Most recent posts are at the top/first...so just scroll down to the last date entry
you read, and work your way back to the top!
April to May 2014 - after going home with Yet To Be for a brief time, we headed out on Yet To Be and took a trip through Lake Okeechobee all the way up to Sarasota. Spent some good time in Marina Jack in Sarasota visiting Cindy's family. Then, back south to Boca Grande, Fl for the marriage of Ken's nephew Adam Straubinger to Caitlin DeJong. It was great and we had Ken Sr. stay aboard with us while in Boca Grande. After the wedding, we headed back through the lock system that allows one to travel from the Gulf coast back though Lake Okeechobee, to the Intercoastal waterway. Great time and no major issues with our old, new to us, motor cruiser.
04-07-2014 - We are in Harbourtown Marina, Fort Pierce, Florida. We had a few projects so decided to stay "tied up" a few days before heading for home. A 1998 Johnson dinghy motor was "thrown" in with our purchase. Snow Goose's owner said its a good motor but just hasn't been run since around 2011! So, Ken worked on it some with no luck. So, today we hired a technician who is to come get it and see if its fixable. If it is...just another bonus to our purchase. Hopefully its just a carb cleaning or rebuild needed. Then, put her back together and we'll be good to go. So far, we haven't found any major surprises with our vessel. We like her a lot after spending three nights aboard so far. The coffee pot is frustrating, so we'll just go back to our beautiful French press. The toaster oven's crumb tray is so gunked up, it is going in the trash. The antenna connector on the back of the TV is broken off, so need to buy another TV. And, Miko won't do the four steps up from the salon to the cockpit....and she is not liking how high our bed is. So, all in all, not too bad!
04-04-2014 - After an extensive search, we found the vessel for us and purchased her this day. We ended up with something we never expected...bigger and older than anticipated. We looked at a lot of what we coined P O Ps...pieces of poop. When we stepped on Snow Goose in Fort Pierce, Florida, a 1979 Gulfstar, we felt at home. She is an American made motor cruisers 44' long with a big aft sundeck. She was built in St. Petersburg on the Gulf Coast, in Tampa Bay. She has two berths, two heads a kitchen, sundeck and flybridge. She's a slow poke and will only cruise at a normal 7-8 knots...but, who's in a hurry when retired?
October 2013 - Well, on 10-31-2013 we closed on the sail of our beautiful sailing catamaran, Meant To Be. So, we are now looking for the next vessel!
News update - May 2013...we're home in Brunswick, Georgia. And, Meant To Be just went on the market!! We are thinking we'd like to buy a "Great Loop" and coastal cruising friendly vessel so we have to sell the one with the tall mast!! Keep you all posted!!
May 4, 2013 - Well, as you see....our log entries are really, really behind. I had computer troubles in March. A lot of my old log entries were on that old computer. And, I didn't have a way to keep the log on my computer, so the remainder of the season's entries were all made in a book, handwritten. From February in Black Point, we went to Pipe Creek. We sailed over to South Point, Andros where we stayed for some time. After a great time in Andros, we crossed back to the US and spent a good bit of time in Lake Worth/W. Palm Beach, waiting for that perfect weather window to get home! Soon, I will get those handwritten logs into Word and posted here. We've been having too much fun since we got home to get to it!! But, I will, I will.
February 24, 2013 – Sunday, morning 1, night 2, Black Point Settlement bay anchorage. We had a nice gentle rocking sleep overnight and this morning slept in a little bit, as no weather report on Sundays. I needed to give a weather report at 7:20 am, for BASRA (Bahamas Air Sea Rescue) and part of the report is the number of cruising boats at our location. So, this am, we were on top of MTB counting the number of boats anchored across this large bay. We counted 50, 51 and 53 so reported 51 as it is hard to see if two masts = two monohulls in the distance or one double master. So, we had to guess a bit. But, man, that is a lot of boats for this location. We always knew others would find this wonderful community to be a very attractive cruiser destination. And, those disenchanted with going to Georgetown were now staying here for their whole cruising season. By 9:30 am, 20 boats already left but, more were arriving and we expected net, net it would still be crowded by the end of the day. We were nostalgic for all the times in so many past years when we were one of 2 to 4 total boats here, for days on end. We went to shore and walked “Sea Glass Beach” after dropping off our garbage and leaving a donation at the trailer provided for this here. We found a buoy on the beach that Bob on Big Run said he had “hid” here for us.Ken was chasing Miko and found it…nice big one with a great rope web around it will be great on our dock at home. At the government dock, Miko made friends with Taylor, a cute local 2 year old in pink. They had a mutual admiration thing going on! Back to MTB, we studied weather reports and made a tentative travel plan. We both came to realize that attempting to get all the way back to Florida and then down to Key West by 03-21-2013 was probably too aggressive a travel plan. Bad weather and wrong wind direction in the current forecasts would not allow us to even start that way until about March 9. So, we will try to make it home to Brunswick, and figure a way to go to Key West by land, if possible. We do want to celebrate friend Charlie White’s big 6-0 there with him/Martha. We did decide we were ready to start working our way back home to Brunswick. Daytona 500 was on this day with Danica Patrick, a G I R L, on the pole…how cool was that?
February 23, 2013 – Saturday, morning 1, Rocky Point Cay, northwest side. There was nothing on this island to that looked worthy of exploration so we got up and going this morning. We had some really “skinny” water to get through on this leg and we didn’t want to go through it at low tide. By leaving at 7:40 am, we would get through the most shallow area on a mid falling tide, which would be fine. We had 76 degrees this day, wind was at 135 degrees at 8-10 knots. We had the jib out and one engine running at 1800 rpms. We made it through the shallow waters and saw as little as 1 foot under our hulls, but mostly 2’ under us and that was great. At 11:30 am, we had a lone dolphin come play with us…in and out of our hulls, front to back of MTB as we sailed along. He was very photogenic and the water was shallow and clear for great photos. We passed more boats this day on our trip north up the Exumas chain than we had seen in a month, lots of folks moving about. We arrived at Black Point at about 3:30 pm to find a full house and someone anchored in our normal, favorite spot, bummer. We found a good space and were happy to be back, but sad to see this beautiful place resembling Georgetown’s over crowding. But, we had wifi, cell service and TV and that was good. We motor sailed this whole day, for an overall average of 5.6 knots for the approximately 40 mile trip. We down loaded 400+ emails as we hadn’t had a wifi signal to do so since February 9th.
February 22, 2013 – Friday, morning 1, anchored just south of Fisherman’s Anchorage, northwest side of Water Cay. Except for a few “rock spit” type cays, Water Cay is basically the last island at the top of the Jumentos Islands chain. From here, there is shallow water, coral heads and unsurveyed (meaning no GPS/chart marks) areas for the route northwest to the Exumas. We had a long trip planned so the anchor was up at 7:15 am and once we were clear of reefs and on course, at 8:30 am, was our aaahhh moment…sails up, no engines. We saw only a few boats this day, one being Lady Matilda, one of the country’s mailboat fleet. By 11:30 am, we were still sailing with an average speed of 5.3 knots. About 1 pm, wind direction was not good and we had to bring in our jib for about an hour, then for the last 12 miles of our trip, we had it back out. Total this day, we averaged 5.5 knots, motored about 1.5 hours, making 45.4 nms. We had watched the water color cautiously this day as coral heads were prevalent. We anchored behind a little spit about 10 miles north of Coakley Cay, Exumas and south of the Brigantine Islands. It was called Rocky Point Cay and uninhabited but charts showed three preferred anchor spots. We had great holding and protection for the forecasted 20 knot SE winds. The water was milky here for some reason, even being noted on the chart although, our anchor dug in and set great. The best part about arriving here, we were back to the land of TV, woo hoo. No wifi, no cell, but TV was great. This night we saw a small Green Flash to top off a good day of travel northwest from the Jumentos back to the Exumas.
February 21, 2013 – Thursday, morning 2, north west anchorage, Flamingo Cay, Jumentos Islands, no tv, no wifi, no cell service. A rain shower woke us this morning, about 6 am. Not only is rain always welcome for cleaning, cooling and plant watering…this am, it provided a full rainbow to our stern that was beautiful. We did some more exploring around Flamingo this am, stopping at the big main beach and one little beach further south. We picked up more of the smooth, round black stones as they were unique to this island. In between beach combing, we had our most unique experience…..a drive in (in the dinghy) cave. This cave has an opening in its “roof” that allows sunlight to stream down into the cave. In a far corner, there were remnants of where local fisherman had sat in the cool shaded cave and cleaned conch, a large area/pile of old, cracked conch shells. We spoke to folks from Daufuskee Island, SC who were on a Nordhaven trawler named “Let’s Dance”. They were just about to pull out, heading south to visit the rest of the Jumentos/Raggeds. We felt we’d seen what there was to see on Flamingo, so we were up anchor by 11:30 am. We wanted to get a few miles under out belt to make our Friday trip back to the Exumas a little shorter. And, we also wanted to see the next island, Water Cay, only a trip of 13.2 nautical miles this day. We had an overall average speed of 5.6 knots and were anchored at Water Cay by 2 pm. This Cay was idyllic, with one area having high white cliffs, another area about sea level and one bay designated as the “Fisherman’s Anchorage”. Local fisherman from Long Island and other settlements stay offshore fishing all day, each day. Then, they hustle into this anchorage, clean their catch and prepare for the next day. We heard them in the dark cracking conch shells, whack whack. We had little chirping birds on shore evening…they had greeted us with “cheep, cheep” when we arrived. “Zydeco” radioed us this afternoon and asked if we were the folks they had crossed from the US to the Bahamas on 12/08/2013 from Lake Worth. Yep, it was us and we had chatted that afternoon and night on the way to the Bahamas. So, here we were again, together in a remote anchorage amazed at what a small world we live in. Nice folks. This was another uninhabited island except for the fishermen who bunk here at night And, in total there were 6 cruising boats. At sunset, a dark hulled monohull provided evening entertainment….a bag piper serenaded us for quite awhile and he was great. This nice day had an explanation mark….a BRILLIANT, emerald colored Green Flash…probably the best ever we have seen.
February 20, 2013 – Wednesday, morning 1, west anchorage, Flamingo Cay, Jumentos island chain. No TV, No Wifi, No Cell Phone. We had a wonderful sleep overnight as it was calm and cool and the little song birds were still tweeting so sweetly. We got organized and put down the dinghy as we’d promised Miko a walk on real land this day. We checked our anchor (aok…buried) and saw SO many conch shells on the bottom, all around our anchorage. The shore was also littered with conch shells that had been harvested here by the fishermen who come over from Long Island, east of these Cays. Shelling was not that great on our little beach, but there were smooth, small round black stones all along the beach. Each beach we walk, we find new and different types of treasure. Here, we picked up black stones…no sea glass, no sea beans, but there were o a bunch of extra large brightly colored “sunshine” shells and a few sand dollars. We weren’t nearly done walking, but the sky started to darken and we knew we needed to head back. It was only about 500 yards (nice) from shore, to MTB and we needed to get aboard and close our hatches. Nothing worse than a soaking wet berth to sleep in! We made it in time and we checked to see that our rain collection systems were set up. Then, the skies opened up with a gully washer. About the same time we saw “Field Trip” the cat anchored just south of us, was leaving. MTB got a great fresh water rinse and after the prior day’s crashing seas, she needed it. We collected over 10 gallons of fresh clean water; had our on board plants outside for a soaking and were even able to fill a couple cleaning buckets with water. So, this shower was a welcome one. In between rain showers, we put our stern sunscreen back up, as afternoons this far south are HOT when the sun bears down on the cockpit. This screen stretches over a stainless steel tubular frame that extends about 24” off our stern, from the top back of our hard top cockpit targa. We initially laid it out in the rain as we felt the Sunbrella may be more pliable making the tight, snug stretch over the stainless structure easier, helping us get it zipped and snapped. This helped and the screen went on easier than ever. Ken used some of our fresh water to wash the salt off our cockpit windscreens this day as well. Flamingo Cay is the largest island in the Jumentos chain. It is 39’ above sea level (whew) and about two miles in length. And of course, like all these Cays it is uninhabited. The major claim to fame here is that there is a drive in (dinghy) cave that has sunlight streaming in, so of course we knew we’d have to go check that out. About noon, we noticed a radar dome projecting over the hill to our south, indicating a motor yacht of some variety had anchored down there. They either came up from the south, or had come in for the “outside”…waters between these cays and Long Island. Later this day, about 4:30 pm, another monohull arrived but also anchored south of us….leaving us alone in our idyllic little bay. Once the rain storms seemed to be by us, we went exploring more of the island, heading northwest from our anchorage. We rounded the tip of the island and hoped to hop out the cut to go to the north beach. But the sea swell through the cut was too much for us and our little dinghy with precious Miko aboard. So, we went and snorkeled probably 20 mini reefs, visited two tiny inlet beaches, then headed to the long, main west beach where the other boats were anchored. The trawler folks were off on their dinghy exploring as well. But, we got to speak with the folks on Sea Misty, French Canadian couple with two little boys aboard…very nice. We had planned to walk the big beach but the Canadian was going to shore to clean conchs (offered us some) so we decided to wait as Miko might find smelly conch irresistible and we were worried they might lose their dinner! Conch was more plentiful here than anywhere we have been in the Bahamas recently. This is why the fishing boats from Spanish Wells, Eleuthera travel hundreds of miles each year, coming to and from the “fishing grounds” here in the Jumentos/Raggeds. Their area of the Bahamas has been over fished, forcing them further from their home to earn their living. Here, lobster, grouper and conch are still plentiful. It was late afternoon so we just decided to finish the rest of our exploration early the next morning. We needed to do the drive in cave at low tide anyway. Back on MTB, we were treated to probably one of the top two green flashes we have ever seen while cruising, so that was big excitement for the evening. We had three sharks under MTB while Ken was out grilling, guessed they liked the smell of pork chops. But, we did double check to make sure Miko was still onboard!
February 19, 2013 – Tuesday, norning 3, Southside Bay anchorage, Ragged Island. Wd e got up knowing we were going somewhere this day. If we got around to the west of Ragged Island and the conditions were bad, we would duck into the anchorage at the next island up, Hog Cay where were the prior Friday. Or, if we were sailing well, we’d keep going. It was a rough anchorage so getting the anchor up was fun…just trying to stand up on the bow was exciting. We had the anchor up at 8:30 am, and waved at the commercial fishing boat guys as we passed them on our way out. By 8:45 am, we had the jib out and both engines running at low rpms, 1800. We were flying so decided on a destination further up the chain, beyond Raccoon where we anchored the prior week on our arrival in the Ragged Island chain. We initially picked Buena Vista Cay, then Jamaica Cay but as there were storms all around us, we making good time, we decided to add an additional 12 miles to the trip and head for Flamingo Cay for more protection. We had 5-7 seas hitting us on the side, so we found ourselves telling each other to be careful when walking around the cockpit, salon or down to the head. By about 2 pm, the sky had a little more blue vs. the dark gray we’d been seeing all day. About 1 hour out from Flamingo, we had to turn more into the winds, so pulled in the jib and upped our rpms up to 2600 to get us in. There are 4 designated anchorages on Flamingo: 1 northside (no good in the wind we had); 1 on the southside big enough for 1 boat and one was already there; 2 on the west side. The most southern of the two west anchorages had a monohull named Sea Misty and a catamaran named Field Trip anchored already, both with kids aboard. So, we went to the idyllic northern most of the west anchorages. It had a lofty palm tree on the horizon (chart said two palm trees as land marks), and a small half moon beach fringed by rock banks. We were able to motor close in to the shore and split the bay/anchorage in half, sitting right in the middle. It was wonderfully calm and a beautiful setting which was just what we needed after the rocking we’d done the prior three days. This 7.5 hour trip was 44.1 nautical miles. While sailing early in the day, we were running 7 to 8 knots, but our speed lessened when we turned NE and had to motor the rest of the way. But, the reward was an amazing night in a lovely place with little shore birds chirping and making us smile.
February 18, 2013 – Monday, morning 2, Southside Bay anchorage, Ragged Island, no wifi, no TV, yes cell phone. 76 degrees, 61% humidity and wind was from 030, north
east, moving east and strong, low 20’s gusting higher. We had large swells and white caps in the anchorage, pretty uncomfortable but not untenable this day. At high tide, a number of boats left to seek more protection, but reported difficult trips with rough seas. I wanted to move, but Ken did not so we stayed put. It wasn’t a particularly happy day aboard, although, Miko did better than her humans as she is just such a trouper. Puddle Jumper left and we had a nice chat about our future travel plans It lightened up some, but winds and swells never moderated. At dusk, one of the Spanish Wells commercial fishing operations (large vessel with 4 “baby duckling” vessels tagging behind) anchored adjacent to us. You know conditions outside the anchorage are bad when the commercial guys come in! The roar of the wind got pretty tedious by the end of this, day three anchored here. But we were safe and tucked in, so all was ok. Ragged Island is the only inhabited island in both the Jumentos and Ragged Islands chains. Its settlement, Duncan Town, is almost land locked as their channel into town is silted and only very shoal draft vessels and dinghies can make it in. The mail boat has to anchor off shore, and the locals boat out to get all their supplies. There is a landing strip that lies just north of Southside Bay, our anchorage. From SS Bay, it is about a 1.5 mile walk to town and we had hoped to get in, but conditions were so bad, we couldn’t even think about dropping our dingy. Ragged Island, to our north and Little Ragged Island to our east formed the last bay of the entire Ragged Island chain. So, now our exploration of the Raggeds will take us north. A side note/funny…..we had fish & baked beans for dinner this night. While in bed late this night, Ken did a little “poot” and Miko who was laying next to his rear side, stuck her nose over and sniffed. A short while later, when the same thing happened again, she sniffed once, jumped up and got as far away on the bed as she could. Yes girl, I can relate.
February 17, 2013 – Sunday, morning 1, south anchorage, Ragged Island, no wifi, but had cell phone coverage. Sadly, intermittent TV this morning with the digital TV channels signals not coming in like before. Nothing more happened in the anchorage through this morning’s early hours, with most of the anchored boats sleeping from about 1:30 am until daylight. The morning wind went a little more north and things settled down some. Early this morning, Audacious made apology calls on the radio to both boats they rammed during the night, Suncast and Marcy. Suncast’s captain, Bill, was gracious and kind. Although, Martha on Marcy was the opposite and spoke to Roger on Audacious horribly when he was just trying to do all the right things. We know everyone involved in the prior nights’ sad incidents were stressed and upset, but there was no reason for folks to be dreadful to one another. We were struck by the bad behavior of he guy on Dyad and Martha on Marcy. There are two types of boaters, those who have drug and had been in sticky situations, and those who will! So, through these bad weather times, folks just need to be understanding, take a deep breath or two and try to help one another out. We were socked in with a dreary gray sky this day, no sun and high wind from the NW/N. So, what could be better to do than eat some bacon, eggs and hash browns for breakfast? We watched some bouncing morning news on a digital TV channel, did some trip planning, AND, Ken found more grits and a bottle of Liquor 43 (yum) in the “pantry”, yea. We kept the radio on all day, listening in on the party line (VHF) all day hearing many interesting conversations, for sure. We heard one boat tell another that at 11:45 am, the wind was blowing 21-23 knots, hence the whitecaps all through our anchorage. This was good to learn, as we lost our anemometer in January, so can only guess the wind velocity now. C Language was a nice neighbor to Audacious, calling them to ask if they needed any help, tools, etc. in dealing with their loss of steering cable. Audacious sounded like they had what was needed, but we could tell they appreciated the nice gesture after so much negativity aimed at them overnight and this morning. We realized we would not be dropping the dinghy nor going to shore this day…just would be bums due to the anchorage conditions. We hoped to go in on Monday and walk to Duncan Town as it would a shame not to see a place so nearby. The walk would be about 1.5 miles each way, but what else would we have to do all day? The local residents we met at the picnic were so kind and friendly, we really wanted to go visit their settlement.
February 16, 2013 – Saturday, morning 1, Hog Cay, Ragged Islands, west anchorage, no wifi, no cell, no TV. We had our dinghy up early this day, as we knew it would be a race to all the best anchoring spots to hide during the “blow” coming this afternoon. I gave my weather report at 7:20 am and we immediately pulled up our anchor. At 7 am, I counted 21 boats anchored at Hog Cay with us. By 8 am, 3 boats remained anchored at Hog Cay. It was the funniest exodus we have ever seen. There were boats everywhere, headed in various directions: north to other islands; south to the end of Hog Cay; west toward Cuba (Canadians) and south like us, to the south end anchorage on Ragged Island. Our trip was only about 8 ½ nautical miles, into the wind, so we just motored there. Other folks, who have cruised here for years, boogied over the sand bar off the west side of Ragged Island. But, we opted to go around the sand bar and as a result, we were the third to last vessel of 19 to anchor. As a result we were out further from shore than the others, but the good news was that when the really strong north winds came, we had no one behind us. And, that is always a good thing if one’s anchor doesn’t hold or if other folks start dragging. This was a possibility as strong squalls were expected, as this anchorage was a mix of sand and heavy weeds/grass so not ideal conditions. We luckily found a big spot of all sand and hoped all would be fine. We found we had US network digital TV reception, so enjoyed a day watching gold and NASCAR, cool. We didn’t have wifi, but did have cell coverage here. All day, the wind clocked from SE to S to SW to the W. By 3:30 pm, we had NW wind about 10 knots, blue skies, 88 degrees in the salon and 59% humidity. A bad cold front with squalls were expected after dark and we hoped they wouldn’t be as strong, nor as prevalent as forecast. One just waits for something to happen and hopes it isn’t too bad. Well, by 10:30 pm, all heck broke loose around us. We had gone to bed, with the hand held VHF radio next to the bed. Winds were gusting 38-40 knots and boats were yelling at each other. Spotlight and flashlight beams were bouncing all around, folks had their engines running just “in case”. We saw boat lights of a large vessel coming in to anchor behind us, but they were well offshore and ok. We figured they must be a commercial fishing boat trying to get a little protection from the strong winds. We heard many Captains say they would be staying awake up in their cockpits all night. Others reported seeing wind gusts of 40+ nautical miles. We were glad we were anchored further out than everyone. If we drug, we had nothing but sand/water behind us to deal with. Our only real worry was if one of the boats dragging came out toward us to try and re-anchor. We knew we weren’t going to be able to sleep for awhile although Miko was chilled as usual, annoyed that folks talking on the radio were interrupting her sleep. We kept monitoring the radio and watching the other boats around us, to assure no one was headed our way. Three boats were damaged this night, sadly. A French Canadian boat “Audacious” hit two others (Marcy and Suncast) damaging their own boat as well. “Dyad” a big gray, ugly motor vessel (looked like old BASRA boat) was yelling over the radio at Audacious, saying they had to pull up anchor and “leave the anchorage immediately”. But sadly, Audacious’ steering cable was damaged in the collisions and they were also tangled in Marcy’s anchor, so they were unable to go anywhere. We actually relaxed some on hearing that, as we no longer had the worry they may try to move and re-anchor. Audacious was able to put out a second anchor and everyone watching/listening had their fingers crossed that it would hold and keep them safely off their neighbors. Our hearts just broke with empathy for those folks, especially the lady aboard (Jackie) as she sounded so very stressed. They got situated finally and Jackie announced they would stay up all night, promising to keep a vigilant watch. It was just a crazy night. We heard similar situations with other boats anchored in between Hog Cay and Ragged Island. So, needless to say, it was a high alert and interesting evening. We were finally able to sleep after about 1 am, when the wind had turned more north and seemed to moderate some.
February 15, 2013 – Friday, morning 2, departed Raccoon Cay, destination Hog Cay picnic….fundraiser for the school. Yeah. No wifi, no cell signal. We had the anchor up by 8:30 am, after listening to weather and reporting our weather to BASRA (Bahamas Air Sea Rescue Association). We just motored the 10 miles down to Hog Cay this day. We found 20 boats in the anchorage, but plenty of space for us. And, by 10:00 am, we were all settled in and had dropped the dinghy (Miko smiley face). The bay and its beaches we ere beautiful. We showered and relaxed until they gave the call to come to shore for the Valentines Day festivities. Maxine (owns only store here) and other local residents host this amazing event, with assistance from cruisers who routinely winter down here. The goal is to raise money for the local school. The school children were only required to go to school ½ day this, so they could come to the picnic, too. Well, we could not believe this event. About 30 dinghies and 4 local power boats were on shore. Most of the population of Duncan Town joined the fun. First…there were shade structures and tables with tablecloths, chairs/seating for everyone….a delight for sure to be out of the sun. The meal was amazing: ham, turkey, fresh fried fish, rice & peas, potato salad, tossed salad, tomatoes in dressing, coleslaw, chocolate rum cake, sugar cookies, and iced cold Heineken, Bud Light, and local Sands beers. All this was provided to us for only $10 per person, the beer included. Then, a number of the local residents performed for us…kids/adults dancing in traditional Bahamian costumes for Junkanoo, bright and festive to a typical Bahamian drum beat. Next it was time to dance to tunes on the jam box, followed by an auction of donated items provided by the cruisers. We donated a tea towel and a necklace I made for the event. And, since we only won one $5 item during the auction, we donated our remaining funds to the cause. The auction raised nearly $600 for the local school children. Additionally, it was a great time for the locals and our cruising committee to socialize and enjoy each other’s company. We marveled at all the effort it had to take to host this event….it had to be enormous. Just bringing tables, chairs, coolers, drums/instruments, costumes, food, tablecloths, utensils, plates, etc. from Duncan Town out to Hog Cay on boats had to take a great deal of planning and coordination. We cannot express our awe and appreciation to all the locals and cruisers who made this fun day happen. It will remain one of our most poignant memories from our cruising years we know for sure. If all people could work together as well as was done on this island this day, the world would be a much improved place. We had folks from Ragged Island, England, Australia, Canada and the US (maybe other places), represented here, having great fun together for a great cause. Miko behaved very well, staying under the shade of a table with her water bowl being routinely refilled. So many cruisers commented on how good she was and much they miss having a dog. A few threatened to steal Miko. The local children loved petting her as well. We were back to MTB by 4:30 pm, after a great day. About sunset, Ken went over to visit Bill/Mara on Puddle Jumper to get some information on good places to hide for Saturday’s bad weather. He ended up with a rum punch, and came back with 2 lobster tails. Yum, thanks so much Puddle Jumper!
February 14, 2013 – A Great Valentines Day! Thursday, morning 1, night 2 this day at House Bay, Raccoon Cay, Ragged Islands chain. No wifi, no cell signal here. There was great joy on the radio this morning, as local Julian Wallace was found alive off Long Island…no details, just great news that “the three young men were found near Long Island”. Maxine is the local store owner who organizes the Hog Cay Valentines Day picnic for cruisers & locals to raise money for the local school. It was scheduled this year for Saturday, February 16. As the missing boat owner, Julian is Maxine’s son the picnic this year will be especially poignant, a celebration of joy for sure with this great news. We hoped the US Coast Guard was instrumental in the location of this overdue vessel as it would give us a great deal of National pride (even if using our US tax dollars)! The mail boat arrived this a.m. - The Captain C, with the three survivors aboard, but sadly without our friend Sharon. She & Bob decided to take Big Run to Long Island vs. coming down for the festivities here. The weather forecast was not good for leaving their vessel anchored without its crew so we completely understood. We decided just to hang out and explore Raccoon Cay this day, maybe give Miko and ourselves a spa day…toe nail cutting, brushing and for the people crew…. haircuts. We had an unhappy finding at breakfast time this morning. We needed to go to the pantry for additional grits for our cheese grits/sausage breakfast. We knew we had an ample had a good supply. But this morning, we found that our two unopened boxes and two unopened bags, were spoiled. Each one we opened was clumped, damp and moldy inside, having to be dumped. They were in the same cabinet as our cereals & cookies but the packaging just must not have been as good. A sad turn of events, as we love our cheese grits with sausage, and for dinner with fish. Bad weather was coming this weekend, and being new to this island chain, we did some research relative to where/when we would hide out for the squalls and high wind expected. After the 4 legged crew got their haircuts, we dropped the dinghy and went to shore. Nothing much of interest, other than an old settler h ome ruins at the point south of us. Its walls were made of rock with conch shells imbedded inside, held together with homemade mortar. After some photos, with MTB in the background, we walked the beach north. The beach was uninteresting and had been completely “combed” by the large number of cruisers that now frequent this island chain that just a few years ago was considered to far “out” to be a cruiser destination. So, back to Toby and we lazy man snorkeled (dinghy in neutral, with viewing window open in the floor) over several smaller reefs around our anchorage and saw more fish here than anywhere we have been in the Bahamas. Back to MTB, we heard the Valentines Day festivities were moved to Friday as the forecast for Saturday afternoon was for unsettled weather and building winds. So, we pulled up the dinghy this aftenoon and planned to head down to Hog Cay in the morning. It was less than 10 miles south to Hog Cay, an easy hop. It was 85 degrees in our shaded salon at 3:45 pm. Miko was panting here more than anywhere we have been cruising. We all were ready to head back north to a less tropical environment. Black Point was calling us again! It was haircut day aboard MTB this day…we both got trims from each other on the back sugar scoops…very much needed. We both had gotten pretty shaggy as our last trims were in October. Since it was Valentines Day, we decided to splurge and enjoy the stone crab claws we caught at our dock at home (Brunswick, GA) all summer. They’d been taking up a lot of precious space in the freezer and this seemed like a nice occasion for a super special meal. Over the past week, Ken had hand sanded a “heart” shaped sea bean to a gleam with various grits of sand paper. That was my Valentines Day present from him this day. It is something unique, beautiful and I will love it forever. It will provide years of memories about this crazy cruising life we have been sharing over the past 7 years. Some couples marvel that we can be together 24/7 in such tight quarters. But, we have learned to blow off steam and not take it personally, depend on each other for everything, and delight in all the small things/situations that arise out here each day. Whether it is finding a pretty shell, seeing a green flash at sunset or safely getting our anchor hooked in a new, challenging anchorage, we are a team. Each day is different and interesting and I am glad to share it all with Ken, my sweet Valentine. The wind this afternoon came from every direction. We actually started the day with a south wind and by 4 pm, we were turned back, our bow to the southeast, having clocked around to SW, W, NW, N, NE, E and back again. But, it was a calm wind and we just wandered around our chain/anchor.
February 13, 2013 – Wednesday, morning 4. departed Gordons Settlement this day. At 6:28 am, the mainsail and anchor were both up…..man we got moving this morning. By 6:34 am, we had our “AAAHHH” moment, both sails out and engines OFF. There was 6’ sea swell from the SE that was hitting us on our port stern, and that was not ideal, making the ride somewhat rocky. But, we were sailing and the 12-15 knots from the SE was perfect wind for the course we had chosen, to the Johnson Cay cut, Ragged Islands chain. It was a sunny day and we kept on eye out for Julian Wallace, the missing/over due resident from Ragged Island. Midday, a US coast guard helicopter radioed that they were conducting a search, asking everyone to keep an eye out. Nice….but, US taxpayer dollars at work. Sometimes, I think we are just too nice to these other countries. Yes, we should help when all US citizens are taken care of….but, goodness we have a lot of needs at home…jobs, etc. By 8:30 am, our overall average was 6.7 knots and we were still sailing well, with 48 more miles to do to the entrance of the Johnson Cay cut. Sunrise this morning was at 6:34 am, the precise time of our “AAAHHH” moment, just an irony we noticed this am. One mile from the entrance to the cut, we dropped our sails and motored for the rest of the trip into the anchorage chosen for the evening. We pulled into House Bay on the central west shore Raccoon Island and were anchored by 4 pm. It was a total trip of 64.3 nautical miles, with an overall average while sailing of 7 knots. We were the only boat in the bay, so we had peaceful evening with a clear view west and no boats blocking our pristine vistas. A long trip, but we were happy we were able to sail the whole way….a good passage.
