Friday, April 18, 2014

The Passage back


It has been a long time since we have written up a report. It is not that we haven’t been thinking about you, it just that we have been so busy!

After leaving Marsh Harbor, we sailed around The Whale and anchored off of No Name Cay, one of my favorite places from last year. We dinghied into the lagoon, but unlike last year did not see an octopus or a turtle or really anything. I still like it! We found a place to beach and walk over to the ocean side. Lots of stuff washed up, but mostly plastic garbage. It was still fun! We then walked the beach on the Abaco side to pick up a conch shell. There were tons of them last year, none this year. It is still one of my favorite places!

The forecast had been for several days of benign weather, so our plan was to do some island hopping as we worked our way north and west for the crossing over the gulf stream back to Florida. However, when we checked the weather the next morning, the forecast had changed dramatically-strong winds from a totally different direction. We headed to Green Turtle Cay. We decided to splurge and tie up at the Leeward Yacht Club rather than pick up a mooring ball.  It wasn’t as much of a splurge as we anticipated. Since I had not had a real shower since leaving the states, it was worth the extra cost. It turned out that it was only about ten dollars more than the mooring balls. Our dock neighbors were friendly and helpful, the shower was great, the pool was beautiful. We didn’t use the pool, go the restaurant or use the laundry, but we would certainly go there again!

We had heard there was going to be a grilled steak or chicken dinner fund raiser for the school on Sat. night, so we walked the mile or so around to the basketball court. I think the cruisers are the main attendees, but we had grilled steak, baked potato, corn, coleslaw and, wait for it….Guava Duff! Let me try to describe guava duff to those who have not had any. I think that the dough is maybe steamed and was somewhere between cake and biscuit.  There were a few pieces of guava in the dough. It was topped with chopped guava in Cream Cheese(?) or maybe Whipped Cream. It was so sweet and rich that a few bites were enough for me at any one time.  I nibbled on mine for a couple days.

The next morning, we checked the weather again and the report was favorable for the passage for the next two and a half days, then not so good for the foreseeable future. After much discussion and figuring out how long it would take and what time we wanted to arrive in Fort Pierce, we pulled away around 10:00 AM to go straight through.

The wind was still pretty brisk and we sailed with just the genoa, and that was partially furled some of the time. As we approached Great Sale Cay, a popular spot for boats to anchor before or after a crossing, we heard some other boats heading our way. We gradually caught up to them and all of left left the Bahamas bank around 3 AM. The wind died, as was predicted. With little wind and moderate seas, the sail wouldn’t stay full. We turned on the iron genny to save undo wear and tear. We arrived at the entrance to Fort Pierce earlier than we had hoped. Last year we came in as the tide was going out and it was the worst experience I have ever had on this boat. We were an hour to an hour and a half early, so the tide was still going out. In our wisdom (or lack thereof), we figured that it was close enough to slack that braving the entrance wouldn’t be too bad. We were right, it wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t too good either! Again, it was the worst part of the trip.

When doing a long passage we take turns at the helm in two hour watches, steering and watching over the boat. (did Reggie mention the autopilot died?) For some reason, neither one of us had been able to sleep during the passage. Once we dropped the anchor around 3 PM on Monday we crashed!

We have not moved “Submit” from where we anchored upon arrival.  Riverside Marina, where we will put Submit to bed has no slips available and we are not scheduled to be pulled until the 23rd.  The weather has not been great, windy and rainy and the water is not nearly as pretty, but time on the boat is pretty much the same. We have taken the dingy to town twice. Once to visit the marina, check in at the airport and have lunch. Today we dinghied in again to join for lunch some friends we met in Warderick Wells. The rest of the time we have been working on boat projects, reading, playing cards, etc.

Over the years we have accumulated many things we needed or might need. For the last couple of days we have gone through EVERY storage area. We had four piles. 1. Go to the garbage, yes, we have been hauling stuff that is best thrown away. There is a big black garbage sack and a 5 gallon bucket. 2. Give away. There is a large plastic bin and 5 gallon bucket, both over flowing. 3. Take home.  A large plastic bin, also over flowing. 4. Re-stow.  Next time we are back on Submit, I bet we will want something from pile 1, 2 or 3. Reggie will just look at me, shrug and say, “You wanted to get rid of it.” In my defense, it is going to be so much easier to find what we do have.

The pork chops sizzle in the skillet. The thunder storm blows past without getting to us.  The wine is poured.  The sun sets. We swing lazily at anchor.  Life is good.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mikey the chicken chaser


Mikey the Chicken Chaser

The winds calmed down and were forecasted to blow from the NE for the next several days. With that in mind, we decided not to continue further north in the Exumas.  We will head back to Rock Sound, Spanish Wells and then back to the Abacos for our trip across to Florida. We are a little earlier than we need to be, but it is time to move.

When the wind calms, it calms, so it was a motor/sail. We dropped anchor and relaxed. The next day we went into Rock Sound to see if we could find the wafer fan for our head and to do some laundry. We got directions from the cruiser to the laundry, but were also told that when a local sees us with our laundry, they will point the way. We, being luckier than most, received a personal guide. Mikey, a native of indeterminate age with an absolutely hairless head except for about 6 curly white eyebrow hairs above each eye, was walking down the street towards us and stopped to say, “You need 3T’s. I need bread. Come with me, I show you.”  I never did figure out how showing us to 3T’s wasn’t out of his way since he had been going in the opposite direction. At one point he saw some chickens and told us this story: “When I was young, I trained for the 100 yard dash by chasing the chickens. I chased them all the way past the service station until they got to tired and fell down. Then I put them in the bag. I go home and my granny say, ‘where you been?’ I hold up my chicken and say, ‘I got Kentucky!’ Then I go get another one.”

At the laundry there are washing machines available, but a waiting line for the dryers. We load our clothes in the washers and the lovely attendant assures us it is ok to go to lunch. We gave her permission to take our things out of the machine if she needed it for someone else.

