Posts in Caribbean

Charter Yacht Sweet Escape in the Southern Bahamas for an Audubon Adventure.

The Flamingo is the national bird of The Bahamas.  The West Indian Flamingo which once roamed the entire neo-tropical region (tropical Americas) was hunted to a near extinction. Today the West Indian Flamingo is mostly found on the island of Great Inagua in the Bahamas but has also recolonized islands in the Bahamas such as Mayaguana, Crooked and Acklin islands, Exumas, Long Island and Andros. These photographs are from a small group that flew by while Yacht Sweet Escape was on Charter in Crooked Island, the Southern Bahamas, February 2019. The mating season usually starts March and that is when you are more likely to see them. During the Southern Bahamas charter in February, our guests were lucky to have seen fabulous flamingos on several occasions, as well as having encountered other interesting wildlife including sperm whales, pilot whales, several species of turtles, sting rays, lemon sharks, and bats!

Flamingo Facts:

  • Flamingos emerged early on after the extinction of the dinosaurs, with their cousin or possible ancestor, Juncitarsus, appearing in the fossil record about fifty million years ago. 

  • What appears to be the flamingo knee — half-way down the leg — is actually an ankle. What appears to be the ankle is actually where the toe starts. The West Indian Flamingo has a large, heavy, down curved bill that is most often described as “strange”.  Adult West Indian Flamingos can reach up to five feet in height.

  • These birds prefer the salt life, whether it’s saline lagoons, muddy flats, or shallow coastal lakes. They are tough creatures, able to tolerate two times the salinity of sea water and alkalinity up to pH 10.5, which would dissolve human skin.

  • The West Indian Flamingo is also refered to as the American, Caribbean or Rosey Flamingo. There are 6 type of Flamingos in the world. The West Indian Flamingo has also recolonized other countries such as Aruba; Brazil; Colombia; Cuba; Dominican Republic; Ecuador; French Guiana; Guyana; Haiti; Jamaica; Mexico; Netherlands Antilles; Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; United States and Venezuela.

Booby Cay, Bahamas: Important Bird Area

Brown Booby off Yacht Sweet Escape, Clarence Town, Long Island, Bahamas February, 2019

Brown Booby off Yacht Sweet Escape, Clarence Town, Long Island, Bahamas February, 2019

Booby Cay lies to the east of mainland Mayaguana in the remote Southern Bahamas. It gets its name from the flock of Brown Boobies that call it home. It is also a habitat for a species of small rock iguanas, only found there, and descendants of wild goats left behind by early settlers.

The Brown Booby, Sula leucogaster, nests on Booby Cay, and White-tailed Tropicbird, Phaethon lepturus, nest on the cliffs at Northwest Point. Non-breeding numbers of Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Masked Booby, Sula dactylatra, and Royal Tern, Sterna maxima, are also regionally important. Magnificent Frigatebird, Fregata magnificens, nest in this Important Bird Area. The wetlands support shorebirds, ducks, herons and egrets. Reddish Egret, Egretta rufescens, is apparently common, and up to 200 Caribbean Flamingo, Phoenicopterus rubber, frequent the wetlands at Blackwood Point. The Near Threatened Whitecrowned Pigeon, Patagioenas leucocephala, breed in this IBA.

APRIL 2019

Pretty in Pink: Julia Roberts Stuns in Conch Pearls, the national Gem of The Bahamas

The most high-profile position at the Oscars is the person who presents the “Best Picture” award. That honor on Sunday went to Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts.  The Oscar-winning actress and producer skipped the red carpet so no one saw her until the end of the program when she appeared wearing the most fabulous of earrings by high jewelry artist Cindy Chao, The Art Jewel.

The Architectural Earrings, from Chao’s collection, consists of two pear-shaped diamonds with a total weight of 20.28 carats, with 16 conch pearls, and pavé diamond all set on 18k yellow gold.

Conch pearls are a beautiful by-product of the Caribbeans culinary delicacy. Caught primarily for its meat, the Queen conch is eaten throughout the Caribbean and the USA, raw in salads or cooked as chowders and fritters.


Overfishing in many of the locations in which the Queen conch is found has forced all but three conch-producing countries to ban fishing to protect populations, which it is predicted will not recover for decades. This means fewer conch pearls are coming to market. Only one in ten thousand queen conches can yield a conch pearl, out of which only about 10% are of gem quality.