February 12, 2013 – Tuesday, morning 3, night 4, Gordons Settlement, southwest tip of Long Island, southern Bahamas. Have cell, no wifi. At 10 am, salon temp was 79 degrees, humidity 57%, water temp 75, no clouds, blue sky, nice. Although, the wind turned SE as forecast said it would and we had no protection here from that direction. But, the wind velocity was less than 15 knots and that helped to keep the swell somewhat moderate, vs. untenable this day. We were rocking pretty good even being a catamaran, but nothing like the trawler behind us….wow. At 8:30 am, Scoundrel’s Lady called and asked if we had gotten this morning’s updated weather info. We had and told them that the Crooked Island passage was to have sea swells of 8’ from the east today (silence) with wind at 15 knots from 110 degrees/ESE. On Monday night when we talked, I mentioned using Landrail Point on Crooked Island as a bail out option if they felt conditions were too rough. This am, they asked for a lot more information about that anchorage, which we provided. They decided to leave, though much less than ideal conditions. They pulled out about 9 am and we saw them crashing on the horizon as they rounded the tip of Long Island. We hoped for safety for the rest of their journey as they were so nice, but so green. We made our way into shore to beach comb the southern most part of the beautiful crescent that rimmed our beautiful anchorage. We found some nice shells, saw remnants of a wrecked boat and gave Miko some good exercise. The sea swell was still causing some rollers around MTB but the ride back out was not too bad. We put up the dinghy, anticipating an early Wednesday am departure.
February 11, 2013 – Monday, morning 2, night 3. Gordons Settlement, southwest tip of Long Island, Bahamas. Have cell signal, no wifi. At 7 am our air temp was 73 degrees, water temp 76 degrees and was humidity 67%. The skies were blue with 3/8 cloud cover with cumulous clouds, big white puffs. There was emergency traffic this day on the HAM radio weather channels which is rare, but expected in the type of bad weather we’d have the prior two days. the son of Maxine, Duncan Town, Ragged Island’s only store owner was overdue. Julian Wallace was reported being in a 22’ scarab type open boat wins th a single outboard. He left from Nassau and was last heard from on February 9, 2013 when he was south west of Great Exuma Island. Everyone was asked to keep an eye out. The weather/seas the past two days had been horrendous…so we hoped for the best. We suspected he was headed home for the same Valentine Day fundraiser that we were working our way toward. Big excitement in our anchorage about 9:30 am…Ken looked out and saw a trawler, pulling a dinghy, heading their way toward our location. As they got to the “ledge” where the water goes from deep to not so deep, they turned to go south. We saw them eventually anchor behind the reef further south from us. We knew they had to be uncomfortable and shortly, we saw them pull up their dinghy. We dropped our dinghy and headed to shore, as we had promised Miko. We found better protection from the sea swell at the south end of our beautiful crescent beach so landed Toby there. Tide was going down, so we knew it would be good to leave Toby offshore, throw her anchor out, and walk a painter (rope) in and tie off to something on shore. It is so funny how different beaches reward us with different treasures. This day, we found great shells…no beans, no glass, no buoys nor floats. There is a dirt road that dead ends into this beach and there we saw a rental car and came upon its renters sunbathing on the sand. We spoke and they barely said hi, so okie dokie, no visiting desired. We walked the dirt road into “Gordons” settlement, walking along the pond that had previously been a salt mining operation, long gone now. It was only about a block walk to Gordons located along Queens Highway. We found that this settlement is simply the family homes of three generations of Watsons, nothing else. We were greeted by sheep…yes, sheep, lazing under the trees at the first home we came to. Miko thought these tall, big, fuzzy tan “dogs” were very interesting. Although, she didn’t seem to mind that we didn’t have her go play with them. Looking back toward the beach, we could see the trawler mentioned earlier, motoring toward MTB…of course, herders. We’re in a huge bay and you bet, they anchored directly behind us, geez. Queens “highway” is the sole rode that runs north and south through the whole of Long Island. And guess what, it ends right here, in Gordons. So, as a result, our only choice was to walk north, which we did for a ways. All along the properties of the Watsons, there was an old, built by hand, stacked rock wall, about 24’ tall. The hours and manpower it must have taken to construct was hard to fathom. But, there was nothing much to see, it was hot, so we turned back to where the little road turns off the “highway” and headed back to the beach. The unfriendly couple were still on their towel, this time the girl on top of the guy… with Ken mumbling “get a room”. We shelled and ran, played with Miko back south to the dinghy, and on our way we saw someone from the trawler paddle boarding to shore. As we headed back to MTB, another car full of tourists arrived at the beach and we waved at the group that had gathered on shore. Back to MTB, not only did we have a motor trawler directly behind us ruining our pristine view…they were running their engines. The folks dropped their dinghy and 4 folks went to shore with two full wind sail boards/rigging. It was fun watching them wind sailing around, and Miko even seemed to be curious as she sat and watched, too. Roberto and Captain Sergio (2 of 6 still onboard) radioed and asked if we had any weather information, which we provided. Their boat name was “Scoundrels Lady”. It is so amazing to us how unprepared folks out here can be. Then, Roberto told us that their generator was not operative, so to keep their AIR CONDITIONING going, they would have to keep running their engines. Oh Boy, now won’t it be fun to listen to that noise continuously? Knowing this, they really should have anchored further away from us. Now I was irritated…but remained polite. They invited us over later for a “drink or something” but we told them we liked to stay aboard after dark, but we hoped to meet them on the beach Tuesday. Needless to say, we were less than thrilled with our new “neighbors”, for sure, for sure. At 6 pm, they radioed again and asked if we thought they should head out tonight. We gave them the weather forecast, but offered no advice. They said they may head out late night tonight and see if it was do-able…if not, they may come back in here. Roberto said they were on a tight schedule to get to the Turks, were new to cruising and had just bought Scoundrels Lady in Florida. He truly seemed like a very nice guy and said they would come visit us tomorrow if they decided not to leave, or if they left and came back. These truly seemed like nice people, just unprepared. No green flash, burgers on the grill…yep, it was another interesting day out here in the middle of nowhere.
February 10, 2013 – Sunday morning 1, night 2, Gordons Settlement, southwest tip of Long Island, Bahamas. Have cell phone signal, but no wifi here on the boat. This am, we started with somewhat cloudy skies, but by midday, we had bright blue skies. The forecast was for really high winds all day this day and we indeed had about 20 knots when we got up and stronger wind throughout the day. The temp at 7 am was 74 degrees, water 77 degrees and humidity 71%. Considering the wind strength, our anchorage was relatively comfortable as we were on the lee side of the island and the wind was coming from NE to E. We decided not to put down the dinghy, as it would be a bumpy wet ride to shore and if Toby broke loose in these winds, we’d never see our dinghy again. We don’t mind being hunkered on these days of high wind when the sun is shining and that was the case this day. We’ll just read, draft emails, do crossword/sudoku puzzles, cook and eat…not bad at all. Miko even seems to know that wind & no dinghy in the water = a stay aboard day so she just naps. Since it was Sunday, we figured that even if we did go to shore this day, we may not find anything open if by chance there is anything in the way of a store, bar or restaurant. I don’t know why I didn’t buy eggs in Clarence Town as we need them to cook, make cinnamon rolls, etc. I must have had heat stroke as it as HOT when we were walking all over town on Friday. Oh well. Above, I mentioned we often cook on this type of day, and today was no exception. This morning we made homemade yeast cinnamon rolls and hamburger buns. The smell of those cinnies coming out of the oven, then being glazed and eaten warm…well, what an amazing treat out here in the middle of nowhere and so good for the soul. The wind was so strong this afternoon, it was really ROARING through our rigging. The result is quite a unique sound, one that is much more disconcerting after dark, though the situation is not any different. It being Sunday and WINDY, we were surprised to see the normal local fishing boats go out this day. I was hoping telepathy would work, ”bring me lobsters, bring me lobsters”. But, we had no luck, sadly. We stayed aboard all day, and even Miko seemed ok with that decision. We had a little green flash this evening…and that was good.
February 9, 2013 – Saturday, morning 3, wifi and cell phone coverage, Clarence Town, Long Island, Bahamas. We had 6 boats anchored in the harbor overnight, and one left before we did this morning. At 7 am, it was 78 degrees, the water temp was 77 degrees and the humidity was 75%. The skies were clear and we had relatively NO wind…dang it. But, forecasters said it was to build through the day so we were hopeful to sail at some point in our 24 mile trip south, then west. I was finally able to update our website, as our site host finally corrected the technical issues that had been keeping me from doing so. Now, our entries were posted through 02-04-2013. So, I realized I needed to get caught up to date with my writing. We had the anchor up at 7:45 am and motored out the harbor channel. With the sun in front of us, our eyes were struggling to find the black (yes black, ick) fishing buoys we knew were along our route out of the channel to the deep water. White and orange buoys are so much easier to pick out…we hate blue and black ones. Since we were motoring out a morning, we were especially concerned about one of their lines fouling a prop. A sport fisher zoomed out of the harbor and passed us quickly (of course) and gave us a really nice large wake….why they can’t stay a little further away from other, smaller boats, we’ll never know. We were running two engines at 2100 RPMS and as we turned south on our course, we pulled out the jib. For awhile, it seemed to be doing some good and we were hopeful the wind would build from a good direction as forecast said. By 8:45 am, we were off the shore of Dunmore settlement, having some beautiful cottages along the water. A local fisherman was out, checking on his fish traps. We stayed along shore to enjoy the island’s beautiful scenery, but far enough off to avoid those traps, we hoped. About 10 am, we were adjacent to the opening to an anchorage called Little Harbor. There was one sailboat there and Ken said, I think it is an Island Packet. So, knowing Dream Catcher was an Island Packet, I hailed them on the VHF radio. Sure enough, Gina answered and it was them tucked up in the harbor. They said they had been there a day and loved the anchorage/place. We had always been curious about the place, so good to have their input. They told us to come in and join them, but we wanted to keep going as planned. They said they would take pix of us as we sailed south. Once by Little Harbor, we pulled in the Jib as it was being no help to us. Soon as it was in, a mama and baby dolphin joined us, playing in and out of our hulls. These visits are always such a great diversion when we are on the move. A huge squall developed and kept growing 6 miles east of our position. It was still out there as we rounded the southern tip of Long Island, and headed north to the island’s west coast settlement of “Gordons”. We stayed one night there on our way to Crooked Island and wanted to get back and spend more time there. A local “downeaster” type fishing boat, pulling a small skiff type boat motored past us and were moored just north of where we anchored. We were the only boat in the bay here so had our choice where to anchor. We set the hook twice this day, as the first time, we pulled back and our chain and bridle were hanging over a rocky reef-y spot. I was comfortable, so we pulled up and tried again. This time our chain was totally over nice thickly rippled SAND. Sand is good. With unsettled weather and high winds coming, we didn’t want any possible complications with our anchor/chain. We had averaged 5.9 knots this day and were settled by 1 pm. So, we grabbed something to eat and dropped the dinghy. The winds were to become higher this afternoon and night so we knew we could possibly be hunkered down all day on Monday. And, there were storms around the area that could come our way, too. So, we headed to shore with Miko imitating a masthead, full of excitement. I luckily noticed that the two folks sunbathing on the beach (right where we were heading) were “sans” bathing attire. So, we made an immediate right turn to land further south down the beach! They must have been concerned about us, as we noticed them scramble to shore and get dressed. Sorry folks. This was a nice beach with hard packed, easy walking sand that we love. We found a few special shells but not much else, sadly. We walked north toward where a couple local fishermen were in their boat, looked as though they were cleaning the day’s catch. The boat, pulling a boat that passed us on the way in was moored there as well. On the way back toward our dinghy, we met a couple from Fortescue, New Jersey. They were a really nice couple that had rented a cottage on the island, in Hamilton. They had been here before and loved Long Island and the remoteness of many of its beaches. We told them that there was a terrible storm in New England, with Boston getting 30-36” of snow with hurricane strength winds. They didn’t have a TV in their rental unit and the radio was small and scratchy. So needless to say, they were even happier to be here after hearing the weather news from the US northeast. Jim Higbee is a charter pleasure cruise boat Captain. His family has been in Fortescue for three generations before him. His boat, Miss Fortescue, is a 60’ motor vessel open boat that sails out daily at 7 am, from Fortescue’s dock #13. We so enjoyed chatting with these folks and plan to stay in touch via emails once we have wifi again. They will be on Long until next Saturday, enjoying their octagon cottage and built in private pool. Once back to MTB, we pulled the dinghy up. Since we could potentially get some bad weather coupled with high winds, we’d have one less thing to worry about. It was a good day…successful trip, beautiful scenery and nice people. Then, the winds came and the squall arrived as well. Cindy woke at 11 pm to the sound of a driving rain…”RAIN!” always elicits a fury of activity….Ken closing the berth hatches, Cindy rolling up the nice cockpit rug. We checked to make sure the rain collection systems were in place as well. Then, back sound asleep…we have become so confident in our vessel, we don’t stress out like in our first years out here doing this…staying up all night on anchor watches, etc.
February 8, 2013 – Friday, morning 2, night three, wifi and cell phone coverage, Clarence Town, Long Island, Bahamas. At 7 am, we had 75 degrees, 80% humidity, water temperature of 76 degrees and a sunny, calm and blue anchorage. We went to Clem Cay, south of Salt Pond Cay for this day’s exploration. There were gorgeous beaches and at low tide, one could walk across this south end of the harbor to the mainland…pure white sand, shallow, shallow aqua waters. We found a couple buoys and some shells/beans, but again, no sea glass here. This was a beautiful place though and we so enjoyed our visit to Clem Cay. We headed for town to explore and on the way, we saw a about a 18” wide sea turtle paddling for dear life to get out of the way of the big gray critter coming after him (our dinghy). He was so cute with his little flippers going like mad, but we felt bad he was stressed by us. We landed our dinghy on a small beach just south of the government dock and began our walk. We went to both of the beautiful white Father Jerome churches, sadly seeing the destruction done on the one furthest from the dock by Hurricane Sandy. We visited a gift shop, grocery store, the Police Station (a/c blowing strong & a bunch of guys just sitting around “chillin”), the agriculture market (three tomatoes and a coconut = $1.75); the marina and finally, Rowdy Boys restaurant. We took Miko over to the marina office so she could meet Emma, the Potcake puppy who she smelled on my clothes the day before. Funny though, as both dogs were relatively un-excited to see each other which was a surprise. Miko was pooped, as we had done a whole lot of walking this am, so just wasn’t in “play mode”. Lastly, we went to Rowdy Boys, a nice local restaurant and they said they would serve us at their waterside tiki hut since we had Miko with us. We both had grilled Mahi Mahi “burgers” served on homemade yeast rolls, a side of seasoned fries. So, so tasty especially since they were accompanied by a couple cold Kaliks this day. The view from our stools over a breaking reef, a swaying palm in our foreground, with a brilliant blue sky, watching local fisherman just off shore was amazing. Miko was so happy just laying spread eagle on the shaded, slatted wood decking, in the nice breeze. We had such a nice experience, the wait staff was so sweet and we all enjoyed this treat of ”lunch “out”. When leaving, walking down Rowdy Boy’s driveway holding hands, I looked at Ken and said, “we do live a surreal life, don’t we?”. We do, we do. Back to MTB, after a wonderful trip ashore, we sadly put the dinghy back up, ready to go. Elan/Ashley came by with Apollo, so he and Miko got to meet…sweet cocker boy with his red bandana. They had decided to stay in Clarence Town harbor through the coming “blow”. So, we said our “so longs” and wished them well in the rest of their trip adventures.
February 7, 2013 – Thursday, morning 1/night 2, wifi and cell phone coverage on the boat here, Clarence Town Harbor, Long Island, Bahamas. This “harbor” if formed by the main island, and several barrier islands to the west….Strachan Cay, Salt Pond Cay, and Clem Cay. It is an absolutely beautiful place, especially looking back toward Clarence Town with its two stunning white “Father Jerome” masonry churches. Earlier in the 1900’s Father Jerome became saddened that so many Bahamian churches were routinely destroyed by weather/hurricanes. He made it his mission to build more permanent church structures from rock/masonry on various islands of the Bahamas. The two here had both withstood the test of time until this past summer, when the roof of one was destroyed by hurricane Sandy. Father Jerome also constructed the Hermitage on Cat Island, and it is another wonderful place to see. We were going to go to town early this day, collect our propane and do laundry, explore some. But, we called the marina to check on their laundromat and were told that the power for the whole settlement was off for some maintenance. They told us to go do some exploring and radio back around 12:30-1pm. So, we dropped the dinghy and went over to explore Salt Pond Cay that was the island closest to where we were anchored. Miko hadn’t been onshore since Tuesday, so she was pumped, standing on the very front part of the dinghy as we approached the beach. She is just a total beach dog, for sure. We all enjoyed the big, wide expanse of well packed sand and walked, beach combed a long way. We were struck by the number of lobster heads/carcasses strewn all over one part of this island. We weren’t sure if this was where locals cleaned their catch; oe if there had been a party; or these lobsters were cleaned elsewhere and the debris just floated ashore there….hundreds of tail-less lobster corpses! We wished we had a few of those missing tails! We found a few shells, a couple of sea beans, two buoys, but no sea glass. Back to MTB, Miko was pooped, we did lunch, packed up our dirt laundry and garbage, to be ready for the power to return. About 12:30 pm, we noted that wifi sites down with the power outage were back up, called the marina and they confirmed same. We left Miko this trip to have more room in the dinghy and some time ashore with no distraction/responsibility. We got tokens ($4 per load to wash, and to dry) for our laundry. Got enough to do three loads…ah, only two washers, so we doubled up. Electricity and water in the Bahamas are precious commodities, so anything that uses either is expensive…using both, more expensive. But here, the washers and dryers were oversized, commercial machines and two loads served our needs and only one cycle of the dryers was needed. So, $16 and everything aboard that needed washing (clothes & linens) was once again clean and smelling fresh. This year, we are using the little pre-packaged pouch detergent combos and they work GREAT. No more schlepping detergent, spotter, bleach and softener bottles in with us…now three little pouches in a small ziplock bag and we’re set along with a few dryer sheets. While laundry was going, we enjoyed a couple cold Kaliks (great Bahamian beer) and lunch at the Marina restaurant, the Outer Edge. Ken had an old fashioned hamburger, me…grilled fish tacos with sweet potato fries…yum. Nothing better than locally caught mahi, grilled with onions, tomato, peppers, cabbage and a great sauce. We met our anchorage neighbors there, too, a nice young couple (Elan/Ashley) from Washington state. Their boat was named Silver Lining and aboard was Apollo, their Cocker Spaniel. Funny, neither of us had brought our pups in this afternoon, so they didn’t get to meet/play. We did get to play with “Emma” the resident Potcake puppy…so cute with white boot markings. We exchanged boat cards with Elan/Ashley….ours on normal card stock, their information printed on beer coozies, cool. This couple didn’t have any cruising guides and were looking everywhere (Panama, Jamaica, etc.) to buy them. We had some that had been replaced by our newer versions. I told them to come over when they saw our dinghy back to MTB and we’d give them a couple. We finished our laundry while chatting with an “off islander”…a Canadian who owns a home and been coming to Clarence Town for 20+ years, from Montreal. It amazed us when she said she had never visited any of the other islands of the Bahamas. The harbor had gotten choppy with higher wind, so we circumnavigated the shoreline to get back to MTB. By hugging the mainland coastline, we had a better angle on the swells and were able to approach MTB from a better direction, getting us a little less wet. Normally when we’re in the dinghy, we are in bathing suits and tshirts, but since we went to town, we had on “real” clothes this day. Miko smelled Emma on my clothes and was not at all pleased when we got her out of her crate. Elan/Ashley came by later, we shared rum punches and cruising guides with them so that was good and they were excited. We showed them our buoy, sea bean and hamburger bean collections. They knew nothing about the hamburger beans, so they we happy to learn to look for them. On leaving, we all committed to getting our dogs together for playtime.
February 6, 2013 – Wednesday, morning 1 – Landrail Point, west shore, Crooked Island, Bahamas. Our two neighbors were up and both gone by 6:30 am this morning, with Wind Chaser leaving before light. So, we were alone again. We listened to the weather report and learned that if we left this am, we would be motoring or motor sailing to our next destination, Clarence Town, Long Island. If we stayed another day, we might be able to sail all the way. Ken preferred heading out, to give us two working days in the week to coordinate getting our propane refilled. So, at 8 am, we pulled up the main sail, retrieved our anchor and took off for Clarence Town on Long Island (not to be confused with Long Cay, below Crooked). We were heading northwest this day, a trip of 34 +/- nautical miles. By 8:25 am, we were off the shore of the beautiful Bird Rock Island lighthouse, one of the most picturesque lighthouses we have seen in our travels. So, of course we snapped some pictures. We had the main sail, jib and two engines working for us at 2300 rpms this morning. But, with no wind and the notoriously large Crooked Island passage sea swell against us, we weren’t breaking any speed records and the sails weren’t helping a bit. At 9:20 am, we gave up on the sails…dropped the main & pulled in our jib. Having two engines roaring at 2300 rpms becomes tedious after awhile, so we pulled them back to 2100 rpms to see if it helped. It did help with the noise level, without hurting our speed terribly. Our overall average this day was about 5.6 SOG (speed over ground). This morning, the radar was showing squalls firing up all around us and through noon, we luckily hadn’t been caught. Two boats passed us headed south about lunchtime and luckily we had a visual (vs. just on radar) on them as about 12:30 pm, the skies around us darkened and we were socked in by rain, not much visibility. The shower was brief and really didn’t bring much higher velocity winds, so we just appreciated the fresh water rinse. By 3:45 pm, we were beginning our approach into Clarence Town Harbor, sadly dodging fish pots that had been dropped right along the charted route to the harbor! Dang fisherman! We hailed Flying Fish Marina and learned that they had diesel fuel and the fuel dock was available…so in we went straight there. We had to do a pivot behind their breakwater, to position MTB for our preferred starboard tie up on their fuel dock. The marina’s guys were great and they helped us tie up just in time for the skies to open up and another hard, hard rainstorm. The two marina guys said they’d be back to fuel us up when the rain stopped. There is nothing worse for our engines than water in a diesel tank, so we were glad to wait. They took our 20 lb and 10 lb propane tanks with them and said they would arrange to get the propane filler truck to come by, or they would have someone pick up our tanks. Everyone was so very nice, all the folks we dealt with at Flying Fish were super helpful. This small remote marina is very important to the area/island. It was recently sold, and the new management was great, and they’ve been doing good things…including extending their breakwater to minimize the surge that has plagued this nice facility. Finally the rain stopped, and “Marvin” the dockmaster arrived to fuel us up. Just as we finished topping off our tanks with 56 gallons of diesel….a sport fishing boat radioed “FRYING FRISH MAHINRA” (Flying Fish Marina)…this is FRAN-CHEE-ES-TEE-CA (Francesca)…oh my, these boys had been drinking. The “Captain” said they were a 67’ vessel and wanted a slip, fuel, and they’d be in within the hour. Well, we knew we needed to pay for our fuel and get off that fuel dock asap. The marina folks had our same thoughts and we all worked toward our goal of being long gone before the yahoos arrived. Francesca came barreling through the channel as we headed toward the anchorage in Clarence Town Harbor and we so thankful that our timing worked out great. Soon as we anchored, Flying Fish Marina’s office radioed us and said our propane tanks had already been filled…wow, unheard of on these “out” islands. What great service. We told them we would come by in the am and to pay for and pick up our tanks. We were boat number three in the anchorage, the other two being monohulls, one with a barking dog aboard… much to Miko’s distraction. A great and productive day…2 fresh water rinses, full fuel, full propane, beautiful and calm anchorage, it was all good.
February 5, 2013 – Tuesday, morning five, Delectable Bay, Acklins Island in the Bight of Acklins. We were treated to the most beautiful rainbow this morning….a double, with the full arch behind our boat. The purple band was as brilliant a one we have ever seen in a rainbow. Needless to say, we took lots of photos. The weather reports indicated that good days for traveling over the next couple of weeks were going to be hit and miss. We needed propane, so we decided this morning if we had any hope of being in Duncantown, Ragged Island by the school fundraiser on 02-16-2013, we needed to be moving. So, we changed plans from going to another Acklins Island settlement (Snug Corner), to doing a 40+ nautical mile trip, back to Landrail Settlement on Crooked Island. So, by 8 am, we had the anchor up, the jib pulled out and were motor sailing through the Bight of Acklins. By 8:40 am, we were going 6.0 knots and had said radioed farewells to Dream Catcher and Straight from the Heart. They pulled out behind us, but were only going half as far, to Long Cay/Fortune Island. We had a dolphin escort for a short time and that is always a nice distraction when putt putting along. Once out of the Bight and in the deep and swelly seas of the Crooked Island Passage, we were heading north. We were off the coast of a settlement on Long Cay called Albert Town, when we heard Glide call a sailboat named Innamorada (sp?) to tell them a waterspout was heading at them. So, that got our attention as a water spout is a tornado over water, nothing to play around with for sure. We radioed Glide to ask about the spout’s location and he said it was near where we were headed but all was ok, as it had already dissipated. We had a nice talk with Glide and learned they were heading to Haiti to do volunteer work. We arrived safe and sound at Crooked Island, anchoring on the west shore in front of the settlement of Landrail Point again. We were settled in by 3:30 pm this day. There was a Leopard 38’ catamaran named Wind Chaser and the monohull named Innamorada, already anchored in our favorite spot, so we just went a little further north. We were glad that we could pick up unsecured WIFI from the shore there, as well. We were tired, though it had been a pretty easy trip. We decided not to drop the dinghy this afternoon….Miko was not a happy dog as she has friends on this island.
February 4, 2013 – Monday, morning four, tonight = night five. Delectable Bay, Acklins Island, in the Bight. No cell phone, no wifi. Happy Birthday Ann! We had a pretty good evening’s sleep as the winds and resulting seas settled some. In the am, wind was about 15 knots from the NE 030 degrees but turned and built as the morning advanced. By noon, it was 78 degrees, water 76 degrees, and humidity was 62% and the wind was again roaring, skies still overcast and we were still rocking. While reporting our weather to BASRA (like Coast Guard) on the HAM radio this am, I asked for the Super Bowl results and learned that Baltimore won over San Francisco 34-31. Sounded like it would have been a good game to watch, but not us, not here. Hold Fast said they were heading to Long Cay this morning; Dream Catcher planned to dinghy to Spring Point and Straight From the Heart and us…we’re just staying put. The next 5 days were forecasted to be more mild and settled weather and we were ready for those type of peaceful conditions again. But, often with settled/peaceful comes motoring vs. sailing…just can’t win! We decided our next hop would be north, around the point into the bay in front of the settlement of Snug Corner. This trip would only be about 7 miles and it gets so shallow there, one must anchor about 1.5 miles off shore. Some strange anchorages we have visited this season, for sure. But, we came here to see Acklins Island, so the settlement was a must do stop. There is a boat in another anchorage nearby between Crooked Island and Long/Fortune Cay named “Pas De Deaux”. Over the prior couple of weeks, we had heard many renditions of their name when folks hailed them on the VHF radio. But, this morning’s was one of the best…Hold Fast’s “Myron” hailed them as “Potty Der”, “Potty Der” and we both enjoyed a chuckle. Some folks don’t think about how their boat name will sound/be pronounced over the radio so some things get entertaining. It was another day of reading, eating, puzzles (crossword/Sudoku) and laziness aboard this day and Miko was restless. The dinghy was down, so of course Miko expected a trip to shore but conditions had to improve before that would happen.
February 3, 2013 – Sunday, morning three, night four. Delectable Bay, Acklins Island, in the Bight. No cell phone, no wifi. Happy Birthday Martha White. Super Bowl Sunday in the States. We had such a calm quiet night that Ken woke one time and didn’t hear the dinghy “sloshing” behind MTB. He said he almost got up to see if it was still out there. When we got up, still only 3-5 knots of wind from the southeast, 120 degrees. At 9:30 am, in the salon we had 77 degrees, 76% humidity and the water temperature was 76. No Caribbean Weather Center broadcast on HAM radio on Sundays so got to sleep in a little. Did our BASRA weather report on the HAM radio, 4003.0 frequency at 7:20 am. The galley was a mess, so I attacked the clutter, dishes, organization early. Ken had two new beans tino start polishing…a hamburger bean and a new heart bean. Grib (wind) files showed that it would be mild wind this am, but build rapidly midday to 20+, so we needed to have breakfast and get to shore. After doing our crosswords and Sudoku, we ate and got organized. Had to pump out the dinghy, as it was once again full of rain water, but CLEAN! We saw rain on the horizon, so checked on radar and saw that the storms south of us were about 10 miles away. So, we decided to zoom to shore and hoped the rain was going to stay south, moving east away from us vs. coming our direction. We landed north of Ferguson’s place and walked toward his home to run Miko, look for more pottery pieces and leave Ferguson a note with our boat card. We found some treasures, placed our note on Ferguson’s outdoor tiki bar and headed back toward the dinghy. About midway, the wind started howling and Ken asked is that rain or wind? I said both and we started hoofing it. We got sprinkled on going back to MTB, but not soaked, luckily. But, we were really glad we got in, as we knew we would be hunkered down the rest of the day. Squally rainstorms coming through caused the seas to build and the anchorage was uncomfortable. The “roar” of the wind in our rigging built all afternoon and it was just a “yuck” rest of the day. But, it is always better when these squalls come through during the daylight hours vs. at night. Although, Miko was unsettled by the roar/crashing seas and we tried to comfort her the best we could. We heard “Hold Fast” being hailed by “Straight From The Heart” and learned that Hold Fast had been dragging so they decided to move north to Snug Corner, where the holding was sand and better. Although, they would have less protection there from the wind there. We knocked on wood and hoped our anchor, that was in a little sand over marl, would keep holding tight. We heard Hold Fast call Straight From the Heart” about 5:45 pm. At chatting a little, Myron said ”well, gotta get going as we’re heading into Club Rolex to watch the game”. The sea conditions here wouldn’t have allowed us a trip to shore so we were surprised he could get into the settlement’s one bar. Nope, Myron was just joking around. Yes, it was Super Bowl night, but not or us…no TV no radio no computer here, nothing. After dark, the wind seemed to moderate slightly and we were glad.
