Thursday 18 November – Tuesday 30 November
After 24+ hours offshore we are in the jetties at the Ft. Pierce inlet by 8 am, low tide has just started but the water at the bridge is still at 64'. So instead of going to the city marina by town like we planned we go to Harbortown marina where we had stayed in July and are docked by 8:30. We spend the next 6 days, doing boat projects, cleaning the boat & re- provisioning, doing laundry, all the things that are so easy to do in the States but not as easy once you leave. Like getting things delivered and walking across the street to West Marine. We reconnect with our traveling companions Jan & George on Wild Thing who traveled down the ICW and spent some time in Melbourne. They leave to cross over on Tuesday but I am waiting on some mail so we do our crossing on Wednesday.
On Wednesday 11/24, 8 months after leaving Kemah we are leaving the country once again for a much longer time. We are up early doing last minute email checks and at the fuel dock by 7:30, then fight the 3 knot incoming tide and are out the jetties by 8:30. It is a beautiful day, warm, blue skies, light 10-15 knot NE winds, 1-2 foot waves, by 10 the engine is off and we are sailing across the Atlantic to the Bahamas. We are steering to a course to allow for the Gulf Stream current but by 3 we are able to track on our direct course to Great Sale Cay. The winds start tracking more to the south so by 4 we are motor sailing and by 5 we have to roll up the genoa. We enter the banks as the sun sets, and with the darkness that follows we are reminded how truly beautiful a sky full of stars is. The almost full moon comes out a few hours later giving us plenty of light to see by. We had been into the easy entrance to Great Sale twice before so doing it at night was easy and by 2 am Thursday we were anchored and ready for a good nights sleep. We have trouble with our satellite phone, so are unable to use it but send out messages over the single side band radio that we had a safe & easy crossing. Thursday we have a short 6 hour sail over to Allens-Pensacola, and are anchored by 4, and are welcomed by Jan & George on Wild Thing. We have a great Thanksgiving dinner on board Ocean Star, thankful for this great opportunity to be living this dream lifestyle, and grateful to have friends to share it with. Friday we are underway by 8 am and arrive at Green Turtle Cay by 1. It is great to be back in familiar territory knowing which island is which and what is there. We learn that they have a golf cart Christmas parade & fireworks event planned for that night. We go back in for the parade that we were told started at 6 when in reality started at 7:30 – welcome to Island time. We enjoy the time walking around seeing the town all lit up with Christmas lights and have dinner at a restaurant on the main drag the parade will take. Well not too many participants only 7 carts !!! this on an island where golf carts are the main mode of transportation. Oh well it was pretty funny as I guessed there would be 75 carts, Steve & Jan both picked #'s in the 20's BUT George hit it right on as he said 6 carts would be in the parade. The fireworks show was totally different, they went all out and it was a spectacular display. Another great evening in the Bahamas. Saturday we hear on the cruisers net (VHF radio channel 68 in the Abacos telling of local events) that Hope Town is having their annual BOX CAR DERBY. We are underway by 9 am and sailing out the Whale Cut by 10 in calm waters. By 1 we have made it into the inner harbour at high tide and have picked up a mooring. Quick lunch & clean up and we are on our way into town, hitch a ride out to the south end where the race is and join the crowd for a fun event. The box cars are designed & built by locals and they go all out for these cars (see pictures). They also serve all kinds of adult beverages, the local favorite being the Swidgel = coconut water & gin. Coconut water just has a slight taste to it but some how manages to cover the generous portion of gin they put in the drink, very refreshing on a hot sunny day. On Sunday after Steve helps George unjam his main sail again we are out the harbour at high tide at 11 for a short trip over to Man-O-War Cay where we need to enter that harbour by high tide also. By 1 we are moored in the eastern harbour of Man-O-War. Steve dons his wet suit and cleans the brown water stain off the boat that we accumulated over our travels up to the Chesapeake. The boat looks so much better w/o a mustache. Jan & George have been coming here since 1985, so they have friends who have homes on the Island and Sunday night we go to dinner at Robert & Mary's house (Dragon Hill) who are down here for the holiday from Minnesota. Island tidbit - address's on the islands are house names, and once named by the original owner that remains the name of the house weather you like it or not. Sometimes the house is even referred to as the name of the person who originally built it even if you have owned it longer. Still like the idea of having a house name rather then a street name & #. Early Monday morning and for most of the day we get several rain showers. We manage to get into town for a short visit after lunch & between showers. At least we are getting the salt washed off the boat. Monday night plans are to go to Marsh Harbour to pick up Linda, a friend of Jan & George who lives here on Man-O-War, and who had loaded their boat up in Ft. Pierce with alcohol & a few other things she could not transport back to the Island by plane. We take the dinghy to her dock to get her 24' center console Boston Whaler to use for the 45 minute ride over Marsh. Steve is the first to climb up, he slips and his leg comes out from under him as he gets thrown back, he tries to grab hold & hang on to the ladder but winds up falling 6' down into the water wrenching his shoulder & chest muscles on his left side. We all have weathers on ready for the wet ride over BUT his fall has allowed the water inside his weathers so he is drenched inside & out. We use our flashlights to guide him to a staircase leading down to the water so he can climb out. Once we are all on the dock we are able to assess the situation, glad nothing is broken or cut but it is evident he is hurting. We get into the Whaler and use it to bring Steve back to Ocean Star where he decides that he just needs some dry clothes to change into and he can still make the trip. After a slight delay we are on our way trying to navigate the dark waters. It is a wet & bumpy 45 minute ride over. We get to Snappas dock where Linda is waiting, we all get onto the dock and go up to the restaurant to shed our wet outerwear and have drinks and dinner. Steve is putting on a brave face but he is hurting enough not to even try to change out of his wet clothes. After dinner we load Linda's luggage onto the boat wrap it in garbage bags to try to keep them dry and are off for another wet & wild 45 minute ride back to Man-O-War. George drops us off at Ocean Star from the Whaler before bringing Linda home. Steve gets out of his wet clothes takes a nice hot shower and some ibuprofen another stiff drink and off to bed. Tuesday Steve is still hurting, it will take several days for his mussels to heel, in the mean time he his moving slow. George has his own recent injury he is dealing with so he also has limited activity, and Linda's husband is out of the country, so the task of unloading her things she sent over on Wild Thing fall to the 3 ladies. We do a great job of hauling the 20 heavy boxes out from below on Wild Thing onto the Whaler off loaded onto the dock loaded onto a golf cart to get it up the hill to the house and unloaded there. Tuesday afternoon we relax on the boat while Jan & George are busy getting their boat ready to be left here while they go home to Dallas, Texas for a few months. Tuesday evening we dinghy back to Linda's house (Landfall) for a farewell dinner. We enjoy drinks on the beautiful deck at the outside bar, have a fabulous Lobster tail & Mahi-Mahi dinner (yes Dad I hate the Mahi-Mahi & loved it). Enjoyed another fun night with Jan & George as they get ready to leave the Abaco's for a few months. Plan & hope to meet up with them down in the Exuma's next year when they return.
picture link; http://picasaweb.google.com/103931849054358791487/Abacos?feat=directlink