Lunch at Sammie’s was very good, but our waitress was the best. She loved Reggie’s sense of humor and told him if he would come back tomorrow she would have Guava Duff for desert and pay him a quarter for every joke. Lucky for her, we headed to Spanish Wells the next day.

We had noticed a sign advertising Guava Dough next to Sammies, so we stopped there after lunch. We walked in the door and up to the counter. There was a woman busy cleaning and she didn’t notice us come in.  We waited awhile and then cleared our throat, which scared her to death. She explained that she had to keep everything clean for when the inspectors showed up. We asked for Guava Duff and she said, “I’ll look, but I think it left.” As she searched her freezer and refrigerator, she told us about her daughter, the master chef, who experimented with everything. She hoped we would be there for Easter when her daughter would be there. After searching and talking, she finally told us that all the Duff had left. Strike two.

Our clothes were washed and ready to go into the dryer. Now we have another wait, but no one was waiting for a dryer, so we had time to go to visit the Ocean Hole.  This is a park built around a 600 foot deep hole from the ocean. It is difficult to describe. It looks like a pond, but it is connected to the ocean underground. It is possible to swim in it and that is something I would like to do some time. There were ‘pet’ fish visible. I heard that there were some caves on the outskirts of town, so I’m thinking this is a cave turned sideways.

An ear had been bothering me for several days.  I had a slight ear ache that morning and it continued to get worst, so we decided to visit the clinic. When we walked in, we saw rows of chairs with some people sitting in them. I asked one of the women if I should just sit down and wait for the doctor. She said yes, but then added that I should check in and pointed to a door. I went to the door, but there was no one there, so I just waited by the desk. The woman called out and someone came out of an adjoining room and asked if she could help me. I explained that I had an ear ache. She asked if I wanted to see the Dr. “Yes”. Fill out this form. Not so easy- local address? Phone number? Fortunately, she didn’t really care. Reggie paid the $30 fee for the doctor and we sat down to wait. When it was my turn, I went into his office, got some ear drops, $12, and then checked with our personal physicians, Ben and Stacey, by email when back at the boat.  As we were waiting to see the Dr. and watching the TV there was much discussion about the missing Malaysian airplane.  I don’t know if that is big news everywhere, but it certainly is big news here.

We had a great sail to Spanish Wells.  To our surprise, Kelly and Jason of Chance, whom we met in Hope Town, were in Spanish Wells. They have been there for a couple of weeks waiting for parts. We had a really fun evening with them on Submit and then we dingied down to see them the next day before leaving for Royal Island. They are a really fun couple. Check out their blog at www.sailing chance.com.

Sailed to Royal Island and then joined the 50+ mile open ocean boat parade to Lynyards Cay in the Abacos the next morning.  More often than not there is no wind or wind from the wrong direction. This was no wind. We experimented with sails with no real solution. They mostly slatted and banged and did not help in any fashion.

Next stop, Marsh Harbor, where we plan to wait out the next front. Marsh Harbor has good holding  for our anchor and many on shore facilities. We went ashore for the wafer fan search and scored! Stopped at our favorite bakery for Guava Duff and failed. Strike three. Lunch at Mangoes was delicious, but their internet connection did not work on the boat. L

We are anchored next to Mambo. That is the boat that Uncle Dev was on in Hatchet Bay. Bruce came over and we had a delightful evening getting to know him.

Then the weather came. The wind was too much for our wind generator, so I got up to shut it down. Later Reggie got up to close a hatch that was banging. Then it started raining, so we got up to close all the port light (windows). Then the wind clocked as predicted, which meant the fetch was much longer, so we started the rock and roll. Today was spent sleeping, eating, reading and playing cards. We feel blessed, as one boat came into the harbor with a broken mast.

The forecast is predicting moderate to high winds from the NE for the next few days. We will look at our cruising guide to see if there is some place that would be comfortable and fun. Tomorrow I hope to go to town to get some food.  Creative cooking from a can might be getting old.  

Saturday, March 29, 2014

windy wait in Warderick Wells


Windy Wait in Warderick Wells

We arrived in Warderick Wells on Saturday late afternoon. On Sunday we did a loop walk up to Boo Boo Hill, which was mentioned in a previous post. The snorkeling was postponed due to some minor after effects of the midnight bad alcohol misadventure. Monday afternoon we went ‘next boat’ to visit with Diane and Warren on Kalara II. They are from Nova Scotia and have spent much time around here. To our surprise and delight, Warren used to own a Cal T2. He is also a racer.

On Tuesday, we awoke to rain, so we washed the deck, took showers and collected a few gallons of water. Diane and Warren came over for some cribbage and they showed us some of their favorite places to visit on the Exuma charts. The wind generator is working hard.

Wednesday is another windy day, a good day to hike. Our plan was to follow the trails that go from beach to beach on the bank side and hopefully go as far as the ‘adventurer’s’ ruins. We had to start out by following the trails we took on Sunday as far as Shady Tree Trail, which is a nice easy walk through thick palm trees. That took us to the other side of the island, which is mostly cliffs and crashing seas. We followed rock carins  as best as we could, but did not see the trail back to the bank side. Turns out that was a good thing. The hike along the cliffs was spectacular. We didn’t know there was a trail down that side of the island. Maybe because it isn’t really a trail? We finally came to the ‘Wall’, which reminded us of the rock walls on the islands on Croatia. We never did figure out what their purpose was. The ruins reminded us of the little stone ‘house’ remains we found in Majorca. We are now on the banks side and picked our way down the trail to the first beach. Had we not gotten lost and attempted the ‘beach walk’ first, we would have decided that it was not for us. The trails between the beaches were often nonexistent. We had to squeeze through thick foliage, being careful not to brush up against a Poisonwood tree. We scrambled over black limestones that are rough and sharp. They look a lot like lava rock. We climbed up and down hills on our hands and knees. All in all it was a great day.