February 2, 2013 – Saturday, morning two, night three. Delectable Bay, Acklins Island, in the Bight. Happy Birthday Beth Satterfield. No cell phone, no wifi. At 7 am, we were socked in with a gray ominous sky, it was 75 degrees and the humidity was 77%. The wind was from the east about 6-8 knots, but built throughout the morning and we saw showers on allthe horizon around us. The Georgetown weather reported this morning said they had 20-25 knots there and we suspected the same front would be our way in a matter of hours. While sitting at the SSB radio desk, I just tried to see if my computer was alive…and I had a screen. So after doing some “safe mode” checks, etc. I was able to back my computer up to an external drive. So, at least if it the ole ACER did die, I would be up to date and could load my files on Ken’s machines. After the backup, I was able to use it again, but sure won’t trust it, for sure. And will try to be better about external backups. But, good news to start my day. Then, I decided to try my camera, fishing it out of the rice. AND VOILA, it worked too. Well, this was a great morning, for sure…knock on wood. The wind continued building but by about 10:30 am, the sky seemed to be brightening and we were hopeful that our weather was going to be better than that in Georgetown. We’d see. We went to shore about 2:45 pm in a faint sprinkle and landed further south this day, walked south on DelectWe found more pottery/china pieces and that was fun. Miko had a crab get her attention, but luckily he saved himself by wedging under a tree limb. She was reduced to chasing her orange ball then. After a nice leg stretching walk and beach combing, we headed back to MTB about 3:45 pm for our showers and to pack up stuff to take with us to Dream Catcher. One always takes a beverage of choice and a snack to share. This evening we were doing “make your own” pizzas with the crusts Gina made for us. So, we always needed to prepare/pack our fixins’. Miko was crated L and we headed to Dream Catcher, arriving at 5:30 pm. Their boat is an Island Packet 45 monohull, a beautiful vessel and we reminisced fondly about our friend Corstiaan who also has an Island Packet: Lily Pad. We met Corstiaan cruising in Florida and have stayed friends through many years though Lily Pad is now in British Columbia. The evening was great, nice folks, good food and wonderful company. About 9 pm, I got restless for some reason, though very much enjoying our time with these nice new friends. So, we were the first to leave, having the longest journey back to our boat. We were onboard about ½ hour when the skies opened and we had a strong rain storm….talk about lucky timing, whew. We would have been soaked clear through and it would have been a challenge to find MTB with rain diminished visibility. Ok, so to recap – a great day….computer better, camera not dead, treasures on the beach, Miko happy, new friends, great food and NOT SOAKED. Its all good in Delectable Bay.
February 1, 2013 – Friday, morning one, tonight = night 2. Delectable Bay, Acklins Island, in the Bight. No cell phone, no wifi here. At 7 am, this morning’s conditions were: air temp 74, sea temp 76 and humidity 43%. The wind was from the north, 020 degrees, at only 5 knots. A cold front was to come through this afternoon/evening, changing our weather dramatically, per Chris Parker, our paid weather service prognosticator. Chris’ service/company is known as Caribbean Weather Center. He is on land, around Lakeland, Florida. I had been working on this log this am, let it on the table, came back to it later and had a catastrophic failure of my computer. It seemed to have died just sitting on the table. We messed with it, but no success so gave up, leaving it plugged into the 12 volt charger. With possible high wind later, we knew to get exploring shore time in early in the day. And as such, went to shore about 10 am. We tied to a nice jetty at the end of the road that goes to town and were met by Ferguson, who had come out to see us on Thursday by dinghy. He wanted to show us his home place, right on the water, just north of the jetty. He had returned to the island in 2002 after finishing his work career for several big companies in Florida. He was not too happy with his decision as he found much to dislike on his return, but his sister had implored him to come. So, he spends his time doing projects on his property. Some of those included: plantings of trees/palms, etc. along the beach; white twinkle lights in all his trees along his waterline; a beach bar complete with thatched hut and an enclosed space behind; the beginnings of a swimming pool and a tennis court; a five unit building in which he lived in one of the spaces; a cleared, rock lined drive back to the road at the jetty; a divided driveway with palms & other trees planted in the median; a fenced area with two semi truck freight containers; and a cute little mailbox. This guy is amazing but we’d miss him for a few days as he said he was leaving for Nassau on Saturday. After seeing his place, he walked back to the road with us a ways, then bid us adieux. We walked on into the settlement of Delectable Bay, about ½ mile down a muddy road spanning a murky, mangrove area. The town consisted of a dozen or so houses, three churches, a closed sports bar. We saw no people around the homes and only one truck passed us as we walked along, but of course they honked. We were saddened that a lot of garbage had been blown/strewn about in front of some of the homes along the road and it was the worst kept settlement we have visited in the Bahamas. We still wanted to walk the beach south of the jetty so returned to the dirt road that went back out toward Ferguson’s place. This whitish/gray mud was SLICK, and though we knew that, being extra careful, I ended up slipping down, into a mud puddle! But, had I had a bathing suit on under my shorts/shirt and crocs..so knew once we got to the beach, I could get a rinse. Once cleaned up, we walked the beach south….and were delighted to find oodles of broken pottery pieces, mostly delft blue and possibly collectible. We couldn’t believe how many there were and how beautiful. We let Miko run and chase her ball but it was hot. So, we got to a point on the beach and decided to turn back. I was just a little bit into the water, slid and fell as I was reaching for another pottery piece. I scraped my leg on some coral, got soaked but worked hard to save my camera from getting wet. We got back to the dinghy and MTB and the camera was acting weirdly. We took out the battery and memory card, put it in a bag of rice, hoping for the best. Now, dead computer, scraped leg, hurt camera….this day hadn’t started out too well. Fellow cruisers came by and introduced themselves and on their way back from shore Bruce/Gina on Dream Catcher invited us to dinner on Saturday. That was nice. And, having an amazing, bright, vivid green flash helped our spirits to end the day as well.
January 31, 2013 – Thursday, morning two, Albert Town Landing area, Fortune Island, Bight of Acklins, cell phone but no wifi. At 7 am this morning’s conditions were: air temp 75; sea temp 76, 91% humidity and 2 boats: us & a trimaran tucked in near shore, west of us. The wind was mostly from 120 degrees, around 10-12 knots. About 5 am, we had the “rain shower shuffle”….one of us feels a sprinkle from a hatch, yells “RAIN” and we both jump out of bed. We madly close hatches, roll up the nice rug in the cockpit and stow it, then we make sure the water collection system is in place/ready. By the time finish, most often, so has the shower! We got up and listened to the 6:30 am weather on the HAM radio and decided it was a go to move this day. But, we saw showers around us so fired up the radar to watch their progress. Some were coming our way, so we just delayed our departure to make sure our trip direction was clear before our departure. About 8:50 am, we decided our route would be storm free and pulled up the anchor. We were heading directly into the wind this day and knew we would be motoring but our destination was only 20 nautical miles. We were crossing the shallow “Bight of Acklins” this day, but never saw less than 2.9’ under the hulls. We had never traveled to this part of the Bahamian island and pulling into somewhere unknown/new always creates a little trepidation. We hope the charts are accurate and the bottom is good. Charts for Delectable Bay did not show what the bottom was, so some concern. Well, once we could see the bay, we were so happy as it had some beach and looked interesting. The island itself had some height to it and we knew it would provide some protection for the squalls and high winds forecast for the next few days. We were SHOCKED to see three other cruising boats anchored in Delectable Bay…we’d gone days being alone in some of our remote anchorages of the prior few weeks. We picked our spot, dropped our anchor and for a short time were dragging L. Finally, the anchor seemed to “hook” and we stopped moving backwards, yay. I hadn’t seen any “ripples” on the sea bottom…the ones that indicate there’s deep soft sand to anchor in, so I was concerned. Anchor was down about 1 pm and we had averaged about 5 knots for this short trip. Once done with lunch, the dinghy was rinsed out and launched and we headed out first to look at the anchor through the dinghy’s viewing window. Yep, our “hook” was not great for sure and we were anchored in marl covered with a very thin layer of sand. But, the point and one fluke of our CQR were in “something” and we seemed to be holding. We had no danger behind us, so figured we’d sleep just fine with the anchor alarm set and our fingers crossed. We went on to the beach ¼ mile east of us and Miko was so happy to be chasing her ball Hagain after two full days onboard. We found 6 pieces of delft blue pottery with various patterns, one having a crown. We had been told in St. John, USVI that sailing ships and early settlers carried this blue pottery onboard and these broken pieces are collectible. We also found a couple heart beans before heading back to MTB. Once on board, Ferguson, a local resident, kayaked out to see us. He said his place was right on the water near our anchorage. And, the reason he came by was to give us the name & phone number of a friend of his who grew/sold vegetables in Spring Point. He asked that we share the information with the other three boats anchored north of us. He was such a super nice guy. We watched as he headed back to shore, knowing it would be a hard trip for him as he was pounding into some strong wind and pretty big waves. We were amazed he went to all this trouble and made such an effort for his friend and us. In a few minutes, I heard one of the other anchored cruisers on the radio call their spouse with their boat name. So once they finished their conversation, we hailed them and had a nice chat. We learned that the three boats with us were: Straight from the Heart; Hold Fast; and Dream Catcher and they had been here about three weeks. I gave them Ferguson’s information as we promised we would. The locals’ mailboat had not been here for a month (broken down) but it also arrived this day. So, all the cruisers had gone to town (Spring Point) to see if they might buy some supplies & veggies. Fresh produce is our greatest challenge in the Islands, especially these remote places. We were anticipating a green flash this night, but a low cloud took that option away again this day. We watched an old movie on dvd as we had completed lost our TV service. The night’s wind became light and variable and we had the most peaceful night we’d had in days.
January 30, 2013 – Wednesday, morning one, Albert Town Landing area, Fortune Island (aka Long Cay), Bight of Acklins, cell phone, no wifi. At 7 am this morning’s conditions were: air temp 79; sea temp 76, 72% humidity and 2 boats: us & a trimaran tucked in near the shore, west of us. The wind was mostly south around 15 knots and we had whitecaps all around. When the tide was going out, we swung more west, so the wind chop was hitting us broadside on the port hull, making it very noisy and crashy. But, it was warm, the skies and water were brilliant blue and we’d certainly been in worse places and conditions! Ken was on day three of hand sanding a “purse” bean and it was startng to shine beautifully. We find three kinds of sea beans on these beaches: heart beans; hamburger beans and purse beans. Friends Bob & Sharon had hand sanded/polished some hamburger & purse beans and they were gorgeous…so Ken became inspired. One has to be a little OCD to do this though, as it is very time consuming, with very slow progress. The island we anchored off from is called Fortune Island (a.k.a. Long Cay). It used to have a salt mining operation and the former salt flats are now home to a local flock of pink flamingos. So, needless to say, this girl wanted to get to shore for some pictures again this visit. Although, we knew we might have to head for the eastern shore of the Bight for better protection, stopping back this way on our trip out of the Bight. This day did not look good for going ¾ mile to shore in a dinghy. We had never ventured to the settlements in the far eastern side of the Bight. So, we were looking forward to more new experiences. Crooked Island forms the north & northwest shore of the “Bight”; Fortune Island/Long Cay provides the west coast and Acklins Island itself forms the northeast, east and south shores of the Bight. The Bight itself is a big and SHALLOW bay inside these islands. From Google earth it is an amazing view.
January 29, 2013 – Tuesday, morning eight, Landrail Point settlement, Crooked Island. At 7 am this morning’s conditions were: air temp 74; sea temp 78, 67% humidity and 2 boats: us & Illusion. We decided it was a “go” to travel the 20+ nautical miles south to an anchorage on the east side of Fortune (aka Long) Cay. We pulled the mainsail up past the sail bag lines while still anchored. So, it was easy to get it up the rest of the way and pull out the jib shortly after our departure. By 8:30 am, we had our “aahh” moment, engines off and sailing. The wind picked up dramatically during our shore trip, as did the seas (wind chop & swells). Of course due to NO help from Raymarine, we didn’t know precisely the velocity of the wind, but experience told us well over 20, as we were flying, with reefs in both sails. This day, our overall sailing speed averaged 6.6 knots and for the total trip including motoring in/out of anchorages, we averaged 6.1 knots. We saw a tri-maran tucked in really close to the south side of Fortune Island (SHALLOW) an thought it may be Dick on Lucille, but it was a double masted vessel…so not Lucille. We motored up toward the channel that goes into Albertown’s landing. We had anchored here before. So, about noon, we just picked out a nice blue patch and threw down the anchor. It gets very shallow here in the “Bight of Acklins”…so to have 10’ of water, we just anchor ¾ mile offshore. A few boat lengths closer in, one is quickly in only 4’ of water. We draw 4.5’ so ¾ mile it is! Once settled, we had waves crashing over our bow, as the wind was blowing hard from the east and we had no protection. But, the forecast called for diminishing velocity through the afternoon and evening. We have been in rolly places before, and we will be again! Here, if we drug with the east wind, there were no other boats around and miles of safety, so no worries Mon. Miko didn’t see her dinghy get put back in the water, so she knew we were aboard for the evening. Two local fishing boats went into the landing just about the time we anchored (noon). We had them stop in past years and sell us lobsters…we had our fingers crossed! Sadly, this day was the memorial service for a man who first was our Attorney and quickly became our good friend: Art Howson in Greenville, SC. He passed away too, too young…9 months after a brain tumor was diagnosed. We learned of his passing on Monday, thanks to friend Judy in Greenville. Art was one of those folks who made you proud to count him as a friend. He was a great guy, a consummate southern gentleman, and a hard working, intelligent, excellent professional as well. One can’t fathom the depth of loss for his family, friends, civic and professional communities. Our hearts are heavy.
January 28, 2013 – Monday, day seven, Landrail Point settlement, Crooked Island. This am the skies were bright blue, although the wind was strong. At 7 am, our temperature was 75 and the humidity 67%, nice. Illusion was still next door this am. They had two anchors out, so were not swinging naturally with the wind, like we were. So, at times when the wind blew from the southeast, we seemed very close. But, it was their issue as they were in last in to anchor. But, we knew our anchor was set well. Craig emailed to say that Sharon opened the clothes store for Mary Sunday night and Mary got me a Crooked Island tshirt. So, we needed to go in to get it sometime this day as we were thinking we might sail south, to Long/Fortune (yep, called by two different names) Cay on Tuesday. And, of course, Miko loves her beach time. Craig also emailed that the folks on Illusion were going to radio us between 7-9 am to get some weather information (geez can’t imagine not having my own source!). They had been in at Gibson’s #2 together for dinner. So, we left our radioip on but they never called. About 10 am, a local fisherman came over to get them off Illusion and took her to the beach and him out fishing. This morning for breakfast was French toast made with Bahamian coconut bread…always makes a morning special. Wind built during the morning and was probably near 20 knots, maybe higher in gusts. But, coupled with beautiful blue skies, not too bad. We dinghied into shore after lunch, just landed Toby on the beach in front of Craig/Mary’s rented cottage. Sharon had opened the clothing store that is here on the island the prior night, so Mary was able to get me a Crooked Island tshirt so we were going in to reimburse her for it, pick it up. We spent a little visit time sitting under their gazebo in the shade before saying “see you later”. We were pretty sure we were going to move south on Tuesday. We’d said these farewells a couple times during our visit, as we never knew if the wind would turn the wrong direction and we’d have to boogie out of the anchorage. Miko played a little more on the beach and we shoved off. Back to MTB, we put up the dinghy after checking the winds forecast for the next few days
January 27, 2013 – Sunday, day six, Landrail Point Settlement, Crooked Island. It was windy again, but no squalls around as were predicted. Skies were blue, with white puffy cumulous (charlie uniform) clouds. Early it was 76 degrees with 77% humidity and the water was 79 degrees….perfect swimming temp. We agreed to share a rented car this day to explore with Craig/Mary. So, we prepared for a day ashore, packing lunches, drinks for the two and four legged crew. In to shore at 10 am, we let Miko have a little walk, then met at the local restaurant. Craig drove, with Mary reminding him “LEFT” to keep him driving properly on the left side of these roads. They knew of a number of beautiful, remote beaches on the north shore that we visited. We saw some stunning views and did some world class beach combing. We collect buoys/floats and Mary helped looking for them with us. Did we ever score this day….we completely filled our trunk of our collected junk. We also found a great beach for seaglass and picked up quiet a lot of nice pieces. We chose a beach with rocks for our lunch spot…sitting on flat rocks and pulling up washed up containers/lids for our tables. Miko thought one bucket lid was for her…an extra large Frisbee….hard to convince her it was our table. Mary & I walked west on our lunch beach and the more remote we became, the more concerned we became. There were little plastic bags everywhere, thousands of them. Rumors around here support a drug trade on this remote north section of Crooked Island. And, these little bags could have been a shipment lost or dumped. So, we decided we better head back toward the guys instead of going around one more bend. We had a bunch of buoys laid along the shore to pick up and take back with us, so we looked like vagabonds when we made it back to the car/guys/Miko. After beachcombing for hours, we car toured a number of other Crooked Island settlements including Tranquility, Cripple Creek and names I have forgotten. We marveled at old historical homes that just get boarded up, but never “leveled”…The Bahamians often leave their prior home places and build a new house on a different part of their property, sometimes only inches away. So, there are many old loyalist houses, just crumbling down, left to the elements. We also went by the “Hope Plantation” with entry columns dated 1795. We enjoyed seeing Turtle sound with its mangroves and beautiful scenery and the ferry dock. The vegetation and enormous expanse of undeveloped land was interesting to us, with acre after acre of emptiness and scrub. One doesn’t grasp the size of Crooked Island, until having a tour like ours this day.
Back to Landrail, the guys dropped Mary & I at Sharon’s as she said she would open her store for us so I could buy one of her Crooked Island tshirts. But, no Sharon…..it’s the Islands, Mon. So, we walked and met the guys at the convenience store where they were refilling the rental car tank to the level it was when we picked it up and topping off our dinghy gas tank Back to the boat basin, all four of us hauled buoys/floats over to our dinghy. They all fit, even with the extra gas tank, Miko, Ken and me. We looked pretty funny, though. We saw we had a new neighbor, a small monohull, red double masted…on our way back to MTB. They (Illusion) anchored north of us, but right beside us. Huge anchorage and they were in our kitchen, oh well. We unloaded our bounty in black trash bags that we stored in our starboard Vberth and settled in for the normal evening routine. The neighbors’ boat was buttoned up but their dinghy was there. By dark there was no anchor light, nothing and we were a little concerned. But, they evidently went ashore earlier and stayed for dinner. About 9:15 pm (we in bed!) we heard a local fishing boat bring them back to their boat.
January 26, 2013 – Saturday, day five, Landrail Point Settlement, Crooked Island,
Bahamas. This morning we woke to a calm anchorage, blue skies and light (12-14 knots) wind and 79 degrees. Forecasters said we’d be squally and stormy this day so we knew to appreciate the morning conditions, as it was to worsen and be inclement for two days. We just always hope the forecast is WRONG and we will keep our nice weather, but that is rarely the situation. We woke with three boats south of us, one having come in well after dark. But, by 9:00 am, they had all left and we were alone, once again. Many of the local residents on Crooked Island are members of the Seventh Day Adventist religious faith. Their Sabbath is on Saturday and no business nor work is to be done from sundown on Friday through sundown on Saturday. So, no restaurant, no stores, no gas, no NOTHING would be open this day. The folks of this faith do not sell nor partake of alcohol, either. Conchs are considered “dirty” sea critters and as such are not served/used on this island. Conch is a staple on all the other Bahamas islands we visit, but not here. Lobster is served here, but not eaten by the Seventh Day Adventists. So, this place is definitely unique in many ways and we so enjoy our visits and our interaction with the local residents. From about 7 am this morning to 8:45 am, we enjoyed the company of two families of dolphins. They were fishing and playing directly off our stern and provided a lot of entertainment. Each mama had a baby with her and we so love seeing the little ones’ tiny tails. We watched them a long time and took a lot of photographs of these wonderful creatures, so appreciative of their visit. Volts were down some due to the gray skies on Friday, so we fired up the generator in the am. It is amazing how we don’t need to run it too often anymore, as we don’t have a TV signal this far south, saves a bunch of electricity! Mary & Craig offered to take mail back to the states to post for us so I wrote three postcards, added US stamps and off we went to shore. Miko needed some beach time as well. We took some rum and lime cokes along, just in case we had time for a Cubre Libre with the Farnsworths, which we did. Back to MTB by 5 pm, same evening routine as usual.
January 25, 2013 – Friday, day four, Landrail Point Settlement, Crooked Island, southern Bahamas. At 7:45 am it was 74 degrees and 74% humidity with HIGH winds and just all around YUCKY. We were socked in with clouds and gray skies, looked like winter does, except for our water temperature being 79 degrees! So, this morning all we wanted to do was stay aboard and veg. We did some internet surfing, watched the Today
Show by streaming it on a laptop, ate, drank coffee and read some. We still had not heard anything from Raymarine, so were resigned to the fact that we were going to be without our anemometer the remainder of this season…not a happy thought. We’ll have to resort to the “lick your finger and stick it in the air” method of determining wind direction. Or, we’ll tie a string to something! Craig/Mary emailed that they were going for a walk this am and doing lunch in town. We emailed back, but too late, as they left before hearing from us. So, we just radioed “Gibson’s #2” and told Willie we would like to come in for lunch. We collected our trash and took it in as well. Amazing…we had less than a kitchen can full generated since before we left Black Point on January 15th. We got to shore about 12:30 pm, and sat and chatted with Willie’s husband, Tony. About 1:15 pm, three couples from NC came in and we enjoyed lunch…Craig’s wahoo, caught the day before with a wonderful fresh coleslaw, sweet potato fries, and rice/beans. Willie is an amazing cook and we have always enjoyed her wonderful meals. Craig/Mary stopped in just as we were finishing our meal and shared dessert (fresh watermelon and cookies) with us. We bought a loaf of Willie’s wheat bread and settled up. Craig went back to their rented cottage and we walked with Mary to go visit Marina, Willie’s mom. After a nice visit with Marina, we went to Michael’s store and bought a few things… macaroni/cheese and butter. On the way to/from, a sweet white/spotted female potcake followed us. She seemed friendly, but when she/Miko got nose to nose, the Potcake’s back fur would get little “ruffled”. I was concerned she might get aggressive, especially with both dogs being two females. So, Ken/Miko walked in front of Mary and I, as we kept “shooing” the potcake away from us. The big, sweet thing followed us all the way back toward the boat basin, but got distracted by another dog just before we got to our dinghy. So, we thought that was the last we’d see of Miss Potcake. But, after we were underway in the dinghy, she ran out to the point closest to where we were and cried for Miko. It is sad for Miko that we don’t know which dogs on these islands are friendly, healthy and can be trusted to “play nice”. We stopped at the Lagoon catamaran that arrived while we were on shore. But, they were from Germany, so language was a challenge. We did discern that they came from somewhere south, Caribbean Islands and were headed to Nassau, then Cuba (strange route). We dinghied the rest of the way back to MTB along the shore and with the East wind, was a much less “wet” ride. Same routine this evening…wifi, eat, streaming TV on the laptop.
January 24, 2013 – Thursday, Landrail Point Settlement, Crooked Island, southern Bahamas, day three. Temp early this morning was 75, water temp 79…nice. The sea swell here laid down some through the night, so we had a gentle rock to lull us to sleep. This morning, we woke to storm clouds surrounding us all around on the horizon. The wind was about 15, but would build through the day to 20+, gusting higher. We had a few short duration showers, just enough to keep us aboard, for fear of getting drenched. With the wind building, so did the white caps in the anchorage, but ok. Ken changed the “joker” valve with the new part that friend Craig brought. So, hopefully we won’t have anymore brown water backflowing into our head. We also worked all day with Raymarine, attempting to resolve the non working anemometer (wind instrument) issue identified on Wednesday…still with no success. Of course, Raymarine’s resolution was for us to de-install it all (ah, top of the mast as well), box up all the equipment and send it to them. Well, 1.) its blowing about 28 knots with squalls and, 2.) there’s no mail services here in this remote end of the Bahama islands. Geez, that’s why we’ve been asking for any possible ideas/solutions for us to troubleshoot, dude. Well, with all this, we never got off the boat this day. Miko was good with it though, as I think we flat wore the little bugger out on Wednesday.
January 23, 2013 – Wednesday, Landrail Point Settlement, Crooked Island, southern Bahamas. Overnight….two prolific rain storms provided us 10 gallons of good fresh water for our tanks and a super nice rinse for MTB. Of course when the rain started about 11:30 pm, it woke us up and the next few minutes were a Chinese fire drill...closing hatches, rolling up the outside rug and setting up the water collection system. This morning, we ha 75 degrees, 82% humidity with mostly blue skies, 2/8ths cloud cover. We had come so much further south, the water was now 79 degrees, nice. The plan for the day was to go walking/exploring with Craig & Mary. Mary invited us to join them at the cottage for breakfast. So, after listening for weather and packing up for a day ashore, we dinghied in again to the nice protected boat basin here. We let Miko run on the beach, chase her ball some before we got to the cottage. We enjoyed a nice meal of scrambled eggs w/cheese, yogurt with fresh blue berries and Bahamian wheat toast. Yum. By 9:45 am we were off…for a marathon walk. Our destination was “Gun Bluff”, a currently uninhabited home place for folks Craig/Mary had known, on a high point on the north shore of the island. We went by Pittstown Point, a cottages resort and restaurant in decline with a private landing strip and a few hangars. Beyond the resort were some private homes overlooking a beautiful reef; a nice beach and a short way up the hill, Gun Bluff. The views from there were amazing, especially looking back toward the idyllic “Bird Rock” lighthouse that sits just off the northwest coast of Crooked Island. Ken sat with Miko in the gazebo overlooking the water while Craig, Mary and I walked down the rock stairs/path to the ocean below. The rock used for building the lighthouse was quarried from the side of the bluff where we walked down. The entire property was surrounded with stacked rock walls making it just a beautiful place. We enjoyed visiting this property and after taking lots of pictures, we headed back to town. We were all worn out, hot, tired with some new blisters as this had been about a 5 mile walk. And, we were hungry. Luckily we had reservations for lunch at 1:00 at Gibson’s #2….Willie’s place. Her mom, Marina used to run Gibson’s #1. We tied Miko outside the restaurant, as Willie doesn’t let dogs come inside. Here everyone sits together as family, are served a fixed menu, family style, with big bowls of food rolled out on a cart and passed around the table. This day, the eight of us there were served lobster with garlic butter; sautéed cabbage in a great sauce; and brown rice & pigeon (Bahamian) peas. For dessert, a slice of coconut pie that was macroon-like. It wasn’t the typical US type coconut custard pie. It was more like pecan pie made with fresh, local coconut, topped with whipped cream, yummy. We bought a couple t-shirts, paid our bill, collected our very tired dog and headed back to the dinghy. We were all pooped, but it was a great time spent with friends. Winds were building and the anchorage was rolling when we got back to MTB. We turned on the wind velocity indicator to check the speed and found that our anemometer was malfunctioning. Ken did a bunch of diagnosis work, checked fuses, connections, etc. but no good. So, we sent off an email to Raymarine hoping for some good technical assistance….our fingers crossed. We were still the only boat in the anchorage and in these conditions, we didn’t expect any company. MIKO was zonked out totally, slept all afternoon and evening.
January 22, 2013 – Tuesday, departed “Gordon’s” settlement, South Point, Long Island, Bahamas. Once we listened to the weather, we got ready to go as we wanted to get to Crooked Island early this day. We were going about our “before leaving” checklist, when Ernest “Pit Bull” Watson came by to say hello on his small skiff with a 25 hp motor. He said he had lived his whole life there, his Dad having come to the island from England. He told us the whole settlement of “Gordons” was inhabited by the “Watson” family and pointed out his home. So, not sure why it wasn’t called “Watsons”, oh well. He said there was a small bar with food on shore, and told us we should check it out. We told him we were leaving this day but that already had decided it was a must stop on our way back north. That seemed to make this nice, nice guy happy. He was headed out to the end of Long Island to tend to his fishing pots, saying he gets lobsters, grouper and other fish. It was 75 degrees with 90% humidity this morning. We got underway at 7:45 a.m. and could see Ernest and another LARGE vessel south of us. We put out a trolling line shortly after we were on our route and just at the ledge where the water depth dropped quickly. Friend Terry taught us that’s where to catch fish, at the ledge structure point. In TWO (yes 2) minutes later, we had a fish hit our trusty “pink” lure. Fish On! As Ken was reeling the fish in, I was at the helm, watching out for Ernest and keeping on eye on the large vessel heading toward us. That guy was throwing one heck of a wake and didn’t have the courtesy to steer away from us. As is typical, it was a huge motor “yacht” flying along, not caring in the least who they swamped. We were sure Ernest’s boat was a recipient of their thoughtlessness, as well. As we were trying to land our fish, I yelled, “Prepare for wake”! But, we managed to land our catch, shooting his gills with rum (truly a waste) as we were out of cheap vodka. Mr. Fish turned out to be a 36” Wahoo, yippee, we love Wahoo. That was a record for us….two minutes from fishing to catching. Wind was to be east this day, so of course it was southwest and mostly on our nose. We put out the jib and that helped some. With both engines running at about 2200 rpms, our overall average 5.1 knots per hour. This day’s trip was about 28 nautical miles and we arrived at Landrail Point, Crooked Island at about 2 pm. We anchored in front of Jerry/Diane’s “dome” house at Landrail Point, prepared for the next few days’ NE winds. But, though the wind was very light, the SW swell turned us toward shore and soon we only had 2’ of water under the hulls. So, we pulled up moved further north to a little deeper water with pure white sand only…vs. sand with some rocks mixed in. We were much happier with this result. So, by 2:30 pm, we were sitting down with our computers and enjoying a number of unsecured wifi sites. We emailed friends Craig/Mary (from Brunswick, here in a cottage) to let them know we were in, made some rum punch, dropped the dinghy and headed to the little protected boat harbor about ½ mile to our south. We ran Miko ragged, as she had not been on shore for a couple days as we walked down the beach toward Casuarina Villas. We knew Craig/Mary rented the “pink” one so Ken went and knocked on the cottage door, ”hello, do you have some glasses and ice?”. We sat outside, caught up with a few cocktails under a gazebo over looking the ocean and made plans for Wednesday, nice. We wanted to be back on MTB by dark, so said good evening and headed to the boat harbor about 5:15 pm. Dinner and wifi this night…as no TV this far south L.
January 21, 2013 – Monday, departed No Bush Cay, Jumentos Island chain, Bahamas.
Well, No Bush Cay served its purpose, a place to stop. Overnight things settled down some, but then with the tide change, things got noisier. But, the conditions certainly never became untenable and as usual these past few seasons, we slept like babies. We have become so very confident in our anchor and chain, so no worries. We were up and out early this day as we had a long trip (42+ nautical miles) planned. And if we could, we hoped to sail, which generally is slower for us than motoring. We had the anchor up and the main sail ½ way up by 8 am…but no “aaahhh” moment this day. Wind was light and in the wrong direction. We did get to pull the jib out about 8:30 am and it helped our speed a little. At 9:00 am, since both motors were running at 2200 rpms (already a noisy day), we decided to fire up the generator to give the batteries a full float charge, and the water maker as well. This day we left the Bahamas Bank and were back in the North Atlantic Ocean, with water thousands of feet deep, good place to make fresh water. So our batteries and the water tanks were all topped off. We did not see another vessel of any kind all day. Weird. We did have two strong storms surround us…one missed us on its own and, we altered course north a little to miss the brunt of the second one. Just before it reached us, we doused the sails for maximum safety. But, we only got a small sprinkle again this day for MTB. As we approached the southwest end of Long Island, we started to see some beautiful water and pure white beaches. We dodged a couple lobster pots (hhhmmm, would love some for the freezer), on the way into our selected anchorage. We chose to anchor off a settlement called “Gordon’s”. There was a southeast oriented sea swell there and we ha no protection from it. But, it was a gentle roll as the winds were way down. So, by 3:00 pm, we were safe and sound, anchored in beautiful white sand with amazing “ripples” on the bottom. We love seeing “ripples” when we are going into a new anchorage, as they indicate a nice sandy bottom, excellent for holding. Once in, we researched the weather from several sources, deciding to go to Crooked Island on Tuesday. We had a long, noisy day, so decided not to go to shore, rather do our exploring on our return trip here later in the season. We read and sent emails to Craig/Mary…letting them know we were planning to be at Crooked Island Tuesday. They were there in a rented cottage. We had a green flash this evening with a stunning sunset.
