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S|V Firefly...exploring the 'verse.. Know what the first rule of sailing is? Love.
You can know all the math in the 'verse but take a boat to sea that you don't love? She'll shake you off just as sure as a turn in the worlds. Love keeps her afloat when she oughtta not...tells you she's hurtin' 'fore she keens. Makes her a home.
Soul Searching
Diana
02/01/2013


SOUL SEARCHING: wow things have not gone well since we left on our journey early November.
I have had a lot of time to think about a lot of things the last few weeks. The first thing that is most important is health.
We are going to have to really take care of ourselves, not drink the water, and watch what we eat.

I really need to step up and be a real partner in this adventure, not just "Cookie". I have never felt so alone or helpless in my life as I did that night in Hopetown when Stew passed out in the floor and I was all alone. Can I pull the anchor, drive the boat, or even start the dinghy motor and drive it? No. What is the matter with me... This whole thing was my idea. I was the one who took sailing lessons back in Okinawa. Time to get my act together.
We are finally being forced to learn to take things as they come, do nothing sometimes, and realize that this is our life now. I think we are ready to start back on our journey with a better mind set and enjoy each day and each little island with no internet and freezer burnt frozen chicken ( all the stores sell it, haha).

Internet: the internet is an elusive creature here most of the time. Even when you pay for it it is often to busy or not a strong enough signal to do anything. We have started writing the blog on Word so we can just download it later . However pictures are another story; hope to get some on the blog in Nassau.

Just a little note on Spanish Wells. It a a really beautiful little island; the center of the lobster industry here. ( all 3 boats) However, it is not a Blue Zone. We haven't seen any of that fresh lobster. There are 4 little diner type restaurants that all sell the same bad food. It is DRY, no pubs, no alcohol sold here.
The people are not friendly or healthy looking. It is a very strange place.

Each island is the same but different. So far we found Hopetown to be the most enjoyable as far the people and lifestyle. It is a combination of locals who settled there years ago and cruisers who have stayed . Together they have made a very nice community and are welcoming to travelers.

Nassau has 11 real movie theaters at the mall! Only other theaters in all the Bahamas are in Freeport!
Nassau here I come!

02/07/2013 | Mags
Hi Guys,

Courage!! It must feel very difficult sometimes.
Good luck, and sail towards better moments :)

Bises
Mags
02/07/2013 | Stewart Becker
Thanks Mags,
It's very rewarding receiving inspiration from those that I used to try to inspire. Thanks for the kind words. I am in excellent health now and 10-15lbs lighter. Hope your well and very happy out there poking holes in the sky:)
Stay safe
Stew
02/26/2013 | Mags
I am really happy that you feel better, you and your wife must feel relieved a bit now.
Take good care of you!!!!
I am happy in the air, now based in the Shetlands, tiny islands north of the 60deg North! I enjoy it!!!
Hope to see you on the water (Mediterranean sea? Or if you go close to Belize or Guatemala ;)
Bises to both of you
Little Harbor to Spanish Wells
Diana
02/01/2013

End of Hopetown
A few days later:
Well I will make this short. After several days Stew was still having issues which Dr. Diana determined we should try something else. I gave him some antibiotics that we had brought with and he was eating a peanut butter sandwich four hours later. Four days later he is back to normal and we head for Little Harbor to stage for Royal Island Eleuthera the next morning.


Little Harbor to Royal Island to Spanish Wells, Eleuthera
Little harbor is a beautiful little harbor where the famous Pete's Bar is located. (closed of course). We took Belle into the beach to play and sat on the front of the boat having a glass of wine watching the perfect sunset, ahhhhhhhh
Up at 5 the next morning and it is lightly raining; should have just went back to bed. The chance of showers turned into 10 hours of almost constant water of some sort falling on us.
Right as we got to Royal Island ( a desolate harbor surrounded by rock and scrub bush) Stew hit the wall sick as a dog again. We thought it was a relapse of the flu from getting wet and cold.
Well this is getting ridulous. I gave him all the meds we had accumulated and it was a horrible night.
A day later we made it on into Spanish Wells, he's better , he's worse...clinic again and the nurse says to take a full 10 day round of Cipro (antibiotics). Some kind of intestinal infection. OMG he has been so sick for so long. I know he has lost at least 15 pounds, the hard way.
Feb. 1st.
Ok I think we are on the right track now, but I may never be the same, haha. Still at the marina in Spanish Wells, leaving tomorrow to stage at Royal Island (tide gets really low here) to head for Nassau.

