SailBlogs
Bookmark and Share
HALEKAI Sailing Around the World
Nancy and Burger invite you to read about their cruising adventures afloat.
Cruiser Camaraderie in Maine
08/09/2014, Islesboro, Maine

Over 60 boats anchored off the DeGrasse's cottage on Islesboro, Maine for the 24th annual SSCA Gam last weekend. We've attended a couple of times in past years by boat, but this time we came by RV and took the ferry across to the island. We caught up with friends old and new from over a dozen boats, some we've known for years and some just met earlier this year. One couple we saw last in Peru, another in Sicily.

Then we moved our little home on wheels on to Mount Desert, hiking in the beautiful Acadia National Park. Lobster rolls and wild blueberries are as abundant and delicious as ever, and we've enjoyed mostly sunny days and cool nights. Maine is one of our favorite places.

A few days ago, while awaiting a bus in Bar Harbor, a couple recognized our Isleboro t-shirts and told us they were SSCA members from Annapolis who had gone to gams in the past. They asked, "Do you know Nancy and Burger Zapf, who organized the Annapolis gams back then?"

CLICK HERE FOR MORE GAM PHOTOS

2014 IntraCoastal Waterway
| | More
Switching Gears
Photo: Our RV in Mexico, 2004
05/25/2014, Herrington Harbour North, Maryland

After day-hopping up the Chesapeake from Norfolk, we arrived at Herrington Harbour North on May 9th, thus coming full circle. We began our circumnavigation aboard Halekai from this same marina in October 2004.

Next day we set to work emptying Halekai of 21 years of accumulated stuff, lowering the waterline by an inch. Some of it is now in storage, some in consignment, and some in the dumpster. We then gave her a good scrubbing below and above deck. She was hauled out a week later and then the next stage of work began, cleaning and painting the bottom and polishing the hull. (Actually Burger did most of that, while I gave my aching back a rest. I could really use a massage!) Now she's all shiny and ready for sale.

It's time to switch gears and move onto our motorhome, a Phoenix Cruiser 23 that we bought in 2004, the same year we set off around the world. After a year of outdoor storage on a farm, we were amazed when the engine started right up! The solar panels on the roof did a good job keeping the batteries charged, despite the long, cold winter.

During off seasons we've taken our little home on wheels to Mexico and all around the U.S., including Alaska. While Halekai is looking for a new owner this summer we'll be heading northeast to New England. In the fall we'll drive the RV south. We'll move into our new "home base" condo at Tarpon Bay Yacht Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida, from where we'll start our next adventure. Stay tuned!

2014 IntraCoastal Waterway
| | More
Going to the Dark Side?
Photo: Halekai in Georgetown, Bahamas
05/23/2014, Herrington Harbour North, Maryland

"So what do you plan to do next, now that you've sailed around the world?"

Cruising has been a major part of our lives for nearly forty years, ever since we crossed the Atlantic from Germany aboard our first sailboat, Phantasus, in 1975. The live-aboard lifestyle has become our way of life, whether afloat or aboard our RV. We love traveling to new places while having our home along with us. But we've fulfilled our dream to circumnavigate and have had our fill of ocean crossings. We would like to be closer to our family, and now have four adorable grandkiddies to spoil!

We're not ready to "swallow the anchor" just yet, but rather to change vessels. We'd like to resume East Coast ICW and Bahamas cruising, which is more about motoring than sailing, and a trawler would give us more living space. Now that we're back in the States, we have put Halekai on the market. If you know someone who'd like the perfect, proven world cruising boat, please set them in touch with our listing broker, RogueWave Yacht Sales in Annapolis.

CLICK HERE FOR A DETAILED DESCRIPTION AND EQUIPMENT LIST

CLICK HERE FOR HALEKAI PHOTOS

MODIFICATIONS FOR WORLD CRUISING

2014 IntraCoastal Waterway
| | More
The Joys of Freebie Dockage and Cruiser Camaraderie
photo: berthed at North Landing, Portsmouth
05/07/2014, From Great Bridge to Norfolk, VA

Much as we like anchoring in tranquil creeks along "the Ditch," it was a treat to tie up for free at the Great Bridge Battlefield Park transient dock in Virginia, and not have to launch the dinghy to get ashore. Kurt and Kathy of s/v Five & Dime who we met in Wrightsville Beach invited us along for Cinco de Mayo dinner at the local Mexican restaurant, El Toro Loco. Over giant margaritas we got acquainted with Bert and Prue of s/v Exuberant and Phil of s/v Cyan. How easy it is to make friends while cruising.