January 20, 2013 – Sunday, departed Dove/Bailey Cay, southwest side of Great Exuma Island, Bahamas this day with temp of 75 degrees and 85% humidity. We only planned a 20 nautical mile journey southeast this day, but the anchorage we selected was a “day” anchorage in settled weather only…. meaning it was a rock sticking 13’ above sea level and .20 miles in size. We knew it might not work; in which case, our next choice would be 11 miles further. We were hoping to be able to sail all day, wind was 080 at 9 knots and we planned a course of about 150 degrees. So, at 8:30 am, we had our “aaahhh” moment, both main and jib sails up….engines turned off. We averaged 4.2 nautical miles per hour this day, with blue skies and rain showers all around on the horizon. The wind diminished, our speed went down to 2.6 knots, and there were storms in our direct path. So, about 4 miles out from No Bush Cay, our destination, we doused our sails. We motored to the “anchorage” to find a 30’ depth vs. the 16’ we expected from all our sources. But, we decided to try to get “hooked” and dropped the anchor at about 1:40 pm, with more chain out than I think MTB has ever used. The anchor stuck fine and we were comfortable that MTB would stay put for the evening. This place was so small; we had large sea swells coming around both ends of it, in different opposing directions. Partner that with a 10-knot wind chop, and one could say things were a little rolly. We just kept our fingers crossed that no other boat(s) arrived this day, as that would have made things pretty dicey. We only saw about 5 boats all day, one going north, one east, one southeast (with us) and two local fisherman. We heard the boat sailing our direction on the radio with friends and learned their name was “Fair Wind”. So, once we got settled in safely, we called them. Fair Wind was heading to the next anchorage down the “Jumentos Islands” chain to Water Cay, our bail out plan. We came 21 miles this day, getting to sail 16 of them, and that was good. Storms continued all around us the rest of the afternoon/eve providing beautiful rainbows and photo opps. We sadly only got a few sprinkles although we were hoping for a good freshwater rinse for MTB, oh well. Wind was forecast to diminish this afternoon to around 7 knots. We hoped for that and by 5:00 pm, we had less wind and with a lower tide, our anchorage was a bit more peaceful. All in all, North Bush Cay, Jumentos, was definitely “do-able” for one evening. Miko wasn’t happy, as the dinghy didn’t go down this day. We were so isolated here, if we had trouble with the dinghy while away from MTB, we’d be in a pickle….no one to call for help and no paddling in these swells. So, we didn’t want to risk going to shore. Miko had Frigate birds flying around for entertainment. The Jumentos chain of islands is one of the few places we had yet explored in our years of cruising the Bahamas. So, this day, we checked another desired destination off our list. The Jumentos are all uninhabited islands, so very few cruising boats ever venture here and weirdly, this was our fourth consecutive anchorage with 1 boat, US!
January 19, 2013 – Saturday, Dove aka Bailey Cay, southwest side of Great Exuma Island, Bahamas. Our planned leg this day would only be about 20 nautical miles so we thought we should go check out our little host “Cay”. The tide was low, so we had to walk the dinghy in a little way. That made the beach even bigger, prettier, exposing more sand and some buried, uninhabited conch shells in pristine shape. We took our machete and 2 coconuts from Long Cay in to shore with us. After some normal walking, playing, exploring and treasure hunting it was time to break open those coconut hulls. On the way back toward where we left the machete/coconuts, we saw a large Osprey soaring over us, pure majesty for sure. Ken was working on coconut #1 when I noticed a huge shark near our dinghy…man those guys are intimidating! Ok, back to work…the one without milk in it was opened to find slimy, jelly like meat so either it was too young, too old or just plain rotten. Coconut number two was opened to find rancid meat, for sure rotten. We had been optimists, leaving coconut # 3 on MTB. Oh well, a strike out in the coconut endeavor so my mouth was going to have to wait a while longer for a taste of this sweet treat. Back to MTB, we analyzed weather reports, anchorages and routes, only to decide not to leave this day. With winds increasing some, more from the south, we had a less protected anchorage vs. Friday. But, it was so very beautiful and never uncomfortable, so it was all good. Sum total this day, we saw a total of two people, one in a boat going north, the other in a small boat going south (might have been the same guy!). We hoped a local fisherman would stop by and sell us some fish, conch or lobster! But, no such luck. Friends Craig & Mary from Brunswick were flying to Crooked Island this day, having rented a cottage there for two weeks. They have been going to Crooked via their private plane or on their catamaran (Leopard like ours) for 30+ years. We were working our way south in the hope we’d get to Crooked in time to visit with them there.
January 18, 2013 – Friday, Clove Cay in the Brigantine Island Chain, north end of Great Exuma Island, west of Barraterre. It was a nice, sunny, blue, flat anchorage with 77 degrees and 77% humidity. We planned a short hop this day and wanted to wait for high tide before heading out this am. So, we hopped in the dinghy to go explore Long Cay, what seemed to be the largest of the Brigantine Cays. When we passed it on our way to Clove Cay, we noticed several beaches and beautiful coconut type palm trees. The water was flat calm again this day, so we had an aquarium under us as we made our way to Long. It was a beautiful ride, maybe a mile or so with starfish, shells, and corals on our “highway”. We picked the first beach we came to for our exploration as it was near the
Coconut palms we could see. We found a few shells and harvested three coconuts – Ken whacking at them with a board he found, and me using a palm fraun (?!..spell check no help!). We didn’t have our machete with us, so we put our coconuts in a bag to take them back to MTB. Miko ran with abandon as usual, chasing her “orange ball” and soon was spread eagle in damp sand, in some shade she always seems to find. She was a happy dog as she waited for us to finish our harvesting work. Sadly, one coconut we got down didn’t “shake”, meaning no coconut milk and it probably would be spoiled. Back to MTB we went and by 10:30 am, the dinghy was up, once again (whew)…and we were ready to boogie, once again. About 11:30 am, two large motor yachts flew by us on our same course. We heard a local fisherman hail them and tell them they better slow down (going about 20-22 knots) as they were getting to a skinny spot and the tide had been extra low. We had them both marked on our radar and saw their speeds decrease to 2-3 knots. Pretty funny. Once the first one was through, the other radioed him and asked if he was going to pick up speed and lead, or if he (#2) should. Well, in typical Captain fashion, #1 said, “well THEY are about to be served lunch”….#2 said, “ok, we’ll be passing you full speed shortly”, fully understanding #1 would have to keep it smooth for a while. Ah, different from our world, for sure. We motored all morning due to no wind, but about 1 pm, we pulled out the jib sail as we had a little more velocity from a better direction. This helped us pull back the rpms and increase our speed to about 6.9 SOG (speed over ground). This was great and because we were getting some wind help, we decided to continue on further than first planned. We picked a place that we could make by about 4 pm, named Dove Cay, but also called Bailey Cay on another chart. We never heard of this place before, it was remote, but it was where we needed it to be. The wind died and changed direction so we pulled in the jib. As we motored closer toward Dove Cay, we got excited as we saw a little half moon bay with a white sandy beach, coconut palms…just as pretty a place as you could hope for….so the sailing mermaid took care of us this day! We were anchored by 4:30 pm, just in time for RUM. We crossed the Tropic of Cancer (or was that Capricorn) this day. And, it was just us again…..we only saw one local fisherman all afternoon and evening. Sadly, we lost our US TV feed on the satellite system this day….guess we’ll be doing more “teach yourself Spanish” lessons on the computer from here out. No green flash this evening due to too many clouds and we had a light rain just after dark.
January 17, 2013 – Thursday, departed our anchorage, 1.4 nautical miles west of Darby Island, north of west Pimlicos, Exuma Islands, Bahamas. The anchorage was calm and flat this am, with very little wind. This next travel leg was new to us and intricate, so we planned to motor 20+ nautical miles for maximum navigability this day. Happily, our am was a perfect morning for motoring. We had squalls surrounding us with lots of rain on the horizon. But, when we left at 9:30 am, we missed the storms due to the direction we were headed, and it was 75 degrees with 78% humidity. We started out later than normal this day. We wanted to hit the “tight” spots of this day’s leg on a rising tide, so if we did go aground, we had the tide to help. Everyone told us doing this route was crazy, too shallow, too many shifting sand bores. But, our research led us to believe it was do-able and it would allow us to explore some new out of the way, infrequently visited places. We were right and never saw less than 3’ under our keel (7.5’ overall depth) the whole trip. In the “scary” area of sand bores, we actually had 10-11 feet under the keel (14.5’ to 15.5’). And, the water was so flat with a white sandy bottom, that you could see the corals, fish and starfish perfectly clear, making for just a beautiful trip. We motored south, then east into our destination, heading toward the Island of Barraterre. We chose to anchor on the south side of Clove Cay, in 10’ of water. It gets shallow fast, so once again we were anchoring a good way off shore. Clove Cay is one of several islands that form the “Brigantine Cays”. Our cruiser’s guide said that these Cays “are uninhabited and seldom visited by cruising boaters because the routes to them are shallow and intricate”. Well, here we were and it was an absolutely stunning area. We had it all to ourselves, not another boat in view in any direction, not even a local fishing boat. At lower tide, we dropped the dinghy and after checking our anchor (completely buried), we went for a ride around the area. We passed the only house in the Brigantine Cays on Clove Cay. We aren’t sure if it is currently being used, but oh my it looked like what one expects of a tropical getaway. Big palm trees, porches (possibly missing screen), huge rock fireplace, concrete dock (a little crumbly), boat garage with a boat put-in, caretaker cottage, a huge structure with solar panels….the imagination runs wild. Yes, one can only imagine the wonderful family/friends reunion vacations that could be held there. And, I didn’t mention the numerous small beaches sprinkled around this private island. We walked several of the more secluded ones and let Miko chase her ball some. Standing on shore, we could see reefs right up to the shore with corals and tropical fish….ah, snorkeling without getting wet. I found a really nice green commercial fishing net, got it unhooked from the coral, rolled it up and carried it back to Miko/Ken. It was in great condition and BIG….another nice decoration for our Brunswick dock. From the time we arrived and anchored until dark this evening, we saw NO ONE…..no boats, nothing. And, being alone here, we had no need for the noisy chatterbox VHF radio. It was so quiet we could hear the freezer motor hum. Total peace and quiet is nice now and then. But, we do also miss our cruising buddies out here. Because we motored this day, it was HOT shower night, yay! Top it off with breaded, pan-fried Wahoo, and this was about as perfect a day as one can have…..especially for free (well, except for burning a few gallons of diesel).
January 16, 2013 – Wednesday, anchored off, 1.4 nautical miles west of Darby Island, north of west Pimlicos, Exuma Islands, Bahamas, day 2. Overnight, we had several squalls but being anchored off, with great holding the increased velocity of the wind didn’t phase us. I did have to jump up and close hatches though. In the middle of the night, I told Ken “RAIN!”. But, this am, he was surprised to learn I had been running around in the middle of the night, closing hatches and rolling up the cockpit rug to keep it dry. This morning was gray with more storms still around the area. Although, conditions greatly improved through the day and by 3 pm, it was blue, breezy, 79 degrees and 69% humidity. It gets very shallow the closer one gets to Darby Island. And, the deepwater area is not very wide for swing room. So, thinking we were leaving to go to south this am, we anchored well off Tuesday afternoon, in 10’ of water for an easy, and shorter am departure. There were squalls all around us churning up the seas, and the wind was not a good direction to sail. So, we decided since we were here, we should explore this area. Now, being 1.4 nautical miles away from the beach wasn’t such a great thing. But, what the heck, we had plenty of dinghy gas and nothing but time. We dropped the dinghy and made a rough and wet ride into shore about 11 am. Once we landed the dinghy, we were immediately welcomed by a local, 4’ long SHARK…yes, shark. Ok Miko, stay away from the water! We were struck by how nice it was to walk on beaches with no footprints, just ours. These were isolated, not often visited and we hoped to find some treasures. But no sea glass, no buoys, no sea beans, just a few white small shells found this day. We first walked the west beaches of Darby Island heading around its furthest south end. We kept going east some, until there was no more beach. On the way back to the dinghy, I found a large pink stone type crab in the water and brought him to shore. His claws were small, so he got a reprieve this day and went back in the water. Once back to the dinghy, we opened the viewing window and traveled to the north end of the island, and east to the anchorage in between Little Darby and Darby Island. There was a small bay there with TEN cruising boats. Two of the boats had just pulled up their anchors and were moving further into the bay. They had been in a good bit of current coming from the “cut” from the Exuma Sound to the Exuma Bank…it rips through these cuts. We drifted over some small reefs and saw corals and just a few tropical, colorful fish. We love “snorkeling” this way, using the viewing window in the dinghy. We got a lot of fresh air, exercise and sunshine so it was time to get back to MTB. The wind had picked up some and turned more south. So, once we were out from the lee of the island, we bounced through swells and whitecaps, taking a few “over the bow”. But, all in all, our 2.5 hours off MTB was great and we took some beautiful photos. Our measure for the success of a trip to shore is Miko….if she is smiling in the dinghy going back to MTB, it was good effort. And yes, our dog truly does smile! Next, it was time to hunker down, download pictures, read and enjoy the sunshine filled day, in this… one of our most weird anchorages, a long way off shore. We put the dinghy back up later in the afternoon, as Thursday would be a moving day.
January 15, 2013 – Tuesday, departed Black Point settlement, Great Guana, Exuma Islands, Bahamas, day 5. Got up and decided to research a new route to move south this day. Fired up the inside chart plotter and it malfunctioned, crud. Worked with it, but could not get it to fire up properly, nor shut off. Luckily, we have two units (one inside, one outside) and a handheld unit as well. But, we never like to sail off to more remote locations with something not working properly. We found our only recourse was to back up the system on the outside unit and do a total system re-boot to factory settings (one loses all data doing this) on the inside unit. First try to reboot, no luck but second attempt, worked perfectly. So, now we can do our research and we decided to move. At 10 am, the dinghy was up and 10:30 am, the anchor was, too. We stayed in the Exuma “Bank”, the westside of the chain of islands. This route is thought to be impassible by most cruisers, but we check several sources of data and decided it was “do-able”. After so many seasons here, we get bored going the same way to and from places each year. So, the “Bank” it would be. We said our farewells and thank you’s to the folks of/in Black Point on the radio, pulled out and were sailing by 11 am, at 7 knots on 15 knots of wind….AAHHH! Just past Little Farmer’s Cay, a squall passed us with some higher wind and a sprinkle…but we missed the worst of it. By 1:30 pm, we dropped the sails as wind had died down to 3 knots and motored at 1700 RPMs on both engines, with a speed over ground of 4.3 knots. The sun started coming back out, which was helpful in transiting the sand bores prevalent in this area. A motor vessel named Bravo was on the same course we planned for Wednesday. I radioed them and he draw 5’, said he’d let us know if he saw any shallows that we should worry about. He was really a nice guy. We pulled into more shallow water on the west side of Darby Island and anchored offshore 2 miles out…closer in was too shallow and had a grassy bottom. Our anchor does not like grass. The wind died down and we were comfortable in our unorthodox anchorage. “Spirit” – Diane (mom of Radar) called as they could see us from their anchorage at Rudder Cay, several miles away. They were worried we were aground. Nope, just picked a quick place to get in for just one night and out on a rising tide in the morning. We were glad to find out that Radar was feeling much better this day.
January 14, 2013 – Monday, Black Point settlement, Great Guana, Exuma Islands, Bahamas, day 4. 76 degrees and 62% humidity this morning, wind for 090/East at 12-15 and so very nice in the anchorage. Folks left this day, folks arrived this day….good weather to move. We went to see Ulrisa/Raymond, two of the local residents we have known here for a number of years. Then, we went to see Ida at the Rockside Laundry, doing three loads, bought a local made basket and a couple post cards. Ken walked up to Adderley’s store and bought some more pasta and margarine to stock back up a little. Back to MTB to drop our treasures, we returned to shore to do a little more sea glass hunting. On the way back, Miko “eagle eyes”, saw two dogs/Dad playing on the Bay beach and of course went loco. So, we took her out to play with the beautiful English sheepdogs from the motor vessel “Salty Paws”. John, their owner was very nice and “Muffin” and ? were good pups, but big and a little intimidating for Miko. We visited, they played and all shortly headed back to our boats. Miko was sad this day, as Radar, Tag and Max all left this morning. It was a Green Flash sunset this night…so we have both seen 3 or 4 now this season and each one is fun. Much to Miko’s displeasure (hates it), I blew the conch horn.
January 13, 2013 – Sunday, Black Point settlement. Great Guana, Exuma Islands, Bahamas, day 3. Another lazy, idyllic Sunday in the Bahamas. We took dinghy in to the government dock and walked to the northern most beach, up the hill overlooking the settlement. There are three crescents to this beach; each generally has unique “treasures”. The first one we come to is great for highly “cooked” polished sea glass, the next often good for hamburger and other sea beans, the last, good shelling. So, we had a great sea glass day and found a good buoy for décor on the Brunswick dock. We went back to MTB and soon it was low tide and time to go to the bay beach for “doggie playtime”. We had two border collies from E2 Motion, Max & Tag to play with this afternoon. Sadly, Radar, the schipperkee from Spirit had an epileptic seizure and couldn’t come out to play this day. Back to the house (MTB), we hunkered down for NFL playoff games. It was a good day, as Atlanta won as did our friend Gloria’s favorite. ….New England. It was Miko’s spa day, too….she got brushed and her nails trimmed.
January 12, 2013 – Saturday, Black Point settlement. Great Guana, Exuma Islands, Bahamas, day 2. Wow, what a nice sleep we had the prior night, calm and pleasant in this anchorage. We got up after breakfast, packed up to go to shore, as Big Run was coming in to do laundry this day. We got to Rockside Laundry about 11 am, and Sharon was just finishing up their loads. We walked to Regatta Point, did a little beachcombing, and admired the view. We stopped by Lorraines’ mama’s house, got a homemade loaf of wheat bread, the all went to DeShamon’s for lunch…me a conch burger and the others all had cheeseburgers. Owner, Simon, gave each couple a large Bahamian onion, grown on Long Island, which was so very nice of him. We said our “see you laters” to Bob/Sharon (again) and back to MTB by 1:30 pm to finish watching NCSU vs. Duke, basketball game and that Wolfpack beat the #1 ranked team!! Yay NCSU!! It was a gray day this one, but that meant it wasn’t so hot and that was nice. We waited for low tide, as we had all agreed to take our dogs to the beach to play together again this day. Miko let us know when the Border Collies were on the beach, crying like a crazed dog. So, into the beach we went and Radar from Spirit arrived just after us, as well. On the way in, Miko was so excited, she lost her footing and for the first time ever, fell right out of the dinghy. I always have hold of her leash, so it was easy to haul her back in with one grab of her harness, crazy dog. Pups and people had fun and it was time to get back to MTB for some Saturday basketball and football playoff games. A lazy afternoon and evening.
January 11, 2013 – Friday, Plane Bay to Black Point settlement. Exumas, Bahamas, day 24. We went to shore early to water Peg O’Brien’s vegetables and give Miko some exercise. Then, after going by Big Run to say “see you later”, we put up the dinghy and motored up to Black Point. The anchorage still was very crowded, but we worked out way into a spot in the northeast section we like to anchor in. We found a nice spot and got anchored before lunch. We had WIFI on the boat with a number of unsecured sites to choose from!! Yay. At low tide, we saw Diane/John from Spirit on the beach with “Radar”, their Schipperke. AND, Miko saw Radar as well…started crying like a baby. So, of course we had to drop the dinghy and take Miko to play. While on shore, two border collies and a cocker spaniel also came in, to join the fun. We had a beach doggie park, for sure with all the dogs chasing each other, and each other’s toy balls. They wore themselves out, but all were smiling on their dinghy rides back to their vessels.. We made a date to do the same thing on Saturday afternoon. A nice, calm night aboard in this, the protected anchorage we have loved for so many of our cruising years. .
January 10, 2013 – Thursday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Islands, Bahamas, day 23. It was mailboat day today, so we all decided to walk into Black Point. We met on the north beach an hour before low tide, at noon so it would be a little easier to get to shore. After a stop at the dump, we had a really nice walk into town. We are always amazed at how many homes here are ‘in process” of construction and how slow the progress. We sat on a rock in front of DeShamon’s restaurant and Adderley’s store as Bob/Sharon needed provisions. We had carried our computers and Ken downloaded 698 emails. We met a bunch of the cruisers as everyone was waiting for the store to re-open. Adderley’s store always only orders a minimum of items, so they go fast. Bob/Sharon were able to get eggs and butter, the main two things they wanted. We walked to Ida’s/Rockside Laundry to buy meat pies that we love here, 6 beef, 6 chicken $24. Bob/Sharon were going onto another produce market. So, we went into Scorpios Bar to wait for them, use his WIFI and have an ice cold KALIK (Bahamian beer, yum). They came back and decided after their cold ones to walk back. We decided to stay for Happy Hour at 4 pm, for a couple more Kaliks and some social time. Jean/Doug from Sandcastle came in and sat with us. We talked with a whole lot of cruisers and were about to leave to walk back when Doug said he’d drive us home! Yea, another Kalik please. We had fun and had a great ride home with Miko in the bed of Jean/Doug’s pickup truck. A beautiful night and thankfully, our dinghy was floating and still tied up to shore. We hadn’t planned to be out after dark, so no anchor light left on…but we have 4 solar powered yard lights in our winches around MTB, and they worked great to help us get home on a moonless night.
January 9, 2013 – Wednesday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Island chain, Bahamas, day 22. 77 degrees, 83% humidity at 8 am. The mail boat had been expected to bring food supplies to the store this day, so we hoped the anchorage at Black Point would thin out some this day. But, a problem didn’t allow Captain C to leave Nassau this morning as planned. So, the 38 boats anchored number would probably not change, so we decided just to stay put, yet another day. We did take Miko/us in for a walk midday and Bob/Sharon came in as well. Blew Moon’s crew, Houston/Gail came back from their walk to town when we were all on shore, too. So, after a nice visit with everyone we went back to MTB. Big Run invited us to happy hour, but the ancho rage was getting bumpy again and I wasn’t feeling 100%, so we took a rain check. A “down east/tug-esque” motor vessel named “Electra” arrived near sunset, anchoring east/south of us. It was a beautiful boat as well.
January 8, 2013 – Tuesday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Island chain, Bahamas, day 21. We thought we’d be going up to Black Point settlement this day. But, as it turned out, we heard on a HAM radio report that there were “an amazing 40 boats” in the anchorage this am. We have been in there with 30+ boats and it is not too bad. But, 40 boats in any anchorage is a bunch, especially since we were sitting in a safe anchorage with a total of 3 boats. So, our prior evening farewell was pre-mature and we let Big Run know we weren’t going anywhere. The O’Briens left this day, as Frank needed a follow up to an eye surgery he had in December. Their plan was to be in the US for about three weeks. It was sad to look over to O’Briens Landing (their home’s name) this night and not see any lights on. See you later Frank, Peg & Troy. I was getting restless and ready to move. We needed wifi to catch up with our land lives and do some online banking. We hadn’t been “connected” since 12-16-2012 or so and were having withdrawals, missing email/Facebook. But, no moving for wifi this day. Mid morning a Sea Ray power boat came flying in, giving us quite the nice wake. The boat, Mer Soleil, went toward shore and “anchored”…but they didn’t hook and were dragging. I watched and watched as they kept moving toward us. When my distance threshold was reached, I yelled for Ken “ah, they’re heading for our bow”. We started waving our arms & yelling as they did not answer two radio calls. The folks on board and the crew seemed totally unconcerned about dragging into us. And, we were lucky their dragging anchor didn’t snag/foul our chain/anchor. Someone’s lightbulb finally went on and the Captain must have realized they were pretty close to us. They thankfully got their anchor up and motored away after getting to within 10-20 feet of us, after dragging for hundreds of feet. They motored away, close in to the beach and tried anchoring again. At this point, one couple dove off and swam to the shore. But, we could tell from MTB that their vessel was again dragging fast out to sea. Luckily this time, the wind was taking them between us and Blew Moon vs. directly at us. When they were beyond us, another two folks dove off to swim to shore. We don’t think they realized how far the boat had gotten from shore at that point. We were concerned about these two swimmers as they seemed to be struggling with the distance and we kept watching for their safety. Finally the vessel realized they were well beyond all of the boats in the anchorage again, having gone a long way. So, again they motored toward shore and they got so close to their two swimmers, we were concerned. But, happily this time their anchor seemed to set, finally. A little storm shower came through, so about lunchtime everyone got back aboard and this crazy group/vessel left us. Thankfully. There’s always some sort of entertainment out here. We just were so very glad we were onboard vs. off the boat this am or they just may have run into MTB. A new, beautiful motorsailer anchored well, next to us, about 4 pm. And, we did get Miko to shore for some ball chasing this afternoon even though it was ‘bumpy”. Four of us anchored this night. Bob/Sharon didn’t get off Big Run this day.
January 7, 2013 – Monday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Island chain, Bahamas, day 20. No weather service (Chris Parker) reports on Sunday, so got to sleep in a little. We knew what was coming….wind, wind, wind, wind, that was about it. At 3 pm, it was 81 degrees with 73% humidity. After breakfast, Big Run called to see if I wanted to go visit with Jean at the Sandcastle to learn some of her sea glass jewelry making skills. Bob/Sharon picked me up in their dinghy about 9:30 am, and we visited with Jean until just after lunch. I took Doug/Jean MTB t-shirts as a thank you for always being so hospitable to us cruisers. Jean shared a bread recipe with me, sat with us in her jewelry/craft room and later showed us her garden so we had a really nice visit. I especially loved her tiny Dremel drill press that holds a small dremel tool with diamond bit for jewelry making (shells, sea glass, etc.). I will be watching ebay for one for sure! Back to MTB, we took Miko to shore for exercise, then walked up to O’Brien’s Landing to return a book, give them some MTB t-shirts and a thank you card for our Christmas dinner with them. We stopped by to say hello to Houston & Gail on Blew Moon on our way back. They were really nice folks and said they had so enjoyed watching Miko/Scout run & play together on shore the previous couple days. Bob/Sharon from Big Run came aboard for what we thought would be our last happy hour, sunset & dinner together this season. We planned to move north, they planned to go south. After a burgers on the grill dinner (with Sharon’s pasta salad & beans J), we watched the BCS Championship game, Alabama winning decisively over Notre Dame. Dad A. in heaven would not be happy, friend Charlie White in Greenville, SC would be thrilled. We said our “farewells” (vs. goodbyes) to Sharon/Bob, knowing we’d be back together in Brunswick in the Spring. We had a small isolated shower during the night, not enough to wash MTB nor collect any fresh water for the coffee pot!
January 6, 2013 – Sunday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Island chain, Bahamas, day 19. 76 degrees, 83% humidity at 7:30 am. No weather on the HAM radio on Sundays as our service takes the day off and we get to sleep in a little. We saw Scout/Amy go to shore about 8:30 am, so we hustled to shore with Miko as we knew Sparrow/Scout planned to leave us this day. Again, the two pups played so well together, running with abandon, playing chase and both were smiling. We said our farewells to Amy and Scout, making sure we gave Amy our boat card. She said they would send us emails of their whereabouts so we wouldn’t miss any future opportunities to let our two dog buddies play. We were so sad when we saw Sparrow leave. It is like when you are a kid and the neighbor family moves and takes your best buddy with them, just a bummer. It was HOT shower day as we had motored in the prior afternoon. I was restless and ready to move back to Black Point to get a wifi signal. But, Bob/Sharon asked that we stay here through Monday night for our final dinner together and to watch the BCS Championship game on MTB. We were just a rockin’ again this day, as the wind was building with a “southerly” component in it and that is never good in Plane Bay. Wind was supposed to go further to the south and be stronger the next couple of days, oh well, just a rockin’. I am not sure if I have addressed boat cards in the past. Before we sail, we all make sure we have up to date business cards with our applicable boat information. It give our names, what type of vessel, our HAM radio call signs, home port, cell numbers, website information, info about any pet(s) aboard, email addresses, etc. We all meet so many folks out here, cruisers & locals, that it is hard to remember everyone. We are pretty good at remembering boat names, as we hear them most frequently on the VHF radio. And, we typically remember dog names, once Miko has played with them. But remembering all the people we meet is more difficult, especially season after season. Most folks are not good at remembering names, being challenged like us so the majority of frequent cruisers have “boat cards”. We even had some made up for our RV! When we receive a card, we write when and where we met in case our paths cross somewhere in the future. This season, I actually started an excel spreadsheet of boats we have seen around us, how they anchored, etc. For the boats/folks who anchor too close or not well, I make a special note in case we see them elsewhere.
January 5, 2013 – Saturday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Islands, Bahamas, day 18.
This am we woke with 2 monohulls south of us and Big Run. We took Miko to shore early and Amy came in with Scout. So, yet again the two pups had so much fun together.
We had to get going, as we had told Bob/Sharon we would pick them up at 9:30 am, to go out for a day sail.We had called Jean at the Sandcastle several times, to see if she wanted to join us, but no answer on the VHF radio. A small Canadian catamaran arrived just as we were about to leave. We had our anchor up at 10:10 am, headed north. The seas were calm, we had about 12 knots of wind, but from the E/SE in direction.
We put up the main and pulled out our jib, and soon to had our “aaahhh” moment, shutting off the engines. Sharon/Bob had not sailed on a catamaran before, so we were glad to have this opportunity with them. We decided to go into Staniel Cay Yacht Club‘s marina/fuel dock, radioed them, and they said come on in. We pulled in the jib, and dropped our main sail. As we approached the marina, we radioed to say we were on our approach. But, we were told there was a Sea Ray powerboat filling up and we had to “hang” around for 30 minutes until they were done fueling and had pulled away. We just did a couple loops in the channel. We finally saw the powerboat leaving, called and were told to come in. The delay actually worked to our benefit as it was nearer to high tide and less current as a result, with the east wind holding us off the dock. Tario, a Staniel Cay resident caught our lines and helped us tie up. It was great to have extra hands, as Bob & Sharon helped me with lines/fenders. We took about 70 gallons of diesel to top off our tanks and 3 gallons of dinghy gas, for a total of $438. Bob/Sharon filled their dinghy gas tanks and snagged some rum at the liquor store in the Yacht Club. Once we all had everything, we made it easily off the fuel dock. And once away, we just pulled out the jib for a slow ride back toward Great Guana and our anchorage in Plane Bay. About 3 pm, we pulled in the jib and motored the rest of the way “home”. No one new came in while we away, so the spot we left was still available. We anchored essentially in our prior spot, but about 100 feet closer to shore. Bob/Sharon joined us for happy hour, but no green flash and no Euchre this evening.
January 4, 2013 – Friday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Island chain, Bahamas, day 17. Two boats left, two boats came….funny how this works here. So, we still 4 monohulls, one catamaran (us) & one trawler. I was up at 6:30 am and north of us was a beautiful rainbow, although we had no rain. Luckily I was able to grab my camera in time to get some photos. It was 76 degrees/92% humidity early this morning, but by 3 pm, we had 81 degrees and only 73% humidity which was much better. Ken and Miko had another “spa date” this morning, as she was still blowing her coat due to the more temperate conditions here. She was super sweet, letting Ken brush her for a long time, she looked really good. About 12:30 pm, we went and picked up Sharon on Big Run, as Bob was on shore helping the O’Briens. We walked South Beach and decided to go over to Crescent for a little more beachcombing. It was slim pickings, so we were back to MTB around 2:30 pm, after dropping Sharon “home” to her boat. We decided to stay on board and chill this evening. Thursday night, Jean at the Sandcastle mentioned going in for Happy Hour at Scorpio’s Bar this night, and we knew it would be a lot of fun. We love Zhivago, the owner there. But, we had done something every night since New Years Eve and an evening home alone sounded good to both of us. We knew Miko would be happy, as she would have our undivided attention. One of the boats that came in today had a dog aboard, but sadly, we weren’t on the beach at the same time with them earlier in the day. But, luckily we saw them go to shore early evening. Miko cried, so we hopped on the dinghy and took her in standing on the bow with all four paws. Once on shore, I carried Miko toward the man/dog. Once we found out that both our dogs liked other dogs, I let her down and off they went. Miko’s new friend was “Scout”, female, white with black spots English setter. She was the same age as Miko and they had son much fun. Her folks, David/Amy lived on “Sparrow” a doublebreasted, blue monohull. Once we got our pups back in our dinghies, they both were very happy, well exercised.
