Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Back to Elbow Cay / Tahiti Beach & Kayaking

Friday June 25 thru Monday June 28

We leave our anchorage at Tiloo Cay at 2 in the afternoon heading for the south tip of Elbow Cay, which as the crow flies is only a ½ mile away. BUT we have to traverse around some very shallow area so we have to head east all the way over to Great Abaco Island before we can head north and then back west to Elbow Cay. We pass right by the Boat Harbor Marina we stayed at a week ago to pick up Sean and we know where the fuel dock is and that we can get to it easily so we make a stop to top off with 70 gallons of fuel. When we left here Steve bought a $5 bag of ice that he forgot to get, so we figure we will get it now. The fuel attendant said he was not authorized to give us a bag, so Steve goes to the office and explains what happened, and asks for bag of ice. Well you would think we were pulling the scam of a lifetime, like we would go through all this just for a bag of ice. They have to pull Steve’s receipt to verify he did in fact pay for the bag of ice then reluctantly let him get a bag. Away from the fuel dock heading west toward Elbow Cay & Hope Town we have to get almost to shore before being able to turn south. This is where we previously anchored out when we visited Hope Town only now we are even closer to shore, it is low tide so we are going very slow to see how far south we can get. We have several places we can stop & anchor if the water gets too shallow before getting to Tahiti Beach, our final destination. We make it down as far as we thought we would be able to go before running out of water, and are anchored by 5. It is pretty funny that we can see our first anchorage at Tiloo Cay, but had to come such a roundabout way to get here. Such is life in the Abacos with a deep draft boat. We have a nice swim off the boat and a relaxing dinner on board. Saturday we head out to explore this part of the Island. Tahiti beach at high tide is almost covered at low tide you can walk from the Sea of Abaco to the Atlantic Ocean. We then head over to Lubbers Quarters Cay to see where Cracker P’s is located as we are planning to go back there for their howling at the moon buffet dinner & party. Back to the boat shower & change and back to Cracker P’s for dinner, tide is up now so we have water under the dinghy at the dock. A lot of people staying at nearby islands come over by motor boat, you can tell the difference from those that come by dinghy from an anchored boat by the way we dress. Shorts, tank tops & flip flops verses dresses and high heels. This area of the Bahamas is so close to Florida that many of the people we meet just hop back and forth between the two especially the power boaters that can come across at 25 knots. We have a fun night out and the full moon to see by on the dinghy ride back to the boat. Sunday we have another relaxing day, enjoying the views and watching a lot of the boats leave this anchorage. Monday we were going to move to another Island but we decide to get the kayaks out and do some exploring in White Sound that is too shallow for us to get with our boat. Well we are working on a video that if we can get it posted and maybe even sent into America Funniest Videos we could win. The kayak trip starts in calm waters and we make our way into White Sound. We had been to the Abaco Inn by bicycle when Sean was visiting, now we were in the same area by water. First we make our way over to Sea Spray marina and resort and kayak around there. We go ashore from at their dock and walk around; you can hear the waves crashing on the Atlantic side so we asked the dock master if we could bring the kayaks over. He said we could BUT it is a little rough out there and suggests we walk over to take a look first. We have wanted to try the kayaks out in waves so we walk over to look. It is kind of rough out in the Atlantic but not too bad but the beach here is very small and has some sharp rocks on either side which would NOT be good to come crashing into with our bodies or our inflatable kayaks. Back at the marina we talk to the dock master again and he suggests that the beach down by the Abaco Inn might be better. Off we go to the Abaco Inn going ashore on the sound side leaving the kayaks on that beach while we walk over and look at the Atlantic side beach. It is better suited for what we have in mind, at this time I am a little apprehensive as to whether I will be able to get out through the waves crashing on shore. Steve goes back across and gets one of the kayaks to bring over. He goes out first with no problems, paddling out over the waves having a great time and rides them back in having a blast. Now it is my turn to try, Steve has me tie the line for the kayak to my ankle like he did in case I get tipped over so it will not get away. This is where it gets FUNNY, I am just trying to walk down to the water and the waves come up and knock me over, several times. Between laughing and the waves rolling over me and the kayak it is a sight to be seen. Trying to hold on to the paddle and with a kayak tied to my ankle and with my bad knees I have a hard time getting up. Steve is standing nearby filming, so is no help. Finally I somehow manage to get up and in the water and out over the waves, it is a blast. On the way back in I get sideswiped by a wave & tossed off. Now I have to try to get back on, again a sight to be seen, at least the waves are pushing me & the kayak towards shore. At last I get back on & ride the rest of the way to shore. YES it was worth it ! Steve goes out again and this time he gets tossed off also, of course he manages to get back on much easier than I did. We go up to the Abaco Inn’s pool and rinse off the sand, get a drink and order lunch. After lunch and a rest we go back to White Sound side and kayak back to the boat. What a fun day on the water, and I have the bruises to prove it.

Link to pictures;


