Friday, April 26, 2013

"Submit" is put to bed

Submit is put to bed.  She was hauled out of the water and put in storage the morning of 4/22.  Our closing up projects kept us there until 4pm.  Then, it was off to Gainesville for few hours sleep before catching our 5:20 AM flights to Spokane.  We arrived at 1:11 PM and left in the rental car to see family and spend the night in Missoula before arriving home 4/24.

I find almost 2 feet of mail stacked up on my desk and there is at least a foot of mail for Barbara.  Marie has done excellent work holding down the fort in my office.  Mike, with some help from Craig, has taken great care of Cramelot.  Stepping back into the traces is enough to make our heads spin.

Most folks don’t recognize me with long hair and big beard.  I’m not sure how long I’ll keep it, but probably not long.

Everything here seems to be unchanged.  Barbara’s 93 year old mom is doing fine and was happy to have us back nearby.  I’m surprised the car started after 3 months because I neglected to disconnect its battery before leaving.  Grass is turning green and flowers are starting to bloom.  The weather is nice, warming up into the 60’s.  We are told we must have brought it with us.  Apparently spring hasn’t been so nice here yet.

Impressions of our trip?  We were disappointed to have spent so much time on repairs and upgrades to Submit, but she is in better shape than she has been in years.  We hope/expect to have little to do to get her ready to go when we next return.  As for “Bahamas or Bust”, we made it and are glad we did even if our time was short.  Apprehension about crossing the dreaded gulf stream is over.  Seeing places like New Plymouth and Hope Town and Man-O-War Cay, was enjoyable, but our favorite times were spent anchored off uninhabited islands and exploring them and their sand beaches. 

Future plans?  We expect to go back to Submit early next year to do some more traveling in the islands.  Meanwhile, we will be heading to the San Juan Islands for a couple weeks next month.  We hope/plan to sail to Ben and Stacey’s wedding.  Wish us luck with that.  Then, we return home to prepare and launch “Knot Ready” for the summer sailing season on beautiful Flathead Lake.  And firewood gathering.  And projects at the old hunting cabin.  And firewood gathering.  And…
in case you cannot see it, on what appears to be a tanker, "Protect The Environment
No Smoking"

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

more miles under the keel

We anchored Monday evening just off the ICW a little south of Daytona, Florida.  Below are a couple views from our boat at anchor.  Which do you prefer?

Tuesday had us motoring north to anchor outside Fort Matanzas.  Why motoring?  Headwinds, narrow channels and time constraints.  
appears to have been underwater for a long time then raised and anchored here.
water level artwork on bridge collumns

additional water level art work?

We had anchored off Fort Matanzas on our way south and were disappointed we had no time to visit it and its visitor center.  We would solve the problem this trip.

as viewed from our boat

Fort Matanzas is miniscule, but has an interesting history which includes it having been named for a massacre.

  Interesting tidbits included the average age of the soldiers way back was about 15, and anyone over 5’6” was probably automatically going to be an officer.  Look it up for an interesting read.

officer material?
We weren't aware of how dangerous it is to dinghy ashore here.
ever met a dull oyster?

After visiting the fort this morning, we traveled to just north of St. Augustine to anchor off the Guana Aquatic Preserve.  We stealthed the electric dinghy ashore to find trails and info signs.  There is an active oyster regeneration program going on here as well as other preservation activities. It was a great walk.

the view from our anchorage

Back to the boat for sundowners!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

tourist stop

The Kennedy Space Center was worth the one day delay, especially since we had some time to spare. We tied up at the Titusville Municipal Marina and took the Chamber sponsored van to the front gate of KSC. The van is free, but they will accept donations to help pay for fuel.

We took the bus tour which drove around the ‘big building’(one stripe on the flag takes 6000 gallons of paint), didn’t stop, through the wildlife preserve and dropped us off at the Apollo/Saturn V Center. We saw the Saturn V, the largest rocket ever made, one of the moon vehicles, a movie (plus a 3-D stage) about the Apollo missions. I didn’t remember (or know) that Neil Armstrong decided he didn’t like the spot they were headed towards to land, so he took over the controls and found a spot he liked better. That confused mission control and he almost ran out of fuel before touching down. I think he had 30 seconds of fuel left. After lunch at the Moon Rock CafĂ© we were bused back to the Visitor Complex. It is interesting that all of the technology and rocket launches are in the middle of a wild life refuge, but it is said that the only wildlife effective negatively is the small fish which can’t take the launches. We saw alligators, a turtle, lots of birds including an endangered Rosetta Spoonbill.