The next day was R&R.  My feet and legs were fine, but I kept falling asleep. Reggie is reading a book out loud and that always puts me to sleep. I don’t understand that, as I love it when he reads to me. We watched a movie and crashed.

The next morning we awoke to windy weather. Diane and Warren had been worried about us, as they had not seen us. They had called us on the cruiser’s party line telephone, more commonly known as VHS, and gotten no response. The constant chatter had been too much, so we would turn ours off occasionally. We ate an early dinner and then joined them on Kalara II for chatting and a game of Farkle. I am happy to report that I am the Queen of Farkle.

Today I convinced Reggie to help me clean our ‘garage’ (the V berth). That was a big job and took most of the morning. We then took the dingy into the park headquarters to pay for a couple more nights and some internet. No real idea when we might leave here. Maybe Sunday. We are able to purchase 24 hours 100 mgs of data of internet for $15. It turns out that doing a post eats up most of it. This may or may not get posted, and if so, not any time soon. If you don’t see it, it didn’t get posted. Ha, ha.

About once a month, I ‘refresh’ our composting head. It was a little early, but it was sending out hints that it might be time. Much to my dismay, we discovered the problem was the little fan was not working. A wire had disconnected. No problem, in our wisdom we had acquired an extra. Aren’t we smart? Unfortunately, both wires on the replacement fan had corroded.  My McIver worked and worked. I’m hoping that sleeping on it will work again, but not much hope.

the cure for the itch


3/24/14

Last night was a bit of a rough night.  I awoke from a deep sleep a little after midnight, hearing a strange sound and feeling thirsty.  While heading for the companionway to check out the noise, my groggy eyes spotted two bottles, one of which was my water bottle.  I continued to the companionway steps, looking out to see if anything was unusual and reached for my water bottle.  As I raised it, I felt and heard it slosh.  I removed the lid and tipped it up for a big swallow of 91% isopropyl alcohol. 

I had reached for the bottle from memory, handled it by habit, never looking at it.  What would have been the second swallow was spit out and the coughing and spitting began.  The alcohol had been left out because of its supposed ability to relieve the itch from sand fly bites if applied externally.  There was no itching felt now.

I grabbed the water bottle, rinsed and spit and then drank a pint of water.  After a little contemplation and urging, I leaned over the side and stuck my fingers down my throat, expelling as much as I could.  All my life I had heard of that maneuver but never used it.  I did not want to, but thought it better than leaving the poison inside me.

I fired up the computer to research treatment options.  “Get thou to professional medical attention post haste” or words to that effect.  Hard to do from a sailboat in the middle of nowhere.  Oh, and don’t induce vomiting. Hmm.

We looked through the boat for first aid information but found none.  Both of thought we had a good first aid reference aboard.  Memo to self.

I called for any medically trained folks on VHF channel 16, the hailing channel.  There were about 30 boats in the area, give or take, but none responded at this late hour.  There is a handful of staff on Warderick Wells Cay who monitor channel 16 while working to assist with emergencies, no response.

We tried to remember recommended treatments for ingestion of bad “stuff”.  I thought of charcoal tablets but wasn’t sure if that was correct in this situation and besides, we have none.  I elected not to tear open a water filter.  “eat bread” but for what?  “drink milk”, but for what?  We weren’t sure, so I ate some bread and drank some milk and more water. 

My son and daughter-in-law were probably needlessly worried because my next step was to email them for medical advice.  I lost internet before they could respond.  As of today, I seem to be doing ok, just some chest congestion and a raw throat.  And a little tired.  It was a fairly long night.

sailing 3-21-2014


Friday 21 March, 2014 was a nice sailing day.  We hoisted the main at anchor and motor-sailed out of Governor’s Harbor.  Most of the trip to Rock Sound was a broad reach with 2-3 ft following seas.  As we turned up into the Harbor, it became a spirited close reach.

We anchored a couple hundred yards off shore along the town.  As we settled in for sundowners, music began playing (loudly) from a local watering hole located next to Papa Site liquor store.  It is evidently popular late into the night.  I had never before heard the Caribbean version of “Stagger Lee”.

Saturday morning we were up ready for our 40 plus nautical mile ride to Warderick Wells. (Unusual for us.) However, also slightly unusual for us, we had two different visitors, so we were delayed an hour or so.  We raised the main at anchor and motor-sailing for a while just to charge the batteries.  We shut the engine down around 10 am and set sail for Warderick Wells Cay in the Exumas,  another enjoyable broad reach with 2-3 ft seas.  The forecast predicted winds and seas diminishing throughout the day.  Instead they built.  Seas became 5-6 with the occasional odd one.  We decided to reef the main in part to see if my reefing system would be workable.  It is, but it needs some fine tuning.  Several years ago a retired sailmaker told us that when you think it is time to reef, don’t even bother with the first reef.  Go right to the second.  Well, the second reef is all I had set up, so we took his advice.  It must have been good advice because the boat ran along nicely averaging 6.5 knots with occasional bursts over 7 while being driven by a double reefed main and a worn out roller furling 130% genoa.

Warderick Wells Cay is the home of the headquarters of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park which I think I remember being told is the first of its kind in the world.  Google the park for some interesting info.  We hoped to stay there a few days but weren’t sure there would be a mooring available since they usually are reserved at least a day in advance and they tell us that for some reason this has been a very busy season there.  Luck was with us and we were tied up by about 4:30 pm.  We decided to skip the Saturday night cruisers gathering sponsored by the park.  We were a little tired and we were at the farthest out mooring, well down wind and down current of the gathering spot.  Discretion dictated not trying it with our inflatable dinghy and electric trolling motor.  Too small a dinghy motor can be a liability in the Bahamas if you really want to see and do everything.