Friday, June 25, 2010

Relaxing days in the Abacos

Monday June 21 thru Friday June 25

On Monday we get to Marsh Harbour by 11, and are anchored this time in Marsh Harbour. We have lunch on the Boat as Sean finishes packing. Load up the dinghy and Steve takes Sean to shore to get a taxi to the airport to catch is 2:20 flight. We stay anchored there as we have a good internet connection and some catching up to do. Tuesday Morning we make a quick run into the Island, Trash dump site by the dinghy dock and a few things to pick up at the grocery store and a post office stop. Back to the boat and we are underway by 10:30. The wind is much stronger today and blowing 16+ true at first on the nose as we head east to get around the point of Marsh Harbour. As hard as this is to believe it actually feels COOL !!! Especially in the shade of the cockpit, and when we turn south and have 20+ apparent winds on the beam I am thinking I might need a shirt on over my bathing suit. But that cool breeze feels great as we do 8+ knots hugging the coast in the deep 9’ water since out in the middle it gets to be 6’ and LESS. Once we pass the shallows we turn east again and are heading right for Tiloo Cay. We are anchored by 12:30, have lunch on board and then take naps up in the cockpit in the cool summer breeze. Later Steve goes snorkeling to check the anchor and see if there is anything by the nearby rocks, I feel cool enough with the wind so do not want to get wet and be cold. Something I have not thought would be possible these last few weeks. We take a dinghy ride to check out a “castle” house (2nd one we have seen today). The castle looks like it is built of local limestone, but is properly crenulated, and even has a couple of gargoyles perched on the parapets. Also on the property is a large seaplane hangar with “Scare Air” painted over the doors. As we are going around the corner we see a sign for the house “The Far Side” we do NOT know if it is owned by the man who did the comic but it makes us wonder. Back at the boat we do have internet connection, so we Google the house & sure enough it comes up. It does not make a reference as to who the owner is / was just that is was recently sold for 4.85 million, damn we just missed it. We have dinner on board as we enjoy the evening breeze. Wednesday we are under way by 9:30, still have some strong winds but not as strong as Tuesday. We heard on the cruisers net that the dive shop that told us about Sandy Cay being a good snorkel place is going somewhere different due to the likely hood of the water being rough due to the strong east winds these last two days. We have not been down that far yet so figure we will go down to see how it looks. We are sailing zig zagging around the shallow areas to get to Sandy Cay; it is located right across from a channel out to the Atlantic. The swells coming in are too big to snorkel in, but the boat sure likes sailing in them. We decide with these conditions and it being low tide it would not be a good time to try to get close to Little Harbour, the water nearby is pretty shallow. So we turn around and have a nice sail back to Tiloo Cay. We anchor in a different spot, and as we set the anchor I notice what looks to be a rock off to the side of the boat. We are clear of it but when we go in to check the anchor and snorkel we see it is debris. Old parts of a washer & dryer or something that shape and an old barbeque grill. We are in a pretty isolated area so someone had to bring the trash out here via a boat to dump it. We swim towards shore and snorkel for a while. On the way back to the boat a little further out close to the other debris we see an electric GOLF CART sitting upright on the bottom. The fish are using it has a home but still a shame that people are using these beautiful waters as a dumping ground. The afternoon is spent taking a nap, reading and swimming, just another relaxing day on the water. Thursday since we do not have internet service at this anchorage but did the first night at Tiloo, we decide to get closer to where we were the 1st night. Pull up anchor and go ¼ mile up the Island put the anchor down & test the internet connection, and it is good so we stay there. There are several docks with no homes one has a bunch of signs saying private property but the other two don’t & one says Tiloo Residents. Since we are anchored here we consider ourselves temporary residents, and use the dock to tie up to and go ashore. This Island is not very developed, for the few houses on it I do not think there are roads just get there by boat (or by Scare Air). Off this dock is a “path” that goes up into the trees so we climb up. Great view from up top, wish there was a better way down the other side to the Atlantic. Steve makes it down I wait on top, not wanting to scratch my legs all up. Mostly a rock beach but all kinds of things have washed ashore from no telling where. Steve finds a good 4” stainless snap hook. We go back to the boat for a swim & some snorkeling. Another easy relaxed day and it looks like the tropical disturbance down in the Caribbean will stay south of us. Friday - we have been living on board for 3 months now and are both feeling very comfortable with our new living arraignments. Don’t miss the extra room(s) of the house, it is hard to feel confined when you sit in the cockpit and look out at the beautiful water & Islands. Steve has his “office” just like at home only smaller and I use the dining area as my workspace. Eating dinner up on deck with the sun setting just can’t be beat for ambiance. We are adjusting to this new lifestyle rather nicely.

Link to some pictures

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Marsh Harbour /Hope Town/Treasure Cay/Great Guana / Sean’s visit

Marsh Harbour
Wednesday June 16

We are up early taking a quick bike ride into town to see the other grocery store; we had seen a “big box” store the day before but wanted to see who had the better selection before coming back to provision. Stopping for breakfast, something we almost never do, at Jamie’s the same place we had lunch at on Tuesday. Decent food at better prices then what we have seen in the Islands and huge portions. Tuesday after a late lunch we did not need dinner and Wednesday after breakfast we did not need lunch. We drop the bikes back at the rental place walk the rest of the way to grocery store, do our shopping and get a taxi back to the boat. We have the afternoon free to relax in the shade by the pool, swimming and reading as we wait for Sean to arrive.

Sean gets to the boat around 6 after having trouble convincing customs that the box he is bringing with boat “parts” is for his Dad’s boat that has already been through customs. He sweet talks the customs lady into not having to pay the import duty tax. We needed 3 items, a dinghy oar after losing one of ours (fell off at Green Turtle Cay), main sail outhaul line and the generator PVC fitting, that Steve THOUGHT would be easy for Sean to pick up & bring with him. Well Sean will be telling his West Marine experience story for a while. During lunch breaks and as he is trying to get things done at work before vacation he has to go to several West Marine stores trying to locate the items we need. He has called ahead and was told that a nearby store had what he needed only to find out when he arrived that was not the case. The generator part that Steve had sent him the scanned picture & details of, was NOT a very clear picture and in GERMAN (Panda generator made in Germany). But somehow he managed to pull off a miracle and was able to at the last minute get all 3 items. Even as I write this I laugh at his story of his dealings he went through to get everything. We go for a swim at the pool and have a drink before heading out for a late dinner. We go to Curly Tails restaurant, who in spite of being VERY busy this night and loosing electricity several times during the evening deliver a delicious meal. Back to the boat where we stay up late visiting, and making plans on where to go during Sean’s visit.

Marsh Harbour photos

Elbow Cay / Hope Town
Thursday June 17 – Friday June 18

Thursday morning Steve & Sean make a quick last minute run up to the liquor store to get a case of beer and some extra adult beverages. We are leaving the marina by 11, for the short trip over to Elbow Cay & Hope Town. The main sail outhaul line that Sean brought with him was put in earlier and we have no problem getting the sail out. Originally the plan was to get there at high tide so we could get into the harbor & pick up a mooring ball. As we are approaching we see several other boats anchored out in front of the channel going into the harbour.