The shuttle launch simulation was amazing. We were strapped in and then, I swear, we were tilted 90 degrees and lying on our backs. I started laughing and wondered if I was going to need my ginger gum for motion sickness, it was that real. The next big laugh was when the rockets fired. The noise and the turbulence was incredible. (apparently Barbara laughs hysterically when nervous or frightened?)As Reggie said, “Can you imagine trying to do whatever work they needed to do under those conditions?” I bet one requirement for astronauts is no dentures.

IMAX Theater was the next stop to learn about the Hubble telescope in 3-D. It has been repaired a few times and may not be around in years to come. The shuttle program enabled its extended life.  Some of its discoveries are worth studying just to be amazed and astounded.  They boggle the mind.

The second 3-D movie was about the Space Station. I knew there was an international space station, but that is about all I knew. I am so glad to know more about it. It is one of the things that gives me hope for the future. How wonderful for so many nations working so closely for a common good.

for Allison and Reid

The van picked us up at 4:30 and dropped us at the marina, where we noticed the boat of one of our new cruising friends. We grabbed some wine and headed over to see if they were around. We found them at the BBQ area with some of their friends. We had a great time sharing stories, cocktails and dinner together.

Florida mass transit?

This morning finds us anchored along the ICW just outside Daytona, FL. In the fog!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

catching up

We were sheltered from any big winds in Black sound.  Our stay there involved a trip to the bank on Thursday.  The bank is only open on Monday and Thursday from 10 til two.  However, it had been closed the previous Monday for the Easter holiday.  Needless to say, there was a very long line.   It was a good time to chat with other cruisers.

We had to stay til our turn because we were down to $10 cash.  Barbara was able to get some Bahamian and some US currency on her debit card.  That meant we could go to lunch at the Wrecking Tree Bakery, Restaurant and Bar.  Barbara had a conch burger and I had conch in a bag, and grouper with salad. 

On our way back to the electric dinghy, we passed a fellow on a dock beating the heck out of fresh conch.  It is pretty amazing what they have to go through to make it edible.

Cribbage lessons are progressing nicely.

Next day we walked to Pineaples for lunch.  Their Plymouth punch was delicious, and the conch was tasty.  Afterwards, we took a long shortcut walk to the local liquor store with the last of the Bahamian money.  We bought some Bahamian rums.

Our plan was to leave  for Manjack and Crab Cays the next morning, and then stop at a couple more islands before heading back across the gulf stream.  Off we went to Manjack where we anchored and took the stealth dinghy to shore.  We took along rum and glasses because the plan was to get a couple coconuts and make drinks.

Two coconuts were husked and opened, their juice emptied into a glass.  These were mature coconuts with the coconut meat and clear milk.  All 4 or 5 tablespoons of it.  We added a little Mango rum to it and sat down to share it, for 15 seconds, until the no-see-ums showed up.  Back to the boat for our cocktails. On the way back to the boat we were greeted by 4 people in a dingy, making the rounds, to introduce themselves. They were new arrivals to the Bahama’s and making the most of it. After rafting dingys with them for a period, we were home again, only to have another dingy motor up and ask us to join them for game night. “Ok, right after dinner.”  Just as I was clearing the table, dingy # 3 arrived. This was someone we had conversed with several times and a friend of friends. Time passes and by the time he left, we were too late for games. Perhaps we will have an opportunity on the “ditch.” Beautiful water and cruising buddies- that’s what it’s all about.

Weather is always a topic of discussion.  Weather reports were indicating a couple supposedly good days for crossing the gulf stream on Monday, Tuesday and possibly Wednesday.  Then weather was to change for the worse and nobody could say when the next crossing window would occur.  We have noticed that, once we make the decision to head back soon, we want to go now. We decided it was time to go. 

Sunday was a nice sail all the way to Great Sale Cay, one of the primary last stops before crossing.  From there, it would take about 10 hours to cross the Little Bahamas Bank, and another 10 or so to cross the gulf stream to Fort Pierce.  We would rotate 2 hours on watch, two hours off.

There are no stopping spots along the way, so we decided to leave after lunch on Monday, sail to the White Sand Ridge crossing point, arriving around around 2am, and thence across.  We were able to sail most of the way to WSR, but had to slow down for a rain squall and higher than expected wind, arriving about 1:30 am.

Then the crossing.  Monday night and Tuesday were to be a soft touch crossing.  Barbara describes her 12 hours of the 24 as 12 hours spent on a low speed mechanical bull.  It is a full body workout!!! By the way, when you finally get across to the inlet entrance, do not be tempted to try to enter against an outgoing tide running against strong southeasterly wind, regardless of how full of bull (riding) you may be. That time was maybe the worst of the 12 hours!

