A Treasure Christmas
04 January 2018
January 2, 2018
A noise woke me up. It was the sound of the wind in the rigging. The boat was gently rocking. The water was lapping at the transom. The aproaching front was near. The boat rocked me back to sleep. I awoke again to the sounds of the boat creaking in resistance to the wind. The rain started softly, but quickly started coming in sheets. The boat was rocking side to side and the water was lapping all around. The rhythm of the boat rocked me to sleep once more. Later I awoke to heavy rain pounding the deck. The boat swaying side to side with more gusto. The cold front had arrived and we were in for a day or two of rain and gale force winds. The perfect time to curl up with my tablet and update the blog.
We had a "Gale party"on our dock last night. Our dock has filled up with boats coming in to find shelter from the approaching weather. It is always fun to meet some new sailors and share some stories. Everyone is in love with Treasure Cay. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beaches in the Bahamas. Some are staying at the marina as a base to see the Abacos. Others will be moving on to see the Abacos and beyond. Even with a little cloud cover, the sunset was still pretty.
A Treasure Christmas
We spent the first two weeks settling in. The first few days we stayed busy cleaning the boat, inside and out. We unfolded the bikes and took them off the boat. We visited the library and renewed our cards. We all went to the Christmas Cantata at the Community Church together. The music was beautiful. We had fun at the Christmas market, golf cart parade and tree lighting. The ladies in the community served food as a fund raiser to buy toys to give to the local children on Christmas day. They cooked baked chicken, peas and rice, lobster mac n cheese and slaw. It was all delicious. Whole cakes and pies were offered at a silent auction. Oh the food! We've also been frequenting our favorite spots for our favorite dishes. Cracked conch, grouper fingers, cheeseburgers and Florence's cinnamon buns and coconut bread! Splitting our time up between walking on the beach, riding bikes, sitting in the hot tub at Bahama Beach Club, sitting by the pool at the marina, and dinghy rides.
The weather has been absolutely beautiful. I've been enjoying long walks on the beach. At low tide, I love to walk out on the sandbar at sand dollar point. I've collected quite a few sand dollars already. One day there were lots of starfish left high and dry. I was busy moving them to deeper water. I don't know if they will live or not, but I just felt the need to try to save them. Two were as big as a dinner plates with bright orange markings. Steve and Anick arrived on SV/ Kestrel before Christmas. We enjoyed catching up with them about their travels. It was good to see them again. Steve loves to fish...for anything! He could not wait to get out in his dinghy to explore. The guys went out together to look for lobster. Carl showed them some spots where we have had luck finding them before. Steve went to work with his spear. They returned with 5 nice spiney lobsters or crayfish, as the locals call them. I broiled one to have with our dinner salad. Sweet and delicious! We had a girls day out too. Sandra, Anick, Diane, a visiting friend and I piled into a golf cart for our adventure. I gave them a tour of the neighborhood and showed them the greenways to the beach. We hopped out for a group photo. We continued back and through the gates at the entrance to Treasure Cay. Traveling around the "roundabouts", pulling over to the side to let cars pass and reminders from everyone for me to "stay to the left". Our first stop was Abaco Ceramics. We met the owner and she showed us her studio. We made a few purchases, packed up the cart and headed to Treasure Sands Club. We were a little early for lunch so we toured the indoor dining room where we all leaned in to smell the live Christmas tree. We then settled by the pool with a few pitchers of ice water. When our table was ready we moved to the outdoor tented dining room. The sun screens are opened remotely and the view envelopes us. We were lured out to the beach to take photos of the long dock with its pink painted pilings. The food was exquisitely presented and delicious. We had pina coladas for dessert! We spent the rest of the afternoon pool side. It was a fun girls day out!
Steve and Anick have gone out in their dinghy every day. They always return with lobsters, conch, fish and crabs. They shared a conch with us and I made cracked conch for the first time. It was tender and delicious. Anika gave us some of her conch, lobster and fish chowder...yum!
