Once we are put back together after being struck by lightening In August, 2009, our targetwas to leave Brunswick on November 1, 2009. We hoped to do the southern most islands of the Bahamas (those missed in past trips), the Turks & Caicos and possibly head down to Puerto Rico.
11-05-2009 We hoped to pull out of Brunswick, GA Sunday, the 8th. But, this am we saw that seas forecast to be 5-7 feet from the east. Because the metallurgist determined our mast was "hurt" by the lightening strike, it was going to be replaced. So, we wanted a nice calm ride down to Jacksonville. We will watch the weather reports and possibly pull out of here on Tuesday the 10th. Last year, it was the 9th, year before that, the 9th....too funny how we consistently miss that November 1st target each year! Once in Jacksonville, we will have the boat professionally surveyed to assure no damage done by the lightening to our hulls, through hulls, and our old mast/sail will be pulled off. Fom Jacksonville, we will pretend we are a power catamaran and motor the ICW to South Florida, where our new mast will be installed, either in Fort Pierce, or Riviera Beach by the good folks at Mack Sails.
11-08-2009 Brunswick, GA. Ran into friends aboard the monohull, "Heartbreaker" in the marina tioday. We met and spent time iwth them two seasons ago in Rock Sound, Eleuthera, Bahamas. The more we cruise around, the more we realize it is a very small world. They are headed south and plan to do the same trip we did last season....travel down and up the Florida coasts, do the Gulf of Mexico. Ken's sister/family came this weekend to spend some time with us before we head out. It is always so nice to spend time with our families, wherever and whenever we can. Thanks for coming over, Kim, Brent and Anna....meant a lot!
11-10-2009 Still in Brunswick, GA. This past week has been spent trying to remedy a smaill leak in our auxiliary diesel fuel tank. Our departure delay is fine as the rains from IDA will be with us for two or three days. And, this will give the winds/seas time to settle down before we poke our nose out and head down to Cumberland Island. We are tucked in at the house vs. in the boat salon. And, we are getting a few last minute things done in a more relaxed mode. Hopefully nearer the end of this week or this weekend, we will depart. The mast, marina and survey guys have all been very accomodating in dealing with our moving ETA in Jacksonville. Today, Ken is looking into having a new tank fabricated of either aluminum or plastic, checking the expense and timeframes related to each option. We have had three failed attempts to reweld the leaking tank. It appears that the original welding wasn't done really well (not a factory job!) and is causing the welder fits. So, just may be easier/best to start with an all new tank. November 15, 2009 Sunday, Brunswick. Well, today was this season’s departure day. NOT! Our sweet neighbor Jane Dail met Ken at our house about 7:30 a.m. and let Ken drop off our truck, bringing him back over to the marina/boat. About 8:30 a.m. Ken was at the controls. Cindy threw the bow line on deck, went back to take off the stern line, ready to go. Ken put the transmission in gear and the port failed to react so he hollered and Cindy tied MTB back up. Bummer. Ken checked things out and found that a small repair on the port gear cable was all we needed. Yeah! So, once again, Cindy threw the bowline on deck, went back and took off the stern line, jumped aboard MTB…ready to go. Just then, the port transmission started making one heck of a loud, unfamiliar noise. Ken hollered again and Cindy luckily caught the mid spring line back over a dock cleat so, once again we were tied up. We called the diver who cleans our bottom hulls, just to assure that nothing was around our prop. We called Lester, our superior, most wonderful Electronics Technician and Wayne, the wonderful mechanic with our marina. We called off the departure this day as we wouldn’t have time to make Cumberland Island before dark. So, we waited and all the quality individuals we had called arrived as promised. The final consensus was that the engine needed to run and needed a new engine filter and should correct itself once we gave her some RPMS. So, we are clear for a Monday departure. Most everyone was surprised how calm we were about all this…but, no need to stress. The thing we focused most on was that we had wonderful folks helping us on a Sunday and were getting an afternoon of very, very needed rest that was unexpected.
November 16, 2009 Monday, departed Brunswick with help from dock buddies, Neal from Silver Queen next to us. This a.m. was uneventful….we spoke to Sherry in the marina office (wonderful folks) and waved at them as we motored by. We left this day without our main diesel auxiliary tank as we never could get welds to hold. So, we are ordering a plastic tank form Triple M in Maine and will have it sent to the mast/sail guys. Once we get to S Florida, it should be there and we’ll install it at that time. Our dinghy motor won’t crank, so it needs work. On the way out, we found that our GPS/chart and compass had discrepancies. The auto pilot would not stay on either. We at least had our charts and could steer manually (the old fashioned way). We can’t sail as the mast is degraded from the lightening strike and its strength is suspect. Just outside St. Simons’ Inlet, we tried re-calibrating our compass, twice with no success. This is done by going in circles, very slowly. Basically you are out there doing crazy stuff and other folks in the area think you are insane. We decided to keep going anyway, and just putted down to Cumberland Island this day. We arrived there about 3:00 p.m. and anchored way off from the rest of the cruisers as we weren’t going ashore. There were about 19 other boats in the anchorage on our arrival. That was a surprise as atypical for this area and time of year. After pork chops on the grill, a quiet evening aboard, we had another very needed nice night of sleep.
November 17, 2009 Tuesday, departed Cumberland Island, for Jacksonville at about 9:30 a.m. We had arrangements to be pulled out there at St. Johns Boat Works, to check the hulls, have a survey and remove our mast all resulting from the lightening strike. Ken put the drop leaf portion of our cockpit table back on as we missed it last season. We previously took it off because we kept banging our knees on it. We again motored all this day and arrived at the St. Johns River inlet just as an enormous container ship, being pulled by a tug boat, began bearing down on us. We decided to pull off our course and speed, wait awhile to let them enter the river before us so we didn’t have to worry about them pushing us as we motored up to the boat works facility. Around 2:30 p.m we approached St. Johns Boat Works and saw their travel lift waiting for us and about 8 guys on the dock there to assist. What a nice sight! It is always good to see line handlers available to help get us in when the river current is ripping and the wind is blowing. We had both this day (ripping current and wind) as we arrived before slack tide to allow time for the boat works guys to get us out and pressured washed before they knocked off work, normally around 4:00 p.m. The guys were wonderful getting us pulled out and employee “Jackson” made Meant To Be smile…by doing a great job pressure washing her barnacle laden, fuzzy green bottom. We were in our “spot” next to the chicken coop (yep, with bunches of chickens and a grumpy rooster) by 5:00 p.m., just in time to enjoy a nice cabernet after a nervewracking day. Anytime we need to take this boat into a dock, especially not in ideal conditions, it is worrisome. But, once again, not to worry as Ken did a great job getting us in. We will be getting a good deal of work done while “on the hard” and will be living on board as it is done. We have to climb about a 10 stair step ladder up to the back of the boat for access to our home away from home. Miko learned quickly to wait on the sugar scoop on the back of the boat…as we go down two steps, and reach for her. We just put her under one armpit, hold her harness tight and go down the ladder together. She is one smart puppy, adapting to most any situation she is in.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009 – On the “hard”, St. Johns Boat Works, Jacksonville, Fl. The grumpy rooster told us it was time to get up around 7 a.m. We normally wake up around 6:30 a.m. so he was a gentle push to get going. We made our normal French press coffee and worked on a list of what we needed/wanted done on MTB while in the Boat Works. We took Miko for a walk, did breakfast and headed to the office. We went over our list with both the St. Johns Boat Works and the Yanmar guys. Our surveyor, Bill Gladding, arrived about 11 a.m. Surveys must be done periodically for insurance purposes. And, we wanted his opinion on any possible effects of the lightening. We ordered a crane for the “mast” guys to use on Thursday, met with a fiberglass guys and got that quote, then readied for Mast Sails who will take our mast, rigging and sails off on Thursday. We found that our starboard rudder had too much slop in it and made arrangements for a quote for its repair. Though we felt like nothing was accomplished this day, much was done. Miko was a good dog, taking all the people comings/goings in stride and smiling at everyone. Today was the second half of her Swine flu protection, Ken giving her injection #2. An outbreak had been reported in the Greyhound population here in Jacksonville so our vet felt we needed the vaccine! Funny, our granddaughter had trouble getting the vaccine…my dog was covered! Ah, American healthcare system…..
Thursday, November 19, 2009 – On the “hard”, St. Johns Boat Works, Jacksonville, FL. This a.m. we had a quiet, easy morning of coffee and tv news programs. The “Fiberglass Guy” arrived around 11:00 a.m. and ground out several bad spots on the side of MTB. We found that a few of our boo boo spots resulted from previously repaired boo boos. So, that made us feel better, ah….maybe worse as the repairs were not identified in two surveys done prior to our purchase. Guess that is what is referred to as “latent” defects. Regardless, Joey “The Fiberglass Guy” jumped on the few dings we were having repaired, and started buffing and polishing our hulls….man we forgot how beautiful they can look. Once again this week, MTB was starting to smile. The mast and sail guys were to be here at one o’clock. About 15 minutes til, they called and said their GPS played a cruel joke on them…….brought them AIA…..and dead ended them at the Ferry dock for crossing the St. Johns….no bridge there. They were pulling a trailer long enough to transport a mast so doubted they could get aboard. We re-directed them via land to the Boat Works. All worked out fine though, as the crane guy called to let us know they were running a little late. Sadly, our Mast/Crane guys got here and showed their disappointment that the sails were still on MTB. Never had we told them that we would have them removed prior to their arrival. So, that started our work relationship off somewhat poorly, with one of the workers obviously grumpy about the situation. But, oh well, sorry. No one asked and we never said we would take off the sails. In about ½ hour both sails were off and folded up… it would have taken Ken and Cindy HOURS! It was amazing to watch these pros de-mast Meant To Be. They worked like a well oiled machine and the crane operator was equally impressive, Coker Crane from Jax. By 4:00 p.m. sails, sail bag, all rigging, the boom, the mast and our front roller furler were off and loaded on Mack Sails’ amazing, extendable trailer post haste. All in all, the work they did for us was very impressive. The owner of our temporary home, St. Johns Boat Works, came and got Mack Sails’ business cards as he was so impressed with the job done with MTB. This day we picked the color for the bottom paint (Petitt) this afternoon, just a dark blue, almost navy. Currently, the bottom most part of our hulls is a weird hot aqua, not attractive. So far, all is going pretty much according to plan with all our maintenance and repairs. Joey was working on the fiberglass and “Jackson” a yard employee was sanding our hulls. A problem cropped up yesterday, on Wednesday though, pin hole leak in our port diesel tank. So, now we have to order another plastic tank from the good folks in Maine. We will have to decide whether we go back to Brunswick to sort out our remaining electronics and diesel issues or just keep on going south and get any needed services/work done along the way.
November 20, 2009 – Friday, on the “hard”, St. Johns Boat Works, Jacksonville. Miko and the chickens had us up by 6:30 a.m. this day. It was a pretty morning, blue skies today, puffy clouds, and 65 degrees out and supposed to go to the mid 70s….amazing for November. We had coffee, Ken showered, and headed to the office for his morning chat about work to be done this day. Jackson was to continue sanding on the hulls today and Joey was to finish patching “dings” and be buffing, waxing the hulls. MTB is going to be more beautiful than ever. Ken measured the port diesel tank that is leaking, so he could do a drawing of it, for use in having a new one fabricated. We needed to run some errands (post office, West Marine, the Yamaha dealer, and a harness, rigging place) to run, and the owner of the boat works offered us his truck for this day until 1:00 p.m., how nice is that? We went to a rigger to see about having a new anchor harness made. The harness hooks on our anchor chain and helps keep MTB’s anchor centered between the hulls. We went to West Marine and picked up a Fluxgate compass we had ordered, another victim of our lightening strike as well as a float coat for Miko and a couple other items. Then, we went onto the post office to send parts and drawings to the diesel tank fabricator in Maine. Back to MTB, we took a walk with Miko then went back to see if we could meet with MCS, (doing our shaft seal replacement work) but they were gone for the day. We walked back to the Sand Dollar Restaurant. They had a sign saying no dogs…but allowed Miko on the deck with us. We had a great meal, met nice folks, and enjoyed a beautiful view of the St. John’s River and watched the ferry go back and forth. We were back to the boat around 4:30 p.m. to see that “Joey the Fiberglass Guy’s” assistant was packing up. They spent very little time on MTB this day. Not much getting done by them and SJ Boat Company can’t get the bottom painted until these fiberglass, polishing guys finish their work. Joey’s assistant said they plan to work on Saturday, we’ll see. We washed MTB top to bottom to remove the residue from the paint being sanded off our hulls, Bronson told us that was our assigned job. It was supposed to rain some both Saturday and Sunday so nature will give us an additional rinse. Miko was sitting outside on the decks, as usual, as we washed MTB. She is definitely an outdoors dog, as contented as she can be, watching the world from her high vantage point, with MTB up on blocks. We need to do more work on the potty on our side of the boat as it is “back flowing”. We have icky stuff coming back into the bowl and it is not a good thing…stinky. And, need to mop up the diesel that has leaked in our port side. Soon, maybe we will have a day without the discovery of yet another boat issue requiring money/work. Ken doesn’t seem to mind “futz-ing” with all these things, but this daily discovery of broken things makes Cindy a little crazy. Spent this day: $200 for Fluxgate compass; misc. at West Marine $135, Post Office $31.50, lunch at Sand Dollar $38.50, gas for truck $15. ($420 total for day).
November 21, 2009, Saturday, on the “hard” St. Johns Boat Company, Jacksonville, Fl. Cloudy today, 65 degrees in the a.m. Today will be a day of doing a few boat jobs, brushing Miko, as she is about to “blow” her coat (twice a year happening) and watching football. The fiberglass guys were “possibly” going to work this day, so we had a wait and see philosophy. We still have no WIFI here, nor did we find any during our previous day travels running errands. It is amazing how totally dependent we are on the internet. We do so much research, purchasing, staying in touch with family and friends…that it makes us very frustrated when we don’t have these tools! We can’t update our log, nothing….ugh! Our location is very interesting here as we are right at the Mayport inlet entrance to the Atlantic. There are several port facilities along this river. So, we see all kinds of huge ships going to and fro. We saw a big Carnival Cruise Line ship go out a few days ago and there are all manner of container ships, tug boats, etc. Because of the Naval facility, across the river from us in Mayport, helicopters patrol from morning until night. They stop around 9:00 p.m. each day, which is good as they fly very low and are surprisingly noisy. Fort George park is nearby and we may attempt the 6 mile loop from here to the park and back. We’ve been told it is really a nice walk. Ken worked to fix the backflow issue we had in our potty and mopped up the diesel/water in the port side under leaking fuel tank. Joey, “The Fiberglass Guy” did arrive and did a little more work on the fiberglass repairs and Ken reminded him our bottom paint can’t begin until he finishes his work. We walked Miko down to the vacant dock near us twice this day, each time brushing her at waters edge, with billowing white tumbleweeds floating down the river. We made hotdogs/chili for an early dinner after snacking in the afternoon watching football. All was quiet in the “yard” this day. We did call West Marine and ordered line to have a new anchor harness made by United Rigging here in Jacksonville. They don’t stock the type of needed line and their suppliers would only sell them the 5/8”, twelve strand line in huge spools. West Marine is to overnight the line to us here, so hopefully it will come in time for Greg at United Rigging to make up our new harness by Wednesday before they leave for Thanksgiving.
November 22, 2009 Sunday, on the “hard” St. Johns Boat Company, Jacksonville, Fl. This a.m. was totally overcast, 74 degrees, and around 10:00 a.m. a slow drizzle began. We made thick bacon and buttermilk wheat pancakes for breakfast, yummy. Miko was bored and went down below and curled up for a nap in our berth. Once again this day, it was very quiet with no workers in the “yard”. Ken polished on the rusted port side engine. Cindy researched traveling/anchorages on the ICW south, as we normally sail on the outside, vs. down the ICW. With no mast, we will be impersonating a power catamaran whenever we finally leave this yard and can “do the ditch” for the first time. We think we will probably prefer the outside (Atlantic ocean) but the ICW is typically more calm quicker after fronts come through which allows you to move south sooner. So, we’ll give it a go once leaving Jacksonville.
November 23, 2009, Monday - "On the hard" still atUp at 7:00 a.m. walked Miko, Ken met in the am w/MCS, guy doing shafts, seals and rudder work. He also worked on our Yamaha dinghy motor as it is not running properly. This is probably due to it sitting still from May to November, gunked up. We had WIFI this day, so we caught up with folks. We called United Rigging (Greg sick with Bronchitis) who is going to fabricate our anchor harness, the Yamaha dealer to follow up on our handle parts, Lester the electronics technician in Brunswick, Raymarine about the issues we had motoring here, UPS to have our mail sent overnight. Joey, The Fiberglass Guy and his assistant were here awhile, working on polishing our hulls and fixing some dings in our fiberglass.
November 24, 2009, Tuesday. On the hard, St. Johns Boat Company, Jacksonville, Florida. Well, today is one week since we arrived in Jacksonville. To date, the mast, sails and rigging have been removed and taken to Stuart, Florida by Mack Sails. The bottom has been sanded, some fiberglass repairs are in process, hull polishing is in process, insurance/hull integrity survey was completed and report received, the rudder needing work was removed, shaft seals were removed/new ones ordered and in process of reinstallation. Painting the three coats of anti fouling paint on our bottom can’t start until the fiberglass and polishing work is finished. The port diesel tank is now leaking so we went from three tanks, to two, now one…geez. We have ordered two new plastic ones from Maine (Triple M Plastics). Since our arrival, Ken has fixed the grill burner that wasn’t working, wired the “full tank” light that hasn’t worked since we owned the boat, fixed the “backflow” issue we had with our potty; worked on the dinghy carburetor and got it to turn over, tightened two cleats that had a little movement (found by the surveyor) ordered the new control handle from Yamaha (dinghy motor); removed the frayed anchor harness and ordered replacement 12 braid line for it; ordered some plumbing repair spare parts. So, it has been a productive week for MTB. We were excited on Monday, when we were able to get WIFI service. This was a good thing as we needed to follow up on some things and call some folks. Our mail was forwarded to us this day from our UPS box at home…that was great as it contained a check…money is always good! So, that is a re-cap of our week here on the “hard”. During all of this, boats and people have come and gone, we’ve seen cruise ships, tugs, container ships come and go. All in all, pretty interesting and truly, not boring as one might think. It is such a departure from a daily work grind, we feel very lucky to experience these things, live this life.
November 25th, Wednesday, 2009. On the hard, St. Johns Boat Company, Jasksonville, Florida. Wan Fu, one of our fellow yard buddies headed out today after having their propulsion issues fixed here. Miko waved goodbye to the nice guys from Chicago, they loved her. We were given a loner truck this day by Clark with the boat works. We headed to United Rigging and gave Greg the 12 braid line we procured for use in re-making our anchor harness. Then, off to Crews In, II to pick up parts we had ordered for our dinghy’s Yamaha motor. Next, Home Depot to get the connector parts needed for the plastic diesel tanks we have on order. They didn’t have all we needed, so Ken called Craig in Brunswick. Craig said he’d run by Central Hardware there to see if they had what was needed. Of course, we had to go to Walmart…..ham, sourdough bread, pastries, measuring cup and little compass. We needed the small compass to try to determine what, in our instruments compartment, was pulling our boat compass off the proper direction (not good…off almost 30 degrees on trip here). Back to the boat, we ate the great Smithfield ham and bread we bought. The MCS guys called and Joey the fiberglass guy had opened up our rudder and it was ready to go to the welder for repair. They discussed their thoughts on how to do the repair. MCS finished installing our shafts/seals this day. Later this afternoon, Clark brought us their office key so we would have access to the restrooms and could visit the resident cat, Barnacle “Barney”. Joey didn’t work on the hulls this day. Craig called to tell us that Central Hardware didn’t have the tank parts we were going to need when the tanks arrive.
November 26th, Thursday, 2009 THANKSGIVING!! We got up around 7 a.m. as usual and took Miko with us as we headed to the office to use the restrooms and give her a walk. Back to our “tree house” boat on blocks, we had coffee and pastries for breakfast. After speaking with our families and our showers, we headed to the Sand Dollar Restaurant within walking distance down the street. They had a special holiday buffet and OMG…it was yummy. Let’s see….we began with the salad bar. Then, we headed to the appetizers…..fried mushrooms, fried mozzarella sticks, calamari and Crab Bisque. And then, the rest of the FOOD. They had the best yams with marshmallows, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes and gravy, two kinds of stuffing, baked sweet and baked white potatoes, rolls, “crabby grouper”, and THREE choices of turkeys carved as you waited….teriyaki, traditional and deep fried Cajun. Once we totally pigged out, making a choice from four desserts followed….ah, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie and peach cobbler. Ken had warm pecan pie and Cindy did the peach cobbler. A great meal, such nice people, a beautiful view of dolphins and pelicans playing in the river and NO COOKING, NO CLEAN UP. The only thing that could have made it better would be for our families to be with us! We waddled back to MTB and just totally vegged out the remainder of the day. It was cold so our planned long walk to nearby Ft. George state park didn’t happen this day.
Friday, November 27, 2009, “on the hard” at St. Johns Boat Company, Jacksonville, Florida. Up at 7 this a.m. to 50 degrees in our salon. Ken took Miko for her first walk of the day and at 7:30 a.m. Clarke came by to get his key to the office. They nicely lent it to us for access to the restrooms over the holiday. At 9:30 a.m., the salon had really gotten “balmy”…..58 degrees! So, we watched the shopping reports of Black Friday on TV. We updated emails, Facebook and our logs, etc. in our socks, fleeces, wrapped in warm blankets. It is so good that we have some WIFI access here finally. This night was to be even colder than last, in the 30s. Wednesday we made plans for going to the light parade (boats) in downtown Jacksonville on Saturday, with our friends, Arddy and Leo….it’ll be cold. This evening is to be in the 40’s. No boat work was done this day. After two weeks here at a daily rate, their monthly rate becomes the same. So by Tuesday, we’ll have paid for the month. So, we are considering staying put here and having our newly fabricated plastic diesel tanks shipped to Jacksonville. Freight will be less to here vs. south Florida. And, this way, we can install them and if needed, have access to a vehicle and vendors to go get any needed parts. We have food, water, power, a view, good restaurant and nice folks here…so may make sense. Then, we would have our full fuel tank capacity that would take us all the way to south Florida without having to refuel. And, we wouldn’t be mopping up diesel in the bilge all the trip south. It is so cold, Miko is in a tight ball with her nose stuck under her tail. Last night she slept under our blanket all night. Today is the Alabama vs. Auburn game. Tomorrow is football Saturday….USF (Cindy) vs. Miami, and FSU (Ken) vs. Florida. Clark gave us a great oil space heater so we knew we would be toasty this evening. In the afternoon we decided to go for a long walk. There are two parks side by side just around the corner from us here. One is a state park and the other is a National Park. We walked the entire loop at Ft. George, saw the tabby slave house ruins and the Ribault House. The whole place is on the intercoastal waterway and the walk took us through gorgeous vegetation. Our walk was about 5 miles and in the end, we people were pooped…but Miko was still perky and hopping around. She is a bundle of energy and absolutely loves her walks. Ken’s sisters called from our house in Brunswick, they were having dinner together there….Ken, Sr., Gayle, Tim, Donavan, Amy, Kim, Karen and family friend, Linda Schultz. We were sorry not to be there but so glad they were able to gather and catch up with each other. We watched some football, a little HGTV and went to bed.
Saturday, November 28, 2009, still “on the hard” at St. Johns Boat Company, Jacksonville. We got up around 7:00 a.m. and it was nice and warm as the loaner heater kept the chill out of MTB and the salon was 67 degrees, better than the 58 degrees, day prior. We went to use the restrooms in the office early and Barney and Miko got nose to nose. Barney kitty was very tolerant of our little girl. Miko doesn’t understand why our kitty, Annie, doesn’t want to have anything to do with her and tries to scratch her nose. So, Barney being so laid back with her was an unusual occurrence for Miko. Barney had thrown up two times in the office, so we cleaned up and told Clark when he came by for the key around 8:15 a.m. Ken spoke to Joey, The Fiberglass Guy, this day and found that he indeed did have our rudder and it had been welded as needed, so was in his hands to fiberglass the two pieces closed. We took Miko for a good walk as she was going to stay in her crate for most the evening. We took the 3:45 ferry to Mayport and met good friends, Arddy and Leo and their friend from Sarasota, Mary Ann. We are on the north side of the river, so met them on the south side of the St. Johns in Mayport. We had a great dinner together with them at Singleton’s, fresh seafood as the fishing boat right in front at their dock. Arddy/Leo then took us downtown to watch the holiday lighted boat parade and fireworks. Luckily we had our long underwear and hooded sweatshirt, gloves, scarf with us. It was nippy by the time the 9:00 fireworks began. We hunkered down at the River City Grill on the south side of the St. Johns in the downtown area, between the two bridges. USF vs. Miami and FSU vs. Florida both were on at 3:30 p.m. this day so we kept up on the scores while at the restaurant and downtown…..both sad and unimpressive efforts. But, we had coffees with liqueurs and whipped cream as we watched the boat parade, It was amazing….lots of boats, all shapes and sizes with beautiful light decorations. Our favorites were the green dragon with baby dragon following; an angel with moving wings and the “Whitey’s Fish Camp” entry…solid blue lights with gold light stars all over, pretty. Then, we were treated to the most amazing fireworks display ever. They had cascading white fireworks going off down both sides of the two bridges, looked light waterfalls. And, the normal display was beautiful as each one reflected off the downtown high rise buildings. Afterward we went inside the Grille for one more drink and time to warm up and let traffic outside clear. We valet parked so once we were ready to go, so was Arddy/Leo’s car. The ferry stopped running by this time so our sweet friends brought us all the way around, back to our side of the river. They said it was a 20 minute ride back home from here. Such great friends to do so much to allow us to have this wonderful new holiday experience. It was such a nice evening. $ 52.33 Singletons for dinner, $37.00 River City Grille drinks, $2 for ferry. $71.33 for the day.
Sunday, November 29, 2009, “on the hard”, St. Johns Boat Company, Jacksonville, Florida. This day wasn’t as cold as the previous two…and that was great. Though, we still had the wonderful loaner heater from the boat company guys. Ken was a boat job crazy man this day. He fixed the Yamaha dinghy motor and it was again running. The carburetor had gotten gunked up so he took out all the little parts and cleaned them really well. Then, he put the new handle on the motor that we were able to order and pick up here in Jacksonville. The “full tank” light in the after port head has never worked and he was able to fix that as well. About 12:30 p.m. Ray and Peggy from Jellicle Cat came by to bring us some parts we ordered in Brunswick, but weren’t able to pick up. They live aboard their boat in St. Augustine, but had been visiting our friends, Craig and Mary in Brunswick. Craig picked up our parts for us and had Ray/Peggy drop them to us here. So very nice, everyone, thanks. We enjoyed these folks and made plans to try to do dinner together when (if…!) we arrive in St. Augustine. The ham we purchased at Walmart was enormous and taking too much valuable space in the fridge. So, Cindy cut it all off the bone this day and packaged it up in 3 separate ziplock bags for much better space utilization. Joey told Ken on Saturday that he planned to do some gelcoat/colorwork on our hulls this day… but didn’t see him all day.
Monday November 30, 2009, “on the hard” St. Johns Boat Company, Jacksonville, Fl. This morning Clark came by at 6:30 a.m. for the office key so we were up and at it early. It was considerably warmer this day…72 in the salon at 1030 a.m. Jason with MCS came and did some more work on the seal/shafts on both engines this morning. But, no Joey nor his assistant, so nothing was happening relative to fiberglass and boat polishing. Sadly, until Joey gets done, nothing else, like bottom painting can begin. Joey also has our rudder, which he is to fiberglass back together. Hopefully that work is proceeding at his home and will be done soon. Ken researched “mufflers” for our engines and a right angle drill for use in the winch used to raise/lower the dinghy. The manual winch takes 75 cranks and is taking its toll on our two old backs so are considering ways to automate the process. Took a long walk this day, about 5.2 miles roundtrip, to nearby Huguenot Memorial Park. It has beaches along the inlet/river as well as on the Atlantic. There were high sand dunes and an interior tidal pond as well. The road was compacted shells and beach matter….and we found a lot of sea glass just on the roadway. Miko found a friend, “Marvel”, a three month old pup owned by some nice folks from Alabama, also visiting the park. Marvel was a rescue dog, white and spotted like a beagle but short little legs like a dachshund. Miko had a lot of fun and smiled the whole time while they played. We walked the beach but didn’t find any remarkable shells or glass. It was a great jaunt though and we all benefited….us getting some exercise and Miko getting to play and smell all sorts of new stuff. Miko is in love with a dog across the road from the boat company, named Marley. On the way home from the park, Marley’s people were out walking him. We had to pick Miko up to get her the rest of the way back to MTB as she wanted to go play so badly. The seal/shaft work was completed this day on the engines. Nothing else happened on MTB, which is frustrating. We are ready for St. Johns Boat Company to be able to begin their paint work on our bottom once everyone else completes their tasks. Cindy emailed the insurance company about the additional expenses being incurred due to the port tank leak and rudder issues. These additional repairs have kept us at the boat company longer than anticipated and costing $63 each additional day. We spent $2, park entrance this day.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009, “on the hard”, St. John’s Boat Company, Jacksonville, Florida. Two weeks here as of today. It was 71 degrees in the salon at 3:00 p.m. so nice weather. This day Jason with MCS and Joey, The Fiberglass Guy, were both here. Jason and Joey both were working on the re-installation of the rudder. Joey also added color to our repaired port side stripes. It was surreal to realize that is already December. In past years by now we were much further south by now. Greg at United Rigging called this day to say that our anchor harness had been fabricated and was ready for pickup. Fittings we ordered for the diesel tank arrived from St. Augustine. We took photos and dimensions to send off to see about new vinyl graphics to be done for our name and logo to be added on MTB. We want our name lettering to be more dynamic, larger on each side. And, we want to add our “cat” logo to the side of the boat as well. We contacted a local company just for convenience, but may end up getting our friends at Garfield Signs to assist us with this project. We would like to do this work while we are still here “on land” as it is easier to do when the boat isn’t moving in the water. We heard on the weather this day that there are expected 65 mph wind gusts anticipated for Wednesday. That could be exciting as MTB is sitting here on blocks. So, we are looking forward to Thursday! Bobby Bowden made his announcement of his intention to retire after the bowl game…this, after pressure from the school. Sad to see the downward spiral of such a wonderful and humble human being who has given so much to his family, community, church and University. We contacted “Sign Sharks” sign company this day to start process relative to getting our logo graphic made for MTB. Heard from Forbes Electronics and Lester will come to help us on Friday. Joey charged $1,500 for rudder disassembly, re-assembly and all new fiberglass, $700 for the cleaning/polishing MTBs hulls, and $750 for hull fiberglass and gelcoat repairs. So, spent $2,950…a high dollar day, this day.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009 – On land, St. John’s Boat Company, Jacksonville, Florida – Sent additional information to the local sign company to get a quote. More work was done on our rudder repair this day. Ken consolidated a work/boat jobs list into one on our white board so we can start scratching off chores as they are completed. Our smoke and carbon monoxide detector broke this day, so new one needed. We both took our showers and watched a moving. The weather guys were forecasting tornadoes and severe weather this day. Luckily none hit here, we just had waves of rain off and on. Cindy did some online Christmas present research, emailed Brunswick Landing Marina to get final invoice; reviewed artwork for MTB graphic for hulls and coordinated with tank builder to get tanks shipped. Ken did a number of boat jobs: cleared shower drain; tightened loose cleats found in survey; polished off the rust below the engine discharge outlet; cut Miko’s nails, bailed water out of the sail “garage” in the bow storage; and did some boom traveler line repairs. A productive day, zero $ spent.
Thursday, December 3, 2009 – On the hard (ah, land) St. John’s Boat Company, Jacksonville, Florida. Today show featured an Alpaca farm this morning….now those are some cute animals…next life, may be an Alpaca farmer!! Got the final artwork and quote from the sign company, just need to pick the right color on Monday by visiting their shop. We are excited about adding our big cat logo to both hulls and doing some larger, more legible lettering. This was a gray and overcast day, 72 degrees at 9:00 a.m. so pleasant. Miko did a “shiba 500” crazy running all around MTB this a.m., guess she was having some energy spurts…so funny. She just loves being outside. All the guys in the boat yard commented on seeing her out on top of MTB and what a cute and sweet pup she is. She loves going in to the office to visit Barney the cat. New outside back hatch latches that we ordered came in. Ken install them. Other boat jobs Ken did this day: scanned in insurance claim invoices, scanned the entire MTB owners manual; tightened the kitchen sink faucet; tightened an icemaker water fitting; replaced the rudder tie rod ends. Cindy worked with the sign company, did dishes and found/ordered a pewter mosquito coil burner. Our new diesel tanks were shipped from Maine this day via Old Dominion Truck Line on a pallet. They are to come to Jacksonville on Tuesday. Heard from Ken’s sister Gayle this day….snowing in Chicago! $12.40 spent this day for mosquito coil burner.
Friday, December 4, 2009 – On the hard (ah, land) St. John’s Boat Company, Jacksonville, Florida. Forbes Electric’s, Lester Forbes, arrived around 10:30 a.m. to assist with our ongoing instruments and inaccurate compass issues. He found that the Raymarine course computer previously repaired by Raymarine, would not calibrate and was not operating correctly. After speaking with Lee, the repair tech at Raymarine, they determined we had to return the computer and control unit for further evaluation and repairs. Luckily, they are still under the original warranty given when initially sent to them after being struck by the lightening. Lester checked our compass inaccuracies and found that both engine control panels had been magnetized by the lightening strike, as well as the engine shutdown cables. He recommended replacement of both panels and the cables. Lester took the Raymarine instruments back to Brunswick for us and shipped them, via UPS to Raymarine, this afternoon. All these issues were quite a setback and needless to say, our normal patient demeanors were starting to wear thin. We went from possibly being back in the water by next Wednesday or Thursday…back to limbo once again due to the unknown timeframes and known slowness of the Raymarine repair division. They took a month last time around. We don’t like having the instruments out of their “holes” as humidity can impact the other instruments, wiring. And, we sure don’t need more problems. The price of new components will be researched as we suspect we’ll have continued issues with the old, lightening impacted equipment. And, each time an Electronics Technician has to be called to help out is a $500-1000. We were thinking that buying new components may end up being the most cost effective way to proceed. We began that research this afternoon and evening. We’ll make the decision Saturday. Lester left around 3:00 after spending all day aboard, no break. This is a good guy who totally understands customer service AND his craft. We feel so lucky to have his help. The Boat Company guys here say that they have more trouble getting someone good to do electronics work than any other type of contractor. They wondered if Lester would be willing to do routine work here, which was such a compliment. But, Forbes Electronics has all the work they can do in Brunswick. We were very appreciative of his willingness to come down to help us. We emailed Mack Sails today as we had not heard from them since the mast was removed. Colin said he would follow up with the mast “tube” fabricator and let us know what the timeframe for re-installation of our mast/rigging may be. Our favorite new saying….ah, lightening, the gift that keeps on giving.
Saturday, December 05, 2009 – It began raining yesterday around 2:00 p.m. and it poured all night. Early his a.m. luckily it slowed enough to get Miko outside for her walk. Back to the boat, she ran around outside acting like a crazy Shiba for a while. Rain started back up stronger about 9:15 a.m. Ken fried up some bacon and eggs this morning, ah, comfort food! We received Forbes Electronics’ invoice this morning and they confirmed that the Raymarine parts were sent back via UPS. Thankfully it was a great football watching day as the weather was awful and we were stuck aboard, inside. When there was a break in the rain around lunchtime, we walked to the nearby convenience store for a lunch treat. We both bought Ben and Jerry’s ice cream…Cindy = Cherry Garcia and Ken = Rocky Road and a loaf of bread. It was so cold, we just walked back to the boat to eat our ice cream treats though we had our spoons with us. Yep, you suspect right….we had no leftover ice cream! Yummy. What great football games we watched this day. Sadly for Tebow, the Gators lost to Alabama; Clemson lost to Georgia Tech, Cindy’s South Florida lost to Uconn and Nebraska narrowly was beaten by Univ Texas and Colt McCoy. All in all, it was a good day to watch football. Luckily, we heard from our Brunswick neighbors with good news….no flooding though it had rained all day and night Friday/Saturday a.m. So, that was such a relief. Clark came by midday and left us the key to the Boat Company office door to give us access to their restrooms. It is always a field trip as we take Miko to the office with us and she just loves seeing her kitty buddy, Barnacle. Barney fell off her counter in the office on Friday and hurt her leg/hip. She was walking gingerly but seemed to be much better Saturday. $655 spent this day, Forbes Electronics’ invoice.
Sunday, December 06, 2009 – On the hard, St. Johns Boat Works, Jacksonville. This a.m. it was cold only 69 degrees at 10:39 a.m. in the salon even after coffee and pancakes on the gas stove heated us up some. The loaner heater continues to be our friend. Miko even curled up under the covers in the bed with us this past night. At least there was no rain this day and the sky was blue. Our a.m. visit to the restrooms/office was good news as Barney was walking better and seemed to feel better. What a sweet, sweet kitty this animal is. And, she picked a good family and place to change from feral yard cat to spoiled boat company cat. This day, we scrubbed our hulls. There was paint residue left from the sanding the boat yard did for us. It was a little chilly out, but it was good work to get this job done so that that hulls would be ready for whenever conditions/timing were right for painting on the anti fouling paint. The rest of our day was a lazy, football watching afternoon and evening.
