Two Months of this Cruising Lifestyle
24 March 2017 | Little Alligator River, North Carolina
Debbie and Kevin
The blog typist forgot to include in the previous post that Debbie had her first opportunity to team up with Kevin in scrubbing the marine growth off Grace’s bottom. Geared up in wet suits and snorkels and fins, while Kevin scrubbed with a long handled scraper what he could reach lower down, Debbie scrubbed what she could reach with a small brush. The combined whorthwhile effort resulted in about a half knot of increased speed.
Since our previous blog post in January:
An intermittent squeal that sounded like a belt slipping, yet did not appear to be caused by that, led to Kevin swapping alternators, which eliminated the noise.
After pulling out of Hope Town on Tuesday, January 24th, we anchored for one night off Matt Lowe’s Cay, followed by two nights outside Treasure Cay. During one of the many beach explorations we got to see a pair of spotted rays swimming side by side.
On Friday, January 27th we transited the inside Don’t Rock passage, heading north of “the Whale”, anchoring briefly for our first time to wander around the nearby abandoned marina project, beach, and wreck, before sailing with only the genoa to Manjack and Crab Cays.
Tuesday, January 31st we pulled in to White Sound to top off gasoline, water, and then grab a few groceries at Green Turtle Cay before motoring to Powell Cay, where Kevin changed the prop shaft zinc and scraped barnacles off the propeller before we went to shore to walk the beaches on both sides of the island (one for our first time ever).
While on our way motoring to Hawksbill Cay near Fox Town on Wednesday, February 1st, we wrapped some heavy plastic sheeting around the propeller, which Kevin was able to remove after we got anchored and before some dinghy exploration.
We got to see a ray on Thursday, February 2nd as we motored to Great Sale Cay. Greeting some other cruisers during shore exploration we also got an up close look at the aground sailboat that has now likely become an unfortunate permanent fixture since our stop there a few months prior.
On Friday, February 3rd we motored to Mangrove Cay.
Before getting underway the next morning, while having coffee in Grace’s cockpit, plus on two additional occasions during the previous days, we got to enjoy the rare sighting of Dolphins in the clear Bahamian water. At 10:00 AM on Saturday, February 4th we hauled anchor and dropped it at 3:00 PM for our first time in the dredged canal of the halted Ginn Sur Mer development near West End, Grand Bahama.
Under the cover of darkness, guided only by the blinking lights on the pilings and Debbie’s instructions as she stood on Grace’s bow at 6:00 AM on Sunday, February 5th we headed into the open ocean. Motor-sailing with a combination of both sails for the majority of the passage, which was more placid before Noon when a line of storms passed nearby creating growing oncoming seas, and the U.S. National Weather Service broadcast on the VHF radio was for small craft “to exercise caution”, we pursued our return to the states, concluding that Gulf Stream crossing when we dropped anchor just a few miles inside the inlet on the St Lucie River at 6:15 PM.
Picking up a mooring ball for one night in Stuart on Monday, February 6th, we were able to pick up packages at the marina and get showers, connect with some friends, catch a ride for some groceries, and then after moving to anchor nearby the next day borrow a car to drop off the alternator for a needed rebuild since the brushes were gone. More restocking of provisions took place, and swapping alternators, confirming the squeal was gone.
At 10:00 AM on Thursday, February 9th we departed from Stuart, Florida, anchoring at 3:30 PM outside Faber Cove, Fort Pierce.
On Friday, February 10th we were underway from 8:00 AM until 10:45 AM, when we picked up a mooring ball in Vero Beach. While getting the laundry done we met cruisers who were headed to the Bahamas for their first time, and got invited over for happy hour and answering questions, at which time another sailboat came in and rafted up to Grace, and that captain who was also heading across for the first time joined the gathering.
After pulling up to the service dock to top off fuel and water, we headed out shortly after 10:00 AM on Saturday, February 11th. We motored for a couple hours, then motor-sailed with the genoa for the next two hours, and were able to turn off the engine and sail using only the genoa during the couple hours of the day’s passage, which concluded at 4:15 PM, dropping the anchor for our first time near Dragon Point, northeast of Eau Gallie Bridge.
Sailing with both sails and no engine usage for an hour and a half, and motor-sailing with both the mainsail and the genoa on and off during the rest of the passage on Sunday, February 12th, which was from 10:15 AM until 5:00 PM, including a 45 minute delay while we anchored at the Addison Point Bridge until it was repaired and able to open, allowing us to transit and then anchor for the night on the other side of the bridge, north of the mooring field at Titusville.
At 8:45 AM on Monday, February 13th we were able to motor-sail with the genoa initially, then motoring into a strong north wind reducing our speed, combined with a strong opposing current throughout a significant portion of the passage, at 5:45 PM we dropped the hook north of the Sea Breeze Bridge, Daytona.
