HALEKAI Sailing Around the World

Nancy and Burger invite you to read about their adventures afloat and ashore.

19 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Jumentos
16 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
15 February 2017
14 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Jumentos
10 February 2017 | Hog Cay, the Jumentos
06 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
05 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Ragged Islands
05 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
04 February 2017 | Hog Cay, the Jumentos
03 February 2017 | Racoon Cay, Jumentos
01 February 2017 | Racoon Cay, the Jumentos
31 January 2017 | Buena Vista Cay, the Jumentos
30 January 2017 | Buena Vista Cay, the Jumentos
29 January 2017 | Flamingo Cay, Jumentos
28 January 2017 | Flamingo Cay, Jumentos
25 January 2017 | Salt Pond, Long Island
22 January 2017 | Red Shanks Anchorage, Great Exuma
19 January 2017 | Georgetown, Great Exuma
15 January 2017 | Chat n Chill, Stocking Island, Exuma
13 January 2017 | Stocking Island, Exuma

Party Time!

19 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Jumentos
A small plane just buzzed us, flying out the party guests who came to the Valentine’s Day party this afternoon. It’s held each year on the nearest weekend to 2/14, so that Duncan Town friends and relatives from Nassau can attend. Our new friend Percy was there, dressed in white as usual, as well as Wessie, who proudly introduced Burger to his fiancee: “This is my doctor.” She’s studying nursing in Nassau and hopes to work in the Clinic at Duncan Town eventually.

About 20 cruiser boats congregated for the party. We all donated items for an auction that raised over a thousand dollars for the local school. We donated an extra diving jacket. We bid successfully on two boxes of wine, solar powered cockpit and outboard lights, and a bunch of games for our grandkids who are coming next month. Maxine organized the food, typical Bahamian fare with goat curry, baked ham, fried grouper, mac’n’cheese and coleslaw. Coolers of beer and soda kept us all well hydrated. Adults moved to the music while children splashed in the water. A good time was had by all.

Eggs for Stitches

16 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
While in Duncan Town yesterday we looked up Wessie, the young fisherman whose thumb Burger sewed up ten days ago. The deep knife wound had healed well and Burger removed the stitches. In appreciation he gave us two dozen fresh eggs, collected from his family’s hens.

Percy and His Eagle Nest

15 February 2017
Duncan Town icon Percy Wilson greeted us as we landed ashore at Southside Bay on Ragged Island this morning. Years ago, Percy installed the body of an old DC-3 airliner on the roof of his building, and made it into his then-popular Eagle's Nest bar. Today he and his wife harvest and market “Emily’s natural sea salt” from the salt pond near Duncan Town. Percy kindly gave us a ride to town, a long hot walk along the airstrip runway.

Green Flash at Sunset

14 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Jumentos
Happy Valentine’s Day! We’ve been enjoying green flashes almost every evening here in the Jumentos, and last night was no exception. It took us years before we saw one for the first time, when a friend advised us to watch it through binoculars. Just the very last tiny bit of sun turns bright green as it falls below the horizon over water. (Don't watch it too soon and fry your eyeballs!) Once you see it magnified you'll know what to look for next time with the naked eye. It’s hard to capture on camera as it’s so tiny. This photo was taken a second or two beforehand.

Arsonists at Work and Play

10 February 2017 | Hog Cay, the Jumentos
During happy hour at the tiki hut last night, Burger and I organized a beach clean-up on the windward side of the island. Fifteen of us hiked across the trail this morning to the crescent beach that forms a large cove. We spent a couple of hours collecting heaps of plastic containers, shoes, rope and fishing net, etc., into several huge piles around the cove, just below the high water mark, that were then set ablaze. Plastic burns very hot and melts into lava-like rivulets that harden into a small amount of brittle debris. All traces disappear with the next tide. Everyone enjoyed the effort, doing good while enjoying the camaraderie. How satisfying to see the beach transformed from ugly to beautiful!

Emergency Surgery at Super Bowl Half-Time

06 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
Though we weren't the only non-football fans, most everybody in the anchorage--35 of us--piled onto a large catamaran that ferried us across to Ragged Island to a bonefish lodge with a large flatscreen. Over fried chicken and conch fritters, the Southerners amongst us (which doesn't include us despite our Florida residence) hooped and hollered and then lamented at the Patriots' historic comeback.

Burger's surgical skills have leaked to the community, his having treated a friend's infected coral cut. In the middle of the game he was called out to sew up the deep knife wound of a local fisherman who was filleting his catch. In return we were given a bag of eight freshly caught lobster tails!

Sundowners at Hog Cay Tiki Bar

05 February 2017 | Hog Cay, Ragged Islands
This sure is a place one can stay awhile! Happy Hour is a couple of days a week, and last night four cruisers brought along their guitars and entertained us, singing around the bonfire. A good time was had by all.