Monday, December 7, 2009 – on the hard, St. Johns Boat Co., Jacksonville, Fl. An exciting day this day (for a little while) as our brand spanking new polyethelene diesel tanks arrived from Maine. Yea! But, once we opened the crate, frowny faces set in quickly as one tank’s top was put on backwards. This meant that the gauges and brackets were not in the proper places. So, we contacted the manufacturer, sent them a digital photo and made their day as well. They checked our drawings (Ken did a great job on them) to the photo and took full responsibility for the error. Chris from Sign Sharks dropped by this day and brought the color chart for the logos we want to put on our hulls. We also wanted to improve our boat name lettering to make it more readable. We cut our prior lettering for MTB at our old company Garfield Signs as we were heading to a plane to fly to Key West to buy her! So, the color and font ended up not matching our ultimate logo that we now use for tshirts, hats, etc. The rest of the day was a bummer as we were so disappointed about the incorrect tank causing yet another delay. The manufacturer asked that we UPS the tank back to Maine for repair. So, we did what any good cruisers would do….headed to happy hour at the SandDollar bar and restaurant just up the street. And, it was such good therapy (not just the alcohol)…as there was a bunch of Gators there, whining about their loss to Alabama and complaining about Tebow. Ah, fair weather fans, huh? So, this raised our spirits, as did the great wait staff and fun customers we spoke with. A nice end to a bummer day. $29 spent this day, drinks/potato skins.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009 – on the hard, St. Johns Boat Co., Jacksonville, Fl. Today’s main objective was to get the bad tank off to UPS. We luckily were about to borrow a truck from Clark who is a part owner of the Boat Co. Off we went to the nearest UPS store…geez $289 dollars to box and ship the thing back to Maine. We had to pay this up front and they said the tank wouldn’t get to Maine until FRIDAY. Geez, more delay. We ran needed errands….AT&T, Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes and NAPA. We needed various pieces parts for the diesel tanks, etc. We also ran by United Rigging and picked up our newly made anchor bridle from Greg…nice guy there. After filling up Clark’s truck, we went back to MTB. A boat came in during the day and the folks were spending the night aboard. So, we went by their boat and invited them to walk down to the SandDollar for happy hour. Tony said they were finishing up a few jobs, but would meet us there. So we headed down to the bar. In a little bit, the three guys joined us for drinks and then they went into dinner. We went back to MTB. A little later, Tony called and said they were on the back of the boat with a guitar and singing some songs that we join them. We went over and had a really nice evening with the nice guys. This was a great diversion from our normal routine in the yard! Spent this day $476.29 on gas, parts, lunch, parts, UPS and phone.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009 – on the hard, St. Johns Boat Co., Jacksonville, Fl. MCS completed the work on the new shaft seals and our engine stop cables came in. Old cables were “magnified” by the lightening. Cindy did another spreadsheet of monies spent on various additional lightening issues and sent it to the insurance company (rudder, magnetized instruments/cables, and Forbes Electronics service call to Jax.). We did a little polishing on MTB but it started raining and rained all night. So, we stayed in all night. Spent this day: paid MCS $6,020.97 for various projects…two resulting from lightening, one just routine maintenance.
Thursday, December 10, 2009 – on the hard, St. Johns Boat Co. Jacksonville, Fl – Went online to order son in law Brian’s birthday gifts and did some Christmas shopping as well. The St. Mary’s Ferry boat that has been our neighbor left this day. And, a large fishing boat named Rambler was pulled up on the railroad lift this day….what a mess its bottom was….Jackson pressure washed all afternoon and barely got one side done. She was fuzzy. Happily the expedition boat here, Atlantis II added a lighted Christmas tree on top…so it has helped get us a little more into the holiday spirit. Harlequinn, a catamaran from our home marina in Brunswick, arrived this day. They docked for the night and will be pulled out on Friday. –0- spent this day.
Friday, December 11, 2009, on the hard, St. Johns Boat Co., Jacksonville, FL. – Got word that our diesel tank was received in Maine this day. They repaired, packaged and re-shipped it all today. Good folks and their effort to correct the error so quickly was very appreciated. We re-installed our new engine stop cables…had to pull them through each side of the boat to both engines. Sadly, we got word this day that our new mast re-installation won’t be able to be done until JANUARY. Not that was not good news. An amazingly long “6 weeks”….go figure. Guess no one wants to work at the end of the year and it is impacting our ability to get underway.
Saturday, December 12, 2009, on the hard, St. Johns Boat Co., Jacksonville, FL- an awful day weather wise….rained ALL day….poured. So, we were all hunkered down this day. We snuck out at 5 p.m. to walk down to the SandDollar in the pouring rain to meet friends from Jax, Arddy and Leo. They came across the river on the Mayport Ferry. We enjoyed appetizers, drinks and wonderful friendship with these nice folks. They gave us a beautiful Christmas present, silver wine opener. THANKS GUYS. After such a rainy day, this was really a bright spot to an otherwise dreary day. And, they drove us back to MTB as the rain was so hard. Ingram with BAMA was named the Heisman trophy winner. Go Bama! Miko didn’t want to go out when we got back. So, at 2:15 a.m. she “rang the bells” on the door that means she wants to go “OUT”. Since there was almost no rain at this point, Ken got up and took her out. Right after they got outside the boat company fence the heavens let go…..sheeting rains…..Of course, Miko lost all desire to do “her business” and Ken got soaked. They got back to MTB with Cindy waiting with towels. Miko jumped in the bed and was content to “hold it” until the rain stopped!
Sunday, December 13, 2009 – on the hard, St. Johns Boat Co., Jacksonville, FL – a drizzly day that cleared some late morning. We walked up to the little convenience store, got a paper and ice cream for lunch. Yum. Back to MTB, we did a few boat jobs…painted the 50’ and 100’ marks on our anchor chain and tried to figure out why our starboard potty was not operating properly. The “uck” was actually was leaking out a little, with the valve turned to the closed position. Ken did some reading about the tank and overflow configuration to try to determine what our potty issue may be. Cindy scrubbed the “uck” off the hull as we were to get painted if weather permitted on Monday. It drizzled off and on. So, we watched football and were just lazy the rest of the day
Monday, December 14, 2009 – on the hard, St. John’s Boat Co. Jacksonville, FL – beautiful clear day. Jackson arrived at 7:45 a.m. and began painting our bottom….we’re changing the color to a dark blue, navy. We were a little apprehensive about how it would look. Not to worry, as the new first coat looked great. But, it was funny, as Jackson didn’t know we were changing the color…so after he painted a little he went back to the office just to double check with the owner! Cindy put second coat of bright yellow on the anchor chain @ 50’ and 100’. This helps so much when dropping the anchor, to know how much rode has been let out. We try to adhere to about a 7:1 ratio of depth to chain. So, for 10’ of water depth, we want to have at least 70’ of chain let out with the anchor. Cindy polished all the stainless steel on the starboard side of the boat…ah, still had the port side to do. She was sore from contorting in so many ways to get under and around everything. Ken re-installed our new anchor chain bridle and did some more trouble shooting on the potty “situation”. Tom from MCS came with our Yanmar engines gauge panels that we had to buy new. Our old ones were totally magnetized by the lightening and messing with our compass…not helpful in navigation! Ken decided that the valve we use to open and drain our holding tank when offshore was causing our potty leak, and needed to be replaced. We borrowed Clark’s truck yet again and headed off to West Marine. We bought the valve and then dropped by Walmart to get some things, plus fresh lettuce, sourdough bread and fruit. We were back to MTB by 4:00 p.m. and Miko was sweetly waiting for us in her crate. What a good and patient dog she is. Ken replaced the valve and we’ll see if our potty “uck” problem is resolved. Cindy checked and found that UPS in Jacksonville received our diesel tank this day. So, it should arrive at the boat yard tomorrow. That was good news. And, most importantly of all…..it was the birthday of our favorite son in law, Brian. Today Brian is 36….Jess married an old man for sure! But, all in all, a good, but expensive day. West Marine $190, Walmart $310.40...a $500.40 day. Maybe one day soon this log will change from a work report to tales of warm and wonderful places.Tuesday, December 15, 2009 – St. Johns Boat Co. Jacksonville, Florida - Ken installed the new Yanmar engine gauge panels at the helm this day. The old ones were “magnetized” by the August lightening strike and were causing major confusion to our compass…not good. We didn’t realize this until our trip down from Brunswick to Jacksonville. We found that readings were very strange between the compass and our other instruments. It is amazing what the lightening damaged on MTB. We just look toward the day that we are confident that everything is working properly once again and we are back to normal. On our arrival home in Brunswick in May, 2009, we were so pleased with MTB, as everything was operating properly and we were so happy not to have any repairs to do while home for hurricane season. We should have turned around and pulled out when our dock assignment was DOCK #13. Sadly, we went from just having to do routine things like cleaning, polishing, changing the oil, etc…to doing 5-6 months of tedious, frustrating work to try to get MTB back to normal. Everything changed in August when the lightening storm hurt us so badly. The emotional and physical toll on both of us is something one doesn’t recoup from the insurance company. The coordination of details, timing, documentation, testing, follow up, delays, etc., are things you cannot quantify when dealing with all of this. It has been quite the challenge to get MTB back to where she was before the strike.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009 – St. Johns Boat Co. Jacksonville, Florida –This was another busy workday. First thing, Cindy and Ken hauled the new auxiliary diesel tank up to the deck. The SJB Co. guys gave us some plastic coated paper to use to wrap the undersides of the tank once it was lowered into the hold. This will allow us to shoot spray foam around the tank, without it adhering to the tank itself. Once Cindy got the tank “gift wrapped”, Ken proceeded to do the fittings and get it attached properly in place. While he was doing this, Cindy finished polishing stainless…life lines, hand rails, fittings, etc. “Sign Sharks” sign company representative, Chris Miller, arrived to change out our old name graphics with new lettering and logo. Chris was great, removed the old vinyl lettering, and did a really nice installation job for us. The scale was great and we were very pleased with Sign Shark’s services. Miko thought it was great that she had someone new to play with. As Chris worked, she looked over the side and “talked” to him. Once Ken had the auxiliary tank installed, he added the 3 cans of diesel fuel we had aboard….15 gallons, and we held our breath! Please, NO LEAKS…we just can’t handle anymore leaks! Well, after a while, we were confident that our leaking auxiliary tank issue was finally over…NO LEAKS. While Ken worked on the tank, Cindy cleaned the bottom side of the dinghy and put a coat of wax on the hard fiberglass portion of its hulls. Late afternoon, we talked with the SJB Co. owners and all agreed that MTB would be re-launched at 8:00 a.m. Friday. Yea.
Thursday, December 17, 2009 – St. Johns Boat Co. Jacksonville, Florida - This day, an enormous amount of work had to be and was done on MTB. We transferred all the fuel from the port tank up to the newly installed auxiliary tank. We thought this was going to be a manual process, with us holding a tube, draining fuel into cans, and then carrying each 5 gallon can out to the auxiliary tank, pouring it in. There was around 30 gallons of fuel in the port tank that had to be emptied and put into the auxiliary tank. But, once again SJB Co. helped us out with this process…they had a diesel transfer pump. With their pump, all we had to do was put one end of the hose line in the port tank and the other end into the auxiliary tank. Voila….turn on the pump and watch the diesel flow from the old port tank to the new auxiliary tank. Wow, what a time and back, saver! Once drained, Ken disconnected the leaking port tank’s fittings. When we carried it off MTB…it was such a sense of relief…goodbye leaking tank. No more fumes nor sopping up diesel fuel from the bilge with expensive diesel “diaper” rags. We hauled the new, bright and shiny polyethylene (plastic) replacement tank up the 10’ stepladder to the stern sugar scoop (built in stern steps, for you land lubbers!). Ken started work on all the new connections and fittings necessary for the re-installation. Cindy cleaned up the remaining diesel fuel that had leaked under the old, bad tank. Once the compartment was clean and ready for the new tank, it was time to move onto the next project. Out came the power drill (Ryobi of course) with added scraper attachment for grinding barnacles off the props. Once Cindy had the props cleaned down to gleaming brass, Ken put three coats of Pettit anti barnacle spray paint on them. Bummer, so much for the pretty gleaming brass Cindy’s work uncovered. Once painted, the props were GRAY. The great guys of SJB Co. gave us the spray paint to try. It was a new product that their supplier asked them to test drive. So, we’ll gladly be guinea pigs for free! The port tank went in like a charm and Ken transferred fuel from the new front auxiliary tank, back to the new port tank. We kept our fingers crossed. Luckily, all was good, NO LEAKS. We began picking up and putting stuff away. Boat co owner, Bronson and has wife came by this evening as we worked to check for eggs in the chicken coop. It was nice to see Bronson’s wife again before we left and to be able to wish each other a Merry Christmas. These are such nice folks. Back to work, as we needed to stow all the tools, lines, etc. that were taken out of normal storage places, to install the tanks. After all this, we pulled out our cockpit weather screens from the starboard bow berth. Though it was late, we re-installed all of them, as we knew it was possible we would be launched in the rain Friday. By 7:30 p.m., dark and cold, we were ready to go inside, eat and sit…pooped. But, we felt great, as we were hopefully leak free, stowed and finally ready to be put back into the water at 8:00 a.m. on Friday, yeah!!!
Friday, December 18, 2009 – St. Johns Boat Co. Jacksonville, Florida - Well, we got up and opened up the access to the engines under the stern beds. Once in the water, MCS would double check their work before we pull away from the dock. We had our coffee and looked at the weather report. On Thursday, the report said that it would rain in the a.m., clearing midday. Sadly, we had a torrential rainstorm this morning and the weather reports said that midday it was still to be stormy with thunderstorms as well. So, Ken went to the office at 7:30 a.m. and it was decided we wouldn’t go in the water this day. The lift was going to be busy all day Monday…so we would not be put back in until Tuesday. Oh well, it is what it is. Naturally, about 2:00 p.m., the sun was out and the rain had stopped. We were certainly second guessing our decision. But, we just watched movies this day, as we were exhausted from pushing so hard to do all the work we did through the week. It was a rest day that we needed. We took showers and went to happy hour at the Sanddollar…our local bar and restaurant. Bartender, Sherry, took good care of us as usual. And we had their wonderful stuffed potato skins, also, as usual. It was nice to be out and getting to talk with the local bar regulars, a good distraction. Once back to MTB…the winds began to build. Some gusts were so strong…it felt like MTB could blow off the stands we were sitting on. That was unlikely, of course, but man the wind was strong all night. So, this made us happy once again that we chose not to be launched this day. Being at anchor in these cold, high winds wouldn’t have been fun. And, being on anchor watch our first night back in the water would have been a bummer. $25.35 spent this day.
Saturday, December 19, 2009- St. Johns Boat Co, Jacksonville, Fl - It was another lazy, cool day. We took Miko for a walk and sat at the waterfront and gave her a good brushing. She is “blowing” her coat once again…happens twice a year. So, the more we brush her, the quicker the shedding ends! She looked great. She also got her heartworm medicine and anti-flea topical treatment this day. Back at MTB, we did a few boat jobs. Ken sopped out the water in the bilge on the starboard side. We are not exactly sure where this water comes from. Although, Ken thinks it may be melting ice from the freezer line. Cindy took the garbage to the dumpster. We did boneless pork chops on the grill and were bums the rest of the day. It got cold as a front was passing through. NY had a historic snowfall and Ken’s sister Gayle was socked in at her new home in Chicago. Ah, not so bad in Jacksonville!
Sunday, December 20, 2009 – St. John’s Boat Co., Jacksonville, FL – It is hard to believe that we have been here over a month. Time has really gone by pretty quickly and being here has actually been pleasant. We have joked with friends/family that we have been living aboard here “on the hard” in our waterfront tree house. We look out the salon door and see the top of a palm tree. And, in the past week, we have gained some of the most beautiful Christmas decorations anyone could ask for. The Mayport Navy yard is just across the river from us. All the huge Naval ships at the docks there have white Christmas lights outlining their full lengths. It is wonderful and amazing to see these lights along the river’s horizon. Atlantis II, the expedition boat here at the dock in the boat yard with us, also has a fully lighted Christmas tree on her top most part. Even the barge on another dock here has an outline of a tree in lights. So, we feel incredibly lucky to see these sights that many never see. Other bonuses of our location here… the Star Spangled Banner playing at the Navy yard every morning at 8:00 a.m., a gaggle of resident Mallard Ducks, chickens in the yard, and Barney, the resident cat. We do feel very lucky to have found this place….thanks Katabatik (they told us about this yard)! Again, it will be bitter sweet to pull away from our “temporary” home here, on Tuesday.
Monday, December 21, 2009 – On the hard at St. Johns Boat Co., Jacksonville, Fl - This a.m. we got a surprise….at 8:00 a.m. the boat yard guys came and said “ready to go back in?”. We thought we were going in on Tuesday….but we were ready. So, by 11:30 a.m. the parts of the hulls that had been on blocks were painted, engine idles set and tested, and we were on our way. We were so happy. Two hours down the ICW, Ken decided to check to make sure that the engines and bilges were all ok...as we had shaft seals replaced at the boat yard. Bummer, they were leaking. Ah, not good. We passed a marina about 45 minutes prior, so we turned around and went to Beach Marine…ah, Jacksonville Beach. Yep, we sure didn’t make it too far. So, we filled our diesel and water tanks, pumped out our tanks, and they assigned us to a dock. We then did laundry, yay!
Tuesday, December 22, 2009 – Beach Marine, Jacksonville Beach, in the water. The engine guys came here at 7:30 a.m. analyzed and left. They came back around lunch, analyzed and left. So, we sit. We've had 30 minute long hot showers, what a treat in the nice facility here. A friend from high school and her husband, Arddy/Leo, live only 3 miles from where we are. They came and got us and we had a great dinner, helped decorate, listened to Christmas music and had a great time.
Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009 – Beach Marine, Jacksonville Beach, FL. Engine guys called us this a.m. with a “plan”. Supposedly, they have determined the issue and a “fix”. So, we sit due holiday schedules not allowing new components to be shipped in before Christmas. So, we will have to stay here until the 28th or 29th, and back track to the boat yard and be pulled out of the water, again. They say it will be a one day job. We’ll see. Just crossing our fingers that the new plan, equipment will work properly this time. Other than costing us an unexpected week of dockage, it has worked out fine. There is a dog park in walking distance and we took Miko there in the afternoon. She had a blast…so happy to run with abandon for the first time in a long while. After a few hours at the park and speaking to nice folks and playing with nice dogs, we headed back toward Beach Blvd. There, we found a post office and bought some stamps to replenish our stock, went to Dollar Tree for couple little things needed for the boat. Then, the best thing, across the street was a Dunkin Donuts. We bought a dozen assorted to go and walked back to the marina. We had a lazy remainder of the day and it was nice. Miko was zonked…she ran hard at the park.
Thursday, Christmas Eve, 2009 – Beach Marine, Jacksonville Beach, FL. Ah, donuts for breakfast, yay! Friends Arddy/Leo, have family (Leo’s daughter/family) on St. Simons Island, near our home in Brunswick. This evening they were having a Christmas program at the SSI Catholic Church. We were happy to hear that Arddy/Leo had plans to ride up to attend the program. Since Ken Sr. was in the Brunswick hospital, we decided to ride up with them to Brunswick this afternoon. They picked us up at the marina at 2:00 and dropped us at the hospital on their way to SSI. We were able to do a Christmas Eve visit with Ken, Sr. and that was so nice. He had pneumonia and been in the hospital for over a week. We were so glad to get up to check on him. We hung around the hospital until it was time to ride back to Jax with Arddy/Leo. They picked us back up at about 6:15 p.m. and since none of us had eaten, we stopped at Steak and Shake. We had shakes, fries and burgers, a very traditional Christmas Eve dinner, huh?! Yes, we think this should be a new tradition. On arrival back in Jacksonville, Leo drove us through a neighborhood called Blackhawk Bluff that had amazing Christmas lights. The residents hang lights in single strands vertically from tree limbs down to the ground. Some use all white, others all one color, some just use all multi color strands. Each house (except for one or two scrooges) does the same thing so the overall neighborhood effect was amazing. And, the streets were also lined with luminaries, as well.The neighborhood has a thick tree “canopy” so the light strands drop down from limbs that were everywhere. We really enjoyed seeing the display. We were dropped off at the marina around 9:00 and proceeded to fall asleep watching TV. A very nice day with family and friends.
Friday, CHRISTMAS DAY, Beach Marine, Jacksonville Beach, FL. We got up and finished the Dunkin Donuts bought a few day earlier. We called our families and wished everyone Merry Christmas. Cindy made a Key Lime pie and at noon, Leo picked us up and took us to their place, a beautifully decorated and warm home to share the day. Ken and Leo sipped eggnogs, as we all watched Arddy cook and enjoyed Christmas music. Ah, guess we could have helped her, huh? Around 2:30, two Jacksonville friends of theirs arrived, Jimmy and Ken. They have known Jimmy for many, many years from the Marines. Leo said we were having a Christmas dinner of “misfits”, the six of us. My grandmother used to call them “strays”, folks that didn’t have family to be with for a holiday meal. What a meal we had: traditional golden brown turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes with black truffle oil added, giblet gravy, sweet potato casserole, mashed rutabagas with carrots, green bean casserole, homemade creamed corn (not that canned stuff), cranberry relish, pickles, celery and radishes, and yeast rolls. After totally pigging out, Arddy started a fire and we enjoyed their gift exchange with Jimmy & Ken. Our favorite items were the camouflage Christmas stockings Jimmy/Ken gave Arddy and Leo. Next was dessert and Irish coffees. Arddy makes a wicked Irish coffee, and coupled with Key Lime pie and whipped cream, it was a good finale to a wonderful meal. About 8:00 a.m. Leo/Arddy delivered us back to the boat and a patiently waiting Miko.
Saturday, December 26, 2009 – Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Up and out early, 10:30 a.m. to the dog park. Miko deserved a park visit after being in her crate most of Christmas Day. We stayed at the dog park for several hours, until about 2:30 p.m. It was great exercise for her and we enjoyed the interaction with nice dogs as well as nice people. Miko was smiling big when we left. We headed back to the boat but decided to stop at MOJO, a barbeque place, for take home sandwiches. Once back at the boat, boy did we enjoy that bbq. We did dishes, picked up a little. About 3:45 p.m. some folks came by that were thinking about retiring on a boat. So, we invited them aboard for a tour. About 4 p.m. Arddy and Leo arrived for happy hour. We enjoyed a couple adult beverages and some snacks. But more importantly, enjoyed their company. About 7:30 p.m. they headed out and we said our goodbyes. Leo’s daughter/family were going to be around for the next two days. And, we hoped to be pulling out of Jax Beach on Monday or Tuesday. It has been so nice to share the company of these good folks for these past few weeks in Jacksonville. Watched some football…but the ACC wasn’t doing too well. FLA coach Urban Meyer resigned very unexpectedly this day. Gators everywhere must be totally shell shocked. So, FSU and FL will have new coaching staffs next season.
Sunday, December 27, 2009 – Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Ah, a pancake morning, thanks Ken. It was a cool, gray day this one. We watched a stupid movie or two and surfed the net, Facebook, etc. It was a lazy morning and even Miko just laid out on the decks watching the world go by. What a life we live.
Monday, December 28, 2009 – Beach Marine, Jacksonville Beach, Fl. – Well, we have had no communication from the engine repair guys (MCS) since last Wednesday. That day, they told us we would hear from them on Thursday and they would tell us the UPS tracking number for our parts. So, this day we finally were able to talk to them when Ken called at 11:00 a.m. We just needed to see what was happening. Ken was told that the parts needed for our repairs had not been received yet. MCS said they expected them in the afternoon so Ken asked that they call us when they received them. We took a wait and see position. Their communication with us has not been the greatest. Ken called St. Johns Boat Company to find out when high slack tide was going to be Tuesday a.m. Not good news, as it was so early in the a.m., we would have to leave the marina in the dark to make it in time. So, now we have a conundrum as to what to do. Winds were too high to get out of the marina and try to go into the lift by this afternoon’s slack low tide. And, it wasn’t a good option, as Ken had been told that St. Johns Boat Company only had two guys working this day and we like help with lines on both sides of MTB when coming in. Since slack high tide on Tuesday was going to be early, we knew we would have to leave the marina early at first light. BBBRRR. We’d just have to make the best of it, going into the Travel Lift slip in less than perfect conditions. But, we had done it before. We just didn’t want to skin up the sides of MTB after just having new graphics and fiberglass work done on our hulls. If only the seals’ manufacturer had counseled the engine guys at MCS properly and had gotten things right the first time, we wouldn’t have faced any of this. Through all the lightening trials, tribulations, we’ve tried to stay positive, but this day was a low point of frustration for Cindy. She was ready to sell the boat, bank the cash and enjoy traveling in more conventional ways. It seemed that traveling in the RV, flying to fun places, enjoying Brunswick and spending more time with granddaughters, Audrey and Morgan, were much more appealing lifestyle options this day. Oh well. We took what we hoped were our last long hot showers at the marina facility and that was nice. We went early to bed with hopes that Tuesday would feel better.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009 – departed Beach Marine, back to Mayport, Florida, then South, to Pine Island, Fl – We got up early, 5:45 a.m. and prepared to leave the marina. After Miko had her walk and it was finally light enough, we pulled away from the dock and headed back NORTH. We had to go to the St. Johns Boat Company to once again be pulled out of the water. We got away from the marina’s dock with ease. About 8:15 a.m, we arrived at the Travel Lift and the winds were low winds and there was actually a pretty calm current.. Though it was not at pure “slack” tide…the river wasn’t “ripping” as it can. Capt. Ken did a great job getting us into the lift without one scratch on our newly repaired and logo’d sides. YEAH! The good folks at St. Johns Boat Company were so funny as we heard “welcome home” a number of times. Such nice people there and they were so good to us. We were off the boat by about 8:30 a.m. MCS (engine repairs) guys immediately jumped aboard to do the manufacturer’s recommended “fix”, installing new seals to replace the leaking ones that brought us back to the yard. The manufacturer of the seals picked up the tab for the repair, as they recommended the wrong application/parts. We were appreciative, as was MCS. The manufacturer even picked up the tab for the lift having to pull us out of the water again. About 1:00 p.m., we were set back in the water still in lift slings. It was time to test the seals. Ken revved up each engine and we kept our fingers crossed….NO LEAKS! Wonderful news. Once it was low slack tide, around 1:30 p.m., Clark dropped us back in the water. Sadly, MTB got some new scratches down her pretty, newly repaired port side, scratching on the way out of the slip. We had gotten out safely, with properly operating shaft seals, so that was all that mattered this afternoon. We were so happy to once again be heading south, round two. We putt putted down the ICW to Pine Island, It is a pretty unspoiled small island with a river surrounding it, between Jacksonville Beach and St. Augustine. Well, this was what we needed…especially Cindy. It was a beautifully pristine area, with 6 other boats anchored with us. The sunset was amazing, playful dolphins were all around us and the full moon twinkled on the water. Ok, we were back to what this cruising life is supposed to be! The calm anchorage with great holding just topped off the fact that this was the perfect end to our time on land, and a great start to this cruising season for MTB.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009 – departed Pine Island, Florida. We had a lazy morning, drinking coffee and waving bye to our anchored boat neighbors, as they departed before us. Miko was sitting on the very top of the boat, our lookout. She looked funny up there, especially on MTB without our mast…. like a white bump on top of a white bump. As one of the boats went by, they were laughing and taking a bunch of pictures. At about 10:00 a.m. after a nice relaxed morning, we pulled up anchor and started our short trip down to St. Augustine. We weren’t in a hurry so just ran one engine (we have two Yanmar 40 hps), going about 6.5 knots per hour. One engine is so much more pleasant, quieter than two, so it was nice this day as we didn’t have to make time. The scenery along the ICW was nice and we enjoyed the ride. It was warm and sky was bright blue. We had an encounter with a dredging operation on the way. They were in the middle of the channel. They weren’t answering their radio to advise which side to take or what they wanted us to do. A southbound boater radio’d and said that they took the west side and were fine. So, we decided to go for it and as we approached the dredge barge, the guys on it gave us thumbs up, so we knew we were ok and could squeak by. Other than that, it was an uneventful trip. We pulled into St. Augustine about 1:00 p.m. and for some reason, our anchor did not “hook” on our first attempt. We pulled it back up and decided to try another spot, closer to town and the Bridge of Lions. We anchored there, but Cindy just wasn’t happy. Ken knew this because of her heavy sighing as she looked out toward a nearby trawler, wringing her hands. MTB was relatively close to the trawler and it was not anchored. It was on a mooring ball with a lot of rope out. Cindy was worried that if our two vessels swung differently, as they often do with the weird tides/current in this anchorage, MTB could be bumping into her neighbor. Ah, this is not a good way to make friends. Ken said just to let everything settle down, wait and see. So, as MTB got closer and closer, and closer to the trawler, Ken finally said…”uh, lets move”. So, we went back out to the first choice spot, threw down the anchor twice and it finally successfully “hooked”. MTB’s crew was much happier there, out of possible harm’s way. Cindy knew she would sleep great here. Once dark, St. Augustine’s white Christmas lights, outlining all the buildings, trees, light poles along the downtown shoreline illuminated. It was idyllic, and what a gorgeous view we had from our vantage point. After a dinner of good leftovers, a little football (Idaho vs. Bowling Green in a last second thriller), it was early to bed….CCCOOOLLLDDD, so under the covers was the ticket….for Miko, too.
Thursday, December 31, 2009 – St. Augustine, Fl – We were up around 7:00 a.m. after a really good night sleep. We thought we may go to Daytona this day, but decided to take care of some banking and insurance business in town. About noon, we had the dinghy down and took the nice little ride into town. St. Augustine Municipal Marina allows dinghys to land at their day dock…for $10. Although, this includes garbage dumping, showers and tie up. We walked to Bank of America, Kilwins (our favorite ice cream place), the pet store for Miko’s New Years toy, and another favorite, a French Bistro for baguettes. No baguettes this day, they sold out L. So, we back tracked to a bakery and bought cinnamon rolls, sticky buns and an apple strudel pastry. Before jumping back on the dinghy we went to First Mate, the marina’s ships store, for some filters for MTB. It was to rain all day and it was beginning to look a little threatening. By 3:00 p.m. we were back to MTB and putting the dinghy up, anticipating leaving early the next a.m. After dinner, we checked the weather and found it was to rain all day New Years. It wouldn’t have been a fun day, motoring in the rain all the way to Daytona. So, we just decided to hang in St. Augustine another day. New Years Day aboard, eating pastries and watching football would be alright! So, this New Years Eve, we sat outside on the front deck and about 8:30 p.m., the fireworks at St. Augustine Beach began. It was beautiful watching the fireworks’ reflection in the water around us. On one side of MTB… fireworks, other side, a beautiful white light outlined city, with a blue moon to boot. After a 20 minute firework show, we ate Cindy’s homemade Key Lime pie, watched TV and were in bed by 10:30 p.m., cuddled up under three layers of covers. We had a great start to what we hoped will be a wonderful 2010 for us, our families and friends.
Friday, January 01, 2010 – wow, 2010. At anchor, St. Augustine, Fl. Weather wise…an awful start to the New Year….cold with rain and high winds. This is certainly not what cruising folks enjoy, being hunkered down in an anchorage. But, it was a good day as we had a video conference call with friends Corstiaan and Wanda in British Columbia (they were colder than we were!), and a good phone call with Ken’s dad. Ken Sr. felt that he would be released from the hospital the next day, Saturday. So, we were happy about that news. We really enjoyed our warm pastries and coffee this morning, and looked forward to dinner as we had taken out steaks to cook on the grill. Winds really whipped up in the morning and that put a good bit of stress on our anchor and chain. But, by 12:45 p.m., things seemed to be settling down and there were no more white caps swirling around us. The tide was coming in, so our bow was pointing toward town, and the stern door windows were looking out toward the Atlantic. The skies were starting to lighten and we hoped whatever bad stuff was heading through the area was about finished. It was certainly football weather for the 1:00 p.m. “Bowden Bowl” (Bobby’s last game). We just hoped the rain stopped so all the FSU fans at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville only had to worry about staying warm, vs. dry. We planned ahead and ran the generator this a.m. so we’d have enough power to watch the football game. We certainly couldn’t count on making any solar power on this gray day. Although, about 2:00 p.m. the sun came out and we actually saw some blue skies. FSU played great and it was bittersweet knowing Bobby was coaching his last game, especially since it truly was not his choice. After the game, it was shower time, since the generator had been running, we also had the hot water heater fired up. Hot showers are always such a treat for us! So, a good win for Bobby ended our New Years Day, 2010.
Saturday, January 2, 2010 – Happy Birthday, Cindy. Departed St. Augustine in cold weather this a.m. and finally were heading further south. The sun shown bright this day and warmed our bones some. Though it was still unseasonably cold for Florida. We saw some pristine areas along the ICW this day and doing the “ditch” continued to be an interesting, new experience for us. We’ll miss St. Augustine, but were sure ready to mosey onward, south. Our goal this day was Daytona with thoughts of anchoring somewhere between the many bridges that cross the ICW in that area. The causeway areas before bridges generally offer good anchorages with good protection. Since we were motoring, we were making pretty good time. So, once we were to Daytona by around 2:00 p.m. we knew we had a couple more hours of daylight. We decided just to keep heading south to one of our favorite anchorages, Rockhouse Creek by the Ponce Inlet. This was about 8 nautical miles further. The only risk was that we would arrive later in the day and the anchorage may be full on our arrival. This is a popular anchorage, but not large. We know this area well and figured if worse came to worse, we’d find a place a little further south in New Smyrna. As luck would have it…Cindy got another birthday present. Once rounding the blind corner into the creek/anchorage, she gave Capt. Ken a thumbs up….not a single other boat in the anchorage. It was all ours. We picked a nice place to drop the anchor and enjoyed a nice glass of wine. Once the TV was on, Cindy got yet another present for her birthday….USF won their bowl game this day and had a nice winning season ender. Early to bed, under lots of covers….still coooolllldddd out. Geez, we’ve gone south, think it could get warmer?
Sunday, January 3, 2010 – Departed Rockhouse Creek, Ponce Inlet, Daytona, Fl. 44 degrees in the salon this a.m. The unseasonably cold weather hit everywhere. This a.m. it was supposedly colder in Tallahassee, Fl than it was in Anchorage, AK. We just keep adding layers of covers on the bed and clothes on the bodies as needed to offset the chill. Anchor was up at 9:00 a.m and we continued south this day, first coming to New Smyrna, accompanied by playful dolphins all around us. We were struck by the nice looking city of New Smyrna. It had a lot of parks with public piers and old restored homes along its shore. A lot of the ICW is lined with “McMansions”….huge, ostentatious places that lack charm. The quaint homes along New Smyrna were an appreciated exception. Further south, we transited “Mosquito Lagoon”…. a really expansive and desolate, very shallow body of water near Cape Canaveral (Kennedy). It was almost eerie going through this area especially since it was overcast, without sun this day. To get there, the ICW takes a direct, 90 degree right turn into Haulover Canal….a little cut through that takes one into the Lagoon. It cut was lined with fishing boats on both sides. Miko was on her tether on the starboard side and each fishing boat we passed gave her a thumbs up, or yelled hello. One guy yelled, “nice hat (my scarf wrapped around my head!), nice boat, nice dog!”. Some of the fisherman took her picture, others just pointed and waved at Miko…she was a rock star (once again). Once through the lagoon, after having to watch the depths very carefully, one comes upon a number of bridges. One is a railroad bridge that was luckily in the up position. It has a series of lights that boaters must watch. If the lights go from green to red, one must stop as a train is coming and the trestle will close automatically. Then, there is the Max Brewer swing bridge…..it has a span that actually pivots and becomes parallel with the boat traffic. This allows two access sides and the bridge tender is very clear as to what side she wants boaters to use. There were three of us going through together and she told us to use the west side. Yes, that was a very interesting bridge. Sadly, it is being replaced with one of the typical ICW 65’ fixed cement behemoths. It is progress, we guess, but must be sad if you are the old bridge tender. Some of the Florida bridge tenders are so very nice and helpful. Others seem to be stereotypical disenfranchised workers who are as unhelpful and nasty as they possibly can be. There is one bridge tender we heard of who won’t answer a call for an opening if you don’t use the bridge name used by the locals. That name, that he will answer to is not the true, formal name of the bridge So, if you read a book or chart and use the proper name of the bridge…he won’t answer…how’s that for nice?! We continued south to Cocoa Beach and decided to anchor just southwest of the Cocoa bridge that crosses the ICW, another 65’er. There were a number of other boats there but we found an appropriate hole, and threw down our anchor, yet again. We were settled in by 4:00 p.m. and it was 50 degrees in the salon. We didn’t drop Toby the dinghy as we thought we would in the a.m., to go spend some time ashore in Cocoa.