On Tuesday, February 14th at 7:00 AM we hauled anchor, motor-sailing with the genoa on and off, and anchored for our first time at Pine Island north of St Augustine at 5:30 PM.
At 8:00 AM on Wednesday, February 15th we motor-sailed with the genoa initially and were underway until Noon when we tied up to the free dock at Sisters Creek.
Departing Florida, entering Georgia, on Thursday, February 16th, casting off at 9:30 AM with the assistance of the crew of the other sailboat that we got to visit with the previous evening, motor-sailing with the genoa on and off, we anchored at 4:15 PM on the Cumberland River near ICW mile 695.
Including a fuel stop just prior to transiting Jekyll Creek, motor-sailing with the genoa on and off for only a bit, Friday’s passage on February 17th began at 10:00 AM and concluded at 5:15 PM when we dropped the hook in the Duplin River.
From 9:15 AM until 1:45 PM on Saturday, February 18th we motored to Walburg Creek. We went for a beach walk, among the deer, wild pigs, and relentless no-see-ums that swarmed the dinghy.
On Sunday, February 19th from 9:45 AM to 1:45 PM we motored to the Vernon River.
At 10:45 AM on Monday, February 20th we hauled anchor, dropping it again at 1:15 PM after motoring to the Herb River.
We were underway from 10:15 AM to 2:00 PM on Tuesday, February 21st, motoring to Bull Creek.
Wednesday, February 22nd’s motoring passage began at 9:15 AM. Upon entering Port Royal Sound into opposing waves, the engine began to run very warm. We turned around and anchored for about a half hour in Skull Creek during which time Kevin topped off the coolant and the slack tide allowed for a slow transit of the sound in smaller waves. We arrived early for the 3:30 PM opening of Lady’s Island Bridge, and shortly thereafter anchored in Factor Creek, Beaufort, South Carolina. First thing the next morning we pulled into the marina, renting a car, getting chores done, and heading to a family wedding in North Carolina.
Shortly after 2:00 PM on Monday, February 27th, we cast off from the marina, and anchored at 4:00 PM in the Coosaw River.
On Tuesday, February 28th, at 11:00 AM we hauled anchor, motor-sailing with the genoa for a short time, dropping the anchor at 2:15 PM in the South Edisto River.
At 10:15 AM on Wednesday, March 1st we raised anchor, dropping it again at 1:30 PM after motoring to Church Creek.
Thursday, March 2nd we were underway, motoring from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM, anchoring in Inlet Creek.
Stopping briefly for some higher priced gasoline during the first passage on Friday, March 3rd which began at 9:45 AM, we anchored at 12:15 PM in Price Creek for a beach walk then continued on from 2:30 PM until 5:00 PM, and anchored for the night in Awendaw Creek.
On Saturday, March 4th we hauled anchor at 10:30 AM, dropping it at 4:00 PM in Georgetown, South Carolina.
Timing our passage to ride a favorable current along the beautiful Waccamaw River, we raised anchor at 11:00 AM on Sunday, March 5th, and dropped the hook at 3:00 PM in the Oxbow near Enterprise Landing.
Underway for about 15 minutes first thing Monday morning, March 6th, we pulled in to Osprey Marina and got to spend the day with Debbie’s dad and his wife, Helen; thank you both for taking a “road trip” and coming to see us!
After topping off fuel, the reverse short jaunt to the same Oxbow was the extent of our passage on Tuesday, March 7th.
At 7:45 AM on Wednesday, March 8th we raised anchor and dropped it at 4:45 PM in Pipeline Canal, Southport, North Carolina. Looking at the BRRRReezy extended weather forecast, which showed decent weather for traveling the next two days followed by a long stretch of not-so-pleasant weather for cruising, we decided to push for two days to a more ideal stopping option.
At 6:45 AM on Thursday, March 9th we hauled anchor, waited for about 2 hours combined at 2 out of the 3 scheduled opening bridges of the day, and finally dropped the hook at 6:45 PM in Mile Hammock Bay, Camp LeJeune.
On Friday, March 10th we got underway shortly after 6:00 AM. Based upon direct phone communication, the Marines were only allowing ICW travel during one hour increments throughout the day, so we planned our departure accordingly; what we found after we were well into the day’s passage was that there was no restriction. It actually worked out well since very strong winds and building conditions filled in not too long before we entered the shelter of Adams Creek. Prior to that we had been able to motor-sail with the genoa for many hours, making great speed. Seeing the state of the Neuse River, we decided to anchor in Adams Creek at 2:45 PM; after a wind direction shift an hour later, we spent the next hour poking our nose out into the Neuse River, and then promptly turning around to anchor again.