The Christmas candlelight service was just as moving as I remembered. This year two precious little Bahamian children sang a song about Jesus birthday. It was so sweet. We all took our lighted candles outside as we sang "Silent Night".
Christmas morning we saw Santa come in to the marina by boat. He handed stockings and toys out to all of the children there. We had a potluck dinner on Monarch. Anick brought black bean and cheese quesadillas appetizers (on homemade tortillas). Diane cooked a turkey, complete with dressing and gravy. Sandra made a corn casserole and brocolli salad, and I made sweet potato stacks and rosemary bread. It was a great dinner and a lot of fun!
Steve and Pat from S/V Patty Sue arrived before New Years Eve. We met them here two years ago. They have sold their sailboat and are looking for a motor yacht.They are staying for a month in a condo. It was great to see them again.
New Years Eve had many packages to choose from. Five course dinners, open bars, champagne toasts and music at Coco's and Spinakers. We decided on Tipsy Seagull for the countdown to the New Year. We arrived a few hours before to get a table by the pool. Grant, Diane, Steve and Pat joined us for a drink. We had a good seat for the fireworks. It was chilly and we all had to complain a little about that as we threw sweaters over our shoulders. A little after midnight we retreated to our boats to find the tide so low, it looked like the boats had sunk. I was sure that they were sitting on the bottom. The docks here are very high anyway. Getting on and off the boat can be a challenge. The tides are extreme now with the approaching full moon.
Back to the Islands
09 December 2017
We are up at 6 a.m. We have about 50 miles to go to Green Turtle Cay. Two of the boats in the anchorage have already left. The anchor is up at 7a.m. We have breakfast after we are under way. There is little wind and the water is flat. Everything is a misty blue this morning. There is no visible horizon until the sun gets up higher. The clouds are so low, it feels like we are flying. This could be what heaven looks like. We are joined on this route by a catamaran coming out of another anchorage. He slowly passes us traveling about 1 knot faster and off to our starboard. The sky is blue and the water is a creamy green. The winds are so light, almost nonexistent. Another "benign" day. Makes me wish for more wind so we could sail, but the calm waters are nice....so we just motor happily along. After lunch the wind picks up to around 10 and we jump at the chance to put the sails out. We motor sail for a few hours and then the wind dies down again. I went up on the bow to lounge in the sun a while. Trying to make better time, Carl makes some adjustments to our course and speed. Before entering the channel to Green Turtle, I called the marina to ask about the tide. We remember it being shallow the last time we were here. Without internet service we were unable to get tide information. The man on the other end assures us that we will have "no problem" if we just stay in the middle of the channel. The depth alarm sounded all the way in. That's enough to make you "pucker" as Carl says. But he stayed in the middle and we never touched bottom. It is 5:30 p.m. and the customs office was closed. We will clear through customs tomorrow.
We have had breakfast and showers by 8:30 a.m. The customs office in New Plymouth opens at 9a.m. and we plan to leave around 11 on high tide. We rented a golf cart at Brendal's dive center. It is about a 20 minute drive. There are three people waiting when we arrive. The customs office is next to the post office. The sign on the door says they will open at 9, but it is already past 9. We introduce ourselves to the others waiting and discuss the weather and our crossings. Their boats are on moorings in Black Sound. Before we know it, it's after 10:00. The Englishman waiting with us says that the customs agent comes on a ferry from Treasure Cay. We quickly decide that it is better for us to get out of White Sound on high tide, ahead of the cold front than to wait. Although we are supposed to clear in at the first possible location, we will clear in at Treasure Cay. We finish our tour of this tiny town as we complete the one way loop. The cute little houses are painted different colors and are decorated for Christmas. It rains on us driving back to the marina. The winds were gusting to 35 when we were back on the boat. We waited a little while and the winds died down to 15 and the rain stopped. It is 11:00 and time to go! We need to get through "the Whale". This is a narrow cut between the Sea of Abaco and the Atlantic Ocean with rocks on one side and Whale Cay on the other. As we approach the Whale, we can see another boat ahead that has gone through. I call him on the radio to ask the conditions. He says it is "benign" That is the word of the week! He says the waves are 4 feet with 14 second intervals. I take some pictures of the waves crashing on Whale Cay as we came through. Just as we exit the cut, it pours. As we round Whale Cay back into the Sea of Abaco, the rain stops, the sun comes out and there is a rainbow behind us. The water is clear and turqouise blue now. I am on the bow getting lines ready as we enter Treasure Cay marina and I see a spotted eagle ray swim under us. Meghan meets us on the dock to catch our lines at 2:30 p.m. I have spotted SV/Utopia across from us and SV/Monarch on the next dock. I can't wait to catch up with everyone. As soon as we have things secured, we checked in at the office and called Sidney to take us to the airport. Sidney's boat is next to us. He is happy to see us again and takes us to customs at the airport and waits for us. We are out by 4 p.m. and Sidney takes us to the BTC phone store to get a sim card. They are out and we will have to wait until Monday. We met Sandra, Davido, Diane and Grant at Cocos for dinner. It was great to see them and to sit and relax just in time to see a little of the beach before dark. It feels good to be in our winter home. We will just chill here for a while.
