Sunday, December 31, 2017

firsst post 2018

First post for 2018

First, apologies to all.  I note we did not continue posting last spring.  We even had folks trying to contact us to see if we were shipwrecked!  Nothing so serious.

We eventually floated off our grounding in Daytona and continued our chilly trip north.  At St John’s River intersection with the intracoastal waterway, we turned west, upriver, towards Jacksonville.  This is a large commercial port area and it is a little daunting to travel through, between and around ships and tugs with river currents and tides.  Our 35.5 foot boat begins to look and feel really small.

We spent the night at the free municipal docks in Jacksonville and headed out early only to have to wait a long time for a bridge to raise.  It was under construction and only raised at very specific times.  Be there or miss it.

The St John’s river turns south just past downtown Jacksonville.  For some reason, heading south “up river” always seems odd to me.  We were heading to a new-to-us marina, Gibson Dry Docks south of Palatka on the St John’s.  We had been as far as Green Cove Springs Marina several times, but not beyond.  There is a bridge just past Green Cove Springs which shows 46 ft clearance at high tide.  By my calculations, the top of our mast is 46 ft above the water and I usually assume 50 feet.  Then we have a VHF antenna and a static electricity dissipater and an anchor light on top.  Some of you may recall we had a wind indicator at the masthead but we were not worried about damaging it since it was lost in a hurricane the previous winter.

We arrived at the bridge…at high tide.  We should drop anchor and wait.  But we were tired and anxious to get to the boatyard which we believed was just a short way past the bridge and could haul us out that day if we arrived in time.  Also we had been told there was an additional two feet clearance near the center of the span.  So, against better judgment, we headed under.  The antenna dinged each time it hit a bridge beam.  The dissipater bent aft a little.  Nothing touched the anchor light or mast.  We are told God watches over damned fools and idiots!

It turns out the marina is about half a day past the bridge.  We could not get there in time to be hauled out so we tied up at the municipal docks in Palatka and spent a couple nights.  I had my first haircut in probably 6 months.  We walked through portions of the town and ate in cafes.  We made contact with folks through Home Away to rent their condo for a month. 

A condo?  For a month?  Best decision of the trip.  “Submit” needed work.  Half the interior had to be disassembled including much of the dinette area, the double Pullman berth, remove the water tanks and most of the upper salon sole to get at what we thought was one leaking fuel tank only to discover that both had leaks.   Both tanks are supposed to have been repaired and are waiting for me to apply internal sealant before re-installing them when we return.  “While in the area” we decided to deal with a hull-to-deck joint leak at the starboard bow.  In order to access it, the 50 year old teak toe rail had to be removed and did not like it.  So, all the teak toe rail was removed from both sides, with significant struggling by both me and Barbara, along with the safety lines and stanchions, bow pulpit, anchor roller and frame and I forget what else.  The decision has been made to replace the toe rail with an aluminum toe rail which we were given from another boat if we would (and did) remove it prior to the boat going to salvage.  So, since none of the old mounting holes will work for the “new” toe rail, they and several others needed to be sealed with epoxy particularly since we were going to be leaving the boat for months.  And, “while we are in the area”, the deck needs repainting and so does the hull, which may require new rub rails.  A couple minor bulkhead repairs have been done, but the above work and installing a new alternator and rebuilding the wind generator and…will be done by us, we think.

High points of our stay?
 Use of a car loaned to us by our friends from Newfoundland saved our transportation bacon.
 The condo gave us air conditioned relief when the heat returned plus baths and showers and laundry and kitchen and wifi and escape from the mess of the boat and allowed Calgary friends to come stay with us for a few days in the 2nd bedroom with bath.
Calgary friend Brian who was conscripted to work two half days and a full day salvaging toe rail, the labors of which I shall not describe here.
Barbara’s ceaseless toil, support and patience through at least three and a half of the four weeks.  We both pretty much ran dry by the end.

We anticipate several weeks of work on “Submit” before she is ready to launch.  We hope to find a few diversions during that work time.  Perhaps friends will be nearby to visit us or us them.  (We promise to not make you work on “Submit” unless you really really want to).  Perhaps a few days exploring the area.  Perhaps???

We will be driving down this year in part to have transportation while projecting.  We think we have a small place located to rent while staying off the boat.  Our route from here to there is yet to be determined, based in part on weather and road conditions and where we can go to visit folks along the way.  If any of you would care to join us for a meal or whatever as we pass through, please let us know.  It might be do-able depending on northern, central or southern route.

Happy New Year and smooth sailing in calm waters.

Reggie and Barbara  

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

ever changeable plans

March 6, 2017
As I write this, we are at Florida anchor, aka hard aground, waiting for the tide to come in and lift us off. We spent three nights at Halifax Harbor Marina because the wind was strong right on the nose and we weren’t having fun.  I was below and Reggie was at the helm in his sweat pants, coat and hat.

some days are less warm than others in Florida

Let me back up to our crossing. We knew we expected brisk winds from the ESE. It was brisk and rocky rolly. I felt like an old tennis shoe in the washing machine. Our plan was to go straight through to the St John’s River which would take about 48 hours. After doing isometric exercises for two hours at the helm followed by a two hour restless break before the next round of isometrics, we opted for plan B. We altered course for Ft. Pierce, ETA 24 hours after leaving Ocean Reef.  Once we hit the Gulf Stream, we thought it might be an easier ride to go with it and the waves. Back to Plan A.  It was smoother for a short time, then worse than ever. Plan C, Head for Cape Canaveral.