Back to Civilization, Sort of ...

05 February 2017 | Duncan Town, Ragged Island
Photo: Maxine preparing conch
A 15-minute fast dinghy ride brought us across from Hog Cay to Ragged Island and through the narrow mangrove cut to the dock at Duncan Town, at the end of the Ragged Islands.

Time hasn’t been kind to DT since our last visit 15 years ago: the population has dwindled to 40 or so, with only a few kids left to attend the small school. But Maxine, an enterprising woman they could use more of, saw the opportunity that the cruisers brought to her island. She owns the only grocery in town and takes special orders from cruisers for the weekly mailboat from Nassau. She provided the building materials for the tiki hut that cruisers built at Hog Cay a few years ago, and organizes a big party around Valentine’s Day for the cruisers and town folk each year.

The Secret of the Jumentos

04 February 2017 | Hog Cay, the Jumentos
Aha, we discovered the cruising mecca of the Jumentos; Hog Cay just north of Ragged Island. We're now anchored together with over a dozen other boats off a long white sandy beach. A substantial tiki hut was built by cruisers for happy hours ashore. The island is crisscrossed with hiking trails that wind up and down hills and across to the windward beaches. The dramatic coves and cliffs, battered by the prevailing easterlies, are a great place for beachcombing. The BaTelCo tower on Ragged Island is close enough for slow speed internet, better than nothing. The weekly mailboat brings supplies to nearby Duncan Town, the only settlement in the Jumentos/Ragged Islands. We're about to take the dinghy there to replenish our fruit and veggies. All our needs are met. We think we'll stay here awhile!

Lobster Jackpot!

03 February 2017 | Racoon Cay, Jumentos
Photo: Burger shows Bernie how big the one was that got away.
Just as I was getting worried when the men weren’t back yet after three hours, I heard the familiar sound of our outboard approaching. Burger and Bernie arrived wearing big grins—the bucket was overflowing with eight big lobster! The three of us dined on steamed lobster with drawn lemon butter, served with garlic toast and cold beer. Mmmmmm … !! The leftovers were frozen for another day.

Goats and Salt Are All that Remain

01 February 2017 | Racoon Cay, the Jumentos
On our hike around the southern end of the island today we came across a wall remnant with whole conch shells embedded in the crumbling cement. Loyalist ruins of houses and pasture walls, built by slaves over two hundred years ago, are hidden among the thick scrub behind the long white beach at House Bay, where we're at anchor. Remainders of the salt harvesting operation are visible in and around the large shallow salt pond with its hardened rim of salt that resembles ice. Goats, not racoons, live on Racoon Cay, as on most of the larger cays in the Jumentos. We came across fresh cloven footprints and goat trails in the sand, but no goats. Hunted by the locals when they tire of seafood, they are skittish and hard to find.

Edward Lockhart, Reliving the Past

31 January 2017 | Buena Vista Cay, the Jumentos
I've been re-reading Wind from the Carolinas by Robert Wilder, a historical novel about the British Loyalists from the South who sought a new life in the Bahamas following the American Revolution. They tried to recreate their plantation lifestyle in the British-ruled islands, importing all their possessions including their African slaves. But it didn't take long to discover that the sandy soil would not grow cotton or tobacco, and they could find no other profitable goods to export. Most families eventually gave up and returned to America or England, abandoning the slaves who were then freed to fend for themselves on the islands.

This morning Bernie took us on a hike across the island to visit his 76 year old friend Edward Lockhart, a descendant of Loyalists and their slaves. He was born and raised on Buena Vista but spent most of his life in Nassau, where his wife still lives. For the past eight years he's been living the life of a hermit here, together with his dog Rip and a bunch of chicken and goats. The weekly mailboat brings him supplies from Nassau. He told me proudly that he is descended from British Royal blood, and is here to commemorate the hard work, sweat and tears of his family so that it was not all in vain. His makeshift house is on the beach, not far from the ruins of the original settlers.

Lazy Crazy Days of Winter--Then and Now

30 January 2017 | Buena Vista Cay, the Jumentos
Photo: Buena Vista Cay anchorage.
We sought shelter from the weather in the south anchorage of Buena Vista, together with three other sloops, five catamarans and two trawlers. The cold front arrived at dawn as predicted, the wind never more than 25 knots as it clocked around and dissipated. I baked brownies and invited our new friend Bernie over for Kaffeestunde late afternoon, in the German tradition. He stayed for supper, providing beer for the three of us. We learned that, after escaping from East Berlin, he became a whitewater kayak competitor in Germany and later a ski instructor in Switzerland. We reminisced about the skiing we all did during roughly the same years, first in the Alps and later in Colorado--half a century ago!