The water is clearer out here, not as crowded and we do not need to worry about the tide, so we anchor out. The hook is just barely set and Sean is already jumping off into the water, amazed at how clear it is and all the starfish you can see. It is another hot day so it does not take long for us to join him; we put the ladder down first so we can get back on the boat. We are right opposite the light house and with the blue sky background and pastel houses it is an awesome sight. While in the marina we had put the dinghy away so we go through the process of getting it back out and blown up. We have lunch on board watching the thunderheads form over the main Island, hoping the rain stays over there. We take the dinghy into town; it is a beautiful Island with a lot of nice & VERY nice homes to rent out. Walk around checking out the shops & restaurants, stopping at a grocery store to get an ice cream to cool us off. We find a bike rental place but I want to rent a golf cart for the next day to help get our snorkel gear over to the Atlantic side beaches & reefs. We see a LOT of golf carts so I ask several people where the shop is & they all just tell me I have to call the phone #’s listed on the carts or by VHF radio on 16. I guess it is a big Island secret on where they are kept so I make a note to call in the morning to arrange for one. We take the dinghy across the harbour to the lighthouse dock and go up to see the “famous” lighthouse.

The walk up the 101 steps is worth the breath taking views; we take lots of pictures as we marvel over the views. We head back down & go back to the boat and go for a swim. Steve makes a great dinner that we enjoy up on deck. Sean comments that we really are having another day in paradise, and keeps remarking about how incredible that this is now our life. How true that is. Friday Sean found a place that would let him in early for breakfast so he could watch the World Cup soccer games so Steve drops him off in town while I sleep in. Steve makes a few phone calls to the 5 golf cart rental places to find out that they are ALL rented out. Hard to believe that this tiny Island is all booked up with no golf carts available, but there are several weddings going on so all the people in for those events have booked ahead. We rent bikes instead, and of all the Islands this would be the one to have a golf cart as it has more hills. We manage with backpacks and the bikes have baskets, so by noon we are riding away with our snorkel gear.

 First stop is lunch at On De Beach Bar & Grill recommended for a great location with good food. And it is as well as a great place to snorkel. Lots of coral and sponges, a 4-5 lb lobster, sting ray, and the biggest parrot fish we’ve ever seen (10-15 lbs at least). Afterwards we ride down towards the south east side of the Island to the Abaco Inn. It is quite a ride (for me) with the hills on a bike with NO gears. But the scenery along the way is worth it and great exercise. We find the Abaco Inn located off White sound and enjoy the fabulous view while rinsing off the salt in the pool and relax & have a drink.

 Sean is just about to fall asleep until Steve tells him there is soccer game on up at the bar. Off he goes & Steve takes his place on the lounge chair falling asleep to the sound of the waves crashing up against the rock. We drag ourselves away to head back towards “town”, It is only 5 so we decide for a little more bike riding towards the north west side of the Island. This side the roads become sand, dirt & rock !!! Making it much harder (for me) to get up some of the hills. Again the scenery & views make it all worth the effort definately got my exercise today. Back to town stopping for a drink at the restaurant we plan to eat at but thinking it is a little too early for dinner and it sure would be nice to shower & put dry clothes on, so we go back to the boat. A quick shower & change and we head back to the Island – NOT as easy by dinghy as it is by car. Of course now there is a short wait for a table, but once again worth the wait as we have a wonderful meal. We have a light on the dinghy now, and we had a flashlight with us but still worry at night that some speed boat might miss seeing us. We make it back to the boat after another truly fabulous day. A perfect day, until the generator overheated again so no A/C for bedtime. Steve had fixed the leak, and that was holding fine. We let the genset cool down, and Steve checks everything, he cannot figure out WHY it is overheating?? He is exhausted so after two more attempts he calls it quits for the night. Sean has a pleasant night sleeping up in the cockpit and we have enough windows in our room to be comfortable through the night.

Link to Hope Town pictures

Treasure Cay
Saturday June 19

Before heading off to Treasure Cay, actually not a Cay but part of the Main Island of Abaco, Steve works on the generator again & of course now it seems to be working fine. We are under way by 9:30 light winds behind us so we have the jib out and enjoy a nice slow sail in beautiful emerald green water. Steve & Sean take turns napping on the way over. We make our way into the channel, and to the anchorage where there are supposed to be mooring balls, but none are there so down goes the anchor. We go exploring / sightseeing on the dinghy then over to the marina and a short walk over to the beach. The beach claims to be one of the top 10 in the world and we have made comments on the way over as what could be so different with this one from the ones on the other Islands. Well when we get there it is easy to see how they can claim this, miles of beautiful white sand up against turquoise water, it is a magnificent sight.

What makes it even better is that we almost have the place to ourselves. It is late in the day but it is still Saturday so maybe it is off season, but hardly anyone on the beach. We’re surrounded by a school of angelfish in the water. People must feed them, because they stick close to us, and if you move your hand like you’re dropping something in the water they swarm all around. There was not a pool to rinse off the salt but the bar/restaurant that was closed did have a fresh water hose available to rinse the salt & sand off. We go back to the boat, where Steve makes dinner that we enjoy as we watch the sunset. Evening time and we start the generator up and after about 45 minutes it shuts down from being overheated again. Steve is not happy about this as he has looked at everything and sees no reason for it to be acting up. Finally a thought occurs to him that with Sean here we have all 3 A/C units coming on at the same time. After the cool down time he starts it up with just 2 units running to begin with. Once they have cooled things down, he starts the 3rd one up and now they all can work together. So the problem was just too much load on to start up with, needed to bring the load up slowly. We all get a good nights sleep.