As we worked our way up the coast of Florida on Wednesday morning, a couple different turtles let us get closer than they ever have before. They are very shy and usually dive before I get a good look at them. These guys let us get within about 20 feet.  We also had a large group of dolphin escort us. There may have been as many as twenty. They were smaller than usual, maybe 3 to 4 feet average length. Most of them had spots on the backs. I have never seen ones that small or with spots. Do you know if they are a different breed?

We arrived sometime on Wednesday. Cape Canaveral Inlet is deep and wide, so we didn’t have to consider tide. However, it is about 8 miles from the ICW with two bascule bridges and a lock. First bascule opened for us and only a short wait for the lock to open. The next bridge closed and would not open until 6 PM. We found a place to drop anchor which allowed boats to navigate around us and ate dinner and relaxed. Once through the bridge, we dropped anchor just off the ICW and slept.

Thursday morning we were back on the water highway. 

approaching the drawbridge before passing out into Mosquito Lagoon

local rules posted on the bascule bridge

We made good time and had a quiet night at anchor. Friday morning the cold front arrived, but Reggie bundled up and headed north. We were going to need to fuel up sometime in the near future. Halifax Harbor Marina was the place. Our stay here allowed us to hide from several days of brisk (20 knots, gusting up to 30) winds on the nose.

Daytona seemed like a nice place. We walked about 3 miles to a grocery store on Saturday and lugged four sags of food back to the boat. I think my arms are a couple inches longer.  On Sunday, we again walked about 3 miles to the bus terminal only to find that it was closed.  Reggie walked most of the docks. I went with him for a couple of them. We searched for a good sea food place, but didn’t find one.

The tide should be starting to rise pretty soon and we will be on our way again. It should take us four days  to get to our next, and last, marina for this trip. That is our present Plan A.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Ocean Reef marina 27 February 2017

We are slowly, so as not to be working too hard, preparing “Submit” today for the trip west from here to either Ft. Pierce Inlet or all the way to the mouth of the St. Johns River.  We are heading back to Florida to put her into a boatyard and begin projects.  We have a couple we must do and many we could do.  Many of the “could do” projects are personalizing things aboard to fit the way we do things.  Some are cosmetic.

"Submit" in relaxation mode

The list of possible projects has started us thinking about future plans. Do we continue with our winter sabbaticals aboard “Submit”?  If so, where?  Doing what?  Are we nearing or have we reached the end of our time with her and should sell her and move on to other bucket list things?  If we sell her, should she be sold “as is”, ready to go as we know her to be, or do we do projects to increase her resale value?  Will any project done add at least as much value as the cost and effort of doing the project?  And, if we did part with her, what would we do next?

Our time here has been interesting.  Cruisers come here for a few days and leave, or not.  One fellow said they came last year for 4 days and ended up staying a month.  Others have said similar things.  One boat has been here for 10 years, tied to the dock.  The owners come here for several months each year.  It is their winter home.  Cost of living is low and the weather is better than in the northern US or Canada.  A free shuttle bus is available to take folks to the local super market at least twice a week.  There are activities and gatherings available if you wish to participate. (Our friends from SV Whisper” won the best dressed prize at the Academy awards party last night).  Almost anything you could want is available or can be acquired fairly quickly at what we’ve seen as reasonable prices.  Several airlines service the area regularly form the US, Canada and Nassau.  Family and friends can easily visit.

There is still a lot of devastation visible from Hurricane Matthew.  Blown down trees and partially destroyed roofs are everywhere.  Repairs and upgrades are ongoing.

It is nice to be able to go to the fresh water swimming pools on a hot afternoon.  Great beaches are not far away by foot, dinghy, cab or bus.  Most all locals and cruisers are friendly.  Over all, this is a pretty nice place to pass through or to stay long term.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Berries and Ocean Reef 22 feb 2017

We spent three days at anchor in a well protected spot in the Berry’s as the wind howled around us from several different directions. When it finally settled down we headed to shore to walk to the blue hole. There was no trail as described. The rocky beach, which was supposed to be an alternative, was more than we cared to negotiate, so we hauled anchor and worked our way further north. We dropped anchor on the east side of Great Harbor and loaded the empty Gerry cans into the dinghy. The Shell station was on the other side of the island, about 2 or 2 ½ miles. We asked one woman if we were going in the right direction. She replied in the affirmative and then said that she would be right back and give us a ride. Before she had time to return, three men in a pickup truck gave us a ride to the station and back to our dinghy. That job certainly was easy.  

Back on Submit and fueled up we again pulled anchor and continued North. This time we were headed for Ocean Reef Yacht Club on Grand  Bahama Island on the southern most part of the Abacos.  We slogged slowly under light winds and a starry sky. We were passed by several cruise ships and freighters, so we were hardly ever alone. All of that activity makes the two hours on watch go by quickly.  The only real excitement was the barracuda which Reggie hooked. I’m so glad that he didn’t also hook the fish that was taking bites out of his barracuda as he was reeling it in. We have had better fishing success this year, but still no fish to eat.