The gathering spot is on the beach next to a 52 ft sperm whale skeleton which died in 1995 from consuming plastic.  Even though we could not go, I was inspired or cursed.  You decide.  I think this should be sung at these gatherings in the future.  (Apologies in advance to Randy Travis.)

                                “Ahab had his Moby Dick, we all knew Shamu.

                                Exumas Land and Sea Park is the place to go, its cool!

                                They’re preserving nature so its there for me and you

                                But tonight I’m drinking with cruisers, diggin up bones.

                                Diggin up bones, Diggin up bones.

(point to whale) Exhuming things that’s better left alone

(plug nose)         Resurrecting memories of a whale that’s dead and gone.

(raise glass)        Tonight I’m drinking with cruisers, diggin up bones!”

 

How long have we been out in this hot sun?

I was particularly delighted when Barbara found the chart chips for our GPS.  We were pretty sure they were on board somewhere but had not been able to find them.  It is great to have current charts on the GPS instead of 20 year old paper charts.  Thank you Mr. Conner!

We decided to join as sponsors of the Bahamas National Trust, the non-profit which manages this park and others in the Bahamas such as the Levi Preserve we visited a couple days ago.  It also gives us priority for moorings.  Then we hiked around a portion of the park.  Pictures won’t do credit to what we saw.

We stopped for a snack and rest atop Boo Boo Hill.  A long time ago a ship crashed on the shore and all souls were lost.  It is said at the right times you can hear the dead singing boo boo.

Also on the hilltop is what at first glance looks like a trash heap.  It is drift wood hauled to the top by visiting cruisers, annotating their visit.  It begs a discussion about appropriateness.

We plan to do some more hiking of the island trails and some snorkeling before moving on.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Warderick Wells Cay


Our internet connection is excruciatingly slow tonight so we will have to add photos to this later. 
Friday 21 March, 2014 was a nice sailing day.  We hoisted the main at anchor and motor-sailed out of Governor’s Harbor.  Most of the trip to Rock Sound was a broad reach with 2-3 ft following seas.  As we turned up into the Harbor, it became a spirited close reach.

We anchored a couple hundred yards off shore along the town.  As we settled in for sundowners, music began playing (loudly) from a local watering hole located next to Papa Site liquor store.  It is evidently popular late into the night.  I had never before heard the Caribbean version of “Stagger Lee”.

Saturday morning we were up ready for our 40 plus nautical mile ride to Warderick Wells. (Unusual for us.) However, also slightly unusual for us, we had two different visitors, so we were delayed an hour or so.  We raised the main at anchor and motor-sailing for a while just to charge the batteries.  We shut the engine down around 10 am and set sail for Warderick Wells Cay in the Exumas,  another enjoyable broad reach with 2-3 ft seas.  The forecast predicted winds and seas diminishing throughout the day.  Instead they built.  Seas became 5-6 with the occasional odd one.  We decided to reef the main in part to see if my reefing system would be workable.  It is, but it needs some fine tuning.  Several years ago a retired sailmaker told us that when you think it is time to reef, don’t even bother with the first reef.  Go right to the second.  Well, the second reef is all I had set up, so we took his advice.  It must have been good advice because the boat ran along nicely averaging 6.5 knots with occasional bursts over 7 while being driven by a double reefed main and a worn out roller furling 130% genoa.

Warderick Wells Cay is the home of the headquarters of the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park which I think I remember being told is the first of its kind in the world.  Google the park for some interesting info.  We hoped to stay there a few days but weren’t sure there would be a mooring available since they usually are reserved at least a day in advance and they tell us that for some reason this has been a very busy season there.  Luck was with us and we were tied up by about 4:30 pm.  We decided to skip the Saturday night cruisers gathering sponsored by the park.  We were a little tired and we were at the farthest out mooring, well down wind and down current of the gathering spot.  Discretion dictated not trying it with our inflatable dinghy and electric trolling motor.  Too small a dinghy motor can be a liability in the Bahamas if you really want to see and do everything.

The gathering spot is on the beach next to a 52 ft sperm whale skeleton which died in 1995 from consuming plastic.  Even though we could not go, I was inspired or cursed.  You decide.  I think this should be sung at these gatherings in the future.  (Apologies in advance to Randy Travis.)

                                “Ahab had his Moby Dick, we all knew Shamu.

                                Exumas Land and Sea Park is the place to go, its cool!

                                They’re preserving nature so its there for me and you

                                But tonight I’m drinking with cruisers, diggin up bones.

                                Diggin up bones, Diggin up bones.

(point to whale) Exhuming things that’s better left alone

(plug nose)         Resurrecting memories of a whale that’s dead and gone.

(raise glass)        Tonight I’m drinking with cruisers, diggin up bones!”

 

How long have we been out in this hot sun?

I was particularly delighted when Barbara found the chart chips for our GPS.  We were pretty sure they were on board somewhere but had not been able to find them.  It is great to have current charts on the GPS instead of 20 year old paper charts.  Thank you Mr. Conner!

We decided to join as sponsors of the Bahamas National Trust, the non-profit which manages this park and others in the Bahamas such as the Levy Preserve we visited a couple days ago.  It also gives us priority for moorings.  Then we hiked around a portion of the park.  Pictures won’t do credit to what we saw.

We stopped for a snack and rest atop Boo Boo Hill.  A long time ago a ship crashed on the shore and all souls were lost.  It is said at the right times you can hear the dead singing boo boo.

Also on the hilltop is what at first glance looks like a trash heap.  It is drift wood hauled to the top by visiting cruisers, annotating their visit.  It begs a discussion about appropriateness.

We plan to do some more hiking of the island trails and some snorkeling before moving on.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Tamarind?