Link to Treasure Cay pictures

Return to Great Guana Cay for Nippers Sunday Event
Sunday June 20

Sunday we sleep in a little until Steve sees that the tide is going out and gets a little concerned about the depth in the channel to Treasure Cay, so we are under way by 10. A short motor sail back over to Great Guana Cay, where we will take Sean over to Nippers to experience the Sunday Pig Roast Event. There are a lot of boats anchored in the harbour but we finally find a spot and get the anchor set. The out board motor for the dinghy had been acting up, so after a failed attempt on getting it started he decides he better check it out. BUT to do that he has to take the motor off the dinghy and put it back on the boat, we do NOT want parts falling in the water. Luckily it was an easy fix; the drain plug in the carburetor fell out so once he got it apart he was able to put it back in & reassembled in a short time. Motor back on and away we go, following the groups of people all walking across the Island to Nippers. True to form it is a party on the beach.

We luck out & get a table in the shade, get a round of drinks and I make it a point to find a waitress to order some food. Sean & I order off the menu (not the buffet pig roast) Steve says he is not hungry so will eat later. Sundays at Nippers is always prime people watching, and today is true to form. There’s a bachelorette party there with matching turquoise bikinis and hats, with the bride to be in a white bikini with “bride” on her butt. After an afternoon of fun, sun, swimming & dancing & drinking someone who did not eat had trouble staying awake. Walking back to the boat we stop at Pirates Cove so I can use their internet phone connection to call home and wish my Dad a happy father’s day & Mom a happy B-Day and I get to talk to my sister who is there also. Once Steve sat down the afternoon caught up with him and he was out like a light,
so we let him sleep awhile while Sean & I visit. After a short nap we proceeded down the road stopping at Grabbers to finally get some food into Steve. As we wait for dinner Steve & Sean take a dip in the pool. It is a dark ride back to the boat in calm waters after another wonderful day in the Abacos. We have had a wonderful few days visiting with Sean, and showing him a little of the cruising life. Monday we will have to return to Marsh Harbour for Sean to catch his flight back to West Palm then home to DC.

Link to Nippers pictures

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Great Guana Cay to Marsh Harbour

Monday June 14 – Tuesday June 15

We stay at Great Guana Cay and spend the DAY working on the main sail trying to get it out of the mast. Pulling on it, rolling it out and in, swinging the boom back and forth trying to help it inch itself out. Sending Steve up the mast to see if he can see where it is jammed. I am sure we had several people wondering why that sail boat is trying to get their main sail out at anchor. We would put has much tension on the outhaul line as possible then let it sit for a while. The sheet was totally loose and light winds so the boom would just move a little until we pushed it from side to side. FINALLY at 5:30 we got it all the way out! Now we have to roll it back in! and hope that it does not jam up the following day. We have been swimming on & off all day to keep cool during all this and Steve decides he will make dinner and then turn the generator on so we can eat with the A/C on. Five minutes after sitting down to eat the generator quits, it is running HOT again! Too hot to work on so we open all the hatches back up and finish dinner. Sit up on deck where it is a little cooler while the generator cools off. Steve finds the problem is cracked PVC fitting where seawater is injected into the exhaust. NOT as easy a fix as sea grass in the filter this will need a new part which we MIGHT be able to find in Marsh Harbour our next destination. We survive the warm evening and Steve is up early on the internet looking for a replacement part in case we can’t find one here in the Islands. We are underway by 8:30 Tuesday morning for a short hop across the Sea of Abaco to Great Abaco Island, and the town of Marsh Harbour. Wind is on the nose but with fingers crossed we pull the main out to test it, and she comes out with no problem. The sail is a little old & baggy (the sail not me) but still in good shape so not sure why it was jamming, we rolled it up real tight and will have to see if it continues to be a problem. Steve had talked on the VHF radio to the cruisers net and got some feedback as to where he might be able to find a replacement part, but just in case & to be on the safe side he has scanned the part info & emailed it to Sean. Sean will try to pick it up and bring it with him on Wednesday. Sean is thinking he is going on vacation but he is really delivering boat supplies, visitors beware you will be provided a list of what to bring (LOL). We are docked & checked in at Abaco Beach Resort and Marina in Boat Harbour by 11. Get the map out to see where the hardware & marine stores are and head off to see if we can find the part for the generator. We pass a bike rental place on the way & decide to rent bikes to go into town for our search. Meanwhile back in the states Sean is having his own troubles trying to get 3 things we needed for the boat. No luck finding the part but Steve does figure out a temporary fix. Stop for a late lunch, back to the boat where Steve fixes the generator while I go do Laundry & clean the boat, taking a swim in the pool to cool off. A busy day in paradise.

While Steve was up the mast he takes some pictures of the great view

Monday, June 14, 2010

Great Guana Cay

Greatt Guana Cay

Thursday June 10 – Friday June 11

We are underway by 10 after talking on the VHF radio to Fellow TMCA member & ex Texan Chris Blair. We had planned to meet up with them since they are cruising in the same area as we are. But they decided to head back to Florida just as we arrived at Green Turtle Key, so we just chatted a bit on the radio as they sailed past the island. We hope to meet up with them back in Florida or in November when we head back down this way. By 11 we are passing thru Whale Channel out into the Atlantic for a little jog past some very shallow waters on the Sea of Abaco side. By 11:30 we are heading back in and are passing Bakers Bay on the northeast tip of Great Guana Cay. We also pass mega yacht Gallant Lady, who is anchored off shore. You can rent her out like a hotel room, and have a fishing boat come take you fishing or a runabout boat to take you to shore. You do get to see two extreme ways of living down here, either very rich or just getting by. We are anchored in Fishers Bay by 12:45; Steve dives to check the anchor while I make lunch.

It looks like we will be getting another afternoon shower so we hang on the boat for a while. By 5 the rain has cleared and we take the dinghy to shore. We go ashore at Grabbers Bar & Grill & hotel with dock & pool right on the beach. We walk up the “main street” and over to the Atlantic side to another great Bar & Grill called Nippers also on the beach & with a pool. On this Thursday the place is almost empty, we wonder how they can keep such a big place running with such little traffic. We meet Bill & Kitty fellow sailors and visit with them for a while. They leave to eat elsewhere Steve & I eat at Nippers.