Prior to the introduction of the cultured pearl in the 1920s, natural pearls were as highly prized as rubies, emeralds and diamonds. Once cultured varieties flooded the market, however, pearls lost their exclusive tag.  Conch pearls, on the other hand, are formed completely naturally and only found in very specific areas in the Caribbean. So far, no cultured conch pearls have come to market, making them exceedingly rare.  The desire for uniqueness among jewelry buyers has never been stronger, and conch pearls fit the bill perfectly.

The Gem of the Bahamas, the lustrous pink conch pearl, carefully set in hand crafted designs by Frieden of Switzerland. pink-pearls-conch-pearls-julia-roberts-coin-of-the-realm-high-jewelry-bahamasa-yacht-charter-lady-gaga-oscar-tiffany-diamond

The Gem of the Bahamas, the lustrous pink conch pearl, carefully set in hand crafted designs.

You can find the gem of the Bahamas, the lustrous pink conch pearl, at Coin of the Realm Jewelry store in Nassau, New Providence. Coin of the Realm is a long standing, family run boutique with exceptional pieces from around the world. They also specialize in an extensive collection of rare Bahamian coins, stamps and of course the national gem of the Bahamas, the conch pearl.  Stop at Coin of the Realm before or after your charter onboard Yacht Sweet Escape; experience and observe the conch in its natural habitat in the shallow, warm waters of The Bahamas before they are all gone. Numbers are decreasing globally. The Bahamas is one of only a few nations where substantial populations of queen conch remain.

March 2019

Caribbean Cocktails — The Painkiller & Piña Colada

The original Painkiller was created in the 1970s by Daphne Henderson at the Soggy Dollar Bar at White Bay on the island of Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands. The authenticity of this claim is asserted by Edward Hamilton’s The Complete Guide to Rum — as it points to the Soggy Dollar Bar in the ’70s. The Pain killer is considered by some as a glorified Piña Colada.

The differences between the recipes for the Painkiller and the Piña Colada may appear to be slight, but the flavor difference is tremendous.

A classic Piña Colada is made with pineapple juice, coconut cream, and light rum. It is blended in a blender with ice to create a slushy frozen drink or heavily shaken with ice. The Painkiller has the addition of orange juice and is served over ice, so as not to dilute, and is also topped with grated nutmeg. The orange juice adds a tangy sweetness which works beautifully with the coconut and the pineapple. 

The other major difference here of course, is the RUM.  The traditional recipe calls for Pusser’s Rum, but use what you prefer.  There are many different recipes, all using different proportions of rum. Apparently the folklore here is that depending on how bad your pain is what determines how much rum!

There are so many great recipes out there for a Pain Killer, and none taste as good as when you are toasting in the sunshine, so here is an alternative recipe for Pain Killer Popsicles. 

Edward Hamilton’s Complete Guide to Rum

Edward Hamilton’s Complete Guide to Rum

The Salty Dollar, Jost Van Dyke

The Salty Dollar, Jost Van Dyke




  •  8 ounces fresh pineapple peeled and cubed

  • 1 cup orange juice

  • 1/2 cup white rum divided

  • 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar divided

  • 3 cups coconut milk

  • 1/2 cup toasted unsweetened flaked coconut

  • 4 oranges peel removed in one long strip with a vegetable peeler (avoiding the white pith)

  • 2 (3 inch) cinnamon sticks


  1. Process pineapple in a blender then push through a fine mesh seive so you remove most of the pulp (this should yield about 1 cup of pineapple juice). Combine pineapple mixture, orange juice, remaining 1/4 cup of the rum, and 1 to 2 tablespoons of the sugar (depening on how sweet you want the mixture). Fill each popsicle mold 1/3 full with the pineapple-orange mixture then put in the freezer until just frozen, at least 45 minutes. Meanwhile, make the coconut layer. 

  2. Whisk together coconut milk, remaining 1/3 cup of the sugar, 1/2 cup of the toasted coconut, orange peel, and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool at room temperature and to let the flavors steep, at least 30 minutes. Once the mixture is cool, remove the cinnamon stick, (grated nutmeg gets lost so cinnamon sticks are a great alternative) and orange zest, and add the remaining 1/4 cup of rum to the coconut milk mix.

  3. Once the pineapple-orange layer is frozen fill the popsicle molds the rest of the way with the coconut mixture (toasted coconut, coconut milk, and all). Garnish the top of the popsicle mold (which is actually the bottom of the popsicle once it's unmolded) with some more toasted coconut. Freeze until fully frozen, at least 3 1/2 hours.