We recently read a post from a couple of cruisers in Florida who were talking about how their life on board was just their life and often forgot that it was, in fact, different from life on land. I’m beginning to relate to that statement. This is just our life for awhile, so it becomes difficult sometimes to write an update. Yes, things happen every day, as it does in everyone’s life, but would anyone really want to hear all about it? We do maintenance chores and cleaning. We go for walks and talk to people.

 

 

 

 

 
OK, so what we see on our walks may be different and we don’t have close friends here. We make transient friends and talk to strangers. So, I will try to see the last few days with new eyes.

The hardware store/service station where we were trying to rent a car in Alice Town had sacks of peanutty looking things in the back, so I asked the lovely lady what they were.
“Tamarind.” “I don’t know what that is.” We followed her back to the sacks and she dug out a few and peeled one, removing the pod shell, and handed me a ‘seed’.  “Eat it?” I asked. “Yes, it is sort of sour, but good. Don’t eat the seed.” What the hey? I popped it into my mouth. “Yumm.” She smiled and said, “The sauce is better.” “What is that?” She disappeared and came back with a cup and spoon. She opening the refrigerator and scooped out some sauce into the cup for us. Totally yummy! (The tamarind seed has a thin fuzzy outside which is the part we tasted and which creates the sauce.  It appears to take a lot of seeds to make the sauce.)  As we weren’t headed back to the boat for awhile, we told her we could buy some when we returned the car. Since no car materialized in her town, no sauce.

One evening, while sharing Sundowners on Miss Grace, The “Liberty Clipper” came into Hatchet Bay. Pretty impressive. 
(Tamarind and Liberty Clipper are internet searches for you to do when you have the time from your busy day.)  We saw her several times as we wended our way south.

A rental car never became available in Alice Town. We tried again in Governor’s harbor. We stopped at a service station just to ask directions and the mechanic there took time to call everyone he knew who might have a car to rent. He called about 3 or 4 and then said, “I have one more idea.” And called them. Then again, “I have one more idea.” That happened maybe 10 times, until he finally got a hit. That man said he would deliver the car to us in about 10 minutes. We signed the paper on the hood of the car. The car was a Chevy Lumina of indeterminate age with 212,750 miles on it.  Most of them showed prominently.  It was a mere $75 per day.  We booked one day.

Two things that differ living on our boat from on land, the importance of weather and conservation.  Every morning, if we have any internet or single sideband radio reception, we check the weather. Once we have the report, we look at the charts and decide where we want to be next.  It looks like a good day to head to Governor’s Harbor. We had an awesome sail, but had some trouble getting the anchor to ‘hook’.  Fortunately, very light winds were expected for a few days, so we felt we would be OK.  As for conservation, I don’t wish to gross anyone out, but water is a premium for us. Laundry is done about once a month. We wear the same clothes for a week. Showers happen once a week. Some how, here, that seems just about right.

As I mentioned earlier, we scored a car. First stop, Levi Nature Preserve.  A lovely lady gave us much information about the plants, bugs, birds and snakes we might see as we walked through the preserve.  As we strolled through the 17 miles (actually, we found out later it was just around 2 miles, but who’s counting) of dense forest, we saw no snakes and few timid birds and hungry turtles.
The lady at the welcome station was delightful. She talked a lot about ‘bush medicine’ her grandmother forced her to take and taught her how to use. She offered us samples of two “medicinal” herbal teas were very tasty.  I don’t think they offer the gross ones.

We headed back north. Driving in the Bahama’s is also a little different. Our car, as is most we have seen, was a left hand drive, but you drive on the left here. The roads are narrow and I had several occasions where I thought we were going to side swipe the oncoming car. 

After our walking tour of the Levi Preserve, I was hungry! We stopped at the first local looking spot. Kel-D’s café and bar, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, beer, rum, etc. There were several men at the bar and most of them where occupied with their cell phones. One man had his ear phones on and was singing along to Randy Travis “Digging Up Bones”.  He emptied his flask and demanded an audience. A friend finally pulled out is ear phones and he left. The rest of them, watched videos on their phones. I guess some things are the same worldwide. Lunch was very good.

Next stop was a roadside produce stand where we read about buying locally grown produce and fresh baked goods. We picked out some mangos (not local) some onions and a couple dillies. We had heard about dillies at the Preserve, so we had to try them. The woman there was very interested in us and at one point she asked, “What is extraordinary about you?” That stumped us!  “Social? I feel connected to you. That doesn’t always happen.” We gave her our blog address and she was pleased. “I’ll read all about you tonight.” She had bread and guava duff in the works, but not ready yet. We told her we would stop by on our way back for some guava duff, whatever that is.

Next stop was back at the tamarind sauce place.  Of course we had to buy some!

We drove up to the Glass Window, a natural bridge which was destroyed and then replaced with a man made one. Not too impressive this day because the sea and weather were calm. Sometimes they close the bridge because waves crash over it and wash vehicles over the side.  One storm moved the bridge 7 feet.

We headed back to Governor’s Harbor.  Hitchhiking is common here, so we picked up two different women. (And you wonder why Reggie is lovin’ this.)The guava duff was not ready.  Dang, don’t know what it is, but we wanted it.

This morning Reggie returned the car and stopped at the bakery for two loaves of wheat bread, a cinnamon roll for me, and two sweet rolls, one with cheese filling and one with coconut filling.  Both the sweet rolls were still hot form the oven.  Evidently that makes the cheese filled sweet rolls evaporate because I never saw it.  He also stopped at the ATM for a little more cash and at the BATELCO office for more minutes on our local phone, used primarily to check in with Mom.  Then we hauled anchor to head for Rock Sound. 

this sailboat reminded us of Metanoia, a sailboat on Flathead Lake
The wind was more than predicted so we had a great sail. We had to motor some as our batteries need more charge than the wind generator was going to be able to do. We live ‘off the grid’. Battery power runs almost everything. The only way to charge the batteries is motor or wind.

