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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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In to West End our last port in the Bahamas
Scattered showers, 80* winds E25
04/29/2009, Mangrove Cay, Little Bahamas Bank to West End Grand Bahama

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It saddens me to think that this was our last morning at anchorage in the Bahamas on this trip. Tonight we'll be in a marina at West End, Grand Bahamas Island, getting ready to cross back over to the U.S. The skies are darkening, as we get ready to depart. More later.

Dennis & Brian are still here at Old Bahamas Bay, West End. We saw their boat at anchor outside the harbor as we entered. The winds were really strong and pushing us onto the fuel dock as we came in. Heck we didn't need any lines to tie up to the dock really. Getting back off was not fun... I remember another fuel dock under a similar situation and didn't much want to try my hand at it with rocks right off our stern. I let Wayne try and maneuver us off this time to bring us off the fuel dock and into our slip. He had no luck. The marina called for reinforcements and it was full throttle forward with one hand holding our bowline so we could get the back of the boat off the dock, then full reverse hard to get away and try and get into the assigned slip. The currents and wind had other ideas though, and one of the dockhands was on board with us (we were using his leg muscles to push off too). We ended up going to another slip because we couldn't maneuver between a large cat with the winds and currents on one side and the cat on the other. We came in too fast taking out their fire extinguisher (how embarrassing).

All while this was going on, a couple of fishermen were trying to sell us lobster and said they'd make us a good deal and throw in some conch to boot; Now was not the time to argue that lobster is now out of season... I told them that we were a bit busy and to maybe come back tomorrow... After we got docked we heard one of the dockhands saying that maybe they should close the fuel dock until the winds died down... Now they tell us...

So we crunch their fuel dock, can't get off it, come in to our slip, take out their fire extinguisher on the dock, and are by now stressed... and I thought it would be easier on my stress level having Wayne bring us in.

Definite Gin and Tonic night - this time with olives... Can anyone say - martini, extra dry please? On the good side - I have internet access so am busily uploading my pictures that I couldn't last time I uploaded my blog...

I also heard from Carrie (hi Carrie!) and got an email from Chris and Marie (Spirit). It sounds like they had one heck of a crossing back to the states. I'm so glad they made it in one piece - it was not a gentle crossing at all with 12 foot seas... Marie and Chris - sending you a large heartfelt hug!

According to Dennis (Blue Max) this is the place where John Travolta had a condo and his son died (Old Bahamas Bay). It sounds like it was a tragic event. I hope they can find peace with what happened, and mourn privately. The place isn't all that crowded but more boats keep coming in. A 120-foot Mega Yacht (Bella Brie) is coming in now and churning up the path as it comes in. It's kind of an upscale place (a little expensive for our taste) and the minimum length they allow is 40 ft, so even though we're 36 ft, we have to pay for a 40 ft slip. I wonder if they'll charge us for taking out part of their docking system... hmmmm....

Weather permitting, we'll head out to cross Friday. Now, time to relaxxxxxx....

Dolphins to see us off...?
Mostly Sunny, 80*
04/28/2009, Great Sale to Mangrove Cay, Little Bahamas Bank

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

After listening to Bria give Chris Parker's weather report this morning, then searching unsuccessfully for our spare auto helm belt (we don't have one), we picked up our anchor, let out the Yankee and set course to Mangrove Cay, the half way point between Great Sale and West End on Grand Bahama. West End is our last stop on the Bahama Banks before we cross the Gulf Stream back to the U.S. It struck me that while I miss people back home, I'll miss our little boat when we have to leave it and the sense of freedom that I've come to know while living on it.

