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!


lots of boats along the ICW.  I like some of the names:

Where DID the money GO?!

enough power?

Apparently not.  And, as if 900 horsepower wasn't enough, I tried to take a picture of one with 3 X 350 = 1050 horsepower but I wasn't quick enough.  It was named "Hold On"

Views along the Intra Coastal Waterway

a quaint little cottage

Views along the waterway.

Add caption
 Sometimes these views are at the same location on opposite sides of the boat.

guards making sure we pass through the bridge correctly

some of the scenery is outstanding

people are very inventive when it comes to their choice of on-the-water home

I enjoy boat names.

boat condos?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

By jiminy

We built a bimini!

We’ll probably make modifications, but it sure makes a difference when the sun is hot.  And it has full standing headroom for me and shelters the companionway, too

Folks have been asking for pictures and a few have been included below.

the new Garhauer traveler

 in this picture can be seen things we have installed over time:  new kifelines and stanchions, standing rigging, handrails, 9 of the small opening ports, the chimney for the heater, solar vent, paint touchup on mast and boom, new to us mainsail, mast winch

new mast step plate and external wiring

new furler drum and line, and new to us 45 lb CQR anchor
From a distance she looks pretty good for a 44 year old sailboat.  The next batch of pictures should show beautiful southern scenes.

The repairs and modifications are done.  We've decided not to stop again for a while.  Each time we stop it costs a lot of money.  But the work was well done, and thank heavens the wind is free.

We went to a pot luck this evening at the marina next door and met lots of nice folks.  Dennis the Irishman was in charge of the main meal and made delicious corned beef and boiled veggies which included rutabagas, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, onions, and maybe more. 

Barbara thanked everyone for throwing such a nice bon voyage party for us.  We leave in the morning!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The saga continues

The engine repair is completed.  We are having some additional work done tomorrow, but should be traveling again by Tuesday. We have continued to putter on projects while delayed, however yesterday was a red letter day for Barbara.

Old curtains and old cushions

new curtains and new temporary cushions
 More pictures at the end.

Our time dwindles.  We have a few days travel and then must wait for the weather to cooperate for us to cross the gulf stream.  Then, we must allow time to travel back to where the boat will be hauled for storage.  And, we must allow time to wait for proper weather for crossing back over the gulf stream.  This lead to the start of discussions this morning about when would we decide to go/not go to the Bahamas.  Projects and problems have put us almost a month behind our hoped for schedule dreamed up when we were planning this trip.

We have to be back in Gainsville on 4/22 to catch our flight to Spokane at 5:25 AM on the 23rd.  

As we continue south, we have a stop planned in Stuart to see Kirk.  We should be there Wednesday afternoon.  Travel Thursday would get us to the jumping off spot around West Palm Beach, Fl.  However, it looks like the weather changes this weekend to make crossing the gulf stream a bad idea.  We could be waiting for days.  Would a worst case have us crossing over around March 20th or later?

When we come back, if we go back to Green Cove Springs, we must allow up to a week for travel AFTER crossing back to Florida from the Bahamas.  We should allow at least a week to adjust for a weather window for a crossing.  That means we should plan on trying to cross back starting around the 7th of April.

Tentative worst case has us only being able to spend 2 ½ weeks in the Abacos, baring other delays or problems.  Is that worth it?  So far, we say yes.  But, rest assured, the question will be revisited.

We are anxious to do the crossing.  We want to see the Abacos.  We have friends cruising there we would like to try to join.  We think we have done everything needed to get the boat ready.  This would be a shakedown cruise for next time.  We deserve it!!!!

So, thanks for “listening” to the discussion. We are a little closer to a plan now.

For now we are cruising the Florida coast, because where ever you go, there you are. Yesterday, we walked to town to visit the farmers market. We could have purchased fresh produce from Mexico and Guatemala. Isn't it amazing how far a farmer will go to sell produce?

We walked through a couple of neighborhoods and read about some of the historical houses. Back on the boat, as Reggie mentioned, I drug out my flea market machine and ‘clanked’ the curtains together. Reggie worked on our bimini. Al and Missy graciously picked him up for a run to West Marine for the needed pieces. Today we will continue work on it. The weather is warming up, so we will be happy to have some shade. Tonight we are going to check out the Celtic Song Fest. Corned beef and cabbage dinner will also be available. Let the fun continue!

our view from the boat towards the Melbourne Yacht Club clubhouse.  Pretty nice digs.

more of our surroundings while at the yacht club

peroxide pelican?

Friday, March 8, 2013

We've moved

Today we moved from the Melbourne Yacht Club to Eau Gallie Boatworks, courtesy of Tow Boat US.  We greatly appreciate the hospitality of MYC.  Every one there is most gracious.  However, we had to leave.  MYC is repairing their docks and are starting with the outboard ends which is where we were tied.  They are also having racing events this weekend and need all their available dock space.

Eau Gallie Boatworks is the local distributor and repair facility for our brand engine.  When Ed came to our boat this morning to do the repair, he found he needed tools he only had available at the boatyard.  This became an additional reason for us to move.

The parts requiring attention were removed quickly after arriving at the club.  The problem is a little more difficult than expected and may require either a machine shop or an additional new part.

And now it is the weekend.  So, I guess we get to sit parked for a few more days.  As Barbara was informed this morning, a cruiser’s plans are carved in jello.

We’ll go to a farmer’s market tomorrow morning and then work on a boat project or two.  Barbara might even sew some curtains!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

while we wait

while we wait

some of the wildlife here
new skipper for our dinghy

and crew

they steal fish and baited hooks from fishermen.  look at hook and line in corner of mouth.from fishermen

hard to take pictures of underwater animals

two breathing at once.  Manatees don't breath very often.  but they don't do much else very often either.