07 December 2017
It started raining while we were eating our raisin bran. We postponed leaving until the rain stopped. It was 6:30 a.m. when we pulled the anchor. There were two boats that came in and anchored near us before sunset last night. The one in front of us had already left when we got up. The one to our starboard side was pulling his anchor right after us. The tide was just past slack and starting to come in again. Leaving the inlet the waves were 2-4 ft. and the winds 5-10 from the east , on our nose. After an hour or so, the waves started coming down to 1-2 feet with a 6-8 second interval, The wind clocked a little more to the south and then died down to less than five, "benign" as Chris predicted. The three boats leaving the inlet the same time we did all spread out. and before long were not visible. We've lost sight of land too. Our depth gauge stopped recording at 399 feet under the keel, but the charts showed the true depth at 2500 feet. We enjoyed listening to the stereo as we motored along. No sailing on this crossing. We spotted schools of flying fish about 10 miles out from the banks. They skim across the water and then disappear into the waves. The water is somewhere between royal and navy. A stricking blue against the white foam from our wake. The water temperature is 87°. It is 3:00 p.m. when we reach Memory Rock on the Little Bahama Bank. We have bypassed West End on Grand Bahama Island. The bottom quickly comes up from 1700 feet to 103 feet when we noticed the depth gauge measuring again. Then in a matter of minutes we are in fifteen feet of water. The water is so clear we can see the bottom. The water is completely flat now on the bank. I am mesmerized looking at the bottom. It is like being on a tour in a glass bottom boat. I don't see the turtle that I am looking for, but I do see some conchs and lots of huge Bahamian starfish. I pulled myself away to go below to make a light dinner of mac n cheese with tomatoes. When I return to the cockpit with our dinner, the sky looks like it has melted into the water. They are both a pale blue and it is hard to tell where the water stops and the sky begins. The sun is setting behind us. Even with the clouds hanging back over the gulf stream, it is beautiful. It is dark at 6:15. I have been looking forward to having the waning super moon to guide us on this leg but it is nowhere to be seen yet. The sky is filled with stars. The auto pilot is set on a course to Great Sale Cay. Carl and I take turns watching the radar. At 9:00 p.m.the moon makes its appearance. It is bright orange as it rises out of the low clouds. We approach our anchorage at Great Sale Cay just after 11:00p.m.. This is a popular anchorage between Florida and the Abacos. It is a large anchorage next to an uninhabited island. There are only two anchor lights visible. Our radar tells us that they are indeed the only boats there. There is a boat following in behind us. We pick a spot and drop the anchor at 11:20 p.m. It has been a long day, but we made it to the Bahamas!
