Saturday, February 21, 2009

Atlantis Found and Bahama Mamma

Saturday February 21, 2009

Location: Warderick Wells Cay, Bahamas

N 25 22'55

W 076 37'25

Sail Log: Atlantis Found and Bahama Mamma

Atlantis has intrigued philosophers since Plato's day and continues to fascinate dreamers and scientist alike. Did an entire civilization once flourish on a mythical or now extinct continent? It is said that on Atlantis the arts reached heights of expression never before seen and that scientists and scholars of the island made great discoveries and built wondrous machines. Its' people traveled far and wide in sleek, fast ships, trading with distant lands and countries. This evolved civilization thrived for years, until one day it was submerged by an unforeseen volcanic eruption. The entire island and all its' treasures were drawn into the depths of the ocean. In a single day the ocean swallowed Atlantis.

I have always liked the idea that somewhere waiting for the right adventurer Atlantis will be discovered and its' riches revealed to the world. But then again I always liked Indiana Jones movies as well. The truth is, we are learning, Atlantis can be found and it may be in the Bahamas or wherever you are.

Having spent all of January in Florida during a particularly cold spell we were eager to get back to the islands and to be at anchor. Our marina experience in St. Petersburg could not have been any nicer but we are wanderers at heart and a month at a marina when there are islands/Atlantis close by and the chance to meet Bahama Mamma is more than this mariner could stand.

We had been in the Bahamas for just a couple of days when Susan's Mom, Step Father and Aunt arrived and met us on Mima in the Atlantis marina. That's right; Atlantis does exist in the form of a super-resort on Paradise Island. Las Vegas has nothing on this place, add to that the largest man-made marine habitat in the world along with literally miles of water park activities and you begin to understand what this Atlantis is like. We were treated like royalty and learned a great deal at the same time. The Manta Ray feedings and predator lagoon presentations allow you to view up close some of the oceans' most intriguing marine inhabitants and learn more about them. Did you know that after feeding Manta Rays do back flips to aid in digestion? What a thrill it was to see it firsthand. Our three days playing and experiencing this Atlantis is an experience we will not soon forget, but I was still longing for a different Atlantis, and when do I get to meet the famed Bahama Mamma?

We said goodbye to Susan's Aunt and with Grandma and Grandpa still on board headed out to a chain of islands called the Exumas. A short 30 nautical miles from Nassau this chain of islands has much to offer sailors and island lovers alike. We are still getting used to sailing along with only 6-10 feet of water under the keel when we are in "deep" water, but so far only water and the occasional wayward jellyfish has touched Mima's underside.

Anchored a few days ago on the south side of Norman's Cay, within view of the old hangout of drug lord Carlos Lehder and a downed airplane in 5 feet of water, we began reconsidering what defines Atlantis and who Bahama Mamma is. A no expense spared man-made Atlantis is one thing but the dozen or so small islets along with good protection from Norman's Cay made for an idyllic anchorage. Is this Atlantis? While enjoying snorkeling around the airplane wreck Susan (aka Little Fish) began looking for conch.

I must tell you that in the last 14 months I have yet to meet anyone who enjoys snorkeling or that is more comfortable in the water than Susan. She is routinely the first one in the water and the last one out, hence her new nickname. Combine all of that with her uncanny ability to spot delectable items from the ocean buffet and then prepare them to perfection and she is perhaps the real Bahama Mamma, and so cute besides. Today she discovered the conch "mother lode".

We are very careful to not harvest any juvenile conch and adhere to all local fishing laws. But with six people onboard our limit was quite high and after "Little Fish" had 31 in the dinghy we called it quits. Two hours later all the conch was cleaned with help from Grandpa Rob and we enjoyed a lazy afternoon onboard. If you ever get a chance to try Conch Fritters, Cracked Conch, Conch Ceviche or my favorite, Thai Coconut Curry Conch you are in for a treat. To this mariner this is my idea of Atlantis and add to it a real Bahama Mamma on board and what more could you ask for?

The following day we made our way to Hawksbill Cay. This uninhabited island played host to Mima and a single mega yacht. We never saw the mega yacht's inhabitants on or off the boat so we had miles of white sandy beach all to ourselves. Amy and Marshall (our children) swam with Grandma and Grandpa and made sandcastles while we walked the beach hand in hand looking for the next seashell for our ever growing collection. As we turned to walk back down the beach we were joined by a sea turtle that swam just 15 feet off the beach all the way back with us. He occasionally raised his head for a breath of air, looked at us and then continued on down the beach with us following close behind.

I was reminded once again that Atlantis is not a "place" in the minds of dreamers and adventurers nor is it the man made result of fabulous imaginations and untold millions of dollars. Atlantis is a state of heart and mind not a place. More and more we are learning that each day is defined by what or whom we put our faith in and the relationships we invest ourselves in. I am convinced that Atlantis can be found, but we must stop looking for the place called Atlantis.

What are we to make of the famed island beauty and legendary Bahama Mamma you ask? Well, what can I say, if you want to meet her come visit, I am sailing with her.

Live Slow, Sail Fast, Love Well

The 4Wheelers

Monday, February 9, 2009