As we are walking back we see them again at Pirates Cove Tiki Bar & Grill (no pool) across from the marina at Guana Cay Harbor where they are anchored. We join them for another drink and compare dinners. We decide to check this place out the following day, they are thinking about moving on to another Island. We stop at Grabbers on the way back to the dinghy as the sun sets. Friday morning we go over to the dive shop to go out for a couple of dives. Before we even get on the boat we see an octopus right by the dock. Octopuses normally come out at night to hunt and hide during the day, but not this one. He’s well known to the dive shop and is frequently seen during the day. Once he crawled up into the lower unit of one of the dive boats engines and jammed it up so it couldn’t be raised or lowered. They tried to get him out, but had no luck and lost the use of the boat until he finally came out on his own. I tried out my new mask, not sure if it helped it seemed a little better but I will have to try again to see if I like it or not. We came up a little early from our second dive as a storm was overhead & the waves were tossing the boat around. It poured on us on the way back & I left a couple of windows open on the boat. We get back to Fishers Bay & luckily it had not rained that much here & when we get back to the boat it is just a little wet by the 2 open windows. It does rain after we are back on board so we just have a relaxing afternoon on the boat. Later it clears up and we go into Pirates Cove on the Island for dinner. We run into Bill & Kitty who had decided to stay an extra day and meet other friends Jack & Jackie, they are done eating but we join their table for dinner of BBQ ribs, drinks, and conversation. We head back to the boat just in time for another beautiful sunset here in the Islands. 

Saturday June 12 – Monday June 14

Man-O-War Cay and Back to Great Guana Cay

On Saturday we have a late morning departure, 11 am, as we only have 8 miles to go to this other island. Of course the wind is straight on our nose so we zig zag our way down the Sea of Abaco putting in 6 tacks before reaching Man-O-War. As we tack towards the main island we can see it is raining there so we get as close as we can to get a nice little boost from the wind before tacking back towards the east. We are anchored off the North West coast of Man-O-War by 2. There are two harbors here, one of which we could get in at high tide but we opt to anchor out, and take the dinghy in. We are glad we did, once past the entrance it is very narrow inside the harbors with docks and moorings & boats anchored, it would make maneuvering Ocean Star in those tight spots a little nerve wracking. After checking out the harbor we find a dock to tie up the dinghy and go walk around the Island. This island is known for its boat building and sail making. We see several shops but not a lot of activity going on in the middle of a hot day. We walk across the island past very neat little homes & yards to view the Atlantic. Some sand beaches but you have to climb over rock to get to them, we were hoping to be able to swim out to the reefs to go snorkeling but I do not do well climbing over rock. That evening we decide to go try another island on Sunday, but Sunday morning on the VHF cruisers net they mention that Nippers back on Great Guana Cay is having their Sunday pig roast bash. We’d heard this is a pretty big event so we decide to go back to Great Guana and check it out. By 10:30 we are headed back to Great Guana, wind is right behind us but we try to put the main out and she is stuck again. Steve tries to pull it in & out several times but the sail is stuck good this time and on one pull out the rope is so tight it snaps. We have a spare, so motor up to anchor at Great Guana before attempting to change it out. Steve had ordered all new lines before we left some he had switched out with the new keeping the old ones as spares some left the old & had the new as spares. The main outhaul was our old line so we got the new one out and ran it through to find it was 5 feet short, Steve somehow miscalculated the length and we came up short. Not to worry we had an old jib sheet line that was long enough so we switched them out again. Steve went on line & West Marine now carries Samson ropes so he orders another that his son Sean can hopefully bring with him on Wednesday when he comes to visit. The problem is that the main is still STUCK in the mast, but that will have to wait until tomorrow as we are off to the party at Nippers. What a party it is, we now know how the place can be almost empty 6 days a week. The place is packed!!!, the pools the patios and the beach. We have not seen this many people in one place in a long time, what a scene. We find a seat with some shade and drink some rum punch as we people watch. People come from all the neighboring Islands, via ferry or their own boat. This is the Sunday happening in the Abacos.

When the beach thins out some we go for a swim. We opted not to partake in the food here as we were not that hungry at the time as we walk back to the other side of the island we stop at Grabbers to get a bite to eat. This place is also busy on Sundays and as we are looking for a place to sit we run into Kay & Harold whom we met at Allan’s –Pensacola and join their table for dinner which confuses the waiter. We catch up on where we have been and enjoy visiting with them again. Monday Steve tries to work on the main sail, she will NOT come out, and it is jammed in good! To be continued.

Link to pictures;

Friday, June 11, 2010

Green Turtle Cay

Tuesday June 8 – Wednesday June 9

The Islands are close together in this part of the ocean, so we do not have an early departure which is always a plus for me. We enjoy some papaya on deck before pulling up anchor and are underway by 9:30. Very light winds this morning, but we only have to go 17 miles so we are sailing at about 5 knots. By 10:30 we are passing Coopers Town on Little Abaco. Winds pick up a little as we are passing another private Island Ambergris Cay, looks like a nice house or two & beach & dock , must be nice to have your own Island here in the Bahamas. By 1 we are anchored just outside of Black Sound and the town of New Plymouth on Green Turtle Cay. First we take the dinghy into Black Sound with the portable depth finder just to verify the reported depth. Looks like we can get in, just one tricky part where we would have to be careful and at high tide it would not be a problem. We decide our anchorage is pretty convenient, and we have no need for a marina at this time so we will stay at anchor. Next we dinghy over to the “town” side of the Island, and they have several places to tie up at.

