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The First Mate's Journal
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Great Lakes to The Bahamas
Who: Wayne & Pat
Port: Jackson
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Heavy Winds
02/21/2009, The Berry Islands - Frazer’s Hog Cay (N25*25.782 W077*49.871)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wow, what a night. The winds picked up and we were hobby horsing. Every two and a half hours I was up and checking to see how far we moved and in which direction. It was interesting because I loved having the breeze come through the hatch above the bed and feeling it blowing across my face, but every time it gusted, I thought about the boat rocking and kept listening for the anchor chain and waiting for the boat to chatter. I laid in bed until I could make out Wayne's features in the twilight then got up and looked around outside. The moon is a small crescent and the stars were fading with the light. Brigid and Denny were still at anchor a distance away to the north, the yellow boat was getting ready to leave and 3 other boats on the moorings were pulling out at first light. Two of them came our way as they hoisted their sails into the wind then swung around and out of the channel.

I played a couple of computer games and downloaded pictures from my camera while having my morning coffee then made some blueberry pancakes for breakfast. I thought I'd be using the last of the blueberries but still have some left. Guess I'll have to make some muffins soon.

Wayne took a look at the energy dissipater and tried to do something with it and I swept up the cabin sole and cockpit, shook out the rugs and did the breakfast dishes. Enough work for the day - now lets go explore some of the island.

The Berry Islands - Frazer’s Hog Cay (N25*25.782 W077*49.871)

Martha and Dave (he's Australian - nice accent) from the yellow boat dinghied to the beach near us to clean the 4 conch they'd caught for dinner and I got a lesson on how to get the critter out of the shell and cleaned for cooking. They put a hole in it between the second and third whorl on top of the spire, with a sharp pick hammer then push a sharp knife through the hole and put the blade point along the surface of the columella - pressing it forward then across severing the muscle from the columella in a scraping motion. Turn the conch over, reach inside, and pull the critter out by the operculum (claw), then skin, cut & gut it... As they were getting ready to go back to the boat, Denny dinghied over to see what the secret to anchoring here was. They were still dragging and resetting. Martha said to be sure to visit the Berry Club Bar - beer here is only $3 (and they have internet access?).

We discovered that the sand here is a thin layer that coats hard pack layers of limestone (coral). So anchoring here isn't very good. That's probably why they have moorings further back. Dave said that he always dives on his anchor and pounds it in. There are a few good patches of sand here and there but for the most part it's poor holding. They pointed out several areas they thought would be good, and Aurora ended up going a little further down near the point to the north. Most boats try and anchor and catch the grass then end up dragging. I noticed that there are grass patches marked on the charts. Great - while we haven't drug, now I'm going to be on guard all night.

After that, we didn't explore much but went back to the boat to keep on eye on things. I made some hot pork sandwiches and corn for dinner and finished it off with some pudding. Anchor lights on, wind generator off (making to much energy with nothing attached yet to dissipate the excess) and I'd bet another sleepless night for me. David said it was supposed to calm down tonight but that's not what we'd heard. Hope Den & Brigid have settled in for the night...

Frazer's Hog Cay
02/20/2009, The Bahamas Bank (N25*27.010 W078*19.114) to The Berry Islands - Frazer’s Hog Cay (N25*25.782 W077*49.871)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Got up around 6:30 and put on the coffee and watched Sooo Fine 2 pull out of our anchorage pretty close to 7am. I tried to hail him on the VHF to wish him a safe speedy trip to Nassau but got no response. Sat and drank my coffee, enjoyed my sunrise. This was a really bouncy anchorage last night. It was another night without a lot of sleep. I'd just gotten used to the rocking motion and dozed off, when it switched motion and started rocking us side to side instead of front to back - a most uncomfortable switch. I noticed that Aurora and Sooo Fine 2 were bouncing quite a bit too. I think more so than us - Wayne said it was because they were lighter boats? I was surprised but not so surprised at all the rocking/pitching, if that makes sense. It's shallow enough here that the waves can't grow that large, but the fetch is such that because there's so much open space, they can build to their maximum ht with the all wind.

The winds are predicted to be from the N - NW 10-15mph today and they were pretty nice. We sailed the entire way and Aurora motor sailed. I wasn't sure if they were going to continue on to the Berry's or head to Nassau for a new sail, but Brigid hailed us a little after 8 am, and we went over the waypoints so they're still heading for the Berrys. I know they had to be back home by April 1st but after blowing out the sail, Nassau would be the place to put in for another one or for a professional repair. I'm glad we're heading to the Berry's together.

The water colors here are incredible. I've never seen so much variation in the colors and hues anywhere else. It changes from a pretty coke bottle green when there's sand below us to a dark jade when there's grass or coral rock at a depth from 10-20 ft. Then the next minute it changes to an aqua and then sapphire blue as you get into deeper water.

The only marine life I saw during our travels today was a flying fish. They are sooo cool to watch. They come shooting out of the water with their fins fluttering like a humming bird and travel through the air close to the water for fairly long distances.

As we approached Frazer's Hog Cay I hailed Aurora to see if they'd lead going into the anchorage area. I'd noticed there were a couple spots that read 1.3m and 1.7m on the charts, which concerned me since we're about 5'8". So they took the lead (they have a shallow draft) and we followed. We dropped the hook near a yellow sailboat from Minnesota around 1:30pm (my kind of time!) at 8.3 ft and swung out to 9.6 ft. The water color here is a light peridot color - beautiful with patches of jade where the grass is.

Aurora got their sail unfurled and down. They have another sail that they put back up (a storm sail). We dinghied over to see how things looked. They said it turned out to be torn and shredded as well as the sun protector coming apart so it appears we won't be able to help out much. They appeared to be dragging and reset their anchor a couple of times and needed to stay to make sure it set, so we went to shore to investigate the beach area. There's a ton of old conch shells, seaweed and basic trash (bottles, plastic, etc...) washed up all over the beach. I found a little conch shell I was going to bring back to the boat but a crab inhabited it. We walked in a bit and noticed a dirt road/path and on the other side of it - what appeared to be a lake? As we were doing this, I noticed a dinghy approaching the beach and thought it might be Aurora and came back to the beach. It wasn't them.

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