We think we will head to the Exumas tomorrow.  Tonight we are anchored a short distance offshore in Rock sound, enjoying another tasty dinner
are we eating too well?
concocted in the small galley of our little floating home while again being serenaded by Caribbean music blasting across the water from a local watering hole next door to Papa Site liquor store.   How many of you have been treated to the Caribbean version of “Stagger Lee” ?!

Arrived in Hatchet Harbor on Saturday night. Dropped anchor with a trip line because the cruising guide said there were lots of sunken boats from hurricanes. There was music on shore to welcome us. It started out as miscellaneous Caribbean songs and familiar songs remade with a calypso backbeat.  Sometime during the evening, it sounded like the local school pep band arrived to do a set which consisted of about a 30 minute calypso rendition of “Battle Hymn of the Republic”. We spent a pleasant evening.

In the mid morning, while we were chasing down some slightly unpleasant odors from the food lockers, a helpful person in a dingy cruised by to let us know we had anchored in the main channel and a giant catamaran would be coming in around 6 PM. It was suggested we might want move, perhaps to pick up a mooring ball before that happened. We finished sopping up the rotten boxed soup broth and discarding the rotten eggs and moved. A large fuel boat came in and then the big cat ferry. Had we not moved, I’m guessing we would be boat jam!

Our plan for Monday was to go rent a car to explore the island. After a leisurely morning we headed to town to explore and then rent the car. We worked up quite a sweat on our walk! Well, actually, we had been sweating for hours before the walk started. Spoke to a local, who was cleaning a bunch of fish. He had been fly fishing at Rainbow and had a variety of fish. The next stop was at a gazebo on one of the docks in the harbor to sit and relax in the shade and breeze. Another local joined us. He was, of course, friendly and answered any questions we had. We asked both where we might rent a car. The fisherman gave us directions to the Shell gas station.  The guy at the gazebo gave us directions to the grocery, which was closer than the Shell station. We went to the grocery store. We purchased a couple cool drinks and inquired about the cars. The lady who knows about the cars wouldn’t be in until 3:30, so we ended up hoofing it to the Shell station after all, only to find that all the cars are out. One may be available tomorrow. Plan B

Headed back to the boat. Sprits off with cool water and air dry. Games, reading, napping. Then Reggie worked on our companionway doors, (which involved dragging out the skill saw, drill, bits, clamps, spare lumber to use as a rip fence, spare hardware, screws and moving “stuff” in the cockpit so the table could be used as a cutting table). Now I will clean the sawdust, salt and other grutt from the cockpit. By the time I get that done, it will be time to go to "Miss Grace" for a sundowner.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Spanish Wells and away


We headed in to Spanish Wells in the stealth dinghy fairly early Wednesday morning.  The bakery is open Monday through Friday – except this Wednesday.  Then we stopped at the bank to learn about international banking and costs for cash.  Next was a trip through Food Fair where we cruised the entire store, a nice one, but only bought a $2 cantaloupe.

We met Jean at the museum.  We learned about crayfish (lobster) fishing, early settlers and the history of the area.  Spanish Wells was a subsistence farming and fishing community until 40 years ago or so.  The biggest changes here were caused by access to refrigeration on ships for transporting the catch to population centers, and electricity which arrived in dependable fashion while we were in high school.   The town is now thriving, industrious, clean and well maintained.   They have only had two significant hurricanes in recent years. The first one did quite a lot of damage, but they used that experience to improve the building codes. The next hurricane caused no structural damage! The surge was the only problem encountered. It lifted boats up off their pilings and washed them across to Charles Island where the shore was so soft they could dig out under and around the biggest boats and re-float them.  You can still see the notches left in the shoreline. They have installed taller pilings.

We have found Spanish Wells to be our favorite place we’ve visited. We so enjoyed Jean that we accepted the invitation for a Sundowner at their lovely home. She and Tom had many great suggestions for us.

Thursday was the weather day that we came here to sit out. We mostly read, slept, played cards and just relaxed. Friday was still windy, but we braved the wind and headed back to town to the bank. We ran into Dave and Trish from Miss Grace, one of the boats we followed from the Abacos. We agreed to meet them at Buddha’s for dinner that night.  It is always fun to spend time with new people, learn new things and eat good food.

 We left our mooring ball on Saturday to sail off to new adventures.  We had a wonderful sail and eventually had to furl in part of the genny as the breeze increased. When we reached Current Cut, the current was coming out at about six knots. That plus the wind caused us to anchor nearby and wait for the tidal current to slow down as time approached low tide. We ate lunch and hung out for awhile, checking tides and wind. Reggie decided that around 3pm we should check out the current again. It had lessened enough that we decided to go for it. No problems.  It would take us 3 hours to get to Hatchet sound and the wind was on the nose, so we motored. 

Alice Town adventures in the next post.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

All's well in Spanish Wells


All’s well in Spanish Wells

Our trip on Sunday from Lynyard Cay out across the big blue to Eleuthra was uneventful.  We raised the mainsail while still at anchor and then motorsailed out into the open water.  We had seas of 1-2 meters coming mostly from the stern.  A catamaran and a monohull headed out before us.  The strobe on the masthead of the cat made a good aim point for us until daylight.  Shortly after dawn we shut down the engine, deployed the genoa and went sailing!  It was a nice ride while it lasted.  By around noon, wind direction and velocity caused us to furl sails and motor.  By mid afternoon, we were at anchor in a little bay inside Royal Island where we stayed for the night.  We had, however, fallen off the edge of the world!  Reggie had not noticed that our charts installed in our primary gps ended just at Eleuthra.  We will now be doing paper charts like sailors did in the “olden days”.

We motored to Spanish Wells on Monday, as there was no wind. We managed to time it just right to pick up the only mooring ball available for a boat our size. We will be here until Saturday, if the weather prediction holds. As we came in the ‘river’, I found myself thinking, “This is certainly a quaint little fishing village.” One side of the ‘river’, a small passage between two islands, was lined with fishing boats, both large and small.