Monday, January 4, 2010 – departed Cocoa Beach this a.m. It ws cold and overcarst. So, we decided to move this day. We have a policy to try to move whenever moving is possible. We knew later in the week there was a forecast of rain. So, MTB’s anchor was up at 9:00 a.m. with a plan to head south to Vero Beach. We talked to Craig (Rum Tum Tiger) by phone this a.m., he in NY. Craig had been to Vero and said that there would be room to anchor there outside of their large mooring field. We’ve heard that during busy times, the mooring balls are often all rented. So, they often “raft” boats up to each other on the same mooring ball. We couldn’t really do that for fear of Miko going on a walkabout to the other boat(s), so we just planned to anchor where we could. Craig said it wouldn’t be any problem at this time of year. So, we had an uneventful ride down to Vero Beach, enjoying the sun that made the continued unseasonable cold air more bearable. We arrived at the bridge at Vero about 4:30 p.m. We turned east and motored into the bay to find what Cindy labeled as “boat hell”. There was nowhere whatsoever to anchor. Each mooring ball had two, and some three, boats tied side to side. We knew this wasn’t the place for MTB. Though we knew we only had about one more hour of daylight, we decided not to stop here in Vero. We figured we could just pull out of the ICW channel and throw the anchor down since it was settled weather with little wind and light boat traffic. We motored on just a short way until we saw a spot having 7’ of depth to the starboard side of the ICW. We were just south of a power plant and the second Vero Beach bridge. We anchored safely and had a good night, happy knowing we weren’t in the Vero Beach mooring field, yuck. It is strange, as we’ve heard so many cruisers each year, pushing to get to Vero for Thanksgiving. It is supposedly the “thing” to do. We just can’t imagine having a boat tied to both side of MTB. Guess we must be becoming anti social. Maybe it would have been fun in our younger years.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010 – departed Vero Beach 8:10 a.m. after seeing one of our fellow Leopard owner friends Lee Haefle on Alesto go by. We radio’d and talked to them and found they were going to Lake Worth this day. Once we headed out, we were following several other sailboats, one being Easler. We decided to pass Easler before the Ft. Pierce draw bridge, as we knew we wouldn’t have to stop for a bridge opening as they would. We spoke to the folks on Easler as we motored along. They were freezing too and she said she wished she’d packed fewer shorts and more warm weather clothes. They were headed, like us, to Stuart. We were passed by “Gracious Lady” a trawler south of Ft. Pierce, some more nice folks. This day’s portion of the ICW was shallow and Ken had to really fight the current and watch our depths. We knew that “the crossroads” at the St. Lucie Inlet is a squirrelly place and a lot of folks go aground there. The crossroads is where the inlet, the ICW and the St. Lucie River all intersect. The channel markers are not shown on any charts, as they are moved so often due to shoaling in the area. We took our time and watched closely where we were going, picking out the next markers. We had been in/out of this inlet before, so we weren’t too worried due to having some knowledge of the inlet. Our biggest issue was a large sport fishing boat coming fast up our stern, throwing a huge wake. And, we had another large boat coming at us in the middle of the channel, not on his half. The safe area of the channel is very narrow so when the sport fishing boat turned off and the other boat coming toward us got on his proper side of the channel, we were relieved. We continued up the St. Lucie River, along the beautiful river/Stuart waterfront. The wind was strong and we were freezing cold. But, what a really nice area we were seeing, just as we had been told. Sadly though, as we were safely motoring up the deep part of the river, we heard Easler on the radio. They ran aground at the crossroads. We felt so sorry for these nice folks as we always hate to hear another boater having trouble. We caught up to Gracious Lady before the series of three back to back to back bridges in Stuart. The first is a 65’ cement ICW type bridge, immediately followed by a railroad bridge with an opening width of only 50’, immediately followed by a draw bridge (nice bridge tender!). There was a work barge in front of Gracious Lady and the three of us all made it through fine. We read that anchoring was not allowed in Stuart, though it was allowed in Pendarvis Cove. So, we made our way into the cove and anchored. Gracious Lady did, as well. We radio’d them once we were settled and found that they were leaving early in the a.m. This afternoon, we sat outside in the cockpit, as the sun warmed our cold bones. Yes, we had a glass of wine sitting, for the first time this entire season, in the cockpit! WOO HOO.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010 – at anchor Pendarvis Cove, Stuart, Fl – bbbbrrrrrr 40 degrees again this a.m. in the salon. Luckily, the sun came up and the solar heat really helped take the chill off. We also made a few pots of coffee, huddling around the gas stove burner….ah, warmth. We dropped the dinghy this day, the second time this cruising season…seems so weird. We called Mack Sails to check on the delivery of our mast from the manufacturer. Bad news….not here yet…may ship at the end of this week or early next week. About 12:30 p.m. we headed to town. We read that we could go to Shepard Park and tie up the dinghy at the seawall there. So, into Frashier Creek we motored. Poor Miko was shivering as the wind was cold. Cindy held a square float next to her to block the wind and she seemed much happier. Miko loves to ride in the front of the dinghy. We tied off the dinghy, dumped our garbage and headed to the old town section of Stuart. It was so very nice…a lot of little shops and restaurants along the waterfront. We decided there must be money in this town…a Ferrari and all sorts of other expensive cars parked all along the streets. We walked by Hoffman’s Chocolate Shop and a guy flagged us down. He came running out of the shop to show us a picture of his male, 7 year old, white Shiba Inu named ODI. Funny, funny…we Shiba owners do love our pups. We found a restaurant with a dog friendly table outside in sunshine and had a nice lunch. Then, off we went to find the Publix for a few groceries. While Cindy shopped, Ken and Miko met “TIMEX” a little fluffy “watch dog”, get it? (LOL). The two dogs played and Ken talked with Timex’s parents from Sweet Surrender. Then, back to the dinghies for all of us. The ride back on Toby was much warmer as the wind had modified some and it was in a better direction than it was for our ride in. Another lazy night aboard MTB after homemade Cuban sandwiches on the good bread bought at Publix. BBBBBRRRR. Miko even crawled under Ken’s throw while we watched TV.
Thursday, January 07, 2010 – at anchor Pendarvis Cove, Stuart, Fl. 40 degrees in the salon AGAIN this a.m. BBBRRR..not any better. We made banana walnut muffins to have a good excuse to fire up the oven for some heat. We found that our heat pumps do not operate efficiently if the water is under 50 degrees and don’t work at all if the water is near 40 degrees, which it was. So, lets get this straight. We have heater pumps on our boat, but when it is cold (when one needs heat), they won’t work. Now that makes sense, huh? Bummer for sure. Well, we’ll just throw on another blanket. By noon, the sun was brilliant and we once again felt some warmth in our ole bones. We piled into the dinghy, headed for a walk on shore. After a couple of pizza slices at a local pizza place next to the Publix, we walked south on Highway 1, to the ABC liquor store. We needed rum and butterscotch schnapps. Then, to Dunkin Donuts and back to Publix for some Advil (Ken’s back hurting), sherbet and a newspaper. While either of us waits with Miko outside a store, she is the center of attention. All you single guys out there, get a Shiba…BABE magnets! Once back to MTB, we called Ken Sr and were so happy to find that he was out of the hospital. It was great news. We just tried to stay warm (sherbet didn’t help!) to stay up and watch the BCS Championship game with Alabama and Texas. Miko, has now begun getting under our throws on the sofa as we watch TV. She’s pretty smart. Sadly, Colt McCoy was injured early in the game. Who knows how these two teams might have matched up it Texas had him the whole game. As it was, a great win for Alabama and we were so happy for a various BAMA friends….Charlie, Katie, et al. Colin Mack from the mast company was to call us this day…but no word. Don’t know why folks don’t call when they say they will.
Friday, January 08, 2010 – at anchor, Pendarvis Cove, Stuart, Florida. BALMY…..46 degrees in the salon this a.m. Woo Hoo! Yummy breakfast of coffee and Dunkin Donuts, now that is the way to start a day right. By 1 p.m. it was 68 and the highest temps we have seen in many weeks. Ken actually went outside to the cockpit to read this morning. Amazing. We decided to go to shore for a walkabout…though there wasn’t anything we needed. A nice afternoon of MTB would be appreciated Saturday, as it was supposed to rain. Saturday, January 9, 2010 - anchored, Pendarvis Cove, Stuart, Florida. Well, prognosticators were once again correct, as it was gray and raining this a.m. We stayed in bed as long as possible as it was warm there. Luckily, it wasn’t as cold as forecasted (44) though it was only 52 degrees in the salon at 9:00 a.m. It was bearable, not pleasant mind you, but bearable. We ran the generator and fired up one of the heat pumps (such optimists), which actually stayed on for a few minutes. Sea temp was just not warm enough to sustain its operation. Well, the heat clicked off but we still could watch morning TV, drink coffee and finish the Dunkin Donuts bought Thursday in town. This day would be a lazy one, just trying to stay warm, keep Miko entertained, and maybe do a couple boat jobs if our many layers of clothing allowed enough mobility! An email today said our mast was not shipping from N.C. until January 15 and it would be at least a week after that before she will be installed. As usual, this was not the answer we hoped for. We were not sure what the hold up had been at Sparcraft, the manufacturer who had promised a speedy turnaround. But, nothing we can do but wait…longer. Our new Sunbrella turquoise sail cover, coming from Barbados, shipped as promised on Friday. So, that was good news…who says there isn’t a balance in the world? Our current cover needed repairs and the cost to repair vs. getting a new one was not that far apart. So, while the mainsail and old cover were off, we decided it was a good time to get the new one. MTB will be almost a new boat once we get through all these issues and we will be off to the true “cruising” portion of this season. Over the past weeks we have learned a great deal more about our vessel, met a lot of nice folks and gained a lot of knowledge about suppliers of services needed for MTB. No, it hasn’t been the lazy, hanging around beaches type of trip we’d hoped for. But, it has been interesting, educational and truly beats working. And, of course, its the journey, not solely the destination.
Saturday, January 9, 2010 - anchored, Pendarvis Cove, Stuart, Florida. Well, prognosticators were once again correct as it was gray and raining this a.m. We stayed in bed as long as possible as it was warm there. Luckily, it wasn’t as cold as forecasted (44) though it was only 52 degrees in the salon at 9:00 a.m. It was bearable, not pleasant mind you, but bearable. We ran the generator and fired up one of the heat pumps (such optimists), which actually stayed on for a few minutes. Sea temp was just not warm enough to sustain its operation. Well, the heat clicked off but we still could watch morning TV, drink coffee and finish the Dunkin Donuts bought Thursday in town. This day would be a lazy one, just trying to stay warm, keep Miko entertained, and maybe do a couple boat jobs if our many layers of clothing allowed enough mobility! An email today said our mast was not shipping from N.C. until January 15 and it would be at least a week after that before she will be installed. As usual, this was not the answer we hoped for. We were not sure what the hold up had been at Sparcraft, the manufacturer who had promised a speedy turnaround. But, nothing we can do but wait…longer. Our new Sunbrella turquoise sail cover, coming from Barbados, shipped as promised on Friday. So, that was good news…who says there isn’t a balance in the world? Our current cover needed repairs and the cost to repair vs. getting a new one was not that far apart. So, while the mainsail and old cover were off, we decided it was a good time to get the new one. MTB will be almost a new boat once we get through all these issues and we will be off to the true “cruising” portion of this season. Over the past weeks we have learned a great deal more about our vessel, met a lot of nice folks and gained a lot of knowledge about suppliers of services needed for MTB. No, it hasn’t been the lazy, hanging around beaches type of trip we’d hoped for. But, it has been interesting, educational and truly beats working. And, of course, its the journey, not solely the destination.
Sunday, January 10, 2010 – anchored, Pendarvis Cove, Stuart, Florida. 39 degrees inside the salon in the a.m., some sun and it was a tropical 49 inside MTB by 9:00 a.m. Though, the bone chilling wind and gray skies were a bummer and required that we stay aboard all day, again. So, we did the dishes…ah, one boat job done! And, we watched the NFL playoff games and sadly the Packers (Cindy’s from Wisconsin!) made a wonderful comeback tie, just to lose in an overtime heartbreaker, It was baked tortellini for dinner as this required a stove burner to boil the pasta and the oven to bake and melt the cheeses…a “two ‘fer” cooking operation that provided two opportunities to generate heat. But, crazy us enjoyed sherbet for dessert….are we crazy?! If seemed like a very long day that just drug on…even Miko seemed to have cabin fever this day. But, it is the days like these that make us so appreciative of all the nice ones.
Monday, January 11, 2010 – anchored, Pendarvis Cove, Stuart, Florida. It was 41 in the salon, then with sun by 9:00, 52 degrees. Bright sun and blue skies makes all the difference on the crew's mentality. Thought the wind was still high this a.m., we hoped it would lessen enough so we could go to shore and walk around town again. We love their boardwalk along the old town center’s waterfront. Colin Mack from Mack Sails, folks that will be installing our new mast, called and he and Ken confirmed specifics about the height of the new mast and a few other details. Colin committed to calling the “tube” manufacturer to re-confirm the shipping date of the mast and said he’d be in touch with us again this week. Mack Sails will get the main structure, the alloy tube, from Sparcraft and then engineer it to match the design and rigging of our former mast, removed in November in Jacksonville. The old mast, sails and rigging are all here in Stuart, at their shop. Ken checked our spare parts locker to see if we had a spare fuel filter for the dinghy’s Yamaha motor. The last two trips to town, we had scares when the motor stalled out. The last ride home, Ken just pumped more fuel with the bulb in the gas line and we started right back up. So, he was pretty sure that we have a fuel related issue. The more he thought about it, he was convinced it may be a dirty fuel filter. As luck would have it, he did find a spare along but it was for our Corvette. Nope, not the right size for our the dinghy hose. Ken kept looking in all the “special places” he stashed pieces, parts. Success!!! He found an official Yamaha fuel filter, still in its packaging. Cindy wasn’t surprised, as Ken had been good about buying spares for items typically needing replacement. Our next trip to town would be little less harrowing if the filter was indeed the issue causing our motor to stall. We’d hold our breath on the next trip to shore, hoping to make it without having to paddle. It is about a mile across the cove, and channel/river and into the creek where we tie up. Yep, just another adventure. If the new fuel filter didn’t correct things, Ken told Cindy she had to take the first turn rowing! By 12:15, Ken installed the replacement filter and it was 54 wonderful degrees in MTB, still cold but beat the 39 degrees for sure! After very chilly showers, we headed to shore. And, Toby made successful trips into and back from town after the fuel filter replacement…no one had to row! Yea. We had ice cream in town again at Huffman’s, walked around some more and just enjoyed the people and dogs we encountered along our way. There is a Kilwin’s across from Huffman’s. But, they are much more expensive and though we do love our Kilwin’s visits in St. Augustine, here we have a less expensive alternative. Once the sun goes down the temperature drops rapidly so we typically hustle back to the dinghy and try to be back aboard MTB by 4:30 p.m. By sunset, the salon temp was down to 56. This is when we know it is time to cook something in the oven….our only heat source! We had talked about leaving on Tuesday…but neither one of the crew made any preparations in that direction, so another day we’ll stay in Stuart. We’d checked temps further south and didn’t see that there was an appreciable difference toward warmth. So, might as well stay here in this peaceful and well protected cove.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010 - Pendarvis Cove, Stuart Florida, anchored – arrived here a week ago. How does time fly by so fast? It doesn’t seem possible. It is warming up some as this a.m. it was 44 degrees in the salon. It seems that the whole past week’s conversation has been about temp and weather….nationwide. All the news, emails, etc. are fixated on the topic….even this log….bbrrr. Well, it’ll get better soon. We saw a forecast out a few days that showed the LOW as 66!! And, we haven’t seen 66 as a high the last two weeks. Woo Hoo. Sky was cloud free and brilliant blue this a.m. And, solar heat had Ken outside reading in the cockpit. Today, Toby took us 1.2 miles to a bridge on the Okeechobee Waterway, St. Lucie River. There was a park with a boat put in there and we tied up. Figured it was time to explore yet another part of this town of Stuart. We have enjoyed what we have seen to date and the folks have been very friendly…even to Miko, bringing her fresh water bowls everywhere we’ve gone. Cindy had checked the GPS and found some shopping about 7 blocks from the park. It felt great walking as the sun was out full and warm on our ole bones (Miko’s, too). We got to our destination and found a liquor store with great prices so we bought another bottle of Rum. There was a farmers market where we purchased corn, tomatoes, onion, raw peanuts and sweet potatoes. Next door to that was a sub shop, so we bought an Italian sub and headed back to the park. We found a sunny picnic table and ate our lunch then hopped back on dinghy Toby, for the mile + ride back to MTB. The wind was against us, but it wasn’t terrible with the bright sun. We were passing our abandoned sailboat neighbor and there was an Eagle/Osprey like bird up on the mast spreader. As we rode by, that bird let go with the biggest, most prolific, long and wide stream of icky white poop you could possibly imagine. It shot out for yards….OMG we were glad he hadn’t visited MTB…thank goodness for being mastless! Once back, we spent the remainder of the day shivering aboard.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010 – Pendarvis Cove, Stuart, Florida – A little warming this morning, 10:00 a.m. it was 54 degrees. We warmed the salon and ourselves by baking chocolate chip muffins. This morning we heard more about the terrible earthquake in Haiti and the fears that there could be a Tsunami as far reaching north as the Florida and the Bahamas, south toward Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. It was a strange to listen to this knowing that if our mast had arrived on time in December, there was a real possibility we could have been in that area. We thought about going to Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic, en route to Puerto Rico. The footage out of Port Au Prince showing the devastation, the Governor’s mansion demolished, their National Cathedral gone, was poignant. Yes, sometimes travel delays are good. We spoke with Cindy’s Mom and found that brother Bruce had retired….congrats, sweet Bro! We just stayed aboard all day and actually spent sometime outside in the cockpit in the sun. We saw three seagulls trying to pull something out of the water just behind MTB…..eeekkkk, it was a snake. Luckily, it was too heavy for them and they soon gave up the endeavor. Hopefully, Mr. Snake back to shore and nowhere near the back of MTB. Because we weren’t struggling just to stay warm, some boat jobs were completed this day: leak under sink was identified and fittings for the deck wash down pump tightened; the blower fan for the port engine compartment got some maintenance and then that berth was cleaned and put back together (mattress had been in the head!). We rolled up the outside sunshades better; Ken worked on the starboard bilge pump light; attached two wires he hadn’t hooked up yet on the new gauge panels to the battery indicators; and,cut Miko’s toenails. It really felt good to be able to do stuff once again as it was easier without the many layers of clothing we’ve been wearing.
Thursday, January 14, 2010 – Pendarvis Cove, Stuart, Fl. Ah, 52 in the salon upon our getting up this a.m., a record for the last few weeks. SUN! Temp actually rose to 66 inside by noon. Hopefully the unseasonable cold is over for the season and this log can move onto more interesting subjects, like snakes! While enjoying breakfast/coffee outside, Cindy saw yet another gull pick up a SNAKE out of the water, flying toward MTB. Cindy was heading for MTB’s door, knowing the snake was too big and heavy for the gull and would soon be falling from the sky. Luckily, when the snake fell, he was 15 feet from MTB’s stern. YUCK! The crew of MTB won’t consider swimming in these waters…EVER! Ken cleaned the shower strainer on the owner’s side of MTB (starboard) as it was slow. Then, he replaced a seal to get seawater pumping in from the through-hull. We would once again have port/stern toilet’s fill/flush function operable. Since water hadn’t been pumping properly into the bowl, that toilet had been designated for “pee pee only”. Once these few boat jobs were done, we decided to jump in Toby and go to the dock at a nearby park. Its shoreline borders our anchorage. The possibility of rain showers seemed to have passed and we once again were seeing bright, blue skies. Shore Ho about 2:30 p.m. We walked around a little city park, then out the entrance road. There were a couple of river front single family homes, condos called “THE ADMIRALTY”, and the Martin County Marina. The marina had an absolutely enormous indoor boat storage building, huge really. We’d hoped for a restaurant at the marina or nearby…but no such luck. We did see a beautiful McGregor 26 on its trailer in the parking lot that made us think of Terry and its name was “Sweet Home Alabama”, which made us think of Charlie. We walked back to the park, jumped on Toby and went home to MTB watching cautiously for SNAKES! We truly couldn’t believe how wonderful the sun felt after so many days of being cold to the inner most parts of our beings. We saw 78 on the thermometer this day. A little reading, a few emails, great call from Terry, and it was time for happy hour and dinner. Folks ask us what we do all day and we’re not really sure, but we know it takes us all day to do it and we don’t start until noon! Ah, the life.
Friday, January 15, 2010, Pendarvis Cove, Stuart, Fl – J Happy days are here again, 61 degrees in the salon, AMEN. It’s not freezing, this a.m…..happy days are here again…(sing along to proper tune!). Happy Birthday to Cindy’s sis, Becky! It was gray and sprinkling, but warmth made all the difference to all of us. Miko even seemed more peaceful this a.m. We had a sad email from Brunswick, saying that our wonderful neighbor, Jane Dail (JD) was laid off from her advertising sales position at local magazine “High Tide”. They’ve struggled with the impact of fewer visitors to the Golden Isles due to the poor economy. JD is wonderfully positive and hardworking. So, though one door has closed for her, we know everything will work out for the best and another door will open. She is good people, good things happen for good people. Its just sad to hear these type of things when we are so lucky to be free of the work related worries.
Saturday and Sunday, January 16, 17, 2009 – Pendarvis Cove, Stuart, Florida – still at anchor these two days. High winds on Saturday and torrential rain on Sunday made it impossible to get to shore. So, we read, surfed, ate…chilled. It was too bad, as the Stuart Boat show was this weekend and we suspected their turnout was severely impacted by the weather. We hoped to get to go in and check out some trawlers. By mid day, it cleared enough for us to jump aboard Toby and walk to the boat show. Sadly, there was a big sign that said “no pets” and we had Miko with us. So, lunch at the marina and we were back to MTB by about 2:30 p.m. and it was looking like another little front was coming through. $43.00 spent Sunday.
Monday, January, 18, 2009 – at anchor, Pendarvis Cove, Stuart, Florida – Now this was what we were talking about…sunny, blue and 64 degrees when we got up. Miko spent the morning lying out in the sun, smiling. We’d picked up a coconut on shore where we tie up to a seawall Sunday she spent some time rolling it around in the cockpit, making us laugh at our silly puppy. She is definitely a boat dog. After lunch, we jumped aboard Toby for our last trip to town, here in Stuart. We decided to walk the scenic route along the water on the other side of the channel from where we were anchored. We’d seen the beautiful homes from the waterside, figured we’d take a look on land. Along our walk, a couple with a pup named “Lucky” caught up with us. Miko was happy to say hello and spend time with “one of her own”. We walked along and chatted with the nice folks, Doug and Bobbie, and found that they were recent transplants from upstate NY. They were sailors as well and their sailboat was actually in the anchorage with MTB, neighbor named “Tara”, We knew exactly which boat was theirs, as Tara is the name of Cindy’s niece in law, Brad’s sweet wife so we that when going by the first day in Stuart. It was ironic to meet the boat’s “parents”. They live on a creek and keep their dinghy there, riding out to Tara whenever they wanted to sail or just watch a sunset. “Lucky” was rescued after someone left him in a campground, tied to a tree. Doug and Bobbie said they love living in Stuart, commenting on what a great place it is, confirming the feeling we had gotten. We all commented about how we typically weren’t fond of Florida but found Stuart to be a different place, nice. Arriving at the shopping center, we said our goodbyes and Ken gave these nice folks a boat card in hopes they would email us. We went to Dunkin Donuts, $8 and then Publix $75, for a few stocking up items. Back to Toby, we took a putt up the creek Doug said we should see, as it was “old Florida”. It had mangroves down both sides and was pretty. We got back to MTB about 4:00 pm, relaxed a minute and then put Toby back up on her davits. Ken transferred fuel from the auxiliary tank up front to the port and starboard tanks in preparation for traveling on Tuesday. We checked emails one last time and found an email from Doug and Bobbie, the nice folks we met on shore this day. So, it will be great to stay in touch with these nice folks. It will be sad to leave this quiet, calm and convenient anchorage. Some places we often feel like we are “home”. In those situations, we joke that MTB seems to grow roots, making it difficult to leave. Stuart was one of those places. $83 for the day.
Tuesday, January 19, 2009 – departed Pendarvis Cove, Stuart, Fl with the anchor (started) up at 10:00 a.m. It was a very lengthy process getting the anchor up and into its proper place on MTB’s bow as it was filty. The mud glopped on the chain was amazing and required Cindy’s washing of each individual link of the 100” of chain we had out. We never want that type of mud to come onboard, into the chain locker.So, it took about half an hour to get the anchor cleaned and up. Luckily MTB has a saltwater wash down pump/hose on the front deck. Finally we pulled out of our cove and raised the Roosevelt Bridge tender on the radio for a bridge opening. This leg of the ICW leg was beautiful with some sections of idyllic, protected parklands and other sections of “McMansions” with amazing boats on lifts in front of them. It was an easy day and after going through two inlets (St. Lucie and Jupiter), and about 8 bridges, we pulled off the ICW into the North section of Lake Worth. By 3:30 p.m. we were anchored in North Palm Beach in front of the marina with Privacy, Tiger Wood’s yacht. The neighbor next to us was a trawler named “First Snow” from NY, funny. We were surrounded by condos, marinas with huge yachts, a state park and some beautiful single family homes, in addition to lots of anchored boats. Three sailboats pulled up anchor after we arrived, leaving at 5:00 p.m. for an overnight trip to the Bahamas. We watched one of them clean his anchor chain by throwing a bag on a rope into the water, pulling it up, pouring the little bag of water down a small section of chain, pulling in the clean chain section, and then repeating the process. We were exhausted watching him do this over and over for what seemed like an hour. It sure made us appreciative of our vessel’s equipment. After dark, lights twinkling on the water all around us were beautiful, and no wind, no ripples, what a peaceful sleep. $-0- spent this day.
Tuesday, January 20, 2010 – anchored in north part of Lake Worth, North Palm Beach, Fl – 70 degrees at 10:30 a.m. and all was calm. We heard from the insurance company that our most recent invoices for about $8,000 were processed for our lightening strike claim. The total paid to date on this claim was large due to the severity of the strike. We worried about what impact an incident we had no control over will have on future insurance purchases/costs. We paid for all the repairs, parts, services, then sent in invoices to be reimbursed by the insurance. That definitely impacts one’s cash flow! No complaints for sure, as we were very fortunate to have good coverage with a great company, Zurich. This a.m. we watched Tiger Wood’s yacht, PRIVACY, leave Old Port Cove Marina. We’d heard rumors they were heading to the Bahamas, but didn’t know. Cindy said she figured they were going down to one of the Yacht Brokers in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, to be listed and sold considering all Tiger’s recent troubles. This, the same day, there were reports he was in Mississippi for sex addition treatment. He needs “slime bucket, lack of morals” treatment instead. He had access to women and he played the big man and took advantage of that access, period. His actions were selfish, disappointing and rather doubtful he has an addiction. We lowered Toby from her perch on MTB’s rear davits, into the water. Getting Toby down is easy, but bringing her up takes 75 hard cranks of the winch handle. Ken does three sets of 25 to keep from passing out! Miko knows it is shore time when the little boat is floating. So, off we went to shore to explore. We tied up next to a small bridge over a creek recommended in our Cruisers’ Guide. The book said dinghies had been stolen there, so two stainless cables and two locks later, we were set with Miko leading the way. Within a block was major shopping, a cruiser’s wonder that included Publix, Stein Mart, Tuesday Morning, Home Goods, CVS, West Marine, on and on. We headed to West Marine to pick up a few things and see if they stocked a fan we needed in our engine compartment that was slowly dying (getting louder and louder). If not, we knew WM would order and get it here quickly, which was the case. Miko thought she was a rock star in this store with all the attention and treats given her. We walked through Tuesday Morning (pet friendly) with Miko lying down while riding around in our shopping cart. Two lovely ladies stopped us to pet her and ask about her breed. Unexpectedly, Miko was standing, staring with a wild eyed fixation on their cart. One lady asked what was wrong with Miko and then I noticed, she was staring at a stuffed brown bear in their cart. It was a close resemblance to Miko’s on MTB and we guessed she thought she’d been robbed. Everyone had a good chuckle once the situation was explained and we got Miko away from the bear cart. Cindy walked through Stein Mart as well. Luckily, the only purchases this day were an updated 2010 Bahamas cruisers guide and some parts from West Marine. $81 total…with our coupons, we spent $43.03 this day.
Thursday, January 21, 2010 – anchored in North Lake Worth, N. Palm Beach. As forecast, this was a high wind day, gray and gloomy. The white capped chop in the anchorage made any trip to shore impossible, so were aboard all day. We spoke to our cruising buddy, Corstiaan in British Columbia, the mast/sail guys and Cindy’s Mom this day. News from the mast guys was not good with another delay on shipment of our mast from the NC manufacturer. So, Cindy emailed both the manufacturer (Sparcraft) and the installers (Mack Sails) in the same email this day to ask both once again, “whas up”? We had been VERY patient, but on this gloomy day, nerves were wearing thin, and missed deadlines were becoming tedious. We would have made very different travel and holiday plans if we had known we would still be sitting and waiting in Florida in February. Anyway, after Cindy’s email, we heard three different dates for our mast to ship. The earliest was 1/22, latest 1/28/2010, after we were told in early November delivery would take 6-8 weeks, MAX. So, Colin Mack at Mack Sails said he’d make yet another call and try to get a definitive answer, promising to get back to us on Friday. Though, even if the mast shipped on 1/25, we had several roadblocks to getting it installed in January. It will take a day or so to get the mast to Florida, a few days for rigging, and Colin Mack was scheduled to be at the Chicago Boat Show the last few days of January. So, there you have it. At the end of 2009, we thought we were going to miss Corstiaan when he arrived at his boat, Lily Pad, in Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, Bahamas. He wasn’t scheduled to be there until February 21, 2010 so we expected we’d be much further south by then. Now, we will be very lucky to even make it to the Bahamas before he heads out for the Panama Canal. Oh well, it’s the journey, not the destination. Luckily, the winds calmed in early evening and it was much more pleasant aboard, especially for Ken after three rum and coke drinks! Heard this day that Conan is leaving NBC…we say good riddance. He has been an immature brat through all that has happened and Jay Leno asked for none of the drama and has just been an NBC team player.
Friday, January 22, 2010 – at anchor North Lake Worth, N. Palm Beach, Fl. – We expected to wake to thunderstorms forecast for this day. But, it was a little cloudy and windy, but with sunshine…yea! By 1:25 p.m. the skies were beautiful, by 2:00 p.m. possible storm activity on the horizon and was 82 degrees in the salon, The wind had clocked around and was coming at us for the first time from the west. So, our stern was now overlooking the “holiday hull”. This was an overturned houseboat L, stuck upside down on the bottom of the bay/anchorage. Someone with a sense of humor decorated said hull with a Christmas tree complete with solar lighting, pink flamingos, pumpkins and other various holiday decorations. A neighbor sailboat resident, Capt. Ron on Skylark, told us the owner abandoned it after his anchors drug one night, boat filled with water, became top heavy and toppled over, sunk. He cut a hole in the hull, retrieved his cats and split! Being hunted by locals, he was spotted & his car tag noted at Home Depot. Now, local authorities are in pursuit as it is his legal obligation to remove the obstacle to navigation. Too funny. Ah, the cruising life…it’s the little things we learn like this that we enjoy and keep our little minds entertained. Boats were arriving this day like crazy. Most folks hang here waiting for the proper weather window to cross to the Bahamas. Today was one of those days with great west winds that would push you all the way to the islands…wish we had a mast! But, we are closer to getting one, we think. Colin Mack called and said our mast was to be on the manufacturers’ truck this Sunday. Although, Colin is leaving for the boat show in Chicago Wednesday a.m. So, his travel pushes our install into February. We have a firm date of February 2nd at 10:30 a.m. to pull into Cracker Boys Boat Works in West Palm Beach, to begin the install! YEA. Finally, progress. Listening to the local radio station this evening, we heard a traffic guy that was really funny….at PGA Blvd and Hwy 1, two cars “came together”….nope guy, they crashed.
Just a side note of a few things forgotten and not added to this log. Due to the unseasonably cold weather for the first few weeks in January in Florida, mammals, fish, amphibians, and other animals were very negatively impacted, as well as flora/fauna. On the leg of MTB’s trip down the ICW from Stuart to North Palm Beach through Hobe Sound, we saw a truly unbelievable amount of dead fish floating with bloated, decomposing bodies. Sea gulls were plucking dead fish for food while simply sitting amount them on the water. Huge black buzzards were everywhere. We’ve heard many stories of stunned Manatees, some did not survive. Sea turtles were also very negatively impacted, though many stunned little guys were plucked from the waters of Florida and their lives saved. Beautiful vegetation and flowers were shriveled and dead, as well as lawns. We always hear the stories of the farmers who have lost citrus and strawberry crops, but rarely do we hear or see this severe an impact on the fish, etc. We continued to see huge, mass FLOCKS of buzzards along the shore in our anchorage in North Palm Beach…reminiscent of the movies “Birds”. A very strange and sad situation for everyone and everything impacted, for sure. We were freezing on MTB for those weeks and we were inside in 39 degrees. We can attest to the severity of the cold and wind. It sure wasn’t our idea of an idyllic cruising season…but one we will certainly remember.
Saturday, January 23, 2010 – at anchor in North Lake Worth, North Palm Beach, Fl – Beautiful blue day, warm and calm. Neighbor “Mike” aboard the Lagoon catamaran named “Last Dance” came by on his dinghy. We had seen them in Brunswick, Last Dance was in our home marina during the summer, so we were especially glad he came by. They have a home in Fernandina Beach, Fl. They invited us over for cocktails at 5:00 p.m. this day and we were excited to have a “date” to do something different. After Cindy made artichoke/spinach dip to share this evening, we were all off to shore. On the way in, we saw a sea turtle with his head out of the water, but of course he made a quick dive as we approached. We love seeing these creatures and guessed he survived January’s cold without repercussion. We picked up the fan West Marine special ordered for us, Ken bought sunglasses and the workers/customers again spoiled Miko rotten with petting and Milk Bone treats. There was a liquor store in the same strip mall so Ken went in to check the price on Cindy’s “Licor 43”. They had a much better price than our GA stores, so we bought two, as we didn’t see this specialty liqueur in the Bahamas. Licor 43 mixed with milk tastes like a vanilla milkshake…yummy and healthy, too. As we crossed back over Highway 1, we saw a street vendor selling stone crab claws….oh yum, had to have some. His price for in season, already cooked, fresh Florida claws was $10 a pound…we bought 2 lbs! A quick stop at Publix for celery (their stone crabs were $28.99 lb), a little putt putt around “Little North Lake Worth” and we headed back to MTB. Little Lake Worth was a protected small lake, perfect for water skiing. There was actually a wake border being towed around this nice lake. Bummer, he crashed on an attempted 360 turn…..bbbrrr. Our time aboard Last Dance this evening was such a nice diversion. Joining the fun were hosts Mike/Susan; John/Norma (Happy Times, Manta) and Canadian male Doris/2 friends (G’ELROC, little cat). Everyone had boat stories and all of us were headed different places with different schedules. We knew it would be very likely we cross paths sometime, somewhere again with these folks as that is the great part of this nomad cruising life. John and Norma actually bought the only Catamaran we have ever seen at Two Way Fish Camp, where we kept our ski boat two summers prior. Two Way is in between Brunswick & Darien, Ga on the Altamaha River, near our home. It is certainly a small world. West Marine $75.32, crab $20, Publix $3.89, liquor store $53….total for day $152.21.
Sunday, January 24, 2010 – anchored in N. Lake Worth, North Palm Beach, FL. – Geez where did these winds come from? Rocky day aboard again today and this made us have a L. Can’t complain though…as it was warm! Cindy cleaned and organized in the kitchen and salon some this a.m., Ken put the “eyebrow” back in place at the helm. This is a custom fitted, tinted piece of plexiglass that overhangs the instruments, to keep dirt and water from getting in them. It has to be very secure so Ken first dug out the old silicone, cleaned the area and re-installed it with new silicone. The eyebrow was originally removed to reinstall our new engine gauge panels that had been magnetized by the lightening strike. NFL playoff games were this day, final round that determines who would meet in the Super Bowl…so we figured we should see some good football this day. While ashore on Saturday, we bought two pounds of stone crabs off a truck. This day we warmed them in a pan of hot water, and prepared some drawn butter with garlic salt and a little Key Lime juice. Because stone crabs have a rock hard shell, we cracked them before sitting down on the cutting board with a hammer. Man, when we starting eating those claws…Y U M! They were so good, we both were eyeing each other, to make sure neither one of us got ahead on the claw eating count. OMG, two pounds of fresh, pure heaven but gone post haste. All we could do was hope we saw the guy with the truck again! And no, we didn’t share a thing with Miko. Poor Brett Favre couldn’t get Minnesota a “W” to get to the Super Bowl this night….should have run, vs. throwing an interception, negating their opportunity for a field goal for the win.
Monday, January 25, 2010 – North Lake Worth, North Palm Beach, Fl (a.k.a. Palm Beach Gardens) – at anchor. We reserved a car for Wednesday, Thursday. We hope the weather will be settled enough to go to Sarasota for a night, leaving Annie and MTB to fend for themselves. If not, we will sightsee, buy propane, do laundry etc. in anticipation of finally leaving for the Bahamas. Good news this day…our mast actually made it to Tampa from NC and would be to Mack Sails in Stuart later this day or the next. Mack Sails will check it out, do their rigging and the sail cut down tasks. We were to be ready to install, weather permitting, on 02-02-2010 at Cracker Boys Boat Works just south of here in Riviera Beach, Fl. We started to go to shore this day at 12:20 p.m. when it began sprinkling. Ken said he doesn’t mind getting caught in the rain, but he wasn’t leaving in it (a carry over policy from our Harley riding days). So, we waited awhile. The sunglasses he bought at West Marine had a ding in them and Ken wanted to exchange them, and we NEEDED donuts. Funny, some other cruising buds of ours always wrote in their logs about getting tacos, pizza and beer when ashore. We’re all about donuts, ice cream and fresh baked bread. We decided to stop in a Vet’s office we had passed previously to see about getting Miko an updated health certificate. We left Brunswick so long ago, Miko’s paperwork was a few months old and we were concerned the Bahamas authorities wouldn’t accept one prepared in November. Weather finally cleared some so we headed for land. We ran all our errands, including going to a UPS store and arranging to have our mail sent over night from our home UPS box. We walked a long way this day, exploring the area around us some more and trying to give Miko a lot of exercise. What she needed was a dog bark where she could run with abandon. A.m. generator reading was 1995.5. Donuts $4.95.
