knowing its arsenal of defenses included leathery, toxic skin
under those moss colored rings, and pernicious purple ink spray from its frilly tail.
~ Spotted Sea Hare ~ |
Dangerous Sea Creatures
Nearby, a long-spined sea urchin with a bright orange star on its orb
was pulsing along, its spiky hairdo undulating with each movement. In all the diving and snorkeling
we’d done in the past, I’d never witnessed one of these in such a hurry.
Though considered a highly prized and high priced delicacy known as ‘uni’
in Japanese cuisine, this living pincushion with foot-long, venomous barbed needles was also
of no interest to Barry, my ‘cudda buddy.
The regal snail
with her indestructible suit of armor, the baneful bunny with pernicious spray, the glowing globe
of piercing pain; no wonder the barracuda was looking for easy pickings because everything in the
immediate area was armed and dangerous! Though bestowed with huge brains, complex communication
skills, and the ability to manipulate all manner of materials to our advantage, Don and I were probably
the most benign thing in the bay.
I was able to
capture a short video of an elegant stingray gracefully gliding over to inquire about the goings on
in the bay. But that was considered an intrusion to Barry, who jealously ran the winged sea
creature off and quickly returned to photo-bomb my cinematic achievement, flashing a proud, toothy
grin. I hadn’t the heart to tell him I’d stopped filming.
Flo's Conch Bar
We drifted back to our little ship via the current, where we waved Barry off, climbed
out of this beguiling bay, and prepared for our dubious dinner. While Don
was shaving, I sat in the cockpit to dry my hair in the sun, just when a pair of large, crevalle
jacks decided to stop by and welcome us to the pond. Following my every move, I felt like the
engaging creature on exhibit behind the transparent wall, confined in my little atmospheric bubble
while the aquatic creatures freely peered in with patent interest.
| ~ Long-Spined Urchin
It was a brief, but
lovely dinghy ride over to the restaurant, wending through a captivating narrow maze that flowed between
the scattering of verdant, nameless atolls surrounding Chester’s mooring field. Flo’s
Place, a squat, pink shack stood on the edge of the island, exclaiming ‘You Welcome’
in huge black letters across the metal roof. The shore was lined with high
piles of queen conch shells. No wonder the mollusk I released earlier was so possessed
in her escape; the mountains of pink skeletons were ominous! We learned that Chester farmed
his conch in underwater corrals, and this refugee was intent on a full life in the wilds. I’m
glad I let her go.
A flock of chickens and one large brown goose met us at the end of the
dock, but before we had the opportunity to stretch our legs amongst the terrestrial ranks, our hostess
appeared in the doorway and invited us to enter the vacant bungalow. We both
ordered up a rum punch, and before long, heard someone banging around in the kitchen.
The young woman/bartender/server disappeared as soon as our drinks were delivered, returning only
once to turn on the TV. Great! We sailed 200 miles to this remote paradise to have ESPN served up
After our meal, Chester stopped by to chat with us for a bit, but soon
excused himself stating he had to get ready for a big party coming in from Frozen Cay, the private
island resort nearby. Alas, we'd arrived too soon for lively exchange with
other boaters and the enticement to stick around was never extended; rather Chester gave us
a papaya from one of his trees as a parting gift. Sadly, we couldn't rave on about our restaurant
fare; nothing on our plates satisfied the diet deficiencies we coveted, no remarkable rum punches
passed our lips, no chance for delightful discussions were initiated. But fresh fruit after
two weeks out was very much appreciated.
| ~ Little Harbour Cay Sunset ~
Sunset and Moonrise Don and I closed
out the day as we often did, hanging side by side in the hammock, gazing out over a tranquil azure
sea. Re Metau was facing due west, and we watched the brilliant halo of the sun complete its
decent over the horizon, bathing the western sky in watercolor shades of radiant orange, warm fuchsia,
deep lavender, and inky indigo. And then one of the most memorable events I’d ever
witnessed in my life occurred.
As if on cue,
the tidal current slowly and silently swung us around to show us a gloriously luminous quarter moon
rising in the dusky cobalt sky. The light of our waking hours had come to a close, but the ebb
of that silvery orb, that ruler of the aquatic realm had physically turned our world toward her dreamy,
ethereal visage making her comforting, seductive presence known.
I think this planet would be a far more peaceful place if everyone ended their day
hanging in a hammock with someone they love, floating over crystal clear waters
under a blanket of stars,
contemplating all the little dramas and immense miracles that occur in all the beguiling dominions
of this interconnected world between each and every sunrise and moonset.
© 2015 Diana E Reynolds - SV Re Metau. All rights reserved.
Blynken, and Nod one night sailed off in a wooden shoe — Sailed on a river of crystal light, into a sea of dew."
~ Eugene Field