Diving (okay snorkeling, let’s be honest here) shipwrecks is always fun. Seeing how man made ruins have been converted into a make-shift home, no an entire underwater ecosystem never ceases to amaze. Yes, shipwrecks are great, but sunken planes? When I heard that Norman’s Cay boasted a sunken plane from the 1970s I was dying to explore it.
To my relief Sato San was all for it. We anchored half a mile away right off of the archetypal desert island, one palm tree sprouting up in the middle. Of course, under the tree sat a wooden bench, but you could always imagine the Swiss Family Robinson had a hand in that.
A few sheets of metal barely stuck out of the azure water, the last remnants of the plane’s top. The rest had long since rusted away, ravaged by the elements. Still, it was enough for us to spot it and dinghy over. There is a feeling of mystique about sunken planes, shipwrecks, and ruins. It gives you a shivery feeling of wonder, danger, and opens a thousand questions. What had happened? Who had been on this plane? Did they survive?
I slid over the side of the dinghy into the warm Bahamian water and came face to face with rusted -propellers and the nose of the barnacle-covered wreck. I swam around it. Nothing remained inside the wreck. It had been too long; the ocean had taken its due. Resident yellow and black striped fish surrounded the wreck. Two rays were hiding under the sand, only their tails and a thin outline visible. Until an eye blinked open watching.
I never knew the graceful creatures spent time hiding under the sand, but with flat bodies it made sense. The underwater world was just as marvelous as I remembered. I examined the plane from all angles, though decided against actually going inside the wreck and swam until the warm water started to feel cold. It was time to head back to the dinghy.
Taira San, our new 70-year old Japanese crew member who had taken up sailing, kiteboarding, and countless other adventure sports after his 60th birthday, was waiting back in the dinghy. Almost immediately Sato San joined us and we headed over to the desert island to explore.
The island beach was crawling with hundreds of young conchs. The orangey-pink little shells were everywhere. We did find a few legal-sized queen conchs with dramatically flared lips in deeper water though. Our first conchs!
After a little while we headed back to the catamaran to make lunch. After a long morning of exploring and adventures I didn’t want to make something too terribly involved and besides, everyone was hungry. Quick and easy was the name of the game. Tuna salad wraps fit the bill.
Tuna salad is certainly of the best fallback cruising foods. I make sure to keep my pantry well-stocked with canned tuna. This is one of my favorite versions of the classic. If you don’t have bell peppers you can omit them but I always like to have onions and celery.
Telltale Spicy Tuna Salad
1 can tuna
½ onion, chopped
½ bell pepper, chopped (red or yellow are prettiest but since they don’t last as long I usually just use green)
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 T relish
¼ c mayonnaise
Juice from 1 lime
1 t black pepper
1 t salt
1 t chili seasoning (or cayenne pepper)
Mash the tuna in bottom of large bowl
Mix in veggies
Add remaining ingredients and mix well
Makes 4 wraps
1 recipe tuna salad
1 tomato cut into wedges
4 burrito flour tortillas
Spoon tuna salad onto 4 wraps
Arrange tomato wedges in line on each tortilla
Place sprouts on top
Fold bottom of tortilla up and roll into wrap
The sign also said no cleaning fish, no fishing, and a myriad of other marina regulations but the no swimming really caught my eye. Of course I wasn’t going to swim in the marina. Gross! But I’d never seen a marina explicitly state that you really shouldn’t swim there.
And we were in the Bahamas! The transparent blue water beckoned, offering a delightful respite from the warm sun. I was longingly gazing at the water when a sleek grey form glided past. 10-feet of perfectly-engineered predator. Suddenly the water didn’t seem so inviting.
Now I am not afraid of sharks in general. There is a higher probability you will get killed by a falling coconut or that lightening will be the cause of your untimely demise. They don’t even like the taste of people… we’re not in their food chain. Most shark attacks are just a shark sampling something that looks tasty. Unfortunately that “sample” is enough to kill a person if taken out of the right place.
Bimini Big Game Club, the marina we were staying at had 4 “pet” bull sharks, that they fed. Bull sharks. The type of shark jaws was based off of. Now ordinarily sharks aren’t dangerous, but still. There are certain varieties I would prefer not to swim with. Especially in an area they’re being fed.
Rather than take my chances on the paddle board or swimming anywhere near the marina, I opted to celebrate our arrival to warm weather with one of my favorite salads.
For some reason I can barely look at a salad in chilly climates. As lettuce doesn’t last more than a week and Spinach not much longer my favorite warm-weather fare isn’t great cruising. And try finding greens on uninhabited islands in the Bahamas. Sure you can find them in Nassau in western supermarkets on sale for just $10 for a head of lettuce.
But while I had fresh lettuce I was going to make the most of it.
Kimchee salad is one of my favorite recipes Sato San has taught me. Who am I kidding, most of them are pretty tasty. But this salad is simple, delicious, and utterly unlike any other I have tasted. It is also an excellent way to stretch your lettuce out and really make it last.
Kraken Kimchee Salad
- 1 Tomato, chopped
- ½ cucumber, chopped
- 1 ½ c lettuce, chopped
- 1 c kimchee
- 2 t salted kombu
- ¼ c dried cranberries
- 1/8 c chopped or slivered almonds
- ¼ c juice from kimchee
- Toss lettuce, kimchee, cucumber, and tomatoes together
- Mix in ¼ c kimchee juice
- Mix in salted kombu, cranberries, and almonds
- Serve with a few extra cranberries and almonds sprinkled on top
Umineko set out for Allan’s Cay with iguanas in our minds. We had had to delay a day due to foul weather and the wrong winds, but we were more than ready to leave grey, dreary Nassau. I should have known something was up when one of the resident sailors at Nassau Yacht Haven looked at us incredulously that morning. “You’re going out in this?” His charter for the day had canceled. Probably a wise move on their part.
It was James Bond sailing: shaken not stirred. The shallow Bahamian seas tossed us about relentlessly, the sullen grey skies spitting rain. The wind wasn’t from a terrible angle but comfortable was about the last thing one would call the passage.
Unfortunately the winds were not in favor of us visiting Allan’s Cay that day. Instead we anchored off of a nearby cay and huddled inside listening to the rain course down the boat. As Sato San pointed out, it was wonderful for washing off Umineko’s well-salted decks after the rolly passage.
I wasn’t about to let the rain drive me to making carb-heavy comfort food. Anyway, I still needed to use up some napa cabbage left over from the previous night’s hot pot. I settled on a happy medium. A salad with peanut dressing.
I adore peanut butter. In sauces, cookies, soups… pretty much any form you can think of. This dressing is definitely a winner. It adds protein and flavor to the salad. You don’t even have to serve it as a side dish. I ate it alone for my dinner.
Naval Napa Salad
Spicy Peanut Dressing
- 2 c napa cabbage, chopped
- 1 carrot, julienned
- Dried cranberries
- Peanut dressing:
- 3 T peanut butter
- 2 T soy
- 2 T rice vinegar
- 1 T honey
- 2 t siriracha
- Mix peanut dressing in small bowl and set aside.
- Chop napa cabbage into bite-sized chunks and put into large mixing bowl
- Slice carrot into fine strips, cut in half, and toss with cabbage
- Pour dressing over and toss until salad is coated in dressing
- Garnish with dried cranberries