As we approached the bay of Ballandra on Isla Carmen, I was increasingly nervous as I counted 3, then 4, then 5, then 6 other boats anchored inside the small cove. But, as we’ve learned almost every time we’ve anchored, everything seems way closer when we’re on the boat then when we have perspective off the boat. We were able to find plenty of room in the end, and anchored in about 15 feet of clear water with loads of fish swimming around beneath the boat. As we arrived we could see everyone gathered on SV Catspaw, with Rick working a fishing rod over the side. We quickly donned our sunscreen, the girl’s sunsuits, and our sun hats (leaving the boat is always a production!), dropped in the paddle boards and paddled over to check out what was going on.
Turns out, Rick had found a special spot for trigger fish, and had already caught 4 or 5. We see trigger fish everywhere here, zipping around with their dorsal and pectoral fins wriggling back and forth in opposite directions. It was decided that Rick and Cynthia were going to be making fish and chips for everyone that night, and that some of us needed to learn how to properly clean a trigger fish. So, Cynthia gathered Cheryl (Wahina Toa), Sarah (Mapache) and I on the side deck to show us, which is entertaining in-itself considering Sarah and I (and the rest of Skookum V) are primarily plant-based. But, always open to learning new things and thankful for Catspaw’s infinite generosity, we dove in.
We spent a good part of the afternoon hanging around and on Catspaw as the fish were caught and cleaned, alternating between the deck, the dinghies and our paddle boards. As the girls had been growing increasingly comfortable with the water, Stu suggested to Lily that she try jumping off the dinghy she was sitting in. Before we knew it, she’d jumped in and then immediately started swimming away from the boat. We asked her where she was going and she replied ‘To go get Marshall’, and just kept swimming. Marshall is her Paw Patrol figurine. Which was on our boat. About 200 metres away. Thankfully, our buddy Rob (fondly referred to now as ‘Uncle Rob) quickly swam after her to coax her back to the boat, which wasn’t that tricky after she was stung by a little jelly fish (all good, it’s happened to all of us and totally fine).
That night we had a feast of fried fish and jicama fries…we all rolled into bed with full bellies that evening. A little tequila and mescal may have been imbibed as well. In fact, we pretty much spent the whole time in Ballandra eating, as the next evening was a huge Middle Eastern feast as well. Needless to say, our waistlines have not benefitted from this special social time.
Earlier this year, before we hit the warmer weather, we had been warned that bees can be a little bit of an issue in the Sea. Basically, as the weather warms up, and any semblance of natural fresh water evaporates, the bees are starved for fresh drinking water. Needless to say, sailboats tend to have fresh water available to them, between rinsing off salty bodies on the back deck, dish water, drinking water and those boats who have the fortune of a fresh water rinse for the anchor. While we were at Ballandra, we had our initiation into the arrival of bees, late afternoon when the day was its hottest. We were supposed to be hosting everyone for happy hour, but the bees decided they would take over our cockpit first. Fortunately, we were able to quickly close up the boat, and once the bees determined there was no fresh water available to them, they moved on, and happy hour could commence.
With its clear, warm water, Ballandra (this time around) was a favourite. Some of us did a little snorkeling of the reef inside the bay, and all told we saw dolphins, many different fish, a lobster and octopuses (Catspaw saw the octopuses, we saw the lobster). Several evenings were spent, post feasting, on our trampoline watching the sunset and looking for shooting stars.