Vic and Marilyn on Whisper, whom we met last year in Bimini, welcomed us to the elderly cruisers retirement center. We are now experiencing what it would be like to be a snowbird of the cruising world. There are two pools with hot tubs, a tennis court, bocce ball a couple times a week, bingo three times a week, Monday Madness dinners, Karaoke, and movies on Thursday nights. A bus takes us to the grocery store on Saturday and Monday. There is shuttle bus to the Market Place most days.

Our plan on arrival was to check in, say Hi to Vic and Marilyn and go to sleep. Instead, we loaded into our dinghy and headed to Two Dollar Bar for lunch since we hadn’t eaten breakfast or lunch, which was fine by me. I could sleep later. We were able to meet many of our cruising snowbirders there. What a raucous time! It was the best hamburger I’ve ever eaten.

When we retuned, it was time to catch the bus to the grocery store. Our supplies were pretty low. I was falling asleep on my feet after the long night and big meal. Reggie went to the store.

Other than the activities here and socializing with everyone, we have taken the shuttle to the Market Place and then walked back here by way of the beach. The Market Place consists of small touristy shops. The women went into at least five jewelry stores. I noticed some boutiques and restaurants and Reggie and Vic found a liquor store.

Today is stormy, so I’m mostly reading. Reggie is measuring the mast to see if we would be able to get under a bridge to go to a marina that sounds like the place we would most prefer to take Submit this year. Yesterday he installed our new rigid boom vang. As long as he is happy, I’m happy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Update 14 Feb 2017

Update 14 February 2017

After Little Farmers Cay, we went to Black Point.  One of the attractions is the best coin operated Laundromat in the central Exumas.  How many time have any of you chosen to head to a specific town just to do laundry?

We arrived on Superbowl Sunday and the town was jumping so we decided to just stay on the boat.  On Monday, we went to town to scout it out.  The laundry was waiting lines long with cruisers preparing to depart.  We did some provisioning and a little hiking to see the sights.   Several places along the streets, under trees, sat folks in the shade weaving grass hats, bowls and baskets.  At the market, the nice lady gave us a dilly from their sapodilla tree which we hope will ripen before it spoils.  After a nice lunch we headed back to the boat. 

Tuesday became laundry day.  Many of the cruisers had moved on so there were no waiting lines.  We also had a great breakfast at Lorraine’s Restaurant as our early lunch.  A little more provisioning and a visit with sailing friends from SV “Riannon” and back to the boat.  Some of the provisions I was hoping to get were about 40% higher than in Little Farmers Cay which was a big surprise.

A highlight was catching a fish! …. Almost.  There were a couple long fish cruising in the shade under our boat.  I dropped in a line with a piece of fish attached to the hook.  One of the fish about 3 feet long took the bait and hooked himself.  I brought him in with the hand spool.  We weren’t sure about the type of fish.  When snorkeling, they looked a little like a type of shark to me, so I wanted to make sure before bringing it aboard.  When I raised its head out of the water for a look, it threw the hook out and escaped.  Barbara believes it was an amber jack.  I think it was a snook.  Whichever, none of them would touch the bait again.

So much for Black Point.  We liked the little town.  The people were friendly and the town was pretty clean.  Bahamian islands and towns have tons of refuse around, mostly plastic.  It washes up on the beaches and gets thrown  into the bushes by the locals.  Most cruisers try hard not to add to the mess and some of us even pick up some of the trash and put it into any available trash barrel, if there is one.

On to Staniel Cay. 

Staniel Cay is more up scale.  It looks a little like Hope Town with the many colored rentals.  The Staniel Cay Yacht Club is a focal point for cruisers, offering some slips and fuel and bar and restaurant, etc., and the perpetual collection of sharks near the fish cleaning station!

  Nearby is Thunderball Grotto of James Bond fame.

We topped up with fuel, moved way from the dock, anchored and dinghied back to town for a shopping spree.  We found a few items at Pink market and a few more at Blue market, but no bread or eggs.  However, the coconut cake and zucchini bread were treats.  So is the local cheese.

After moving for more protection from a northerly blow, we spent two nights on the boat at anchor.  Because of weather timing, we decided to move farther north and skip additional time in the Staniel Cay area.  However, we were not going to find provisions again for perhaps many days, so, back to town.  Fresh bread and zucchini bread was available at Blue, as well as some frozen chicken hind quarters but still no eggs.  Barbara had been wanting chicken, in part to have skin for fishing.  A long walk to Isles General Market provided eggs and some fresh produce.

Back to the boat and off we go to Cambridge Cay, which is in the Exumas Land and Sea Park.  We spent two nights on a mooring ball (can you pick out "Submit"?)

and part of a day hiking Cambridge Cay.

You never know what type of wild animal you'll find in the park!

Early Monday morning the 13th found us dropping the mooring ball and heading out for an overnight passage to White Cay/Devils Cay/Fowl Cay anchorage area of the Berries.  We were under way for about 27 hours, but had to motor the whole way due to adverse northerly breezes.  Night fall found us out of deep water onto the shallow bank for 25 miles.  There were no routes for us to follow in this area and warnings from the navigation system about using caution, shallow reefs and coral heads, and only traveling with good daylight visibility.  Does an almost full moon count?

