We awoke at 0230 to drive to the airport. Three inches of snow on the ground…..great. We drove with one highway lane cleared and little salt on the road. We were almost to the airport parking lot when we slid sideways to a stop inches in front of a pole. Luckily, it was all very slow motion because we were not driving fast. Definitely the right time to get out of Annapolis, leaving Velocir in the snow, and head for the Bahamas to visit Amelia’s parents on their cruising sailboat, Motu Iti. (www.sailmotuiti.com)
Goldwin and Nancy have been relaxing in the Abacos this last month, and we are very happy to join them. Our first day was a bit breezy, but we headed over to a favorite of ours, Tahiti Beach, for some low tide nature viewing. The beach is a long sand bar that appears at low tide. The area is full of starfish, sand dollars, juvenile conch and other creatures.
Even though we have explored these waters before we always find something new, like this green starfish.
A rare sighting, this juvenile conch came out of its shell for us (trying to turn over).
The eyes always get us, they are oddly adorable making them extremely hard to turn into a meal. Luckily this one is not legally large enough to eat.
We zoomed around to a few good snorkeling spots. When Grant goes spearfishing he uses a pole spear with an elastic loop at the end (making it a homemade Hawaiian sling), dive weights to help him get down to look under crevices, a knife for safety and gloves to protect his hands from sharp lobster etc.
He found a spiny lobster in a grassy bank offshore, and speared it for dinner.
We also speared a few Lion Fish, an invasive species with no natural predators and dangerous spines. It is very much encouraged to spear them.
To finish our great day, Amelia made some conch fritters out of fresh-caught conch and a local batter Nancy had gotten.
It was a calm day with no wind and no waves, so we ventured in our dinghy out to the reefs of Great Guana Cay with our spear and snorkeling gear. It took us a while to spot any lobster, and when we did, even longer to catch them. But with a little bit of practice and teamwork we caught four. They are super-fast and the first few slipped from our grasp!
Our catch was four big lobster and two beautiful conch. We were so excited!! The lobster were not easy to catch but Amelia used a spear to trap them and then Grant grabbed them from the the bottom. A lot were pretty curious and made it easy for us by coming out of their rock ledges quite a bit. Amelia tried a few times to strike them, half-drowning under water, and after a few attempts quickly got the hang of it and was able to predict their reactions better. Grant was always there to quickly grab their sharp bodies with his gloves and throw them in our mesh bag.
The meat came right out of the tails and Grant devoured his!
The conch were easy to catch– they move at a snails pace. The trick is finding them, and we finally did! Amelia always feels bad for the conch because she likes quirky creatures and these have little eyes. It’s the eyes looking up at you that make it hard!!! Anyways, Amelia opened the first conch by using a hammer and chisel to puncture its shell near the top. (There is a precise spot but it is hard to describe).
Then, you jab a knife in the punctured shell and basically cut the muscle the conch is using to hold itself in the shell. Amelia’s came out pretty easily.
Grant’s conch put up a good fight but Grant won in the end. After getting the conch out you cut away their brown skin and insides until you are left with the hard white meat. To get the brown skin off we used a sharp knife, but some people like to “bark” it by using their teeth to peel the skin off. (Seriously I am not making it up). We used a hammer to gently tenderize it a little and then cut it into small pieces for conch fritters.
The batter for the conch fritters includes 3/4 c. flour, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 1/2 tsp. Old Bay (would add more next time), 2 beaten eggs, 1/2 c. milk, vegetable oil for frying and some powdered sugar to drizzle on top. I also added some green pepper bits and onion, you could also add corn or another vegetable.
Then, fry them in oil, turning, until done. It was like cooking a pancake, when I saw the little bubbles in the batter it was time to flip it. Very filling! It made a little too much for two people. After many days of hunting, searching, and close calls, we finally lucked out and had two days of feasting!