18 January 2011 | Atlantis (Nassau)
02 January 2011 | Northwest Shoal
30 December 2010 | Bimini
29 December 2010 | Bimini
28 December 2010 | Miami Beach
18 December 2010 | North Palm Beach
17 December 2010 | Peck Lake
16 December 2010 | Wabasso
15 December 2010 | Port Canaveral
13 December 2010 | Jacksonville
09 December 2010 | Jacksonville
06 December 2010 | Grande Dunes (Myrtle Beach)
05 December 2010 | St. James
04 December 2010 | Wrightsville Beach
03 December 2010 | Swansboro
01 December 2010 | Oriental
23 November 2010 | Oriental
22 November 2010 | Oriental
18 January 2011
Welcome to my web page! The is my first web page, dedicated to my first big journey aboard my first big boat. If you are interested in following my travels, sharing my photos, staying in touch, or joining me aboard, you are in the right place. I'll have my camera with me, so have a look at the photo galleries too. If you want to know where I am (and where I've been), check out the Xplot map, which links to Google Earth for a view which is the next best thing to being there. The first best thing, of course, is actually being there. That said, consider this an open invitation to friends, family, and other willing souls to join me aboard for a day, a weekend, a week, or longer. I'd love the company, and could always use a few extra hands on deck. My calendar (link at left) shows where I plan to be, and when, as well as who will be (and has been) aboard. I've also got my plans roughed out in the Waazzzuup? section. If you would like to go for a sail, just flip me an email (link also at left) to let me know when and where.
If you want to explore my web page, just scroll down to read my (B)Log Book, check out my boat (Mmmm... Bacon), or get some tips on what to bring (Welcome Aboard!).
Enjoy the journey!
More to Come
18 January 2011 | Atlantis (Nassau)
Apologies to my loyal blog followers. No, I have not sailed off the edge of the earth. In fact, This most recent segment of the voyage has been, by far, the highlight. In a nutshell, since my last posting. I spent Christmas at mom and dad's in Avon Park, picked up Jordi, sailed to Miami, crossed the Gulf Stream to Bimini where we spent new years and Junkanoo, sailed across the Great Bahama Bank to Frazer's Hog Cay, spent a few days exploring the Berry Islands, crossed to Nassau where we dropped a bunch of money at Atlantis, sent Jordi home and picked up Brian, sailed to Highborne Cay, spent a few days exploring the Exumas, and sailed back to Nassau. I have updated the blog as far as January 2, but there is LOTS more to come. Tons of pictures too. The trouble is, and has been, that there really hasn't been any time to do any writing. Furthermore, wifi access in the Bahamas is sparse, at best. So bear with me, I'll fill in the details as best I can, as soon as possible. Today Brian leaves, and dad is flying in to rejoin me for the last leg back to Florida. The journey is almost over. I just hope the weather lets me go.
Across the Bank
02 January 2011 | Northwest Shoal
67 nautical miles, 13 hours
We didn't make it to the fuel dock before closing last night, so our plan was to be waiting as soon as they opened at 7:00 am. Well, we were there and the attendant arrived at precisely 7:00 am, Bahamian time (that's about 8:07 real time). While we waited, we watched Mike and Jenny sail by. We never saw them again. So much for the convoy. After loading the tank with the dirtiest diesel I've ever seen, we headed off into a brilliant, blue, relatively calm day. After rounding Bimini and North Rock on the Gulf side, we headed east across the Great Bahama Bank. The wind was light, but right on our nose, so the sails stayed furled. I considered hoisting the main, just to catch any puffs that were offered up, but didn't do so until after a few other boats passed us with their mains flying. Crossing the Bank was another new and interesting experience. We travelled over 60 nautical miles, and at no point was the water any deeper than 20 feet. The calm wind kept the surface still, and the breathtaking clarity allowed us to see every detail on the bottom as if it were 6 feet deep (which it appeared to be, which was very unsettling). Mostly sand, with a few sporadic weedy patches, and some coral. Lots of starfish and conch, and a few other alien looking bottom dwellers. A surprising lack of visible fish below us, but occasionally a whole school would launch themselves though the air across the surface. We decided to try out the trolling lure we bought in Miami and jury-rigged a rod holder for the stern. Within an hour or so, the line buzzed out and we reeled in a sleek, fast-looking, Barracuda-like thing and were now faced with the problem of how to land a fish from a sailboat travelling at 5 knots. Eventually we put me in the dinghy and used our under-sized lobster net to huff the thing into the dinghy. As it turns out, the dinghy is a good place to land, clean and fillet a fish, because all the mess stays out of the big boat, and the dinghy is easily rinsed out with sea water. Ingenius. The fish we caught was a Cero, and produced two nice fillets that we couldn't finish for dinner. We travelled well into the night, finally dropping the hook in shallow waters on the Northwest Shoal, a few miles off the main route so as to not be mistaken for a marker buoy in the night. Anchoring on the Bank is surreal. It is absolutely wide open. There is no land in sight in any direction. Only ten feet deep, but no bottom visible in the darkness. No clouds, above, and no waves or swells, so only reflections on the water. It is like floating in space. No trouble sleeping.
