Rudder Cay and a Bahamian meal
We left Staniel Cay New Years Day. It was dead calm and we ran the engine, a necessity anyway, as we needed to charge our batteries and make water.
The weather report had a developing, strong low-pressure system in the forecast and we decided to set our course for Pond at Rudder Cut Cay, 20 miles south. The Pond offered great all round protection and turned out to be the perfect place for us to hang out for a few days.
Like many Bahamian islands Rudder Cay had and interesting history, involving tax evasion, a prison sentence and an abandoned mansion. An extensive system of partly overgrown roads crisscrossed the two and a half mile long island, from the broken down boat landing by the Pond, to the airstrip in the north to the former mansion at the highest point, to four beautiful beaches on the western and southern shore.
It felt good to tie on our hiking shoes, take some long walks and explore.
Having some free time on our hands we decided to create a Bahamian meal from scratch. It turned in to a two-day process.
Here is Bills description of how it all went down:
“As with any good meal, good ingredients are the key. So started our preparations by walking across ‘our’ deserted island to a lovely beach with coconut palms, in search in search of coconuts. We found them, but unfortunately these happened to grow at the top of very tall trees. It required attempting several techniques to acquire them (Note to self: don’t climb up a coconut tree without figuring out how to climb down first). Throwing rocks at them seemed primitive at the time, but hey, it worked. It turns out opening them is not as easy at it appears on TV; it required a hatchet, saw and quite a bit of effort (second note to self; coconuts are almost as hard as rocks).
Next, it was time to go ‘conching’. This peculiar Bahamian activity works best at low tide, and entailed getting 3 people in a small dinghy, paddling around in the lagoon shallows and plucking these beautiful, giant crustaceans from the bottom (preferably without falling in or getting your shorts wet). Cleaning them is quite a chore (they are also ‘hard as rocks’), and requires beating a hole in the top with a hammer and screwdriver, cutting loose the foot, trimming away the non essentials (skin and incredible outer space type slime), and slicing the meat.
Next it was time for snapper. Conch trimmings happen to be super bait, and that night, after noticing a big fish come up to ‘sniff’ a piece of lettuce tossed overboard, we threw out 2 lines and caught 2 very fine mutton snappers in a matter of minutes. (Believe me, that got our fishing confidence up, but despite a lovely full moon night, and a full bottle of rum, we were unable to repeat this performance).
Next the coconut were grated and roasted, and the conch tenderized, battered and fried. We made coleslaw, rice and rum drinks. “
Finally it was time to serve our Bahamian meal. The wind started roaring out of the northwest, the barometer sank outside as our spirits rose aboard. We listened to Reggie, set the table and Bill fried up the fish. The feast was served: coconut rice, coleslaw, fried conch and mutton snapper all washed down with Kalik, a local beer. By 9 o’ clock every last bit of food was gone and the north wind punched 40 knots. It was a good days work, or rather two.