Monday afternoon we did a walk around. Spanish Wells in on an island that is about 2 miles long and 1 mile wide. We walked along the ‘river’ side for almost a mile, I’d guess, and then crossed over to the Atlantic side. The stretch along the river has a few restaurants and small shops, but is mostly industrial. There are boatyards and fish processing places. Further down is a marina. The residences are mostly on the interior. They come in a large variety of sizes, but all of them are very well maintained with lovely yards.  The most common transportation is golf cart, but there are a surprising number of cars also. The Atlantic side has additional shops and restaurants, a large food mart and bank. At the east end there is a gazebo where we sat down in the shade and watched the fish.







Two men were sitting there in their golf carts. One of them was chatty. He told us to eat at Buddha’s and to just pick any fruit we want, no need to ask. “We just want you to enjoy yourself and come back.” There is a museum here that we wanted to visit. At the shop beside the museum, we were told to call Jean to arrange a time.

On Tuesday, we stopped by Jean and Tom’s house to arrange a time to visit the museum. Montanans are friendly, but don’t quite measure up to here. They saw us coming, opened the door and said, “Come in.” before we even introduced ourselves. They also have the local book exchange in their home. We visited with them until more cruisers showed up with the same welcome. From there we went to see about renting our own golf cart. They rent for $10/hour or $40/day. We got out our calculator and decided to keep it all day. We got some instructions on how to operate it and took off. First stop was the shop by the museum, as Reggie had noticed they sold shoes and the sole on my Teva sandals had just let go. The three women there were full of laughs. As we hopped back in our cart, Reggie turned it on and honked the horn, which is a button beside the brake. Apparently, his feet are a little bigger than needed for golf cart driving. That was not the only time we honked. I don’t know if all golf carts are this simple, but there are not many options. Turn the key on or off, press the gas or break, shift to forward or reverse.  However, we could not get the parking brake off. One of the women from the shop came out, so we asked her. She laughed and said, “Just push dis,” indicating the gas “and it be just flop up.”

It was getting close to lunch time and there would probably be no place to eat on Charles Island. We didn’t see Buddha’s, so stopped at another cafe. Great food and too much of it. We had to take some with us. Our only complaint, was the other customers were so loud. Everyone shouts.

We headed for Charles Island, which is the agricultural island. We drove every street. It has similar houses, described in one of the guidebooks as sherbet colored. We saw bananas, oranges, grapefruit, papayas and of course coconut. We stopped at the only business we saw, named New 2 U.  Reggie bought a wrench to replace the one he had to modify. Outside was a breadfruit tree, which the owner of the shop told us about. We will have to try it again sometime.
 
 just regular views while driving around
 
 The breadfruit tree.  look closely.  none ripe yet.

This picture also deserves close scrutiny.  We are told the symbol of the pineapple means welcome, an appropriate symbol for the entryway to a home.  What do you suppose the two small cannons on either side mean?
As we crossed the bridge back to Spanish Wells, we stopped at a park for a leg stretch and to eat the rest of our lunch. We continued snaking our way around town. Stopped at a house (not one of the nicest, to say the least) for some homemade coconut ice cream. There was very little coconut flavor and tasted like maybe it had been made with condensed milk. We walked on the beach while eating ice cream. Sorry, but someone has to do it.

When we returned to the boat, Reggie resoled my Tevas. He used 5200. I’m waiting until I’m positive it is completely cured. I don’t want them to become a permanent part of my foot.

We dinghied back to town and had a delicious dinner at Buddha’s, again with leftovers.  Buddha’s also has a liquor store where we purchased a couple ice cold Bahamian Stout beers for washing down dinner and a bottle of Bahamian dark rum, $10, for future Sundowners.  The liquor store is in an area which could have been the back entryway to the home, small but well stocked.  The café consists of a gaily decorated old International school bus converted to a kitchen.  The word “International” was painted to stand out and made Reggie feel immediately at home.  We were sorry we forgot to bring the camera.  We’ll probably go back.

Seating is covered overhead outside in pea gravel which the owner now wishes covered the entire back yard.   The owner came over to visit for a spell, telling us about how he decided to start the café for “the kids”.  Family businesses are the norm here.  As we were leaving, we stopped to chat with two couples of cruisers from other boats, and gleaned a little more information about places we hope to see in a few days.

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Race


The race, Wednesday, 3/5/14 and after.

The gentleman registering us was born in Glendive, MT, and his folks owned a place on Flathead Lake when he was growing up.  He spent summers where we now live and sail.  Di’s catamaran was used as the committee boat.  Her friend from Kalispell visits her here every winter.

 Several other folks had ties of one type or another to our home state.  Of course, we were asked more than once “how long does it take you to sail here from Montana”?  And, “how cold is it really up there?”.

Another frequent question was “what kind of boat is that?”  I resisted the urge to answer “sail” and responded “1969 CAL Cruising 36”  usually to hear back “that’s a CAL?”.  This led to several folks talking about CALs they used to own, or sail on or race against.  Jim used to own a CAL 36 but they now cruise in a trawler.  He knows where there ia a CAL Cruising 36 with a new engine which he thinks he might be able to get cheap, but do not tell his wife!

During registration we were assigned a handicap significantly faster than we are, but we did not care since we were racing for fun, not glory.  In the midst of registration, hauling marks and pre-race excitement, I forgot to ask for more crew.  Poor Barbara didn’t want the helm, so she was stuck tacking and trimming the genoa, trimming the mainsail, adjusting the traveler, grinding on the winches, and everything else needing done.  She had a well earned nap when we returned to our slip.