Cruising Plans Are Written In Sand At Low Tide
05 December 2017
Monday was cloudy. We left our Vero Beach mooring at 8:00 a.m. We watched a line of squalls move inland from the ocean. We were just on the edge most of the day but they finally caught up with us. It would pour and then the sun would come out. This happened over and over all afternoon. We had a nice chat with SV/Extasea from Deltaville. They called us on the VHF after following us through the bridge at Fort Pierce. They are going to the keys and then up the gulf coast. Of course, it poured just as we reached our anchorage at Hobe Sound at 2:30 p.m.. Carl went out in the rain to drop the anchor. Then the sun came back out. For dinner I got creative with left overs. I had chicken left over from chicken salad that I made for lunch yesterday. I added basil pesto to the chicken and served it over seasoned diced tomatoes, and all over rice with a little mozzarella melted on top. It was pretty tasty. It clouded back up before the sun set. One last look outside before going to sleep revealed the super moon peaking out from behind the clouds.
The moon was shining in every port hole as we swung on the anchor last night. The skies had cleared and it was a beautiful morning. Just a few clouds hanging around, but no rain. We listened to Chris Parker on the SSB radio this morning. It still sounds like tomorrow will be a good day for crossing. We left the anchorage at Hobe Sound at 8:25 a.m. I enjoyed the tour of houses from here to Palm Beach. I love the Spanish style architecture with the archways, balconies, columns and tile roofs. These "mega houses" have manicured lawns filled with bougainvillea, hibiscus and infiniti pools. There are six bridges along this stretch. They are all close together (one to three miles apart). Two are on demand but the rest are on schedules of every hour, half hour or quarter hour. The Jupiter Federal bridge was unable to open due to maintenance. So we just motored back and forth for about 15 minutes or so. We got an extra look or two, or three at the Jupiter lighthouse and inlet, so I took pictures. Finally we are through all of the bridges and are at our final anchorage before going offshore. Lake Worth is a large anchorage near the inlet and a popular staging spot for vessels going to the Bahamas. It is a busy area just inside the inlet with coast guard vessels, tug boats pushing barges, working dredging barges and mega yachts. We made our way through and found a spot to anchor at 12:22 p.m. It seemed like the longest day ever! We are glad to be anchored. The hatches are open with a wonderful breeze blowing through and we are listening to Frank Sinatra on Sirius after lunch. We will run our jack lines and pack our ditch bag this afternoon.
Someone once said " Cruising plans are written in sand at low tide". Oh how true! Our plans are still to leave Wednesday, but we moved our departure time from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. to wait for slack tide. We are leaving ahead of a cold front and want to take advantage of good weather while we have it. That being said, we may not stop in West End, but continue on to Green Turtle Cay. But remember, "cruising plans are written in sand at low tide."
03 December 2017
My calculations were wrong...... by 50 miles! I thought we would be in Vero Beach today. We will anchor out one more night and then we have reservations for a mooring at the Vero Beach City Marina. We are up early again for a 7a.m. departure. It is sunny and 79°. The water temp is 76°. We spent the day traveling with half a dozen boats from Wally's group. We just can't shake them. The dock damage and sunken boats keep getting worse. We only saw one floating board. Hard to believe with all of the potential of floating debris. We spotted a manatee in the Haul Over canal channel. All of Wally's group left the ICW at Cocoa Beach. We continued on to a quiet anchorage that we have used before. It was 2:45 p.m. when we dropped the anchor. After dinner we sat in the cockpit and looked at the waxing moon. It was a beautiful evening.
Saturday Dec. 2
We are underway by 7 a.m. I found a dozen stink bugs from Virginia hiding inside a couple of hatches. They've been hitching a ride for 1,000 miles. I threw them off. I'm sure we'll find some more hiding somewhere. There is no boat traffic until about 10 a.m. It is Saturday and there are lots of fishing boats and jet skis. The weather is gorgeous. After lunch the boat traffic died down. I took in the scenery from the bow of the boat. Pelicans are fishing all around us and dolphins are jumping out of the water. The homes are beautiful as we approach Vero Beach. Carl spots a manatee as we enter the channel into the city marina. The marina is busy and short handed today. There are three boats waiting for the fuel dock. They tell us to pick out a mooring. Most of the mooring have two or three boats rafted together on them. We picked one near the dinghy dock, with only one boat. We rafted up to Sassy Girl and put the dinghy in the water. After checking in at the office and taking a shower we returned to the boat for an early dinner. Our neighbors are going into town for the Christmas parade. There is a boat parade later in the month. Many boats in the mooring have Christmas lights on. We don't hang outside long....the noseeums are biting!