January 3, 2013 – Thursday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Island chain, Bahamas, day 16. It sprinkled this am, was gray and generally not nice in the morning. We thought about sailing to Staniel Cay to get diesel fuel and give Bob/Sharon a MTB sailing experience. But, it was yucky so we just hung around the boat. I made two sea glass necklaces, the first by myself without Sharon’s help. I was proud of my handiwork: 1) brown glass with gold wire wrap and 2) coke bottle glass with silver wire. Yep, liked them both and was happy with the results. Two more monohull sailboats arrived and Jean called from the Sandcastle to tell us they were friends of Doug/hers, Persephinny and Blue . Later in the afternoon, she radioed again to invite us to their house for a 5:30 pm happy hour. I made an appetizer for the occasion, as customary “cruising” etiquette is that you take your drinks andd b a snack when invited to a happy hour. Folks have limited supplies in the islands, so we all share what we have. The added benefit is that it typically makes a nice variety of goodies. This day, I made a feta/pesto/black olive spread for crackers, one of my favorites. We ran Miko to shore for some exercise as she would be crated while we were at the Sandcastle.. She’d heard fireworks or a gunshot earlier in the day, so was acting a little fearful. The Potcakes had been on the beach most of the morning, so we had to be careful with her on shore. We had a great time wearing out our sweet pup and also met a nice couple on the beach that was renting a vacation house in Black Point. They were leaving Friday morning and so sad! Back to MTB we showered, packed up and at 5:20 we headed over for a nice evening at the Sandcastle. We met Jerry/Donna from Bluejacket; Jerry/Karen from Persephone; and the O’Briens came as well. We had baked brie, stuffed dates, sushi, mixed nuts, green tomato chutney with cream cheese and homemade cookies, venison salami/cheese, in addition to the feta/pesto dip I made/took. We ate so well and so enjoyed the company. We had previously heard about a boat being damaged and almost sunk at Staniel Cay during the New Year regatta. Evidently, one of the sailing regatta boats had a blind tack and just t-boned a catamaran that was in their way. This night we found out from Bluejacket (were there at the race) that the damaged boat was Glory Days, a beautiful catamaran we anchored with at Norman’s Cay a couple weeks prior. These folks built the boat themselves and it was gorgeous. They were not hurt, a bunch of locals got on and helped them bail and were able to get the vessel to the beach to keep more water from entering. They received an amazing outpouring of goodwill/help with the locals and cruisers bringing food & doing anything they could to assist these poor folks. After a temporary patch was fashioned out of foam and plywood, yesterday began their trip to get towed back to Florida by Amazing Grace. We left the group about 8 pm to get back to MTB/Miko before it got really late, and to watch another bowl game, Oregon/Kansas. Oregon won and so far this bowl season, all the good guys had “W’s”. Another nice day.
January 2, 2013 – Wednesday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Island chain, Bahamas, day 15 – HAPPY BIRTHDAY CINDY. We had a nice breakfast of cheese grits and ham. Then, about 10 am, we went to Black Point in the dinghy. We ran into Raymond at the dock, and it was nice to catch up with him. We dropped off our garbage and a donation where the locals provide a trailer for us to use; went to the Post Office and mailed a post card to an ill friend in SC. Once done with these chores, we walked to one of our favorite beaches and did some beach combing, letting Miko chase her ball for exercise. It was hot, so we walked the full length of the beach, and headed back to the government dock. There were about 13 boats anchored when we arrived and we counted 23 when we got back to the dinghy. Folks are heading south now that the holidays are behind us, we guessed. We had lunch and about 4 pm, Bob/Sharon came over to help me celebrate my birthday. Before leaving home in November, I cooked and froze a full corned beef, my traditional birthday meal when I was a kid. So, I reheated it, threw on some cabbage, made some skillet potatoes and we had my birthday dinner. They brought me presents, too! They gave me a full bag of buoys for the dock in Brunswick and a beaded bracelet Sharon made to match my Christmas necklace. We saw a green flash this day, yet another good birthday present. At dark, we sat on front of the boat as the stars were spectacular and we saw several shooting stars. A monohull named Boree came in this day, anchored pretty close to us. They probably came to regret their proximity, as after a few rum punches we were laughing, silly and loud, celebrating my birthday..sorry Boree. To top off an all around great day, Louisville beat the Gators in their Bowl Game! Yay. There were five of us in the anchorage this day, three new monohulls arrived late afternoon, all Canadians.
January 1, 2013 - Tuesday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Islands chain, Bahamas, day 14. NEW YEARS DAY. Well, time does fly. We’ve been two weeks here already and now it is 2013, amazing. It is hard to fathom that we left Garfield Corporation on 09-30-2006, retired and it is now 2013.Good Grief Charlie Brown! The morning started out gray and dreary but thankfully by 9 am, it was blue and sunny, 75 degrees and 60% humidity. Miko was much better this am as the fireworks were over. Ever since they shot the cannon in St. Augustine at us, she freaks out at anything that “booms”. We were invited to Big Run this day for pork/sauerkraut with mashed potatoes, a traditional Pennsylvania New Years dish. I added black eyed peas to the menu, a southern/Ken family tradition. Anchorage was still rolly but no more white caps and wind was diminishing. We sent Jess/family a text and got one back. Our son in law, Brian is a Bears fan, and they (& 6 other NFL teams) fired their coach the previous day, interesting. We went to shore to let Miko run, exercise. Stopped by Anna Rose, an 40’ interesting motor sailor, with Stein from Rhode Island and his friend Virginia aboard. It was a Schuckler, or some similar name with a 43’ mast and Stein said of all the vessels he’s lived aboard for 20+ years, this was his favorite. Back to MTB, we watched a couple games and all the good guys won (USC, Georgia). Over to Big Run we had a great dinner, including homemade yeast bread, yum. Back to MTB, we played cards and watched the Clemson game, enjoyed homemade fudge and cheese popcorn. The Euchre rivalry was up to 4-1, Bob/Cindy still in the lead.
December 31, 2012 – Monday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Islands chain, Bahamas, day 13. WOW, NEW YEARS EVE!! Wind swung back to the east, but was still very strong (20+) all day. A guy at Staniel Cay said on the radio this morning he saw 38 knots during the night, but who knows, we were sleeping like babies. It was cooler with the southern, tropical air having been pushed away when the front came through with northerly winds. This am, it was 73 degrees with only 65% humidity (vs the 97% a few days prior). The local wild Potcake dogs were running on the beach this a.m. again but luckily Miko was still down in bed. She goes wild when she sees them onshore, wanting to go join them to romp, play. What she doesn’t realize is that they would hurt her. We put a bottle of Champagne in the refrigerator this morning so we would have it to toast the end of 2012 and incoming 2013. TV shows had all the “look back” pieces this am and sadly a lot of bad stuff. It was a good year for us, beginning with us in the Turks/Caicos, then to Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spanish and US Virgin Islands. Once home, we sold the Corvette, Vixen RV and Hummer and bought our new RV an Airstream 33’ Land Yacht. I began volunteering at the Humane Society. We had granddaughter Audrey with us for about a month during the summer; enjoyed Ken’s successful 40th high school reunion in the fall; spent time with family/friends on various trips; and went to a few FSU & Brunswick High football games during our land months. A good summer and fall was followed by our departure to the Bahamas November 1. We so enjoy this retirement gig getting to do things that please us! Ken decided this am his resolution was to be able to speak a little conversational Spanish by year end. So, he had a “learn Spanish” DVD playing on his computer for awhile with the Today Show on TV, while I was trying to type this post, yep it was somewhat distracting. Happy New Year and welcome to my world. About 9:30 am, Ken took Miko to the starboard sugar scoop steps for another brushing session. She blows her coat twice a year. But, if we brush and brush her a few times over a two week period, then no shedding until the next time! Not too bad and she always looks so beautiful after Ken has brushed her. She even had a little manicure this day. It seemed no one was leaving this day as all of the monohulls’ dinghies were still down at 9:30 am. Nope…EXP behind us pulled out about 11 pm. There was a US motorsailer in the anchorage named Anna Rose. We were very interested in the vessel, as we contemplated selling MTB and buying a different vessel to allow us to expand our sail/travel options. A shorter mast and more narrow beam, etc. would allow us to get into more places, be pulled out locally in Brunswick, do the great loop, etc. And, buying something less expensive would incur a smaller property tax bill that we could just pays vs. staying out of Georgia for over 6 months a year. Now we make sure MTB is not in Georgia more than 179 days, as if we are in Glynn County 180+ days in a calendar year, we would be assessed property taxes. We were just starting to consider other vessel options. We like having sails, dual engines and a trampoline for Miko, so who knows if we’ll decide to go ahead and sell MTB. We took our sand chairs and beach umbrella to shore, mostly to give Miko some exercise. After walking the full length of the beach, keeping a sharp eye out for the Potcakes, we sat on the beach and read for awhile. Sadly, clouds came in and covered the sun so with the 20+ knot wind, it got chilly and we decided to go back to the boat. We ran the generator & watermaker some more, and I made dark chocolate walnut homemade fudge. Bob/Sharon invited us over for homemade pizzas for dinner at 5 pm. We came back to MTB to play cards (Bob/Cindy now 4 of 5 matches), watched some football together on our satellite TV system and toasted the New Year with a bottle of almond flavored (hhmm) California sparkling, homemade fudge and cheese popcorn. We watched Clemson play LSU in the Atlanta Peach Bowl, Bob/Sharon missing a great ending having left before the game ended. Clemson won in the final seconds by making a field goal. Miko had a rough evening, as she heard fireworks in the distance and they scare her. Staniel Cay and Little Farmers Cay all had boomers in the sky, poor pup.
December 30, 2012 – Sunday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Islands chain, Bahamas, day 12. On Saturday, forecasters said the coming cold front would arrive here at 2 or 3 am this morning OR, at 7 or 8 this morning. Well, when we got up the wind was still from the west, so the front had not arrived yet. It was 76 degrees with 91% humidity at 8 am. At 8:30 am, the front arrived and the wind went abruptly from west to north. Although, no squall with this front and only dark skies and a light sprinkle. About 9 am, 6 boats arrived from Black Point and surrounded us. All these boats were flying either a French or Canadian flag. So, another case of group think & herding, for sure. Tao, an aqua monohull, came within feet of our stern and then went directly in front of us to drop their anchor. We just hoped they hooked really well. Big Run had a monohull anchor beside them a little too close for their liking. Jean (Sandcastle) called to ask who allowed the armada to enter the harbor! She had been in back of the house in the, garden & when she came back in, we were surrounded by the new arrivals. She said Doug was working on a new invention to make distilled water for their batteries and it was getting smoky over there. She’d been working hard getting their ho fuse opened up, saying each year it seemed to take longer. We both had hot showers this day, always a treat. By 11:30 am the sky was again blue, temp was 78 and happily the humidity had dropped to 62% with the north wind. Another nice day in our “neighborhood” as the anchorage was comfortable again with good protection from shore. We studied the charts for the Exuma Bank this day and decided if we got fuel here (Staniel, Sampson or Cave Cay), we wouldn’t have to go to Georgetown. And, we could avoid taking the long way around over the top of Long Island, then south, to get to either the Jumentos or Crooked Island We could stay on the Exuma Bank side of the islands for the whole trip South. This also would allow us to visit some new islands, not as easily accessed from the Exuma Sound side, like Darby Island. That would be good. We’ve tried to see every island in the Bahamas that our vessel’s draft will allow us to reach. So, we have seen a great deal more of the Bahamas than the majority of the cruisers out here have, or ever will, see. Bob/Sharon came over so we could continue our Euchre tournament, and by the end of this day’s hands, it was Bob/Cindy 2 and Ken/Sharon 1! No green flash this night. After Big Run’s crew went home for dinner, we started both our generator and our watermaker. The watermaker hadn’t been run all season to date and initially, it didn’t start up. Ken realized it had lost its prime, worked a little on it and voile, it was running perfectly. Ken got a cup of the water being made to check its salt level and the rating was 219. This was great as the lower the number, the better. For comparison, the local municipality’s reverse osmosis system that serves this island has a level around 700. So, we have great, free, clear, fresh water from the sea. Pretty cool for sure. We ran both systems for almost 3 hours, probably not to the pleasure of the monohulls surrounding us. But, oh well, that’s what you get when you anchor too close to folks!! Miko “woofed” from down in our bed, telling us it was time to get to bed, so funny. At home in Brunswick, she often comes down from our upstairs bedroom and woofs at us when we have fallen asleep in our living room. Many nights, she’s saved us from sleeping in our chairs. How she knows to do this, we have no clue.
December 29, 2012 – Saturday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Islands chain, Bahamas, day 11. At 7:00 am, temp 76 degrees and 84% humidity. Wind clocked to the south and that direction makes our anchorage bumpy and uncomfortable was MTB was rocking front to back and side to side. Although, the sun was out and the sky was blue so it was still a nice morning. About 10 am, the Lagoon 440 catamaran (name started with ISP…?) pulled anchor want departed north. At 11:30 am, we dinghied to North Beach with Big Run. We went up and got Troy to go beachcombing with us. We planned to do Big/Long beach this day, but Troy said on Saturday, it was Crescent Beach day. Ok, so we went to Crescent but there were no goodies to be found. So, we went over to Big/Long Beach as well. We found some sea glass here but not much more. And, it was hot due to the south wind bringing the tropical breezes. Troy was hot and done with looking for treasures, so Bob walked back to O’Brien’s Landing with him. Ken, Sharon & I walked back to the south end of the beach and we all met back at Peg/Frank’s house. Peg so kindly offered us iced teas, so we sat down and really enjoyed their company. About 3 pm, we said our goodbyes, as the tide was going out and the dinghies were not floating. So, before it got worse, we needed to go. Ken fixed the joker valve on our head one more time, trying to stop its back flow issue. About 4:30 pm, Bob/Sharon came over for happy hour, sunset watching and our next game of Euchre. Ken/Sharon were the winners this evening, so the rivalry was tied 1 to 1. There was no green flash but we had a very colorful sky and the moonrise (full) was brilliant, truly incredible.
December 28, 2012 – Friday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Islands chain, Bahamas, day 10. It was calm overnight so we woke this morning, after a great sleep, to 97% humidity and 74 degrees. There was not a cloud in the sky and we didn’t have the prior day’s sea surge so a nice day. We once again were in a good weather location, having very mild impact from the cold front that went through on Thursday. The “NAKED” monohull left around 9 am, full sails up, heading north and once again there seemed to be a lot of crew skin visible. Bob said he thought that their boat name was “Spicy”, hhmm aptly named. Now, there were three of us anchored…two cats, one trawler. Flies and mosquitoes were worse here this year than in seasons past. Ken was getting out the swatter more often to become the “great hunter” and we at dusk, we were having to light bug coils. Having a little stronger wind (9 knots) helps too, so we didn’t like it when it dropped to light/variable velocity. Ken changed the seawater filter in our water maker system this day. He also transferred fuel from our front diesel storage tank to replenish the stern, port side fuel tank as it is the one used to run our generator. With so much bowl game watching, we’ll be running the generator a lot over the next few days to run the satellite/tv system. Sadly, Bob went in to talk with Frank/Peg and we found out that Troy had heard us talking about happy hour on MTB and had expected to join us. We really felt so badly. But, in the future, we have his Mom’s ok to get him and bring him aboard. This morning we all decided the wind/seas were calm enough to dinghy to the settlement of Black Point. We packed up our dirty laundry & Miko, convoyed north with Bob/Sharon. The Rockside Laundry provides cruisers with a dock, so we tied up there. Bob let Sharon off and went to the government dock as he had garbage and there is a “cruiser” garbage trailer there. Ida runs Rockside Laundry, it is a great facility and she always is so very kind everyone. We started our three washers then we took Miko and walked west to “Regatta Point”. Many of these island settlements hold an annual regattas, showcasing locally built, crewed, and sailed boats. It is typically when local families have reunions (kids come home from Nassau, etc.) and is always a food, music and fun filled time. The winners of the local island Regattas go to Georgetown on Great Exuma in April each year for the “Family Island Regatta”. We were in GT during this time one year and it was great. The competition is fierce, as is the partying after each day’s races.. Each town has their “Regatta Point” and booths are set up each year for food, drinks, etc. The structures are wood open air booths, decks, gazebos, docks, etc., painted in the bright Bahamian colors of coral, periwinkle, yellow, lime and aqua. We admired the view and headed back when we thought the washers would be close to finished. The laundry was packed this day even though there were only 10 boats in the anchorage. We have seen 35+ boats anchored out, but never seen all the washers/dryers in use at one time. It is expensive to do laundry out here: $17.50 in tokens for three loads this day and we didn’t do anything heavy, like towels. Back to MTB later we went storage container diving in our “pantry” to retrieve some needed items…most importantly, the pancake syrup. Bob & Sharon joined us later for happy hour, our first Euchre game and dinner.They brought their meat and we threw it on the grill with ours. We saw an amazing sunset (no green flash), gorgeous moon rising, had good fun, and good food with great friends. Ah, Bob/Cindy took the Euchre competition, 11-8!! Yay.
December 27, 2012 – Thursday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Islands chain, Bahamas, day 9. It was gray and cloudy this a.m. It was 75 degrees and 97% humidity at 7 am….can you say S T I C K Y?? Wow, everything was damp, even Miko. It stayed gray through the morning hours, sprinkling off and on. By 9 am, the wind had clocked NW/N and the west swell was still hitting us broadside. We talked with Big Run and said if the swell got better for nice dinghy ride to their “house” we’d ride over. We wanted to look at the Bowl Game schedule on their air card wifi connection so we all could make some plans for TV/football watching aboard MTB. Doug/Jean at the Sandcastle took advantage of Wednesday’s light winds and removed the wood panels that cover their first and second floor windows. They put these up each season before departing for their home in California. The removal is no simple feat, as they must maneuver and use a bucket lift to do the work. Removing the safety panels made their house look happy again, no longer boarded up. It was so good to see their lights on shore Wednesday night, in addition to those at O’Brien’s Landing. Only two houses here, two houses now lighted at night. Only two boats here, two boats’ anchor lights also lighted at night. Time sure does fly by here, in our “winter” neighborhood. Wsee still had plans to go further south this season. Although, one side of me is happy just to hunker down in Plane Bay for the rest of the season. And, then the other side of me gets restless on occasion and ready to go. It would be great if we could convince Bob/Sharon to join us going south…we so enjoy being with them and that would be the best of both worlds! Noontime it was still rocky in the anchorage, but wind moved more and modified in the afternoon, and everything was better. We all decided to go to the beach, give Miko some shore time. On arrival to the south beach, we found Troy beach combing. We all walked to each of the far ends of the beach, finding some shells for Troy and giving Miko plenty of ball chasing time. While on shore, a monohull and a Lagoon 440 catamaran arrived, but they were not folks we knew. Back to MTB, Bob and Sharon over about 4 pm for sun setter cocktails and a Euchre (card game) lesson. We saw Troy on the beach, waving his arms, but we didn’t have his Mom’s approval to go get him to bring him aboard. So, we just waved hello. The two couples on the Canadian monohull anchored just south of us came back from shore (north beach) and we waved as they dinghied by MTB. The next thing we knew, they were all back onboard their vessel, NAKED! We see everything (yep!) out here in these anchorages. The Bonds brought their phone, air card & computer/cable, to give us access to the internet. Ken/Bob figured out when the best Bowl games would be on TV so we could schedule our game watching gatherings. We also posted a quick message on Facebook to let family/friends know where we were, safe/sound, without WIFI. This was really great and we were appreciative. Good time as always with these good friends.
December 26, 2012 – Wednesday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Islands Chain, Bahamas, day 8. “Boxing Day” here in the Bahamas, traditional English holiday holdover from the British Commonwealth days here in the islands. All the boats with us departed this am, so once again we and Big Run had the bay to ourselves. First Edition called to say so long and said that she would give everything she owned for Miko…she fell in love with our sweet puppy! She said if we every needed a baby sitter for her, she was the person to call. We both said we’d listen for each other on the radio and would probably catch up somewhere down the islands this season. We also spoke with Al on Blue Heaven and thanked them for their holiday cheer & goodies on Tuesday. The three boats traveling together left about 9 am, heading for Georgetown this day. After letting all their kids play on the beach, the catamaran also pulled out about 10 am. Miko saw/heard two Potcakes (Bahamian mutt dogs, most often feral) on the beach this morning and she cried and cried, wanting to go play with them. She doesn’t understand why we won’t let her romp with them. Typically the local Potcakes haven’t had rabies shots and who knows what diseases they may carry. We’re so sorry, Miko…no can do. We went to shore about 10:30 am, hoping the Potcakes had gone elsewhere and would not come around. Nope, they actually snuck up on us and stormed our rear flanks. But Miko was safely tethered and we scooped her up out of harm’s way. These dogs can seem very aggressive but they actually are very timid. We just shoo them away, although they backtracked and traced Miko’s path, continuing to stalk us. Bob/Sharon dinghied over and joined us on South Beach. And, we all decided to walk over to the east side of the island to both Crescent and Big/Long beaches. We call the east shore’s north beach “Long Beach” and Bob & Sharon call it “Big Beach”. We combed both, finding a little sea glass, a few buoys and some shells. On Big/Long Beach, the Potcakes showed up again. Luckily they still posed no trouble to Miko, she was on her leash, Ken knew they were coming and Bob chased them away. We headed back to our dinghies, as we were all tired, hot and hungry about 1:30 pm. A cold front was coming off the Florida coast, moving through the area later this day through Thursday. The wind clocked some through the day to our un-protected sides, S to SW. But, the wind velocity was low and by late afternoon, the anchorage was still calm. The south wind did bring us higher temperatures and it was 82 degrees, with 73% humidity in the salon at 3 pm. Winds started clocking later in the afternoon and we had a swell from the west, causing both our vessels to “hobby horse” a good bit. The clocking wind was forecast to go SW to W to NW through the pm, then back to N and finally E on Thursday with showers, but no squalls expected. This front was relatively mild and with no boats around good holding, and us we were not worried about this one. We spoke with Big Run on our local “neighborhood” radio channel about 4:30 pm. Channel 13 is a low power and not much used station, so while here with Big Run, we just monitor it solely. This way we don’t have to hail on channel 16 first and then switch to another channel with the whole local cruising population listening to us (the party line). We talked about possibly snorkeling on Thursday, weather permitting, so had some fun to look forward to.
December 25, 2012 – Tuesday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Island Chain in the Bahamas, day 7. ITS CHRISTMAS DAY!! Miko got two new balls and a rawhide bone for Christmas this morning. Ken’s daughter, Jess, called this morning. It was nice to hear everyone’s voices & to catch up. We do miss our families & friends while we are out here cruising. Shortly after Jess phoned, Al & Arlene from the sailboat, Blue Heaven, came over wearing Christmas hats, bearing Christmas goodies and singing a Christmas carol. We had a nice chat with them, but they had to go as they were going to walk to the dump this morning (too funny). Shortly after their visit, Peter & Lynn arrived from another sailboat, First Edition, with goodies and well wishes as well. Peter’s hat played music and flopped on top of his head from side to side. Miko loved it and had he been closer, I think she would have made a grab for it! Lynn fell in love with Miko, never having seen a Shiba before. After their nice visit, we took Miko to shore for a lot of exercise. We knew she would spend the afternoon in her crate, as we were invited to Christmas dinner with the O’Brien’s on shore. She ran, chased her ball and ran some more. This day she actually was running into the water more than she ever had. She was just having a bunch of fun. Once she was really worn out, we headed back to MTB. I put together some Christmas goody bags for Sharon/Bob (Big Run); Doug/Jean (house on shore, Sandcastle); and Frank/Peg, son Troy (house on shore, O’Brien’s Landing). The nine of us were having Christmas dinner together and we were invited to shore at 1:00 pm. I made a Caprese salad and mixed up some fruit punch to share. We packed up the Key lime pies made Monday, and in we went wearing our Christmas antlers (thanks Kevin/Laura!). The O’Brien’s had just flown in from Florida to their home here several days prior. So, when they came home, they arrived with a suitcase full of food that included a frozen turkey and all the trimmings for Christmas dinner. It was so wonderful to be invited to share this day (and that turkey) with them in their beautiful home. We each had a rum punch and enjoyed some appetizers and conversation. The company was great, and our Christmas meal, spectacular…turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, candied yams, cranberry dressing and corn. Jean made a great cake with apples grown at their home in California. After helping put the food away and expressing our thanks, we headed back to MTB about 5:30 p.m. We had such a lovely Christmas with all these wonderful folks here in Plane Bay. Miko was happy we were home. A Fountain Pajout catamaran arrived late this afternoon with 4-5 kids aboard. They went straight to the beach on their arrival…and they were noisy, having a bunch of fun.
December 24, 2012 – Monday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Islands chain, Bahamas, day 6. Well, how does a “cruiser” spend Christmas Eve? Sometimes, it’s a party on the beach or gathering on someone’s boat. This day started with us first taking Miko to shore and running her ragged so she would be content laying around the boat this day. While on shore, the three boats that arrived on Sunday, all moved to new places, nearer MTB. Guess they thought the swell was better where we were, NOT. For Ken and Bob, this day was spent with their heads down in Big Run’s engine compartment, still trying to diagnose and repair a non-functioning generator. For Sharon & me, it was a 1.75-mile walk to the interior of the island to the dump, continuing on to the settlement of Black Point. We try to minimize the footprint we leave here in the Bahamas. This day we had one kitchen sized bag of garbage but it was everything collected aboard since December 7th, the day before we left the US. So, we felt that was not too bad. We try to take our trash to where ever they designate locally. Thoughtless cruisers often make a mess in these remote settlements by just leaving their garbage on shore, close to where they land their dinghy. It piles up, potcakes (local Bahamian mutts) get into it, and someone has to clean up and take it to the dump. We guess these folks just don’t “think” about where they are and about the impact of their lazy actions. In town, there were a few other cruisers walking around. Lorraine’s Restaurant was undergoing a renovation. Her place was looking nice with new siding, paint, etc. We were happy to find that Ida who owns Rockside Laundry still had Adderley’s store open for them (owners away in Nassau for the holidays) so we could get the last minute things we needed for Christmas dinner. It was so nice to get a big hug from Ida when she saw me. I told her I didn’t expect her to recognize me, as I didn’t have Miko with me. We had a good laugh…always so very nice to re-unite with the nice residents of Black Point. We bought some additional produce. One is wise to buy fresh produce when we see it, as there may not be any the next trip in. Once done with our shopping, we headed back, with me second-guessing my decision to buy the BIG cabbage, as it was heavy! We enjoyed the 1.75-mile walk from the settlement, back to the anchorage beach. We had rain (sprinkles) once along the way but luckily nothing of substance, though dark clouds were all around us. Ken came from Big Run and picked us up. After grabbing lunch on MTB, he & Sharon went back to Big Run. I made two key lime pies this day for Christmas dinner and went “container” diving for a few things in our ships store. The wind had settled down some so we weren’t rocking as much and the sky had cleared. By 3 pm, it was 79 degrees and 51% humidity in our salon. At 3:30 pm, Ken radio’s from Big Run that there was much joy on board. Their generator had been fixed thanks to the help of Doug, who lives in the Sandcastle, one of two houses near this anchorage. So, to the relief of our friends, they truly received a wonderful Christmas present. They told Ken to come get Miko & me, so we could all celebrate their revived generator. Miko loved being on Big Run and she laid down in their salon like she lived there. Our evening with these nice friends was great, and so were the rum punches we enjoyed. Sharon gave me a beaded necklace she made and they also gave us a really cool buoy for the Brunswick dock. Such thoughtful folks. About 7:30 pm, it was time to head back to MTB. Capt. Kenny had imbibed a little too much this fun Christmas Eve and it was dark. So, I was happy when we arrived safely back to MTB. I luckily had planned ahead, took a flashlight and turned on our anchor lights before going to Big Run earlier in the evening. So we easily found our way back to our boat in the dark. ALTHOUGH, my relief on arrival was premature. I got off Toby first and as usual, helped Miko jump aboard. As I was tying the dinghy painter (rope) to the cleat, I saw Ken standing erect on the bow of the dinghy one minute and losing his balance the same instant. He fell backwards, bounced on the inflatable tube of the dinghy and splooshed right into the water. Luckily it was calm and he was right next to our sugar scoops. It took a minute for him to get his bearings, but I finally got him to swim around to our stern. I helped him back aboard, made sure he still had his wallet & the dinghy key, then sent him to the shower. His momentary disorientation in the water scared me and we now have a rule. If drinking off the boat at night in the future, two drinks MAX for the Capt. Of course, he accused me of pushing him in the water. Oh well. So, that was our glamorous Christmas Eve in the Islands, mon!
December 23, 2012 – Sunday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Islands chain, Bahamas, day 5. No weather on the radio to have to get up and listen for so we were able to sleep in this day, yay. About 8 am, Ken played Jingle Bell Rock over the VHF radio on the channel we/Big Run agreed to monitor here. Bob came on to acknowledge they heard our holiday cheer. But, he said things were sad on Big Run. When they got back to Big Run Saturday night, their generator would not operate properly. So, Ken went over after breakfast to lend support and see if there was anything he could do to help Bob identify what the issue might be with their generator. He took our computer as well, to take advantage of their offer to let us use their wifi to download our emails. We had been without the Internet for more than a week. Miko and I stayed aboard, although she didn’t leave the back of MTB, looking off in the distance, watching for her “Papa”. No boats appeared to have plans to leave the anchorage this day and by 11:00 am, it was still the 6 of us here. Then, Moxie pulled up their anchor about 3 pm, so now five of us. Sharon came over and we did some sea glass jewelry work….looked at the things I had purchased for spacers, etc. and picked out some necklace worthy pieces of glass from what I had on board. We made one necklace with a piece of smoky gray sea glass, putting two purchased accents with it. This was my third attempt and I was pleased with our efforts. Ken/Bob came back over to MTB later in the afternoon and we enjoyed happy hour aboard. Miko did not get to shore this day and wanted to go. Several times during happy hour she went down on the back step on each side of the boat, barked at both of our dinghies a number of times. Sometimes, we just have to make her understand she can’t always be the “ALPHA” on board.