Besides the moon, there were lots of stars and the lights of Nassau to the west of us.  “Liberty Princess” cruised by in the night, lit up like Las Vegas.  “Disney Dream” cruised past at daylight.  Today, Valentines Day, finds us anchor down at 25’36.8 N, 77’43.963 W.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

little farmers regatta

Farmers First Friday in February Festival

I was looking forward to the festival. There was supposed to be games and contests. I wasn’t interested in the wet  t-shirt contest but men’s best buns and men’s best legs sounded fun (please note: this portion is written by Barbara!). The crab races should have been exciting. However, we never saw any contests anywhere, just heard very loud recorded music interspersed with a few announcements, so the festival itself was not much to our liking.

We wanted to watch the regatta, but the rain deterred us. We did get to see the final race. It was announced to start at 3pm but didn’t start until 3 Bahama time, meaning around 5.  All the boats line up at anchor, sails down.  At the start they haul anchor, hoist sail and go.  They are called “C Class” down here.  I’m told the boat is 17ft long, full keel, with chunks of loose ballast inside, a very tall mast set far forward in the boat and a boom almost twice as long as the boat.  The sail is huge for a boat that size.  There are boards which extend far out over the water on the windward side.  Crew crawls or slides out on the board to counteract the force of the sail which is trying to tip the boat over.  In puffy air, the crew must move very quickly in or out depending on which way the boat is tipping.  When the boat tacks, the crew must move back into the boat, stay out of the way, duck under the very low boom, and move the board across so it sticks out the other side.  Oft times when the boat heels over, the end of the boom and some of the sail end up in the water.  Some cruisers were invited to crew on a few of the boats.  I spoke to one who said he was glad he did it, would never do it again, and was still hoping his  back would get better 4 days later.

The course was windward, leeward, windward, leeward, reach to the finish through the anchored cruising boats in front of Ty’s bar and restaurant.  Ty’s was overrun with folks both Bahamian and cruiser.  In a previous race, one of the race boats caught its sail on the bow of an anchored cruising boat and created a little mayhem.

One race boat capsized and sank at the first leeward rounding.  That created an additional hazard for the rest. One boat was skippered by a non-smoking, non-drinking pastor who reportedly could out cuss a sailor in tight quarters.

Sailboat racing is a big deal here.  Probably over half the race boats were shipped in on one of the mail boats which had been chartered for the regatta.  Craning them off of and back onto the big boat was an interesting process.

little farmers church service

Baptists Church Service

The first thing I noticed was the unusual interior. The walls were decorated with sheer fabric swags of pink, green and gold. It made me think of a circus or a Bedouin tent. There was a set of drums in front as well as a few rows of chairs. The choir took some of them, the minister had one, the woman who told us what would be next had one, the guy in charge of taped music had one. I’m not sure why the other people were up there.

All of the music was recorded and played at top volume. We all sang along and several people had tambourines.  The only time the drums were used was during one song when the pastor banged on them  a few times. She also had some shiny pompoms that she shook and waved around for one song.

We were never sure when we were supposed to stand up and sit down. I decided that it didn’t matter as some people stood sometimes and others at other times. We just picked one man and did what he did.

After the sermon, the minister asked everyone that was going to be selling something at the festival to come forward to be anointed with oil. She asked that the food that they would be preparing would not make any one sick or fat. We were also anointed and she asked for our safe travels. It was quite an experience.
Little Farmers Cay, a Summary

We spent a week in Little Farmers Cay and since some of our experiences there deserve a longer, more in depth description, I’ll do separate posts for them. Pick and chose, as you wish.

We arrive on Saturday afternoon and dropped anchor not far from the government dock. There are a few other boats anchored. We plan to stay for Farmers First Friday in February Festival as we have never attended a Bahamian Festival.

Sunday morning we attended St. Mary’s Baptist Church.  I’ve never attended a Baptist service before and it was quite an experience.  Short impression- LOUD and exuberant.  (Further discussion in another post.) I’m curious if this is a typical Baptist service or if Bahamians spice it up.

After the rather extended service, we wanted to eat lunch. There was a food stand on the dock, so we headed there. Unfortunately, a boat with several tourists had just arrived and ordered conch salads. Conch salads are made one at a time. The conchs were piled on the dock. He grabbed one, pounded a hole in the pointy end and cut the animal out and cleaned it. He threw that in the water to feed the turtles and manta rays that have learned to hang out there for their meals. The tourists were encouraged to jump in the water and feed the turtles with parts of conch trimmings hung on a string. 

As we were sitting at a table waiting for him to finish with the tourist boat, we were joined by Carlo. He is very friendly. He asks if we are Christians and claims that we are on the same page. Every local that come on the dock was his cousin, uncle or brother. He found out that we were waiting to eat and insisted that he cook for us, ‘for free’.  “Come break bread with my family.” His children were going to be joining him. It took us awhile to figure out that he was drunk and becoming more so. Finally, he asked if we were ready to go. We walked to his house and he told us to wait a minute. Soon he returned and we went back the way we came. Turns out we were headed to the bar. We met more relatives on the way. At the bar Carlo bought a pint and sat down with it. “Then I will cook and you will meet my family.” Reggie saved us by saying that he wasn’t feeling well and we would have to take a rain check.   