We walk around the town which is maybe a ½ mile long by a ¼ mile wide so it does not take us long to make the rounds. Find a place for lunch, stop at a “grocery” store on the way back, and make a reservation to rent a golf cart on Wednesday to tour the Island. Back on board the boat and by 5 pm we get internet service and can reconnect with the world. Spend the rest of the night, with a break for dinner, going thru emails and updating the blog. Wednesday morning is cloudy & looks like we could get some rain during the day. We pack a backpack with snorkel gear and stuff to bring, just in case and since we have wheels no problem carrying it. By 9 we are driving away in our golf cart to see the sights.

 Mind you this is a three mile long Island & maybe a mile wide so I think we went up & down every street and saw everything we could. Some of the roads were “paved” but most were not and it was like an amusement park ride going up & down some of the roads, and trying to remember to drive on the left. There is a lot of new building going on and they are putting in new sewer lines so on top of the narrow, bumpy streets they had work crews tearing up one side of the road in places. A lot of the homes are available as rentals so most of them have names not addresses. We were amazed at how many places were available for such a remote Island accessible only by boat or by boat taxi/”ferry” from Great Abaco. Once again an Island with beautiful beaches, greenery & scenery the pictures do not even begin to capture the true beauty that we are so lucky to be seeing. We make it through the day without rain and are thankful for the clouds that kept the day a little cooler. The cruising network of people in this close knit group of Islands is a relatively small group, and you tend to run into the same people and boats from Island to Island. At the end of the day as we stop at one last place we run into a couple Carrie & Rob that had arrived at Old Bahama Bay as we checked into the Bahamas over a week ago. Something familiar in a not familiar place is a good thing.

Link to Pictures;

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Bahamas June 2 thru June 7

Great sail to Great Sale Cay    

Wednesday June 2- Thursday June 3

We have an easy 8:30 departure from Old Bahama Bay, beautiful blue sky with a few scattered cumulus clouds that could form into some thunder storms later in the day. We have light winds behind us as we have to head north to avoid the shallow reef area before we can head east. We have the main out to help keep the rolling down from the 1-2 foot swells from the southwest. At 10 we make our turn to the east, from sapphire blue deep water to emerald green shallower water. The winds have picked up to 15 apparent so the jib comes out and the motor is off and we are sailing at 7+ knots. As we travel east for most of the morning we do not see any other boats, it is such a beautiful sight we can see nothing but emerald green water in every direction. We do finally see a few other boats heading west, and by 1 as we approach Mangrove Cay (pronounced key) thunderstorms are forming up ahead. The winds are up to 17-20 so we put a reef in the jib just in case we get hit with a gust. We are moving right along at 8+ knots thinking maybe we can skirt between the storms. No such luck, we do get the tail end of one storm but after 30 minutes of rain, the sun is back out. Another storm up ahead dissipates before we get to it but we are still enjoying the extra wind boost in speed. By 3:30 the wind has now died down, we roll up the sails and are now motoring in flat/calm seas. So smooth we get the backgammon set out for a few matches. By 4 we spot land off in the distance, we have not seen any other boats since 1. As we are approaching Great Sale Cay we see two other sail boats anchored at another anchorage from where we are going. As I am on the bow getting ready to drop the anchor a power boat is coming up behind us to anchor nearby. We are still amazed at how few boats we have seen on this day. We are anchored by 5:30 and go for a swim to cool off and check the anchor. After surveying the boat’s bottom in the clear water, Steve sees some areas that need attention, and spends another hour scraping baby barnacles and scrubbing plant life off it. At 7 we get another 30 minute shower that cools the evening off and brings a nice breeze to keep us comfortable thru the night. It is REALLY REALLY dark out here in the middle of nowhere with NO lights. The moon has not come out yet and the few stars showing between the clouds do not give off much light. Just our anchor light & the other boats, we know the island is close but we sure cannot see it, we can’t even see the front of the boat. We are awoken early the next morning with the sunrise shining in our windows. Steve gets up to go listen to the weather net on the SSB (single side band radio) while I go back to sleep. Later we have papaya & banana with lime for breakfast up in the cockpit. The seat is already getting hot so we get the sun screens out and put them up. WOW it cools things down right away. We then go about getting the dinghy out, blowing it up, and getting ready for a late morning excursion to explore the Island. Turns out not to be a lot to this little Island other than being a great place to anchor as you cross the Little Bahama Bank. Glad we are not on the move today as there is no wind, you could water ski on the water it is so still. We do see a couple of small sand sharks, one in close to the mangroves the other close to the beach when we are walking along shore. We find a place to snorkel but not much to see on this side of the Island. Back to the boat for some shade, lunch, and to plan what Islands we will be visiting next. During the afternoon 8 other boats come into the anchorage. We hear & see thunder storms off in the distance wondering if they will head our way. We need to charge the batteries so at 6 Steve turns on the generator & we close up to run the A/C while the generator is running. I put things away in the cockpit just in case we get some rain. By 7 it is raining a little but by 8 we are in a full blown thunder storm with lightning all around us. Good timing for the A/C, because it would be a sauna below otherwise with everything closed up. We have dinner hoping that the strikes just look close and that we do not get hit. By 9 it is all over and we have survived, all is quiet, calm and DARK. Just 9 little anchor lights out on the water; you cannot even see the dinghy hanging on the back of the boat 10 feet away. Two more thunderstorms come during the night with 20 – 25 knot winds, but they don’t last long and the anchor holds.