I started thinking about this last year. It seemed like it took us so long to get here. First in actually realizing that we might be able to make such a trip; second in planning to make it happen; then at long last, taking the plunge and actually releasing the little hummingbird spirit in us to fly from the north, southward to the warmer climes. It made me feel sad as the realization struck me - we're heading north and westward - away from the beautiful aqua waters, back towards home. This time wasn't enough. I'm not sure what I'm returning for. I'm not sure what I'm returning to. It's strange to think that living in 36 ft of space, on a floating piece of fiberglass and wood, could be at times confining, at times comforting, at times scary, and exhilarating. There's a sense of freedom that I've found here that I've never experienced before. I'm not sure I can put it into words, but I don't want to lose it. I don't want to give it up. It was such a gradual change. A letting go if you will. It will be interesting returning home. Another change of pace, another change of space. Unfinished business, unfinished pieces of life. I started getting glum when Wayne yelled "Dolphins!" "Grab your camera - they're swimming all around the boat and in our bow wake!"

I dashed below for my camera, thinking they'd be gone when I got back up topside, and ran to the bow. Sure enough, they were criss crossing under the bow and swimming along beside it, leaping in the air, and diving down under the boat to splash back up on the other side. I giggled, and had to contain my laughs of joy for fear of scaring them off. It was hard getting them in my camera sights, I was so busy, grinning like a fool, jumping up and down and pointing them out to Wayne (at the helm, trying to keep the sails from flogging as he watched too). Most of them were out of focus, but I got a couple decent shots. I was so elated to see them. It's been a while since they joined us. Then I was so sad again. I can only give this up if we can continue the journey again, after hurricane season. This can't be the end, only the beginning. As the song goes: "How many dreams does a lifetime get?" "Surely I haven't been through all mine yet..."

Mangrove Cay... it's more mangrove, less Cay, but a protected area from the east winds hopefully. I look around and see nothing but water surrounding us, and a little patch of mangroves in the water clinging to shallow marl mud. It offers us a resting place to spend the night. This may be my last night to blow the conch horn at sunset. The plan for tomorrow is to find a marina at West End to fuel up and fill our water tanks and get ready for a weather window to cross. Our last night this trip on an isolated little patch of Cay surrounded by.... Nobody...

05/03/2009 | allllisssssssa.
this is my favorite entry out of all that i've read.
I finally got the conch horn down!
Mostly sunny 80*
04/27/2009, Allans Pensacola (N26*59.322 x W77*41.357) to Great Sale Cay, Little Bahamas Bank (N26*58.904 x W78*12.964)

Monday, April 27, 2009

After coffee, I put some apple, nut muffins in the oven for breakfast then we hoisted the main, picked up the anchor and we left around 9:00am for Great Sale Cay on the Little Bahamas Bank. The winds were a little more touchy today - on our backside, so a whisker pole would have come in handy. As it was Otto was handling it pretty well and we were doing from 5-7 knots until close to 11:00am when boingggg! The belt on Otto broke, so no more autohelm today. We have a spare belt in the back of the garage - it's just a matter of getting to it and putting it on. Wayne kept us close to the edge as far as wind and waves and other than a few jibes; it was a pretty uneventful day. Nice sailing though. I made tuna salad for lunch and practiced the conch horn. I got a nice long blow out of it while fooling around with sounds - I'll have to figure that out yet.

At sunset, I was the only one blowing the horn. There are 7 boats in here tonight. Blue Max is here - he left earlier this morning than we did and made pretty good time. Dennis came over to chat for a while before dinner. They're trying to get home by this weekend so are talking about doing a straight run tomorrow to West End, then Wednesday heading across so they can put the boat on the trailer Thursday and drive home Friday. Their plans and ours are all weather permitting of course. We're still talking about putting in at Mangrove Cay tomorrow and going to West End the following day. We may run into them still at West End if the weather predictions are correct.

After gin & tonics I made some more of that ground round/onion/mushroom mixture over mashed potatoes with corn on the side for dinner. I've decided that the stuff is definitely addicting to me... ymmmm.... Time to download my pics - Wayne took some of me playing the conch horn on the bow of the boat. If they came out, I'll post a pic on the blog.

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