Bernie and the Berlin Wall

29 January 2017 | Flamingo Cay, Jumentos
Photo: Bernie aboard his trawler.
Yesterday afernoon we sailed on to Buena Vista Cay and anchored next to the German-flagged trawler, Countess Cosel. Over cracked conch and cold beer aboard Halekai, we got acquainted with Bernhard, who spends his winters here in the Jumentos. He told us the harrowing story of his escape over the Berlin Wall in 1962. He and a friend studied the routine of the border guards and hatched out a plan that gave them 20 seconds to climb the barbed wire fence. They made their dash in the shelter of a truck that brought the relief shift of guards in the cold grey dawn, the rain helping to dim visibility and distract the sleepy guards. They escaped undetected. Bernie eventually emigrated to Milwaukee where he learned to sail on Lake Michigan. This afternoon he invited Burger to hunt and they just returned with their bounty, a lobster and a grouper. Life is good!

Sharing Supper with a Stingray

28 January 2017 | Flamingo Cay, Jumentos
Photo: Local fishing boats spent the night anchored next to us at Water Cay. By nightfall there were six of them.

For years we've dreamed of returning to the Jumentos, a crescent shaped string of mostly uninhabited islets south of the Exumas. Nowhere else in the world did we find such beautiful white sand beaches and crystal clear, multi-hued coral waters.

After a night anchored at Water Cay, we moved on to Flamingo Cay, where we spent Valentine's Day fifteen years ago. There we snorkeled in the shallows and harvested a bunch of conch. While Burger sat in the dinghy removing the meat from the shells, a large stingray kept him company, begging for the debris he tossed overboard. Conch salad for supper!

Fame Fades Fast--or Not?

25 January 2017 | Salt Pond, Long Island
Today we sailed to Thompson's Bay on Long Island, another popular cruiser hang-out. No sooner did we step ashore at the dinghy dock in Salt Pond when a friendly woman greeted us with "Hi Nancy and Burger! We met you in Annapolis years ago." That's the third such encounter in the past month. Evidently my "fame" as SSCA Annapolis Gam Coordinator back in 2002-05 hasn't completely faded.

The Generosity of Cruisers

22 January 2017 | Red Shanks Anchorage, Great Exuma
Just after arriving in the Bahamas in December, we realized we needed some spare parts for the engine and the head. We connected via a FaceBook cruisers' group with Renee and Ryan of s/v Poerava, who were just about to leave from Florida. So we had the parts shipped overnight to them. But then they were delayed by a last-minute boat repair, then a cold front, and another front once they crossed to Nassau--the same weather we we've been suffering here in Georgetown.

Luckily the need for the parts wasn't urgent. Yesterday we were able to meet up and get not only the parts, but a generous hunk of fresh mahi mahi that they had caught on their way here the day before. We treated them to lunch at Exuma Yacht Club. While enjoying the view of the harbor together, we spotted a shark, a big turtle and a barracuda, all at the same time!

Photo: Ryan and Renee at the dinghy dock. They cleverly painted their outboard orange, both for theft deterrence and safety.

Danger in Paradise

19 January 2017 | Georgetown, Great Exuma
After ten blustery days, the wind finally calmed down. Lots of boats came out of hiding and headed toward Georgetown. Despite the mild conditions, three boats suffered damage trying to get to here, and one of them sank. As to be expected, the cruising community rallied to their side.

A French couple hit some rocks just north of Great Exuma. The hull was caved in on one side and the keel was ripped off—a total wreck. They were lucky to survive a harrowing two-mile swim in the dark, and arrived ashore with just their lifejackets. With the help of cruisers with scuba tanks they were able to salvage passports and some belongings next morning. A collection of clothes and shoes and money was quickly organized to tide them over while they deal with the authorities and make arrangements to fly home. Their cruising dream is over.

A single-hander had his mainsail rip, which he secured on the deck but it hindered his visibility as he neared the tricky northern entrance to the harbor. He called for help and several boats raced to the rescue. He anchored near us and Burger and others helped with the sail repair.

Another boat limped into port after a nasty encounter with coral rock at the southern entrance. Burger helped with the underwater effort to remove the badly damaged rudder so it can be repaired.

Never a dull moment in paradise! 

Sunday Pig Roast at Chat n Chill

15 January 2017 | Chat n Chill, Stocking Island, Exuma
A generous portion of freshly roasted pork, cole slaw, mac’n’cheese, peas n rice (which is black beans & rice), and carrots, all washed down with a cold Kalik, typical Bahamian fare served at Chat n Chill since it opened 18 years ago. New are the tame sting rays that beg for conch tidbits from the Conch Bar.