Next morning we all went through the Great Bridge Lock together, the only lock along the IntraCoastal Waterway. Our little flotilla stuck together through several bridge openings along the increasingly busy waters approaching Norfolk. A large ship held us up for almost an hour as a tug helped it slowly squeeze through a narrow bascule bridge. Hooray, it was our last bridge of the trip! We were happy to call it a day early in Portsmouth, where we once again took advantage of free dockage provided for transient cruisers.

After stretching our legs along the quaint streets of the Old Towne we had lunch at the German Biergarten. That evening we walked together with the crew of Five & Dime and Exuberant along with another couple who joined us, Annette and Anthony of s/v Magnolia, to the Art Deco style restored Commodore Dinner Theatre. For just $5 per ticket we saw the latest movie, "Captain America," on the big screen. Not my kind of movie but certainly entertaining and with an all-star cast. It was fun calling in food and drink orders from the table phones and dining in comfy chairs while Chris Evans watching save the world from destruction by bad guy Robert Redford.

CLICK FOR PHOTOS

2014 IntraCoastal Waterway
| | More
Adios, Cheap Spanish Wine
Photo: At anchor in New Zealand
05/05/2014

"If you could do it over again, would you have done anything differently on your trip around the world?"

On the whole we had a wonderful time with few regrets. It was truly a lifelong dream come true. But ...

We listened to bad advice and stayed in budget motels for our month-long driving tour of New Zealand's South Island, instead of renting a campervan. The South Island is all about the great outdoors, and camping would have brought us nearer to nature. February was high season and it was tiresome seeking places to stay each night. How often did we hear, "You're in luck, we have just one vacancy left, if you don't mind taking the handicap room."

A second regret was going to cold, rainy Germany a few years ago, instead of spending the time traveling around sunny Australia while Halekai was in Bundaberg. We never did get to visit our son-in-law's relatives in Sydney, nor did we tour the wine country of South Australia.

But by far the biggest mistake we made was not filling every nook and cranny with cheap Spanish wine! Since leaving Spanish waters we've nearly exhausted the wine cellar. Good wine cost only a couple of dollars a bottle.

| | More
What Do Little Boys Like to Do on Boats?
photo: Melanie, Ivey and Owen with Burger
04/29/2014, Wrightsville Beach, NC

1. Take a dinghy ride. 2. Climb the boarding ladder. 3. Spin the steering wheel. 4. Climb up and down the companionway ladder. 5. Repeat again and again.

CLICK FOR MORE CUTE PHOTOS!


2014 IntraCoastal Waterway
| | More
Do We Have Cute Grandsons or What?!
04/27/2014, Myrtle Beach SC

It's been a whole year since we last saw our grandsons Owen (2) and Ivey (almost 6). Melanie and Trey and the boys met us in Myrtle Beach, SC on Saturday. Over lunch and mini-golf ("let's go putt-putt") and ice cream cones we all got caught up.

CLICK FOR SOME GREAT PHOTOS!

2014 IntraCoastal Waterway
| | More
Time for a Break
04/26/2014, Myrtle Beach SC

The fuel and water tanks were getting low, the laundry bag was full, and the fridge was nearly empty. We'd been spending long 12 hour days at the wheel and anchoring in creeks every night since leaving St. Augustine on Easter Sunday, and we needed a break. So we pulled into Osprey Marina in Myrtle Beach, just off the ICW.

What a nice place! We were welcomed warmly, filled our diesel tanks at the lowest prices we've seen in a year (even a 10% BoatUS discount), and given a courtesy golf cart to drive around the marina to the office/laundry room. The transient rate was only $1/foot and they gave us a goody bag filled with freebies.