We made it in to Fort Pierce and immediately found a place to drop anchor.  After a bite of lunch, Barbara settled in for a nap.  I called Homeland Security and checked us back into the U. S. A. and then joined her.  After a few phone calls and dinner we settled in for a good night’s rest.

Next day, we topped up on fuel and met Kirk and his dad for lunch.  FYI, we averaged about 0.66 gallons per hour of motoring for fuel burned.  Then we went back to anchor and relax and have a day off which included a grade C (at best) movie. 

Today is Thursday April 11th.  We had a lovely morning. We actually sailed on the ICW! The Environmental Learning Center dock was too shallow, so we were not able to increase our knowledge or visit Pelican Island Wild Life Refuge.  We are in Melbourne, Fl, 50 miles farther up the ICW.  We are looking for places to see and explore along our return trip.  We must leave Green Cove Springs no later than 4/22.

Appended please find posted a plethora of photos, previously postponed due to poor wifi propagation.  Please persist and peruse.

Add caption

how do you get these darn smart phones to zoom in, take a picture, and send it out?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

4/4/13 update

From White sound in Green Turtle Cay, we went to Manjack Cay.  The cruising info we have shows it as being uninhabited.  Apparently someone has move in. Fresh laundry hung on the clotheslines near a house there.

We expected to find two or three boats sharing the anchorage.  The final count for was around two dozen.

Someone has marked a maintained trail across the island to the beach on the Atlantic side.  They’ve made creative “native mask” signs and others to mark the trail.  We enjoyed the hike to a beautiful pink/white sand beach.  One boater referred to a particular beach as so wonderful it was “to die for”.  All the beaches here seem “to die for”. 

Except for plastic.  Anything floating can be washed ashore, and it appears everything plastic floats.  Some things degrade fairly rapidly and disappear.  Not the plastic: ropes of every size and color, fishing nets, drinking water bottles, crates, motor oil bottles, flipflops and tennis shoes, garbage bags, barrels and buckets and lids of all sizes, Frosty the Snowman(really!), and on the list goes.  Past storms have carried some of it deep into the undergrowth.  Everyone everywhere uses plastic but it appears almost no one disposes of it properly or cleans it up.  Beaches “to die for”?  Yes, except for plastic.

There was discussion of staying at Manjack, but wind was supposed to build from an unfavorable direction, so the next day we had a nice sail to anchor off Coopers Town.  We had no reason to go into town, so spent a quiet evening aboard with Barbara giving me more Cribbage lessons (and him giving me lessons in humility). We enjoyed an incredible “light show” accompanied with rolls of thunder. The storm skirted us, so no rain to wash the boat.

Next day, we made the short crossing to Powell Cay.  We had the island to ourselves for most of the day.  Two trips ashore included walking beaches along both sides of the island and a short hike up the Bluff “trail”.  This trail is unmaintained and barely passable, but the view was great.  The walks were great as was wading along the beaches.  We were going to swim on the Atlantic side but noticed the splashing of our wading was attracting a light colored barracuda looking fish.  Most of them were in the one foot long range, but one over three feet stalked us for a long ways.  Reggie calmly said, “Barbara, look at that.” I saw a three foot ‘snaky fish swimming right toward us and chose to run to the shore. The other problem with the Atlantic side was the sand, which became very soft and gooey when we were about knee deep out into the waves. Swimming was delayed until we were back at the boat, anchored in 7 feet of water.  No barracuda, no sand between our toes.

One spot on a beach had signs indicating off the grid campers had stayed there for varying amounts of time.  Real signs.  Tied in the low trees.  Of course, I forgot the camera.  If they are to be believed, a small group of folks spent 3 months there last year.  Another group could have been there longer several years ago.  It made me wonder about doing such a thing.  You would have to bring everything you needed.  We’ve seen nothing edible growing anywhere wild except the very occasional coconut.  There is no fresh water source on these little islands, so you would have to bring lots and rely on rain.  We’ve been rained on twice since we arrived here, which isn’t much.  You would have to catch a lot.  Now where did I see that plastic bucket?

Our stay was a delightful day, dinner and cocktails in the cockpit and a quiet night at anchor.

We are currently back on a mooring ball in Black Sound.  There is supposed to be a storm of sorts building today, Thursday the 4th of April, through tonight and Friday and perhaps into Saturday.  Winds on Friday are predicted to be 25-30 miles per hour with gusts up near 35, so we’ve chosen to hide in this protected harbor for a couple days, find some internet to catch up on work and post reports, and maybe stretch our legs walking New Plymouth, rain or shine.

