Once again, time has slipped by and it's been a while since we posted an update. Here's the latest from S/V Ceili:
We left Marsh Harbor on Wednesday February 29th and headed to Hope Town as the first step in our passage home. We went in Company with our friends Peter and Jane on Kinvara and, as they had not been to Hope Town before, the plan was to grab a mooring for a couple of nights and enjoy Elbow Cay once again in their company. We also planned to make a stop at Great Guana, as well, for one final visit to Nipper's! We said a final good bye to all our friends at Mangoes Marina Marsh Harbor, our home base for the months of January and February.
Before we left, we were aware of forecasts for high winds coming in over the week-end. As we were approaching the Hope Town entrance channel, we began to hear lots of radio chatter about the scarcity of moorings in the harbor due to the many boats heading in to ride out the weather. Fortunately, both Kinvara and Ceili scored moorings (Ceili due to the generosity of our dockmates at Mangoes, Jim and Gloria on Jimandi, who graciously offered us the use of their seasonal rental). Peter and Jane hopped on a Lucky Strike mooring not very far from us. Our plan was to do Hope town and Great Guana, timed to give us a window to get through the Whale Channel
We had a great time in Hope Town. The weather for the first few days was beautiful. We hit the shops, some of the restaurants, rented a golf cart and went out to Tahiti Beach, etc. Saturday, was Heritage Day in Hope Town which drew lots of visitors and local craftspeople into town. We purchased a basket made of palm fronds, made by a local artist. I'd seen him weaving some the day before in front of his shop below the Sugar Shack. We also met up with our friends, Craig and Lisa from Second Spree who were joined by Craig's daughter, Kate, who was visiting for a week from the UK.
On Sunday, the big winds arrived. We battened down and prepared for the incoming system. It was big and it lasted for days, affecting all of the Bahamas. High winds had the harbor roiling and kept us aboard Ceili for the most part of two days. Finally, the winds moderatd and we were once again able to comfortably (stay dry in the dinghy!) go back and forth from shore and continue our enjoyment of Hope Town. While there, we had dinner at Captain Jack's (Friday night steak night), lunch and cocktails at the Reef Bar and Grill and the Harbour's Edge, and we stopped by Fire Flies on our way back from Tahiti Beach. We also sampled the ice cream at the Sugar Shack...chocolate and Chococarmelicious, highly recommended by Gail and Hans. Thanks G and H!
Finally, after 9 days in Hope Town (which was hard to believe) it looked like we might have a window to transit the Whale so we left Hope Town on March 9th, and headed to Great Guana. It was a beautiful morning and we timed our departure to coincide with high tide to give us a stress free exit through the deep draft channel. While it was very breezy inside the harbor, outside we found light winds from the south giving us a lovely 10 mile or so sail into the anchorage at Great Guana. We heard from Craig and Lisa, who were sailing from Great Guana back to Marsh Harbour. It was Kate's last day and they planned to go snorkeling on Mermaid Reef. We said good-bye to them with hopes to meet up again.
Once in the anchorage, and on a mooring, we packed up and headed up to Nipper's for lunch. Linda, Jane and Peter brought bathing suits in anticipation of a swim in the pool and Bill had his sights set on scoring some cigars in the gift shop. We spent most of the afternoon enjoying the beautiful view from Nipper's and after a dip in the pool (and a tee shirt purchase) we headed back to the anchorage. Peter and Jane decided to explore Spoil Cay for shelling opps, and we decided to go for another swim off the boat. The water was so warm that our wet suits were left aboard. It was absolutely lovely. Later over cocktails on Ceili, our morning departure and passage strategy to Green Turtle Cay was discussed. It was another great day on Great Guana.
We dropped the mooring at 8:00 am the next morning with the goal of reaching the Whale Channel Cut at high tide. The winds were light and the seas relatively flat in the Loggerhead Channel. As we appproached the Whale, we began to experience well spaced swells of 4 to 6 feet. It looked like a pond on a calm day...nothing at all like our previous transit in December. Looking ahead through the cut, we saw a number boats heading in our direction, all going into the Sea of Abaco. Once through, we continued to see boat after boat heading toward the cut. This was clearly the day everyone had been waiting for and it was a perfect day to take on the Whale.
We arrived at the Bluff House on Green Turtle around 10 am. As we came in, we noticed another of our Mangoes Marina dockmates, Charlie and Mary Beth of Gray Ghost, who had arrived the previous week. While we were heading into our slip, I looked down from the bow and saw a magnficient spotted eagle ray hovering alongside the boat. I could barely take my eyes off it. Despite the excitement over the ray, we tied up without incident and then headed in for breakfast. Jane and I checked out the gift shop where I purchased a lovely dish, with matching spoon, made locally from a conch shell. Later we had dinner in the restaurant, tucked in and prepared for another cold front, expected to bring more high winds overnight. The winds howled out of the east all Saturday night and all day Sunday producing waves that loudly slapped our stern. By Monday the winds began to moderate and quiet returned.
It's now Tuesday and the plan is to leave Green Turtle and head to Spanish Cay. This transit puts us 15 miles closer to West End and also affords protection from the squalls and possible thunderstorms forecast for tonight. As of this morning, we're still on track to cross the Gulf on Saturday or Sunday. Last night at dinner, we brought one of our old burgees to the restaurant to be added to the collection of burgees that adorn the bluff House bar. We've had a wonderful stay here and look forward to coming back sometime in the future. Stay tuned.
02/20/2012, Sea of Abaco
We returned to Marsh Harbour, leaving Lynard Cay at 9 AM. Light easterly winds allowed us to beam reach most of the 25 mile sail. This picture of us in the cockpit was taken by Jane on s/v/ Kinvara.
Lisa, Craig, Bill, Hans, Linda, Gail and Peter
We joined fellow cruisers from s/v Kinvara, s/v/ Second Spree, m/v BadJaw on the beach at Lynard Cay. We were able to scrounge enough wood and material to make a fire on the beach for a cookout.