Tuesday – January 26, 2010 - North Lake Worth, North Palm Beach, Fl (a.k.a. Palm Beach Gardens) – at anchor. A.m. generator reading 1997.6 and donuts for breakfast J. We brushed Miko, cleaned Annie kitty’s room, changed her litter, gave her flea and heartworm meds, and reorganized/picked up the helm desk area…feels good to do some boat jobs. We felt the weather was going to remain settled and began organizing things to take with us (like ALL our dirty laundry) to Sarasota on Wednesday. Tiger’s yacht, PRIVACY, returned to his dock space this day at Old Port Cove Marina.
Wednesday – January 27, 2010 – MTB in North Lake Worth, North Palm Beach, Fl (a.k.a. Palm Beach Gardens) – at anchor, we to Sarasota. We were up early this day as the rental car pick up time was 8:30 a.m. Cindy didn’t want to leave the dinghy cabled to a fence under a bridge, so called Tiger’s marina to see is we could rent a slip for our 10’ dinghy. They agreed and told us to call them when we were approaching the marina. We loaded up all the stuff needed for Miko…crate, toys, food, leashes, treats (worse than packing for a child), our laundry, empty propane tank into the little dinghy and headed for the marina. We called on our phone and they told us to take slip C8. Cindy walked to the car rental place nearby and Ken kept Miko and got a marina cart to get everything off Toby and up to the parking lot which was quite a distance away. Once Cindy had the rental car, she headed to the Marina office to sign in. “Suzy” was there and said they charge $1.75 a foot per night, but less if we were Boat US members, which we were. Then the big question…”so how many fee is your vessel”…..”ah, 10”…..she started laughing and said “forget it”. She gave us the parking pass we needed to go through security and sent us on our way. How nice was that. We knew we’d fill our diesel and water tanks there before leaving so, they will get a little revenue from us. Back to the parking lot, we loaded up, went to the UPS store to get our mail and off to Sarasota. It was about a 3.5 hour drive, through flat country of groves, sod and nursery stock farms on a two lane road. We saw two semi truck drivers trying to kill each other, not to mention folks in oncoming vehicles. An empty flat bed driver was trying to pass a truck loaded with huge palm trees. But on numerous tries, he just never quite made it by the palm tree truck, yet he continued to jump out into the oncoming traffic lane, trying to pass. The lead trucker finally had enough, veered left and ran the other trucker into the oncoming traffic lane. This happened a couple times, twice with oncoming traffic taking to the shoulder. When the trucker wanting to pass even failed to make it by the other truck in the official passing lanes, the lead trucker would squeeze the other guy left even when the passing lane was no longer available. And, the chicken fight continued, nothing either of us had ever witnessed before. Finally in the next city the guy trying to pass got through a light that the other trucker did not. Thank goodness, as it was road rage for sure, truly scary and potentially fatal. We stayed well behind the two crazies as did the semi driver behind us. We arrived in Sarasota at the perfect time, lunch. We called Mom to let her know we would arrive in a few minutes. She called brother Bruce to let him know we were in town. Once we got to her condominium complex, Miko knew where she was, going crazy happy. When we got out of the car, Cindy took Miko around the side for a minute. Mom came outside and was talking to Ken. Miko heard her voice, once again went crazy. Mom fed us, Bruce came over and Miko was so very happy to see and play with her Uncle Bruce. It had been a long time but she sure remembered them both. We did some laundry, yea! Later in the afternoon Bruce headed home to get his pups, Holly and Brandi, and we met up at the great dog park in Sarasota on 17th Street. Mom hadn’t been there before and enjoyed seeing all the pups and people. It is nice when facilities provided by a municipality are well utilized, as this one was. When Nancy was off work, we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Miller’s Ale House, for dinner. There was 7 of us… Bruce/Nancy, us, Mom, nephew Brad with son Spencer. We had a nice time and wonderful, reasonably priced dinners. On the way to take Mom home, we stopped by Troyer’s restaurant/bakery. This is an Amish restaurant that makes the most amazing cinnamon and sticky buns. It would be hard to wait for breakfast! We stayed with Bruce and Nancy, finished our laundry, let the dogs play and had a great night. $3 UPS pickup fee, $48 dinner, total for day $51.
Thursday – January 28, 2010 – MTB and Annie in North Lake Worth, North Palm Beach, Fl (a.k.a. Palm Beach Gardens) – at anchor, us in Sarasota. We got up and going early as planned to meet some friends (2 and 4 leggeds) made last cruising season at Marina Jack Park at 9:00 a.m. Bruce sent the remaining sweet rolls with us to bring back. We picked up Cindy’s Mom, got gas and headed to the Island Park in downtown Sarasota. Joe Peters with his puppy, Pierre joined us. And, a high school buddy of Cindy’s, Lynn Markey Halk, came out to catch up as well. We stayed about an hour, left, filled up MTB’s largest propane tank that had recently emptied, and headed back to Mom’s. Bruce came over and Mom made us another good lunch. And, the Mom gave us our wrapped Christmas present, a beautiful metal French coffee press. This was great as we had already broken one glass one. Thanks Mom. About 1:00 p.m. we headed back to Palm Beach Gardens. We went through the drive through at Bank of America in Okeechobee and Miko smelled dog treats in a container by the teller window, jumping into the Ken’s lap. The spoiled rotten dog got two big Milkbones.We did a quick side trip to see Lake Okeechobee and then, back to the main road. We got back to the marina and took the marina cart that was left at Tiger Wood’s yacht. Ken was funny, “I got Tiger’s cart”. The car was unloaded, returned and we were back to MTB by 5:00 p.m. Luckily, an easy and uneventful trip this day, and no crazy truckers. And, all was well at MTB which was a relief as we had never left her at anchor before. $15 propane, $32.34 gas for rental, $67.50 rental car, total for day $114.84.
Friday – January 29, 2010 - North Lake Worth, North Palm Beach, Fl (a.k.a. Palm Beach Gardens) – at anchor. We enjoyed coffee in our new metal French Press (thanks Mom) and sweet rolls fromTroyers (thanks Bruce) for breakfast. Miko had a 10:00 Vet appointment so we were off to town by 9:30 a.m. this day. The Veterinary clinic (Town and Country) staff took good care of us, getting our paperwork done. Miko was 17 lbs 4 oz. full grown. They gave us 10 days antibiotics as a precaution since Miko acted like she had a sore throat and had been coughing a little. After the Vet visit, we went to an eyeglass place to get replacement nose pieces for Ken’s sunglasses. Cindy went to Home Goods and bought new rugs for the bathroom. On the way back to the dinghy (locked under a bridge!), we saw John/Norma, friend Beth, ashore at Publix and they invited us to join them aboard Happy Times on Saturday evening. Oh boy…a date to look forward to. We were back onboard by lunch. This night, there was a full moon and later in the evening, we heard Miko growling outside, even a bark or two which truly never happens. Come to find out, the moon was shining on the “holiday hull” (see January 19th!) and she could barely see the Christmas tree outline. We think she thought it was a person and they were a threat to her home/family. This was only the second time she had done this. The first time, we were in a marina, late at night some kids who did not belong there were hanging around our dock. Miko let us know. Home Goods, $18.07, eyeglasses $8, Vet $94, day total $120.07.
Saturday, January 30, 2010 - North Lake Worth, North Palm Beach, Fl (a.k.a. Palm Beach Gardens) – at anchor. A.m. generator 2003.2. 72 degrees at 8:00 a.m. but snowing in our old home, Greenville, SC. Cindy made buffalo chicken dip to take to Happy Times for happy hour. Weather was to be more unsettled than actuality, so we were glad that we would be able to dinghy over to our new friends’ boat. We played with Miko, read, played on the computer this lazy day. We joined John/Norma and Beth on Happy Times, as well as Webb and Brenda from monohull named Plan B, at 5:00 p.m. It was a really nice evening. John/Norma have “Bailey” aboard… rag doll cat, a beautiful kitty. We really enjoyed our time with all these nice folks. Its all the good people we meet along our journey that make this cruising life extra special.
Sunday, January 31, 2010 - North Lake Worth, North Palm Beach, Fl (a.k.a. Palm Beach Gardens) – at anchor. Am generator 2003.3. Gray and overcast, supposed to rain this day but nothing by lunch when it was 71 degrees. We had to run the generator this a.m. so also fired up the watermaker. Tiger’s yacht, PRIVACY, pulled out once again today…who knows where they go. This is certainly a busy boating area with lots of comings and goings that are fun to watch and provide entertainment. It wasn’t a good shore day, so we stayed aboard. Miko was a little bored, though. PRIVACY came back later in the day and we weren’t sure what they had been up to or where they went. Maybe they were doing sea trials with prospective buyers. The crew is a handsome one, with every individual dressed in khaki pants or shorts, white shirts and navy blue v-neck sweaters. They look very sharp and professional coming in and scurrying about handling lines, bumpers, etc. The captain docks that yacht in her slip as easily as we pull our dinghy up to a seawall. And, within minutes the lettering on both sides, as well as her stern is covered up and ”Privacy” becomes a stealth boat.
Monday, February 01, 2010 – OMG, another month, where does the time go?! Anchored in N. Lake Worth, North Palm Beach, FL (a.k.a. Palm Beach Gardens). Am generator reading 2006.8. RAIN RAIN RAIN…a totally socked in day, this one. When we woke up, it was gray and raining and by lunchtime, it was still the same. Since the forecast for Tuesday was more of the same (might know!) Ken called Mack Sails to see if they wanted to delay our mast install until Wednesday. Colin Mack checked with Cracker Boy Boat Works, they could handle a schedule change, and we all felt a day’s delay was the safety conscious thing to do. A slippery, wet mast hanging over one’s boat from a crane would be a little scary. And having wet tools, wet decks, wet hands and wet feet trying to do the install would not afford an optimum safety situation. So, here we are in February and still no mast. Come on Wednesday!
Tuesday, February 02, 2010 – Anchored in N. Lake Worth, North Palm Beach Fl, (a.k.a. Palm Beach Gardens) – Well, the forecast was 60% chance of rain and afternoon thunderstorms. Well, we woke up to blue skies and sunshine. Isn’t that par for the course? Too funny. Well, we went to shore and stocked up on Dunkin Donuts $5.99, went to Publix for the things that are hard to find in the Bahamas, cereal that is fresh, meat that hasn’t been frozen for months, etc. $130. We got back to MTB and reorganized the freezer, put up the dinghy, called Cindy’s Mom and then enjoyed our happy hour toddies. It rained just a little a few times this day, never a thundershower. Geez. We could have had our mast installed today but, NOT. Oh well. We had an email from our good friend Terry, tried calling him this day, but didn’t connect on the mobile nor at their house. Miko was so happy to be outside, just hanging out on the decks makes her so happy. She loves it when she can sit up top and watch the world around her.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010 – A MOMENTOUS DAY!! We finally were anchor up at 9:30 am, and departed North Lake Worth. We went straight in and filled up our diesel and water tanks at Old Port Cove Marina, where Tiger Woods keeps his yacht….we run with the big dogs, huh?! We had to do a 360 pivot inside the marina to be able to approach with the diesel dock on our starboard side and winds were high, from the north. Capt. Ken did a masterful job and we made it in very easily. From there, we headed south and arrived at Cracker Boys Boat Works in Riviera Beach at slack high tide, 11:15 a.m. The CBBW and Mack Sails guys helped us with our lines and help guide us up into the (cement on both sides slip) narrow slip. Soon as we were tied up, Colin Mack and his guys Richard and Jay jumped aboard and started working. A crane moved into position and began working toward “stepping” our new mast. It really was great to see MTB looking once again like a real sailing vessel. We sat on the deck at the office and Miko greeted everyone. We met and talked with a nice new boater named Jeff who just bought a 75’ Sunchaser named Catalyst. Once the mast was secure aboard, we pulled back out of the boat works yard slip (fast current, high north winds) and moved over to a face dock at Riviera Municipal marina. The Mack Sails guys came back aboard and did a couple of more hours on the rigging, wiring, leaving about 4:00 p.m. Man, a stressful day with.three dockings, two un-dockings, all in pretty strong winds. Captain Ken did a wonderful job and none of Meant To Be’s fiberglass was left anywhere….no scrapes, no scratches. We found a nice little city park with wonderful, brand new sod. Miko HATES sandspurs here in FL and will not walk in any grass that looks like it may POSSIBLY have spurs in it. She loved the beautiful sod and ran with abandon, in circles, from the end of her long leash…a very happy girl. We had a great time talking to friend Terry Schager this day, nice to catch up. Miko stayed home and we went to the marina’s Tiki bar this evening to unwind and celebrate a successful day. $52 dinner, $245.98 diesel, $20 tip, $63.50 plus tax at marina, $381.48 for the day. Port engine 35.8, s/b engine 47.3 hours, 4 miles this day.
Thursday, February 04, 2010 - Riviera Municipal Marina, Riviera Beach, FL. Miko rarely fusses or barks, but this morning she was whining. We decided she wanted to go visit her pretty sod in the nearby park. So, after coffee and donuts, we went for a walk and that was indeed the deal. We ran around in the open sod with Miko and she was happy, running a typical Sheba 500. Once back to the boat, she was her chilled out self. We heard from Colin Mack, Mack Sails, about 9:45 am that his guys would be to MTB soon…Richard, Jay for rigging/sail work, and John for wiring back our electronics. In their shop in Stuart, this day they would cut down and repair our main sail, so we figured it would be Friday before everything was finished. So, we planned that Saturday we would either be headed to the Bahamas if weather permitted or if not, to the S. Lake Worth anchorage positioned in the ICW between Palm Beach and West Palm Beach. In the a.m. we watched a monohull sailboat CRASH into the gas dock of the marina. It made a heck of a noise and we hoped they hadn’t done much damage to their boat. We noted their name, as these are the type of cruisers we try to stay away from down the road! The Mack Sails guys arrived aboard about 11:30 a.m. John got straight to work hooking back all the electronics removed with the old mast.….radar, lights, antennas, etc. Jay / Richard began the day trying to install our front jib sail, only to find out that the auto furler they installed on Wednesday had been re-assembled at their shop improperly, with its mid section upside down. So, all the prior day’s work done was un-done, moving the auto furler to the dock, repairing, then re-installing it with its rigging, once again. They successfully installed our new mainsail cradle cover we had just purchased from Doyle in Barbados and it looked great. Then, Richard/Jay found that the shop had not properly finished work needed on cutting down our main sail. They forgot to re-sew the ends of the batten pockets. So, our sail/rigging guys had a very frustrating workday, dealing with things not properly handled by their co-workers. Although, John got everything wired as needed, with no issues, so he had a good day. The guys loaded the mainsail back up in the dock cart and headed out, very apologetically. They told us the shop would work late this night to properly finish the sail and they would be back Friday a.m. We went to the Tiki Bar for happy hour this night and enjoyed some great chicken nachos and a couple rum drinks, ($19). The winds/seas were building and this night was a good night to be in a marina, so it worked out fine that we were still tied up. A word or two about the marina….well it was old, with fixed docks with splintered pilings vs. floating docks; the water connection was an antique and rusted; we had to guess which electrical hookup to use because the marina guy bolted as soon as we tied the first line. We were on the outside face dock of the marina, getting the full brunt of all the ICW traffic speeding by. The docks didn’t seem to have good places for catamarans. The office workers were not friendly at all; the showers had pealing paint and mold everywhere, etc. The TIKI Bar has live music until 11:00 p.m. every night which wouldn’t be bad except for competing against blaring radios from boats around us. All this and their rate was MORE than the beautiful, wonderful Old Port Cove Marina (Tiger’s yacht there) where we left our dinghy for a couple days and got fuel. OPCM had great folks and facilities, go figure. But, RMM was the easiest/closest place to go after the mast was stepped (put on) at Cracker Boys Boat Yard. We may go into RMM for fuel sometime, but that would be all. Guess we’re just not marina people! $19 + $70 = $89 day.
Friday, February 05, 2010 – Riviera Municipal Marina, Riviera Beach, FL. The morning was noisy, gray and high south wind was hitting our stern. In the early a.m. hours, we got up to check lines and fenders because they often need adjustments on these old, fixed docks when tide/winds shift. Since it hadn’t been a very restful morning, we decided to make pancakes and sausage this am …a treat on a rough a.m. Breakfast was followed by taking Miko to walk on her good sod grass at the nearby park. She was a happy girl, especially saying hello to everyone she encountered along the way. We stopped by the marina office and paid for yet another (Friday) night in the marina. We went back to the boat as we wanted to keep an eye on the fenders that were keeping us off pilings, not in the best condition, full of splinters… that could do serious damage to our hulls. A monohull in the slip across from us was scrapping against the rough piling in its slip, but one hesitates messing with another vessel due to potential liability. Although, it sure is hard to see bad things happen to a nice sailboat only because its owners didn’t do the right things. The Mack Sails guys arrived at MTB around noon and went back to work re-installing our mainsail. The winds were still high and the weather was not the best for their work, so we were very appreciative just to know we had them aboard, working to get us finished. Thanks Jay and Richard! The weather was to be bad for the upcoming week and Saturday may be the only possible opportunity left for a Bahamas crossing. We had to decide what to do in the a.m. After the Mack guys left, we took Miko and walked north on Hwy 1 to a couple Marina supplies stores. We only bought a dinghy fuel filter $8 and a light bulb $7 for our dinghy red/green running light….yeah, got off cheap. After our walk we took Miko back and put her in her crate. We headed back to the Tiki Bar for an appetizer, a drink and mingling with the locals $30, $70 marina $115 day.
Saturday, February 6 and Sunday, February 7, 2010 – Departed Riviera Beach Marina, Lake Worth Inlet, Fl – We got up, took Miko for a walk, returned the marina security gate key to get back our $50 DEPOSIT, and prepared to leave the marina by their check out time of 11:00 a.m. We weren’t 100% sure where we were headed, but sent a last minute email to family and friends just in case we might try a crossing to the Bahamas. The skies were weird with little windy bursts of squally weather, followed by pretty blue skies. We did a little last minute business online and prepared to cast off our lines. In all fairness, a really nice guy from the RMM fuel dock came down to help us with our lines to get us off the dock. He was very helpful, great guy. We were off the dock by 10:15 a.m. We decided to stick our nose out into the Atlantic. We figured we could test the new mast, equipment, rigging, etc. and then go back into the anchorage if it didn’t look good for a crossing. We just knew we wanted out of the Marina. So, once out of the inlet, the seas looked fine and the sky was blue. The forecast was for west winds around 20 and we knew they would give us a great push east to the islands. Up the new mast went our sail and off we headed. All was good for a little while but winds and seas were building and we started seeing a consistent 25-30 on the wind indicator…not good. Soon as we saw the winds building, we put two reefs in the jib but it still felt like we had out too much sail. We decided to pull the front sail in completely. We started up the engines to help give us more control over our direction as our autopilot was having a hard time dealing with the stern pushes we were getting from the swells. As a result, Ken was manually steering to assure we wouldn’t get hit broad side and have an unintentional jibe (boom/sail flopping over to the opposite side of the boat). This was getting very tiring for Ken, so during a mini lull (20-22 knots) around 4:00 p.m., Cindy went out to reef the mainsail, planning to bring it down to the second reef (partially down). We thought that leaving some sail up may provide a little stability with our direction as we cresting the now 8-10’ waves. This plan didn’t work, as too much of the halyard fed out and the main sail flopped out over the port side of the new cradle cover. It was not coming down. So, Cindy sat down on the deck, held on tight as Ken pulled MTB around facing into the wind (and swells) to see if the sail would come back to the middle of the cradle cover, allowing Cindy to drop it all the way. This was a great plan, the sail centered, Cindy unlatched the halyard cleat and the full sail came down just fine in seconds. Ken got MTB headed back the right direction with no trouble at all and the autopilot was holding fine. With the two engines running and no sails, we were riding fine with fewer worries, getting a nice push helping our engines/speed. We were doing an overnight trip and it was a much more pleasant ride with the sails down. Although, we were glad it got dark quickly, as we knew the waves behind us got really, really high. Good thing we really couldn’t see them well…didn’t want to know. We did see one bounce our dinghy up off the davits so hard, the dinghy actually was nose up, looking like it could easily stand upright and go straight down, off MTB. Ken tethered off on the back and tightened the dinghy’s bow strap and felt it would be fine. The stern of the dinghy actually was wedged up against the handrail that goes down the sugar scoops (steps), so we knew that would help keep her in position, as well. It is funny how you think of things, too late. We both wondered why we hadn’t run the tie down straps through the handles on the dinghy, as that would have stopped any motion, side to side. And, we thought, we should have the dinghy’s bow rope run over to a starboard side cleat on MTB so if a wave rocked her on the davits again, the rope would tighten and not allow any side-to-side movement. Ah, the things we learn from our mistakes! We decided to do two hour on, two off watches through the night. Miko stayed in her crate this whole night, didn’t budge, fuss or whimper. We guessed she instinctively knew that we needed to pay attention and she should be a good dog. She was truly amazing. During our watches this night, we both really had to stay alert once we got the Northwest Channel/Freeport area. We were on a course well south of Freeport, but there were cruise ships, private vessels and commercial container ships everywhere, going every which way. Although, once by Freeport, we saw fewer and fewer blips on our radar, which was nice. The highest wind reading we had on our instruments was 38.4 through this trip and we guessed the seas built through the night to 10-12’. That sounds scary, but because of a long interval in between each crest, the ride was surprisingly smooth. The push they gave us made for a fast trip to our destination, Great Harbor Cay, in the north portion of the Berry Island chain. The Berry Islands are a string of small, very sparsely inhabited spits of islands about 70 miles long that are positioned mostly North to South, about 50 miles above New Providence Island (Nassau). We arrived around 7 a.m. and pulled into our anchorage…one of the best places we have seen in the Bahamas. We stopped here on the way home in 2008 for a night with friend Terry aboard. Though there was not much protection in this bay, it certainly was nothing like the seas we had been through, so it seemed peaceful to us. We had the anchor down by around 8 a.m. and put up our yellow quarantine flag. Sadly, Ken lost a favorite hat from Marina Jack in Sarasota when he went out to do the flag. Cindy tried for the boat hook but couldn’t get it down quick enough to hook it. We couldn’t clear Customs/Immigration until Monday when the office at the airport opened. Of course, once anchored safely, we slept on and off throughout the whole day. Cindy sent a few folks a text message to let them know we were safe. It was Super Bowl Sunday, and we both stayed wake long enough to see the Super Bowl halftime show, the onside kick to start the 3rd quarter….and nothing after that. We had to get up and check the news to see that New Orleans had won! 137 nautical miles this overnight trip.
Monday, February 08, 2010 – Great Harbour Cay, Berry Islands, Bahamas – at anchor. Ah, what a difference a day makes. This a.m. we woke up in the middle of the most spectacular aqua blue water, looking over to a 7 mile wide white sandy beach with blue skies overhead. Ken turned on the SSB radio and dialed in the Caribbean Weather Channel to listen to Chris Parker’s weather report. Man, cold front, cold front, cold front….everyone seemed to be hunkered down. Is sounded as if we may be staying in Great Harbour a few days. Though we had very little protection from bad weather in this anchorage, we had lots of open water around us, pretty good holding, no other boats to worry about, a great anchor and extra anchor chain out. So, we hoped we’d ride through the next bad weather on Tuesday afternoon/night just fine. After breakfast, Cindy made copies of the documents needed to clear Customs/Immigration at the airport here. The Captain is the only individual allowed to go into the office. So, Miko and Cindy had to stay aboard while Ken took the dinghy and all our paperwork to shore for the airport. Miko did not like her PPoppy leaving her and Cindy thought for a second she might jump to go after him. By 11:15 a.m., Cindy saw Ken heading back in the dinghy to MTB. Typically, vessels go to the marina and Customs/Immigration officers go there to clear in cruisers. Ken walked to their airport office, which was nearby. They wanted to know why he hadn’t gone into the Marina and Capt Ken explained the high winds, low tide and early arrival time didn’t allow us to. They finally decided that was reasonable and did the paperwork for us, took our $300 fee, giving us an approved visit of 120 days. So, that was a great welcome to the Bahamas and we were happy that we were all legal. We raised the Bahamian courtesy flag in place of the quarantine flag and that of course was a photo op! The “rules” are very specific about flags and when and where they are to be raised. The “q” flag and the courtesy flags are to be raised on the starboard side, to the “spreader” which is a bracket off the main mast. Cindy picked up, cleaned up and did the dishes while Ken was away doing our check in. So, it was time to go have fun. We went to the Beach Club for lunch $31, walked around the airport, checking out the liquor store and walked several miles down the idyllic beach that borders this bay anchorage. We kept our eyes pealed for Ken’s errant Marina Jack hat…but no luck. Miko found a dried dead snake that entertained her for a very short time until Ken realized it wasn’t a stick. She smiled the whole way, running, digging in the sand ...yep, she’s a Bahamas girl for sure. Back to MTB, we relaxed and enjoyed our beautiful, beautiful surroundings. The color of this water is just impossible to fathom, and incredibly hard to explain… it is just totally gorgeous. We did let out about 25 more feet of rode (anchor chain) anticipating higher winds and another cold front coming our way.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010 – Great Harbour Cay, northern Berry Islands, Bahamas – at anchor. Well, we are back to the routine of getting up at 6:30 a.m. to catch the weather forecast….and we thought we were retired! Wish we hadn’t heard the weather report this morning. Today’s cold front was to bring sustained winds of 25-30 today/overnight, with squalls gusting 40-50 knots from the south. Then, on Wednesday, still high winds, but moving to the N/Nwest. The only day to move this week would be Thursday as Friday the next cold front would be coming through. The forecaster, Chris Parker, felt that this weather pattern of back to back fronts was probably going to continue all through February…oh boy. But, he reminded everyone that the mid Atlantic states were getting pounded with snow. Yep, all we had to do was pick a destination that would get us to a protected anchorage on Thursday, in one day of travel. This morning and afternoon were pleasant, blue skies and warm, but we knew the winds were building. By 1:00 p.m. we were seeing South winds of 15-20 with gusts to 22-24 and more white caps around us. There was some protection in this bay from the South, but not what one would like. Again, with a good boat, good crew, good anchor, no other boats nearby, and common sense, we figured we’d be just fine. We decided to put Toby the dinghy up, as it would just be bouncing and making noise for two days. And, we were pretty sure there would be no more going to shore before our planned departure on Thursday. From the anchorage, we saw a lot of boats going south along the east side of the Berry Island chain. It is fun to get out the binoculars, watching and hoping these other vessels keep on going. And, once we know they are going by the entrance to OUR anchorage, we get all excited. In this type of weather, it is nice to be the only boat in an anchorage as there is so much less to worry about, if one drags anchor. Guess we just don’t “play well with others”. We are thinking we have become hermits…we love being out here by ourselves in these wonderful little places. Though, we do also really enjoy happy hours on our boat and those of others, meeting cruisers and making new friends from all over the world, wherever we happen to be that day. Some boat jobs were done today! Ken wire seized the mainsail and jib shackles (added loops of wire that restrict their pins from inadvertently pulling out) and fine-tuned the jib’s auto furler so it would wrap up properly when being brought in. The Mack Sail guys didn’t leave enough line to allow the jib to wrap around itself all the way. Ken also installed the new bulb we finally found in Riviera Beach for our red/green running light used on the dinghy. One of our teak floor insets that cover our starboard hallway had developed a bad and irritating SQUEEK. So, Cindy took it out, cleaned the wood piece and the fiberglass lip it fits down into. Then she ran bar soap all around the edges of the wood piece, set it back in and VOILA, no more squeak! Well, a productive afternoon this one. Cindy spent some time researching routes and anchorages to decide just where ole MTB would head when the next good travel opportunity (probably Thursday) presented its self. No phone, no WIFI, no Internet, no email, no Facebook, no Classmates.com, and the SSB (Single Side Band Radio or “Ham”) email system was not working properly. We were totally out of touch these past few days, which worries us if there was an emergency with our families, etc. So, with no other outlet, it seems these log entries get more and more lengthy. Seems writing them is a way of talking to “SOMEONE”…while sitting out here on MTB. There are times when days go by that just Ken, Cindy and the animals interact with only one another…not another soul in the world. About 4:30 p.m. this day Miko got her crazies on…she was bored and wanted to play…started talking to Ken to tell him so. The Shiba Inu breed doesn’t bark, but they speak a funny language all their own. It is an “excuse me” shrill yelp that certainly gets your attention. She does the same thing when her food or water bowl is empty….she tells us about it! Later in the evening, Ken decided to try moving our SSB (Ham) radio antenna away from the new mast rigging to see if he could get any better propagation (signal) that would allow MTB to receive emails. YEAH, it worked…once again, communication via email. This was a relief of a major concern. So, we were good again. Winds were to be upwards of 40 this night and Ken/Cindy were ready for a tough night. But, they went down to the owner’s berth about 10:30 and slept like babies all night. The wind was howling some, but all was just fine. Two years ago, MTB’s crew would have stayed up in the salon, had all the instruments on and probably not slept at all. It is nice to gain confidence in one’s vessel and anchoring performance!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010 – Great Harbour Cay, northern Berry Islands, Bahamas – Well, Tuesday night was great, and this a.m. not as bad as forecast. The winds had clocked around to N/NW where MTB had less protection so it was a much bumpier anchorage this day. Although, it was a blue sky, blue water day with sunshine all around. So, even though the anchorage had white caps as winds gusted around 25 knots, it was ok. Cindy re-organized (again) the freezer this morning. The freezer is a big and deep box. Cindy has to stick her head down into it, with her feet up in the air and “dumpster dive” to find food. This day’s idea was to put two recyclable fabric green bags on the bottom, sorting the meat types into each. So, chicken, ham, sausage went into the one on the left. And, the steak, burger, pork went in the one on the right. Then, all the miscellaneous stuff went on top….frozen veggies, breads, lunch meats, bacon, etc. as these are lighter and easier to move around. So, Cindy would see how this plan worked! No fish was brought along with MTB from the States as Cindy/Ken hoped to catch some along the way. If a dolphin (Mahi Mahi) fish was caught, Cindy didn’t know where it would go. Guess Ken’s precious ice cubes would lose out. It was a HOT shower morning as the generator ran a long time the night before. Man, a HOT shower is such a treat out here, one of those little things in this life that cruisers know to appreciate.
Thursday, February 11, 2010 – had plans to depart Great Harbour Cay at first light, about 7:00 a.m. for a long trip down to Royal Island on the western most tip of northern Eleuthera. This island has a wonderful protected harbor and with another bad cold front expected Friday night, the crew of MTB decided it would be the right place to head. The total distance was approximately 70 nms so it would be a long day. This island was being developed when MTB visited in 2008. One of the principals in the project was football great, Roger Staubach. But, work has since halted. But sadly, backhoes were used to cut preview “roads” through the island’s beautiful vegetation and stripped a major portion of the land to highlight where tees/fairways were planned for the Jack Nicklaus designed golf course. This is just another instance of destruction to a pristine island in the name of development, with nothing coming to fruition. The same situation was observed on many other islands during MTBs 2008 visit. If these projects did happen, it could help the local economy, generating jobs for the Bahamians. But, so often this government commits dollars to infrastructure, etc. and then sadly for the locals, nothing happens. There are ruins on this island, remnants of a castle like home. It is interesting to walk around and imagine the place in its glory. But, we digress….in the wee hours of Thursday morning, when Ken had stirred, Cindy asked that obligatory question….”are you awake?”. Of course he was, he had just turned over. It was at that time Cindy said she was second-guessing the decision to go to Royal Island to hunker down for the next cold front. The holding there is not the best, and the small harbor may be crowded. So, it may make sense to stay put where we knew we had good holding, had some south protection and NO other boats to worry about. So, at first light, after listening to the weather forecasts, the crew waffled back and forth. Finally it was decided that if there was this much indecision, then the thing to do was to stay put and ride the bad cold front out in Great Harbour Cay. The day was spent aboard.
Friday, February 12, 2010 – This was a sad day, as last year on this day, Cindy’s family lost their Dad to complications of Alzheimer’s. It was hard for Cindy being out of communication’s reach knowing that it would be a difficult day for her Mom. The (“worst LO to go through the Bahamas in 10 years of forecasting”) storm was to start whipping things up around midday, so when the anchorage was flat as a fritter in the a.m., we took the opportunity to go to shore. The dinghy was down quickly and the 2 and 4-legged members of the MTB crew were on shore by 7:30 a.m…even before coffee, bummer. This day’s walk was north on the beach to the furthest tip that could be seen from MTB. There was one condo complex with about 6-8 units and a handful of beach homes along the way. Each was painted in the fun colors of the Bahamas…yellow with aqua shutters; white with periwinkle trim; lime with periwinkle; pink with white…you name it. Each was quaint and inviting…nothing like the cement monstrosities of South Florida. A few shells were picked up and a big “puffy” sand dollar. On the way back to the dinghy, we decided that breakfast at the Beach Club would be a treat. So, after picking a table on the veranda and nods to all the local business folks there having their breakfasts, we waited…. and waited…and waited. The Bahamians at the counter were being served French Toast and other yummy looking treats, the bacon smelled great. We try to avoid being type A personality Americans, being patient and adhering to “island time”. Finally the waitress came over and said that they were out of propane, no grill, but we were offered anchovies, tuna or bacon cooked in the deep fryer. With none of the options sounding that great, the waitress was thanked and the crew of MTB went back to their vessel for a proper breakfast. The walk this a.m. was 1.7 miles each way, so just over three miles of exercise for all of us which was good knowing we would have to stay aboard the rest of this day and all day Saturday. The front was to start picking the winds up at by noon and then by midnight, be sustained 25-30 knots gusting 40-50 in rain and thunder squalls, oh fun. So, by going to shore early in the morning, we enjoyed the proverbial lull before the storm. By early evening, as forecast, the wind was raging, seas building and we had pounding rain. Cindy made a Key Lime pie to occupy her mind. There was lightening all around that whitened the entire sky. We ran the generator and watched the opening ceremony of the Olympic games. Noise helps muffle the storm so it does not sound so bad. At midnight we finally went to bed, but at 2:00 a.m. the crashing seas and raging winds woke Cindy. She went up to the salon and spent the rest of the night on the sofa so not to disturb Ken and Miko. Luckily, MTB made it through the night of high winds and swells without incident.
Saturday, February 13, 2010 – Great Harbour Cay, Berry Island chain, Bahamas. After nights like the previous, daylight is always so welcome to us. We wake up feeling like “we survived”! Even though the day’s winds were still gusting to 28 knots and the waves kept rolling in all day, we were glad that things hadn’t been worse over the past night. We made it through yet another cold front, but three back to back had become tedious and we had only been in the Bahamas for a week. Squally weather and dark clouds continued the whole day. It was still so rough, Miko was not allowed to run around free, rather had on her tether. Basically, it was a read and eat day…that’s all we did.
Sunday, February 14, 2010 – Valentines Day – a nice a.m. – Departed Great Harbour Cay, Berry Island Chain, Bahamas, anchor up at 7:30 a.m. Once again….the forecast was for 20-25 knot winds from the north and 6-8 swells. We knew it would be behind us, pushing so had no problem with the forecast. Well, the swells/waves were about 2-4’ with winds of 5-7. We pulled up the mainsail in the harbor before ducking out. But, after awhile decided it was of no use and we would just have to motor. We arrived into the Nassau area around 4:30 p.m. Nassau is a town on the island of New Providence. Before we began cruising, if you asked, we probably would have responded that Nassau was the name of the island. But, it is not. New Providence is surrounded by other island/cays. Paradise, Athol, Spruce, Rose, Salt….etc. But, we digress. On arrival in the area, we headed for our first choice anchorage, south side of Salt Cay, mid island with a direct view to Atlantis on Paradise Island. We hadn’t been into that anchorage before, so in that instance, we always have a second choice if the first doesn’t turn out to be acceptable to us…i.e. holding, winds, seas, other vessels. Well, we got there and the bottom was beautiful sand, no rocks, no coral, no grass, no other boats, and the anchor went in and held tight, first try. The view toward Paradise Island/Atlantis/Nassau was amazing…a good choice. Cindy called her Mom as a year ago this day was her Dad’s funeral so she knew it was a tough day, as it was for Cindy. At 8:00 p.m. we felt a “thud” reverberate through our hulls…at first thinking something had bumped us. . But, instantly we realized they were shooting fireworks off the beach at Atlantis….now, that was a cool welcome, and what a seat we had. We had NASCAR / Daytona and the Olympics this eve to watch. Spent –0- this day. Port engine p.m. reading 75.1; starboard 62.9 and the a.m. generator reading was 2022.5.
