A' Bientot Adventures

The Pirates' Silver Passage

28 April 2011 | Fort Lauderdale
25 April 2011 | Matt Lowe Cay
23 April 2011 | The Abacos
22 April 2011 | Green Turtle Cay
20 April 2011 | Abacos
18 April 2011 | Abacos
18 April 2011 | Egg Island
14 April 2011 | Sampson Cay
09 April 2011 | Staniel Cay
08 April 2011 | O'Brien Cay
04 April 2011 | Hawksbill to O'Brien Cay
01 April 2011 | Just off of Nassau
26 March 2011 | Hawk's Nest
25 March 2011 | Cat Island
23 March 2011 | Cat Island
19 March 2011 | Galliott Bay
15 March 2011 | Warderick Wells
14 March 2011 | Havana
13 March 2011 | Havana
09 March 2011

Au Revoir to A Bientot

28 April 2011 | Fort Lauderdale
linda and the captain
Our cruise has ended and we are saddened, yet energized to re-enter our “real” lives. The captain and I finished our tour of the Abacos with some quiet time to reflect on the wonderful experience, the people, the beauty of this part of the world and our joy at having this opportunity. The time has passed too quickly, but we have learned so much about ourselves and our relationship with each other. We are stronger now than we were last November, and our direction has been clarified—certainly, we had lots of time to think, contemplate and discuss at anchor and while sailing “the seven seas”. We plan to embark on a similar cruise again, after we have time to finish some of the work we have charted. The captain has a new invention in mind—similar in scope to Spartite, “the Big Stick Stuff”. I have my work at Compass Group as well as my book and volunteer endeavors that need attention. We want to spend more time with those who matter so much to us—our families and friends. Prior to the cruise completion, I left the boat and the captain and skipper entertained the famed Ice Breaking lads, a group of friends who have celebrated the passage of the rites of spring each year for the past 30 plus. JR, Peter and Jim boarded our good vessel in Marsh Harbor for a week of frivolity. In years gone by, the Abacos would have had to worry—the spring ritual is a bit tamer now, I’m told. The crew, minus Peter, made the crossing to Fort Lauderdale in record time. The plan was to complete the preparations for our vessel to be marketed by The Catamaran Company. But, things progressed quickly. Amazingly, we sold A Bientot within days of our return. She served us well and will be traveling to Australia with her new owners. Lucky girl! This gives us the opportunity to look at boats again and begin a new chapter. The blog has featured our life at sea and at quick glance, it is clear that we have been changed by our travels. The captain and I are committed to watch sunrises and sunsets (in our refreshed state of mind) and be awed by the world around us. Each day gives us a chance to discover—we’re on to the next adventure. A Bientot.

Our Only Storm

25 April 2011 | Matt Lowe Cay
linda and the captain
Today is the first full day of stormy weather we have experienced in five months. The rain pummels our good vessel, cleaning every square inch with fresh water. (We are thankful since we are very salty with over 10 days at sea since our last marina stay.)The waves are confused, hitting us from all sides at once. Occasionally, thunder roars and the dark grayish purple skies light up with lightening. We are anchored snugly off of Matt Lowe Cay, an almost uninhabited island near Marsh Harbor in the Abacos. We spent Easter afternoon here, after a challenging crossing from Green Turtle. Forecasts called for 10-15 knot winds, yet we recorded over 24 knots during the sail. We reached over 8 knots with both sails reefed as we pounded through 8-10 foot seas. We were traveling Whale Passage, noted as one of the most challenging and notorious passages in the Abacos. With the Captain at the helm, we successfully tacked back and forth, maintaining speed and a good course under sunny skies. It was a blast! When we arrived at our anchorage, we snorkeled a good distance to the island and explored a magnificent newly constructed marina—that was empty. We spent the evening creating scenarios as to why the enterprise failed. A couple of catamarans joined us in the harbor towards sunset which allowed the opportunity to meet and greet folks who have shared a similar lifestyle for the past several months.

The Green Flash

23 April 2011 | The Abacos
linda and the captain
Many of our favorite photos from our journey include sunsets and sunrises. From the time we began our adventure in Miami in December, we have found ourselves settling into the cockpit around the time the sun gently floats into the ocean to look for the elusive “green flash”. We have witnessed this special treat many times. The brief flash of green light sometimes is seen just as the last sliver of the sun disappears at sunset or the first one appears at sunrise. We have learned that the flash is caused by the refraction of sunlight through the great stretch of atmosphere between us and the setting sun; it occurs only when there are the right atmospheric conditions and a sharp horizon. If there are clouds, boats or an island on the horizon, the flash is obscured. We seldom see the flash from the porch at Trillium Ridge, but from the deck on A Bientot, we have the time and the patience to enjoy and we are rewarded. The Captain and I have vowed that we will look for the green flash more often—and hopefully, we’ll be able to see it together!