One day we took in the three books we had finished to Ocean Cabin’s book exchange. It is a two for one exchange and one of our books was “rejected as not fitting on the shelf”, so we should have been entitled to one book, even though he kept the rejected book. Then he told us to go ahead and get two books. After we chose two he asked me if I liked “Harry Potter”. I told him I hadn’t read any. He handed me a hard copy, “Here take this one also.” Turns out it was a one for one. The “Harry Potter” book was too tall to fit the shelves and actually a script of a play.

We were able to purchase four snapper from a guy that was cleaning his catch. They were boney but tasty. Need to figure out how to catch them.

On Thursday boats started arriving. By that night the sky was lit up with anchor lights. I was awakened around eleven o’clock pm by a loud engine sound. When I got up to check it out, I was surprised to see the two story mail boat anchored about 100 yards from us. The crane on the front was unloading pallets onto a barge. The barge then had to go to the government dock across the harbor and unload by hand. It then returned for another load. We asked one of the locals who had been up most of the night unloading supplies why the mail boat didn’t tie up at the dock. “We’ve been asking that for two years. If you find out, please let me know.”

Brief impression of the Festival—a party with lots of drinking.  The Regatta was the best part.  More about that in another post.

Monday, January 30, 2017

stepping out

1 Jan 2017
Our anchoring spot at Lee Stocking Island has us just off shore from the Caribbean Marine Research Center:

We find ourselves with no immediately necessary boat projects and no impending storms.  How will we suffer through?

One morning here was more relaxed so we had home made sour dough pancakes.  Those of you who followed our misadventures 7 years ago might recall numerous comments about Sour Dough Saturdays, etc.  We have thought of having sour dough starter aboard each year, but couldn’t bring liquid starter aboard the airplanes.  This year we tried something different.  I had heard of powdered sour dough starter, so I poured some out on saran wrap and let it dry.  Then we bagged it and brought it along.  Ours was not powdered.  It was hard and in big chunks.  We didn’t have much hope, but a little flour and water to feed it and it came to life.   We’ve had whole wheat sour dough pancakes twice so far.

This day was set aside for hiking and exploring on the island.  The CMRC was a substantial research facility into which a lot of money had been invested.  Funding dried up and a little over 4 years ago it was shut down.  Personal possessions were packed up and the facility closed.  It was assumed it would re-open soon, but never did.  Food, computers, files, etc. were left behind.  Much of it has grown legs and disappeared, and storms have left unrepaired damage.  It is quite the ghost town now.  It had its own reverse osmosis water system and diesel  generation electrical system and landing strip.  There are over a dozen buildings for various purposes.  One of them holds dozens of large aquariums waiting to be refilled.  They also dammed around a natural lagoon so they could control water depth and inflow/outflow.  It is named Lobster Lagoon.

After wandering through several of the buildings, we walked across and down the island to several beautiful pinkish sand beaches.

Not every boat visiting the islands has a good trip.

At the northerly end of the island, we enjoyed our lunch on the deck of an abandoned home on a hill.  Our luncheon views?

On our way back through the facility, Barbara picked up a couple coconuts.  They weren’t completely green, nor were they ripe.  We both had seen people drinking exotic concoctions from green coconuts so we thought we would try to make our own.  I’ve never seen how “they” do it.  My efforts included a hand saw, a large screw driver and a hammer.  After much struggling and mess, I was able to puncture the nut and drain off the fluid.  It was clear, not milky.  However, when a little dark rum was added it made a tasty island cocktail!

During the day, no fish were to be seen around our boat.  However, right after dark, the water came alive with fish jumping and splashing.  They appeared to be about a foot and a half long.  What were they eating?  Where do they go in the daylight?

The next day was a lazy day and a short relocation to Leaf Cay.  It is best known for its “pink” iguanas.  They are not really pink all over, but the larger ones have pink on their legs and elsewhere.  When we arrived in our dinghy, they came out to greet us by the dozens. 

We left them to explore a couple other beaches on the island.  When arriving back at our dinghy, we learned why they surrounded us upon our arrival.

Passing tourist boats stop to show off the iguanas.  To make sure the iguanas do their share, the locals guiding the boats will bring bags of grapes.  The iguanas come out for lunch.

Another night at anchor and then off to Little Farmers Cay.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

25 Jan 2017

So This Is Why We Came

As we motored out of George Town this morning there was no wind and if there was any, it was on the nose. However, it was beautiful. Sun, smooth clear blue water and calm seas. I dragged a line in the water, as I have often done. Suddenly, FISH ON. I had hooked a dolphin fish! It was 3 to 4 feet long and jumping out of the water like it thought it was a flying fish.

“There’s a shark or something after it,” yelled Reggie. “Reel  faster.”

I’m not sure if it got away, or only got away from me, but that was my first ‘almost caught fish’ here! 

Later I had another bite, but missed it also. I’m sure I’m actually going to catch something this year.

We dropped anchor at Lee Stocking Island just offshore from the abandoned scientific base. There are only a few boats here and spread out. We are mostly all alone. We went for a nice long swim this afternoon and feel cool and refreshed.

Tomorrow we plan to hike the island.