Monday February 15, 2010 – Departed Salt Cay/Nassua area with anchor up at 7:30 a.m. It is always harder to leave a beautiful peaceful place, but we said “goodbye” and headed south. The skies and water were an amazing aqua and we just reveled in the natural beauty of the area. We crossed over to the Exuma Island chain, south and east from Nassau, across to reefs, Yellow Bank and White Bank, without incident. We sailed for awhile and it was so great…finally to be moving without the motor. But, mid day, the winds died some and we pulled in the front jib, motor sailed with the main up. About 3:00 p.m. we arrived at the waypoint that signaled our turn to the east, for the anchorage on the southeast side of Norman’s Cay. We’ve anchored at Normans Cay several times, but always on the southwest shore in nice sand. The eastern anchorage is more challenging, small, usually crowded, coral, grass….every issue one doesn’t hope to deal with while anchoring. A trawler, two cats and a monohull were making the approach ahead of us, so we took down our sail and just putted in, to allow them all to get anchored. Once we were in….it was slim pickings for goods holes for our anchor. The first attempt put the anchor in sand/grass. We rarely do well in that situation, and no, we didn’t hold. So we pulled up and moved along to another spot. This time the anchor held just fine in a nice sandy spot, though Cindy was concerned about a nearby sandbar. With the winds forecast to shift around, we knew we could go aground on it. So, up anchor and we moved to the next spot. Dropped the anchor once again and held great. Cindy once again buttoned up the hatches, got back to the cockpit to see our depth at .10’ under the hulls….meaning about 6 inches and it wasn’t full low tide yet. So, after grumbling a few expletives under her breath, Cindy once again pulled up the anchor and looked for a new spot with more depth. She dropped the anchor in a small, clear blue hole…no grass, no rock and crossed her fingers. Ken pulled on the throttles and we were hung. We had plenty of depth, no nearby sandbars and were holding. Finally… fourth try was the charm! We’ve never had that hard of a time getting anchored. We figured we were certainly offered the other cruisers in the anchorage something to talk about, being sure they thought we were rank amateurs. Oh well. Shortly after anchoring a dinghy came by after they had visited the submerged plane near where were anchored. We invited them aboard and had cocktails. Pat and Aline Little, were from Alberta, Canada and aboard Ken’s dream vessel, the Lagoon 440 catamaran, named Miss Kitty. We chatted and enjoyed the sunset, company, snacks and cocktails, with them heading “home” around 8:30 p.m. We heated up some leftovers and hoped our anchor held in the 20-25 knots winds that were to accompany yet another cold front coming through this evening. P.M. starboard engine reading 68.9; port 77.9, a.m. generator 2022.9 and spent $-0- this day. HAPPY B IRTHDAY to Ken’s sister, GAYLE!!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010 – Norman’s Cay, Exuma Islands, Bahamas – at anchor, southeast basin, in the channel, overlooking Wax Cay. It was cloudy, drizzling and gray this day. We were bummed out, but prepared to drop the dinghy anyway. The local restaurant, formerly McDuff’s is now the Beach Club and a really nice little place. We couldn’t go there on arrival, as they aren’t open on Mondays. So, we figured it would be good to get in there this day. This island has a dock, a couple cottages that are rentals, a landing strip and some old ruins of the headquarters of a drug king pin that ruled here a number of years ago. He was infiltrated by Feds, ratted out and things changed. But, before his arrest, a few cruisers were murdered. The ruins still have evidence of bullet holes! Around the dock, one sees sharks and rays milling around, so careful swimming/snorkeling here. The wind calmed by noon so it was time to take poor Miko to shore and get her a walk. She also loves digging holes on white sandy beaches. She really misbehaved when Pat and Aline came aboard, going slightly crazy at finally seeing someone other than us, so she needed exercise. Wax Cay was off our bow and we heard that the little cottages there were built from Polynesian style logs, carved and brought from Bali. There looked to be around 20 cottages, each with a cement dock in front, a really pretty neat looking place. During the morning, so many boats started arriving, we were amazed. A humongous navy colored German catamaran came and anchored in front of us…it was navy blue and SOOO wide. Its sugar scoops (back steps) had “lids” that actually were hinged at the bottom and closed up against the steps, enclosing the scoops/steps completely. This resulted in the back looking like two normal monohulls, just attached in the middle. We guessed this kept water from sloshing into the stairs while underway, maybe helping their performance…but we’d never seen the design before. We weren’t sure what happened when they were released and let down, once at anchor and using their dinghy. We hoped we’d get to see. Although, they had to move, re-anchor during the day, went out further beyond us to deeper water. Boats just kept arriving all day, and it was getting crowded in the anchorage. We went to shore around noon, lunch at the Beach Club/McDuff’s, which was so good. Miko played with owner Stephan’s dogs: Lab “Salt” and Chihuahua, “Pepper”… she was very happy. We walked the beach and some back roads before heading back to MTB for Olympics by 3:00 p.m. By dinnertime, there were 13 monohulls, 2 trawlers and 6 sailing catamarans, us included. No change on engines, a.m. generator same as previous day, spent $54 for lunch.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010 – departed Norman’s Cay, to the west into the waters between Andros and the Exumas (The Exumas Bank). The anchor was up at 8:10 a.m. As we pulled out of the anchorage, we said bye to Pat and Aline who were both outside on Miss Kitty as we passed. They were going to go to Pipe or Cambridge Cay this day. We knew we would catch up with them going south for sure. The wind was directly behind us, which wasn’t conducive to sailing this ole vessel. And, it was 15 knots, gusting to 25 so we did put out the jib, running one motor. The waves/chop were causing a lot of folks to reconsider where they were heading, or to decide to move from their current anchorage to somewhere else. There were so many folks out and about this day, the VHF radio was almost annoying. Cruisers were calling each other, marinas, the Exumas Park to reserve mooring balls, etc. All of the yak, yak, yak made us long for the peaceful northern Berry Islands, where we were the only boat around. Everyone seems to travel in two’s and threes around here. So many Captains we hear on the radio don’t have any confidence in their decisions until they get validation from their travel buddy(ies). We turned into the channel toward the entrance of Sampson Cay Marina. The sole purpose for the visit to this location was to buy gasoline for our dinghy. Somehow we failed to fill it while in Florida, a rookie mistake made by us. Though it was rough, we anchored outside the entrance channel for the marina as the inside basin was crowded with sailboats, and small. The sky was brilliant and reflected the amazing turquoise water, making a beautiful scene. Though, it was surprisingly cool, (high 60s) most of the afternoon. With much of the US having a miserably cold winter, we sure couldn’t complain. We heard on the radio this morning that a “tender” (ah, 47’ long dinghy) from a yacht named Man of Steal hit a reef on the way back to their boat overnight. Evidently, alcohol was involved and there were 8 folks injured and medi-vac’d out of Staniel Cay, just south of our anchorage at Sampson Cay. It is sad when we hear of stories such as these…folks out to have fun, but at the expense of common sense. We hoped the winds and seas would calm during the evening to make our anchorage that much more pleasant. The am generator was 2025.6; pm port engine 74.4 hours, s/b hours 79.3. $00 spent.
Thursday, February 18, 2010 – 66 degrees in the a.m. It was still rough, but we jumped on the dinghy about 9:30 a.m. and went into the beautiful Sampson Cay Marina. Ken took the gas can to be filled $20, and Cindy walked Miko. This is an amazingly beautiful place, peaceful, historic. Though a new addition is “littering” their more northern skyline…a bunch of windmills had been installed, but not yet operable. Miko met “Cruiser”, a 9 year old terrier who’s Mom told Cindy he 30,000 sailing miles under his paws. A loaf of wheat Bahamian bread was purchased and this year’s going price was $8.00, but OMG it is always so good and is worth every penny. Our first season here, the bread was $5 a loaf. Back to MTB about 9:30 a.m. we put up the dinghy. And, anchor was up again at 10:15 a.m. It was rough, with a N/NW wind and we only planned a 12 mile trip. So, we didn’t bother to pull up any sails. We arrived at Black Point on Great Guana at about 1:30 p.m. It was really rolly in the anchorage, but we dropped the dinghy anyway, hoping to get to shore, but later deciding we’d just get soaked. It was ok as Miko already had a nice walk this day at Sampson Cay. So, we ate bread, read and gave Miko her heartworm and flea meds. We love Black Point, as the residents are friendly and welcoming. And, the bay of aqua water and pure sand bottom just can’t be explained. We called Lorraine’s Café on the VHF and ordered four loaves of bread (2 white/2 coconut) for pickup on Friday. This night was one of those evenings we so enjoy….calm, clear and a nice dinner that just makes one happy. We enjoyed leftover French fries from McDuff’s on Norman’s, NY strip steaks on the grill from Harvey’s Supermarket in Brunswick, fresh wheat Bahamian bread from Sampson Cay and a can of green beans. It just hit the spot! This night we dialed in the “follow me TV” and watched the men’s final figure skating competition…USA! $28 spent this day.
Friday, February 19, 2010 – Black Point Settlement, Great Guana, Exuma Island chain, Bahamas. We had cheese grits and sausage for breakfast, yummy. The only other boat with us overnight (Leopard 40) left us early. This a.m. we heard on the radio that a single handling sailor had fractured his arm down in the Acklins. His boat was left in the hands of other cruisers there and some other kind folks took him aboard their boat and were getting him to Duncantown on Crooked Island. Cruisers on the radio worked with BASRA (Bahamas Coast Guard equivalent) and they called the US Embassy in Nassau. Short story…US coast guard helicopter headed there to evacuate him to Nassau. Last we heard, cruisers were going to get his boat back to more safety in Georgetown. It makes you proud and more safe, to know the US Coast Guard was so quick and willing to help, in addition to all the other cruisers. Ken often says his major worry aboard MTB is one of us getting sick or injured. There was also a report of a sailor losing his vessel on the rocks of Rum Cay, evidently due to an engine failure. Sad to hear these types of stories in such a beautiful place. We headed to shore at about 9:00 a.m. and first walked north out of town toward the beach on the Exuma Sound (east) side of the island. We like walking this way as it take us past homes, the cemetery, a blow hole, and over to the other side of the island to look for shells and sea glass. Shelling was not as stellar as past visits this a.m. but a few interesting ones were found, in addition to some well-worn sea glass. After a long walk on the road out to the most Northern end of Great Guana, we headed back to town. Miko found one little girl who just loved her, giving her lots of kisses. The little girl quickly announced that she loved the puppy kisses. We had a hard time continuing on without the little girl with us, as Miko wasn’t ready to leave her side. She was a cutie. We stopped at Lorraine’s Café and picked up the bread we had ordered. WOW…still only $5 a loaf and yummy yummy yummy. The coconut Bahamian bread makes the most wonderful French Toast….slap yo Mamma good. Most of the adult shop owners were not in town this a.m. as they had all gone to a funeral in Nassau. A couple in Andros had been murdered which is unheard of in the Islands. They had ties to Black Point. But, even with this going on, arrangements had been made for us to pick up our bread, and for someone to be around to open the store for any interested cruisers. We went by Scorpio’s Bar to see if they were going to be open this evening and see if Friday night still had a happy hour. Shivago was working there as in the past and he was going to be open, wifi was still free and happy hour was on! Yea, a cruiser’s dream…get email, update the website, and 2 for 1 drinks! This was haircut day for both Ken and Cindy. We do each other’s cuts and it was finally calm enough to wield sharp instruments without fear of gouging out each other’s eyes. By noon, 12 monohulls joined us in the anchorage. It was wild…they just kept coming from every direction. We hoped everyone would come in for happy hour as we enjoy meeting our neighbor cruisers and hearing eveyone’s stories. This is the day that our friend Corstiaan was leaving British Columbia to go to his boat, Lily Pad, in Georgetown. We hoped to catch him down here in the next few days. He would be aboard LP on Sunday. We were only about 50 miles away and pretty confident we’d get to re-connect with this great friend and his buddy, Russ, on Sunday. By evening this day, there were 27 boats in the anchorage…up from just us in the a.m. There were two catamarans, one trawler and all the rest, monohull sailboats. Funny. We enjoyed happy hour 4-6 this evening with cruisers, Bahamian music, Rum Punch, and snacks (popcorn, chips/salsa). We were back home (to MTB!) by 6:30 p.m. and made Cincinnati chili with onions, cheese over linguini, followed by fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. $20 bread, $24 drinks, $2 garbage dump…$46 day.
Saturday, February 20, 2010 – Black Point, Great Guana - we were up, as usual too early, to listen to the various weather reports. Crowded in the anchorage…1 trawler, 2 cats, and 24 monohulls this a.m. Nothing much had changed with the weather report, so we grabbed cereal, put up the dinghy, enjoyed a cup of coffee and got our anchor up at 8:15 a.m. This morning we headed down the Exuma Banks side of the Exumas for about 12 miles, by Little Farmers and Big Farmers Cay. Upon arriving at the Galliott Cut, south of Big Farmer’s Cay, we ducked through the channel and over to the Exuma Sound side of the Exuma Island chain. We couldn’t go much further on the Banks side, as it gets very shallow and navigation is a chore. Once through Galliott Cut, we continued south past a bunch of private islands, most with docks, landing strips, etc., owned by famous folks. We were told that David Copperfield owns one of the bigger islands along here. They all have names…Moosha Cay, Cave Cay, Rudder Cay…and we passed little spit after little spit on our starboard side now. There was no wind this day so sadly again, we were motoring. We heard that most of the marinas in the area are out of diesel fuel until the end of the month. This is a little scary to hear as we depend on diesel to run the generator to keep the refrig/freezer going. If we can’t motor, at least we can sail or just stay put. But, no refrigerator would stink (figuratively and literally!). Oh well, we’ll see how it goes. “Margaret” came through Galliott Cut just behind us. He called on the radio and chatted with us for a while. He left Staniel Cay this am, and planned to go through Adderly Cut, same destination as we planned. Though, with no wind and motoring, he was making better time than planned so he kept going to Georgetown today. He left us as we turned into Adderly Cay Cut. We had not been through this cut before. Going into any of these new places makes us very alert and cautious. The more places we go though, the more comfort level we have which helps our puttering around the Bahamas. We do try to pick new places so we gain as much knowledge as possible. Some cruisers just go and sit in the same place every season, for their whole trip…seems a shame. We made it through the cut just fine and turned back north to duck in behind Leaf Cay, north of Lee Stocking Island. It was a little, low, and uninhabited place but very peaceful spot for a quick one-night stop. It also was an easy in and out, the main reason this anchorage was chosen. The day’s trip was approximately 28 miles and we had the anchor down by 2:00 p.m. A monohull joined us shortly after we arrived. With no wind to speak of this day, it was quiet and calm, nice. Ken did a few boat jobs, Cindy washed the dishes and Miko found a spot in the shade in which to nap. Sunday there are no radio weather reports so we were looking forward to sleeping later than 6:15 in the a.m.
Sunday, February, 21, 2010 - departed Leaf Cay via Adderly Cut to the Exuma Sound at 9:00 a.m. and sails up with optimism at 9:20 a.m. There is a point in time when one pulls up their sails, they fill and you can feel the wind taking over. At that point, one pulls the stop cables on each engine, they shut down and you only hear the swoosh of the water beneath the hulls. This is that time when all sailors go “aaaaaahhhhhhh”. It is the simple pleasure of sailing but it often doesn’t last long when winds die or dramatically change direction. And, that was sadly the case this morning. We had the “aaahhh” but shortly after, had to crank up an engine to help us with direction and to stay on course. We went back out the Adderly Cut to access the Exuma Sound, for our 28 mile trip south to Georgetown. We really don’t enjoy Georgetown, as the true feel of the Bahamas is long gone there. It is more like a 55+ community in Florida, just on water. There are Bocce tournaments, Trivia games and craft classes, etc. We are not sure why folks come to the Bahamas solely to hunker down in this location for the entire season, seeing very little of what the true Bahamas has to offer. Though, we knew we were going to catch up with our friend on Lily Pad. We got so very excited this day when we heard friend Corstiaan radio another party as we were moving south. So, he and long time friend, Russ arrived in GT safe and sound as scheduled this a.m. and were aboard “Lily Pad”. Once he was done with his conversation, we raised him on the VHF and let him know we were about 4 miles out. We were anchored by 3:30 p.m. (yep, found a place among the 250+ boats here) and radio’d Lily Pad. He said he and Russ would come see us. By about 4:15 p.m. we had them both aboard MTB, toasting to old friendships and new (just met Russ for the first time). Then, Corstiaan invited us to dinner at a restaurant on the other side of the large bay from where we were anchored. So, we jumped in our dinghy and followed them in theirs, across Elizabeth Harbour. The restaurant at the St. Francis resort was packed with nothing but cruisers and we had a choice of hamburger, or cheeseburger. We had a great time, the food sure hit the spot and our company…spectacular. We did get “shooshed” a few times due to talking too loud while they were trying to do a Trivia game, maybe a result of the rum drinks prior on MTB! Oops, sorry folks. We were so excited about heading out to eat, we lost our minds and didn’t take life floats, a radio nor a light for the dinghy. And, it was about 2 miles back across the huge, active bay in the pitch dark, dodging dinghies, power boats zipping through, and working around all the anchored vessels. “Lily Pad” was on a mooring right next to the restaurant, so we went there first and Corstiaan/Russ gave us a portable VHF and two lights. Cindy wasn’t going back to MTB without a light. After an uneventful trip back across to MTB, we were back on board by about 8:00 p.m. Ken had a little too much celebratory Rum with the guys this afternoon, so he was fast asleep on the couch. What a nice evening, as it was so special to catch up with Corstiaan and meet Russ. We meet a lot of cruisers but what means so much is when folks work hard at staying in touch and we can catch back up with each other. Corstiaan has been great about making sure we don’t lose touch. Between SKYPE and emails, phone calls, it doesn’t seem possible that so much time has passed and it is yet another year/cruising season. Luckily, we have never lost touch with each other and sure hope we never do. Corstiaan is taking Lily Pad back home to British Columbia this year. He and Russ hope to make the Panama Canal within the next six weeks. This is bitter sweet as we know we won’t see him in the Bahamas again. But, just makes us know we have a trip to British Columbia on land in our future. Port engine reading = 85.0; S/B = 91/5. $-0- spent this day.
Monday, February 22, 2010 – Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, Bahamas – up as usual at 6:30 a.m. to listen to weather reports. Dadgummit, continued back to back cold fronts coming. We are growing tired of this weather pattern. We’d love a couple nice weeks without a cold front coming through. Winds were to build to 30 knots this day with rain/squalls. So, we hopped on the dinghy early to make sure Miko got a good walk before the bad weather came in. She loves being in towns as everyone stops and pets her, tells her what a good and nice looking dog she is. And, she loves playing with kids, especially little girls. As soon as she jumped off the dinghy onto the dock, she was smiling. The night before, she was so happy to have Corstiaan/Russ’ company on MTB, now town…too good to be true. We walked to the park, around town, through the cemetery and up to the beautiful Episcopal Church to look in its windows. Once Miko had a good walk, we stopped in at the gas station to see if they still sold the meat pies we came to love on our last visit here. Yep, but they weren’t a $1 anymore….though $1.75 wasn’t bad…we bought 3 chicken and 3 beef. Ken ducked into the liquor store but they were out of Bacardi Rum…dang cruisers had cleaned the place out. At the grocery store, there was better luck. Cindy bought apples, romaine lettuce, a cucumber and some celery. Fresh produce is the hardest thing to come by and keep for anytime in the islands. So, these items are always a treat. We were back to MTB about 10:30 a.m. and figured we’d be aboard the rest of the day. There was a lot of work to be done on Lily Pad, so we knew our friends would be busy. They needed to re-install the sails, add a new AIS tracking system, etc. Today’s storm was to be through by this night. So, we hoped to get the guys over for lunch or dinner on Tuesday when the dinghy ride wouldn’t be so sloppy. Then, midday Wed, the next front was to start through, ending sometime later Thursday. Friday looked like it may be a good day to get out of this place. Pies $10.50, produce $11.11, total for day $21.61.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010 – Georgetown, Great Exuma Island, Bahamas – The LO (cold front) came through the prior night, though it was still rainy and rough this a.m. Winds were from the south and we had many new neighbors as the boats anchored on the other side of the harbor came and joined us at Regatta point Monday. But, as it got pretty out through this day, most of them pulled up anchor and left us, yea! We got up early as is required for listening to the weather, had a cup of coffee and donned our foul weather gear to go see Lily Pad. Corstiaan “Chris” and Russ were on a mooring on the other side of the harbor . At least the rain had stopped and we just putted along, as the Yamaha on the dinghy was not “right”. If Ken gave it any juice, she stalled. So, we took our time and arrived on Lily Pad at about 9:30 a.m. It is always so pleasant to spend time with these good friends. Chris made us breakfast….wonderful homemade yeast rolls with cucumber, cream cheese and cheddar…OMG good. We sipped Cuban coffee, chatted and parted about 11:15 a.m. back to MTB and sweet Miko who was left home this a.m. Ken wanted to let the Yamaha cool some before taking the carburetor apart to clean it again. After reading for awhile and watching the constant parade of boats go by, Ken started working on the carburetor about 1:00 pm. He needed to remove it from the Yamaha, take it apart, cleaning each piece carefully before putting it back together. We sure hoped this worked, as just using carburetor cleaner alone did not. We were tired of just being able to idle along to shore each trip. We knew Chris/Russ would come by for happy hour this afternoon and we still needed to get Miko to shore for a nice walk. So, by 1:30 pm, Ken had the caburetor cleaned and re-assembled and we headed to town. Toby, the dinghy, ran great to town and we were happy. We walked around town to stretch Miko’s legs and then back to MTB about 3:30 pm. We bought a bag of ice with hoped Russ/Corstiaan would be able to join us for happy hour. But, we didn’t raise them on the radio. So, we swam, showered and sat on the top of MTB to watch the world go by. It was a beautiful afternoon/evening.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010 – Georgetown, Great Exumas – We ventured into town this calm a.m. to update the website (yea), add a post to Facebook, check emails, walk Miko and shop for the few provisions we needed. In the a.m. we took all our food bins out of the “pantry”, a storage locker, and inventoried/organized each. When we left Brunswick, we just pitched things into tubs and took off, no rhyme or reason in our method as we were out of time. So, this day, the vegetables got put together, breakfast items, drinks, fruit, pantry items, soup, canned meats/meals – all organized. So, now when we need something, we’ll go straight to the proper bin without having to pull everything out, ah, nice! So, we had a really good idea of what we had and what was needed before going to shore. Let’s see what did we buy?…..Rum, cheap vodka for killing fish, newspaper, salami, fresh produce, eggs, chocolate and vanilla wafers filled out our “needs”. All in all, only $59 for groceries and $25 for liquor. Back to MTB about 12:30 pm, we were just in time to see Lily Pad pulling in nearby, having broken away from the nice, safe protected mooring on Stocking Island. It was so nice to have them in the neighborhood. About 4:00 pm, Corstiaan and Russ came over and we enjoyed happy hour aboard. It was warm, calm and a great time once again with these nice friends, such good company. Miko looks forward to their visits and when the dinghy arrives, she goes totally bonkers happy. She loves these two guys, as do we. We made plans to join them on Lily Pad for Thursday’s happy hour, weather permitting. We knew a (yet another) cold front was coming through this evening and the next day.
Thursday, February 25, 2010 – Georgetown, Great Exuma, Bahamas. Yep, a cold front AGAIN. The front was right on top of us when we got up and winds/seas were definitely building. Boats were dragging and dinghies were breaking lose. A boat two down from us lost his dinghy and another neighbor braved the huge waves and 30+ knot sustained winds to go retrieve it before it ran into a small rocky reef. Ken was about to hop in our dinghy to go help just as we saw the other guy go (oh good). The hero was a good neighbor and the dinghy’s owner was so appreciative he got on the radio to give a very public thank you. Winds clocked W/NW/N through the day, and we experienced gusts to 50 knots. It is a lot less scary when you are in a bay by yourself vs. an anchorage like this one with hundreds of boats. Georgetown’s boat count this morning was 275 boats in the anchorages. Lily Pad’s crew did not get to town for provisions this day, as it was too rough. And we sadly radio’d for a rain check on happy hour as the waves were still high at 4:00 pm, with everyone still on “anchor watch”. When an anchorage is so unsettled, boaters rarely leave their vessel for fear their anchor may drag, or someone else may drag into them. So, on these days, we read, nap and try to entertain our puppy as she gets very bored, like a teenager. We thought we may be leaving as planned on Friday without our buddies on Lily Pad. Corstiaan/Russ still needed to get to town and we were ready to go. We hoped Friday’s forecasted winds would allow us to sail to our selected destination, Thompson Bay on Long Island. This would be preferable to Saturday’s winds forecast to be so light we’d have to motor. So, we decided to make that call in the am, after seeing if the seas laid down to an acceptable height. This day the seas were 6-9’. We knew we’d catch up on Long Island in a day or so if we headed out in front of Lily Pad so “no problem, mon!”
Friday, February 26, 2010 – departed Georgetown (the 55+ community of the Bahamas) – with the anchor up at 8:30 am. Corstiaan came over about 8 am from Lily Pad and brought Miko milkbones. Lily Pad’s crew decided to go to town this a.m. and then head out whenever they got their provisioning finished. We’d decided to head out for Thompson Bay, Long Island, Bahamas as the wind was to be around 10 knots and seas were to have laid down. It was beautiful out so we told Corstiaan we were going on and would wait for them to arrive in Thompson Bay. As we passed Lily Pad, they were out waving. It was bittersweet…would miss traveling with them, but we knew they’d join us later this day or the a.m. of the next. The winds once again did not cooperate so we had to motor, yet again. And, the seas were FLAT. The water was so clear that we could see large starfish on the bottom in 15’ of water, amazing. We both got some good sun this day and Miko stayed out on the front deck almost all day in the shade of the mainsail, smart girl. During the day, vessels departed from Thompson Bay in the am started passing us, heading to Georgetown…a mini traffic jam in the middle of nowhere, sailboats going both directions. There were only three of us heading to Long Island, but about 14 boats passed by going the other way. One of them was “Early Out” with Fred and Debbie aboard. Our friends Craig/Mary in Brunswick had us all together at dinner one night at their house…and Early Out had been on the dock in Brunswick with us. Too funny that out here in the middle of nowhere, we pass on the water. We had a nice chat on the radio and they were heading to Georgetown to spend a week or so at the Cruiser’s Regatta (boat hell to us). We got to Thompson Bay and were anchored by 3:30 pm. What a nice place, great anchorage and we had WIFI. While we motored this day, we made water with our onboard water desalinization equipment, adding almost 50 gallons to our tank. We fired up the clothes washer and did a load of whites, out here in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t run the dry cycle as we knew we could hang the undies, tshirts and washcloths out on our sail lines to dry once anchored. We pulled into the most northern part of the anchorage, tucked way up and in. Since there were two known, maybe more cold fronts coming through the weekend and early in the next week, we wanted as much protection as possible. Once the anchor was down, we had another one of those sailor “aaahhh” moments. It was a beautiful place, we were there in good time, safe and sound, with WIFI. Amazing. We were sitting on the Tropic of Cancer (nearby) and now officially in the “tropics” vs. the subtropics. The line goes through Simms, just north of our anchorage/bay. So, after downloading literally HUNDREDS of emails, checking Facebook and doing an online chat with Ken’s sister, Kim….we enjoyed a glass of wine, blew the conch horn at sunset and chilled out. Miko saw the folks coming home to the neighbor Catamaran (a Manta) on their dinghy and couldn’t believe they didn’t come over and bring her a Milkbone…yep…Corstiaan has spoiled her for good! She really was rather irritated, actually whined, looking over at their boat. The only drawback of this day was that we finally traveled out of our Direct TV signal’s reach, no TV watching here at Thompson Bay. But, we’ll live…just play cards and read more! We both grabbed showers as there was hot water from motoring all day. Distance this day 37 miles, $00 spent.
Saturday, February 27, 2010 – at anchor, Thompson Bay, Long Island, Bahamas – After a calm and wonderful night’s sleep, we were up early. After breakfast, headed to shore to explore. We found a settlement very similar in feel to Black Point on Great Guana that we enjoy so much. Friendly locals, small stores, everyone waves or beeps hello when passing us on the road. We did meet one unfriendly though…. a black lab who did a rear sneak attack on Miko’s tail. Cindy had already scooped Miko up in her arms but evidently hadn’t secured the poor little girl’s tail. The lab grabbed and pulled, making Miko looked at Cindy with one of those “what just happened to me and why did you let it?” looks. We hustled out of the area and hoped bad dog didn’t follow. We had a nice time in town. There was a fuel company where we can re-fuel if we decide to. They have about a 10,000 square foot general store…you name it, you get it there….custom mixed paint, linens, window a/c unit or groceries. We got Cheetos and Vanilla wafers $7.42. We went to the marine store that had a great inventory, but was expensive and by the government building (always pink in the Bahamas), school and resort/restaurant. Cindy went into the Post Office (in the gift shop) to get postcards and postcards stamps. But, no postcards, so forego the stamps…..crazy. Oh well. We dinghied the long way back to MTB (we were tucked up in the northern most tip of the Bay for weather protection) for lunch. Then, we headed back out to the Exuma Sound side of the Bay to walk on the beach there. We stopped by our neighbor boat, Blue Blaze and met Laura. They were from St. Augustine. After a nice beach walk, we were back to MTB to wait for Lily Pad. We heard from them about 3:30 pm that they would be here by 5:30 pm. By 6:00, they were on MTB, enjoying drinks and dinner with us aboard. So nice. Cindy made a tuna noodle casserole and decided to chop some “Goat peppers” to put in it. Oh man….deadly on her fingers, rub an eye….yeow! For several hours afterward, there was still residue “hotness” on her fingers. Cindy learned her lesson, for sure. Needed to scrub the stuff off with a brush so not to pet Miko and pass it onto her eyes, etc. Lily Pad's crew was able to spend time with folks they knew from Canada their last day in Georgetown, so that was great. We said our goodnights early. And, the rest of the evening was just updating logs and hanging out due to no TV. It was getting rocky and rolly as the next cold front was on its way through this evening, oh boy. To bed by 8:00 pm this night….bored, dark, no TV!
Sunday, February 28, 2010 – anchored Thompson Bay, Salt Pond Settlement, Long Island, Bahamas. Front passed through overnight and whipped up the bay with high winds, but not too bad and great holding here. This morning the wind was still strong, but the sky was blue, sun was out…so not bad. Wind was to diminish through the day and we planned a walk to the Atlantic side of the island once calm enough to dinghy in. Dinner tonight on Lily Pad….we were excited about the invite. Cindy is going to make key lime pies for dessert…one to keep, one to share. About 2:00 pm, we radio’d to see if Corstiaan and Russ wanted to go walk on the Atlantic side beach. We all went to shore and headed for the beach. We walked down the dirt road, past two salt ponds, up a hill,to its crest. Once on top, we were treated to an amazing view of coral, aqua pools, crystal clear water and a pink beach, gorgeous as far as we could see. If you can imagine a post card showing the very most idyllic beach view you’ve ever seen, ….this was it, times 2. Sadly, Cindy had taken the storage card out of her camera, so no photos this day. Oh well, we knew we’d just have to go back on Monday. After a long walk on the wonderful beach, we headed to the settlement to see if any of the bars or restaurants might be open and have a TV set for watching the Canada vs. US men’s final soccer match. No one was open, as expected, as it was Sunday. So, we went back to the dinghy dock to retrieve our tiny vessels. The waves were breaking at the dock, it was low tide, so it was a long way down to the dinghy. Cindy had to lower Miko by holding her by the harness and leash, while Ken worked to keep his balance in the dinghy, reaching over his head to grab her. And through all this, the dinghy was bouncing in the surf and off the dock. Miko was such a trouper, making her little flight into the dinghy fearlessly, and without crash landing. So, after that excitement, we were all off to Meant To Be & Lily Pad. We got back to our boats about 4:30 pm and Corstiaan said he was ready for us to come over for drinks and dinner. Homemade bread, pasta with tomato/peppers/onions/hamburger for dinner was a great treat. The key lime pie Cindy made to take seemed to be a hit as well. Once again, we so enjoyed our time telling stories and spending time with these nice guys. About 8 pm, we were back to MTB, home again, and glad to let Miko out of her crate. She was so very happy to see us.
Monday, March 1, 2010 – Thompson Bay, Salt Pond Settlement, Long Island, Bahamas – My goodness, how can it be MARCH already? What a beautiful day this was. We pulled up our anchor about 8:00 a.m. and headed for Long Island Petroleum’s dock. It was such settled weather, we decided it was the perfect time to top off our diesel tanks. There were three really nice guys waiting to help us in and handle our lines. And, they allowed us to get in before one of the boats in the local fishing fleet…they take a lot of fuel and a lot of time. So, was nice they let us in first. The dock was only about 20-25’ long and we are 42’…so Capt. Ken didn’t have much dock to aim for. Though we got in easily and the wind was light and holding us off the concrete dock perfectly. We filled up, gave the guys a homemade Key Lime pie and were away, re-anchored by 9:30 am, at home, next to Lily Pad once again. After lunch, we all headed back to shore. Corstiaan and Russ brought their scuba gear this day and Cindy had a storage card in her camera for lots of picture taking. The route we took was through a tropical paradise of palm trees, century plants, local plants and cacti. It was a long walk, up hill, but the treat you get at the top is simply a breathtaking view of reef, aqua pools and pink sand dunes. We spent several hours on the Atlantic side beach, took lots of pictures, got sun and Miko dug a lot of holes while the guys snorkeled. Sadly, no Lobsters for dinner this day. We enjoyed happy hour aboard Meant To Be after we found “Parrots of the Caribbean” was closed. And, since we all had a lot of sun and exercise, everyone wanted to be to bed early so it was not a late evening.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010 – Thompson Bay, Salt Pond Settlement, Long Island, Bahamas – It has occurred to us that this log has progressed into nothing more than a daily chronicle of a cruiser’s daily life. From here on, we hope to add some geography and history relative to where we are vs. just logging what we do. So, here goes. Long Island is about 80 nautical miles in total, north to south. It has a thin shape and is rarely ever more than 4 miles wide. The most northern tip is Cape Santa Maria and Thompson Bay is a little less than half way down the west coast of the island. From Thompson Bay, it is very shallow further south on this west coast. So, cruisers very rarely venture further south than this west coast bay. The settlement along the shore of Thompson Bay is called Salt Pond. There are actually two salt ponds (small lakes, but salt water) between us on the west coast and the Atlantic shore (walking distance) on the east coast. Long Island is “greener” than many of the islands in the Bahamas. The locals are self reliant, friendly and many depend on agriculture for sustenance as well as export. Everyone is friendly…walking along the main road each vehicle driver either waves or honks a greeting. There are a few restaurants, two grocery stores, a government center (always coral pink color in the islands), a marine store, car rentals, a beautiful Anglican church and several real estate offices here. They locals are honest and live by the “Golden Rule”, taking care of each other. A local business runs a “cruisers’ net” on the VHF radio…giving activities, business notices and weather reports. This is a valuable tool for the cruisers and locals as well. Today a cold front coming through had the winds switching to the south, causing the anchorage to rock and roll once again. Corstiaan made it over for a quick visit and he and Ken went over weather tools on the computer and for the HAM radio. The rest of the day, it was eat, relaxation and reading, staying aboard all day.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010 – Long Island, Salt Pond Settlement, Thompson Bay anchorage - About 2 am during the night, yet ANOTHER cold front whipped us around to the W/NW with high winds. Our anchor alarm went off but it was just due to the swing, not dragging. We were up for the day just after 6:30 am, did our usual listening to weather reports and then to Bahamas radio. Bahamas radio is really a treat. They do the normal news, sports, weather of course. The news is often crazy local politics (very bureaucratic government) and VERY graphic descriptions of wrecks. This am’s report included news about a 20 year old who had a car (his friend’s) wreck. His family heard it, found him, and he was “wrapped around a pole”…and “he was still sitting upright in his seat, very dead, but stayed there as his family looked on, until a mortician arrived”. The Mama reported that there was tape around the vehicle, but the policemen were “very nice and let me through it”. Next they give community announcements and in this section, they do the obituary of every person who died on any Bahamas island the day before. A lot of information is given, including all the surviving family members by name down to Aunts and Uncles. And, the last sentence of each read obituary is always “and other relatives”. It is amazing the size of most of the families. On Tuesday, one deceased person who had 6 sisters and 3 brothers, another had 6 brothers and 3 sisters. And remember…the survivors and all their children are all listed/read. Very interesting. Each am at 8:30 here in Thompson Bay, Mike with the local restaurant/hotel named Long Island Breeze does a “Cruisers’ Net” on the VHF radio, channel 18. This forum highlights businesses, specials, what to do, give a weather report and have an open microphone time. This is really nice for us, and others, as it gives such valuable information. Mail boats provide weekly service to all these out Islands on varied days, leaving from Nassau. The boat that comes here is normally in on Wednesday morning. Though, it did not get out of Nassau due to bad weather on Tuesday. So, this day, the Cruisers’ Net announced the mail boat wouldn’t arrive until later in the day, and not be off loaded until Thursday a.m. The locals rely on this mail boat system for supplies, food, etc. And, Cruisers learn quickly to shop for produce the day the mail boat is off loaded. The system is normally very efficient, except dependent on weather of course. In Georgetown, a few days before we arrived, one of the largest of these cargo vessels went aground in the harbor there. Seems whoever was driving fell asleep upon leaving, ah, never good. Two boats were alongside the vessel for about a week doing repairs. And, the boat was repaired and off before we departed GT, which was good. Corstiaan came by for a quick visit on his way into town to drop off his/our garbage. As always, he brought Miko some Milkbone treats. What a kind and thoughtful friend, we are so lucky to enjoy. Miko has become so attached to him and Russ. When the guys are aboard, she pesters them both. We are already dreading saying goodbye in a few days to Lily Pad’s crew. The thought of not seeing Lily Pad in the Bahamas again is sad. Though, we know she will have a wonderful new home in Ocean Falls, B.C., Canada. We are envious of Corstiaan and Russ’ adventure, heading through the Panama Canal in the coming weeks. Dinner this night was aboard Lily Pad and we had mushroom pasta soup and HOMEMADE YEAST CRUST pizza, a real treat. He sent a whole pizza home with us to eat at another time….we look forward to that for sure!