Friday June 4 – Saturday June 5

Steve goes up to the bow to bring up the anchor and we are on our way by 8 am. As I navigate out of the Harbor we have a way point bearing of 0⁰ as we head north to avoid the rocks and shoals surrounding the Island. By 9 we turn east and the winds are light but right on our sweet spot so sails are up & motor is off moving along at 7+ knots. There are Rock Islands & just rocks scattered all around us, some off in the distance some seem close! It is amazing to think how people navigated these waters before charts & GPS. I find myself rechecking the charts to be sure none of the rocks have moved, as I have not adapted to how they look on the map and how it looks on the water. To me they always look closer on the water. Probably why I got nervous when I could not figure out what looked like some kind of “stick” mark straight in front of us. It was not on the map, and I just knew it had to be a new hidden rock we were heading for. It was always in the same 11 o’clock position and we never seemed to get any closer to it. Finally at about 10:30 we are close enough that Steve can see with the binoculars that it is another sail boat on our same route up ahead, not a mark for a rock. By 11:30 the winds have died down to 5 knots so sails are rolled up and we are motoring. By 1 we are approaching Allan’s-Pensacola Cay, and we are anchored by 1:30. There is one power boat already anchored and another coming in behind us. We go for a swim & check the anchor then decide to swim/snorkel over to a rock “close” by to see if there is anything good to see. Well even in this little anchorage things look closer than what they actually are. I get almost there but decide it is too far, and turn around & come back to the boat. Steve makes it and goes around the rock & reports back that it was okay with some coral & fish including a big barracuda to see. We were beginning to think maybe we would not get any rain, but by 4:30 the 30 minute afternoon thunder storm struck. After the storm I heard someone calling for Ocean Star over the radio. It was the other powerboat that had been at anchor, & we thought we recognized as having been at Great Sale Cay. They had been, but left early in the morning while we stayed an extra day. They had recognized our boat and wanted to say hi & introduce themselves. We make plans to go dinghy exploring the Island the following day together. We enjoy an early dinner up in the cockpit and later in the evening we here more rumblings of thunder. Sure enough we get another downpour, they don’t last long but they come down hard and the winds jump up to 20-25 knots real fast. Saturday we wake to another beautiful day. We talk to Harold & Kay on Idgara and decide to head over to the Island around 9:30. We go around to the Atlantic side of the Island and beach the dinghy’s at a spot that we think is close to a ruin of an old US missile tracking station. We walk down to the end of the Island & around into another shallow cove with a big white sand bar, but no sign of the ruins. On the way back Steve & Harold find the “path” it is very narrow and overgrown with mangroves so Kay & I decide we do not want to see it that bad and wait in the clearing as Steve & Harold make their way back into the trees. We go for a swim at the beautiful sand bottom beach. On the way back Steve & I go look for a place to snorkel. Riding around several out laying rocks & small Islands we do not see any prime spots so go back to the rock Steve went to the day before. Not so far when you go by dinghy. After snorkeling for awhile we go back to the boat, just as we get back on board I hear someone yelling to us. I look around & see Kay & Harold on shore waving & yelling to us. We cannot make out what they are saying, but it is obvious they want us to go over. I’m thinking they must have found something good. So back into the dinghy & over to shore, turns out that they had run out of gas on their way back to their boat, making it as far as the beach by the anchorage. We tow them back to their boat and visit for awhile.

They are leaving this Island today, but we are planning on seeing some of the same Islands so will most likely run into them again. We go back to the boat for lunch, and wave goodbye. Our Dinghy motor was acting up a little on the ride stalling out while in idle. Steve knows he needs to clean the carburetor, so he does that in the afternoon. Motor runs much smother now. A little late afternoon swim & deck showers as we are the only boat at the Island. We have dinner up in the cockpit and NO RAIN today – yeah. Tomorrow we are off on another adventure to another Island.

Moraine Cay

Sunday June 6

Steve lets me sleep late as the Island we are traveling to today is only 7 miles away. We are leaving the anchorage by 9:30 slowly as it is low tide. Even though we have very light winds we are going to sail since we are not going very far and have all day. We have trouble getting the main out, it is stuck, after a few times pulling it in and out and turning into the wind she comes out. The jib is out and with 7-9 knots of wind we are sailing doing 4-5 knots. By 10:45 we are anchored at Moraine Cay. Let the dinghy down and load up our snorkel gear as there is a reef to the southeast towards the channel that we want to check out. But first we go to the Island. We can see two small houses on the Island, one looks open the other is closed up. We first walk along the beach towards the reef end but we cannot get around the Island from there. Walk back towards the house, windows are open but does not look like any one is home at the moment but signs of life. Past the dock that is pretty nice for the location. We go up the path towards the other house that is closed up & has no sign of recent activity. From there we have a good view of the Atlantic, but no way to climb down the rocks to that side.

Back to our dinghy on the beach and we go over towards some rocks where we can see the waves breaking over the reef. Anchor the dinghy and get ready to go snorkeling when Steve realizes he forgot his snorkel. He goes back to the boat to get it, while I start swimming around. There is a pretty good selection of coral and fish to see and we enjoy the morning in the water, feeling the cold Atlantic waters mixing with the warm Bahama Bank as the waves come over the reef. Go back to the boat for lunch and a read in the cockpit. We are awoken from a nap around 2 with the sound of a boat motor as another sailboat comes into the anchorage. We watch as they go thru the familiar routine of anchoring, putting the dinghy in the water, and swimming. They go off to check out the Island and stop by on their way back. They are Roy & Margrit (sp IS correct) from New Zealand on Barnstorm. They have been cruising for 7 years now, and just recently came across the Atlantic to Grenada and have been coming up the Caribbean. They are heading to Florida & up to the Chesapeake, then will fly home to see family returning in November to head to Cuba and then down to Panama. Around 4 as they are leaving to go back to their boat 3 big power boats are approaching, big satellite domes on top of 2 of the boats. They also anchor nearby and I refer to them as Papa Boat, Mama Boat & Baby Boat, as one is about 90 feet and then an 80 & 60 footer. It has been a windless & hot afternoon and the water is glass smooth. We go in for another swim to cool off and Steve gets things ready for dinner. As we are having dinner in the cockpit a small boat comes by & goes to the Island the family makes their way up to the house, not sure if they live there or just using the place. It did not look like they would have running water, or long term facilities, but we are in the Bahamas so they could live there, and commute to school & work by boat. With nightfall we go below and put the generator on to have A/C during the night to sleep. Shortly after midnight we are awoken by the sound of rain, glad that we don’t have to run around and close all 24 hatches on the boat. By 12:30 we are in the middle of a full blown thunder storm with lightning and the wind howling at 25-30 knots. Steve turns on the radar and anchor alarm to stand watch, making sure we do not drag and that the other boats nearby do not either. The heavy stuff dies down after about 45 minutes but the rain & cloud lightning hang around till about 3. Such is life on the water.

