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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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Lights, action, blow!
82* Mostly sunny
04/20/2009, Hope Town, The Abacos

Monday, April 20, 2009

Last night/this morning - I was dazzled! Around 2:30am I woke up and decided to go topside to look around, and to make sure everything was copasetic. It was another snapshot moment in life. The sky was crystal clear and I could see soooo many stars - they all but blotted out most of the constellations. I had to search to find Orion's belt and the dippers - so far above me. How small we are in the scheme of things on this planet. Between the mast lights, the stars, the Milky Way and the lighthouse - it was just a breathtaking sight. I was amazed that the sky was so "viewable" considering we're moored with so many other boats and right under the flashing beacon of the lighthouse. It's sad that such moments are rare in life when you can suddenly be awed by the world around you. This trip has reminded me of the moments that are lost during the course of our life where we can truly marvel at our beautiful planet. I only hope that my students back home can someday experience such a sight or feeling as this. Sometimes it's hard to realize there's a wonderful world out there, when city walls and circumstance surround you. There were so many times, in my life, that I had forgotten it was there - I'm grateful that I've gotten to experience it.

I had a beautiful sunrise again this morning. Quite golden. Radiant. A cool breeze welcomed me topside with my morning coffee. This is a much nicer place than Marsh Harbor - I'm so glad we came here. Coffee is gone so it's time to get ready and go exploring more...

We wandered the beach and town during the morning and I have a beautiful conch shell/horn! Now all I have to do is figure out how to blow it and make a sound come out of it that doesn't sound like air pushing out of my lungs LOL.

One part of the island, the part we're moored in, looks out over the turquoise Sea of Abaco, and the other part of the island faces the mighty deep blue Atlantic Ocean. In our walk about - both views were spectacular and I love the colorful little village here. There are two grocery stores in walking distance and some wonderful little shops to browse - which we did - much to Wayne's chagrin. He stood outside with other males that were also drug along to browse with their mates and enjoyed the view from the shops along the streets. We came across a cholera cemetery where about 100 people died and were buried during an outbreak in the 1850s. There was also a monument erected at the top of the hill that overlooked the Atlantic and the Elbow Cay Reef - dedicated to the souls lost at sea off the reef. A tragic place situated next to the volunteer fire department.

After lunch on the boat we dinghied over to the candy-striped lighthouse to explore it. It's a 120 ft beacon that can be seen for 17 miles and is the only remaining manned lighthouse in the Bahamas. I was surprised that they leave it open for people to access without someone monitoring the visitors. When we got there, we could see people at the top of the lighthouse, but it appeared to be locked from inside - the outside lock was hanging loose. We shouted up to the people to see how they got in, and a little girl from inside, finally opened it and said, it must have locked somehow. Mmmm hmmmm. The wind threw the latch and locked it...

There was a guest book that we signed and a sign asking to please not touch any of the equipment or mechanisms inside the lighthouse. Made sense to me. We climbed the 101 stairs and greeted the people at the top. I was surprised to see the lens spinning and commented on it - it shouldn't have been, and a crank was lying on the floor. I think I realize why the door was bolted from inside now. One of the people asked me if I knew about the lens and I prattled off the statistics of the Fresnel lens (and I was reminded that it rotates/floats in a sea of mercury, instead of ball bearings). Some of the lens pieces were broken/chipped but what a magnificent lighthouse. The 360* view was spectacular from outside the lens room. You could see the palm edged beaches reaching out to the coral heads, breakers splashing up over the reefs surrounded by vivid colors of green, turquoise and various shades of blue water; the quaint little houses and streets, marinas, shops, cascading flowers and the boats in the harbor and at anchor in the coves and surrounding shallows. The wind was quite gusty but felt good! Once we climbed back into the lighthouse, I noticed the lens had stopped spinning finally. They should seriously think about manned tours - it appears, sadly, that people can't be trusted to keep their hands off. I hope that this misplaced trust doesn't endanger anyone's life at sea.

Back at the boat, I checked our email and then made dinner - salad, chicken, homemade bread. At sunset I tried to blow the conch horn. Key word - tried... Then Wayne tried... we definitely need to practice - but not in a crowded harbor. Baleful blowers is what we are... we sounded like a cow passing gas

A feast of the eyes with all the colors
76*, Mostly sunny
04/19/2009, Hope Town, Elbow Cay

Sunday, April 19, 2009
Marsh Harbor Great Abaco Island (N26*34.432 W77*01.555) to Hope Town, Elbow Cay (N26*32.311 W76*57.555)
8.4 miles, traveled;

Okay today we decided it was time to depart Marsh Harbor and head to Hope Town. The path is shallow so we need to leave on a rising tide to get there about high tide so we don't go bump, bump, bump. High tide is 4:40pm so we figured that any time after noon o clock would be good. This gave me time to make breakfast, clean up, and ponder the fate of a boat near us that seemed to hook something under his anchor so that it took him a couple of hours to get loose. Two other boats were helping him, so we stayed out of the way. It looked like he hooked into an old chain/cable along the bottom of the seabed or something. He finally got loose right before we released our anchor. I spotted a sea turtle last night and this morning hanging out near our boat, and then my first dolphin in a long time.