Friday, March 4, 2010 – Thompson Bay, Long Island – Got up this day to find the winds and seas did not diminish through the night and decided to call Lily Pad to say we we’d decided not to leave this am. When we did, they said they made the same decision. A little later, Corstiaan radio’d to say they decided to rent a car and go tour the island this day, and did we want to join them. Well, of course we did. So, by about 9:15 am, we were all in a little red Chevy Cavalier, headed to the north end of the island for an adventure. We would go through the settlements of McKann’s, Simms, Stella Maris, Seymour and Cape Santa Maria and others whose names we forget. Long Island was originally called “Yuma” by the Indians, and Fernandina by Columbus. Columbus described the island as “the world’s most beautiful island”…so our goal this day was to see if we agreed. The first stop we made north of our anchorage was the Stella Maris Airport so Corstiaan and Russ could make sure all was in order with their paperwork ahead of time in anticipation of their departure from the Bahamas and entrance to Panama. Within minutes, the Customs/Immigration officials assured them all was “ok mon!”. From there, we ventured to Stella Maris Marina for a look around. It is a very small but very nice facility. The entrance channel is shallow and best done at high tide. From there we turned off to the Stella Maris Resort. What an amazing oasis with beautiful surroundings in the middle of no where. We walked through the grounds, and enjoyed seeing the cottages, flora, viewing platform, and best of all, the bar overlooking the Atlantic. It was truly beautiful and wreaked of Bahamian tradition. There was a sign that had arrows pointing in various directions… “Conception Island”, “Rum Cay”, “Clarence Town” and our very favorite. “Rum Punch, 5 Steps North” (pointing toward the bar). Very creative. It was lucky that it was still morning…if it were Rum Punch time, we may not have made it any further on our adventure. We can upon a Canadian couple that had been at the resort for the previous two weeks and asked them what they felt about the place. They couldn’t say enough nice things, loved their time there, confirming what we saw and felt during our walkabout. Back on the Queen’s Highway (there’s only one road going N to S for the whole island), we drove through McKann’s Simms, Seymour and Cape Santa Maria settlements going as far north as the road goes. Heading back South, we pulled into the Cape Santa Marina Resort after maneuvering around enormous pot holes in the dirt road. They drive on the left here, in US cars with left side steering. So, Corstiaan asked that we keep reminding him to stay on and turn in the proper directions. The C S Maria Resort was in the middle of NOWHERE, on the west side of the island. The resort had a beautiful beach, restaurant, and cottages. Outside the entrance, was the residential section of the resort, so we drove in to explore. We came across one property, named OZONE, that had truly amazing grounds, lined with dense palm trees, gorgeous floral bushes of all colors, all sorts of flora. It was an oasis in a rocky section of land and beautifully done. We figured all the neighbors were bummed to have such a super star among them. We figure “someone” had to live there, like a movie star, Corstiaan said. From there, we continued back south, to Long Island Breeze Resort in Salt Pond. The proprietor there does a “cruisers net” on the radio each morning, providing valuable assistance to us. So, we decided lunch there was in order, as the owner had been so great. We couldn’t go inside the restaurant with Miko and the front deck was freezing due to the strong north winds. So, we were able to bring a table around the back of the restaurant, in the sun, with the wind blocked by their building. It was so nice they were willing to allow this modification to their facility. Lunch included cups of Lobster Bisque, Fried Rice with Lobster (all three guys) and Lobster Linguini for Cindy. Yummy yummy yummy. The lobster is caught locally, but call Crawfish here, the same wonderful treat. Great food, and as always, wonderful company. After lunch, Corstiaan turned the car south and we went through many little settlements, like Salt Pond, Deadmans Cay, Buckleys, Mangrove Bush, Hamilton’s, and numerous others. The furthest point south we visited was Clarence Town. This is where we initially thought we’d go once leaving Thompson Bay. Though, we had already decided to head for Rum Cay instead. And, after seeing the anchorage and Flying Fish Marina, we were good with our decision. This because we were surprised to see so many boats in the anchorage and it was small and subject to weather and swells. There are two famous skyline churches designed by Father Jerome in Clarence Town, and both beautiful. Father Jerome arrived in the Bahamas in 1908 on a mission to rebuild the old wooden churches with facilities built of stone so they may better withstand hurricanes. These two examples of his work verify that he was right on in his work, having built one Anglican and the other a Roman Catholic here in Clarence Town. We passed several businesses on the way south that we wanted to visit on the trip back, one was a bakery, the other a seafood store. The Oasis Bakery was one mile north of Clarence Town. We bought donuts, carrot cake and a coconut torte and couldn’t wait for breakfast! A few miles further north was the seafood shop (also recommended by the bakery) where we bought lobster tails, $9.95 lb. and they were huge. We bought 4 large tails, as did Russ/Corstiaan… for $30. They normally sell 60 lb bags, but we told them our freezers were too small, so they accommodated us. Once back to Salt Pond, Corstiaan dropped us off at the path to the small beach where cruisers leave their dinghies. The guys were going back to fill up the rental car, buy some groceries and return the car. So, we headed back with all the goodies to MTB, including Lily Pad’s lobster to refrigerate until they came by for it. Once on MTB, Cindy realized she left our cruiser’s guide, camera and phone on the back window ledge in the rental car. She radio’d Corstiaan, but no answer. She called the gas station, but Corstiaan had already been there. Although, the wonderful lady at Long Island Petroleum offered to call Fox Auto on their cell phone since she knew they closed at 5:00 pm and it was after that. She did this for us, spoke to the owner’s wife and arranged for a meeting at the dinghy dock with the items. By now, Corstiaan and Russ had arrived by dinghy to MTB to get their lobster, on their way to Lily Pad. Russ very kindly turned around and went all the way back to town, met the Fox Auto owner who was there with our things, as promised. Man, we love how wonderful these good people are to us folks who drop into their world on our vessels. And, we were so thankful to Russ for going and Corstiaan for offering his dinghy, as MTBs was already up, anticipating departure in the am. This was another wonderful, interesting and successful day. It was late, we were all tired, so Cindy asked for a rain check on the dinner she had offered to cook this evening. Ah, this life of ours….. $7 donuts, $30 lobster, $72 lunch. Thanks for the trip, wonderful company and lifetime of memories, Corstiaan and Russ!
Friday, March 05, 2010 – Anchor was up at 6:50 am, and we sadly departed Thompson Bay. We had become very fond of this island. But, it was time to move. We headed north to the tip of the island, planning to go SE to Rum Cay, a trip of about 56 nautical miles. Lily Pad was already out of the anchorage when we got up and at it. We were glad they had a head start on us as we knew we’d travel a little faster than they would. We hoped all of us would make it to Rum Cay to spend our last evenings together. We saw Lily Pad was about 6 miles ahead of us, on our radar. Sadly, the further north we traveled, the larger the sea swells became, slowing ours and Lily Pad’s progress a good bit. We passed Lily Pad around 10:00 am, taking pictures of Russ/Corstiaan standing on the deck waving to us. As we continued, there was more and more distance between us. They told us just to keep going and they would make up time once around the tip of Long Island. By then they hoped to sail vs. motor and would have the help of the swells behind them, pushing. Once around the turn, the wind was directly behind us, which didn’t allow us to sail, and the sea swells were high and choppy. “Miss Kitty” heard us talking to Lily Pad through the day and radio’d us along the way. We met Pat/Aline at Norman’s Cay. They are on a Lagoon 440 and were on their way to the Turks & Caicos. About 2 pm, we spoke with Lily Pad and we all knew they would not make it to Rum Cay before dark. Lily Pad would just keep sailing south, through the night. So, we knew we would not connect with them in Rum Cay, and probably not again this season. This anticipated separation broke our hearts, as we hadn’t had proper goodbyes or the final dinner we hoped to share aboard Meant To Be. We knew Miko would miss the company of Lily Pad’s crew, Corstiaan and Russ (as would Ken and Cindy!). A side story….before leaving Canada, Corstiaan packed some of his dog’s (Lucy) Milkbones in his luggage for Miko. He so thoughtfully planned that far ahead, just in case we met up during this trip he wanted to have treats for our little girl. We mention this as just one of many examples of how thoughtful a man he is. We are so very fond of these two great guys and the thought of not seeing them again for a very long time was not a good one. Cindy had tears in her eyes this evening as she warmed up the pizza Corstiaan made and sent back to Meant To Be on Wednesday night. This evening, we anchored on the southern coast of Rum Cay, behind the reef by 4:00 pm. We had radio contact again with Lily Pad about 6:00 pm, and they were about 20 miles away from us. Corstiaan said they had decided that Lily Pad was going to continue south to Matthew Town, on Great Inagua. Great Inagua is the last large island before heading into the Windward Passage, between the southern coast of Cuba and the northern coasts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Lily Pad would take this Passage to the Panama Canal. We told them we would get up in the am, pull up anchor and see which way the wind was taking us. If in their direction, we may track them down. If not, we’d continue on alone, without seeing our dear friends again this trip. AM generator 2047.1; pm port engine hours 102.3 and starboard, 109. $0 spent this day.
Saturday, March 06, 2010 – departed Rum Cay, anchor up at 7:30 am, heading for Crooked Island. We tried Lily Pad on the radio but no response this am. “Dancing Dolphins” another Cat was leaving Rum Cay behind us and they radio’d. Michael and Crystal were onboard and were going with the wind, on an overnight to Mayguana, then to the Turks/Caicos. We had a nice chat. Sadly, the wind was not NE as it was to be this day, but N, right on our tail….no sailing again this day. We had just our jib out for a little help. We debated changing course to Mayguana, but just kept going to Crooked Island. The seas got really high, 6-9’ and choppy. About 4:00 pm, a squall was chasing us down, so we pulled in the jib and were just motoring. There is a beautiful lighthouse near Crooked Island, on Bird Rock that makes a very scenic welcome. It is dated 1876, and was a amazing construction feat, being built all from stone quarried on Crooked Island in Gun Bluff. Today the old quarry is used for rock hole farming…plants are literally sprouting out of holes in the rock. On arrival at Crooked Island, the sea swell made the Landrail anchorage untenable. So, we went a few miles further south to a more protected spot, where the swells were much less. We found great sand, and the anchor hooked just fine. Just prior to our arrival at Crooked, Ken tried Lily Pad on the radio, not really expecting a response and VOILA….they actually heard us. We chatted a little while and got their Latitude/Longitudes so we could check where they were, once we anchored. When we checked, we found that Lily Pad was due west of Crooked Island, about 20 miles away from us. They were sailing, fighting the urge to fire up their engines and sounded as if they were doing just fine. We radio’d them again about 6:00 pm and knew this would be our last chat, as they would be out of radio range shortly and we were going to stay at Crooked Island for several days. Corstiaan promised to send an email the very next time he had a WIFI connection. We wished them fun and safe travel. This night was the most beautiful star filled sky we’d seen the whole trip, a wonderful sunset, and the water was beautiful.
Sunday March 7, 2010 – Crooked Island, Southern Bahamas – Weather was forecast to be good and settled this day. So, of course, a squall came through, bringing gray clouds and even some rain around 8:30 am. We wish our employers had allowed us to be wrong ALL THE TIME and still stay employed! We had a nice breakfast and hoped the weather would clear. We decided to stay put this day and move back around the corner to the Landrail anchorage by the settlement, in the morning. If the wind changed slightly to the NE, the sea swell wouldn’t be so strong there. By 10 am, the sun was out, the skies were blueing so that made us happy. We stayed aboard to rest after a long trip the previous day, hadn’t even dropped the dinghy, so we just chilled. Andy Gibson came by on his power boat, “Miss Chrissie” to welcome us to the Island. He represents BASRA (equivalent to Coast Guard in US) and is a long time resident. He told us we should visit French Wells (south of us, into a cut between another island), as it was the “prettiest part of the island”. And, he told us there was no sea swell there. We knew it was a shallow cut, but he said drawing 4.5’ we should be fine going in. He offered any assistance we might need, saying we could just call him on the radio. We were so appreciative of his kindness and told him we planned to move back North, up to the Landrail basin anchorage once the winds turned a little more east. Crooked Island has great protection from the E/SE, prevailing winds, but not from NW or N. In addition to the lighthouse on the northwest point of Crooked Island, there is Pittstown Point with a 12 room lodge that is well respected. They also have a landing strip. There are about 100 people who live here, on and off. The “off islanders” are part time residents who own homes on Crooked, the remainder of long term, full time Bahamians.
Monday, March 8, 2010 – Crooked Island, anchored south of Landrail Point, north of French Wells. This am, we did a few boat jobs…cleaned the display window in the glass bottom viewer in the dinghy, checked our water levels and re-adjusted our jib sail as it hadn’t wrapped properly when coming into Crooked. Then, after breakfast, we dropped the dinghy and went into the beach where we were anchored. On the way in, we had the hatch to our glass bottom window in the dinghy open and saw that our anchor chain was laying next to a coral head, the anchor was sideways and also laying next to coral. We figured the coral head was holding MTB’s anchor chain in place we were set ok. So, we went on into the amazing and interesting beach. There was great shelling, lots of washed up coral to admire, & beautiful scenery. There were Casuarina (similar to scrub pines) trees near the water’s edge. They created nice shade for Miko and that’s where she walked, a smart dog. We strolled for several miles before heading back to the dinghy. It was unseasonably cool this day, so it was nice to get sun, enjoy the outdoors with no sweating. Once back to MTB, we ate lunch and pulled up the dinghy. We had our anchor up about 12:30 pm. With cold fronts coming, we wanted to go take a look at the French Wells anchorage as a possible place to duck in if winds were going to clock around to the north again. It turned out to be a very exciting exploration as we watched our depth finder go from 10’ under us to 00’ under us. Luckily we didn’t touch bottom (we left a little ‘wiggle’ room in the calibration, probably have an addition 6” when we show “00”). Captain Ken did a great job moving MTB from side to side, avoiding the sandbars that constantly shift here. Of course our electronic navigation charts are of no use. We finally made it into the promised area of deep water and checked out the anchorage. Even though it was a beautiful place, all we wanted was to get back out safely. Due to this side trip, we knew that the cut was “do-able” if we needed a future refuge, so we were glad we did the research. And, it worked for Columbus evidently in 1492! Once back out into the ocean waters with a trolling line in the water, we headed north to the Landrail Point anchorage/settlement. We had the anchor down once again around 2:30 pm in beautiful aqua water with an amazing white sandy bottom, no coral, no grass, just SAND. We decided to have Rum Punches for happy hour this evening and as we sat enjoying the beauty, a plane buzzed us. Yep, then he buzzed two fishing boats too, flying just off the water. Then, up he went, straight up in the air, banked crazily, rolled back, and was just having a blast and flying with abandon. We video’d this crazy pilot and so enjoyed the local entertainment. There is an airstrip adjacent to our anchorage and sadly, Mr. Crazy Pilot finally went back inland and landed. He was great fun to watch, not something one gets to see very often. The sunset, and later, the stars were incredible spectaculars this evening so we stayed out in the cockpit until bedtime (ah, 9:00 pm!). After dark, we helped another cruiser we heard on the radio. We could tell was very tired and alone. He was sailing with a companion boat but had told them he wasn’t sure he wanted to continue. So, Ken radio’d to let him know our anchorage was very calm, and would be an easy in even in the dark.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010 – Landrail Point basin anchorage, Crooked Island, Bahamas – We saw that the cruiser we talked to on the radio, “Chancey”, the night before was anchored next to us. We were up and drinking coffee when he pulled up anchor. Once he had his sails up, etc. we talked to him and he was very appreciative of our help the prior evening. He said he was heading down to Castle Island, then planned on going into the Bight of Acklins. Then his plan was to be heading back north to be home by the end of April. We hoped our paths would cross along the way as he seemed like a nice guy. Andy Gibson radio’d us around 10 am, to say he noticed we had moved up to Landrail. He wanted to know when we’d be in town as he didn’t want to miss us. We told him we were in process of cooking breakfast but would be in before lunch. We dropped the dinghy and by 11 am, we pulled into the dinghy basin cut into the rocky shore. Andy, his wife Marcia and several other locals welcomed us and it was great. Andy drew us a map, told us to go visit his mom and the local store. So, off we set for our walking tour. We went by Willie’s restaurant (Andy’s sister), by Andy’s house, the library, clothes/gift store and stopped at the grocery…one of three. But, our friend Craig had told us which one we should patronize. The nice store had ice cream drumsticks…oh yum, so we got two to eat along the way…. $5.50. We walked back toward town, turning down where Andy’s mom (Marena) lived. We stopped in to see her to say hello from our mutual friends, Craig/Mary Farnsworth (Rum Tum Tiger/fellow Brunswick residents). She wanted to know all about how they were and about their recent trip to Australia. This elder of the community was really friendly and youthful. She used to run Gibson’s Lunch Room restaurant before her daughter opened Gibson’s #2. Marena said she would meet us at Willie’s the next day for lunch and we agreed. Back by the small boat basin, Andy called to us. There were two huge Wahoo that his brother Woody just caught and brought to shore. Interesting looking fish. We had seen one fly out of the water the day we anchored in Landrail…he probably was now laying dead on shore, poor guy! We went to walk the beach north from Landrail settlement toward Pittstown Point. The sand was so deep that it made for quite a workout. We cut inland at Aqua Dome, a dome house where Andy told us friends of Craig/Mary lived. We went by the house and met Jerry and Vickie. They were very friendly, living half the year on Crooked Island, the other half in Deltona, Florida. Vickie enjoyed playing with Miko and we learned that Jerry/Vickie kept “Winnie” (Craig/Mary’s dog) when Craig had to fly to the hospital in Nassau for surgery last season while here on their boat. We hoped we’d see Jerry/Vickie again during our visit here. We walked the road back to the small boat basin and were back to MTB by about 1:30 pm. Ken worked to fix the latches on the compartment that holds our life raft. They’d degraded in the sun/salt, broken and could no longer stay latched. He improvised a fix so the door would stay shut and would no longer bounce with every wave we went through. That was good. Sitting in the cockpit this day, we saw a huge sea turtle. Later we heard a diver on the radio saying he’d seen “Charlie” this day…the turtle. This was turkey dinner night. Cindy cooked a turkey before leaving Brunswick for Thanksgiving and it was still in the freeze as we went to a restaurant instead. We had hoped Cindy could cook a full turkey dinner for our last meal together with Russ and Corstiaan, but it sadly did not happen. So, we just thawed it out tonight for dinner! Yum, now that is a treat, homemade gravy (brought the frozen drippings, too) in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of March! One monohull sailboat, Infinity, came into the anchorage after stopping at the government dock for fuel. They didn’t come in until after 5 pm though and we suspected they would pull out first thing in the a.m. If not, we’d hail them on the radio in the am. We watched the stars until 8 pm, then to bed early once again….ah, no TV sure changes our habits!
Wednesday, March 10, 2010 – Landrail Point anchorage, Crooked Island – We initially thought we would leave Crooked Island on this day. But, high winds were coming with a cold front forecast of E/SE/S. Since we had good protection at Landrail from those directions, we figured we’d just stay a few days longer. Later in the week, we knew we would move down to the back/east side of Long Cay. The anchorage there has protection from the forecasted N/NW. This would have the double benefit of letting us see the pink flamingos living at Long Cay and exploration of yet another place. We had no idea where the winds may take us after there. The weather this season in the Bahamas has been totally weird…..most bad cold fronts in 10 years according to most….and temps in the 60s at night this far south. We are officially in the “tropics” having crossed the Tropic of Cancer about 50-100 miles north of us. But, it is good it’s a little cooler as we don’t worry about Miko overheating. This island is truly a wonderful place to visit. It is isolated, beautiful, not spoiled by cruisers trying to organize a Bocci tournament, and few tourists. It is the old Bahamas with amazingly friendly, helpful and accommodating local residents. We had lunch at Gibson’s #2, with one of the families that lives here…the Gibson’s. We had WAHOO marinated in fresh limejuice, lightly breaded/fried, These were part of the two big fish, caught yesterday evening by Woody Gibson. We actually saw them filet them just the evening before. There was also rice and pigeon peas (made by Mama), home grown sliced tomatoes, tossed salad, homemade wheat Bahamian bread, pineapple (grown here) upside down cake with raspberry sorbet. Man, it was a great meal and the company of Mama Gibson (Marena), daughter Willie/husband Tony, daughter in law Marcia, the preacher and his wife….all eating together family style was very special, too. No cooking for Cindy this night. We certainly felt welcome here. Andy Gibson……the first person to come by to see us here with a big welcome is Marena’s son. What a nice family. A large sailboat joined us after dark in the anchorage the previous night.. “East Coast Explorer” and they spent the day. Infinity left in the am but they were back in the anchorage several hours later. We guessed it was too rough for them north of the island. The pride of community is strong here and the homes are beautifully maintained and colorful. Cindy actually found a paint chip next to a house whose color she loved, to take back and try to match. Our Brunswick house’s trim paint needs to be re-done during hurricane season at home. Many of these communities used to be more populated in the past. Morton Salt had large facilities in many locations so infrastructures built up, only to be lost when Morton abandoned many locations. Much of this island’s history is interesting and Mama Gibson was a wealth of knowledge. We will add more history to this log in coming posts.
Thursday, March 11, 2010 – In search of Flamingos….departed Landrail Point anchorage headed to Long Cay, about 20 miles south of Landrail, Crooked Island. We had the anchor up around 8:30 am and were excited about this little side trip. Supposedly, flamingos outnumber the people on Long Cay and we were on a mission to find the flock and get the pictures to prove it! On the east side of Long Cay, the anchorage would offer some protection from the coming cold front and winds that were to clock 360 degrees over the next few days. We sailed the whole trip with winds from 15-20 knots and by pulling in the jib some, we kept our sailing speed at about 7 knots. It felt so good to finally sail again…having wind in the direction that was forecasted… yeah, what a concept. MTB felt like she was flying, and our short trip went by fast. We hadn’t put up the dinghy this morning and just pulled it along. Though, it bounced and crashed in the sea swells behind us the whole way. We made a new rule..…do not pull the dinghy behind us again. The anchorage area behind Long Cay is shallow to shore and we saw one grounded sailboat as we pulled in. We had to anchor about ½ mile from shore with the anchor down around 1:00 pm. That far from shore, we still only had about 2.5’ under our keel! We weren’t sure about the bottom, as it looked like it could be sand over rock…not a good thing for anchoring. Though we seemed to hook pretty well, Ken jumped in the dinghy to check. Little Toby, the dinghy, has a clear viewing window in the floor, so we can ride along the anchor chain out to the anchor to see if it properly dug in. Once Ken got to the anchor, he was so glad to see that it was totally buried in sand, not visible. That is a good thing for anchoring! So, we knew we would sleep well the next few evenings. Though the dinghy was down, we didn’t go to shore. We figured we’d get an early start in the am, head in and explore yet another pretty place. One mission…take pictures of some stinkin pink birds! Though, by 4:30 pm this day, our little electronic weather/temp station was indicating RAIN, bummer. We just hoped we’d have good weather on Friday. This day, 23 miles, starboard pm engine reading 123.5, port 116.9 and $00 spent this day.
Friday, March 12, 2010 – anchored off east coast of Long Cay, southern Bahamas, south of Crooked Island. Hot and humid…yep more tropical! Long Cay currently has a population of about 25. Though Long Cay was once prosperous, it is yet another Bahamian locale that has fallen on hard times. It has a huge church that is a very visible indication of its population decline. Long Cay formerly was a rest stop for sailing vessels transiting the Crooked Island Passage. It was also a sponging center, and had a salt production site, both now simply a part of the island’s history. The sole settlement ashore is named Albert Town and lies mid island on the West Coast. Long Cay has formerly been called Fortune Island. This is interesting, as we have learned there is a difference between an “Island” & a “Cay”. An Island has at least one fresh water source and a Cay has none. So, we are not sure why it went from being an “Island” to being a “Cay”, nor what precipitated its name change. Outside the settlement are ruins of large, two story homes from the more prosperous times gone by. The “Bight of Acklins” is the name of the body of water we are anchored in. It is shallow but this day was very choppy, with white caps due to the wind coming from the South. So, it was day three that little Miko wasn’t going to get to go in and say hi to the locals. She loves visiting in towns and had so much fun in Landrail (except for the Pot Cake that wanted to bite her). A pot cake is a local Bahamian breed, typically reddish in color, short smooth coat, long tail, floppy ears, about the size of a small lab. They are typically very skittish, cower and run away from us, which Miko totally doesn’t understand as she wants to play. They are called Pot Cakes as they are the result of indiscriminate breeding of a mish mash of breeds. The stuff left in the bottom of the rice/peas pan in the islands is referred to as pot cake….hence, their name. Most Pot Cakes we’ve encountered have been really sweet, loving animals. The one in Landrail was not, being surprisingly aggressive and barking at us. We always keep Miko away from local animals, as we don’t know if they’ve had shots, carry diseases, parasites, etc. This time, Miko wanted to be kept away from the mean dog. The islands surrounding the Bight of Acklins form a lagoon of turquoise water. These islands are actually the world’s sole source of Cascarilla bark, the ingredient that gives Campari liquor its bitter, astringent taste.
Saturday, March 13, 2010 – anchored off east coast of Long Cay, southern Bahamas, south of Crooked Island. Tropical Impulse (Ed, Eileen, puppy Muffie) and St. Christopher (Jordan, Tom, puppy Harry) are here with us. We all ended up at the Government dock with our dogs about 10 am this day. It was nice for the dogs to get together. They all headed back to their boats, we wanted to walk to Albert Town. Up the mile long road to Albert Town was an interesting up and down hike. The road goes due east and west and is dirt and rock. Miko saw a lot of goats in the woods and that got her very excited. We read that one man on the island owned 2500 goats the live wild here. We finally made it to the large salt pond near town that we heard is the sometimes location of the flamingo flock here. When we did, looking west…there they were!! A whole flock of beautiful, wild pink flamingos. We were so excited. To get closer we walked along the perimeter shore of the salt pond, which was coral and broken glass bottles ridden, making us go slow. But, we got close enough to get a few pictures that we knew would supplement the wonderful memories. We continued to town on the west shore of the island. The little village was quaint, though nothing was open…Batelco office, etc, were all closed. We took pictures, enjoyed a waterside gazebo to cool down some, give Miko shade/water, before continuing our walk back to the dock on the east side of the island. When we got back, Tropical Impulse radio’d, asking if we wanted 5 conchs, out of their shells, but not yet cleaned. Ed didn’t feel well, and wasn’t up to cleaning them. So, Ken dinghied over, got the conch meat and we had an adventure. The poor little conch fellows were still alive and had big eyes. Cindy got out the filet knife and commenced with trying to find the good meat, feeling like a murderer. She followed the policy that if it looked “suspect” we would assume it was not edible. She cut the good meat out of each and was just finishing as a squall hit. The expected front came through right at 5:00 pm as forecast (wow!) with winds gusting 25 knots and clocking from SW/W/N.
Sunday, March 14, 2010 - anchored off east coast of Long Cay, southern Bahamas, south of Crooked Island. We were still here with Tropical Impulse and St. Christopher this a.m. The day after the front coming through, so it was rather gray and overcast. About 2:00 pm we decided to make a run into the beach north of the government dock. Just as we got in the dinghy, Tom, Jordan and puppy Harry dinghied over just to say hello. They were going to walk over to see the flamingos and off we went to the beach. It is very shallow near shore so we had to anchor and carry Miko in about 50 yards. It was very calm, so not a problem. It was an interesting beach, few shells but we found a hamburger bean and a large, really pretty shell on the sand bar that luckily did not have a resident. It was covered with weedy slim, but Cindy knew it would clean up. We went back to MTB after walking several hours. Miko liked this beach, even walked in the water as there was no drop off…being flat and shallow white sand a long way out from shore. On the way back to the dinghy, we found two pretty pink flamingo feathers in another shore side salt pond we’d been told the flamingos also frequent. We saw a lot of goat tracks on the sand and had to laugh, as they are not your typical tropical beach finding. This evening Tropical Impulse gave us five conch “bodies” that we cleaned, cut up, beat to tenderize and put them in the freezer to eat later. A local fisherman had gotten the conch for them. Maybe will make some conch salad at a later date.
Monday, March 15, 2010 - anchored off east coast of Long Cay, southern Bahamas, south of Crooked Island. We heard our neighbors on the radio this am and they planned to move south closer to the cut out of this “Bight”. On Tuesday, they were going to be heading out for places north, so they thought it better to stage at the first anchorage, nearest their am departure point. This was a number of miles south of us and would save them about an hour when they leave Long Cay completely. By the afternoon, we were alone in the anchorage once again. Miko will sure miss Harry, little white Pomeranian looking rescue dog and Muffie, a Yorkshire terrier. We hoped to go NE once we left Long Cay, so thought we would wait another day to allow the seas to settle down. If we can’t sail, (north winds in forecast would be coming right at us), at least we wouldn’t be heading into the largest sea swells out there. We also hoped to have at least one more day in Landrail to say our goodbyes properly to the nice folks who were so welcoming there. Stayed aboard all day.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010 – anchored off east coast of Long Cay, southern Bahamas, south of Crooked Island. We went to shore and dropped off our garbage this am, enjoying the long ride in. Then, we dinghied over to the wrecked Haitian sailboat near shore and took some pictures of it. Later in the day, Timothy, a local fisherman came by to see if we had any motor oil, as the mail boat had been delayed and he was out. So, we provided him with some and in return, he gave us fish. So, we cleaned the grouper and looked forward to dinner! We marinated it in olive oil and key lime juice and threw it on the grill and what a treat. A trimaran named Lucille came by and the owner spoke to us a little while on the radio. Turns out that St. Christopher and Tropical Impulse stayed this day as well due to the seas.
Wednesday, March 17, 2010 St Patricks Day – Departed Long Cay and motored (no wind again) back to Crooked Island/Landrail settlement. We left about 8:30 am and anchor was down around noon. Ah, felt great to finally be back to our beautiful, Landrail Point anchorage, off the settlement, Crooked Island, southern Bahamas. This settlement is small, compact and designed around a short triangle of roads. The Library serves as the one room schoolhouse, there is a medical clinic, gas station, a clothing/gift store, 3 convenience stores, several eateries and the Seventh Day Adventist church. The people are mostly Seventh day Adventists, worshipping on Saturdays and alcohol is not a part of the lifestyle here. There is a 2,000 foot long landing strip just north of the settlement at Pittstown Point (Crooked Island Lodge) and a commercial strip near the Colonel Hill settlement with a 4,000 runway serviced by Bahamasair. The very first post office in the Bahamas was established on the site of the current Crooked Island Lodge. Colonel Hill is in the most northern portion of Crooked Island, notched into the “spine of the limestone” and is the capital of Crooked Island. The majority of Crookeds’ population of approximatley 300 reside along the Colonel Hill-Cabbage Hill ridgeline. Though, the locals here are wonderful and smaller in numbers. We anchored next to a “YACHT”, huge named SeaDweller. They had a ski boat (almost as long as MTB) two jets, all manner of toyz that just pulled into the back “garage”! Funny to see such opulence here in these more remote and simple islands! We had WIF this day…and so hoped to update the website and catch up on emails. Though we got a few emails, we weren’t able to update the website for some inexplicable reason, bummer. We went to shore and saw everyone again. Asked Willie at Gibson’s #2 if she had bread she could sell us. She had a two day old loaf, gave it to us and just said to make toast from it as it wasn’t that day’s fresh. She wouldn’t take a cent for it. Cindy went in to say goodbye when Ken came out to hold Miko and saw they had some new tshirt styles in. So, had to buy one for each granddaughter….Audrey and Morgan. It was sad saying goodbye to these wonderful, loving and kind folks. We spoke with some fly fishermen that had rented Cindy’s favorite house by the small boat basin (aqua, beautiful, old place). They were “playing” with a shark at the dock, casting out a chicken carcass. JAWS grabbed it a few times, thrashing around in the shallow water. It was fun to watch. They were on holiday from Canada and seemed like really nice guys. One was from a town near Cranbrook, where our friend Corstiaan calls home. So, made us think of Corstiaan, especially knowing he made landfall in Panama on Tuesday. We were back to MTB in the late afternoon and just watched the goings on at the yacht…..scuba divers, water skiers, jet skiers….those kids had fun. We had steak and lobster this night for dinner, put up the dinghy and early to bed. Bummer no green beer for us.
Thursday, March 18th, 2010 – anchor up at 7:45 am, departed Landrail settlement, Crooked Island, Bahamas. The sun was shining beautifully on the Bird Rock lighthouse as we passed and we hoped our pictures would do the scene justice. The wind was once again not the forecasted strength nor direction to allow us to sail. Though, we were mentally ready to move to the other islands we wanted to visit…so we just kept motoring. The swell was large, but not untenable and the wind chop against it was ok as messy, but not prohibitive. It wasn’t the most pleasant trip, but we had blue skies and it was warm, so not an all bad day. On these days, seems Miko knows it will be a long, boring day and she just jumps in our bed and sleeps the day away…..must be her coping mechanism. We just continue to be so impressed with this little critter of ours. She’s the best. The trip this day was 57 nautical miles and we pulled into the Rum Cay anchorage at about 5:15 pm. The entrance is through reef and coral heads. We heard one boat was lost on the approach several weeks ago. We got in fine, having come through here on our way to Crooked Island. We were glad to see that once again, we were going to be the only cruising boat in the anchorage. So we had our choice of places and we found a great big sandy spot (best for our anchor) and dropped the hook. The cruising guide actually tries to dissuade cruisers from coming/anchoring here. So far, our experiences have been fine. When we anchored this night, someone got on the VHF radio to announce “the mail boat is here!”. Mail boat arrivals are big doings in these more remote areas. Cars, trucks, people all show up to meet the boat and get whatever it might be they were waiting to arrive. We stayed aboard as it had been a long day and enjoyed hot showers since the engines super heated our water while traveling this day.
Friday, March 19, 2010 – Rum Cay – anchored off between the government dock and Cotton Field Point. We had sunny blue skies this am. A large catamaran came in overnight and had anchored a long way north of us. We decided it was “Down Time” who we met in Long Cay. Later in the am, they moved up, closer and we saw that it was them. That boat had a Texan, an Australian and a Russian onboard. Ken had dinghy envy….they had a 65 hp motor on their dinghy, very impressive. About 10:00 am, we dropped the dinghy and motored to Sumner Point Marina. We wanted to tour the facility and top off our dinghy gas tank. There were some really neat sand stone carved statues around the property and we enjoyed seeing their small colorfully painted waterfront rental cottages as well. It is a small marina, with about 12-15 slips, with the basin carved into rock. They were out of gas and diesel and suggested we go to the government dock and take our tank to the local gas station to fill. So, we headed out with that plan. The waves and wind had picked up and the government dock was so tall, we knew we would have a hard time getting up to the top, especially with Miko and no ladder. So, we headed back to MTB, knowing we could try again, or top off elsewhere. Two monohulls arrived while we were in town, one anchored in front of us, the other behind. When we got back on MTB, we realized that these boats were “Early Out” – Fred & Debbie, and “Shamal” – Bob & Sheri. We had dinner with Early Out in Brunswick, at Craig and Mary Farnsworth’s house before leaving Brunswick. And, Shamal’s owners are Craig and Mary’s friends who watched their boat for two weeks at Crooked Island last season when Craig had to be flown to Nassau for surgery. It was too funny, three boats all with the same mutual friends in the same little, remote anchorage all at the same time, truly is a small world. Rum Cay used to have a population of 5000 and a salt mining operation. Today, the population only numbers around 60. The people here are industrious and helpful and not all too excited about “big” plans of some developers for the area. This evening we invited everyone over to MTB for happy hour. We were happy to finally meet Bob and Sheri, as Craig and Mary speak of them often. Ken couldn’t wait to email Craig to let him know we had all met up here in Rum Cay. We knew he wished he was here with all of us. This was Miko’s day for her flea and heartworm medicines, so she got her nails trimmed as well. We really have to plan ahead when we leave land to make sure we have a 6-7 month supply of pet medicines, dog/kitty food, kitty litter, etc. We have gotten pretty good at these issues, making our pets’ health a priority.