The marina is a bit off the beaten track, so an enterprising pizzeria has a low-cost chauffeur service to the restaurant a few miles away, with time for shopping at the supermarket next door. So with a quick overnight stop, all our needs were met.

2014 IntraCoastal Waterway
| | More
Slave Drivers and Gator Hunters in the Night
photo: early morning snowbird parade
04/24/2014, Georgia marshes

April being a bit early for the northbound snowbird migration, we haven't seen many other boats, which is mostly a good thing. Few powerboats causing wake or asking for slow passes, no congestion at bridges, and quiet, uncrowded anchorages. But ...

A couple of nights ago in Georgia we were anchored all by our lonesome in a creek off the channel, surrounded by marshland and miles from anywhere. We set our anchor light and locked ourselves in, feeling a bit vulnerable. After dinner we watched the movie, "12 Years a Slave," which takes place in Georgia, giving us the shivers of what life was once like right here where we were. (It was one of those cheap DVD copies we'd bought in Georgetown, and--oh no!-- it cut off abruptly just before the ending!)

Spooked by images of ruthless slave drivers swirling in our heads, we woke to the sound of two motorboats approaching in the middle of the night. They slowed down right near us and we could hear men's voices. We peeked out and saw that they were shining bright white lights on their bows. Pretty scary!

Then they sped off into the night as suddenly as they'd come (there were lit channel markers to guide them). What would they be doing out there that time of night, and why did they seek us out? Were they gator hunting and just came by to check us out?

2014 IntraCoastal Waterway
| | More
Chugging Along up the ICW
04/22/2014, South Carolina

The weather gods are not favoring an outside run so we're chugging along the sheltered IntraCoastal Waterway, a trip we've made several times in years past. Navigating by Ipad, we can see the channel markers on the screen and can tell if we're veering off course. The nav program tells us the tides in advance of the 65' fixed bridges (our mast height is 63'), and the opening schedules of the bascule bridges. So much easier than in the past!

In Florida we motored past miles and miles of fancy waterfront mansions. In George and South Carolina it's miles and miles of marshland. Our 12-hour days are spent alternating at the wheel, while one of us does chores or cooks or surfs the internet (using Verizon MiFi).

Silly us, we anchored in a cove sheltered all around by mangroves one night, where we were attacked by vicious no-see-ums that came right though our screens. A week later we're still itching!

Another night we anchored in sight of the Cape Canaveral missile launch site. The next day we heard a USCG advisory on the radio: "Warning, hazard to navigation, partially submerged rocket booster in the vicinity of the ICW channel, near Cape Canaveral." Glad we're north of there!

We treated ourselves to a marina slip for Easter weekend in St. Augustine, which was full of tourists. It was wonderful to be chauffeured around for shopping and errands by old friends Elli and Charley, who we first met in Samoa in 1982. It's been 30 years since his harrowing rescue at sea in the middle of the South Pacific.

The weather has been chilly the last few days and we're in long pants, shirts and jackets, a new experience after a whole year in shorts and t-shirts.

CLICK FOR ICW PHOTOS

2014 IntraCoastal Waterway
| | More
What Was Your Worst Weather?
Photo: Bridge of Lions, St. Augustine FL
04/20/2014, St. Augustine, FL

"Have you ever been in a storm? What's the worst weather you experienced while underway?"

A week ago I would have answered that during our entire circumnavigation we never had any really bad weather, except for a winter storm while we were aboard in the marina in Marmaris, Turkey. You can avoid most bad weather by not being in the tropics during hurricane season and not sailing in winter in the north (or far south). And by staging your departure to a good weather window wherever you are.

Oops, now that we've come full circle and are motoring up the protected IntraCoastal Waterway, we let our guard down. As we approached a bascule bridge near Cocoa, FL a few days ago, we heard a boater on the radio request an opening by the bridge tender, only to be told that the bridge can't open if the wind is over 40 knots, and 60 was predicted. Huh?! We glanced behind us and sure enough, ominous dark clouds were heading our way.