Leaving the harbor, we passed Sapphire coming into the harbor and gave him a shout out. They're going to be hanging out there a few days and hanging around the Abacos for a few weeks before heading North.

Coming into the Hope Town Harbor was easier than I thought it would be - Wayne had the helm LOL. Between Spirit telling us to make sure we go at high tide and the chart plotter showing 4-foot depths - I was spooked. The chart plotter was showing shallower depths than the charts did, but we followed the chart along with the tides and had no problem.

We picked up a mooring ball. These moorings are closely packed! The first one we were going to pick up was too close for comfort next to a trimaran so we pulled up to the next one. We were looking for the green ones owned by Lucky Strike, but the white one owned by Capn Jacks was a much better fit for us - more swing room without having to worry about hitting the trimaran.

Walked a bit through town and is it ever a cute little place. Well worth the stress of coming in. Since it's Sunday, everything is closed up, but the walk about town was wonderful. I can't wait until tomorrow to see the place when it's open and to head over to the lighthouse. The little cottages here are multicolored and well cared for. We're in front of the Harbour view Grocery Store (a sky blue building) and Capn Jacks (a white with pink trim building/restaurant). There are little pastel cottages lining the waterfront in colors of lavendar, mint green, turquoise, pink, yellow and orange sherbert with bushes of bougainvilleas, plumeria type flowers, frangipanis, oleander, flamboyant, and others such as impatiens, etc... including the foliage and all the coconut palms (even pine trees that remind me of home) - it's a very colorful place - A feast for my eyes.

Back at the boat - it was g&t time, some reading, and then I made some salad and we had that with the remaining turkey, homemade bread, cheese and wine for dinner. The sun is going down now - time to turn on the anchor light. By the way, there's a green 36 ft Bayfield about 4 moorings down from us called Zancada. Don't see anyone aboard though. It looks like a good Internet connection here (now that my subscription is about up) - much better than Marsh Harbor.

The light in the lighthouse was lit at 8pm and was flashing it's beacon out to sea at about 5 second intervals. Another first for us - to be moored under a working lighthouse! It's mesmerizing...

Burgers :)
04/18/2009, Marsh Harbor

Marsh Harbor, Great Abaco Island

Well we ended up staying put here again today. The winds last night were 20-25 knots. After listening to the Cruiser's Net this morning - the weather, and wave conditions were not to our liking. We'd have been banging into the waves the entire way to Hope Town.

I checked my bread dough, and it didn't rise as well as last time and seemed a bit looser too, but I loaded it into the bread pans, watched it rise some more, and put it into the oven. Hey might as well see how badly I messed up the dough at this point! I'm wondering if the mixing of bread flour with regular floor (I ran out of bread flour) may have also contributed to my breads demise.

I've never had dough run out of the pan before - but that's what happened. (What happened!?!?!). The order of mixing and the late addition of the egg to the mix DO seem to make a difference. I had drops of bread "batter" all over the bottom of the oven and it smelled like burning toast throughout the boat. When I checked it later, both loaves had deflated . My nice poofy tops were flat, and on the one pan it had dripped so badly around the pan I had to cut the crust away from the lip of the pan to get the bread out. On a brighter note - we both agree - it still tastes good LOL.

We went back into town (our little tender guard was there to protect our dinghy- once again) to get another awesome burger at the Golden Grouper and took a side trip to the grocery store for more flour. This time they had bread flour! So the next batch I make, I'll not mix all-purpose with bread flour but will use one or the other exclusively.

We chatted with a guy that was making conch salad for people on the street about conchs and conch horns. He makes a living by taking tourists out snorkeling and conching. He also sets up a stand to make conch salad and sell conch shells. Seems strange when you can find the shells all over.

We'll have the left over turkey for dinner tonight but right now I'm enjoying a nice breeze in the cockpit, sipping black tea and listening to the laughing gulls. It feels about 70 out now and the gulls are soaring in circles above the boats. I'll go below when the conch horns blow

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