Except for having to motor, it was a perfect day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Storm!?  Update 24 January 2017

We dodged the bullet.  Our storm was not as bad as predicted.  It began to break up a little farther north of George Town.  We had the rain squalls in the late afternoon and into the early evening.  Then, they stopped and the winds eased.  They picked up again overnight from the Northwest  and it was fairly rocky rolly over night.  This morning it was calm until after breakfast and then the wind picked up to probably 13-18 gusting 20.  We heard reports of 68 knot wind gusts at Eleuthra to the north.  If I remember correctly, 70 knots is category 1 hurricane strength.

The next several days are supposed to be benign so we are starting back north. We'll take it slow for now and stop places we've missed before.   First planned stop is Lee Stocking Island.  It might be worth a google for those of you interested.  We will be doing a little hiking and exploring on the beaches and among the palm trees, and perhaps some snorkeling.

We went in to the local marina called Exuma Yacht Club.  While I topped up the fuel cans and smaller tank, Barbara hoofed it to the local grocery store for a few provisions.  We have now moved across the road-stead and anchored at Honeymoon Beach.

 Last time we were here, a crew was ashore taking down the big tent and other equipment left from the previous day’s wedding of a couple from the US.  They are staying at the local Sandals resort.  We’ll submit to the comforts of our floating home.

Monday, January 23, 2017

oh Luci!

several folks asked about Luci.  Well, she is one of our favorites.  She comes with us on "Submit" and when we go to the old hunting cabin in the mountains. She really brightens our...nights!  She is an inflatable, collapsible solar recharged light.  She is bright enough to dine by and read by on low power.  She would have been sorely missed, hence the heroic efforts to save her.

Kidds Cove, Exumas, Bahamas 2-23-2017

Kidds Cove, George Town, Exumas, Bahamas 23 January, 2017

We moved out of Red Shanks anchorage after only about 2 hours and moved to Kidds Cove on the edge of Goerge Town.  We were concerned about being caught in Red Shanks if our fuel issues caused us to have no engine.  The entrance to Red Shanks is narrow and shallow.

An additional 2 days was spent working on the fuel  issue.  The port fuel tank has developed a leak so we needed to isolate it and get as much of the fuel out of it as possible before it all leaked into the bilge.  Isolating the tank was a time consuming project which included blocking its vent and removing its fill hose to create a fill hose for the starboard tank.  Also, since the two tanks functioned as a combined system, we had to de-couple them. 

On the cruisers net, there is a time for asking for help and we asked for the use of an electric fuel transfer pump.  Two different cruisers brought pumps for us to use.  One of the pumps worked out well for us and we were able to pump the fuel from the leaking tank into the non-leaking tank through its new jury rigged fill tube.  We had about 8 gallons of fuel which I had squeeze-bulbed into a couple of the 3 fuel cans donated to us by another cruiser.  This fuel was also added to the non-leaking tank.  Then we were able to pump the fuel and bilge water out of the deep bilge into one of the fuel cans for later proper disposal. 

Our fuel tankage has now dropped to about 25 gallons capacity.  We’ll top it up and then fill two fuel cans with an additional 10 gallons to carry and add as needed.

All the tank problems consumed a little over 3 days and I’m guessing over 4000 squeezes of the fuel bulb before my arms were saved by the loaned electric pump. 

Palm trees!  At about 4:30 pm day before yesterday, I was done.  I took a moment to look around and enjoy the palm trees, sunshine, pale green water over white sand, light breezes and high 70’s temperatures.  I guess if you have to suffer, you couldn’t picture a nicer place.  Of course, the dark Bahamian rum and guava juice cocktails helped!

Yesterday was spent in preparing the boat for the storm arriving this afternoon.  It is about 1:30 pm and winds are blowing 20-25 knots, gusting 30.  Barbara is down for an after lunch siesta.  In two hours, squalls and thunder storms are supposed to hit with winds gusting to the 50 knot range.  Boats have moved around the harbor area looking for some protection and good holding for their anchor.  All have their fingers crossed hoping they do not drag anchor. Breaking loose could lead to hitting another boat or running aground or worse.

 I glanced out the window just now and the leading edge of the clouds is starting to darken the sky.  The storm cells, highest winds and rain should only last about 3 hours, but then the wind is supposed to shift dramatically and blow all night with gusts to 40ish knots.  Few folks will sleep tonight and all the VHF radios will be tuned to channel 68 to listen for boats in distress in hopes they can be helped.  Things are supposed to calm down by Tuesday night.

We’ve decided to not travel further south this trip.  Services and supplies get fewer and farther between the farther south you go.  Instead, we’ll begin working our way back up the Exumas stopping at places we’ve been hoping to see.  The game plan is to cruise back towards the states and find a place for the boat to stay while we make repairs between trips.  Surely there must be a good spot for “Submit” and us along the coast somewhere between Texas and South Carolina!  In the past we have lived aboard “Submit” while making repairs and upgrades.  This next batch will probably be more comfortably and efficiently done if we find a place to stay nearby.

We’ve thought at times about what it would have been like to just go charter a boat for a trip each year instead of having our own boat.  No repairs.  No maintenance.  No storage.  No worries! 

Chartering would have been fun, but most locations popular for chartering are appealing to charter boat tourists.  We wanted to get off the beaten path.  And, charter trips usually last one to two weeks at the most.  We wanted to spend longer times on the boat and, since acquiring Submit 8 years ago, have lived aboard her for over two years, several months at a time.