02/01/2013 | Gregory Simmons
That same flu/stomach bug struck Rochester, NY most of January. Lots of people out of work, lots of kids home from school. Never seen it that bad, nor the symptoms so severe. Hope he feels better soon!
02/07/2013 | Stewart Becker
Thanks Gregory, I feel much better now. I'm originally from Hamburg, NY over by Buffalo. Good to hear from someone up there and that I'm not the only one that caught this bug. Kind of scary, I haven't been sick like this for decades.
Thanks again,
Stew
Hopetown
Diana
01/07/2013

Off to Hopetown to wait out more easterlies:
Wow, Hopetown is actually as nice as the guidebook says. Beautiful safe harbor lined with colorful Bahamian style houses, restaurants and bars, and gift shops.
OMG no! Stew is getting sick. We got there Jan 7th and now it is the 13th . He is still down with a headache and stomach problems. We have a really good weather window this week. Hope to be able to make it Tuesday to stage outside of Little Harbor and leave early Wednesday for Nassau.
We hadn't planned on going to Nassau, but it's going to work out better with the wind and we really want to head on over to the Exumas and get on down to Georgetown.
We have enjoyed all the art shows and there are lots of activities here like a softball game with the local kids today. The beach is just over the hill a block away and is really a gorgeous beach with coral reefs just a few meters out to snorkel.
Note: after our anchor dragging ordeal in Green Turtle we will be going to a marina in Nassau as it has a really bad reputation for boats not holding in the hard, polluted bottom.
Wish we cold find a better anchor, not holding my breathe on it though.
Well it is now Jan. 17th and Stew is still sick. We had to take him to the emergency clinic on marsh harbor with the Fire and Rescue boat Monday.
He was severely dehydrated, feverish etc. Great little clinic there and after 3 bags of intravenous solutions and other things he was looking a little better. However by the time we walked to the pharmacy, took a cab to the ferry dock, waited and hour and a half and rode another half hour back to our boat he was not in good shape.
Hopefully all will be ok in a couple of more days.

Grreat Guana Cay
Diana
12/28/2012


On to Great Guana Cay on Dec. 28th:
Picked up a mooring in this pretty little harbor with 7 mooring balls that were way too close together for most of the boats there.
Walked over to the world famous Nipper's Bar on the ocean side and what a view! Couldn't wait for the Sunday pig roast.
On our way to the pig roast, I turned my ankle really bad. Got some ice and went on to Nipper's, but the wind was whipping from the north and it was freezing! It's a big party that young people come from all over to attend and wear their bikinis, so there was still some bikinis dancing around, haha.
Food was pretty good , but not really a pig roast.
Monday I wake up with a bad sore throat, really!? Now I have a crud cold and a swollen ankle. So Stew decides he need s some attention and tweeks his back so bad he can hardly walk.
By Wednesday the wind had died down and we were able to drag ourselves up and limped into Marsh Harbor to stay at Mango's Marina till the following Monday.
Recuperated, rented a car for the first time, shopped for food, wine, and bought a new start battery at a little car shop way out of town for $180. ( was $531 at the Marine store by the marina).

Green Turtle Cay
Stew
12/16/2012

We departed Spanish Cay on Sunday Dec 16th for Green Turtle Cay. The wind was 15kts off our nose, so I put up the main for stability but continued to motor the entire way (approx 18nm). We entered White Sound on Green Turtle Cay and dropped our hook just outside of the Green Turtle Club.

We stayed in White Sound for twelve days (probably seven too many). The first five we had a great time exploring the island to include renting a gulf cart for half of a day. We pretty much hit every trail on the island in those four hours (including a couple that we probably shouldn't have); it was a ton of fun. We found all the good beach spots and a couple place that we could take the dinghy to later with Belle. There was a cold front coming through on the weekend, so we decided to stay until Christmas. Especially since Brendal's Dive Company was hosting a Christmas potluck. It was like the 20th annual and supposed to be all the rage...not so much. But we did meet a nice couple there. Aaron and Walter from S/V ? out of Charleston SC. They were the only other couple under 65 and who were also not stampeding the food tables like they hadn't eaten in a month. They too were headed for the Dominican Republic and had some interesting stories. Hope we see them again.

Diana decided (okay it wasn't all her idea but I choose to blame her) to have our mail service forward our mail to the Green Turtle Club, since we would be there for a while. Lesson #1: never have your mail sent somewhere in the Bahamas unless you plan to wait for two or three weeks especially during the holidays. We ended up having the post office in New Plymouth (South end of Green Turtle Cay) forward our package to Georgetown, Exumas if it ever arrives. Not sure if we will ever see it.