Southern Abacos

22 April 2011 | Green Turtle Cay
linda and the captain
We spent two days in the Southern Abacos, exploring some of the same places we have visited about 20 years ago and again with Jim and Mary Michaud about 4 years ago. This is culture shock for two salty sailors who have been in the mostly uninhabited Exumas for several months. There has been a tremendous surge in building here in the past 4 years. By boat, the large 5000 plus square foot homes are interspersed between the typical Bahamian pastel color cottages. Man-O-War Cay, famed for its Albury family boat building, is still kept clean with white washed fences and its unique church-minded community spirit, but the new developments are encroaching on the harbor settlement. A big change is the addition of alcohol—you can now buy it locally. We walked the entire island—only about 3 miles—and discovered quaint paths and gardens tucked in behind coral walls. Later, we visited Baker Bay, a multi-million dollar golf/marina development on once tranquil Great Guana Cay. This Cay is possibly developing faster than any other Abaco Cay. We had cocktails at the shoreline and learned more than we needed to know about the $100K entrance fees, $100K marina charge, $100K annual dues and building stipulations—I guess we won’t be building there. Our dear vessel was the smallest in the harbor. On the other side of Guana, the same village we stayed in many years ago exists, but our bike tour of the island revealed that some of the previously accessible areas are now gated. The Bahamian government appears to be more involved in zoning and planning of settlements. On Green Turtle Cay, a favorite of friends Cherie and Jim Martin, we explored the island by Golf Cart. From White Sound to the New Plymouth Settlement, this is a charming island. This Cay was settled by Loyalists in the mid-1700s and still boasts an amazing number of small protestant churches. The people here will share stories of their heritage—the roots that date back to the first settlers. While we watched the sun set (announced by several of our sailing friends tooting on the large Conch shells they have harvested from the sea—a mariner custom), we thought about our own families and the importance of our roots and family ties.

We love Fish!

20 April 2011 | Abacos
linda and the captain
Someone asked, "Don't you ever get tired of snorkeling?" We spend so much time in the water that I am sure it seems monotonous upon first consideration. Typically, we snorkel one to three times each day and sometimes in the same places. Sometimes, we snorkel for exercise and to cool off from the now very warm Bahama days. Other times, we are trying to identify new fish and coral species. We have cards with drawings of many of the reef fish and coral that help us in this endeavor. But, no matter what our goals, we come back refreshed and excited with the experience. While I am in the water, either diving or snorkeling, there is such peace and quiet. My mind is focused on the experience, the beauty of the surroundings, the cool water flowing around from head to toe. If the current is strong, the focus is actually on survival--and that challenge is exhilarating, too. We always see something new, We see the typical Blue Chromis (the captain's favorite), Dog Snapper, Squirrel Fish with their big eyes, Triggerfish and turquoise blue Parrot Fish. The little Sergeant Majors and Banded Butterflyfish often come right up to our masks, curious to see who and what we are about. The sharks, squid, lobsters, turtles, 24 inch starfish and 6 foot long grouper are amazing. But sometimes, it's the small details that we swim right by that are so intriguing. Today, we were in a less than perfect coral garden off of Tilloo Cay--very little to see, we thought. But, from behind a small coral head, two Banded Coral Shrimp emerged. We had never seen this species before--not in Tahiti, Tonga or the Caribbean. They are about four inches long and brightly colored with reds and oranges. As we watched them maneuver over the Elkhorn and flower coral, we noted their grace and speed. Also, saw this amazing Slipper Lobster--quite different from other lobsters we have seen in the Exumas. We almost opted out of this snorkel experience because it didn't look promising. We were glad we took the time. NB--We caught an amazing array of fish this week--tuna, wahoo and even a small sailfish. The sailfish really caught us and was off with our hook in mouth almost immediately--what a ride!

Little Harbor Revisited

18 April 2011 | Abacos
linda and the captain
The morning started early—prior to sun up. Unfortunately, we dragged our anchor a bit across some minor coral and became caught. In the dark, we worked together to free ourselves and not damage the coral head. After about 20 minutes we were free and we set off from Egg Island, near Eleuthera to Little Harbor in the Abacos. The last time Gary and I visited Little Harbor was 20 years ago, during our first year of marriage when we rented a small Albury and screamed across the bays from Elbow Cay. We vowed we would return someday in our own vessel. We were excited to pull into the harbor where they announce new arrivals with a toot on a large conch shell. Much had changed, yet so much remained the same. The artist/sculptor Randolph Johnston and his family selected this spot to settle and realize their dream of island living. From the foundry they established in the 50s, magnificent bronze castings are still produced. Today son Pete and grandson Greg continue the artistic heritage and maintain the gallery and a wonderful beachside pub. We could not afford any of the amazing bronze castings (ranging from $25K to $125K—lovely porpoises and sea turtles—I loved them all), so we opted for 2 Margaritas which we carried to view the same sea that greeted us so many years ago. We are totally different people now then we were 20 years ago. And this adventure has allowed the Captain and me to develop a very clear understanding of what commitment means and what impact promises made and kept (or not kept) can have. We are so grateful for this time together.
Vessel Name: A' Bientot
Vessel Make/Model: Lagoon 380
Hailing Port: Portsmouth, NH
Crew: Gary and Linda Pauly, Patty and Tom Waier
About: Too many two week charters. We wanted to spend more than a night or two in really great Caribbean anchorages. Whiskey for the guys and wine for the girls oiled the decision to buy a boat and do it before our bones got too old to pass muster.
Home Page: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/abientot
A' Bientot's Photos - Main
Where we have been and what we have done
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Created 18 December 2010

Gang of Four

Who: Gary and Linda Pauly, Patty and Tom Waier
Port: Portsmouth, NH