Barbara servicing winch number 3 while we wait.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Lemonade from lemons

Lemonade from Lemons

Yesterday we headed to Melbourne to accept Al’s gracious offer to tie up at the Melbourne Yacht Club for the night. It was still pretty cold, but the wind was more at our backs, so it was a much more comfortable ride.

We are making good time, so it may be a fairly short day.

Then…the engine starts making a new and different noise. Check it out, but can’t see anything wrong. But it gets worse, so shut down the engine and Reggie climbs into the hole for a closer look. Hmmm. A bolt lying on top of the battery box? Oh, and here is another one. Two sheared bolts, not really a good thing. There is the first lemon.

Squeeze it, add a little sugar and we are sailing for the first time this trip! Not very fast, but at least the wind is not on the nose. We are able to sail into the harbor, but the wind is a little too fluky, and the harbor quite narrow, so we slowly idle to the dock.

The Melbourne Yacht Club is nice and the people are friendly. Another glass of lemonade, with showers to boot. Al takes us to get our new fenders pumped up and pick up a few groceries. Once Missy is finished with the Yacht Club Board Meeting we all go out for a tasty dinner.

Today we are waiting for the mechanic to arrive. There is one right here in Melbourne, as luck would have it! Thank you, I would like another glass of lemonade. Projects are getting checked off of our list while we wait for the engine dealer mechanic to show up. 

However the sweetest glass for me is the wildlife here in the harbor. Manatees are real! We have looked and looked for them in our travels and never seen one. We had finally concluded that they were snipes. There are so many here! I never get tired of watching them swim by Submit. There are also dolphins and tons of pelicans. I was entertained for an hour or so by a young man in his little boat fishing here. He pulled in maybe 20 fish. He never sat down, just cast his line and reeled it in.  When he hooked a fish the pelican would try to get it away from him. He would yell at them, wave his arms and sometimes even push them off of his boat. One got tangled in his line during one of the scrimmages. No one was concerned. The pelican just calmly waited while the fisherman untangled him and then pushed him overboard. It was quite an action packed show.  Oh, yes, occasionally he would want to move just a short distance, so he grabbed his snow shovel to paddle to where he wanted to be. I was sorry to see him go.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

An old saw

There is an old saw…

And why were those old sayings called saws?

Anyway, the saw says head south until the butter melts.  Well, we’re not there yet.  If we had any butter on board, you would need a chisel to get any off the block.  It was cold and windy day today.  Last night and tonight carry freeze warnings.  Sure would like some melted butter!  But, we are farther south and getting nearer to toast heaven.

She's ready now to come out of the boat to help raise anchor

We are at anchor tonight just south of the Titusville, FL bridge.  There is a small fire in the heat stove (we’ve yet to figure out fuel mixtures for it), and the spaghetti and Chateau l’Carton was tasty.  Barbara gave me a cribbage lesson and now we relax.

Yesterday we stopped in Daytona to See Mike and Diane and their recent shipwreck.  It breaks a sailor’s heart to see a pretty boat with a hole in the bottom and the insides moldering away after being flooded.  So many things were ruined by the salt water.  However, 15 gallons of diesel were still good and they gave it to us.  Thanks again!  They are hardy souls who are already planning on their next boat.
When visiting them, we tied up to the next door restaurant’s dock.  After viewing the carnage we went to said restaurant for lunch.  By the time lunch was over, a stiff wind had come up pinning us hard against the dock.  We could have figured out how to get away from the dock, but at the risk of possible damage to “Submit” and/or other boats nearby.  So, we decided to wait for the wind to abate, which it did not until after dark.  The night at the dock was OK, but we left as soon as we could this morning in part because similar winds were predicted for today and we did not want to be pinned again. (The truth is I was worried and Reggie graciously agreed to stay put. It was no better this morning and so we followed his plan, which worked very well. All would have been fine if we had pushed off last night. Oh me of little faith.)

Night before last we anchored near shore and inflated the dinghy. This gave us our first dinghy ride with the electric trolling motor for propulsion.  We landed near lots of signs warning of no trespassing on private property.  A nice staff person at a condo complex gave us permission as long as it was only going to be a couple hours. Mike and Diane picked us up and went for dinner.

Continuing on backwards. We anchored by the Matanzas Fort. It was really quite beautiful and I planned to take a picture of it in the sunset for this post. However, it was east of us and the sun didn’t set behind it. What’s up with that?

Our first anchorage (after really leaving Green Cove Springs) was at the mouth of the St. John’s River. It was quite entertaining with numerous dolphins swimming around us and the HUGE ships passing close by. I did take a picture of some dolphins, but they are on my iphone and I don’t know how to transfer them to this. You will just have to picture those non-pictures in your mind. Enjoy.

Some of our scenery is included below:

one of our beautiful sunsets (look closely for dolphins)

condomoneyums, for boats, too!

Open Sesame for us

local decorations.  I wonder if they ever catch anything besides tourists?

This jerk came roaring past us with his 20 ft high rooster tail almost drenching us

Bird Island?

small screened in porches for evening enjoyment
We see areas where one side of the waterway is is almost impenetrable and wild and undeveloped.  The opposite side may have multi-million dollar homes next to old shacks next to modest homes next to fishing camps full of RV's, and boats of all kinds everywhere.  

And one mystery: why is it only males like spam?  I thought buttermilk pancakes with bacon Spam made a fine breakfast last Saturday when combined with fresh local grapefruit and fresh percolator coffee.