01 January 2011 | Bimini
The plan for New Year's Eve was to do all the things we failed to do yesterday, so once again we packed a lunch, loaded up the dinghy, and headed off. We went the other way this time, figuring we'd get to the snorkelling and spear fishing first, then work our way back if the day got too short to go all the way around. Besides, we needed to stop in town to get gas for the dinghy, and to pick up a SIM card so that I could use the phone I brought with me. Well, the gas was easy, but getting the phone working took all morning. Since we'd lost half the day, we shifted plans and decided to do some land-based sightseeing for the afternoon. We checked out the market stalls, bought some souvenirs and flip flops, checked out the museum, and stocked up on booze. We bought seven bottles of rum, gin, and vodka for $59! Gotta' love the Bahamas. Perhaps the highlight of the tour was a stop at the Dolphin House. This is a local dwelling built entirely from salvaged and reclaimed materials. Glass, tiles, shells, coral, beach sand, licence plates, you name it. It really is a work of art and a labour of love. Ashley Saunders, the owner, builder, and self-proclaimed official town historian, poet, and author was on hand to show us around. The man is a wealth of information, and not afraid to let you know it. Touring done, it was a wet ride back to the boat as the strong east wind whipped up a chop on the bay. A quick saltwater bath and rinse, change of clothes, and we headed into town again (by cab this time) for New Year's Eve. The town was pretty quiet until around ten, then everybody came out of the woodwork. Locals, tourists, old and young. We spent most of the night at a bar called Big John's where a band played in the New Year. Rum flowed, people danced, and we learned how to play a new bar game which involves swinging a ring on a string in an attempt to hang it on a hook on the wall. Some of these guys are really good at it. The party lasted well past midnight, with the promise of the big Junkanoo parade beginning at 4 am. Well, we stayed till after that, but the "parade" was really just all the drunken revellers pouring out into the street. We managed to hitch a ride on a golf cart that was heading our way. Unfortunately, the cart was very full, and I'd had a great many rums. This combination led to me tumbling out of the cart and headlong into a telephone pole. It was a hard fall and I saw stars, but managed to shake it off and get back aboard. Once back on Bacon, I went right to bed, while Jordi stayed up all night to make sure I hadn't concussed myself. Once I woke up (pretty sore and a bit snubbed up) Jordi hit the sack and pretty much finished off the day. Still never made it out snorkelling and spear fishing. While Jordi slept, Mike and Jenny (our anchorage neighbours) came by to swap stories and discuss travelling plans. Since we both had intentions of heading across the bank tomorrow, we decided to follow the same route and stick together. Jordi and I pulled the hook and brought Bacon into town for our last night. Staying at a marina would allow us to top up the water, fuel, and batteries, as well as watch the official Junkanoo parade in the evening. The parade was festive, with elaborate costumes and lots of noise. A smaller version of the big festival in Nassau. Pretty resourceful though for an island community of a few thousand people out in the middle of the ocean. The rest of the night was pretty quiet as Jordi and I continued to recover from last night. We even watched a movie.