We have started our discussions of “what next?” so our time here must be coming to an end. We expect to work our way to a ‘jumping off’ or crossing over spot after this stormy weather has passed.  We hope to stop at a couple more uninhabited islands along the way.   

Monday, March 25, 2013

Time in the Bahamas

a 360 degree panoramic view from our anchorage the first night on Little Bahamas Bank, or it would have been if we could do 360's

colorful, delicious, healthy meal at anchor in Great Sale Cay
We left Green Turtle Cay early the morning after clearing in.  We were able to reach by radio our Canadian/Montana friends Brian and Dawn Anne on “Conchtown Lady”.  They were in Treasure Cay so that is where we went. We were able to motor sail part of the way.
It was great to meet friends when so far away.  They showed us around Treasure Cay.  We are told it is mostly a privately owned large resort. The story is it was booming until the crackdown on drugs.  All we know is that it was great to have showers!

Brian and Dawn Anne invited us for dinner.  Dawn Anne made delicious roast chicken and vegetables and an amazing key lime pie.
Night time entertainment was provided by a large sailboat whose anchor broke loose allowing the boat to drag anchor back as if drifted through the other anchored boats during a brief storm.  Air horns were honking, lights were flashing, people were yelling, rain was pouring down, lightning was flashing.  Which way do you go in the dark and blinding rain?  Luckily no major damage was done and no one was hurt.

a couple views from the beach bar and cafe where we lunched  at Treasure Cay

The next day we sailed to Marsh Harbor, after a stop to look for some lobster. Brian and Dawn Anne decided that the weather looked go for heading home, so we had a bon voyage dinner on Submit and then to Graynorth for birthday cake. We sailed to Tahiti Beach the next day and did a little beach combing, then on to Hope Town for the evening. 

Reggie overlooking Tahiti beach from a nearby rock

We climbed the lighthouse and walked around town. It is a small community that seems to be mostly cottage rentals. We expected to head north the next morning, but it seemed like it might be less than fun, so one more night. This morning, Monday, 25 March, we thought we could make it around the whale before the wind shifted. However, we woke up to a down pour, thunder and lightning. Looks like we will be here for the week. Don't worry about me, I have tons of books.

a good view from our mooring

antique cabinet in lighthouse curved to match lighthouse curve

main Hope Town harbor viewed from lighthouse

look carefully for "Submit"

a view from our mooring


On Friday the 29th, we crossed through “The Whale” in less than perfect conditions, but it was a short trip and not too bad. “The Whale” is an open channel to the Atlantic Ocean.  Because the water inside Whale Cay is so shallow, boats drafting about 3 feet or more must go out and around Whale Cay to transit north and south of her..  “The Whale” can be impassible at times by boats of any size if the weather or the incoming ocean swells are too bad, causing a “Rage” of breaking waves. 

We dropped our anchor in No Name Cay. The only inhabitants are four pigs. I can’t tell if they were wild or not, as they came running up to everyone. Tourist boats make a stop there to feed them and scratch their noses. We did neither.  We waded and walked the beach. There were tons of sand dollars, live ones. I had no idea they were so big! (inflation here too?) (turns out the locals call them sea bisquits)  The one we saw in the water had a green leaf design and was soft and fuzzy around the edges. There were also lots of conch. I sort of wanted to take one and see if we could cook it, but then I saw it and decided not to even try. I may never eat one again, either.  Next we hopped in the dingy and pushed our way into a backwater inlet. On the back side there were some rocky cliffs, lots of fast fish, starfish and an octopus! As we were leaving, we also spotted a sea turtle.

We had a nice quiet evening at anchor, then on Saturday,  headed into  White Sound on Green Turtle Cay to tie up for the night at the Green Turtle Club and Marina, to take on our little bit of fuel(diesel at $6.13/gal.), have some internet for letting folks know we were still alive and afloat, and a (cold) shower before heading out to explore more of the uninhabited islands. There are very few communities between here and the ‘jump off’ areas where boats cross back over to the States. The ‘jello plan’ is to explore for about a week and then be ready to cross the Gulf Stream when we have a good weather window.