For now, it is still pretty outside.   The pale sea foam green water has white caps, the palm trees are all leaning one way, and I’ve decided not to have a delicious rum drink right now just in case I need my wits about me later.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Red Shanks Anchorage

January 20th, 2017  Red  Shanks
We are at anchor in Red Shanks area, outside George Town, Exumas, Bahamas.  We were here last spring when our granddaughter Libby joined us for a week.  We walked beaches, snorkeled, collected sand dollars, explored a sea cave and had a delightful time with her.  We are enjoying light breezes, sunny skies and are surrounded by little uninhabited islands, though no palm trees.  I would guess the outside temperature at 80F.

Yesterday was the first day it wasn’t blowing like stink and people were starting to head out. We were planning to leave George Town this morning and head for Concepcion Cay.  So, why are we here?
Since last post we have been gradually getting “Submit” ready to travel.  We did find some damage from Hurricane Matthew.  The sparfly wind indicator is missing from the masthead.  But, while digging into various compartments, we found the companionway covers which we thought were lost.  We were delighted!

We have two  40 gallon water tanks aboard which were empty when we left the boat.  We have no large water cans, so on the two trips to town in the dinghy, we took an assortment of gallon and smaller jugs, we managed to add 16 gallons to one tank, a dismal job if necessary to fill both tanks this way.  We also were only about half in our two fuel tanks which hold a total of 45 gallons.  We have no way to haul fuel.  So the decision was made to go to a fuel dock and pay $.40 per gallon for water and much MUCH  more than that per gallon for what turned out to be 25 gallons of fuel.  I made brisk walks to collect the now filled propane bottle we had dropped off in town yesterday, to a different business to purchase a thermometer for our refrigerator and to a local café to buy take out lunch.  It was 11:45 am.  I was informed lunch would not be available for at least 45 minutes.  We'll skip it.

I headed to the grocery market where Barbara had been doing some last minute shopping, a few tomatoes, some broccoli, several bottles of guava juice and mango juice to mix with Haitian rum, another dozen eggs, another expensive loaf of bread, etc.  We hauled our treats back to the boat and were given permission to stay at the fuel dock long enough to eat lunch at the marina’s restaurant.  I think we have eaten there for the last time even if we stay here a while.

After lunch, we headed to Honeymoon Beach to anchor and continue preparations.  The wind had finally eased enough to allow us to install our sails.  After that, a short nap and then things began going down hill.  Barbara had a very unquiet tummy.  Perhaps the seafood fritters from the marina café had not been cooked completely through?

I had a sandwich and a beer for dinner and laid down to read.  Drip, drip, drip.  Furl leaking into the bilge.  A fuel tank has developed a leak.  We are not sure which one.  We decided we had to stay in George Town to sort this out instead of heading off to areas with no support and running out of fuel around here is an inadvisable option.  And we did not want to have fuel leaving the bilge to pollute the sea.

This morning we announced on the VHF cruisers net that we needed help.  We asked to find someone with a manual or battery operated pump and containers which could be used to pump fuel back out to the tanks.  They did not appear to be leaking at a little less than half full, so we needed to get the fuel down to about that level and see how it looked.  We have tried various ways to isolate one tank from the other in attempt to determine which one is leaking but so far have failed.

A sailor with an old sailboat called us saying he had jugs and a hand pump.  We headed across the roadstead and rafted up next to him.  His system failed to be able to draw fuel from the fuel fill.  I ended up disconnecting the fuel line near the engine and squeezing 22 gallons of diesel out of our tanks with the priming squeeze bulb the size you find on an outboard motor fuel line.  I’ve decided not to shake hands with anyone any time soon.  My new grip might harm them.

So, we’ve decided to hang out here at Red Shanks for the next several days, deciding what to do, enjoying the area, swimming, walking the beaches, snorkeling, perhaps diving under the boat to do a little cleaning today, tomorrow and Saturday.  Then a storm is headed through, building on Sunday, winds gusting to 50 or 60 knots possible Monday and gradually dying down on Tuesday.  We chose Red Shanks because it is protected from the waves during the high winds and the little islands around us may help to break the winds a bit.

Oops!  Change of plans.  Still fighting fuel tanks.  Back to Kidd’s Cove outside George Town.  Stay tuned.

Monday, January 16, 2017

First post of 2017

Day 1.
Day one: Boat yoga.
Arrived around noon and a taxi was waiting for us, arranged by Bob, who took good care of our boat while we were away. Our taxi driver kindly stopped at a store so we could purchase water, as we had left our tanks empty. He dropped us off at the water taxi, but Bob was there and gave us a ride to Submit.

Submit looked pretty good. No creatures. Some mold and rust. Moving in begins.

Reggie started by moving stowed items in the ‘hallway’ and installing them in the cockpit. Steering wheel, boom, dingy, etc., are back where they belong. Barbara was busy moving everything from one small area to the hallway, enabling her to wipe it down with anti-mold and then putting everything back, plus whatever we brought with us that would now live in that area. This helped Reggie improve his ‘mountain goat’ poses, as he climbed over the mountains she created.  He then folded himself into ‘mole pose’.  Some of you may not know this pose, so I’ll explain it. First, fold yourself into the smallest ball possible and ease yourself into the lazarette. Once stuffed into the confined area, you practice several other poses, mostly stretching your arms where they can’t possibly go. Occasionally, his head or one of his arms pokes out of the hole. This is why it is called ‘mole’ after the game Whack a Mole.