We transited the Neuse River in one hour on Saturday, March 11th, and tied up to the free dock in Oriental at 11:45 AM. We got to visit the historical museum for our first time, where we saw a painting of the oldest lady in town and later happened to meet her and her dog while we were walking along the waterfront. The next morning our friend, Taylor, who now lives in New Bern, drove to spend time with us; we got to visit over a leisurely breakfast while large white flakes fell from the sky outside. After the frozen precipitation stopped, we cast off that dock, layered up, and motored from 2:30 PM until 4:45 PM to pick up a weekly slip at Ensign Harbor. On Tuesday, Kevin’s sister, Valerie, picked us up. We got to visit at her house, plus rent a car for a few days and visit with three of Debbie’s four cousins and their families, who all live in North Carolina; wonderful serendipities!
On Monday, March 20th at 12:15 PM we cast off from the dock. The engine was running warm and within a half hour we were anchored. Kevin rebuilt the partially blocked exhaust riser with onboard parts, cleaned the coolant loop inline screen filter and debris from one of the hoses, and examined the inside of the mixing valve. After the third short test run which showed normal engine temperature, we dropped the hook for the third and final time for the night in Broad Creek.
At 10:30 AM on Tuesday, March 21st we were underway. We were able to turn off the engine and sail using only the genoa for about an hour and a half of the passage, which concluded at 5:00 PM, anchored near Belhaven.
Our 45 minute mid-day passage on Wednesday, March 22nd brought us to a new-to-us anchor spot tucked in behind the tall trees, nicely protected from the strong northerly winds on the Pungo River.
Shortly before noon on Thursday, March 23rd we hauled anchor and promptly pulled in to the nearby marina service dock to top off gasoline, then continued on, dropping the hook at 5:00 PM at the end of the Alligator Pungo Canal, Tuckahoe Point.
Today, Friday, March 24th we were able to turn off the engine and sail along the Alligator River using only the genoa for nearly three hours of the four-hour passage, anchoring at 3:00 PM for our first time in the Little Alligator River.
During these passages we have gotten to see a large group of small rays, one sea turtle, many fresh water turtles, ducks and dolphin, osprey building their nests, plus several bald eagles.
Above: the spectacularly clear water in the Bahamas in Grace’s wake.
24 January 2017 | Red Bay, Great Abaco Island, Bahamas
On Friday, January 20th we anchored for our first time in Red Bay, and explored only a few of the twenty or more beaches along the shoreline.
We have been cherishing the beautiful surroundings of the tropical colors and warm breezes that surround us; gotten to visit many times in many places with Joe and Yvonne of s/v Modaki; seen myriad turtles (many surfacing as we were sipping our coffee in the cockpit), several rays of different types, and a wonderful array of so much beautiful marine wildlife and treasures from the ocean, plus many rainbows, including the widest and most vibrant one we believe we have ever seen, which was right over Grace at anchor at Lynyard Cay, as we were returning in the dinghy without the camera, and faded just as we got to the camera.
A second provisioning stop in Marsh Harbour, only anchoring there for three hours, and then we moved to hunker down for the second strong weather front of the season on a mooring ball for three nights in Hope Town Harbour, where we also got to greet several new arrivals of fellow cruisers we know. Jerry jugs of water, plus a few gallons of gasoline (for the dinghy), were also purchased.
Above: the sunset on January 18th.
Sailing, Snorkeling, Exploring the Familiar and New
24 January 2017 | Lynyard Cay, Abaco Island Chain, Bahamas
Throughout the weeks, we have explored beaches and shorelines of the islands that we never had during our previous times in the Abacos, as well as repeats, plus abandoned houses, including the one pictured above the cave on the right side of the above shot, as well as others that we had not explored previously.
First Front of the Season
24 January 2017 | Tavern Cay, Abaco Island Chain, Bahamas
Having moved south during the days prior, we then moved a little north again, and on Wednesday, January 7th we picked up a mooring ball for two nights in Hope Town Harbour during the first cold front of the season that brought along strong clocking winds, and got laundry done while there, as well as picked up a few groceries and filled our water jerry jugs.
After changing the lower unit oil and zinc on the outboard motor, trying some adjustments and temporary measures to fix its not shifting, helpful tips led to the final solution of lubricating inside the shifting handle; voila! Forward, neutral, and reverse are back in smooth operation!
Above: Dinghy Sailing outside Hope Town on January 7th.
The Kids Had Quite A Following
24 January 2017 | Elbow Cay, Abaco Island Chain, Bahamas
On New Year’s Eve, for our first time, we got to see the kids Junkanoo afternoon parade through Hope Town, pictured above. Later, after moving a few miles to anchor further south along Elbow Cay, we got to experience two fireworks displays - one rather impressive display nicely timed at 8:00 PM, and the midnight display overtop of Grace.
24 January 2017 | Marsh Harbour, Great Abaco Island, Bahamas
Unusual for our typical choice patterns, we stayed two nights anchored in Marsh Harbour, after pulling in shortly before sundown on Thursday, December 29th. Greeting friends, and leaving behind a few dollar bills at the local stores, the cooler air temperature on Friday was a pleasant treat.
Above: the sunset on December 21st.