Today is Easter Sunday, so Reggie surprised me with a pink bunny in my coffee. He always remembers! So far I have found 8. Do they come in packages of 12? Did he bring more than one package?  At home I find them for months. I hope to find them all now.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Chapter and Verse

Chapter one – Learning the Alphabet
          We have read about crossing to the Bahamas and we’ve talked to people and we learned that to go east to the Bahamas you have to sail southeast. The Gulf Stream will take you north of your destination. Then your southeasterly course will bring you right where you want to be. If you trace your actual course it will be an ‘S’. After figuring the actual heading, your expected speed and guessing what the average Gulf Stream speed will be that day, by drawing various lines and vectors, you end up with the southeast heading for you. I did all of that and came up with 105 degrees. Friends told us they usually sail at 111 and a cruising guide said around 101. So that is what we do! -somewhere between 100 and 112. The sea is calm, the wind light and on our nose, of course. After a few hours, we plot our location on the chart using the GPS coordinates and discover we are way south of where we should be. Adjust course and at the next plotting we are still too far south. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. We arrive at Memory Rock, our destination in the Bahamas. Looking back at our actual course we made a ‘c’, which gave us an ‘F’ in alphabet sailing, but we think that a ‘C’ course worked just fine. It is approaching dinner time. We are in 12 feet of water. It is nice and calm and nothing in sight. Might as well anchor right here!

the view into the water under our boat as we anchor

Chapter two – A St Patrick’s Day Party
We take time to have a cocktail in the cockpit and toast ourselves for actually making it to the Bahamas. Dinner is home made stew cooked up and sampled the night before, an extra large batch so there would be some for this meal. Watch the sun sink below the horizon. Now this is cruising!
But wait! What is a St. Patrick’s Day Partly without a little rock and roll? Shouldn’t we be a little wild on St. Patrick’s Day? Sometime around maybe midnight, the wind kicked up and the party got going. We did some ‘Rock’n Roll All Night Long”. It sounded like the boat was going to come apart at the seams!
Chapter three –  All’s Well That Ends Well
We got under way early, since we were awake anyway. The motion of the traveling boat was so much more comfortable. We are sailing at around 4 knots and it is a beautiful day. Around noon the wind starts to die, so we motor/sail for an hour, and then furl the sail and motor into the wind and waves until we reach Great Sale Cay. Ahhh, the calm. Several boats are at anchor here and just about dark we hear Stardust on the radio. We met Harvey and Nancy on Stardust when we were staying at the Melbourne Yacht Club. They came in well after dark.  The anchorage and weather were quiet and peaceful and we slept well.
Chapter four – “And We Will Sail Away..” …or not.
And other tunes:

“ You have your anchor up
You drop your anchor down
You haul the anchor up
And you’re sailing all around
You're off to the Bahamas and you're going to have some fun
That’s what its all about!

You're sailin' slow and pokey
You're goin' slow and pokey
You're sailin' naked and pokey
Thats what its all about!

In the morning we chat with Stardust and a couple other boats. The wind is expected to be strong and on the nose. Some boats are choosing to stay here today. Stardust is going on. We decide that we will give it a try, perhaps the wind will die down by the time we are dead into it, like it did yesterday.
We unfurl the jib and sail away from anchor, Reggie naked at the helm (WARNING!  Do not try to imagine this!). The old genoa carries us along nicely until we change headings, then we partially furl and we are making 4+ knots. We came to the Bahamas to sail. This is it. For a couple of hours, all is well. Now we have to turn more into the wind, no more sailing, but we get to crash into the wind and sea. (“Hitting cows” as Craig would say.) It is very slow going and uncomfortable, and there would be many more hours of it. We did not come to the Bahamas for this.
We looked for the closest stop to anchor, as we will not make it as far as we had planned for this day. Nothing looks that good. We turn around and partially unfurl the jib to get another hour of sailing. We are back at Great Sale Cay, but a different anchorage. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

“You roll the genny out
You furl the genny in
You roll the genny out
And you’re sailing once again
The waves and winds are heavy so back to Great Sale Cay you're bound.
That’s what its all about!”

Repeat chorus.

SV Barnacle has volunteered to give a weather update early in the morning to any of the dozen or more boats which have ended their day in this anchorage.  We are currently protected from wind driven waves from the SE, but things are going to change.  We plan on heading out early to try again for Green Turtle Cay.

We have a reasonable day of motor sailing to Green Turtle Cay.  Stardust is already there and lets us know the anchoring is very poor in Black Sound so we pick up a $10 per night mooring and hoist the yellow quarantine flag.  Tempus Fugit.  It is 20 minutes to 5 by the time Reggie leaves for New Provicence to clear in with Customs and Immigrations.  Barbara must stay on board.  A quick trip to the public dock in the electric dinghy, a fast hike over the hill, questions of strangers on where to go, walk right past it and need more directions, a very nice lady officer, 5 sheets of forms, copies of boat registration and passports, and $300 and we are legal!