The race was held in perfect conditions; wind 10-15, calm seas, blue sunny skies, crystal clear waters deeper than our keel reaches.  There were 15 boats entered of all kinds and sizes.  “White sails only” was the rule.  I was a little late to the start line as usual.  It did, however, keep us from being caught in the crush of boats at the start which forced one boat over early.  The race was six legs long, windward, reach to triangle mark, reach to start, windward, leeward, windward.

We passed a few boats (a couple were quite surprised), were passed by a couple, and played cat and mouse with a couple more.  It was a fun time.  We were reminded of a few things.  It takes a long time to learn how to sail a boat well.  We have not sailed “Submit” enough.  You learn more about your boat by racing it than you do day-sailing or cruising.  Our old genoa is way past its days as an upwind sail.  Old CALs sail well even with the handicap of me at the helm.  After seeing pictures of us on the racecourse, I told Barbara the biggest improvement she could see on this boat would be to have someone more svelte at the helm.  Pictures can be seen at the clubs website www.hopetownsailingclub.com

The “Standup” late that afternoon was great.  Tables of hors d’oeuvres complimented the BYOD affair.  Results were announced and awards given.  We were assigned ninth place.  No award for that, just the joy of participating.  And all the folks were great.  We would go out of our way to do it again.

Yesterday saw blustery winds and threatened rainstorms.  The threat was fulfilled in the evening and for a fair share of the night.  This morning dawned sunny and then provided a few thunder showers.  We’ve done a couple small boat projects.  Barbara did laundry and collected several gallons of rainwater for non-drinking water jobs. 

Tomorrow, we plan to head to Lynard Cay to anchor out.  This is a staging area for trips south.  If all goes well, we will head out into the open Atlantic to sail to Spanish Wells in Eleuthra.  It is about the same distance as the trip across the gulf stream to the Bahamas from Florida, but somehow it seems more major.  If you turn left you’ll find nothing but open ocean for thousands of miles until you hit…Africa?

We have no idea what we will find for internet services or other communications so it could be a while before more folly info shows up here.  Meanwhile, family will receive occasional updates from SPOT.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

South of the Whale


Our days south of The Whale

Our passage around was very easy, followed by a lovely sail to Tahiti Beach where we meet with Conchtown Lady. We dropped anchor, ate lunch and took a siesta. Just as it was time to head to the beach, Conchtown Lady decided she would rather take her nap and rolled over on her side.
She slept there until we were ready to return. She slowly yawned and stretched and got back up on her keel. While we were on the beach we saw some beautiful starfish and the largest hermit crab I’ve ever seen. Since Conchtown Lady was well rested we convened there for a delicious dinner.

The next morning we just puttered around and then decided to go to Marsh Harbor to fuel up and get some other items. The weather reports we managed to see sounded like Wednesday might be a good day to head south. On Monday we spent the whole day exploring and shopping. First stop was Buck a Book, where we came away with 20 books and movies. All proceeds go to re-establishing the wild horse herd.

At the tourist office we were directed to where the locals eat. We were a little surprised that the menu looked a lot like ours-burgers and salads. The sides are different, ie. Peas and rice, plantain, mac and cheese. The clientele was local, so we were happy. We ate grouper and plantain. Reggie also had mac and cheese and mixed veggies. A little farther along in our post lunch walk, we passed a Kentucky Fried Chicken, full of locals.

We stopped at a couple of bakeries and loaded up on bread and treats. We ate the peanut cluster and a coconut cluster.  The apple torte thingy was breakfast this morning. We still have cookies, bread pudding, another torte thingy and maybe some kind of cake. I can’t remember. Oh, and we did buy bread, too!

We talked with a fellow cruiser we met in Green Turtle Cay and he said that Wednesday would not be a good day to make the passage. He also said that he was planning on going south. He told us where people hang out waiting for the weather window. When we returned to the boat, we checked on the weather again to discover that now it looks like George was correct.

Tuesday morning we were finally able to connect with Chris Palmer and he told us that today would be good, but then we would have to wait until the weekend. We also asked on the Cruiser’s Net if anyone was planning on going south. “Chance” responded they were and had been in contact with some others also. Looks like we might have a caravan (or flotilla)! So we filled up with fuel and water and headed to Hope Town. As we approached we haled any and all of the owners of mooring balls and either received no answer or they were full. Options were to go outside and anchor, tie up at a marina or go somewhere else. We contacted Lighthouse Marina and they had a slip. We are tied up near the fuel dock. It is occasionally busy and smelly so we may have to move, but it isn’t bad.

Once we tied up we were rushing to get to the bank as we needed some cash. Lots of places do not take credit cards or charge a high rate if you use one. The bank in Hope Town is open weekly on Tues from 10-2.  What Luck? As we were climbing into our dingy, the folks from “Chance” came to greet us. They saw us come in. From them we learned we could have just picked up any mooring ball which is not being used.  Live and learn. We made it to the bank on time, but I grabbed my discover card instead of my driver’s license, so Reggie had to use his credit card for a cash advance. I don’t know how much that mistake cost us and I don’t want to know. We went to Cap’t Jacks for conch.  Cracked conch, coconut cracked conch and conch fritters were washed down with ice cold Kalik beer.  We both liked the coconut conch best.  Then we stopped at the funky Vernnon’s Grocery & Upper Crust Bakery for a fresh key lime pie. Reggie had a long chat with Vernon about the bakery business, as Reggie’s dad was a baker also. The Cap’t Jack conch and Vernon’s key lime pie were recommended by friend Matt and we were not able to do either last time.
 

Today the plan is to show everyone here how we race in Montana. Well maybe not, but we are going to try to work our way around a race course. (Note to Jeff-We have a lot more than our steel cookware on board!) Reggie is currently at the skippers meeting. This may be reminiscent of our first year racing on Knot Ready-no self tailing winches, and just the two of us. Maybe Reggie will pick up some crew. Wish we had Tom as Abel crew. The wind is supposed to be light, so we should be OK. We’ll let you know.