December 22, 2012 – Saturday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Islands chain, Bahamas, day 4.It was rocky in the anchorage overnight as the wind still had some westerly component to it In the am, it was cooler with wind now coming from NW to N vs. the more tropical south. It is nicer sleeping at night when the evening temperature and humidity are down some. At 9:00 am, we had 74 degrees and 53% humidity in the salon. It was a sunny and beautiful day and we looked forward to some better shore time this day. We heard boats in Black Point trying to decide if they should move and come to our anchorage. One said it was her “worst night ever on the boat”. Another said it was so bad she only had 5 minutes sleep all night and they were so very sorry to have gone to that anchorage. Good grief people. It was a little rocky, rolly and windy but you were in a huge anchorage with absolutely great holding and only a few boats around. When storms come through, it doesn’t get much better than that! They decided to see if the wind went further northeast, improving things there, before deciding to move down here to Plane Bay. We hoped they stayed away as they sounded inexperienced. These type cruisers tend to “group think” and anchor right on top of other boats in what we call the “herding” mentality. They make all the decisions for their vessel/plans based on someone else’s thoughts. We are glad to always have made all our travel plans independently, based on what we think is right and safest for MTB. Ken worked again this am on the starboard (our side) head. The valve was still allowing a little back flow into the bowl. Ken was on a mission to correct the issue, though a messy job. I made coconut French toast this am from bread we bought here in the Black Point Settlement on the way home in April. We took home 5 loaves to freeze and ironically brought 2 back with us on this trip. But, we sure enjoyed having them this morning, as there is nothing yummier for breakfast. Bob was helping Frank O’Brien with a project, so we went over to get Sharon and go for a walk. We ran Miko on the beach and then went beach combing on Big Beach. We saw Bob up on Frank/Peg’s porch so went up to say hello. Peg invited us to join them for Christmas dinner and we were so happy to be included, looking forward to a nice time. We, along with Bob/Sharon, headed back to our dinghies, as it was time for lunch. We would do happy hour or visit after dinner and watch football on MTB, depending if any bowl game was on this day. By 1:30 pm, no other boats arrived so we were hopeful the folk we heard on the radio earlier in the day were going to stay put. Nope, three boats came around the corner later in the afternoon, trawler and two navy blue monohulls. Bob/Sharon came over about 4 pm and we finally had time to sit, chat and catch up. They left about dinnertime. Another great day.
December 21, 2012 – Friday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Islands chain, Bahamas, day 3. I woke up about 5 am, looked out to see Puddle Jumper off in the distance. They said they hoped to pull up anchor about 4 am this day, and it appeared they had. We knew we’d catch up with them somewhere down the road (...or the sea ways!). Wind was clocking with a cold front this day, southwest to west to north. While SW/W, we had a very rocky anchorage. About noon, we decided to take Miko to shore, wearing bathing suits, as we knew we’d be getting wet. With the wave direction from the west the waves were heading straight into the beach. It would be hard to keep our dinghy from being swamped on shore. I wanted to motor straight onto the sand, pulling Toby up on shore, then turning her around so our bow faced the waves. But, Capt. Ken wanted to anchor Toby just off the beach. Okie Dokie. I put Miko under my arm, jumped in and carried her to shore. Ken threw out our dinghy anchor and brought a line to shore as well. By the time we were all half way down the beach, Ken looked back and saw our dinghy was getting swamped. So, he left me & Miko to finish our walk and jogged back to Toby. Miko was pooped, so we headed back as we could see Ken was pumping water out of the dingy and we wanted to help. I hoped we all could just pile back in, I could pull up the anchor and Ken could motor us out of the waves that were breaking on shore. That worked and although we had a bumpy ride back to MTB with the building waves directly on our nose, all was good. Miko enjoyed her shore time and got some good exercise. The forecast called for the wind to clock later this day back to the north, which was a good direction with good protection for us. The west wind really made the anchorage a rough and rolly place, so no happy hour or evening gathering this day, not a night to be out in the dinghy. Just before dark, a monohull arrived, anchoring between Big Run & us; their name was too small to see. Although we found out later that they were "Moxie" from Nova Scotia. At 5:30 pm, the front arrived bringing us a squall. The top wind we recorded was 31 knots and we collected 5 gallons of fresh rainwater, yay! MTB also got a great fresh water rinse, a great by product of the storm. It blew threw in about 15 minutes and we immediately went from a west wind to northwest to north. So, our swell was diminishing and the anchorage got a little calmer. We had a nice chat with Big Run before turning off the radio at dark.
December 20, 2012 – Thursday, Plane Bay, Great Guana, Exuma Islands chain, Bahamas, day 2. Southern Grace left us this am. After a good breakfast, we headed to shore to let Miko run and then do some walking, beachcombing. Hurricane Sandy had really changed the topography of the beach where we anchor. The sand from the more northern beach was now on the southern beach, creating a whole new bur, the entire length. The sand being newly deposited was like snow and when Miko chased her ball through it, she reminded us of dogs up north, running through drifts. Sandy had a lot of natural resources impact here in the Bahamas, but not nearly the structural impact like in the northeast coast of the US. Bob & Sharon came to shore and since Miko was well exercised, we decided to go beachcombing on the two eastern beaches nearest us. One we call “Crescent Beach” for the obvious reason. We love this beach as one climbs down a hill to it and there are rock overhangs that provide great shade for Miko. She digs out the top hot sand and lays in the cooler sand below, in the shade of the overhang, smart dog. She lays there and smiles as we beach comb. Works out quite nicely for all of us. We found shells, buoys, sea glass, sea beans, old cigarette lighters and driftwood…all things we are collecting. I got the idea to collect cigarette lighters because there are a million of them that wash up, they are bright and varied color…. maybe we can assemble Christmas wreaths out of them! We next went to the next beach we call “Big Beach”, also on the east side of the island, north of Crescent Beach. Again, we all found treasures, walking the full length of this beach. Good company, good exercise and time for lunch. The owners of the only two houses where we anchor arrived from the States this day. So, we all gathered at “O’Brien’s Landing” at 5 pm, for some rum punches (thanks Puddle Jumper) and then piled into the pickup truck sent for us by the local restaurant named DeShamon’s. The 10 of us had more rum punch, burgers and fries for dinner, really enjoyed each other’s company. Puddle Jumper’s Bill & Mara took care of the total bill which was too generous, but very appreciated by us all. After group photos were made, we all climbed back in the bed of the truck for the ride back to the other side of the island, from the settlement of Black Point. Puddle Jumper planned to leave before dawn Friday, so we said our farewells. Though we allowed for the tide going down by leaving our dinghies anchored off the shore, all three were high and dry when we got back. So, we helped each other heave ho them back out to the water. The stars were beautiful this night.
December 19 2012 – Wednesday, Hawksbill Cay to Great Guana – day four. Well, I want to come back re-incarnated as a weather forecaster….great work as you can be wrong all the time and keep your job! The E 14 knots wind forecast for this day was actually 2-4 knots this a.m. So, we had to decide whether to stay and hope to sail on Thursday, or go with the possibility of motoring yet another 32 miles? We did dishes, had breakfast and debated. Well, no telling what the weather would be Thursday and at least this day there was a beautiful sky and calm sea. We headed out, and optimistically put up full sails, main and jib, no reef points needed this day. At first, we were going 2 knots and Ken was about to start our engines. Nope, that was not the deal, we’d agreed we were sailing to wherever we could get with the wind we had. I was sick of motoring. The wind built a tiny bit and our speed over ground was up to 3 knots, then 4 knots. Capt. Ken trimmed the sails a little more, the wind direction changed slightly and before we knew it, we were sailing at 6 knots on 10 knots of wind. This day was what sailors dream of…calm seas, beautiful blue skies, aqua water and a good speed in the proper direction. By 2 pm, we were only 6 miles from our destination, a 32 miles relaxed and peaceful trip. We had a wonderful sail and by 3:30 pm, we had our anchor in the white sand in Plane Bay on Great Guana Cay. A motor sailor named Southern Grace anchored south of us, minutes after our arrival…4 total boats. They were sent here by Rod on 2x2 that was with us here last year! By 3:45 pm, Bob/Sharon from Big Run came over, Miko went wild seeing them, and we got our long awaited hugs and had such a nice reunion! We talked with Bill/Mara on Puddle Jumper, great seeing them here, too. To top off a perfect day – we both saw the green flash with this afternoon’s sunset!
December 18, 2012 – Tuesday, Hawksbill Cay, Exumas Land & Sea Park, day three. We woke to a blue and sunny day, though it was sticky, 90% humidity with the decks soaking wet with dew. By 7:45 am, it was 76 degrees in our salon. The vessel that came in after dark Monday night was a very impressive, navy blue motor yacht anchored out, west of us. Their inflatable “dinghy” (tender) was nearly as long as MTB and they also had power ski type boat! So, we had an impressive new neighbor and we hoped to be invited for dinner, yah right. The light and variable wind in the a.m. was from the south, where we had no protection. And, during the late afternoon it was west but also ok, as it was still light and varies able. Weather forecasted for Wednesday sounded perfect for sailing down to Black Point for a reunion with Big Run and Puddle Jumper. We spoke with Ken on Faring this am and he said his dog Holly was feeling great and didn’t get near the saltwater on their trip to shore Monday. She drank too much the day we arrived and had some bad stomach issues. Smart girl, she learned that valuable lesson that our cruising pups must all learn. Faring went by us, leaving for Warderick Wells at 8:15 am this day and when Miko saw Holly aboard, she cried. We were sad that she/Miko didn’t get to play together more…maybe down the road/ Hawksbill is a large, beautiful, uninhabited island and a good find. We love the ease of access to this anchorage with wonderful holding. We used the viewing window in the floor of our dinghy to check out our anchor on Sunday and it was GONE, totally buried and not visible. Even much of our chain was buried. Nice. We’d never been here before and were so glad we came. This season, we are trying to tour the few remaining islands we haven’t been to in past seasons. Andros, Shroud, Hawksbill, the Jumentos and Raggeds were about the only ones (assessable by us) that we hadn’t yet visited. So, now all we need to go see are the Jumentos and Raggeds. We hoped to enjoy a Valentines Day party held annually on Ragged Island. And, friends Craig, Mary have rented a cottage on Crooked Island beginning January 19, so we planned to swing by to see them while they would be there. Friend Charlie White’s 6-0 birthday will be in Key West on March 21, so maybe we’ll sail there as well. Other than those dates, we have NO plans…yea. Ken changed out the joker valve on the head in our port side, as it had some leakage. Water flows back into the bowl instead of going into the holding tank when these valves fail. It’s a yucky job, but one that is necessary now and then. We went north on this day’s dinghy ride to explore more of the island. Found a small beach just around the point and went ashore. We let Miko run the beach and get her energy zapped and then went walking. Dogs aren’t allowed on the paths, as the iguanas, etc in the Exumas Land & Sea parks are protected. Miko doesn’t mind being carried, as she isn’t fond of sandspurs, nor walking on coral rock. We follow signs to “The Ruins” and shortly were walking through the remnants of the “Russell” family. Loyalists (to the Thrown) left the US and established colonies here. The walls, floors and fences were made from coral rock, dated 1785. This island is rough and rocky, so life had to be very difficult. The wind was from the west this day but, mild so a gentle rocking at anchor. I put out the few Christmas décor items we had aboard to make MTB a little more festive. We put the dinghy up based on a good forecast to sail.
December 17, 2012 – Monday, Hawksbill Cay, Exumas Land & Sea park, mid, west anchorage, day 2. At 8:30 am, it was 85 degrees and 66% (57% by 10 am) humidity. Wind was turning from SE to South and we had no protection for that direction, but it was to be a light wind for this day and Tuesday. By 10 am, we only had a mild swell. Our wind was to continue to turn through this day and Tuesday… SW, W, NW and then back to where we did have protection N, NE, E. It was not to be more than 10 knots of wind, so we weren’t concerned. This aim’s ongoing coverage of the Sandy Hook school shootings was prolific, on and on to the point that it felt like media sensationalism. We planned to do some more exploring of Hawksbill Cay this day, as we had never been to this island on our 7 previous visits to the Bahamas. But, first a couple boat jobs. We modified the screw in the plate that our anchor chain slides over, as it leaves the boat, heading toward water. A prior replacement Ken put in too big of a head and it had been giving me trouble all season. And, we took our front white plastic winch handle holder off, after dealing with one stripped screw. It was moldy and ugly and needed a good cleaning. Well, it was scrubbed and reinstalled and looked so much better. It’s these little jobs that keep us busy and MTB in tiptop shape. Mattina (Lagoon with Farley aboard); Independence (the trawler) and Distant Drummer (the beautiful navy blue monohull) all left at 9:15 am this morning for Cambridge Cay, a favorite of ours. So, we were down to us two catamarans, Ken on the Manta named Faring, with Holly. Holly drank too much salt water on the beach Sunday and had a bad tummy. We so hoped she felt better and that she and Miko could play again this day. Miko liked playing and running with Holly very much. We got an email from Big Run this am. They had gone back in Plane Bay and were there with our mutual friends on Puddle Jumper saying, “How cool is that?”. It is such a small world in this cruising life of ours. Puddle Jumper planned to be there until the 20th or 21st. Frank/Peg at the house in Plane Bay (O’Brien’s Landing) were to be back from the States then and Bill/Mara hoped to see them before heading south. After a big breakfast, we went out exploring, riding down to the SW anchorage on the island. It was beautiful there, but seemed it could get some pretty good swell from the cut below the island. We loved where we were, so that was great. We landed on the southern most end of the beach by our anchorage and let Miko run after her ball and play. Once she was worn out, we walked the total distance of the beach north, then back. Only saw one interesting, small white buoy but we were without a knife, so could get it out of its mass of ropes. As we arrived back to MTB, we saw Ken from Faring taking Holly to shore. We hated Miko missed getting to play with her this day, as Holly was a nice dog. Pizzas this night, to use up the cherry tomatoes purchased in Palm Beach before our departure….didn’t want them to be wasted. A vessel came in after dark, anchoring well off shore and away from us. It had lots of lights, but we could not tell what it was.
December 16, 2012 – Sunday, Norman’s Cay. We collected several gallons of rainwater and its nice to have fresh coffee water from nature. It was a gray am, 75 degrees 79% humidity. We spoke with Wind Dancer and they needed weather information, which we had, as they were thinking of leaving for Staniel Cay. We both hoped we’d catch up again, down the way. We had a nice breakfast and decided that we too would move this day. We wanted to be on the west side of an island somewhere for better protection from the winds that were stronger than expected. The forecast said E14, we pulled out of the anchorage and saw 22 knots on our short 10 mile trip. We motored along the shores of Wax Cay, Shroud Cay and in between Elbow & Pigeon Cays. As we approached Hawksbill Cay, a large storm engulfed us so we slowed down. I didn’t want to be out front in the rain trying to anchor. We got a few sprinkles, but the showers passed to the west of us. We headed into the middle west coast anchorage and saw four boats. This Cay is a part of the Exumas Land & Sea Park and we read that there were 4 mooring balls. We thought that the four boats may be on those balls. But, as we got closer we saw the monohull, 2 cats and 1 trawler were all anchored. We pulled in behind the others, keeping well away from the mooring balls and other boats at anchor. We do hate it when folks come in and anchor in our kitchen. Once the day cleared, about 2 pm, we dropped the dinghy and were excited to be heading to the beautiful beach to the east of us. When we were packing up to go in, we saw others go in and TWO dogs were on the beach. Oh my, was Miko ever going to be happy. On shore, we found that one of the dogs was a former playmate of Miko’s (in Georgetown 2011). Farley is a Wheaton terrier and lives aboard Mattina with his folks, Matt & Tina. Ken from a Manta cat named Farley was also on shore with Holly. Miko was screeching with excitement all the way to shore. The three dogs ran and played with abandon, Miko smiling, smiling. The crews from Independence (Sue/Paul) and Distant Drummer (Bruce/Debbie) arrived on shore as well. We all wanted to visit the beach on the other side of the island. So, we looked like a little parade, hiking the rustic the path over. There was a good bit of “Poisonwood” on the path so we had to be vigilant. These plants look like ficus bushes, their leaves having yellow stems that attach them to the limbs. A scratch can be very serious. The beach was pretty but rocky and one had to go up and down coral formations. We walked to the end of one beach but the others decided to go to the next beach, up and over another hill. We turned to go back to our dinghy, finding a buoy on the way that we collected for our dock at home. This night we both saw the first “GREEN FLASH” of the season, and it was a good one. A calm, quiet night and we were very happy we moved to this anchorage, Miko was for sure!
December 15, 2012 – Saturday, Norman’s Cay, southeast channel anchorage, inside. We were happy this am, when we saw Glory Days pulling up anchor as we knew we would not have to worry about how we were swinging each time the tide changed. Funny, though, as we shortly saw Soulmatie move into the spot vacated by Glory Days. But, at least they were smaller and a little further away from us than Glory Days had been. Oh well. We had a WIFI signal this am, yea. We had a big breakfast and dropped the dinghy and went to shore about 1:00 pm. Miko was so happy to be back on another beach….ran, chased her ball, smiling. Once she had enough playtime, we walked the road toward the other side of the island. We saw a sign that said McDuff’s bar/restaurant was closed for renovations until “late 2012”. So, being optimists, we headed there anyway. There were pieces of luggage sitting by the Welcome to Norman’s Cay sign at the edge of the island’s runway. Three vehicles were parked in the shade with the folks waiting for their flight. So, we knew to be cautious crossing the runway to & McDuff’s since a plane was expected. We heard music in McDuffs, opened the door and the one guy in the place told us they were closed. We asked about the guy who formerly ran the place, Stephan and his dogs, Salt & Pepper. But, the guy told us the only folks around were from the construction company and he didn’t know anything about anyone. We walked to the beach on the west side, seeing 6 boats anchored there, then back to our dinghy. Back aboard, it was 79 degrees 68% humidity, nice. We hate those 80+ humidity days. About dusk, we saw another monohull coming into the anchorage. As a courtesy, we hailed them on the radio, wanting to warn them that we would be moving around weirdly and a lot during each tide change. We were so happy, when they responded and it was Wind Dancer whom we had spent time with in Morgan’s Bluff. Al & Sue anchored perfectly and we knew we’d have a worry free night. Unfortunately, with the wind being high and the current ripping it was a noisy, bumpy night (although we slept fine!). We had some brief showers, good as we had our rain collection system set up and ready.
December 14, 2012 – Friday, departed north Nassau, New Providence Island, headed south. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FAVORITE SON IN LAW, Brian! We had a nice night of sleep, as it was breezy and cool in our berth, vs. humid and sticky. The wind this am was finally as forecasted….NE 17-18 gusting 22 and seas behind us, pushing. We put up our mainsail in the bay where we anchored. So, by 8:30 am, we had both our jib and main flying, both with a double reefs in them. Finally, we had an “AAAHHH” moment....that time when both our engines are finally turned off and we SAIL! The weather had been so bad, with winds all in the wrong directions, that this was our first “ah” moment into the sixth week of the season What a nice sail it was with us having an overall average speed of 6.9 knots and not a single other sailboat catching us through the day. We had 5 boats leave Nassau right behind us and often times the monohulls are faster than we are. Not this day! We joke we are built for comfort vs. speed, but this day we had both. We opted to stop at Norman’s Cay in the Exumas. There are two main anchorages, one on the outside west shore of the island, the other being inside around the south end heading east in between several other islands. We opted for the inside, though it is tricky to anchor there and often crowded. We came in and only found one other catamaran. That was good and we were able to pick a place to anchor quickly, stuck it first time (last time here, took about 5 attempts) and were settled in by 2 pm! A monohull, named Soul Matie, came in later and anchored directly behind us. A great day of sailing, made great time and it was good to be in early. Though, we didn’t even drop the dinghy, just were lazy the whole afternoon. This evening, during the tidal change, we were swinging weirdly, hunting toward the other catamaran, Glory Days. We were outside after dark watching to see how close we were getting to them. They were far enough off the channel, they weren’t getting any of the tide change current and not budging, though we were. We decided we’d be ok and went to bed, slept fine with no problems.
December 13, 2012 – Thursday, departed Morgan’s Bluff, Andros Island, Bahamas on day 5. It was like a regatta leaving the anchorage…everyone up and out about 7:30 am. Every has a similar routing…make coffee, listen to weather, batten down and GO. We knew it would be a motoring day, this one. But, we had a strong north wind coming in and Morgan’s Bluff is no place to be with that situation. Leaving, the anchorage was so calm and smooth, Ken saw a big starfish on the bottom. We dispersed a number of directions…..one couple went to the west end of New Providence (Nassau’s Island); Puddle Jumper was going to do an overnight south so they could sail all the way to Staniel Cay in the Exumas, for fuel; Arctic Cat was going south to Fresh Creek, middle section of Andros, 5 boats planned to anchor in Nassau harbor, and we were headed north of Nassau, behind a barrier island off the shore from Atlantis. Its funny how one group of boaters can take so many different routes from one place in the same conditions. We had to motor east as we had light and variable winds, on our nose. But, we knew going to Nassau would give us a great day of sailing south on Friday. Just at noon, along the way we caught a Wahoo….46” long, giving us 16 beautiful, thick firm filets for dinner and freezer. Nice fish, nice distraction. Thursday night while on shore for Roland’s birthday party, we bought a bowl of Capt Hard Ass’ conch salad, so we enjoyed it for a late lunch once our anchor was down at 2:00 pm. It was still 80 degrees at 5 pm in the salon. But, a mild cold front was expected through the area this evening, so we expected cooler sleeping conditions.
December 12, 2012 – Wednesday, Morgan’s Bluff, Andros, night four. WOW – this day was 12-12-12. We had another great prior night of sleep and by 9:30 am, it was 82 degrees and 77% humidity in the salon. I made apple cinnamon and blueberry walnut muffins this am. I do a double batch on the mornings prior to a planned departure. That way, we have some leftovers for an easy breakfast the next day before the anchor comes up. We received a disturbing email this morning from our friends Craig & Mary in Brunswick. We have a commercial property in Brunswick, managed by a great guy at Parker Kaufman RE named Tom Sublett. He was also a county councilman, though his term was ending as he chose not to seek re-election. He’s been great to work with. Sadly, his gunshot body was found in the Frederica River on Tuesday after he’d last been seen leaving a meeting. We understand the death was ruled a homicide and it was very difficult to fathom. If a random act of violence, the news (though tragic) might be easier to believe. If targeted due to his service to the County or various organizations where he volunteered, it would be a terrible situation for our area. Our hearts are broken for his family, friends and co-workers. Ken had a list of three boat jobs for this day – fix the seal in the Jabsco toilet port stern; check & top off engine oil and work on bilge pump flapper. At 10:20 am, Bill from Puddle Jumper came by with a birthday card for us to sign for Roland on KoKoMo, nice/thoughtful. Roland’s birthday is truly 12-13-12, but since we were all leaving Morgan’s Bluff that day, we were celebrating a day early. At 10:25 am, the mail boat name Bahamas Express arrived, second mail boat in since our arrival in Morgan’s Bluff. Guess Morgan’s Bluff is so close to Nassau, they get more frequent service here. Cape Express came in the night we arrived, on Sunday. These boats are the lifelines to these outlying communities, bringing everything the locals need. We walked a number of miles this afternoon, wanting to give Miko some exercise and see some more of the local sights. We saw Henry Morgan’s cave, the place where this pirate purported to have stashed his treasures, not yet found. We also visited the site of the fresh water facility formerly used to supply all of Nassau’s supply. Sadly for the locals, Nassau built a reverse osmosis desalinization facility and the Morgan’s Bluff water is no longer needed. Back to MTB, made and appetizer and headed into the facility at Regatta Beach for Roland on Kokomo’s 76th birthday. We just were so happy to meet the folks we enjoyed here at this anchorage.
December 11, 2012 – Tuesday, Morgan’s Bluff, Andros, night three. We woke this am, to see a “Tow Boat US” boat riding around the anchorage. We were not sure where he came from. He appeared to be looking for a vessel, as he checked the boat names of all the vessels at anchor. The boat was the typical red and white of their vessels and it was completed with a huge Christmas wreath and red bow, sweet. Temp was 77 degrees at 8 am, with 92% humidity (ugh), wind was southeast and it was very calm in the bay. This day was a blueberry pancake morning, yum. Miko is blowing her coat now that she is in a more tropical climate, so Ken brushed her on the back of the boat for about forty five minutes. We joked that the folks NW of us on Chubb Cay would be wondering who lost a white fur coat, seeing the little white icebergs floating their way. Ed on Margaret Lee came by and told us that the Tow Boat US guys came from Miami to get a broken down sport fisher that was tied up in the harbor. The trip here took them 20 hours and they would be towing the boat all the way back. We decided to do some dinghy exploring to the west of our anchorage once Miko was brushed, to see what was nearby. We saw a number of beaches and the Pineville Hotel as we entered the other bay. But, the barrier reef was too shallow for us to go get a look at the hotel nor do any beachcombing along the other shores. So, we went back to the beach nearest to the inlet to the inner harbor. Bill/Mara from Puddle Jumper were ashore and we chatted with them for a while. We walked west looking for beach treasures, ball throwing for Miko, and exercise for us. We found a huge rope, black and yellow. Wednesday, we planned to go back with a bag and something to use for cutting it as we hoped to retrieve it for décor on the dock back home. No other treasures found this day. Back on MTB, I made an appetizer for the 3:00 gathering of cruisers at the Family Regatta structures: multi colored, covered open-air structures with places to set out food and drinks. Miko was worn out so we put her in her crate so we could enjoy an afternoon on shore without tending to our sweet pup. Everyone came to shore from all nine boats. We found that ours was a really nice group of independent cruisers not the typical “Georgetown” collection of herding boats. We so very much enjoyed the company this afternoon/eve. But, once the “no seeums” began arriving, we all headed back to the anchorage. Miko was snoozing and not at all concerned that she was left aboard. Wednesday, plans were made to the same thing, same time, same place for Roland’s (KoKoMo) birthday party. His wife, Lethal, was planning to make a cake.
December 10, 2012 – Monday, Morgan’s Bluff, Andros, night two. Well, our first full day back in the Bahamas, trip number 7, season 8 on MTB… and it was a great day. First order of business was getting cleared in country with customs and immigration. Bill from Puddle Jumper came by and we had fun catching up. While Bill was here, I offered to call the custom folks at the San Andros airport. I got them, told them that we had about 6 boats at Morgan’s Bluff needing to clear in. After a gasp, they said they would be here in 30-45 minutes. Bill radioed all the other boats in the anchorage and everyone needing to clear in headed into the harbor. They officials who came were organized and professional although we had two issues. First, they wouldn’t take our original copies of Miko’s pet documents and they required copies. Of course, for 7 clearings, I have always sent two sets, originals and copies, to shore with Ken to clear in. No one has ever asked for, nor looked at either set. So, the one time Ken doesn’t have both sets, he needed them. Another boat, with two dogs aboard, also needed copies but had no way to make them. Since Ken was coming out to get our set of copies, he brought theirs out to MTB to make a set of copies for them. Once all the copies were done, Miko was cleared in and the first issue was resolved. Second issue…sadly, the officials charged each boat/person an additional $25 ($50 per boat) for “Immigration” an amount over what the government regulations stipulate they are to get collect. None of the boat Captains challenged them, everyone paid so these officials received $300 more than they legally were supposed to from the six boats clearing in, this am. So, even though Ken had to pay $350, his receipt showed $300. Later, boat number nine arrived in the anchorage, Hello Texas and they also had to clear in, so we suspect the officials who came for them, collected yet another $50 more than allowed. Oh well, we were in, were legal and Miko and MTB were all good, too. The whole money thing was disappointing though. While on shore, everyone met Captain Hard Ass….yes his actual name, who lives on his boat in the harbor. He bragged that he makes the best conch salad on the island and said he would set up to make it fresh, to order this day for lunch at the bar. When Ken came back to MTB, we took down the “Q” flag and raised the Bahamas courtesy flag and packed up to go to shore. We went to the long beach west of the inlet to the harbor. It had a lot of interesting beachcombing, big ropes, etc. and Miko was pooped after running and chasing her ball with abandon. She is happy to be back in the Islands. Once she was totally pooped, we walked around the small inner harbor, being followed by a skinny brown & white potcake (timid Bahamian mutt), named Brownie. Miko liked Brownie, but he soon lost interest with us. We took a few pictures of this very “rustic” place and were heading over to the bar. On the way, a man asked us for a handout f $5, as he was hungry. This had never happened to us in the Bahamas. We were surprised and told him we would think about it, kept walking. Miko was worn out, so she just curled up under our bar bench so sweetly. We saw the panhandler leave in a vehicle with someone so were relieved we would not have to deal with him again. Captain Hard Ass asked if we were ready for our Conch Salad. O M Goodness, it was absolutely the best we have ever tasted…. tender, fresh with just the right amount of onion, tomato, green pepper and goat (hot) pepper mixed in. Boat after boat, all our anchorage neighbors agreed….a wonderful treat and welcome back to the Bahamas. That salad, and two Kalik beers ($3.50 each) made the perfect 1st meal! We had quite a group of folks….nine boats x 2 and Captain Hard Ass said he’d never seen so many cruisers in the bay, ever, at one time. He was quite pleased with his ‘take” charging $8 for each bowl. He did great and of course, many of us rounded up to $10, a good day for Capt H A! While still at the bar enjoying our food and company, “Deb” arrived with a trunk full of locally grown fresh produce. Andros is the only Bahamian Island that grows fresh produce. We cruisers flocked around her trunk and loaded up. I bought tomatoes, a huge zucchini and a big yellow squash for $4. Ken noticed a dinghy floating away from the beach and was worried it was ours. He went down to the waterfront, and it was someone else’s. So, we found the owner in the bar and another cruiser who was headed back to their boat took them out and retrieved the errant “taxi”. One of a cruiser’s biggest worries is that our dinghy might get away from us. We would be lost without a way to get to and from shore in the anchorages we frequent. Back on MTB, we were having had a nice afternoon. Just at dusk, Ed from the “Margaret Lee” knocked on our hulls. He had been out snorkeling and had “dove” our anchor. We had talked to him & Marge at lunch and he knew our anchor was lying on its side vs. being dug in the sand properly. So, he dove down, turned it over and dug its nose into the sand for a better set. How nice was that!? Good folks this cruiser community. He left us to assist another sailboat with their anchor…they had actually drug during the day. At dark, we saw that both Margaret Lee and Puddle Jumper had illuminated Christmas lights, made our eve! We fell asleep on the couch watching TV, still a little sleep deprived from the crossing.