Although we could sleep later, I am still on our cruising schedule and I am awake before the sun came up. After breakfast we did some boat chores and then took the dinghy in to do a small load of laundry. After lunch, we left our mooring to get fuel and Sandra met us at the fuel dock with some boat parts that we will take to Davido. She is flying to Marsh Harbour on Tuesday. Carl's cousin Brenda from Ft. Pierce came to the dock to see us. While we were loading Davido's packages, we saw Jill and David from SV/ JilliQ. We met them here two years ago and then saw them in Hopetown, Abacos. They will be crossing after Christmas. We have decided to take advantage of a weather window on Wednesday. We are trying to beat the "Christmas winds". It is about 60 miles from here to Lake Worth, our staging area for crossing to the Bahamas. We will anchor out in Hobe Sound Monday night. Tuesday we will anchor at Lake Worth. Our "plan" (or intentions, as I'm learning to say) is to leave at 2 a.m. Wednesday morning out of Lake Worth Inlet. If all goes well, we should be in the West End, Grand Bahama Island around noon.
02 December 2017
Tuesday November 28
We left Sister's Creek dock at 9 a.m. after Wally's group left. It was sunny and so warm that we had to roll up four panels of our surround. We will probably take them completely off soon. The sky got dark, we had a brief shower and then the sun was out again. Welcome to Florida! It was a nice, calm, easy day. We listened to some music and watched dolphins swim around us. We spotted flocks of white pelicans on the sandbars. We were just in time for the 3:00 opening of the Bridge of Lions Bridge. We pulled into the fuel dock at the St. Augustine Municipal marina, fueled up and checked in, and then turned around and went back through the bridge on the 3:30 opening to our mooring on the north side of the bridge. As we pulled into our mooring spot, I noticed a boat next to us that looked just like Carl's previous boat, Perceptions. Then I saw the name on the transom. It was Perceptions! That's just crazy! What a small world! We enjoyed an early happy hour at 4 o'clock and watched the Christmas lights come on in town. We had a perfect view between the bridge and the fort. After dinner we went back to the cockpit and were joined by a lone dolphin who came up and spouted off several times as a heron standing on the mooring ball behind us looked on.
Wednesday November 29
We waited for the pumpout boat to come before leaving the mooring field this morning. We untied from the mooring ball at 9:45 a.m. and went through on the 10:00 a.m. opening of the Bridge of Lions bridge headed south again. We followed behind two Canadian boats. It is just a three hour trip to Marineland Marina. We are tied up at the dock at 1:10 p.m. Since we were here two years ago, they have just recently completed renovations including new concrete floating docks, new bathrooms, showers and laundry facilities. Getting in early gives me time to do a load of laundry. After that we took a walk to the beach and stopped by the gift shop at Marineland and had ice cream. Marineland reminds me of my childhood. I'd love to see a dolphin show but we don't have enough time. The sand dunes were rearranged by the last hurricaine. Bulldozers are still moving sand back across the A1A highway. We took our showers and ordered a pizza from Tony's. They delivered to the marina. We need to get an early start tomorrow. We will try to get 50 miles behind us.
We were underway at 7 a.m. There was so much moisture in the air. I had to wipe and re-wipe the front windows to see.The sun is right in front of us too. I finally rolled the front window up for better visability. There were crab pots everywhere. We saw more damaged docks all the way through Daytona Beach. There were very few that were spared. Some had boats still in the lifts, sitting out in the water with no dock left. There were lots of sunken boats and sailboats with no masts. We motored through the narrow channel of the ICW. We had no problems with the shoaling areas today. After two bridge opening we were at New Smyrna Beach and anchored by 2:30 p.m.. We made good time today with the tide. It is sunny and warm with a nice sea breeze. Before the sun sets, a dozen sailboats have dropped their anchors here.