I barely had time to close the hatches when, Wham! the squall hit us with a vengeance and the boat heeled over. Burger steered us just outside the channel and quickly dropped anchor. For at least half an hour we had 60+ kt wind, torrential rain and total white-out conditions. We sat below and watched our position on the Ipad screen, happy to see that we weren't dragging. If we had, we would have wound up in the mangroves, not the worst of scenarios.

2014 IntraCoastal Waterway
| | More
The Ancient Mariners: Our Role Models Up the Ante
04/15/2014, Stuart, FL

While still in Port St. Lucie I called our friend Ruth Weiss to wish her a happy 88th birthday. Turns out she and Herb (now 95) were at the boatyard in Stuart, visiting their new trawler, a 36' American Tug. We jumped in the car and drove over for a tour of The Ancient Mariners--it's beautiful! Love the name! Their dinghy is called The Rime. :) Their Halberg-Rassy Windpower is up for sale.

Untitled

We then all drove back to Halekai for lunch aboard, and a tour of our possible new home at Tarpon Bay. So we got to celebrate both our birthdays together this year.

2014 IntraCoastal Waterway
| | More
More Southern Hospitality. Have We Found a New Home Base?
04/14/2014, Port St. Lucie, FL

It's April and time to join the northbound snowbird migration of boats. We spent our first night anchored at West Palm Beach, right across from the center of the city. Tired after a long day taking turns at the wheel, we didn't feel like launching the dinghy, so didn't take advantage of the free public dinghy dock for a walk ashore. Maybe next time. Onward next day to Port St. Lucie, at the entrance to the Okeechobee Canal.

When we met Julie and George of S/V Seaquel in Georgetown last month, they told us about their new home at Tarpon Bay Yacht Club, a waterfront condominium development with dockage in Port St. Lucie. We've been thinking about a new "home base" in Florida, now that we're back, and the description peaked our interest. Affordable (prices haven't recovered yet after the recession) 2 and 3 bedroom units in a well-maintained community with amenities, including dockage on a very sheltered cove at just $1/foot per month! There's even a community workshop. Golf courses and a Club Med (with guest day passes) are right near by.

Turns out there are several other cruisers living there, among them Gina Poland, a former cruiser we know from Annapolis. Gina sponsored us for the guest dock, then had to leave unexpectedly for a week. She most generously lent us her car in exchange for taking her to and from the airport (West Palm Beach 45 min drive). What a bonus, a guest dock and a car!

Over the next several days we looked at available condo units while getting to know the neighbors and the area, which is right near Stuart. We went to the weekly cocktail party and a pancake breakfast at the clubhouse, and made good use of the lovely heated pool. We felt we fit right in. Now we're seriously considering making an offer on one of the units for sale.

2014 IntraCoastal Waterway
| | More
A Whirlwind Week of Welcome
photo: sunset at Middle River anchorage
03/31/2014, Middle River, Fort Lauderdale

Next day our old friends Bev & Dave Feiges fetched us from the dinghy dock and took us out to lunch, on errands (West Marine, CostCo) and then dinner aboard M/V Cloverleaf at their marina. Wonderful!

During the following several days we had a whirlwind social life, meeting up with cruising friends Jon & Jill Danzig, Steve & Linda Leeds, Terry & Clint Boram, and Steve and Truus Sharp. I had lunch at the Mall with Judi Mkam of SSCA, who then came aboard for a visit. Fort Lauderdale, a major yachting center, was the perfect place to shop and do errands after a year abroad.

The following weekend Bev & Dave drove us to Boca Ratan for a "Welcome Home" party at the home of Herb & Ruth Weiss. Their beautiful oceanview condo was festooned with "Congratulations" balloons. Ruth served a delicious candlelight dinner for ten, among them our friends Katherine & Craig Briggs of S/V Sangaris, who we last saw in Greece. Dessert was melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cake lit with candles for my birthday. We felt very honored!

2014 IntraCoastal Waterway
| | More
Only in South Florida!
photo: 17th St. Bridge, Fort Lauderdale
03/24/2014, Fort Lauderdale, FL

As we entered the entrance channel to Fort Lauderdale on a sunny Sunday morning in March, a small plane trailing a banner approached us. Maybe someone is sending us a "Welcome Home" message, I joked to Burger. But as it passed by I couldn't believe my eyes: "Trojan -- You can't wait to get it on!"