Barbara’s  boat yoga consisted of ‘frog’, which she tries every year and then gives up. It is a move she attempts it when making up the bed. As our bed has three walled sides, it is necessary to sit on the bed while it is being made. ‘Frog’ requires one to grab hold of the cushion, on which you are sitting, hop up and stuff the bottom sheet under the cushion.  Barbara cannot hop high enough nor tuck fast enough. She must resort to ‘rocking horse’ to do the corners of the head and that’s good enough.   The foot of the bed, which in encased in a box about three feet deep and 2 and one-half high, requires another pose, ‘inchworm’. With the sheet bunched in front of you, it pushed  towards the foot of the bed as you inch your way after it. Once there, Barbara finds combining ‘rocking horse’ with ‘inchworm’ works best.

We celebrated that night with freeze dried beef stew, which is left over from our back pack trip in Glacier last summer. We had some wine left from our last visit to Submit. To our surprise, it has turned to port.  We find we like it better if we add water, Croation style, but it isn’t bad without water.

Day two: Back packing cruising style:

We arranged for the water taxi to pick us up and take us into town. Back packing dehydrated food is OK, but we were in search of real food. First stop, however, was the phone company. Our Bahamian phone, didn’t seem to be working.  A nice young man punched a few buttons and we are set. Grocery store next. Unfortunately, the boat had just arrived and the shelves were not restocked. We were able to get a few vegetables, milk and eggs.

We stopped at the Towne Café, recommended by our taxi driver, for tasty grouper fingers for lunch.  When did groupers grow fingers?

We each put a bag on each shoulder and carried one in each hand. Barbara carried 30 pounds and Reggie maybe had 50? Hike back to Elvis, the water taxi to for the return ride to “Submit” to stow our food. 

We are both delighted with how well “Submit” came through the 9 months without us and hurricane Matthew.  No damage found.  One light needs to be re-glued to the side wall above the galley sink.  We had to replace the ventilation fan on the Nature’s Head composting toilet.  It was a real delight to find no bugs.  The bilge was not full and we don’t believe it was ever pumped in our absence.  We lost a couple port light covers and our companion way cover.  That is the biggest loss.  Barbara worked very hard on the companion way cover and it was great.  It sounds like bearings in the wind generator have died and need replacing.  Onto the list it goes.

We have numerous flashlights and other battery operated items aboard and therefore have a supply of various size batteries.  Many of the batteries are being thrown away because they have died or are dying.  It has been decided to eliminate battery operated flashlights.  There are great rechargeable flashlights available now, some with their own solar panel.  They can even be used to recharge cell phones and other devices.  We will try to eliminate as many battery operated devices as possible.

The evening included cribbage practice and curling up with books.  Between reading before sleep and again after 4 in the morning, Reggie finished  a Jesse Stone novel.  War and Peace it “ain’t” but entertaining it was. When he said he’d finished his book, Barbara had to wonder if it was “Cat in the Hat”. Guess he was awake longer than she thought.

Day 3: Upper body workout for Barbara and step aerobics for Reggie:

Reggie inflated the dinghy with the foot pump and launched it. Barbara started polishing away surface rust on the stainless steel. Don’t believe it when told stainless steel is low maintenance. Reggie took pity on her and rounded out his workout with his shoulder polishing exercises.  He also hooked the dinghy battery into the charging system, re-installed the blades on the wind generator and other odds and ends.

Barbara and Reggie Love Luci! Luci blew or was knocked overboard and was drifting away in the strong breeze. We have been having the same weather as last year. Strong winds from the north. Everyone is staying put. Reggie pulled the dinghy forward and Barbara leapt into it to rush to the rescue.  Paddles were thrown in and she was off to the rescue.   Barbara had forgotten how short the rope (painter) on the dinghy was. The shocked look on her face after turning around triumphantly with Luci in hand, tells all. She was ‘miles’ from Submit. “You let me go?”
“The rope wasn’t long enough,” he shrugged.  The strong breeze plus paddling with one oar took her quickly to Luci for the save.  However, getting back to submit proved no easy task.  She paddled mightily from the bow with one oar, not wanting to take the time to install both for proper rowing because she would lose too much ground and had no seat from which to row.  She made it to a mooring ball behind Submit and held on.   Reggie retrieved a long line and a fender from the lazarette, tied them together and threw them overboard.  The wind carried them to Barbara and she was retrieved along with the dinghy and Luci. 

Between the polishing and paddling, Barbara can hardly raise her arms.  We declared 3: 15 pm to be cocktail hour so she was presented a guava juice and Haitian rum cocktail.  She is reviving.

Tomorrow is moving day.  Our time on the mooring ball is up.  It may be challenging to find a reasonable spot to anchor.  Winds in the twenties plus gusting to 30 knots have been blowing for a couple weeks and are predicted for another week at least.  Finding a spot with protection could be difficult since the 100 plus other boats have already made their choices.  Anchoring solidly in a good spot is the secret to a good night’s sleep.