Wind, Wind and More Wind

13 January 2017 | Stocking Island, Exuma
It started last Sunday with gusts over 40 knots. Still blowing strong, ESE gusting 30+. It is getting very old, yet predicted for several more days. The good news is that the wind generator keeps our batteries topped up, and it is pleasantly cool. Yesterday we took a long hike up to the Monument and across to the windward beaches, where the surf is impressive.

A Georgetown Tradition

11 January 2017 | Georgetown, Exumas
Wednesdays is propane filling day with Clarence, who meets cruisers at the dock with his tank truck.

It's Not Always Sunshine in Paradise

11 January 2017 | Georgetown, Exumas
Gale force winds continue to batter us for the 4th day in a row, with more to come. Intrepid sailors that we are, we left Halekai at anchor in front of Chat n Chill this morning and dinghied across to town during a lull. I had an excellent haircut from Vanria, a native of Nassau who trained with Vidal Sasoon in Santa Monica. We took advantage of Vernon's wash/dry/fold service at The Corner Laundromat while we lunched on lobster salad paninis at the Driftwood Cafe during a downpour. It cleared up enough for a wet and wild ride back across the bay, just before the next shower.
Photo: Leaving the dinghy dock in placid Lake Victoria, about to enter the turbulent tunnel to the outer harbor.

The Calm Before the Storm

08 January 2017 | Stocking Island, Exumas
We battened down the hatches! The storm that brought snow and freezing temps up north arrived here early this morning, with 40+ knot winds continuing for the next couple of days. This photo was taken two days ago.

Risking Our Lives on Queen's Highway

05 January 2017
A big cold front is on its way this weekend (which means heavy wind, not cold) so we took advantage of the calm day to speed across the harbor to town per dinghy. We walked 1 1/2 miles north along Queens Highway—an impressive name for a two lane road with narrow shoulders—with speeding cars nipping at our heels. Our goal was the new Napa store and a hardware store.

On our way we stopped for lunch at Shirley’s Fish Fry on the waterfront, with a view of a rusting hulk of a barge. The food made up for what the view was lacking. A couple from s/v Tilt, who we met at happy hour on Sand Dollar Beach last evening, arrived per dinghy and joined us at our table. They’re from Michigan and it’s their 13th year wintering in Georgetown.

They warned us about walking along the road, given the crazy drivers. A Canadian couple had been killed while walking along the road a few years ago, they told us. I researched the story online when we got home: it happened at 10 pm.

While waiting outside for Burger to pay for two heavy containers of engine oil, I wondered how we’d lug them back to town in the heat. Just then a friendly woman drove up with her taxi to buy something at the store. She was more than happy to make a few unexpected bucks driving us back to the dinghy dock.

Our Holiday Feast

04 January 2017 | Gaviota Bay, Stocking Island
Roast turkey breast with German potato dumplings and gravy, red cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and cranberry orange walnut dressing. No dessert needed! Our planned Christmas dinner was postponed by the cruisers’ party in Warderick Wells, so we decided to have it yesterday instead.
Vessel Name: Halekai
Vessel Make/Model: Alden 50 Center Cockpit
Hailing Port: Berlin
Crew: Nancy and Burger Zapf
We've been sailing around the world in stages aboard Halekai, our Alden 50 CC, since leaving Annapolis, Maryland in 2004. After several seasons in the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, Halekai was shipped from Thailand to Turkey to avoid the pirates in June 2011. [...]
We left Germany aboard our first boat, Phantasus, a LeComte NorthEast 38, and crossed the Atlantic in 1975. In 1981/82 we sailed her from the US East Coast to the South Pacific. We've sailed extensiviely aboard Halekai on the US East Coast, in the Bahamas and the eastern and western Caribbean. [...]
Home Page: http://www.sailblogs.com/member/halekai
Halekai's Photos - Main
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Created 15 January 2017
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After visiting the famous pilgramage for sailors, the Monastery of the Archangel Michael in Panormitis, we sailed around to the main town of Symi.
18 Photos
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1 Photo | 6 Sub-Albums
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from Kupang to Komodo, Bali to Borneo
1 Photo | 10 Sub-Albums
Created 20 March 2011
1 Photo | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 20 March 2011
Our three-day stopover in Hong Kong to celebrate our 41st anniversary
67 Photos
Created 25 December 2010
Thanksgiving in Wilmington, NC with our daughters and their families
33 Photos | 1 Sub-Album
Created 7 December 2010
10 Photos
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We left Bundaberg late June and sailed up the coast of Queensland, inside the Great Barrier Reef.
10 Photos | 5 Sub-Albums
Created 13 August 2010
Halekai in Fiji
31 Photos
Created 9 July 2009