While waiting for the 17th Street Bridge to open we watched the Sunday show. Big and little speedboats whizzed by. Brawny tattooed shaven head men at the helm, bikini babes perched on the bow. "Let's make them wave," I said, as tourist boats filled with day-trippers passed us. One wave and a smile from us produced dozens in return.

After passing through the Las Olas Bridge we turned left and entered the Middle River, where we anchored among half a dozen boats in a quiet pocket surrounded by waterfront homes. We checked in by phone with Customs and prepared to take a well-earned nap.

But first ... "Halekai, Halekai, this is Key of D," the VHF crackled. It was Steve Sharp, who we last saw aboard his catamaran in New Zealand. "I saw you coming in on the AIS screen this morning. Congratulations, and welcome back!" Wow! We had a reunion with circumnavigators Steve and Truus aboard their boat, tied up right near where we anchored, a couple of days later. The small floating village of world cruisers ... And in typical cruiser hospitality, they lent us their car to do errands.

That evening we had were treated to a celebration dinner by old friends Ruth and Herb Weiss of s/v Windpower, along with mutual cruiser friends Wally and Cecily, at the Galleria Mall, just across the street from the dinghy dock at George English Park. How convenient is that? It's great to be back!

2014 IntraCoastal Waterway
| | More
The Home Stretch: Weather Before Wallet
Photo: anchored at Emerald Bay
03/22/2014, Crossing the Great Bahamas Bank

"Working, Working, Working on the Boat!" Who of our cruising friends remember that song by bluewater folksinger Eileen Quinn? It kept going through my head as we spent days scrubbing and polishing Halekai inside and out, all the while enjoying the lovely anchorages of Stocking Island. Now that she's all clean and shiny again we're even more proud of our beautiful "floating home"--which is the rough translation of Halekai, in Polynesian.

We left Georgetown last Monday with a good weather window for the week ahead. We day-hopped along the shallow Exumas Bank to Little Farmers Cay, to Staniel Cay, and then to Emerald Bay in the protected waters of the Exuma Cays Land & Sea Park. We snorkeled around Emerald Rock (in photo above) and coral heads teeming with colorful fish. It's amazing to see fish not scurry away, knowing that they're in a no-take marine reserve.

Then onward to Highbourne Cay, where there's an exclusive little marina resort. We dinghied ashore past a bunch of sharks with their fins slicing through the water off the entrance to the marina basin, begging for fish tidbits to the delight of the resort guests. After viewing the fancy $38 entrees on the restaurant menu, we bought cleaned conch from a local fisherman for $2 each and had gourmet conch salad aboard.

Last night we took shelter off Rose Island, just across from Nassau. Annoying jet skiers from a large motoryacht buzzed noisily around us but thankfully disappeared before sundowner time. This morning we sailed past the huge pink Atlantis resort complex and several cruise ships, and this afternoon we passed between Andros and the Berry Islands.

We're now on the shallow Great Bahamas Bank, a weird feeling sailing miles from land in only 10 to 15 feet of water. In the morning we'll cross the Gulf Stream and should arrive in Fort Lauderdale tomorrow afternoon. Oh no, we'll be clearing Customs & Immigration on Sunday, yet again! More overtime charges? But with the next norther on its way, waiting a day would mean risking west wind while crossing the notorious Stream, a most unpleasant prospect for the home stretch. Weather comes before wallet.

It'll be the first time Halekai has been back in the States since we left Fort Lauderdale in January 2005. Time for another celebration!

2014 Bahamas
| | More
Bahamas: Return to Paradise
03/16/2014, Monument Beach, Stocking Island

"Now that you've sailed around the world, what places did you like the most?"

Julie and George of s/v Seaquel, some friends who had completed their circumnavigation before we left, told us that the Bahamas were their favorite cruising grounds. They've been spending their winters here ever since they circled the globe, and we just had a fun reunion with them aboard Seaquel in Georgetown.

We often thought of that conversation during our travels, which took us to more than 30 countries along the trade wind route.