December 9, 2012 – Sunday, underway, crossing Lake Worth to Bahamas. We never saw Zydeco again behind us on the radar. We don’t think they came through the passage by Isaac Lighthouse. Not sure if they decided to go over to Bimini instead but we were concerned about them. We hadn’t really decided which way we wanted to head…left to Chubb Cay, south end of the Berry Island chain. Or right, to Morgan’s Bluff on the north end of Andros Island. Both destinations had plus and minuses for us. Chubb Cay was closer, but not a great anchorage with south winds. If we anchored out, we’d have to pay to land the dinghy and clearing customs would be require a 1 mile walk to the local airport. Or, we could take a slip at the marina and customs would come to us, but it would be pricey. Although Morgan’s Bluff was further away, it has good protection from east, southeast, south or southwest winds. And, customs would come from the airport in Nichols Town to clear vessels at the Morgan’s Bluff harbor. Negative: anchoring would be a challenge as the bay has shallow sand, over rock. Boats often never hook, or often drag in the bay. So, pick one! Once we approached the Northwest Channel light, we were at the decision point and we chose Morgan’s Bluff. There were storms on the radar all around us, rainbows behind us. We were hoping a rain shower would catch us and give MTB a fresh water rinse. Too funny, a number of storms passed us on both sides…but no rinse for MTB. A yacht named Kelly Ann radioed us and asked us to try our radio to call “Reel Pushy”. Seems Kelly Ann’s Captain was told to move to Nassau this day and they had just left Chubb Cay Marina. Unfortunately, “Miller”, a crewmember who met some guys in the bar the night before went fishing with them, and not returned. We heard on the radio that they finally found the right sport fishing boat with Miller aboard. The Captain of Kelly Ann was not amused they hadn’t contacted him when they heard him calling everyone trying to find Miller. Kelly Ann’s Captain spoke with the sport fishing boat’s Captain and told him he was going to let out a rope with a float attached. Miller was expected to jump in the water, get to the float and be pulled back to the yacht. If Miller said no to this, Capt. told them they could keep him and take him back to Ft. Lauderdale with them for all he cared. Whew, some great entertainment for sure. We got to the channel leading into Morgan’s Bluff around 1:15 pm only to find there were no channel markers as reported in cruiser guides. We had a solid line showing the channel on both our Navionics and Garmin chart plotters. So, using both, we picked our way into the bay just fine. Only a catamaran named Artic Cat was in the bay on our arrival. We made our first attempt to anchor, but did not hook. We had success on our second try and were relieved to be safely in this new place and settled after motor sailing for 30 hours, yuck. Shortly after us, the trawler named Margaret Lee and another catamaran arrived. We looked over and saw that the catamaran was Puddle Jumper (Bill & Mara), friends we’d made the prior season in the Black Point, Exumas. On 12-10-2011, Bill actually grilled for us. We’d enjoyed a nice dinner with them at the home of Frank/Peg O’Brien, in Plane Bay….small world for sure. Just before dark, four additional boats arrived: Windwalker, Carpe Diem, Aeeshah and KoKoMo. Well, for this supposedly remote out of the way spot, sure got crowded quickly. Oh well. It was Sunday, so we decided to stay aboard this evening and clear Customs on Monday. We were pooped but glad we came to Morgan’s Bluff. After dark, the Mail Boat arrived and pulled to the government dock on the north side of the bay.
December 8, 2012 – Saturday, day 13, departure from Palm Beach/Lake Worth. Skies looked good and we were ready to head out. We pulled our mainsail up past the lines in our stack pack to make it easier to fully raise, once out in the rougher Atlantic seas. We had everything ready to go and the anchor was up by 7:00 am. Wind was to be east most of this day and that would be good for our trip. But, not our luck, it was south, right on our nose and the seas weren’t as settled as forecast….choppy and not a nice ride in the Gulf Stream. From Lake Worth, the Gulf Stream is only about 5 miles offshore, so we were in the chop for quite sometime, motor sailing with both engines roaring at 2800 rpms. At least it was warm and sunny as an offset. At 9:20 am, we added the jib sail for additional speed and it actually did help a little and we were able to pull off the rpms back to 2500 for a speed of 4.2 knots (SOG) speed over ground, with wind being variable around 10 knots. About 6 hours out of Lake Worth, Zydeco a monohull sailboat radioed us on the VHF. They had been in front of us, but we’d gone by them during the afternoon. They said they were heading to the Isaac Lighthouse, as we were. And, they had hoped to stay with us to follow our “tail lights” through the passage. But, they knew we would be well beyond them by the time we reached the island. As it got dark, we called them back and they were doing ok, told them to call us if they needed any thing through the night passage. They dittoed the offer to us. We got to the Ft. Lauderdale to Bahamas shipping channel and we had our second annual parade of cruise ships heading at us. On my watch, 6 cruise ships and 2 other commercial vessels crossed in front and behind us. It is nerve racking, making sure their speed and direction will assure our safety. Each time we were clear of one threat, the next one would be there. But, I kept my cool and never even woke up Ken for assistance. So, all was good. It was nice to make it onto the Bahamas Bank finally, knowing it was too shallow for the big vessels. The rest of the night was relatively easy/calm. Though, the winds that were supposed to diminish through this evening on the Bank were still 10-18 on one of my watches and 16-21 on one of Ken’s.
December 7, 2012 – Friday, day 12, Palm Beach/Lake Worth. Weather sounded possible for a departure on Saturday. Jason on Moya, anchored SE of us is a live aboard, 48 year old electronics technician. He motored over to say hello to us this day. He said “Rob” lived aboard the other boat anchored behind (SW) of us, and that he also works on boats. Nice chat with Jason and we were sorry we hadn’t met earlier in our stay. About noon, we decided to do our last bit of exploring for the visit in Lake Worth. We motored to a really nice public park facility on the northeast side of the big bridge that crosses the ICW just north of Peanut Island. We found a great floating dock, trash receptacle, restrooms and really nice green grass (which makes Miko very happy) right next to the Riviera Beach Marine Police facility. We had no worry about dinghy safety there. We walked east on the bridge and found Riviera Beach, stores, shops, bars and restaurants. Sadly, the beach was not dog friendly…but “Two Drunken Goats” was!
We had a late lunch, one grouper sandwich, one Cuban – both enjoyed watching the locals from a nice shaded table. On the walk back, we stopped a small local market called the Gator Mart…. something with “Gator” in the name. Ken, the Seminole, stayed outside with the dog. I bought tomatoes, apples, celery and a loaf of rye/pumpernickel bread…anticipating a departure Saturday and more difficulty finding produce in the Bahamas. We stopped at the liquor store, but their prices on rum were outrageous and we knew would find better prices once in the Bahamas. So, with our exploration, lunch and shopping complete, we headed back to the park/Toby. On our return to MTB, passing the Palm Beach Yacht Club, we saw a group of racing sailboats arriving. They all had huge mast and black sails, very interesting. Their arrival explained why a few of the club kept yachts were out of their slips and anchored next to us. Once back on MTB, we checked a few weather sources and felt we would have a good weather window the next day. Again, the Sailing Club had a class out this evening and once again, we really enjoyed watching the talented kids. “Wintering” in Lake Worth/Palm Beach area is a favorite stop and we found even more things to like about it this season. Really could stay longer.
December 6, 2012 – Thursday, day 11, Palm Beach/Lake Worth. Possibility of thunderstorms this day, so we decided to dinghy into a West Palm Beach park to get a nice walk early. There is an amphibious tourist vehicle that tours WPB/Palm Beach named Diva Duck. She always comes through the anchorage and when we see them, we get Miko in our arms and wave at the tourists. Diva Duck goes from street vehicle to water vessel at the park where we go into shore. Fun to watch them splash into the water with the excited tourists aboard. We walked south down Flagler Avenue and then turned west at the hospital. At Hwy 1, we turned north, happily finding an area called “Northwood”. This was a city street of neat old Florida type buildings, colorful and renovated, with stores, restaurants, bars and bakeries, etc. It was really cool. And, we learned that the last Friday of each month, they host a dog-friendly wine tasting in the street. Sounded fun and we’ll try to mark the calendar to join the fun on future trips. Once we felt we had sufficiently worn out our pup, we headed back to Toby. We had a nice ride back to MTB, and again, another lazy afternoon and evening, Palm Beach Sailing Club provides youth sailing lessons. This night, they were out in force with the small little sailboats going around and around the anchorage and instructor’s dinghy. These kids had amazing skills and it was so fun to watch them hone their skills, two to a boat. A possible weather window may be opening late the next weekend or Monday/Tuesday. We’ll see…just put up the dinghy and we’d be “off”!
December 5, 2012 – Wednesday, day 10, Palm Beach/Lake Worth. Well, the two day window to cross the Gulf stream, getting to an appropriate place to clear customs, had become a one day window, 15-17 knots and 5’ seas right on our nose. And, squalls forecast previously for Thursday night with 35-knot winds were now expected earlier. We knew the trip was easily do-able for our vessel, motoring the whole way, but it would be a lumpy and uncomfortable ride for the crew. Not to say we are fair weather sailors….ah, but WE ARE. We luckily have no schedule so why not wait for good seas and the possibility to SAIL to the Bahamas, vs. motoring? We chose to continue “wintering” in Lake Worth! We never put the dinghy down this day, as it was gray and windy. So, a lazy disappointed day aboard.
December 4, 2012, Tuesday, day nine, Palm Beach/Lake Worth. This day, we were optimistic that Wednesday/Thursday were going to hold as a viable weather window to cross over to the Bahamas. So, we made a run to the Palm Beach Sailing Club to get the mail we had UPS overnight to us & walked up to Family Dollar (needed a non-slotted serving spoon). On shore, we met Peter/Rae from S/V Sallinder, nice folks from New Zealand. We headed back to MTB and put Toby back up on her davits, sadly according to Miko’s demeanor. We pulled up the anchor about when it was near high slack tide and headed to Sailfish Marina. When coming into the inlet, one would turn north/right east of Peanut Island and just a few docks up lies Sailfish. We had an east wind blowing us off their dock, but we had a great guy on the dock who helped us get tied up. We took 68 gallons of diesel, 3 gallons of gasoline for the dink, and 120 gallons for fresh water, total $328.44. With the east wind blowing us off the dock, we had an easy departure, motored back to our former anchor spot in time for lunch. So, we were ready to so. Sadly, the afternoon forecast was much less satisfactory for a comfortable crossing. We debated go/no go through the evening. We agreed we’d listen to the reports in the morning and decide then, but we both were inclined to call of the passage.
December 3, 2012 – Monday, day eight, Palm Beach/Lake Worth. High 80 degrees this day and by 5 pm was 78. This day, our weather service said Wednesday or Thursday looked good for a crossing to the Bahamas. So, we had a little more urgency added to our remaining to do list. We needed to fix our malfunctioning steaming light, mail some Christmas cards, buy some specialty light bulbs for our temporary anchor light, do laundry, pick up our mail at the and top off our diesel and water tanks. After breakfast, I hoisted Ken up the mast in our bosoms chair and he installed a new bulb in the steaming light fixture, hopeful the fix was as simple as that. YES, just a blown bulb and not a fixture or wiring issue, a big, important project, done. We heard a helicopter that seemed to be too close to us/our mast. We saw that “GARCON”, the support vessel for “Ace” had come out of Rybovich Boat Works and was waiting for the helicopter in the channel to our east. That pilot set the bird down on the rear deck of Garcon, they battened him down and Garcon (200+ feet long) was back in their marina slip in a matter of minutes, incredibly. Guess we now know one of the things Garcon does to “support” Ace! After that excitement, we stripped the beds, packed up the laundry and headed north to Riviera Beach Municipal marina. It lies west of Peanut Island, about a mile from us. We hoped to start the laundry and have lunch at the “Tiki”, an open-air restaurant we’d enjoyed when staying in the marina previously. Nope, there now is a “no dog on the porch” rule. So, Cindy/Miko went back to tend laundry and Ken ordered Tiki take out for us. Ken walked to the Boaters Warehouse, a place we found also, on a prior visit. There he bought the bulbs we needed. He took Miko for a nice walk at the park next door to the marina, and took our mail to the marina office. I finished the laundry and we were ready to head back for well-deserved rum punches. We saw ”Sorcerer”, our neighbor since our arrival, at the dock at Cracker Boys Boat Works. Not sure what their issue was and wondered if they would come back to the anchorage. We were certainly surprised by what replaced Sorcerer next to us. Our new neighbor was an amazing, HUGE navy hulled double masted monohull sailboat, named Zenji. We do have the nicest neighbors here in the “hood”. They spent most of the evening zooming crewmembers in their dinghy to and from Rybovich. So, a good day…we’re ready to go except for picking up our mail we had sent to the Sailing Club and topping off the diesel/water tanks.
December 2, 2012 – Sunday, day seven, Palm Beach/Lake Worth. 77 degrees at 9 am in the salon and it is so nice being warm onboard! Plan B left at first light, crossing close to our bow as they left. We knew this, as I woke up to the sound of a motor and saw a mast out our cabin’s port light (window). It was a little disconcerting, to say the least. True to our new policy of getting to shore earlier each day, we checked emails, had a quick breakfast and packed up to go. We were in the dinghy heading for Peanut Island by 10 am. Along Palm Beach’s western shore, the NE wind didn’t impact us much and we had a nice ride north. Peanut Island’s west side has a small, protected harbor with floating courtesy docks. It is a great facility. We tied up and began our walk around the entire island by heading south. The sidewalk is pavers and it is a very nice stroll, meandering through the vegetation of the island. Along the way, on the west side of the island, a raccoon crossed our path. Needless to say, he got Miko’s full attention. She watched him but did not try to chase the little guy. In addition to the nice paved sidewalk around the whole island and the dock facility, this park has a snorkel basin, pavilions, campsites for tent campers, two bath houses with restrooms, beaches, fishing piers, etc. There is an old Coast Guard facility and the JFK bunker that can all be toured as well. We stayed on the walkway, as Miko smelled everything along the way. But, then she saw the beach and was a dog on a mission….BEACH, off we went. It was fun to do some beachcombing again and finding some interesting shells was an added bonus. Miko has become more of an adult this season, less “puppy”. We have noticed she doesn’t chase her ball on the beach as long as she has done previously. Today after walking and ball chasing, she found a shaded spot and laid down, spread eagle on the pavers. She just can’t “hang” like she used to. But, that’s ok, neither can we. So, after about 2 hours on the Island, we were all ready to head “home” to MTB. Another nice trip to shore, a safe, dry dinghy ride back and we were ready for another afternoon of reading, aboard. By 2 pm, it was starting to get cloudy and wind was picking up, as had been the normal pattern the past few days.
By 3:00 pm we had a Lagoon catamaran anchored next to us, closer than necessary in this huge wide-open anchorage, just typical, stinkin’ herders! Oh well…we just got to see their mast out our port light all night.
December 1, 2012 – Saturday, day six, Palm Beach/Lake Worth. WOW. DECEMBER…now just how did that happen? It was blue and warm, 82 degrees in the salon by 10 am. There were scattered showers around the area, so we thought we might get a sprinkle or two. Being the weekend, a lot more local boats were out, including a few small sailboats from the Palm Beach Sail Club…lessons being taught. One came about 2’ from our sugar scoops, tacked and came back around, passing about 1’ in front of us. Both times, we thought Miko was going to jump on board and go along with them. We ran the generator a long while the previous night to ready for football watching this day…conference championships this day. SEC game in Atlanta pitting Alabama #2 against Univ of Georgia #3; FSU vs. Georgia Tech for ACC championship….etc. So, we had lots of HOT water and it was hot showers day, yea! A treat. Weather report this am was still not promising for a crossing to the Bahamas for at least another week. Oh well, nothing wrong with “wintering” in Palm Beach. Got cloudy and hazy after lunch and the anticipated sprinkles arrived. We hoped they would blow through, as Miko deserved some shore time. No luck, though, rough and windy in the anchorage. So, we decided on future days, trips ashore had to be early day vs. afternoon. Alabama barely beat Georgia, FSU almost got embarrassed by Georgia Tech, but pulled it out in the end. Good night of football! “Plan B” came in and anchored behind us…we’d seen them previously in the Bahamas and other anchorages.
November 30, 2012 – Friday, day five. Palm Beach/Lake Worth. It was still cloudy this day and winds still up some, white caps in the anchorage. I did some Christmas cards, ordered a few gifts online. We read, surfed wifi and as usual, generally slugs. At 7:30 am, it was 73 degrees in the salon…so enjoying being WARM! After lunch, Ken went to shore to retrieve some parts that were sent and had arrived at the Palm Beach Sail Club. They are such nice folks. Miko and I stayed aboard, as it was going to be a bumpy and wet dinghy ride to shore. Miko watched Ken putt, putt off into the distance and was not a happy pup, being left behind. This day was an amazing “come and go” day at the Rybovich boat works. First to leave was “Limitless”, a 316’ motor yacht with a navy hull, absolutely gorgeous and flying a US flag, which is unusual. Online, we read that Limitless is the largest yacht to fly the US flag, assisted by an act of Congress to assure it will always retain that status. The vessel is owned by the CEO of Victoria’s Secret. Most US owned yachts are registered in foreign places for tax haven purposes. Next out was “April Fool”, a 200’ vessel that actually looked tiny compared to Limitless. We Googled April Fool and found her “for sale” listing…..yours for $59,950,000. There also were photos of her stunning interior…amazing wealth that we can’t begin to fathom. Once the “outgoing” vessels cleared the channel, Ace and Garcon headed into the boat works. Ace is a 278.9’ Lurssen yacht, new and just sold in Monaco in September along with Garcon. Come to find out…Garcon, about 200’ is Ace’s “support” vessel, whatever that means. Under Garcon’s name it says “4 Ace”. Many other vessels came/went this day, but these four were the most incredible. What a neigborhood we find ourselves living in! Very interesting.
November 29, 2012 – Thursday, day four, Palm Beach/Lake Worth. Winds were coming from the N/NE, pretty strong with the gradient being 15-20, gusts higher. But, we decided about 10 am we’d make the trip south to the West Palm Beach city docks. It is about a two mile dinghy ride but with the wind/waves at our stern, we had a pretty nice journey. Although, when we approached the PB Yacht Club, a motor vessel pulled out and blocked our route. We had to do some circling until he was clear and we could proceed south. The WPB city docks are for daytime tie-ups only. The docks are very nice, and provided to encourage folks to boat in and patronize the many shops/restaurants in the beautiful downtown area. Clematis Street is full of great bars and restaurants, both chains & locals. Since we had a bag full of boxes to mail, we decided to go to the post office for our first stop. It was on N. Clematis and easy to find. Ken went in and found he was the only person in the place, immediately putting him in a Christmas mood. So, he approached the counter humming a Christmas carol and the Postal workers were amused! All our packages were mailed, to multiple states (Ga, Fl, SC an CA), for under $33HHMM, isn’t it amazing how much one can save if you mail EARLY! Wow. Miko and I were waiting under a shade tree and very surprised at how quickly “Papa” got in and out. So, next we were off to City Center, a downtown street walking mall with lots of neat shops/eateries. It is our custom to go see the puppies at the pet store there. Last year, they actually had a white shiba/husky mix…cutest dog. Bummer though, they didn’t open until noon, so we were a little early and Miko wasn’t going to visit with any 4 legged friends this trip. We walked around a little more before heading to Publix, corner of Fern/Rosemary. This is a great downtown store with a big porch in front with tables and chairs. So, Ken/Miko always sit outside and wait, while I pick up the things we need. Most often, Miko is a rock star, having everyone tell her she is adorable. It is amazing how quickly I spent $65. And, still no Old English cheese in the small jars (for cheese grits). Oh well, at least we have navels, apples, romaine and a few other goodies. We consolidated the groceries into our cloth bags, time to mosey to a dog friendly lunch on Clematis Street. We picked a great Cuban restaurant, had a delicious meal for $17 and Miko was very polite. We were enjoying people watching, but still had one more errand to do. A fellow Leopard catamaran owner brought some decal graphics for MTB from the factory in South Africa. We needed to make a deposit at Bank of America to pay him for them. Thanks Chris! So, since we had three bags of groceries, Miko and I found a park bench & Ken went off to the bank about a ½ mile away. Once all our chores were taken care of, we jumped back in Toby, the dinghy, for a sloppy wet ride (into waves/wind) back to MTB. It was a great and productive trip to shore for sure! Miko was smiling once back on board as an exercised Shiba Inu is a happy dog. Kim called to say she had received the factory graphics for MTB that had traveled all the way from South Africa with the other Leopard owner. We love the Leopard Owners group, as it is such a good support system…for things, advice, etc. A great day.
November 28, 2012 – Wednesday, day three, Palm Beach/Lake Worth. It wasn’t a particularly pretty day this am, gray with periodic sprinkles thrown in. Although, we were enjoying our warmer temperatures, it was 71 degrees at 7 am in the salon! Since it didn’t look like a day on shore, it was a great time to get together the family Christmas presents we’d purchased before leaving home. Luckily, I found we had some tissue and ribbon aboard…..unfortunately, not enough. So, a few family members will receive packages wrapped in white, legal sized copy paper, with a bow of white/blue bungie cord….a nautical theme! It was good to get everything wrapped, boxed and addressed for shipping. Also, I even was able to do a few Christmas cards as I found two boxes from a prior season, stuck in a cabinet. So, for the most part, my Christmas chores were done with everything ready to go to the post office. I got online and found that the West Palm Beach post office was nearby the Publix we frequent and the Bank of America we needed to visit as well! So, although it was a lazy day, it was also a productive one. It was windy and the dinghy kept swinging around and hitting our sugar scoops, so we decided to put it back up on its davits. We bought tubes and containers for a new rain water collection system this season and Ken set it all up this day. With off and on showers, we collected about gallons of clean, freshwater. Nice…collect and pour in our tank. Love living frugally….solar energy, free water!
November 27, 2012 – Tuesday, day two, Palm Beach/Lake Worth. Ah, did we sleep sound or what?! I don’t think either of us, nor Miko, moved an inch all night. This am we woke to a beautifully warm & sunny morning. Before lunch it was 80 degrees in the salon! We had cheese grits and sausage for breakfast this am, and were enjoying the scenery of our current location. About 11 am, we dropped the dinghy much to the pleasure of little Miko. We read a little while, then got ready and by 1:30 pm, we were on shore, using the dock at the Palm Beach Sail Club. We can pay a fee of $13 day for the use of their facilities, which is great. They even let us have mail sent there before our arrival. Our needed parts….anchor light, bulbs and a Ryobi drill battery, were waiting for us in their office. John there is a super, super nice guy. Now, about just where we are. We arrive here via the “Lake Worth Inlet”. This is between Palm Beach Gardens and Palm Beach. Once in from the Atlantic, we turn left, going south, past an Island called
”Peanut Island”…once readied to house President JFK during the Cuban missile crisis.
We pass an old Florida Power plant that is being disassembled currently. We follow the west shoreline of Palm Beach, lined with beautiful homes having docks with yachts in their back yards. In between Palm Beach and West Palm Beach is a body of water called Lake Worth, which is also the ICW’s route through the area. We stop in front of Rybovich Boat Works and throw our anchor in the middle of Lake Worth. To the north of us is the mooring field of the Palm Beach Sail Club and Peanut Island. To our south, is the city of West Palm Beach with beautiful lights at night. So, this is our current “home place”. Weather forecasts indicate we could be here for a week before winds are appropriate for a crossing to the Bahamas. So, we knew we’d just CHILL! Just sayin’!
November 26, 2012 – Monday morning offshore heading to Palm Beach. Overnight was calm, comfortable and WARM! Yay. We were still motorsailing with the just the port engine on low (1800) rpms. We continued our 2 hours on and 2 hours off shifts through the night. We have a flannel lined sleeping bag we use in the cockpit when we do these overnight legs…sleeping outside when not on watch. Miko is so smart, she actually figured out that inside the sleeping bag it is warm and secure. So, of course that’s where she can be found. Whoever is off watch and trying sleep has to squeeze in with her! We are glad that she does allow us to share it with her. After the craziness at Port Canaveral, the rest of the night was a piece of cake! It was so nice that we had a full moon. It is easier to ascertain what the radar screen blip actually could be,,,a tanker, little fishing boat, or even a buoy, etc. Such a clear sky/visibility takes some of the angst away as you can better see the actual vessel, instead of just some lights. Each class of vessel has a unique pattern of running/navigation lights. So, even without a moon lit sky, their lights do help us identify what they are. Of course, cruise liners just look like a completely lighted city when they are coming at you! But, moonlit nights are great. Once it was light, we re-heated our homemade cinnamon rolls and had two pots of coffee. First lighe is always a glorious, re-energizing time for us on MTB. It is a real treat, as we know we made it safely through the night and the sun will warm us. We know we’ll have someone to talk to vs. being quiet to let the spouse sleep. And, we can do puzzles, read, cook, etc. It is great. Our wind became light and variable after the sun came up and it was coming mostly from a southeasterly direction. It had been from N/NE all of Sunday. Oh well. There were some building dark clouds and we saw a number of small storm cells surrounding us on the radar screen. So, we decided to error on the side of extreme safety and brought in our jib and dropped the mainsail. We weren’t too far from Palm Beach and decided just to motor the 18 remaining miles to the inlet. So, we fired up the starboard engine and pushed up our speed some. The wind driven chop from the new SE direction, against the sea swell from the NE changed our “ride” from very pleasant to slightly crashing. But, it wasn’t awful compared to many other trips we’ve made. And, to distract us from our slightly uncomfortable ride and the diesel fumes from running both engines…an amazing pod of dolphins joined us. In this group there were 3 or 4 babies…so cute, each accompanied by a parent. These dolphins were mottled colored, beautiful and out having FUN! It was as if the parents were using us to teach the kids how to play. The pod would be in front of us, then in between our hulls, behind us or beside us. They would be 4 to 6 wide, then side by side, just in pairs. They stayed with us for almost ½ an hour and we were a very appreciative audience, laughing and applauding, pointing like little kids. WONDERFUL. Luckily we only had one sprinkle as the storm cells passed by/around us. We entered the inlet around 2 o’clock and had our anchor down in our favorite spot by 2:30 pm. We anchor in front of the yacht basin, Rybovich Boat Works, where they house & work on the most amazing boats. As vessels come and go, we watch with our mouths gaping open! We were tired this afternoon and stayed aboard. We actually fell asleep in the middle of the finals of Dancing With the Stars, bummer…wanted to see Derek/Shawn’s free dance! Aw, a successful day especially with the beautiful West Palm Beach city lights in the distance and houses with white light wrapped palm trees on shore. A beer commercial post card moment.
November 25, 2012 – Sunday, morning 13, Rockhouse Creek, S. Daytona, Fl. Well, this morning’s weather was as forecast and it was a go to move further south. We pulled the main sail up past the pesky sail bag lines to make it easier to pull up the rest of the way once in the Atlantic. By 7:11 am, the anchor was up and we pulled into the ICW, heading out to the inlet. Catamount, a Leopard cat was behind us and they went south on the ICW, when we turned toward the Ponce Inlet. We had no trouble in the “skinny” part of the channel, plenty of water under us. “Top Cat”, a Maine cat, passed us, they coming in. We had a good ride exiting the inlet and were soon clear of the breakers/jetty. By 9:00 am, we were motor sailing south….hopeful to be by Port Canaveral before dark. We had one engine running at about 2,000 rpms with just the mainsail up. We did our normal two hours on, two hours off to break up the time each of us sit at the helm seat. Our seat is totally uncomfortable…about the only thing we don’t enjoy about our vessel. We keep threatening to replace it, just have not. We approached Port Canaveral late in the afternoon, still light and we thought it was going to be an easy pass through their ship channel. OH NO…typical….not so easy. As we were entering the nouth edge of the channel, cruiseliners began announcing the impending departures, asking for any concerned traffic to contact them. Ok, not a couple huge ships were coming out at us…FIVE cruiseships including the super huge Freedom of the Seas and one tanker heading in. We radio’d a few of the cruiseships to ask if they had us on their radar. Freedom’s captain was so very nice…said he had just altered his course and would pass behind us. So, all but one passed behind us and Carnival crossed our bow. Wow, exciting for sure, and what pictures we took! Whew. Once dark, not much excitement thankfully. It was so warm this night and we had a gorgeous full moon…really nice.
November 24, 2012 – RIVALRY football Saturday, Rockhouse Creek, night 12!! Ok, so we are “wintering” in Daytona this year!! It was 57 degrees in the salon in the am….chilly but not bad. By 7:30 am, all our cruiser neighbors were up anchor and gone, so once again, just us with the manatees, dolphins, osprey, fisherman, various shore birds, etc. We really do enjoy this place. I made homemade yeast dough, splitting it between four big yeast hamburger type buns…and CINNAMON ROLLS, yummy. To say we enjoyed the cinnies, ah, an understatement. Early the “Doodle Bops” were on the TV, ah, really Ken, we need “GameDay”! At 11:30 am, we took Miko to the nearby sand shoal island and she just loves it there. She runs and chases her ball with abandon, smiling all the time. We got back to MTB around 12:30 pm, with one pooped pup after so much exercise and fresh air. We went online and found that our brand new Comcast Infinity wifi based security system was not working at home, geez. Called them and they assigned a technician to research our issue with commitment to call back this day. By 1:00 pm, it was 69 in the salon and the freezer temp was still holding, perfectly! We watched sooo much football this day, great rivalry games…first up was GA/GA Tech. FSU vs. Fla at 3:30 pm, bad outcome ding dang it. We snacked the afternoon away and for dinner, cheeseburgers cooked on the grill, served on our homemade yeast roll buns…again, yummy! We put up the dinghy this day, hopeful to travel on Sunday. We so enjoyed our days at Rockhouse Creek, an anchorage perfect for us….protected, good holding, beautiful views of vegetation, lighthouse, boats going by, shoal for Miko;s exercise, Marine Center, restaurant (Hidden Treasure), helpful marina, places to walk, dolphins, manatees, ospreys, shore birds, boy scouts camping nearby and (crazy) folks coming in to anchor each evening….always some entertainment. But, it was time to move south and one other big thing….our “tanks” needed emptying as they were nearing capacity. We sure didn’t want an issue with the local “poopy” police. We have been boarded times in this anchorage in past and know they are serious here about poop! We always comply with regulations…tank valves locked, etc.. So, we’d be traveling Sunday, weather permitting.
November 23, 2012 – Friday, Rockhouse Creek, South Daytona, night 11…good grief. We spoke with our weather forecasting service and checked additional sources. Looks good for us to leave Saturday. But, we decided to stay and watch football, FSU vs. Fla, and leave on Sunday. Saturday would give us the better opportunity to do some sailing. So, we may have to motor all the way to Lake Worth/Palm Beach. But, in the nicest seas forecasted in a long time…down from a 12-15’! So, another day of being slugs and then off we would go to Palm Beach, should be warmer there. This day was glorious, blue, calm winds and warmer. It was 72 in the salon, midday. So, about 11:00 am, we all jumped in the dinghy and headed to the nearby sand shoal that develops at low tide. We love going there as Miko can run free, with no worry about escape as water encircles the whole area. She smiled so big as she chased a ball, caught her Frisbee and just ran around like a crazy dog. It was such a treat for us all to get out for some exercise in the sunshine. On the way back to MTB, we all had smiles on our faces, Miko too. There were 7 boats in the anchorage by 4:45 pm this day & each vessel did great with their positions. We love it when folks come in and know what they are doing. We made homemade pizzas for dinner this evening and they are always a treat. Ken was craving Publix’s dry, breaded hot chicken wings. So, I suspected whenever we finally made it to W. Palm Beach, we’d be walking to the nearby Publix to stock up. Again, it is the little things we think about.
November 22, 2012 – Thursday, Rockhouse Creek, South Daytona.THANKSGIVING, night ten. We had a wonderful plan to go to “Hidden Treasure”, a restaurant by the Ponce Light House. They were doing a traditional turkey meal, yay. NOPE….too windy and too cold for the long dinghy ride to get there this day. So, we had a traditional meal of Skip Jack Tuna on the grill. We caught him on the way home from the Bahamas in the spring and he had been lurking in our freezer! So, fish/chips on board MTB for dinner, may be a new holiday tradition as the meal was quite tasty. The day was a dark, gray, windy and cold day so we just chilled, read, played on the internet and called our families. Our temp never got above 67 in the salon this day but happily the repaired freezer was down to 17 degrees! About 1:30 pm, a monohull named “Cool Change’ arrived and attempted to anchor beside of us. He saw how fast he was backing into us and reconsidered, happily. They pulled up and moved back out toward the ICW. They “phutzed” around for almost an hour before getting settled in this anchorage. Other boats came in, positioned, dropped, hooked, relaxed. We just don’t “get” some of these Captains that seem to have such difficulties! All in all…a lazy, easy 2012 Thanksgiving Day.
