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

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.