The world and its peoples are so diverse that choosing favorites among them is like comparing apples and oranges. We have wonderful memories of the many places we've visited and the friends we've made along the way, and there's really nowhere in the world that we didn't enjoy in one way or another. The South Pacific, Turkey and Morocco were perhaps the most exotic, for different reasons.

But the beautiful aquamarine waters and white sandy beaches of the Bahamas are like nowhere else in the world. We love snorkeling the coral waters and hunting for lobster and conch. The climate is warm and balmy. The people are friendly, crime is almost non-existent, and it's nice to be where English is spoken. We have old friends who continue to winter here. There's an international airport in Georgetown making it easy to have guests.

CLICK FOR PHOTOS OF PARADISE!

Now that we've spent a month in the Exumas, our concern that things might have changed for the worse over the years has been put to rest. And how convenient for us that they are so close to the US East Coast, for our future winters afloat.

2014 Bahamas
| | More
Snowbird Cruising Mecca
Photo: with Sue, Chesley, Connie and Mary
03/03/2014, Georgetown, Exumas

We anchored in Kidd Cove and spent two days catching up on the mundane: ATM, internet, laundry, haircut, produce from street vendors, groceries and ice cubes from Exuma Market. Cracked conch and grouper fingers at Eddie's our first night, freshly made conch salad and grilled jerk chicken at Martin's for lunch next day. We splurged on lobster tails from Martin and had a feast aboard two nights ago, still in celebratory mode.

CLICK FOR PHOTOS

Nothing much has changed in Georgetown since our last visit nine years ago. Hundreds of East Coast and Canadian snowbird cruisers winter here each year, keeping busy with all sorts of organized activities. We anchored off Volleyball Beach and went for a morning walk on the lovely Stocking Island beach, together with Mary and Christian from s/v I Wanda. We first met them a dozen years ago here in the Bahamas and have seen each other often over the years at SSCA Gams. Yesterday we went to the Sunday Pig Roast at Chat 'n' Chill and caught up with old friends and new.

2014 Bahamas
| | More
Crossing Our Outbound Path
02/27/2014, Calabash Bay, Long Island

Drumroll ... ! Yesterday we crossed our outbound path! Nine years ago this month we anchored here in Calabash Bay on our circumnavigation aboard Halekai, begun in Annapolis in 2004. We celebrated with our favorite meal, duck breast a l'orange, and pink champagne. Prosit!This morning we're motoring across to Georgetown, Exumas, where we'll enter the harbor with the traditional hoisting of flags from countries we've visited along the way.

2014 Bahamas
| | More
An Underwater Paradise No More
02/26/2014, Conception Island

From afar we could see that we wouldn't be alone at Conception: binoculars revealed a forest of masts in the anchorage. As we approached and circled the fleet we spotted mostly Canadian flags among the more than two dozen yachts, evidently a group outing organized from Georgetown.

We dropped anchor in 12 feet over sand. After lunch and a swim we took a siesta. That night we thawed out some wahoo and dined by candlelight in the cockpit, surrounded by bobbing mast lights and twinkling stars. It doesn't get much better!

We were surprised to see a cruise ship pass by to our west. The AIS showed it was in transit from St. Thomas to Little San Salvador, previously a popular destination for boaters but now off-limits, since a cruise ship company bought it from the Bahamian government.

Next morning we dinghied through the cut on the north end of the island to snorkel around the cove on the other side, where the coral was as bleak as out on the reef. Then we moved to the reef on the south end of the island but alas, it was no different there. We did spot a five foot nurse shark resting on the bottom, some colorful parrotfish and triggerfish and several small groupers, and some dead conch shells. No sign of lobster. The area has been under environmental protection for years due to over harvesting but the marine life doesn't seem to have recovered yet, surely due in part to the unhealthy coral.

2014 Bahamas
| | More
Close Encounter with Coral
02/25/2014, Southhampton Reef, Conception Island

"We stopped in Conception on our way over here," our Kentucky boat neighbors told us before we left San Salvador, "and it was great. We were the only boat there." We were anxious to seeing if the uninhabited Out Island was as beautiful as we remember it, and this sounded promising.