Conching is Easy
30 December 2010 | Bimini
Our plan for today was to circumnavigate North Bimini Island in the dinghy, catch some conchs and lobsters, visit a few local points of interest, snorkel off the three sisters, and spear some fish for dinner. That was a bit ambitious. We were up with the sun, had a good breakfast, slathered on the sunscreen, packed a lunch, and had the dinghy loaded up with everything we'd need for a day of exploring. We started out by visiting the only other boat in the anchorage, a young couple who had just bought the boat and were learning by doing like me. It was nice to meet somebody else in the same boat as me (pun intended). We then headed out onto the flats and spent the morning peering into the shallow water looking for tasty or interesting creatures. We found a few conchs (and lots of empty shells), a few other interesting critters, and a crab. We let the crab go, believing it to be undersized, but found out later that it would have been legal. By lunch time we had thoroughly explored the bay, but had not made much progress on our to-do list. In fact, we took the rest of the afternoon to work our way south to Alicetown, picking up an even half dozen conchs on the way, where we beached and queried some locals as to whether our catch was legal. Five out of the six were! So off we trotted with our bag of conchs to see Sherry Pinder, proprietor of Sherry's Crab Shack, whom we were told could show us how to shell and prepare conch. Our timing was perfect, because Sherry's conch guy had just brought in a load and was cleaning them on the beach. Tom and his helper Shaba (or perhaps it was the other way around) were more than happy to show us the proper technique to crack the shell, slide out the conch, cut away the gross bits, skin it, and wash it. They also showed Jordi how to clean up his souvenir shell, and how to eat the "worm", a mostly tasteless conch part that is reputedly "Bahamian Viagra". We then spent the rest of the evening eating yummy conch dishes prepared by Sherry, and drinking rum, generously served up by her boyfriend Eric. Eventually we staggered back to the dinghy and managed to find our way back to Bacon in the dark.
It’s Better in the Bahamas
29 December 2010 | Bimini
43 nautical miles, 10 hours
Up at 3:00 am, we were off the dock and underway in the darkness within a half an hour. The wind seemed to have diminished, but as soon as we were out in the ocean, we were met by the same brisk norther that had brought us here. This didn't bode well, although one of the reasons for leaving when we did was that we would have plenty of time to pull the chute and turn back to Miami if things got too scary. We set both sails to take advantage of the wind, but kept the motor on to make sure we'd arrive in daylight. As we approached the western wall of the Gulf Stream we started to notice the northward push of the current and began to see the very confused seas that make the Gulf Stream notorious. Then we hit the most abrupt wind shift I've ever seen. Instantaneously, the wind swung from northwest to due east. Both sails backwinded and the temperature increased by about 10 degrees, within seconds. With the wind now more-or-less on our nose, the jib had to go away, but we left the main up for a little help and a lot of stability. As we worked our way into the Gulf Stream the seas did get a little bigger and a lot more random, but nothing like the horrific battering we were prepared for. In fact, with the warmer wind and the bright sun out, it was a downright pleasant crossing. The closer we got to our destination, the flatter the water got, and the brighter and warmer it became. We started seeing more and more boats joining us, and by lunch time the trees of North Bimini Island had peeked over the horizon. The bright light was very helpful in picking out the deep azure water from the shallow sandy shoals as we tentatively picked our way into Bimini Bay. My piloting skills were put right to the test as we narrowly missed one sand bar at the harbour entrance, just in time to watch another sailboat run right up onto it under full power. It wasn't long before we were tied up and filling out papers. The Bahamians are big on formality, and had a sheaf of forms to complete before checking in. Clearing customs went smoothly, and we had our Bahamas courtesy flag flying by early afternoon. Because of our delay in Miami (we essentially lost a travel day) we already knew that we would be unable to reach Nassau by New Year's Eve, so we chose to spend a few days in Bimini and to celebrate New Year's and Junkanoo here. Once cleared, we took a little walking tour of Bimini, asked some questions, and figured out how we would entertain ourselves for a few days. There are lots of marinas here, and reasonably priced, but they charge extra for power and the water is metered. We were still stinging a bit from the overpriced marina in Miami so we weren't keen to tie up for four days. Fortuitously, there is a nice anchorage right in Bimini Bay, and everything is within a dinghy ride away. By sundown we were sipping gin and tonics on the deck, enjoying the Bahamian sunshine.