Anyway, on the Friday before Christmas, we experienced our first strong cold front immediately followed by our first anchor dragging adventure. It was just after breakfast when I noticed some guy in a dinghy riding around telling everyone that some heavy weather was coming. He didn't stop by our boat, must have thought that from the looks of it, that we had every thing well in-hand. The anchorage was pretty tight with some folks on anchor while others were moored. We didn't have much swing room for the predicted 90deg wind shift thanks to a knucklehead that anchored way to close the other day. I decided to let out another 25' of scope anyway. After taking Belle ashore for her morning ritual, I decided the prudent thing would be to set another anchor to the NW where the winds were gonna be be. So as I was untying the Danforth (44lb Bruce seems like it would take too long) it hit. I looked across the bay (couple hundred meters) and a wall of rain was coming. I jumped out of the dinghy and jumped below already soaked. That didn't matter howeveer because about 30sec after the microburst hit us, my trusty CQR decided to take the rest of the morning off. I started the motor and Diana jumped behind the wheel. It was raining and blowing like crazy but Diana got the bow into the wind and I pulled up the anchor by hand (not enough time for the also trusty SeaTiger 555 manual windless) because we were just a few seconds away from slamming into the Green Turtle Club's fuel dock. I decided that the easiest thing to do was get away from the rest of the boats and head back down the sound to pick up a mooring. That decision was pretty easy since knucklehead was dragging as well and flying close formation off our port stern. Knucklehead quickly got caught up in another boats anchor rode and fell off behind us. Phase two begins...

The last time we picked up a mooring was on Lake Champlain (between New York and Vermont) in 1988. No problem, motor up, hook it with the boat hook and tie off...again not so much. The winds must have been steady over 25kts and gusting above 30. Every time the bow came slightly off the wing, it swung like door, sending the mooring ball under the bow and out of reach. After about 7 or 8 attempts we managed to get it. We are now proficient. The wind blew hard for the rest of the afternoon and throughout the next day. We did enjoy watching knucklehead cut himself loose from the other boat and making four unsucessful attemps to set another anchor. Finally on the 5th attempt, he got a set with his stern about 50' in front of another boat. The other boat picked up his anchor and motored over to the Marina after advising knucklehead of his decision. What a knucklehead!

Anyway, we learned a lot that day:
1. Always keep up with the weather, even if you think your safely tucked in.
2. If someone gets too close...move your boat because their just gonna be knuckleheads!
3. If you think about setting a second anchor, it's probably already too late.
4. After clocking 360deg a couple of times over the past several days, I should have re-set the anchor.
5. It's never too late to read "The Anchoring Hanbook".
6. A Rocna or Manson Supreme will be worth the money if we ever find one.

We learned a few good lessons too:
1. We work well together under pressure.
2. Diana drives the boat better than me (a least sometimes)
3. Hand signals work (so does yelling)
4. Moorings in tight anchorages, when available, aren't for sissy's.
5. It's never too late to read "The Anchoring Hanbook".

Fort Pierce to Spanish Cay
Stew
12/15/2012

12-15-2012
Fort Pierce to Spanish Cay
We spent Thanksgiving at the Marina. The restaurant at Harbortown actually put on a very nice event. He rest of our time was spent making preparations that we had not finished prior to leaving Cocoa. Daily trips to Publix for food to hoard, and wine to resupply our vanishing stock, were routine. Our friends Alan and Carla Olden came down to visit on Sunday the 2nd of December to give us a sanity break. We got to ride in a car and go to a shopping mall and see the sights of Fort Pierce proper!

The rebuilt transmission and injector pump both arrived on Monday the 26th of November; they both leaked. The transmission was leaking from the aft seal and was quickly removed, repaired and reinstalled the next day. The injector pump...different story. I was leaking worse than ever. After hours and days and once again taking it back to the shop, the brain trust decided it must be the #3 injector line. We found one in Michigan, overnighted it, and when it arrived it was the wrong one. So we ordered the correct one, overnighted it and it arrived the very next day...amazing! After a few more minor adjustments, Ruby was running smooth. So we packed up after three weeks and three days and headed South.

We spent the First and 2nd nights at Peck Lake (just South of St. Lucie Inlet). It's basically just a wider portion of the waterway, but very secluded and just a sand dune away from the ocean. We stayed an extra night there because thunderstorms were running up and down the coast.

The next day we motor-sailed down to Lake Worth Inlet. While going under the last of seven lift- bridges we could only make about two knots of headway into the current. That's when the siren went off in my brain "your prop is fouled moron". We anchored about half a mile south of the inlet along with a couple dozen other boats waiting for weather to make the jump across the Gulf Stream. So, we spent Saturday the 8th of December getting ready. First we took the dog to peanut island (beautiful state park) where she got her last good run in for the next five days. Then we headed back to Firefly. Next I dove the boat to verify that the prop was indeed fouled completely with hard growth. Kinda wish that I'd thought of that at Fort Pierce. Anyway, the water was pretty clear which made scraping the prop almost enjoyable. The weather forecast was for SE winds 10-15kts and seas 2-3ft with an 11 second period. Supposed to stay that way a couple of days. So after running out of excuses, we decided to cross the next morning.