As we motorsailed 37 miles across the deep trench that separates the islands, our AIS showed heavy ship traffic transiting the channel. The course was set for the end of Southhampton Reef where a visible wreck was charted three miles north of Conception. We were looking for it when suddenly we were in less than 30 feet of water, with coral heads all around us! The reef was longer than the chart showed.

We slowed down to a crawl and maneuvered around the heads, luckily not as shallow as they appeared in the clear water, into safer depths on the far side of the reef. Then we dropped anchor and launched the dinghy to explore up close. What a disappointment! The towering coral heads were mostly dead and there were few fish. Either a hurricane or a season or more of abnormally warm water temps (global warming?), or both, had wreaked havoc.

2014 Bahamas
| | More
Reconciling with Church and Slavery
02/24/2014, Cockburn Town, San Salvador

For an island population of only a couple hundred we counted at least half a dozen churches in town, animated sermons and choir singing audible as we passed by. Late model cars filled the church parking lots and worshipers wore their finest despite the tropical temps, men in dark suits and women in fancy dresses. The Roman Catholic and Anglican churches were the largest and most impressive (see photos); there were also Baptist, Church of God of Prophecy, Kingdom Ministries, and others we can't recall.

In addition to a few shops we passed several small government office buildings. Half the population must be civil servants, there were so many of them. The other half must work at the resorts and shops, as there didn't appear to be any other signs of commerce. The island consists mostly of sand and salt marshes, not much arable land.

We smiled and said hello to everyone we saw and they all answered in kind, but nobody initiated a greeting, unusual for such a small place. Most inhabited, pastel-colored houses were in good shape but there were quite a few deserted ones slowly being reclaimed by nature.

Considering there were just a couple of lanes in the little village, they were remarkably well signed. The First Avenue and Deveaux Street intersection caught our attention (see photo), as Devaux was Burger's maternal grandmother's name, of French Huguenot origin. The other intersection was at First Avenue and Queen's Highway, amusingly pretentious for the sandy beach road.

As in all the Bahamian islands, the original native peoples were replaced by European colonials who brought in slaves to work their plantations, but when the poor soil and harsh living conditions led to their demise, the slaves were abandoned to their fate. Today's population are their descendants, and the poignant words on a large framed illustrated sign commemorating island history reflect their continuing struggle to reconcile the past with the present:

"... the salvific Cross of Jesus Christ, marking the first landfall in the New World by Christopher Columbus on 12 October 1492, reminds us that the greatest benefit of the arrival of the Europeans was the gift of Christianity, even though the Church's representatives were culpable in the genocide of many peoples in the Americas and the institution of slavery but has served to guide us towards becoming communities of love."

"... Watling's Castle reminds us of the experience of colonialism and plantation slavery and our continuing effort as a people to rise from the ruins of the institution of slavery to a free and sovereign people aware of our history and our national potential."

2014 Bahamas
| | More
Never on Sunday
02/23/2014, Cockburn Town, San Salvador

Our 4-day passage to San Salvador ended early Sunday morning when we anchored on the shallow bank off the tiny town of Cockburn Town. We were under sail the whole way but no sooner did we arrive than the trades dissipated, as expected. Since it's an open roadstead we were happy to find it calm and relatively free of swell. One other sailboat was at anchor, hailing from Kentucky.

We had been here once before many years ago, May 1976 to be exact. We'll never forget diving into the crystalline water that the Bahamas are famous for. The pure white sand was littered with thousands of helmet conchs who were evidently on a migratory march. This time we found just one solitary helmet conch, and some rays buried in the sand with just their eyes showing.

We launched the dinghy and beached it in the slight surf, next to the rusting relics of the old town dock that had evidently been destroyed in a hurricane. (Later we realized we could have more easily tied up the dinghy in the small boat marina half a mile up the coast.) A small RO-RO supply ship (roll on, roll off) was just leaving as we arrived, having delivered a few containers to the island. It didn't need a dock to do so, as it simply drove close enough to shore to drop its front gate onto the concrete ramp at the water's edge, so cargo could be driven on and off.