Spanish Cay

Monday June 7

We have another short travel day only about 15 miles to Spanish Cay. The morning starts out cloudy & grey but with some nice WSW winds. Roy & Margrit come over by dinghy to discuss the evening storm. They decide the winds are good for them to make a break and head over to Florida, going out the Moraine Channel to the Atlantic and turning west northwest. We are leaving the anchorage by 9:30 sailing at 6.5- 7+ knots, and by 10:45 we are anchored by Spanish Cay and the sun has burned off most of the clouds. 

 Let the dinghy down and head into the marina, no real dinghy dock so we have to climb up onto the pier. Walk around and go in for lunch, check out the store & get a map of the Island. The Marina and Hotel and condos are run by the same owners with a few private homes scattered around the Island, and an airport for charter & private aircraft, and some beautiful tropical plants and of course some beautiful beaches. We stop at the marina store on the way back and pick up a few things. Getting back into the dinghy the tide is up so it should be easier but I misstep & land in the water. It felt good to cool off, & other than some sea grass sticking on me I survive and Steve pulls me into the dinghy. It had to happen sooner or later. Back at the boat even though I am wet & cooled off, Steve changes into his bathing suit and we go for a swim. During the afternoon the winds stay steady from the southwest and we are on the windward side of the Island so the boat is rocking some from the small waves that are forming. Steve decides to head over across the Sea of Abaco which is actually only 3 miles wide at this point, to anchor in the lee of Little Abaco Island. We pull up anchor and motor across and are re-anchored in calmer waters in 40 minutes. Just after the anchor is set we are greeted by a pod of dolphins, the first we’ve seen in the Bahamas. So far the rain has stayed away although we have seen some questionable clouds and have heard & seen some distant thunder & lightning. We are hoping for a nice quiet night BUT as a write this at 11:30 pm we are hearing thunder & seeing lightning again, and just before midnight it starts to rain. Not as heavy as the night before but it rains almost all night. I think I am seeing a weather pattern here, but rain during the night is better than during the day. Tuesday we head for Green Turtle Cay and this Island actually has people & a town and things to see & do & INTERNET access so I will be able to post this update.

Link to Pictures;

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Old Bahama Bay / Grand Bahama

We slept late on Tuesday, and when we got up a lot of boats were pulling out to move on to other Islands.  We were staying for one more day, never having been here and getting in so late Monday night we did not have a chance to see anything.  We walk around the resort checking out the beautiful scenery, and decide to have an early lunch (skiped breakfast) and then take the resort bicycles in to "town" to see what else is on this end of the Island.  Remembering to ride on the left side of the road we head out.  Turns out there is not much of anything to see, plenty of conch shells all along the road.

A very poor section of the Island, nothing to see or visit, but plenty of friendly people as everyone you pass says hello. On the way back we take a spin through the exclusive neighborhood next to the marina.  Some beautiful homes on gorgeous canals.  Get back and cool off with a dip in the pool right before a 30 minute thunder storm passes over. 

We will be heading out Wednesday morning to explore the outer Islands of the little Bahama Bank & Abacos.  NOT sure  when we will have internet access again, I will be keeping a log and will be taking plenty of pictures to update when ever we can.  Here is the link to the pictures from today.  http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/WestEndOnGrandBahamaIsland?feat=directlink

Miami to West End on Grand Bahama Island

We have an early departure Monday morning for our 82 mile crossing to the Bahamas. The sun is rising up & breaking up the clouds as we pass by the city of Miami on our way out thru Government Cut.

We had been inquiring about fuel before leaving as our marina did not have any and the marina next to us did not look very promising in the depth department. When you draw 6’3’ and they tell you no problem we have 6’ that is not what you want to hear. Don’t worry it’s a mud bottom is not a good answer either. Other boaters kept telling us that they CALL the TRUCK to get diesel. Apparently you call up a diesel tank truck, and it comes out, runs a long hose down the dock (1000 ft!) and you fill up. Minimum 200 gallons though. Well Steve & I thought that was pretty funny & bizarre. We had several laughs about just calling up your own diesel truck to come deliver your fuel. It appeared that we would not be able to top off before leaving BUT on the way out the channel at the end of South Beach was a Marina. So I get on the radio & ask how deep the water is and 14 feet is a great answer. We swing in & even though I got some lines back out they have lines already to hand off to you to tie up with. Top off with 30 gallons, and the attendant verifies the diesel truck story, saying it is even cheaper than his price but they don’t work on holiday weekends. We are back underway by 8:15 after smoothest fuelling we have been through. We pass thru the jetties with a view of Miami Beach as we head out to sea.

By 8:45 the sails are up and the motor OFF it feels & sounds so wonderful to be back on the water sailing.We have a fabulous crossing; put a ½ reef in the jib just to take some weather helm off and keep the heel under 10⁰, making it easier to move around. We are moving right along at 6 to 8+ knots (10-11 with the gulf streams help), depending on the wind and wave swells, but we are close hauled and moving through the deep sapphire blue water, just like the sailing magazine pictures . At about 5 pm we are 7 miles out and can see land, by 6:30 we are tied up at the beautiful Old Bahama Bay Marina & resort.

Following protocol, we raise the yellow Q flag as we enter the harbor, and as soon as we are safely tied up, Steve goes off to Customs and Immigration to clear us in. He makes it just before closing, but there are a lot of forms to fill out, and it takes some time. But the customs officer is very accommodating, and in between watching the evening news, snacking (he’s a big man), and chatting on the phone, it gets done. $300 later, it’s next to the marina office for more paperwork and cash dispersal. Another $200 and we’re good for the night. The marina and resort are beautiful, but definitely not cheap.

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