November 21, 2012 – Wednesday, Rockhouse Creek, South Daytona, night nine. By noon, it was 71 degrees in the salon. It seemed as though we had chosen to “winter” in Daytona this year. We were afraid the State of Florida would soon be assessing us with property taxes! Oh well, like Ken posted on FB, we’re good slugs. We would rather sit in a place we enjoy & eventually sail where we want vs. fighting the masses, waiting for tides/bridges & motoring down the ICW. We had a very relaxed morning and were so happy that he freezer temp was continuing to drop. We made homemade biscuits and fried up some country ham with a little coffee (redeye gravy) for a warm and yummy breakfast. When listening to our radio weather service (Chris Parker) this morning, we heard Gypsy call in. He said they had an awful & “fierce” trip out the inlet and across the Gulfstream. We were so glad and relieved to hear that they were ok, though we thought them foolish for leaving when they did the previous day. There were fewer clouds this day and more blue sky than we had seen for awhile. Ken read out in the cockpit after lunch and seemed happy in the sun, as did Miko. I had an Italian basil plant on my porch in Brunswick. Before sailing, I cut it back and transplanted it a much smaller, MTB friendly pot. By this day, there were two stems with leaves popping up and two more coming. So, in a month or so, this plant should be prolifically bearing aromatic leaves for comprese’ salads! Yum. Again, it’s the little pleasures aboard we so enjoy. This night there was five of us in the anchorage, all in did great with spacing! Yay, peaceful sleep this night. Ken configured a temporary anchor light to hang out, supplementing the one on top of our mast. Sadly, the main, required one up top was only illuminating in ¼ quadrant…geez. New one was ordered and is waiting for us at the Palm Beach. Sail Club (hopefully!).
November 20, 2012 – Tuesday, Rockhouse Creek, South Daytona, night eight. Freezer temp had only gone up slightly to 22.8 degrees and it was 63 degrees in our salon at 8:00 am. Trying to keep the freezer as cool as possible, we closed all our blinds to block the solar heat effect…..bbbrrr! The sky was clearer and we had a little more “blue” this day…which always seems to help our psyches. All the neighbors left early again this am, with the exception of Gypsy. We heard him say on the radio weather broadcast this morning that they wanted to leave from here for the BVI. He was told the seas would still be “dangerous” and advised to wait. So, we thought they might be with us the whole day again. But, mid morning, they pulled up and went out the inlet and we were thinking they were being very foolish. We got the tracking number for our parts and were so happy to see they were in Daytona, on the UPS truck, out for delivery by noon. So, we dropped the dinghy. This, as always, made Miko very excited as she knows: dinghy = shore. We layered on some clothes, bundled up the garbage and jumped in the dinghy for the ride to the lighthouse area. The winds/seas would make it a difficult ride. But, we made it just fine, not too wet. Unfortunately, the public dinghy dock was underwater due to the inordinately high tide/seas. We continued on to the marina dock to see if there might be a place for us there. We found a clear spot to tie up and Ken dumped the garbage &, headed for the marina office. I took Miko and headed for grass! Mike & I ran around like crazy fools first to give her exercise, then we took a more casual walk. She was able to play with some kids and be petted and told how cute she was by a number of adults. To top off a perfect shore visit, she got to play with a couple other dogs and that always makes her smile…yes, she smiles. We caught up with Ken with our box of parts. The marina initially told him our package didn’t come. But, after Ken asked if they would check the UPS site, they found who signed…and poof, there was our box! Ken walked to the local restaurant, Hidden Treasure, to see if they would be open for Thanksgiving…yep, yay! We went back to the dock and by then, the fixed dock was almost covered by water…tide coming up. We had a much easier trip back to MTB with a higher tide and the wind/waves at our backs. By 1:00 pm, Ken had the new parts installed and our refrig/freezer once again had an operational compressor. We watched the temps in each compartment (we have sensor units in each) and held our breaths & crossed our fingers. Slowly the temps started to lower! And, our onboard vessel amp meter confirmed a much greater amp usage…a good thing. YAY! It would have really been an issue if this fix had bit worked…we didn’t care for any of the Plan B alternatives! Friends Rick/Linda on cat Sojourner passed us this day, going south on the ICW. Miko was calm and content, as were we, this afternoon. This evening’s boats – first in a monohull, name unknown, anchored well, west of us. Second a huge, low, long and interesting power cat named Pila Della – Canadian, anchored perfectly east of us. Last, Romantisea, a monohull, came and anchored between us & shore, falling back into Pila Della. The guy on PD was yelling at them as we watched. We hoped they would realize they should move, but they did not. On top of being too close, their boat “hunts”, zooming forward then behaving like a slingshot in reverse, shooting backwards crazily. Add the strong wind and current that comes through this anchorage…it was interesting. They also put too much rode (chain) out when they anchored. So, at times, they were like a bullet heading at us. We guessed they were trying to join us in our cockpit. We got out our air horn in case a loud warning was needed. We knew this night would be an uneasy one, due to these guys and we kept checking on them. I went out to do one of our periodic checks, well after dark, and poof!…they were missing. At first, I thought my eyes were playing tricks or they were even closer to us on the starboard hull. But, looking west, we saw they were attempting to re-anchor in the dark by the ICW channel. We were very relieved to have these folks out of our space and knew Pila Della was too. We’re not sure if their anchor drug; they heard us each time we went out to check on them; they didn’t enjoy the TV program we were watching; or just came to realize they were too close. Who knew! Regardless, we knew we would sleep much better.
November 19, 2012 – Monday, Rockhouse Creek, South Daytona, night seven. Hoping to leave this a.m, we got up early and listened to the weather reports. Well, they weren’t happy reports. The seas were very confused and referred to as “dangerous” resulting from numerous weather factors. There was a large sea swell, tight, with only a few seconds interval against a high wind driven chop from a different direction crashing against the swell. Alrighty then, 12’-15’ confused, crashing seas….enough for us to know we weren’t moving this day. And, it was cold; it was GRAY; just all around a bad, yucky day. We can handle bad weather and big seas if thrown at us unexpectedly but we certainly aren’t going to LEAVE in known, bad conditions! And, it looked like these conditions could persist until at least Saturday, November 24 L. Oh well. We needed a new anchor light as only ¼ quadrant of ours on top of the mast was working L. We also needed a new battery for our Ryobi drill….ours was not holding a charge. We called the Palm Beach Sailing Club and asked if we could ave some parts shipped to them for pickup in a week or so. They said no problem…so Ken got online and bought the things we needed. . It never got above 63 degrees in the salon this day so we just read, snacked and surfed (the net, that is). Midday, Ken noticed the temperature in our freezer was rising. He checked and found that the refrig/freezer compressor was not running. So, we got on the phone with Seafront in New England. Cleve and Ken decided it was a computer controller unit and their UPS pickup had not yet happened. So by 4 pm, Cleve at Seafrost was able to overnight our parts to a nearby marina that had agreed to help us. Boy, that was lucky….THANKS, LIGHTHOUSE MARINA! We stayed out of the refrig/freezer this whole day so not to let in any warm air hoping the temp might hold overnight. Five months of meat/seafood on board and we had a ramen noodle dinner this night! This night, Gypsy – cat was still with us; a big, new gray hulled trawler(Downstreaming?) with a terrier aboard, and two monohulls all arrived by 4:10 pm. This whole group did great anchoring and we had another night with no worries about the neighbors being too close or dragging.
November 18, 2012 – Sunday, Rockhouse Creek, South Daytona, night six. How does this happen here….still here! Little boat & guys in tent were still over on the south shore. When we looked there this am, they were fishing, throwing rocks, just hanging out at the creek’s edge. When visiting here last year, we walked the area where they had pitched their tent. There were some of the most prolific, hearty sand spurs we’d ever encountered. They were so bad that Miko refused to walk and we had to carry her. We wondered if the guys camping were able to pitch their tent in an area to avoid them! The day was cool and cloudy, but with some sun making it through the cloud cover. By 11:30 am, we had 73 degrees in the salon with our doors closed and sun streaming in the windows/portlights. We ran the generator Saturday night, turned the water heater on. So, we had HOT showers this day, what a treat that was. It is the simple pleasures aboard that we relish… hot water is a biggie! We had good wifi here using this season’s new toy, a big whomping wifi signal stealer. The new antenna is five feet tall and does a great job pulling in sites. And, luckily in this anchorage, we found a number of them that were unsecured. We love free wifi on the boat! We saw fewer boats going by on the ICW this day, weather had some folks hunkered down we guessed. All our neighbors except My Girl were up and out early this a.m. My Girl was a local powerboat and, as expected, they left about 4 pm, end of their weekend. Boats in this evening: Gypsy, 42’ Manta Cat on way to BVI; Siren’s Call – trawler; Legacy – monohull. All of the new arrivals did great with anchoring/spacing. We put the dinghy up, hoping Monday am might provide a weather window to go South. We slept through some Sunday evening TV shows and went to bed early.
November 17, 2012 – football Saturday, Rockhouse Creek, South Daytona, day five. Weather was very windy and we could see the breaks crashing at the inlet entrance, so no departure this day, again. It poured, poured Friday night and all this early a.m. so the dinghy was full of fresh water. It cleared in the am and the sun came out to give us a pleasant 72 degrees in the salon. I actually donned my bathing suit, pumped out the dinghy and got busy on finishing the removal of old and installation of the new safety/pet netting on our starboard side. For most of the project, it was sunny and warm so I was enjoying my work very much. Clouds came in near the end of it and I had to run in for some flannel long pants. About 3:30 pm, a monohull named Echo arrived and originally threw their anchor in our cockpit….too close. I stood up and did one of those “do you really think that is a good place to be” looks, hands on my hips. They pulled up, repositioned and ended up in a much better place further west. Folks don’t think about how the current rips through here and that they will be doing 360 rotations while anchored. Next, Lipori, cat came way in, anchored on the east of us, behind My Girl from Ponce that left/returned this day. Last, a small Lagoon cat anchored west, at the entrance to the anchorage so another day, we felt comfortable with the neighbors. FSU beat Maryland soundly at Maryland this day, USF lost to Miami and both #1 and #2 teams in the nation, lost…..Kansas State and Oregon (sorry Gloria). So, BCS will be more interesting for sure. A little fishing, flat metal boat pulled up on the south shore, three guys and a tent…got out & spent the night. It was cold and windy, couldn’t have been too fun. Not sure if they were traveling the ICW or locals just hanging out. Steak on the grill finished a lazy football Saturday. Miko hadn’t “done her #2 business” for two days and we were beginning to worry about her….but we had a successful “eagle landing” on the trampoline this evening. It had been too windy and cold to dinghy her to shore, so guess she finally gave in.
November 16, 2012 – Friday, Rockhouse Creek, South Daytona, day four. Sadly, we had no friends aboard this day. So, we were lazy and got up late this day. We were certainly surprised by the weather that we had this morning. It was supposed to be another bad day weather wise, like Thursday had been. Nope…mild winds, not a cloud in the clear blue sky, it was a bright sunshine-y day….go figure. It seemed it would have been a great day to head out for our next leg south. It was 62 in the salon when we got up and the temp seemed to be rising a degree each time we looked at the thermometer. We listened to the weather forecasters and considered doing everything necessary to go ahead and depart this day. Our next leg would be an overnight trip to Palm Beach. We probably should have move, even if we would be getting a later start than normal. But, laziness overtook motivation. We had some boat jobs to do this day. And, we thought it would be nice to stay put and watch college football aboard on Saturday. We might have known as later this day we heard updated weather reports indicating we may not have proper conditions to sail from here for awhile. Later in the morning, the wind started to build and some clouds were moving in. Oh well, it was what it is. We knew if we started getting anxious to move south, we could consider doing a couple hops down the intracoastal waterway and duck out further south, either at the Ft. Pierce or St. Lucie Inlets. As it was, we were safe, content, comfortable and staying in Rockhouse Creek at least one more day. Miko was very obviously happier here, out of “cannon city”, St. Augustine. No one had shot at her since our arrival. A huge barge with one large fuel tank structure mounted in its middle, being pushed by a large black, red and white tug went by this a.m. Behind them was a parade of sailboats, probably not happy about being their position, but not willing to risk a pass. Just beyond us on the ICW, the waterway intersects with another river, through a narrow pass and a 90 degree right turn heading south toward New Smyrna, Fl. We wished we could see the barge/tug make that turn from our anchorage. A little about our anchorage. Once we pass Daytona Beach and South Daytona from the Atlantic we enter this area via “Ponce Inlet”. There is a beautiful, clay colored lighthouse at the inlet, yes you can guess, “Ponce Lighthouse”. The inlet flows into a river that one can go either port or starboard (south or north). We follow a series of temporary buoys that are often moved depending on shoaling. We pick our way through typically shallow spots, heading port/south from the inlet, toward New Smyrna. Just past a really nice Coast Guard facility on our port side, we make a 90 degree turn into the ICW, heading north. Just a short distance up, we take a starboard (right) turn into “Rockhouse Creek” that runs between the first river we were in and the ICW. It isn’t very wide but it has good depth. Both the north and south shores are uninhabited, vegetation covered banks. To our west, we have nice ICW waterfront homes with docks and looking east, we see sand shoals, Ponce Inlet and the lighthouse. We are near a flight school/airport, so little planes do frequent take offs, touchdowns, etc. and there is always a good bit of smaller plane traffic around us. The tidal current really rips through Rockhouse Creek so we experience a lot of tidal swing. We have a lot of birds, local fisherman, ICW traffic and dolphins that entertain us. Southbound cruisers often use this as a one evening stop from their ICW travels. So, most nights, we have a whole new set of neighbors. For some reason, we typically find ourselves staying here longer than we ever expect to stay. Already, we are on day four!
November 15, 2012 – Thursday, Rockhouse Creek, South Daytona, day three. It was 68 degrees inside the salon the majority of this yucky weather day. We awoke to a gray and windy, chilly morning. It was not a nice day and didn’t look like there would be any improvement to be expected. So, Laura/Kevin decided this should be the day they would leave us/MTB. After a good breakfast, they did some research for their options (rental cars, taxis, water ferry…etc.) and had a plan. At noon, a taxi would pick them up at the Ponce Lighthouse and take them to the Daytona airport. There, they would pick up a rental car and drive back to Jacksonville to retrieve their vehicle we left at St. Johns Boat Co. From there, they would go to the Jacksonville airport to return the rented car. So, once they packed up, we got everything loaded in Toby, the dinghy. I said my farewells and Ken motored them to the dock by the lighthouse. There wouldn’t be enough room for Miko and me to go. As they dinghied off, I was sad to see our friends leave MTB. They had been very good company aboard. But, we knew they were making the right choice, as the day would remain cold and gray. It would not have been enjoyable for them. Ken was back to MTB by about 12:10 pm, successfully fulfilling the day’s water taxi portion of Kevin/Laura’s excursion. By 3:30 pm, we had two monohulls and another catamaran anchored with us…not without a whole lot of crazy maneuvering by them all. One went over here, another over there, in, out, around the anchorage, weird. The three vessels just couldn’t seem to get happy with where they were trying to anchor. We could only hope they would all end up well away from us! The catamaran, Polar Pacer, started in front of us and ended up further into the creek, behind us. My Passion, a monohull, started out behind us and ended up in front of us. The other monohull, First Edition, came in and anchored at the mouth of the anchorage and stayed there. But, it really was quite the dance they all did! Once they all settled in, everyone was in a good place and no one else arrived so we had a nice worry free, evening. Dinner this night was leftover pasta, just Ken, Miko and me, alone again. Miko actually started acting more like herself this afternoon/evening. She jumped up and occupied “her” spot on the sofa for a long while. She’d been staying below in our office for much of the time in the past few days. She got a number of her toys out and played with them, not having done so for a few days, etc. It was an interesting change and we decided she is definitely a creature of habit and not very good with any “change” in her life. Guess she didn’t like have to share “her” sofa with others! The weather stayed dark and gray for the entire day.
November 14, 2012 – Wednesday, Happy Birthday Bruce (Cindy’s Brother). Rockhouse Creek, South Daytona, day two. We had a lazy morning, good breakfast and decided to check the tides to see when it would be the optimum time for us to get to shore by the Ponce Lighthouse. It was about that time, so we all got organized, dropped the dinghy and headed for shore. We heard from Elizabeth Crank Williamson who now lives in this area. She is the daughter of long time friends, Billy & Cleo Crank, in Greenville. We made plan to meet up with Elizabeth and her children once we were on shore. Once to the dinghy dock, we dumped our garbage in the public dumpster and went walking. We found one beach but it was not pet friendly and the folks there directed up three blocks west, to the pet beach. We walked boardwalks and in sand, wanted to do the jetty walk but no dogs allowed. So, we mozied back to the Marine Center and Lighthouse area. I bought a couple Marine Center tshirts for my annual momentos and we headed off to meet Elizabeth and her children, Rylan and Bailey at the playground. After the kids (Kevin, too) had a little play time, we went to the waterfront restaurant for a late lunch. We all enjoyed our food but knew it was time to head back to MTB. It was so good to be see Elizabeth all grown up, with her wonderfully well mannered, beautiful children. It is always so surprising to realize so much time has gone by…..so many changes with “Biz”, as we called her as a kid! Married for 7 years, two children….it truly doesn’t seem possible. Anyway, we got our hugs and said our farewells, dinghied back to MTB, safe and sound. Since our lunch was large and late, we just had cocktails and snacks for our dinner this evening. We discussed our travel plans and Ken/I thought we preferred to hold in this anchorage as the weather was to be somewhat less than optimum on Thursday. Kevin and Laura decided they would leave us here either on Thursday or Friday.
November 13, 2012 – departed St. Augustine, Tuesday, day four, anchor up at 6:50 am. The winds/seas were calm so our transit out the inlet was easy and uneventful. It was 72. degrees in our salon at 9:30 am this morning. On the way out the inlet, we had one of the huge, fast and usually un-polite sport fishing boats zoom up behind us. They usually keep it hammer down and give us an unbelievable wake. These guys came toward us and once near us, he pulled off on his engines, even looked back to check his wake…a very pleasant surprise. I just wished I noticed his boat name for future visits to the St. Augustine area. The forecast on Monday was this morning was to be E/NE winds 10-15 with 3-5’ seas. Well, it was 2 knots of wind from the SE and about a 3’ easterly sea swell with a little wind chop. So, again, we were motoring, geez. This day’s trip wa 60 nautical miles so we needed to average 6 knots, to be in and anchored before dark. About 9:30 am, our VHF radio sounded a really large alarm, we had never heard before. It was some vessel’s distress call. We had no boats around us but we radio’d back to see if anyone responded. The Coast Guard reported the call, asking folks in the area to keep an eye out. Within an hour, they announced the vessel had been located and assisted. 11:00 am found us about three miles offshore, motoring along with a sea swell from the SE about 3’ and SUNSHINE. Kevin and Laura were enjoying the front decks and reading. Miko seemed relieved we were out of the cannon city, more relaxed and content. We arrived at Ponce Inlet about 4:30 pm, pulled in the jib sale and prepared to enter the inlet. It was a smooth entrance and we never saw less than about 4.5’ under us in the shallow spot that can be troublesome. We were greeted by numerous dolphins as we motored down to the ICW intersection and turned north up to the entrance to Rockhouse Creek. We like this rather isolated anchorage and it typically isn’t crowded. This day there was one trawler in before us. We went a good way into the creek and tried anchoring. For some reason we did not hook the first time, so we just pulled up and tried again, second time the charm. We had cocktails, enjoying Laura and Kevin’s company very much. A pasta dinner, a little TV and we called it a night.
November 12, 2012 – St. Augustine, at anchor, north of Bridge of Lions, Monday day three. After breakfast Laura and I decided it was time to do the Pet netting project. It was so warm, we donned bathing suits as it was really sunny and warm this day, in the 80s. Once the port side was completed we decided it was time to head to town for showers, late lunch and exercise. We packed up (remembered the garbage this time) and headed into town. We had nice hot showers and headed out of downtown, walking past Flagler College to one of our favorite small restaurants - “Flavors”. This little place has interesting, fresh and tasty food, wonderful prices and outdoor seating so we can go with Miko along., We enjoyed a great meal and a couple cold beverages (thanks guys) before heading back toward the shops in town. We saw a store that sells “Life is Good” brand tshirts and did some shopping. We walked back to the marina, walked out the dock and back, hopped in the dinghy and where back to MTB by about 5:30 pm. Sadly, we forgot to go through the mooring field to look for David Pollitt on Shearwater. We checked weather reports for the next several days and decided Tuesday was a moving day. As a result, we put the dinghy back up on her davits. We again snacked this evening since we had a large, late, enjoyable lunch. It rained a little in the evening, a nice soft shower that we enjoyed. Its always nice when MTB gets a fresh water rinse, as well. I wanted to watch Dancing with the Stars, so we ran the generator for an hour, and I slept through the second half of the program, oh well.
Novemeber 11, 2012 – St. Augustine, at anchor, north of Bridge of Lions, Sunday, Veterans Day two. After coffee, breakfast we were ready to go to shore, so dropped the dinghy and packed up. We paid our $10 at the marina that allows us use of the dock, garbage drop and showers/restrooms. Although, we gathered our garbage, we failed to get it into the dinghy…dad gum it. We walked for awhile along the water, walking first south of the St. Augustine Municipal Marina. Then we headed back to the tourist avenue with shops so we could make our normal stop at Faux Paws. This is tiny little pet items store with homemade doggie biscuits. They always give Miko a peanut butter biscuit if she does her tricks. We picked up a bag of bacon treats for her…something different this trip. We wanted to give Miko some exercise and wear her out before lunch. So we walked through the really nice, historic waterfront neighborhood, north of the fort. It has some really unique and interesting homes. Back to town, Kevin/Laura treated us to a great big lunch at the Italian restaurant that has a back porch and is very dog friendly, even bringing a bowl of water. We shared mussels, Caesar salad, calamari and two pizzas. The great company and food was complimented wonderfully by two pitchers of Chianti….yum yum. It was a great lunch. We went to our favorite little bistro and bought three baquettes of French bread before heading back to the marina/dinghy dock. After a great, large lunch, we just snacked on our bread aboard this evening and enjoyed our surroundings, having great friends aboard. Again, poor Miko….cannons were being fired until dark. We actually stayed up until around 11:00 pm this night….party animals we are!
November 10, 2012 – departed St. Johns River/Mayport – day 6 Jacksonville area. It was warmer this morning, high 50s. We got up, had our coffes and made an easy departure, anchors up about 8:30 am. Not enough wind to sail, so we put out the jib and motored to St. Augustine inlet. As we arrived, there was a line of about 8 other sailboats headed in. We pulled in line, with a monohull in front of us and a catamaran in front of them. Our preferred place to anchor, in front of the fort, was empty. So by 2:30 pm, we had the anchor down, all alone. Sadly has become very afraid of the cannons/guns they shoot from the fort. We hadn’t been anchored for anytime at al before they began shooting at us. Miko was so fearful, she resorted to hunkering down in our bathroom. We had a nice late afternoon/evening aboard with steaks on the grill for dinner. It was really a beautiful evening with birds, dolphins, people, boats and tourist Pirate ships to watch. Since we motored this day, lots of hot water so everyone took showers, though it was cold on MTB. We all had enjoyed being out on front of MTB on the short trip to St. Augustine, it was sunny and calm, a lot of fresh air this day. So after dinner, a little to drink…we were all ready for some reading and early to bed.
November 9, 2012 – St. Johns Boat Co. Jacksonville - Friday, day four. It was warmer overnight and this am….high 40s outside and about 52 inside when we got up. Boat Co. workers all were given the day off as 11:00 am was their Manager, Clarke Coit’s, funeral. We didn’t expect to see anyone until the afternoon. The guys cleaning/waxing the boat showed up early. They washed and dried all of MTB this morning. MTB has never looked as good since we have owned her. They did an amazing job and we couldn’t have been more pleased.with the job they did for us. Bronson and Mike arrived about the same time as Laura & Kevin. We got L&K’s things aboard and Bronson told them where they could leave their car. We left MTB as they put her on the travel lift and painted the spots where the stands had been holding her during our visit. Once done, dried, they putt putted MTB around to the boat slip, let us get aboard Ken back us out as Laura, Kevin and I kept fenders between us and the wall of the slip. Luckily, the tug that had been docked at the very end of the slip, causing a little navigational issue, left the day before. We were so glad. So, we said our farewells to Bronson, a super nice guy and off we went. We did research the previous day on “Active Captain” to select a nearby anchorage. We went a whomping 2.4 nautical miles and dropped the hook on the southwest side of the channel where the St. Johns River and the ICW intersect. Another catamaran came in while we were there “Blue Tang”, a Lagoon. We did chicken on the grill, a few rum punches and called it an early night. Nice anchorage, good holding and entertaining dolphins.
November 8, 2012 – St. Johns Boat Co. Jacksonville - Thursday, day three here. We were cold overnight, so found and plugged in our little cube heater this morning. By 10 am, it was 68 degrees in the salon, but still in the 40s outside, bbbrrr. At 11:30 am, it was 72 inside, yay! This day was the birthday of friends Marcia Wendel in Brunswick and Gerda Dehrmann in South Africa, so we sent our Facebook greetings. The great guys buffing/polishing MTB were aboard early again this day and working hard. They hoped to have us finished this day. They, too, will be attending Clark’s funeral in the morning, having worked with him for many years. Ken worked on fabrication of an aluminum bracket to reinforce the lifeboat locker with materials & assistance offered by Bronson and the Boat Co. Laura & Kevin arrived in the area, Savannah, this night. Florida Statte played football against Virginia Tech Hokies, having not played the previous Saturday. It was a scary game, won in the end and saved by a last seconds defensive interception, whew. We’d been watching our freezer closely to verify it was working properly. This is always a concern when we first leave home, as it is PACKED with 6 months of meat. This day, our freezer’s thermometer hit 12.9 degrees! So, we actually raised the thermostat to save some electricity since the box was so cold. We checked the weather and all was to be fine for us over the next couple of days to get out of here and down to St. Augustine. Both the sea and wind would be cooperative, though our overnight temperature was still going to be low until Saturday. We were looking forward to getting further south. Miko was missing being outside and running around the decks. But, with a set of big wide wood steps at our stern and all the workers around, we chose to confine her to indoors. She was not thrilled, but she enjoyed all the walks we took her on to compensate.
November 7, 2012 – St. Johns Boat Co. Jacksonville – day two here. 55 degrees at 9:30 a.m. Work continues. We were told this morning that Clark’s funeral was scheduled for Friday morning when we were supposed to be put back in the water. So, it will be later Friday afternoon before we will be “splashed”. This has negative consequences….not a good time tide wise and it will not allow us time to get any where, like St. Augustine. So, we did research to find a place to anchor in the area on Friday night. There really are no nearby optimum anchorages, but we developed a plan. So, we got in touch with friends, Kevin & Laura, about our change in plans. We took Miko for her early walk around 9:00 a.m. but it was chilly. Ken organized and stored the many items that had been hanging around on our two desks. When I came back from the restroom in the office, I checked the integrity of the locker that holds our lifeboat. Failures of that locker had been reported on the Leopard owners group site and one can more easily check it out when out of the water. We did have a crack beginning. Told Ken so he could look at it to develop a plan for reinforcement of the locker. By noon, we were still shivering inside the boat, 65 degrees in the salon. We half-heartedly watched the post election coverage. More of the same we guessed…big government, penalize successful individuals by assessing higher taxes and sadly, individuals lucky enough to have jobs will continue to fund programs for able bodied slackers who choose not to work. But, at least the commercials are behind us! We learned that the very poorly worded amendment requesting approval for Georgia Charter schools was passed in Georgia. Haven’t heard about the other one, that if approved, would allow multi year rental contracts for government entities. It got really cold this evening, down in the 40s. While making dinner, we realized that we didn’t ha ve a colander aboard…bummer. We emailed Kevin/Laura to see if they would bring us one. We got our first coat of paint this day and the guys who were buffing/polishing the boat for us made great progress as well. Meant To Be was looking shiny, good and happy again. We found a nice pavilion up the road at the St. Johns River ferry dock. We all enjoyed walking there each of our first two days here. We sat in the sun and watched the fishermen, helicopters from Mayport, tourists waiting for the ferry, and wildlife.
November 6, 2012 – Tuesday - Election Day – Jacksonville, St. Johns Boat Co. – It is time to sit down and begin another season’s sailing log. Today we woke up to rain and it was 68 degrees in the salon at 9:00 a.m. As always, the first of November had us leaving Brunswick, aboard Meant To Be for places “south”. We never have a firm, firm plan…just a place that is warm, beaches are white and the water is clear and beautiful. Last year, we went as far as St. John in the US Virgin Islands. This year, I think we may just do the eastern Florida coast and cross over to the Bahamas, period. Surprisingly, there a still a few Bahamian “out” islands we have not visited and a few we’d like to see again. So, that should keep us busy. We were pulled out of the water here in a “Travelift” crane yesterday. It is a 100 ton rated, super huge structure with slings that go under MTB and allow us to be picked up and motored over to our land space/blocks. We waited for high slack tide here in the St. Johns River to make our tight approach, in between two other boats, easier. Of course, once the tide went to slack and we had less current, the wind piped up suddenly to 18 knots. Best laid plans, seems its always something. But, Ken did great and the Boat Co. folks were really helpful as well. A couple of commercial vessel Captains who were watching us come in commented on the great job “Captain Ken” did getting us in the tight fit with poor conditions. They said they were really impressed. How about that?! We spent a month here several years ago living on the “hard” with Meant To Be sitting on blocks/stands. It was a little inconvenient but not awful. This visit, they have given us a nice set of wooden stairs up to our back sugar scoops. Last time we were really roughing it….up and down a ladder with Miko under one arm! Two very nice guys have always run this great boat works. Bronson & Clark, have been friends & co-workers for 35+ years. When we arrived yesterday, neither were here, which was a surprise. This morning, we sadly found out why. Clark severely injured his leg about 5 weeks prior to our arrival in an accident. He had been recovering and Bronson said Clark had been recovering pretty well and seemed good, as recently as Friday, three days before our arrival. But, infection set in so Bronson was with him at the ICU when we came in yesterday. We found out this morning that so very sadly, about 7 p.m. Monday evening, Clark passed away. He and Bronson have worked together for so long, they complimented each other and their work “dance” had become a fine tuned machine. We know Bronson will be lost without his bud. Bronson told us that Clark leaves behind a sweet wife, having been married for 30 years. We are reminded that we all should plan for “tomorrow” but live, live, live for today. There is a resident cat here in the office, Barney, the girl. This cat is very laid back and Miko and sweet Barney kitty rubbed noses and agreed to live in harmony while we are here. Work began this am on MTB. We’re getting a bottom job done, which means our hulls will be sanded and two coats of anti fouling paint applied. Then, all of our “white” parts, the fiberglass above the waterline will be washed and polished up so MTB will be bright and shiny again. Ken started work on installing a new valve on our port side. This is a heavy duty replacement for the valve we use to open and close our potty tanks. Sadly, but not surprisingly, we needed another part. Bronson kindly ordered it for us from their supplier. I will be working on new pet/safety netting, once it warms up some. I ordered a new, less expensive type of netting recommended on one of our boating forums. But, when it arrived, it was different than expected. I will take a good look at it, assess how it will look installed and decide whether to use it or just patch and re-work the current netting. Pet/safety netting is zip tied onto our cable “lifelines” that run the full length of both sides of MTB. Many, many of our current zip ties are degraded to to UV rays. So, we’ll see how that project goes. Miko is a saavy boat dog so really pet netting is no longer necessary for her. But, we can’t count the number of times that netting has stopped an item from going overboard….clothing, pet toys, rope, containers, etc. So, we have come to appreciate having it installed for that reason alone. Spoke with friends, Kevin & Laura, to coordinate their arrival aboard MTB. Obama elected….off to bed.