Saturday – March 20, 2010 – Rum Cay anchored off between Govt dock and Cotton Field Point. After breakfast we landed the dinghy on the beach near the government dock. We wanted to tour the settlement of Port Nelson. This Cay has had several grand development proposals, but seems none have taken off and the locals don’t seem to be too bummed out about it. We saw plans posted to business fronts that showed a new landing strip, marina, homes, etc. “Cape Maria at Port Nelson”. Kind of a dumb name as Cape Maria Resort and Cape Maria are all on Long Island. It could possibly have been the same developer, but who knows. We walked by a beautiful Anglican Church, impeccably maintained and beautiful inside and out. The local Baptist church was being expanded and we saw the lumber that had been on the government dock the day before, was now at the church site. Everyone we encountered was pleasant and welcoming. We photographed cotton plants still growing here in the wild, resulting from early settlers who escaped from the southern states in the US, some being “Loyalists”. Once we did the loop around the settlement, we walked the beach from the government dock back toward Cotton Field Point, then back to our dinghy on shore. We went over to a small reef and looked through our clear viewing window in the dinghy to see coral and brightly colored fish. Back to MTB, Fred/Debbie came by from Early Out to see if we wanted to join them and the folks from Shamal, Bob/Sheri, in some reef exploration a little after one o’clock. We told them we’d let them if we changed our minds, but we were tired and thought we’d stay on board for the afternoon. They mentioned getting together later for drinks, which would be fun. So, we thought we’d spend some time with Miko so she wouldn’t mind being crated if the group decided to go do happy hour on shore later. “Barbie” a yacht came in and anchored behind us….the logo on the motor vessel was the same as the one of doll genre. We didn’t find out if Ken was aboard, with Barbie. We saw the reef explorers come back and a little later they all left for shore. We guessed they decided to do drinks and/or dinner in town. So, we stayed aboard and enjoyed the sunset.
Sunday, March 21, 2010, departed Rum Cay with anchor up at 7:45 am and sails up with two reefs at 9:00 am. We sailed this day the whole way and that was great. Winds and seas weren’t as forecast, higher wind, higher sea swells, but at least we were able to sail the whole way, 35 miles this day. We pulled into the anchorage about 3:00 pm at Cockburn Town (pronounced “Coe-burn”), San Salvador. We threw anchor next to the two other sailboats on the waterfront in front of a beautiful sandy beach. By 3:00 pm, we were on shore, picking up the mother load of sea glass. There is a lot of history related to this island. There is a “San Salvador school” of thought relative to Columbus’ arrival in 1492. Watling’s Island (called Guanahani by the natives) was renamed San Salvador in 1926. This effectively granted title to Columbus’ original landfall to this island. Though, there are several schools of thought relative to the route Columbus took through the Bahamas in 1492. Morison, Molander and National Geographic all have presented theories. So, it remains a controversy due to difficulty in translating Columbus’ description of the original landfall. The result of his log notes is a description (low, green, central lagoon, large reef surrounding, etc) that might fit any number of the 723 island and cays of the Bahamas. So, who knows?! We met nice folks on a monohull sailboat in the local marina, the Riding Rock Marina. Their boat name was Different Drummer, they were from Alaska. We sat at a marina picnic table and chatted with them for awhile. On our walk back to MTB, we saw a huge metal sculpture of an Iguana. Seems one of the most rare varieties is found here. The island is also home to a very large number of sea bird varieties, claiming of 23 kinds. One of the local churches in the village was packed as we went by. One little boy pointed and waved a Miko. Our two neighbors had pulled up their dinghies already, with their plans to go to Conception Island the next morning. Fun part of cruising, meeting folks and finding out where they have been and/or are going.
Monday, March 22, 2010 – Cockburn Town, San Salvador, anchored in front of town. Our only two neighbors pulled out by 8:00 am, leaving us as the sole cruising boat in this anchorage. We hoped our decision to stay here a few days didn’t turn out to be a bad situation. A cold front with westerly winds was to come through this day. The sailing guide said to vacate our location immediately if a westerly was forecast as this anchorage would be down right “dangerous”. Well, winds were forecast for 10-15, clocking quickly from the S/SW to westerly to northwesterly by midnight. Eventually on Tuesday, winds would clock back N then NE and from NE back to S we had protection in this lee of the island. So, we decided since we have been in worse situations and MTB did just fine, we’d try to ride it out here vs. going into the marina or another island. We checked our anchor and verified that it was buried well in the beautiful white sand. Though, the sand is very fine, so may not offer the good holding we are used to. In the am, we went to the beach to shell, look for sea glass and get all of us some good exercise. We walked over to the colorful (blue, yellow, orange, red, white, green paint) local bar near the beach and were able to some rum. Bars on many islands are also the liquor stores in the Bahamas. We like the dark run for our rum punch made with Crystal Lite. The winds had been building through the morning, as were the seas/swells around MTB. So, we headed back to the boat to hunker down for the front, being on anchor watch the rest of the day. Though, while on shore, we found some nice shells and sea glass. This island had some shell varieties we hadn’t seen elsewhere and that was great. Also, we found a lot of nicely polished sea glass pieces. The Club Med dive boats (2 of 3) came out to moorings nearby us with their loads of tourists mid morning. There is actually an 8000 foot landing strip here that accommodates commercial jetliners from Bahamasair and US Airways. We were told that there is also a direct flight comes from France to San Salvador that brings Europeans (majority of the customers here) to this Club Med facility (248 rooms). The island is nice in that there is still the old Bahamas feel with a good population of local Bahamians, in addition to some nice amenities. There are a couple local stores, a sports bar, straw market, clinic, laundry, with Club Med in contrast. If we began dragging or the anchorage became untenable during the night with the front, our plan was to pull up anchor and motor out. We figured we could just hang off shore until it was safe to come back in, in the am. We wanted to spend more time on this island, so weren’t ready to head elsewhere. By 5:30 pm, the wind diminished some and the seas settled down reciprocally. This was good news, as the lower the seas the better when the front came through and whipped things up later in the evening. They often predict squalls with 30-40 knot winds with these fronts so we put the dinghy up just to be safe. We waited and hoped for the best, relative to our decision to hang here. Well, what a mild cold front it was! We slept like babies. Good call to stay here, whew!
Tuesday, March 23, 2010 – at anchor in front of Cockburn Town, San Salvador – A chartered Lagoon 440 came in the dark and was anchored next to us this day, just us two. Different Drummer left the marina and headed south this a.m. We tried to radio them but were unsuccessful. The Lagoon pulled up anchor and went into Riding Rock Marina. We had Club Med’s dive boats, snorkel cruises and jets ski caravans around us all day. The sea swell was large and crashing on shore. So, we knew it would be hard to land the dinghy on shore without getting swamped…decided to stay aboard. Ken cleaned water out of a port bilge compartment (there from old leak of wash down pump) and fixed the flusher on the port aft toilet (yeah!). Miko started her “I am a bored teenager” heavy sighs and we promised we’d take her ashore on Wednesday. We enjoyed new rum (coconut) in Capt Ken’s specially made Rum Punches for happy hour. While aboard this day, we saw jumping Wahoo out beyond us, a yellow fin tuna under MTB (wish we caught him!) and three manta rays swimming around us. There always seems to be something to see.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010 - at anchor in front of Cockburn Town, San Salvador. This was a busy day. We put the dinghy back down, loaded our garbage, the laundry, our cart and Miko & headed to the government dock basin. It is very cool as it literally was cut into the land. It has high protective rock walls, four sides. This is where the Club Med boats are left each night…four of them. We walked to the gas station (Shell!) nearby and Seddie sent us to “Audrey” who does laundry for folks here. She lived just outside of town, not a long walk, especially with our hand truck type little folding cart. Audrey was wonderful, very sweet and helpful. She told us to be back the next day at 9:00 to get our laundry. We visited several of the local (small) stores, walked past the Police Station (rare in the islands), saw a beautiful Anglican/Episcopalian Church dating from 1881 and rededicated in 2002. From there we went to the waterfront and chatted with some more locals who wanted to know all about Miko as they played with her. Back to the dinghy, we picked up the gas tank and walked it back up to the Shell Station. No one was there this time but a local Bahamian arrived in his car, then another, and shortly we had 2 trucks, 4 cars and us, all wondering where Seddie had gone. One gentleman said he’d drive back to the Oil Company office and see what was what. He returned shortly and said they had to take the company truck somewhere, but the lady in the office would come help all of us. Shortly she arrived, opened up, filled us up ($14) and helped everyone. We said our thanks, goodbyes and headed back to the government dock with our topped off tank. Here we saw a large sea turtle chasing fish in the basin. Love watching those guys. After lunch, we headed out again with the mission of visiting the marked spot where Columbus is purported to have stepped ashore for the first time in this “new world”. There is a simple, plain white cross near the water that marking it and we of course took the obligatory photos. We also took photos of the Olympic Torch commemorative statue that is nearby. The torch stopped here, on its trip from Greece to the Mexico Olympics. Some really interesting history here, indeed. We had our dinghy’s viewing window open and saw some beautiful fish, coral in the reefs on our way to and from the memorials. We went to the beach south of where we had been shelling/near our anchorage. This beach was considered part of Long Bay. We picked up a great deal more sea glass and found some interesting shells as well. Once back to MTB, we saw a shark hanging around under the dinghy this afternoon. We saw a big fish, more rays as well.
Thursday, March 25, 2010 - at anchor, off Cockburn Town, San Salvador – Audrey told us to come by 9:00 to get our laundry and we wanted to be punctual. So, we loaded our empty 10 lb propane tank, some large trash bags to keep the clothes dry and our cart, off we went. Miko stayed home this morning as it is good for her to remember she is a DOG, that must go in her crate now and then. We tied up again at the government dock, and stopped first at the Shell station. Seddie said he would fill our tank for us while we went to pick up our laundry. Audrey was glad we were on time and told us it would be $25 for the four loads she had done for us. This was a great price, so we gave her $30. We stopped in a local store and bought a small ledger book (.75) that Ken needed, and a yellow pepper $1.82. Cindy asked about the mail boat and was told it would be in this day… and yes they would have fresh Romaine. Good produce is very hard to find in these more remote islands. Back to the Shell station, we paid for our propane $10. A lot of islands don’t have a local propane supply. So, you have to send your tank off on the mail boat to be filled. That process can take days, or even weeks. So, when there is an opportunity to do so, if we have an empty tank, we fill it up. MTB carries two 10 lb, and one 20 lb, tanks onboard. We probably had enough propane to get us back to Brunswick by mid May, but why chance it? Before getting our tank, Seddie asked if we were on “the Catamaran”. We told him we were and he asked how long we were staying, as he would love for his son to see a catamaran. We invited them to come out anytime this day as we were probably leaving the next a.m. We went back to the beach for the last time to look for more sea glass and shells, watching for the mail boat. Back to MTB, we put up the dinghy and prepared the boat in anticipation of leaving for Conception the next a.m.
Friday, March 26, 2010 – Departed San Salvador, with anchor up at around 7:45 and sails up shortly after. FINALLY A FREE DAY…meaning we sailed all day and spent no money in a settlement! We had an absolutely wonderful sail this day with winds 15-20 and us running about 7.5 knots. We pulled into Conception Island about 3:00 and immediately dropped the dinghy. We anchored just north of the creek that runs through the interior of the island as we wanted to explore. So, we soon found ourselves in the beautiful aqua interior water, enjoying birds, barracudas, sharks and turtles sightings. We went back to MTB by drifting with the viewing window in the dinghy open as there were many reefs between the creek entrance and our anchorage. We saw lots of fan coral, brain coral and beautiful blue, yellow and multi colored fish. Back aboard, we put the dinghy up in anticipation of leaving for Cat Island the next morning.
Saturday, March 27, 2010 – Conception Island, west side anchorage, just north of creek entrance. We woke this am to seas and winds building in the anchorage due to a passing cold front. It wasn’t a really strong front and we decided it was going to be a gray, overcast day, so we might as well be traveling. So the anchor was up at 7:30 and we were headed to Cat Island. Cat is a 45 mile long island and we planned to spend some time there. Seas and winds diminished through the day, we fished, but only caught a small Barracuda…oh those teeth. We landed and released the mean guy. We motored all day, but it was a fine day. On pulling into our chosen anchorage, off the shore of New Bight Settlement, we saw only three other boats. So, it was a really easy in and anchoring exercise this day. The wind was strong, we were tired, so just stayed aboard, stole some WIFI and were finally able to pick up our 200+ emails. It had been several weeks since we had any Internet. So, we had a good day all in all.
Sunday, March 28, 2010 – anchored off New Bight Settlement, Mount Alvernia, Cat Island, Bahamas. No weather report to listen to at 6:30 am on Sundays, so this is typically the only day we ever sleep in. Though, Miko doesn’t know what day is Sunday, so of course wakes up wanting to play, oh well. It was gray, cloudy and overcast this am, though cool which was the trade off. We tried dialing in the direct TV system, though it still wasn’t cooperating so we may need to go further north still. Ken downloaded his emails and we checked our banking information online for the first time in a long while. All looked good and we still had money in the bank which is always good to see. We got word this day from Wanda (Corstiaan’s wife) that friends Corstiaan & Russ aboard Lily Pad were in the Panama Canal yesterday. This is so exciting as Russ had reservations to fly out on the 31st and was so hoping to make the transit before then. There had been a labor strike threatening to foil that plan, but seems all worked out. We were so excited that it all seemed to be going so well for Lily Pad. We tried going online to see if the video cam at the Panama Canal might show Lily Pad on their way through. This am, we walked up to the Hermitage, one of Father Jerome’s churches, built to withstand a hurricane (his “thing”). The walk up Mount Alvernia is long and strenuous. The end portion of the trek is up steep steps. This is the tallest place in the Bahamas, 206’ above sea level and provides a 360 degree view. Father Jerome was an architect then turned to the Anglican, then Catholic churches. He had a mission of building churches to survive hurricanes. He was involved in 4 here on Cat Island, 5 churches on Long Island, These were in addition to the Hermitage that we toured which was his private home, constructed when he was age 62. He lived in solitude there until his death at age 80, in the 1950s. He is was buried there, barefoot, in a bare grave…attesting to the simple life that was Father Jerome’s. The Hermitage is beautiful, in the Romanesque style, but still very simple and sparce. There was a very small living area with fireplace, an outdoor bath area, a very small sleeping room, an outdoor well, outdoor cooking area with fireplace in addition to his beloved small (one pew) chapel with alter. We walked the beach area, saw a shark along shore and then made our little dinghy ride back to MTB. We had been the only boat in our anchorage this day but by 5:00 pm, there were 9 of us. Seems the “herd” from Georgetown has arrived. They travel in packs, seem to only want to interact with their own kind, and won’t make a decision without “group think”. They call each other many times during the day on the radio and the chatter from boat to boat, is incessant. We are glad to be a little more independent. Though, we really do very much enjoy the cruisers we meet. We just find some of the Georgetown crew to be a little different.
Monday, March 29, 2010 – anchored off New Bight Settlement, Cat Island. Well, this day started with surprisingly high winds of 20-25 knots, though forecast for around 15 knots. Seas were building and the anchorage was surely “a rockin”. A few boats left, seeking shelter in other places around the area. But, these folks planned to move twice….first to go further south from here for protection from the day’s south winds. Then, tonight (about 2 am) when the front comes through, winds were to clock from SW/W/NW. So, once that happened, the movers planned to pull up and go anchor (middle of the night) in a new spot north of us, with more protection from the N. We heard all these discussions on the radio and decided that we would just tough it out here, set the anchor alarm. And, if our anchor drug, we’d pull it up and reset it. This sounded more reasonable to us than all the other plans we heard. So, those of us still here were all hoping our anchors held, the winds would diminish and our decision to stay wouldn’t be an unwise one. We hoped that there weren’t awful squalls that accompanied the front this day. They can whip the winds up to 30-40 knots, and that is a challenge. Though no rain during the day, it was so rocky, a dinghy ride to shore was not an option. Even if you don’t mind getting wet going to shore, then your dinghy is sure to get swamped while on shore. So, needless to say, we stay aboard MTB all day. That was fine as we had a WIFI signal and were able to Turbo Tax our IRS tax extension. So, we completed a very worthwhile task, eliminating one issue that we knew would need to be dealt with during our trip by April 15. Cindy partially defrosted the freezer, chipping off big sections of ice that had built up. If that didn’t help reduce the internal temperature, she would have to take everything out and try to eliminate all the built up ice on the plates and wires. Over that last week or two, the temperature had been creeping higher, degree by degree. Now the thermometer in the freezer was reading 20 so we knew we would have to keep an eye on it. Of course, the level of food is getting lower and lower as the days go by. We have been living on the provisions we put onboard in Brunswick before our departure, having picked up very little along the way. Miko is starting to shed…she “blows” her coat completely twice a year. So, we will start routinely brushing her to try to shorten the time it takes for this process. She’ll be cooler once she sheds the piles of fur that we will pull out of her!
Tuesday, March 30, 2010 – New Bight, Cat Island at anchor. We slept pretty well through the high winds of the cold front that came through during the night. We set the gps to signal an alarm if our position changed over 120’. It went off about 2:00 am, though due to the wind swing from the south to west and moving us clockwise. So, no problem and none of the other 11 boats around us dragged their anchors either. All in all, it was a good night. The winds/seas moderated through the day and a little past lunchtime, we decided to try and go to shore. The ride in was rough and wet, but we went ahead. Once to shore, we were taking water over the stern and hide to pull the gasoline tank up to assure it didn’t get fouled. Another couple (Alizee’) came at the same time, so we helped each other drag our dinghies further up on shore. We walked along the waterfront and came to some colorful little wooden huts (shacks) that were small businesses. There was a bar, a “take away” restaurant, general goods and a bakery…each run by nice local folks. We went by the elementary school and heard wonderful singing voices of the kids. A nice lady came out and asked if any of the boaters lost an oar. We had heard the prior night that indeed Blue Blaze had lost their dinghy oars. We told her we would take it back on our return walk back to our dinghy. On into town, past a beautiful Catholic church, apartment building, small resort with a sports bar, ruins, and a huge private home…we arrived at the store we read about in our Cruiser Guide. We bought a bag of Alpo and romaine lettuce, $12.70. On our walk back, we picked up Blue Blaze’s oar and stopped by the hut with the bakery. There we bought a loaf of bread and made a donation to a church project $5. Nice lady there told us that the fresh coconut tarts (saw her grating the coconut when we went by earlier) would be ready within a half hour. We told her we’d be back on Tuesday. We were able to get through the waves and off the shore without getting totally soaked, arriving safely back to MTB. We had TV again so watched American Idol for the first time this season. An amazing full moon cast a beautiful glow across our anchorage and in our cockpit.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010 – New Bight, Cat Island at anchor. .Ah, what a difference a day makes! This morning was calm, cool, blue and beautiful as the wind had moved around to the NE where we were protected by the Island. The water in the anchorage was flat and everyone was heading for shore this day. We hoped there were some coconut tarts remaining for sale at the cute bakery hut. We watched TV (amazing out here in the middle of the Bahamas) and caught up with US news on the Today Show in the morning. Nice to know what was happening in the world, but nothing much had changed/happened. Really don’t miss much being out here, we guess. We went to shore to give Blue Blaze their oar back about noon, and they found the other one up the beach as well. So, that was good. And, the little bakery hut had fresh coconut tarts. They were standard pie sized/shape and looked great. Sadly, they didn’t have the right change, so we could only buy one with the change we had. We met and chatted with other cruisers on shore for a short while. Then, we did a dinghy ride along the shore of the long beach/bay where we have been anchored but didn’t see much of interest. Just wanted to make sure we hadn’t missed anything in our walk on the road to town. Back to MTB, we did some chores, put up the dinghy and readied for a next day departure, having done/seen most everything in this central part of Cat Island. Couldn’t believe the next day would be APRIL.
April 1, 2010 – Thursday, APRIL FOOL’S DAY - Departed New Bight, Cat Island, SE Bahamas with anchor up at 8:00 am. The plan for this day was just to head whatever direction the wind sent us, possibly Arthur Town, on the north end of the island or Little Conception Island. We were committed to only sailing this day, period. MTB’s crew had grown very weary of hearing motors on the last few legs of the trip. So, no motors this day, sails were the edict. We heard on the VHF that the Georgetown, Great Exuma “crowd” was definitely on the move. GT was reported as down to 118 boats this am vs. the 300+ that were there just several weeks ago. Sadly, most of these folks are “cruisers” who stay anchored in Georgetown the entire season (Nov-April). And, now they were everywhere as they all began heading home, finally pulling up their anchors. This am, we were the last of a whole parade of folks leaving New Bight. So, when the wind started taking us away from Arthur Town and north Cat Island, we considered heading to Little San Salvador. Though, we heard the crowd we left with this morning chatting on the radio and they were all going there. So, we decided to keep going and try to get ahead of the crowd. We decided to try to make the southwest portion of Eleuthera this day. We hoped to find an isolated place to throw our anchor and be alone for a quiet evening. Lately, we will be peacefully sitting in an anchorage when a whole group arrives together. Most of the folks who stay all season in GT are very social, have all gotten to be good friends and they all do everything together. This would be fine now and then, but not for us. We so enjoy trying to meet as many “locals” as possible and spend time with them, vs. the same folks day after day. While in an anchorage, typically these folks who travel together, whiz around like little dinghy water gnats from boat to boat. Guess we should just laugh at our free entertainment and enjoy having something different to watch. The most annoying thing about the “group” travelers is their all day and night long chatter/use of the VHF radio. It is rather like “IM”ing or constantly talking on a cell phone. It wears us out to hear them calling each other over and over, but we feel we need to keep the radio on for safety. Ok, enough lamenting about the crowds. The weather was finally moderating and we had a strong HI filling in, so the resulting easterly, prevailing winds were to stay with us for at least 10 days, yeah. So, we were able to finally sail for a whole day. We blew by Little Conception and as expected, it was crowded and noisy on the radio. Additionally, there was a cruise ship that would result in lots of activity…jet skies, dive boats, etc. So, we kept on sailing and “fishing”. We had a trolling line out all day, but we caught NOTHING so this was a fishing vs. a catching day. But, at least we didn’t snag no stinkin barracuda. We arrived at Princess Cay (faux Bahamian village owned by cruise line) around 4:00 pm, We were glad that there was not a cruise ship in, as we hoped to anchor a little north in Miller’s Anchorage. Once in the official (on the chart) anchorage, we tried to anchor 4 times. Each time we only found a little sand over rock, so we did not hold. We decided to move a little further north toward a beach we could see in the distance, hoping for more sand there. And, luckily as we were approaching that shore, Cindy finally saw some beautiful sand ripples on the bottom. Though the water was deeper than MTB normally is anchored in, it was a great hold and we had a wonderful, peaceful sleep, sans company, sans a cruise ship.
April 2, 2010, Friday – As we departed Miller’s Anchorage on the SW coast of Eleuthera Island around 8:00 am, a Princess cruise ship was coming into the anchorage. Whew, good timing as they really are so very BIG. We sailed well this morning, being so happy once again that we were not motoring. We ducked into Cape Eleuthera Yacht Club around 11:00 am, as we wanted to top off our diesel tanks. We previously stayed there, March 2008, for a few days and knew the gas dock was a great easy in and out. And, the folks there are wonderful and we enjoyed our visit previously. This trip we both wanted to get Cape E Tshirts in addition to the diesel fuel, as they had great designs, and a great logo. We didn’t buy any when we stayed there in 2008 as they were quite expensive. Though later, we both regretted not shelling out the bucks and getting them. So, we took care of that this visit. We took on 66.3 gallons and with a 4% credit card usage adder, tip, diesel, and tshirts we spent $352. The owner of this marina is a gazillionaire from Michigan named DeVos, and he owns the Orlando magic basketball franchise. He is rare among developers who come into the Bahamas. His concept was one more of nature preserve, vs. resort, with a strong commitment to the environment. Though, the facilities are beautiful as well as pristine. By 11:30 am, we were out of the marina and motoring north. The area between Cape E Yacht Club and Tarpum Point on the west coast of Eleuthera is a tricky, narrow passage for about 8 miles. It has sand shoals, coral heads and reefs and requires careful transit. So, we decided to put up our sails after we were through that area. Once back to safe waters, we sailed almost the whole rest of the trip up to Governors Harbour, Eleuthera. We decided to try a new (to us) anchorage, south of Cupid Cay, just north of Long Point about 4:30 pm. The bottom was coral with a little sand over its top. We drug a short way when Ken pulled down on the engines. But, then the anchor seemed to “stick” and the chain made its normal hooked “whhhaanngg” sound, rising up out of the water. The alternatives to this location were to go into a harbor that is very weedy with notoriously poor holding, or north further near Levy Island which is a long dinghy ride to town. So, we hoped to stay in this location and dropped the dinghy immediately, to go look at the anchor. Ken found the anchor buried a little, but it was laying on its side. We had out almost 130’ of heavy chain so figured we should hold ok in the settled winds we were to experience for a week or so. Our view back toward Cupid Cay and town was beautiful. Knot Tied and Seadogs were in the same anchorage when we arrived and it was so funny. It seemed every time we pulled in somewhere, these two vessels were there. Although, they invariably pulled out the very next morning. We spoke to Rich Miller aboard Knot Tied this afternoon and sure enough, they were leaving in the am. Too funny. Early Out heard us on the radio with Rich and called us. Fred and Debbie were just one town north of us. They had planned to be in Rock Sound for Easter, but plans changed and they were heading to Gregory Town. We emailed Gil/Marian, nice locals we met here in 2008, hoping to hear back from them hoping to catch up.
April 3, 2010 – Saturday. Governors Harbour, Eleuthera. Yep, Knot Tied and Seadogs pulled out this morning. We went into the beautiful town around 10:00 am, tied the dinghy up on shore near the library. The library is the social center of town for locals and visitors alike. This day they were hosting an Easter party for children. The building is painted with beautiful coral and green colors, is a wood, Victorian style building dated 1897, called Haynes Library. The “second home” owners here, who call themselves “off islanders”, fund a sailing school for the local children. The little boats, kids and the instructors were out having lessons this am and that was fun to watch. It is a beautiful sight seeing the excitement of the children as they learn their new skills. This all goes on directly in front of the library at the bay front. We walked to the tourist office (closed), checked out Rum prices at the various liquor store stores here, walked through the grocery store and out to Cupid Cay to a shipping broker’s office (closed). We heard the broker handled UPS shipments and we hoped to get our mail from home via UPS while here. Finally, we made it to the WONDERFUL bakery we found in 2008, for meat pies, bread and baked goods. Cindy and Miko sat in a gazebo at the waterfront while Ken went back to our favorite, best priced liquor store for some Bahamian rum…Mango and Pineapple flavors for Rum Punches. While waiting for Ken, in came some of the sailboats that were with us in Thompson Bay, Savage Son being one of them, anchoring in the harbor’s bay front, adjacent to the Haynes Library. We dinghied back to MTB and had an email from Marian, who we met here in 2008. We hoped to connect with these nice folks while here this trip. They were staying at the little house next to their Hummingbird House, called Mockingbird House.
April 4, 2010- EASTER Sunday – Governors Harbour, Eleuthera. What a treat, we were able to sleep in late this day as the Caribbean Weather Center (Chris Parker) doesn’t report on the weather on Sundays. Normally we are up to listen to them on the HAM radio at 6:30 am. Of course, Miko decided about 7:15 am that it was time to play with “Mr. Pig”. This is one of the toys she leaves in our bed for just for such occasions. We enjoyed the wonderful sweets purchased the previous day in town, cinnamon rolls, cheese Danish and fresh coconut Danish. Our WIFI connection wasn’t available this day so that was a disappointment. But, starting out Easter day with fresh baked goods, it was all good. We went to shore, took our garbage to the cans provided, and did a walk around town to see more of the lovely area. We walked up a hill and came across several historic, beautiful, wood Victorian homes with beautiful all around views. At the highest point in town, once can see both sides of the island, Exuma Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. We visited the “Cigatoo” a small, quaint local Quality Inn Hotel. And, we were surprised to find that the grocery store was open. So, we bought some bacon and celery. From there we walked along the bay front and back to the dinghy and MTB, we chilled.
April 5, 2010- Monday – Governors Harbour, Eleuthera. We went into town about 10 am and walked over to Cupid Cay to see if, by chance, the customs agent was open. Cupid Cay was the sight of the first Bahamian Parliament dating 1736. It is truly just a peninsula that fringes Governor Harbour on the west. It has a beautiful Methodist Church that overlooked our anchorage, single family homes (with lots of chickens running about), commercial, government, retail and wholesale businesses. All that, and it is just a peninsula! What we found this day was that Easter Monday, in addition to Easter Friday, was a Bahamian national holiday. Therefore, most everything, except for the gas stations, was closed. We walked to the southern section of town where we had not wandered previously. We found a movie theatre (8:15 pm only each night), a tire store, auto parts store, gas station and convenience store. On our trip back to our dinghy, we also found a boat put-in with a small little harbor area. It was closer to MTB than the beach we had been landing on and we knew we could use it easier to go to the bakery.
April 6, 2010 – Tuesday, Governors Harbour, Eleuthera. The settlement of Governors Harbour is picture postcard material and has great charm. It was the original arrival point for individuals who called themselves the Eleutherian (or Eleutheran) Adventurers in 1648. The settlement is one of the longest established in the Bahamas. This day, we needed to go to town to research the possibility of getting our mail sent from home via UPS. We visited everywhere and asked everyone, only to come up short. We talked to a whole lot of locals including folks at the customs office, post office, library, tourist board, grocery store, airport (Bahamasair)….and didn’t get a satisfactory result. What we did accomplish was meeting a whole lot of very nice local folks who couldn’t have been more helpful. One nice gentleman from Maine knew Gil/Marian our friends from 2008. He told us he thought they had gone home on Thursday, or planned to on this next Thursday. Another especially nice folk was Ms. Jean Davis. She owned Laughing Bird Apartments, a complex on the bay that we had admired. She was a delight to talk with about the island and its history. Her whole family was buried in a cemetery on the waterfront, adjacent to the beautiful old Anglican church. Our final task was to “hit” the bakery one last time. We bought four meat pies, a USA Today, 6 danish, 2 cinnamon rolls, a loaf of Bahamian bread and a dozen yeast rolls…$24.50! Back to MTB, we watched a news conference held by Tiger Woods on his return to the Masters. So sad to know his behavior negatively impacted many of our children, grandchildren who regarded him as a role model. Hopefully, going forward, he can live a life that will bring no further embarrassment to his family, friends and his sport, only positives. We watched the NCAA final round basketball playoff and Duke beat Butler. We were happy it was an ACC team…but can’t help cheering on an underdog. AM gen 2085.6. Dinghy up in anticipation of leaving.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010 – We departed Governors Harbour, Eleuthera with sadness as we hadn’t connected with the nice local folks, Gil/Marian, we met in 2008. But, we thought they would be leaving on Thursday and would be busy packing up this day in anticipation of their departure. We put up our sails and sailed out of this beautiful, charming place. We decided we’d head for the northern part of Eleuthera or Royal Island this day, leaving at 7:45 am. The wind was a pretty decent direction as we headed for the Fleming Channel which is between Nassau and the northwestern most point of Eleuthera. We had a few boats heading along with us, but sounded like most of the GT crowd would be heading to Royal Island this day. We decided to check out the north shore of Pimlico and Little Pimlico Islands, but once there….too many rocks and not much protection from the southerly winds we were enjoying. So, we decided to head for “The Current” settlement, an anchorage off their north coast. We headed just west of the “Current Cut”….a wild passage used by some folks in lieu of Fleming Shipping Channel. We did Current Cut previously and with a 6-10 knot current ripping through it, transit can be pretty exciting. So, for the sake of saving just a little time and miles, we decided it was just as efficient to go around the west tip using Fleming Channel. The settlement is home to 131 and was established in 1648, same as Governors Harbour. The anchorage had one other sailboat in it on our arrival, Bonnie Lass. We spoke to them once we were settled. The anchorage was beautiful, holding easy/great, a sandy beach to look at and 4 unsecured wifi sites! After a very long sailing day, it was a great treat to be in with anchor down around 5:30 pm. Port pm hours 149.0; s/b pm hours 155.4.
Thursday, April 8, 2010 – departed “The Current” anchorage west of Current Cut, at 7:30 am last in a parade of boats, 3 from our anchorage and 14 from Royal Island. We sailed all day, crossing the NW Providence Shipping Channel (2 huge containers ships by us this day), and headed for the southern portion of the Abaco Islands. We were “fishing” this day vs. “catching”. And, luckily we didn’t snag any Portuguese Man O’War jelly type fish. These guys were everywhere, looking like extra large purple hue bubbles floating on the surface of the water. We had been surmising what they were when someone came on their radio to warn everyone about how poisonous the can be. Ah, we’ll be staying away for sure. We were able to sail until 4:00 pm, when the wind force and direction was no longer helping us along. So, we dropped our sails and “fired up our other jib”…as we heard one cruiser tell another on the radio. We made it through the narrow opening in the reef that one has to transit on the approach to the Abacos from Eleuthera. We were the last of the parade of about 20 vessels that had made this same trip this day. We actually sailed most of the way though the others had motor sailed most of the day. So, though we were proud for sailing almost the whole trip, it got us to Lynyard Cay after everyone and the south anchorage was packed. Though it was so funny, our preferred portion of Lynyard Cay for anchoring is the northern portion and no one was in there. So, we just pulled in to a spot we had anchored in on a previous trip, dropped the anchor, hooked good and were settled by 6:00 pm after a long day and trip of 62 miles. Lynyard Cay is a long and narrow spit of a place, private with only a few homes. Its east side has Atlantic Ocean beaches, with the west being mostly vegetation and rocky banks.
Friday, April 9, 2010 – departed Lynyard Cay at about 9:00 am this morning and motored out of the anchorage. We had a short trip planned with several twists, turns and wind from the South. So, we just motored out and figured if conditions bettered we could put up the sails. We passed Pelican Cays, Sandy Cay and maneuvered through a narrow spot with shoaling sand bars on both sides. We had another sailboat in front of us and they had out their jib, motor sailing so we just hung behind them. When we were headed more north toward Marsh Harbour, a large monohull was motoring toward us. We moved as far starboard as the depth would allow and knew we could pass each other safely port to port. Well, we were fine up until the point where the other vessel made a radical turn. We thought, ah the Captain was being nice and making a fast move starboard as there was more depth there. Nope, the vessel kept coming and actually had made an 180 degree turn directly into our path. Depth wouldn’t allow us to go much further starboard out of their way, and we certainly don’t have any “brakes” on MTB. Ken slowed as much as possible and inched as far starboard as he could without taking MTB aground. Cindy got out on deck trying to get the Captain’s attention. There was no one at the helm and the other vessel was heading right for us. Cindy finally saw that the Captain had his boat hook and was trying to pull something from the water. Fist thought was that maybe a pet went overboard. Just narrowly, Ken got MTB by the bow of the other vessel, to safety. We saw the Captain go back to the helm and immediately heard, “Meant To Be, ah sorry about that, my hat blew off” came over on the radio. Had he wiped us out…that would have been a very expensive hat. Oh well, rest of the trip was uneventful by comparison. Traveling through these islands is very different from the “out island” places we have been this season. The wealth and populous nature of this area struck us and we felt as if we were back in Florida vs. the Bahamas. We continued on to Elbow Cay on the east side of Abaco Sound. We planned to go to the Hope Town Settlement but not into the harbor. There is no harbor anchorage only MANY MANY mooring balls. For us, taking a mooring side by side with so many other boats would be boat “hell”. The sailboat in front of us all day, turned to anchor in the same anchorage as we had planned. The was a recommended place on the west shore of Elbow Cay, in the shadow of the beautiful red and white striped lighthouse. We slowed and allowed the other sailboat to get in and anchored before us. Once we were both settled, we heard “Meant To Be”, “Meant To Be”, “Early Out” on the radio. Fred and Debbie had been in front of us all day and we hadn’t realized it was folks we knew! They decided to go into the harbor on high tide and take a mooring ball. And, we stayed “outside” anchored next to “Floridian” a monohull, with Gus aboard (heard on radio). We dropped the dinghy, went into Hope Town and found a lovely little settlement with concrete golf cart paths; old, well maintained and charming pastel painted homes with picket fences, paths to the Atlantic beach and everything a cruiser would need. We decided to walk south from the community, heading toward White Sound. It was a beautiful walk with lots of flora/fauna that took us to “Da Beach Bar & Grill” for lunch. We had Mahi Mahi, marinated, spiced and grilled….MAN was it wonderful. Cindy had to know what marinate they used. She finally weasled their secret out of the bartender…..”BEER”. Yep, that was the secret and we couldn’t believe how delicious it was. Lunch overlooking the Atlantic was yummy as well as beautiful and with drinks, tip $41. Back to town, we grabbed a few groceries and headed back out the harbor entrance to MTB. Once dark, the old lighthouse began burning and it was so cool. There was almost no moon, the stars were bright with few clouds, so a beautiful night after a 20 mile trip this day. $62. Port 154.2, s/b 160.6 engine hours.
Saturday, April 10, 2010 – Elbow Cay, anchored adjacent the Elbow Cay Light House at Hope Town, west of the island, south of the channel to harbor. We watched the forecast cold front approach Elbow Cay and heard reports from islands all around us that there were rainstorms coming. So, Ken got out some boat wash and scrubbed the decks/hulls hoping we’d shortly have a fresh water rinse. Too funny, no such luck as the front went right by us, the wind changed from S to N/NE and no rain at Elbow Cay. We went in and walked to the top of the lighthouse, 101 steps in all. This facility, one of the WORLD’S last working pre-electronic age lighthouses, was built in 1864. It is one of the three that remain in the Bahamas (Great Inagua and San Salvador) that must be hand wound by lighthouse keepers once every two hours during the night. It has a vapour burner and unique Fresnel” “bull’s eyes” lenses that concentrate the light, allowing it to be visible for 15 miles. Ken and Cindy both found that from the top, the 360 views of the sound and the Atlantic, plus the surrounding islands were stunning. The Bahamas Lighthouse Preservation Society works to maintain this historic landmark through donations. Hope Town also has a wonderful museum, the “Wyannie Malone Museum” telling the story of Elbow Cay’s history from the Arawak Indians and the Loyalists who settled here, through current times.