We walked along the beach road about a mile to the airport to clear in with C&I. Luckily we knew in advance about the exorbitant $300 Bahamas Customs fee instituted a few years ago, and had cashed up in St. Thomas. C&I didn't accept credit cards. There was an ATM at the bank we passed, but whether it had cash? We were surprised by the additional $130 Immigration fee, $30 of which was Sunday overtime. The folks on the other yacht at anchor who cleared in elsewhere told us that overtime charges are no longer permitted, and to complain in Nassau. We will! The officials are on duty seven days a week at the airport. The Immigrations official offered us a ride back to town, maybe to justify the fee, but we declined as we needed the exercise after four days at sea.

We could of course have avoided all the recent weekend and holiday charges with better planning, but then again, waiting could have meant missing weather windows.

While we were inside the C&I office, the small Cessna we had walked past was replaced by a large private plane with 12 windows on each side. Two young American men cleared in after us, presumably the pilot and co-pilot, but we saw no other passengers. After rehydrating with sodas at the airport snack bar we returned to town, past the Club Med and the Red Riding Inn & Marina, both dive resorts whose guests fly in with Bahamas Air. White diving buoys lined the drop-off where the shallow aquamarine bank meets the deep blue sea. A handful of sportfisher boats were berthed in the marina, their owners most likely Floridians who commute by private plane.

2014 Bahamas
| | More
Where Did the Genoa Go?
02/22/2014, Underway

It was Burger's watch in the middle of the night when he noticed a sudden change in the motion of the boat, and we were going slower. Looking forward he saw the reason: the genoa sail was gone! We were sailing under mainsail alone. Upon investigation he discovered the gib being dragged alongside, held on by lines and sheets. Luckily he had just recently replaced the foredeck light with a much brighter LED light, which made the process of wrestling the sail aboard and securing it much easier. We then set the smaller staysail to balance the boat for the rest of the trip.

Why did the sail drop in the water? The six-year old stitching on the spectra tape at the head of the sail that attached it to the upper roller reefing had rotted out. It was the only spot that didn't have acrylic UV cover. Fixing it was a relatively easy. The material was too thick to fit under our Sailmaker sewing machine foot, so next day, Burger got out the ditty bag and did a very professional zigzag hand stitch using mallet, awl and waxed doubled Dacron lace twine, better than the original. The sail is back in use as good as new, except for some pink bottom paint stains. (photos to come)

2014 Leeward Islands
| | More
Moving Right Along
02/21/2014, The Puerto Rico Trench AKA Cruise Ship Alley

Soon after leaving St Thomas two days ago, a bright orange USCG helicopter swooped down noisily right behind us, ostensibly to read our boat name and hailing port. Yesterday we sailed over the Puerto Rico Trench in waters 25,000 feet deep, then skirted the treacherous Silver Bank, a graveyard of Spanish galleons.

The fishing line is out but so far, no bites, although schools of flying fish glide over the waves. The only ship traffic is cruise ships en route to and from Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Nassau to Grand Turk, St Thomas, St Maarten, etc. Our AIS sounds the alarm whenever one is on a close course. At night they're all lit up like plump lemon lozenges and are visible for miles.

We'd like to reach Florida by mid-March and still have many miles to go, so we're bypassing Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic/Haiti and the Turks & Caicos. Instead we're sailing 650 nm non-stop to San Salvador, one of the most easterly islands of the Bahamas Far Out Islands, where Christopher Columbus is said to have made his first landfall. Few sailors go here since it's so far to windward coming from the States, but it's a port of entry, mainly for airplanes. With a good weather window of steady NE trades and at an average speed of 7-8 knots we should reach our goal by early Sunday morning. It's been a bumpy ride so far and the constant rocking and rolling is tedious, so we'll be glad to get there. Uh oh, it'll be the weekend, will we pay overtime charges to clear in yet again?

2014 Leeward Islands
| | More

Older ]

 

 
s/v HALEKAI
Who: Nancy and Burger Zapf
Port: Berlin
View Complete Profile »
 
SSCA Members • 
 
Follow Our Tracks
 
 
Links to all Logs
 
SailBlogs Friends
Deep Blue SANGARIS Saraoni Nine of Cups Maltese Falcon Diesel Duck 
 
 
Powered by SailBlogs