The drama begins....
We woke up before dawn on Sunday the 9th of December, fed the critters, ate breakfast and checked the weather. Still sounded good. Then we listened to reports coming in from other boats the had either began the crossing or were trying to decide whether or not to try. Short story shorter, it still sounded pretty goo. Maybe a Little rolly and apparently getting out of the inlet was a little bumpy. A LITTLE BUMPY! So that's how the crossing began, nose diving through 4-6 footers about 4 seconds apart. Apparently outgoing tides can be a little bumpy. Anyway, it was an excellent chance to make sure everything was well secured on deck. So far so good. By the time we reached the end of the jetty, we didn't dare turn around to face that again, so we kept going. We were sure it would only get better...not so much. The 2-3 foot seas seemed to be riding atop 2-3 feet more of a southerly swell. We found ourselves routinely rolling 15 degrees to either side, with occasional rolls well over 20.the winds were barely off the nose, so I didn't put up any sail. Kinda wish I had looking back, it might have reduced to roll if nothing else. Well this lasted about three or four hours until Diana noticed the the Bimini was starting to sway left and right with the rolls. Since we have two 135 watt solar panels up there, I thought "this can't be good". About the time that I returned with a hex wrench to start tighten all of the joints, one let go, the another. Now I'm playing Twister trying to hold to Bimini to together while looking for something to lash it with. Diana steering the bout a little Northerly to ease the rolling. After what seemed like forever, I managed to get a couple of ratchet straps on the thing and get it secured.

Having eluded what could have been a pretty serious situation, we settled in to our normal routine of wondering why the hell we decided to this. We didn't have time to get bored however, because that was about the time that a shackle supporting the nose of our dinghy decided to come apart. The lead line to the tackle holding it was still chocked it the cam cleat, but the dinghy was now just a couple inches off the water and getting routinely slammed into the back of the boat. Is anyone thinking "that's why you stow your dinghy on deck retard!"? Anyway after struggling to get a spare 6:1 tackle on it, I managed to get it about a foot above the water and secure against the transom. I took the wheel awhile and Diana went after her second Valium. The rest of the crossing was less eventful and we managed to arrive on the Little Bahama Bank just as the sun was setting. It was a beautiful sight to see the relative shallow waters glowing turquoise blue in contrast to the dark churning waters of the Gulf Stream. We motored the rest of the night to arrive at great Sale Cay about 0400. We dropped the hook about a mile outside of the anchorage and rested until dawn when we repositioned to a better spot inside.

We spent the day resting, making repairs, and cleaning up. Did I mention that our anchor locker popped open during the crossing, spewing muddy wet anchor chain all over the birth? And that the cat decided to purge himself from every possible orifice under the v-berth? We had to take everything out including the cushions,to dry before we could rest. We headed out the next day for Foxtown Settlement on Little Abaco Island. What a difference a day makes. We had an awesome sail on a broad reach and slid into the Foxtown anchorage in the early afternoon. We still hadn't cleared customs and therefore couldn't go ashore but it was nice to see rock instead of Florida sand.

The next morning we set off for Spanish Cay to clear customs and spend a couple days relaxing. Spanish Cay is a quite little island with a Marina, a few villas and a couple private homes. Three days later we are still hear on weather hold to continue on to Green Turtle Cay. We are really enjoying Spanish Cay. Belle, our 8yr old German Shepard has a new friend named Hurricane. Hurricane is a Potcake dog (an indigenous Bahamian breed that gets it's ancestry from the dogs aboard early sailing ships) and is also the only other dog on the entire island. They played and played and played. Weather looks good for tomorrow...we'll see.

12/15/2012 | Sarah
Good on'ya for hangin' in there! Sounds like you guys successfully negotiated your initiation hazing - congrats, American expats! (though I think your trip sounds slightly more traumatic than flying on a United Airlines-operated Airbus... only slightly). I imagine you'll be locking Patch in the head for the next big crossing, poor little guy. Glad Belle is adjusting well, and hope you two can take some time to recover :)
01/17/2013 | Buzz
...good story ! Crossing 'the stream' can be wild ! Some years ago we crossed from lauderdale to Bimini. Beat the C___p out of us.
Arrived in Bimini, no lights on de island anywhere ! No radar...by the time wefinally tied up at the pier, all six of us were WASTED and slept the sleep of the dead !
Good trip "no one died" !
Enjoying you're blog :-)

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