Sunday, April 11, 2010 – Elbow Cay, anchored adjacent the Elbow Cay Light House at Hope Town, west of the island, south of the channel to harbor. This day we had planned to move south, though it was overcast and we didn’t get moving very early. We needed high tide to maneuver through a shallow passage toward Lubbers Cay. So, we decided to be lazy, have a big breakfast, stay put and spend the whole day watching the entire coverage of the Masters golf tournament. That is exactly what we did. And, Miko got her puppy pedi as well as about a half hour brushing session. She looked so much better with out the loose fur of the coat that she was “blowing”. That happens twice a year, only, thankfully. What a bunch of white stuff came out of her this day! We just ate and watched golf all day…ah, the life. Well, we weren’t complete slugs as we did put up the dinghy at 4:00 during commercials. We stayed up later this day than we had in weeks…watching a two hour special of Brothers & Sisters on TV. AM generator hours 2090.7. It poured all night and the dinghy had a lot of water in it, luckily it was up on its davits so all that had to be done to empty it was pull the plug, yeah.
Monday, April 12, 2010 – We departed from Hope Town, headed south about 10:00 am this day. It rained some this am, and squalls were all around, causing winds to be weird and gusty. We heard that Lubbers Quarters, White Sound and Tahiti Beach on the south end of Elbow were all worth visiting so that’s where we decided to head this day. It was only a 2.5 mile trip, though very shallow so we headed out before low tide. We had a spot off Tahiti Beach picked out where we hoped to anchor. On arrival, we changed the plan and anchored a little further north of Marnie’s Inlet and Tahiti beach. One monohull was north of us but no one was behind us on our arrival at 11:15 am. By day’s end things changed…a monohull, MTB, catamaran, monohull, and catamaran (but they left). We weren’t sure that these folks would all hang tough through the next couple days of high winds. At low tide, we found we were in more shallow water than shown on our charts. Ken saw .20 feet below our hulls on the gauge at one point. We stayed onboard the rest of the day as Ken needed to work on our dinghy patch. When we bought MTB, there was a patch on the rear, port side of Toby. It was letting loose this season and once already on this trip we had added a new one. Sadly, the new patch was allowing air to slowly leak. So, Ken took it off, cleaned and re-patched the dinghy. We would allow it to cure for the rest of the day, overnight and in the am, before dropping the dinghy again.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010 – Due to the shallow depth of where we were anchored, we decided it would be better to move a little north to a deeper area. So, during high tide around 9:30 am, we pulled up anchor and found a place that had an addition 2’ of depth. We were newly anchored off Aunt Pat’s Cove on the south west shore of Elbow Cay. Shortly, a barge pushed by a tug came to off load some sand and soil at a home being constructed on the near shore and we were luckily not in their way. Wind was to build all day to a sustained 20-25 knots this day. It was to turn to the northeast, a direction of 060. But early on, it continued from a more northerly (unprotected for us) direction. Though, in our second anchor spot, MTB seemed to be doing fine. Once the dinghy went down, we used the viewing window in its hull to check the anchor. Oh man, it was very nicely buried in good, “thuddy” sand. We knew we’d sleep better after seeing this. We dinghied to Tahiti Beach on the southern most tip of Elbow Cay. We walked the beach and saw more footprints and people than we had anywhere during our entire trip. Due to the number of beach comers here, there were no shells and no sea glass to speak of. So, we walked further in shore, saw a large number of rental homes all managed by “Hope Town Hideaways”. We talked to a woman who had rented the same house here for 18 years and she acknowledged that the area really had gotten more developed in recent years. We also dinghied into a private marina at a housing development named Marnies Cove for a look around. A lot with a slip there runs about $595k, pricey. Back to MTB we had a lazy afternoon and evening, including watching Dancing with the Stars and American Idol.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010 – South of White Sound, anchored off Aunt Pat’s Cove, Elbow Cay. This day, the winds were to peak and then begin to diminish some. We had good protection in the lee of Elbow Cay and the anchor was good and buried so no worries at all. By the Friday, Saturday timeframe, weather was to be great….but, we just take a wait and see approach. This day we decided to dinghy into “White Sound”, 2.5 miles south of Hope Town to take a look. We knew he Abaco Inn and Sea Spray Marina both located there would be good places to see. We like visiting as many places as we possibly can during our stays in new locales. The more knowledge we gain, the better, as one never knows if that information will be needed on a future trip if bad weather hits unexpectedly. Sadly, the wind and waves built all day vs diminishing so we spent the day aboard, reading, cooking and eating.
Thursday, April 15, 2010 - South of White Sound, anchored off Aunt Pat’s Cove, Elbow Cay. TAX DAY!! Thank goodness for electronic Turbo Tax extension filings! Winds were less this day, so after lunch we jumped on the dinghy with Miko and did the exploring we’d planned for the previous day. We signed up for a week worth of internet access so updated Facebook and the website this day as well.
Friday, April 16, 2010 - South of White Sound, anchored off Aunt Pat’s Cove, Elbow Cay. Wind had turned more easterly though was still strong. It was a pretty blue sky chamber of commerce day, so didn’t matter! After listening to weather, the Cruisers Net, brushing Miko and then lunch, we headed west to explore Lubbers Cay. On the way, the dinghy started sputtering, spitting…guessed it was time to once again clean its carburetor. Lubber Cay is a small, private island, with no settlement and nothing much Bahamian. It has a lot of Florida style, second homes and professes to be an “Eco” friendly place. We tried to boat to one property in our dinghy that we had seen for sale on the internet. It was a cute little cottage and had a beautiful dock. We actually could see the place from our anchorage, across the channel. Well, the price was great, especially with its beautiful dock. It was so shallow, our dinghy couldn’t even get into the dock! To see it from a distance, it looked like a deep water place…but now we know why it was so very inexpensive, especially since it also had a private beach. We pushed ourselves back out and continued south to the dock for “Cracker P’s” a bar/restaurant with a good reputation in this area. We decided to explore the island some first and then go back to enjoy an adult libation and meet some folks. Well, we saw a lot of dirt/rock roads, thick undeveloped underbrush, a lot of for sale signs and a few cute houses. That was about it. So, after Miko stretched her legs sufficiently, we headed back for a drink at Cracker Ps. The first floor outdoor patio had no patrons as everyone was on the next level up, indoors. We had Miko with us, so we knew we could not go in. Disappointed, we figured we could drink alone on MTB for free. So, back to the dinghy and MTB we went. It was a really choppy trip and we all got soaked on the way home, a common cruisers’ experience. Some folks stand up in their dinghies and hold a rope as they ride across bodies of water, attempting to stay dry. But, we have heard of folks being injured taking headers into reefs, etc. using this method. So, we figure wet is ok. Back to MTB about 3:30 pm and shortly after, we put up the dinghy as we’d explored Lubbers, Tahiti Beach, Dorros Cove, Aunt Pat’s Cove and White Sound. So, it was time to move on to see someplace else we hadn’t yet explored. During our previous visit to the Abacos in 2008, we somehow inexplicably missed Man O War Cay, so our thought was to go there next.
April 17,2010, Saturday – Elbow Cay, off Aunt Pat’s Cove, south of White Sound channel. It was a beautiful morning and obvious moving day as there were boats out everywhere going all manner of different directions. Ken worked on cleaning the dinghy’s fuel filter and carburetor first thing, so Toby would be ready to splash on arrival at our next anchorage. He was certain the prior day’s sputtering issues would be resolved with this work. Cindy did the dishes and once these boat chores were done, it was high tide. We wanted to leave on a rising tide to be able to cut through vs. going around a shallow area on our way out. The anchor was up at 9:30 am and after a short motoring trip to Man O War Cay, anchor was down at 10:55 am. This island has a very nice protected harbor west of its shore, with Dickies Cay’s east coast forming the other shore of the bay. Sadly, it is full of mooring balls and local boats making it difficult for a boat our size to “go inside”. That was fine, as we knew the weather was to be settled for about a week, so we anchored off the west coast of Dickies Cay. It would be a short and pleasant dinghy ride into town. And, the harbor had entrances both north and south of Dickies Cay, so we could play the waves, if any, for the nicest ride. Once anchored, we realized that the nearby sailboat was “Floridian” who had been our neighbor for a few days at Elbow Cay. We dropped the dinghy immediately so Ken could check the anchor. It was fine, though laying on its side, it was buried pretty well. We had lunch, then went into town, with our garbage, to explore. May what a surprise this island was for us. The homes were all well manicured and maintained older homes (not a bunch of new Florida type stuff) and the streets were all concrete and lined by rock/masonry walls. The locals were very friendly and helpful and the place was spotless. No alcohol on this island, so not a bunch of empties laying around, etc. We visited several businesses, bought some groceries and had wonderful homemade ice cream (coconut, yum) cones. We met Dave/Marge on Windfield Lash, a boat Dave hand built over a 17 year period. Ken was able to see pictures of this wonderful endeavor. They told us where they were moored (south bay, American Harbor) and told us to have a look at their vessel on our way back to MTB. We had planned to take the southern exit out of the harbor to MTB, so did go see their impressive boat. She was really cool. Once done walking and buying baked goods/groceries, back to MTB. This afternoon, another CAT named Windsong came in and threw their anchor in our kitchen (really close to us) but oh well, it is what it is. $55.22 spent this day.
April 18, 2010 – Sunday, Man O War Cay, anchored mid island, west of Dickies Cay. Floridian left this morning as did most the other boats around us. There is a pig roast function at Nippers on Great Guana Cay every Sunday midday, so that seemed to be the direction most boats were going. Happily by 2ish, Windsong pulled their anchor out of our kitchen and left as well. Being Sunday, we had learned that nothing would be open in this town so had planned for a lazy day aboard. We made water this evening and were just basically lazy all day, looking forward to getting back to town on Monday.
April 19, 2010 – Monday, Man O War Cay, anchored mid island, west of Dickies Cay We woke to a dripping hatch over the bed and rain, lightening, and thunder this am. It poured all day, so MTB finally got a great fresh water rinse that was really needed. When it stopped for a while, we pumped out Toby’s 4-6 inches of water in her bottom. By dark things finally started to clear. The squalls brought some windy gusts, but mostly we had light winds and no worries where we were. Later in the afternoon, boats started moving and two monohulls joined us in the anchorage, for a total of 3 of us, nice and uncrowded. We heard this am that there were still 37 boats in Fisher Bay (small area) on Great Guana…the Cruising Club of America, still there.
April 20, 2010 – Tuesday, Man O War Cay, anchored mid island, west of Dickies Cay. Still 27 boats up north, at Fisher Bay (at Great Guana Cay) but we figured they would all be moving today. So, we thought about moving there in a day or two. This was Cindy’s Mom’s birthday, so she called Sarasota and enjoyed a wonderful catching up conversation with her sweet Mom. Our Loisville friends, Laura/Kev, left a message saying they were in Key West and wondered if we were possibly nearby. We left them a message back and told them to catch a flight to the Bahamas and join us. Daughter Jess sent a text message to say she finally was given back a full 40 hour week (work had cut them back to 36 many months prior)…so a good sign about the US economy. We went to town again, twice this day. The first trip in was with Miko, just walking for exercise until we saw a large black cloud. We decided it was best to make a run back to MTB to beat the rain. After the rain and lunch, we dinghied back in, sans the pup. We had another nice walk visiting different sections of the island, the Atlantic beach, local cemetery at water’s edge and the local hardware store. We picked up a gift for granddaughter, Audrey, at Sammie’s Gift Shop. Sam, the owner, was a great guy and very nice to us. He sent us off with two fresh coconuts with their outside hulls already removed by someone who works for him. Once back to MTB, all we would have to do was crack the shell (put in bag, hit with hammer) and pry out the meat. After visiting all the local stores in this settlement, including the world famous Sail Co, it was time for ice cream cones. Yummy. Back to MTB, we made some rum punch sundowners, watched the sunset as we sat outside and harvested the meat from one of our coconuts….quite the “island” experience. We were very surprised to find that our puppy is a coconut, NUT. She loved its taste, begging for more than we felt was good to give her. So, Miko has a new knick name “Coconut”. It was a very nice day, in a very nice place. This island has been such a pleasant surprise. $92.50 spent this day.
April 21, 2010, Wednesday, Man O War Cay, anchored mid island, west of Dickies Cay. We woke to more gray skies and rain. Cindy decided it was a good morning to make banana nut coconut muffins, ah tasty. We stayed aboard and watched boats moving north and south this day in the Sea of Abaco. The sea is formed on the west by Great Abaco Island and on the east by a chain of various sized islands (Man O War being one). This makes for really nice cruising grounds as nothing is very far away. Folks who rent homes or hotel rooms often rent Boston Whaler type boats so they can do day trip island hopping excursions. The three boats anchored around us all left this morning. A front with west winds was to come through this afternoon/evening and we had zero protection from that direction (probably why everyone else left!). Though, the velocity of the wind was to be low so we stayed where we were, deciding to trust our anchor. We purchased a week of WIFI access that would expire 4/22 at 9:19 am, so did some emails, Facebook, research, etc. We have a Radio Lab WIFI enhancing antenna to help us grab WIFI coverage from folks with unsecured sites. Typically we get some connectivity that allows us to check, and sometimes send, emails eliminating having to pay for access in some places. After the day’s rain, we knew we’d be pumping out the dinghy yet again. Ken’s repair to the old dinghy patch was holding great with the “tubes” finally staying inflated. Almost daily this trip we’d pump up the dinghy before jumping aboard to go. So, his good work was very appreciated. Around noon, we heard thunder in the distance and figured more unsettled weather was coming our way. Thinking back, we could only remember having thunder/lightening around us one other time during this entire cruising season. For that, we were very thankful as we had so many issues relative to the lightening strike to MTB in August 2009. Although MTB was back in very good condition with her new mast, rigging and electronics (except for VHF radio still not working properly)….the effort to get her back to normal was extraordinary and the hours and costs involved were unimaginable. We sure could not fathom ever going through it again. We hoped the odds were with us.
April 22, 2010 Thursday – Departed Man O War Cay, anchor up at 10:20 am, arrived at noon to Fisher Bay anchorage at Great Guana Cay, Abaco. This morning Ken got to work early on a “gas” project. He wanted to strain the gas in the dinghy’s tank into a can, then while returning it to the tank, strain it again. He was concerned that there was gunk in the gas as our carburetor had been clogging. By doing this before we left, we knew on arrival to Great Guana we could put Toby down right away to check our anchor. Once the dishes and gas cleaning were finished, we finally broke the roots that had been holding us at Man O War. We really were embraced by the locals there, and enjoyed their many kindnesses. But, we always have to leave nice places we’ve enjoyed, at some point. We stayed in the Great Guana anchorage in 2008 and then, it was just us and two other boats. We pulled in this time and there were three boats already anchored. Another boat followed us in, a monohull named Feather. We dropped the dinghy and checked the anchor to find it was pretty well hooked. This islet has been having a love/hate relationship with a development on its most northern end called “Bakers Bay”. The locals are concerned that the addition of a golf course will bring fertilizer run off which will result in killing of the barrier reef. The development has provided some jobs, generated a small increase in tourism and brought in some tax dollars. As a result, the government has paved the main road the entire length of the island, which is nice for the locals. Hopefully the developer will do the right thing for the locals and property owners as well, and everyone can find a way to co-exist. We went into the settlement of Guana Harbor, for a walkabout for both us and Miko. We love the way this idyllic settlement overlooks a pretty bay. There are a very few shops, a ferry to other islands and TWO “rockin” bars that folks come from far away to enjoy….Grabbers and Nippers. Nippers is on the Atlantic side of this island, and Grabbers overlooks the Sea of Abaco on the west side, near our Fisher Bay anchorage. Nippers has a swimming pool and bikini clad girls, muscle bound guys abound. On Sundays, Nippers has a “world famous” pig roast and draws boats from many of the other islands in the area each week. After our walkabout, we checked in at Grabbers to see if they would sell us a bottle of Coconut rum, which they did for $15, not a bad price. We saw the folks from Feather on shore and chatted with them, invited them over for happy hour…Tom & CINDY! They came by around 5:30 pm and we so enjoyed their company. They both are biologists and consult for the Navy/others on issues that may impact water quality, etc. Again, a nice time and we found that Tom was here in search of “surf” as he is a surfer. By evening, there were probably 25 boats in the anchorage, truly amazing.
April 23, 2010 Friday – Great Guana Cay, Abaco, Bahamas anchored off in Fishers Bay. Nice morning again this am, 72 degrees and blue. We brushed Miko for ½ hour in the am, as she is doing her semi annual coat “blowing”. We had already brushed a second dog out of her. Once done, we jumped on the dinghy and took about an hour and a half ride up to Bakers Bay to see just what a $63 million marina looks like. Well, it was pretty dang nice but the docks were very high geared more to yachts, big sport fishers, etc. than to us little ole sailing type vessels. But, it truly was very nice, though EMPTY. The lots around the marina, if sold, have not been built on yet. So, the lots have an individual dock, a nice seawall and sand, but nothing else…no trees, nothing. Hopefully the developer has very, very deep pockets, a lot of patience and continued vision as it could be an amazing place. Though, we suspect this could just become one more of the very many failed projects we have seen throughout the Bahamas. The government is finally getting smarter and requires developers to post large bonds before a project is approved to go forward, to assure either completion of projects. Seems the government has been putting mega dollars toward infrastructure related to these many failed developments. We’ve probably seen 10 failed “marina” projects on the various islands we have visited. The largest we’ve seen crash was the Royal Island plan that Roger Staubach was helping develop. Though, Bakers Bay has the potential to be another big one to fail. Of course, this would not be bad news for the locals who live here. Real estate is interesting on the islands and Cindy found a cottage on Guana listed for sale in one local realtor’s sales book. We located it while walking around on Thursday, but weren’t sure if it was occupied or not. So, we emailed the realtor to ask if ok to walk up to and around the place. They said no problem, and told us the price had been reduced to $125k. This was the cheapest “in settlement” cottage we had seen anywhere. So, after lunch, we took the dinghy back in to check it out just out of curiosity to see what $125k buys here. First we went to the store to see if they had anything we needed and lo and behold, Miko’s kind of dog food, YAY! And we bought produce as well…tomato, cucumber and plantains. Total groceries were $22. We walked over to the small marina in the settlement’s harbor, Orchid Bay. It really was a very nice place with nice, well kept amenities. While there, we saw a crane unload a small, cute little yellow submersible from a trailer and lower it into the water. It was the cutest…looked like a miniature caricature type airplane….really something to see. Once our errands and exploration were done, we walked back to see the cottage for sale. Wow what a “fixer upper”! The yard was so overgrown we made Miko go through first! And, Cindy was going to look in the window, but there were spider webs with a really mean looking, big black and yellow guy sitting in it. We had seen enough…we were outta there! Cindy found a small bromeliad and a baby Century plant near where the dinghy was tied. . So, we used a shopping bag to bring back both little plants to MTB in some local sand. Hopefully these two little babies will grow up to be nice plants and be nice memories of these islands we enjoy so much. Cindy planted the bromeliad in a parmesan cheese bottle and the century plant in a coffee container with the local sand.
Saturday, April 24, 2010 – departed Fishers Bay, Great Guana with the anchor up at 9:20 am. “Feather” left at the same time, going into the settlement harbor for the winds that were coming. They sailed by and said thanks for their time aboard MTB on Thursday night. We hoped to catch up with Tom & Cindy somewhere else, as they are such nice folks. We sailed almost the whole way to Treasure Cay until “Elegante” wouldn't give way and almost ran into us. What a jerk…he was motoring and we were under sails. We finally had to fire up our motors to get away from him. We entered the Treasure Cay channel at low tide and saw .1’ under us at one point. On the way across the Sea of Abaco, Cindy saw a big fish jump, possibly a tuna. There was a sea turtle in the anchorage right after we anchored…welcome committee. We immediately dropped the dinghy and checked the anchor. THEN, a treat for Ken as the FSU men’s baseball team was on TV playing Miami. Silver Boots, the trawler we were anchored next to at Guana, came in next to us at lunchtime. A monohull named Long Gone anchored smack dab in the middle of the marina channel about 1:30 pm. Luckily, they figured it our and moved before the Billfish Tournament boats flew back in the channel for check in. We had a nice eight mile sail this day and we enjoyed the day’s good breeze. The breeze was especially appreciated, as there was little wind the day before and it had been hot. Wind was to keep building to 20-25 knots and move to the S/SW by Sunday night.
Sunday, April 25, 2010 – Treasure Cay – We went into the settlement and dropped our garbage. We walked over to the beautiful Treasure Cay beach…its overwhelming natural beauty always surprises us. Over time, we forget about how truly idyllic it is, this 7mile beach/bay with the best sand anywhere. We didn’t need anything in town, so went back to MTB and chilled.
Monday, April 26, 2010 – Treasure Cay – A cold front began early this day and winds topped 34 knots. Chris the weather guy announced that we could experience 60 knot winds in the squalls that would come through this day. We were getting the same front that went through Mississippi, killing 10 two days previously. We heard folks on the radio that had no idea this front was coming, surprised by the storm’s strength. We put up the dinghy in case we drug and had to re-anchor. And, we pulled the plug so, no pumping out the rain water this time! We got several really nice fresh water washings this day. The sustained winds most the day were 22-28 but everyone held ok. Rollsdoc came by, Roger and Darlene, nice folks. Darlene wanted to meet Miko, she’s a dog person for sure. Darlene is one of the folks who gives weather reports for BASRA (like US Coast Guard) each morning on the Ham radio at 7:00 am. These are the good folks who love Georgetown, give back and help others…unlike that group we were around at Cat Island, Conception and Eleuthera (the ones who acted like Frat boyz). It was an anchor watch day, all day long, and we saw winds in the high 20’s and up to 35 knots. We watched TV, flipping over frequently to the Weather Channel to watch the radar for the position of the front. Cindy made a Key Lime pie, a worthwhile time consuming task. The 20 lb. propane tank ran out this day, though it timed it perfectly for the pie to cook. Luckily, the worst of the front was by us by early evening. And, by bedtime, things were much improved. Small squalls were still in the area but nothing of concern, so we slept good. Anchor watches are so much better, less stressful if during the daylight hours as it is easier to keep an eye on the other boats, too.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010 – Treasure Cay, Abaco, Bahamas – As always, what a difference a day makes. After a front, one wakes up and breathes a sigh of relief, with such appreciation for the clear air, cooler winds and blue skies. Sailors are also very appreciative the morning after a front passes, knowing they made it through yet another storm unscathed. It makes for a really nice am….safety and beauty! We did hear about one boat in the Exumas that took such a large breaking wave, they lost their bowsprit and their anchor bounced so hard it landed in their mast…unbelievable. Why don’t these folks go into safe anchorages in this bad weather…crazy?! Several boats left this am. We knew a small secondary cold front was coming through shortly possibly having 20-25 knot winds. So, we figured we would stay put for one more day and see what the next weather report had to say. We put the dinghy back down and did a putt putt through the area canals to see what has changed from our previous visits (two years and sixteen years ago!). At 11:30 am, Shamal with Bob & Sherry aboard came by to say hello. We didn’t know they were in the anchorage as they came in during the rainstorm the prior day. It was so nice to catch up with these nice folks who we hadn’t seen since the day we all left Rum Cay in March. When we left, we were headed for San Salvador and Shamal was going to Crooked Island via Long Island, and Early Out headed to Cat Island. It is such a big world, but in this cruising life of ours, it often feels pretty small, when things like (reconnecting with folks) this happen. Roger/Connie from Down Time came by. They took their HAM radio tests in Brunswick in 2008 when we did and here we are together in the same place. Our walk on shore was nice and we spent the last of our Bahamian currency on souvenirs and rum, $54.95. Well, it was a very nice day in a beautiful (though very Florida like) place.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010 – Treasure Cay anchorage. A secondary front was coming through this day, though not an “event”. Winds were gusting up to about 22 knots in the am, but everything was moderating by midday. We debated whether to leave in the afternoon and go around “the Whale”…a passage that takes vessels around Whale Cay, into the Atlantic and back to the Sea of Abaco. The weather for the next 5 days was to be great so we were excited. It was the perfect time to be crossing back to Florida but, we weren’t staged far enough north, nor were we mentally ready to go. We were planning to see a few more places in the Abaco islands, missed on our last trip. So, we’d just have to hope in the subsequent 2 weeks, there would be a similar wonderful weather/seas window for a crossing back toward home. Miko slept in this day…she wandered out of our bed about 9:30 am! We guessed that because it was breezy and cool in the berth she was enjoying herself. We’d enjoyed having internet access on the boat here at TC. Though, this day the fiber optic connection was CAPPUT. Oh well, we steal it (wifi signal) where/when we can! Green Turtle Cay was having a Heritage Festival at the end of the week/weekend and we heard it was something to see. We hadn’t planned to go, but did consider doing so hearing about the Festival. We love the settlement of New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay. We’d been there several times, once for a month that included Christmas 2008 and Years Day 2009 for “Junkanoo”…and it is a great place. This island has a good blend of black and white locals who seem to all get along very well. Some islands we’ve visited have a majority of black inhabitants while others have a white majority. In some of these places, race relations seemed difficult. We’ve been told by residents on Green Turtle Cay that the island’s locals enjoy a respectful and happy existence, without race related issues. Ah, if the whole world could follow suit. We knew the festival would be a celebration of that heritage and an inspirational time. We’d spent a good deal of time there on previous trips, so we decided to visit some other new places vs. going again to Green Turtle Cay. We jumped in the dinghy this day and filled up the gas tank, $22. Then, off we went to do some more canal exploration. There was one on the south side of the island near the entrance channel that we had not seen before. As we motored the dinghy into the channel, a dolphin swam up and stayed along side for a little while. Miko decided it was the biggest fish she had ever seen, almost jumped off her spot on the dinghy. After seeing the houses, docks and undeveloped lots along the canal, we returned to the spoils island that is directly beside the Treasure Cay entrance channel. Because it is small and completely surrounded by water, we knew it would be a great place to let Miko run off her lead. We picked up a few shells, played with the pup and headed back to MTB. We had a happy hour invite to “Down Time” this evening and joined Rollsdoc (Roger/Darlene) and Island Time (Terry/Deb) aboard with owners, Roger/Connie. What a great evening, wonderful libations, yummy snacks and the best company. We were surrounded this night by 4 charter boats, 1 monohull, 3 catamarans. Often these folks have no experience with the vessel they are on. We see them stand out front, pondering how to anchor, wonder how much chain they have out or is enough, and don’t use their bridle. Some of these charter folks are scary, especially when they have a bullseye drawn on your bow! But, no one hit us, that was good.
Thursday, April 29, 2010 – This was one of those amazing days one remembers for a long time! We departed Treasure Cay with our anchor up at 7:30 am as we wanted to get out of the way of Down Time who was also leaving this morning and we knew having us out of the way would give him some more maneuvering room. We sadly had to motor this whole trip, going around “THE WHALE”….into the Atlantic, around Whale Cay and back into the Sea of Abaco. Then we motored on up to the northwest anchorage at Manjack. Manjack has also been known as “Nunjack Cay” as well. “Moondoggy” a chartered Maine Cat was at anchor nearby. We dropped the dinghy and went to shore. Moondoggy’s crew, Rob and Mia from California were on shore. They were really nice folks and we enjoyed speaking with them. We walked three of the island’s beaches: the Atlantic side, north side and north west side beaches. All were nice and beautiful. We accomplished our mission by walking enough to wear out Miko. When we got back to MTB, we called “Sea Story”, the home on the island built by Leslie Fouse and Bill Herrington. They were home and invited us to come visit them. These folks are fellow “Vixen” owners…..our interesting little RV built in Detroit in 1986. So, we looked forward to meeting folks who enjoy some of the same things as us. Walking up the path we saw handmade signs directing cruisers to various beaches and the home these folks built themselves. Their home is absolutely beautiful outside and the inside was filled with wonderful artwork and décor. Their shower was made of white sand stones collected on the island, with a translucent ceiling that had palm fronds on top, creating neat shadows. We were introduced to some very nice folks, friends of Bill/Leslie, who were anchored in the southwest anchorage, and have spent a great deal of time at Manjack. This is a place where folks help each other. The day prior, they had helped step a mast on a sailboat in the anchorage and we saw those photos, very interesting. Bill also shared photos of their Vixen and a video of a ferry they plan to put her on, taking their Vixen to Newfoundland (scary waves). We had a wonderful tour of these nice peoples’ idyllic home place. Bill/Leslie strive to be self sufficient, growing their food in beautiful hand built rock walled garden beds, collecting eggs from some of the most beautiful (and FAT) chickens we have ever seen, etc. The flora and fauna were so interesting…..mangos, papayas, Surinam cherries, peanuts, cabbage, lettuce, Seminole melons, pineapples, herbs, green beans, tomatoes, bread fruit, orchids, ginger, grapes, etc, etc, etc…all grown here. They also have a hydroponics garden; a boat yard/marina; a hot water shower in a storage building, powered by a recycled solar panel and decorated as a European phone booth; beautiful beach/bay lined by palm trees and adorned with a tiki hut; a lovely hammock swaying on their huge wrap around porch; tame curly tailed Iguana who join them for lunch; little birds who know they will find bird seed on the porch, interesting feature, after interesting feature. This visit was wonderful and it was very hard to take our leave from such a beautiful place and nice people. There were other visitors ashore and we had left Miko on MTB, so we said our goodbyes….so appreciative of the hospitality and our visit with Bill & Leslie. Thanks so very much, guys for sharing your world. We hope whenever you are in the States, we can get together. Once back to MTB, around sundown, Rob/Mia came over to visit and we invited them aboard to enjoy some time with these nice folks from California. A safe trip, beautiful beaches, good times with wonderful folks, and an incredible sunset, YEP…this was a perfect cruising day.
April 30, 2010, Friday – Manjack Cay to Crab Cay, Abacos - Bahamas. We didn’t really have a plan for this day. We knew Bill/Leslie were going to the Festival at Green Turtle. And, Moondoggy left for the Green Turtle festival in the am. So, about noon, we decided to pull out of the anchorage, pull up our sails and see where the wind took us. We were NOT going to motor this day. Well, with the wind from the SE, we ended up at Crab Cay at the very northeastern tip of Great Abaco Island. This is a secluded, protected anchorage we have stayed in previously, and there was only one other boat (trawler) anchored on our arrival. There is a little bit of beach with palm trees almost to the water edge. We arrived at 3:30 pm after a sail of 18 miles. The high wind for the day was 20 knots. A free day, yea. Only one bad thing about this anchorage : the “no see ums” gnatty little things. We started one of our trusty mosquito coils in the salon and it was a great help. We were glad when it was finally cool enough to shut the double doors into the salon. A lazy day, no wifi, nothing spent….no diesel burned…a FREE day!
May 1, 2010, Saturday – departed Crab Cay, northeast end of Great Abaco Island. We hoped to go to Foxtown this day. Though the anchorage at Hawksbill Cay, where we would stay to dinghy to town, said poor holding and the wind was gusting. So, plan B…just head straight for Great Sale Cay to stage for our crossing back to the US. The weather window for a crossing was good through Wednesday so we figured we might as well go ahead and jump across. So, we pulled up anchor at 8:00 am to get out of the shallow anchorage on a high tide. We sailed 43 nautical miles to Great Sale Cay. We had times where we were only making 2 knots per hour but were patient sailors. At other times we were flying at almost 8 knots and reefing in the jib. It was so nice to once again be sailors after all the motoring the strange winds of this season had required. We averaged 4.8 knots down wind for the day, arriving at the anchorage with anchor down at 5:30 pm. Total boats in the anchorage in addition to us was 7….5 monohulls, 1 catamaran and one motor yacht. There was a commercial fishing boat aground at the tip of the island on our arrival at low tide. You’d think those guys with local knowledge would know better! We knew that you have to go around the shoal, about 7 miles down and back and they should have. But, maybe they didn’t have any charts or GPS, just eyeballs and crossed fingers, bummer. Great Sale Cay is in the middle of NO where, is uninhabited, has a rocky shoreline, no decent beaches and an abandoned US missile site. Nothing much of redeeming value here except that it has good holding, decent wind protection and is a great place to leave from, heading out across the Little Bahama Bank toward the US coast.
May 2, 2010, Sunday, Great Sale Cay. By 10:00 am, we were the only vessel left in the anchorage. Some vessels headed toward the States going home and some turned toward the Abacos for a visit to the Bahamas. This island has no Customs/Immigration capability (ah, has nothing, period!) so crews on arriving boats cannot get off their vessels and go ashore. We had a few chores to do before crossing back to the States so we had decided to spend the day here. We prepared some food for the next two days, brushed Miko, took showers, washed the dishes, checked the oil, all our running lights, the bilges to assure they were dry. We added a stabilizer to the diesel fuel, planned a route, made sure we had our Local Boaters Option information to check back in with Customs in the States, and sent an email to family/friends to let them know we were heading back to the US. We checked, and double checked, weather reports from a number of sources for both the NW Bahamas as well as the Florida coastline. We hoped to make great time with the help of the Gulfstream, and wanted to make it all the way to St. Augustine with only one overnight watch. We knew that would be a feat and were realistic that we’d probably only make it to Ponce Inlet, south of Daytona by doing just one overnight leg. So, we’d probably end up going in to anchor at the Ponce Inlet. Then, subsequently we’d travel a day to St. Augustine and another day home to Brunswick, weather permitting. We talked about biting the bullet, staying outside on the Atlantic, sailing 24/7 until we got home to Brunswick. We figured we’d see how the winds, seas, vessel, crew and puppy were all doing. By this evening, there were 7 boats in the anchorage. Some boats were leaving the Bahamas, some were arrivals from Florida.
May 3, Monday, 2010 – departed Great Sale Cay, northern Bahamas at 6:30 am, planning to transit the Little Bahama Bank and ride the Gulfstream as far as possible in a day, night, day sail. We hoped to make it to St. Augustine but would really have great winds. Well, winds weren’t in a great direction but we were sailing and averaging around 4-6 knots speed before hitting the Gulfstream. And, twice we had the wonderful experience of "FISH ON"! We pulled about a 15 pound Mahi Mahi. And, a little later, we pulled in a beautiful "Little Tunny". this is a fish with beautiful markings. As soon as they were in the net, with some vodka shot into their gills for a quick death, each fish was thrown into our dinghy. We immediately cleaned each and had them quickly in the freezer. Thanks Terry for the fishing lesson! Once we were well into the Atlantic and getting the push of the Gulfstream, our speed over ground was up to 8-9 knots. This day of sailing and fishing (and CATCHING) was a very pleasant one.
May 4, Tuesday, 2010 – Off shore, Florida, Atlantic Coast. Through the day, we were sailing and it was great. Sadly, we by the afternoon, we knew we would not make an arrival to St. Augustine during daylight. We only missed being able to go in by about 4 hours. So, we just decided to keep on keeping on….sailing through another night. There was also a cold front that was to come through by midnight and we knew being out on the water during a squall was less worry than being in a crowded anchorage. As we sailed along, Miko stuck her nose up in the area and was obviously interested in something in the water. Sure enough, a large pod of Dolphins was nearby and they started playing around us. At one point, two were jumping out of the water together directly in front of our bow. It was so cool and Ken got excited and exclaimed…”they’re jumping, just like at Sea World”. Miko went wild when the dolphins came along side of MTB. The wind direction was changing, and the velocity dropping. We were seeing squalls coming toward us on our radar so we decided to drop our mainsail and begin motoring just before dark. We knew with the motors, we would have more ability to turn away from squalls if need be. We were actually in great positions for the two bands of squalls that came our way and only had one brief, really hard rain storm. The downside of our decision to continue on and do a second overnight leg was that the sea swells were coming toward us. This was because the wind had also changed direction. We did 2 on and 2 hours off shifts all day and night to keep the fatigue as minimal as possible. And, Miko just stayed in her crate and slept all night…what a good girl.
May 5, Wednesday, 2010 – Off shore, St. Augustine, FL through the night. Daylight brought calm winds and more mild seas, though the swells were still coming toward us. There was not way to sail, so we just kept motoring, knowing this would allow us to time our arrival into our home port, Brunswick, GA for high slack tide. We arrived at the sea buoy marking the entrance channel into Brunswick around 11:30 am. Of course, as normal, a Brunswick pilot got on the radio to announce that a huge container ship had just departed the port and would shortly be entering the channel. These guys take most of the room in the channel. So, we moved over to the south side of the green buoys as we have been through this before and knew there was plenty of deep water there. We certainly didn’t want to meet the ship in the channel at the point where the water outside the channel is around 2’. The auto carrier ship finally went by and we continued on, moving back into the channel. Once under the beautiful Sidney Lanier Bridge, we called our marina. We had a wonderful welcome back by Cindy, then Sherry when we were closer. They are such good folks and are the most professional Marina representatives we hear on the radio, anywhere. Some other marina representatives, mostly in Florida, on the radio sound like a customer calling is an inconvenience. By 3:00 pm, we were stern in on the north side of Dock 13….ah, lucky 13 AGAIN.. where we got hit by lightening in August 2009. Oh well, we do what must be done. Captain Ken did a masterful job getting us into our slip. We both have come a long way. Compared to the first fearful arrival and approach the first time we docked in Brunswick after buying and bringing the boat from Key West in 2006….we’ve greatly improved.
Well, home again, safe and sound after another wonderful, safe season. We will post our trip favorites on another page (see page tabs on the left side of the website). We were so happy to be back and to re-connecting with our families and friends during the summer. Although, we’ll be off again on November 1, 2010.