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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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03/01/2009, N25*04.493 W77*18.748 Nassau Harbor Club, Nassau Harbor, New Providence Island

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Good morning world... I'm waiting for the coffee to finish perking and thinking about the day. The clouds are really building!

I'm not sure where we'll end up but I'd sure like to be able to touch the Tropic of Cancer before we turn around and head north again for the season. Why? Well most people know I love maps, charts, etc... so as we come closer and closer to one of these amazing points on our globe, I'd like to be able to say to myself "I've been there!" I keep watching our latitude and longitude as we've gone from 42 degrees North, further south we keep inching ever so slowly towards one of the Tropics. So close I'd like to be able to visit that point on earth. The Tropic of Cancer, the Tropic of Capricorn and the Equator are all imaginary lines of latitude that circle the Earth. The Equator at zero degrees latitude is the longest one that circles the Earth at its widest part and if you imagine - cuts the world in half (creating our N/S boundaries). The Tropics each lie about 23 degrees 27 minutes (23*27') north and south of the Equator. When the sun is directly overhead at the equator we have the vernal equinox (spring) on or about March 21, and the autumnal (fall) equinox around September 21. So on these two dates when the sun is directly overhead at the equator - 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night (equinox - equal day and night). As the sun travels north from the equator to reach it's northern most boundary at noon (The Tropic of Cancer) around June 21 we have the summer solstice (solstice - sun stand still) and the longest day of the year for us in the northern hemisphere. Then it heads back south again to begin it's transit to the Tropic of Capricorn - touching that point at 23*27' south around December 21 (our shortest day of the year) the winter solstice.

While I can't be at the Tropic of Cancer on June 21st (what a kick THAT would be!) it would be really sweet to reach that latitude, any time of the year. While I'm on this unintentional subject of our seasons... the area bounded by the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn (known as "The Tropics") don't experience seasons like we do back home because the sun is always high in the sky. Okay, okay, I know - once a teacher always a teacher... But that's what was going through my little mind... Time for coffee and to get on with the day. I have snorkel gear to buy, tomatoes to find, hulls to give a fresh rinse to, and a shower awaits...

Most things are closed today because it's Sunday - people are mostly conservative and religious in the Bahamas. So after making breakfast (potatoes, bacon, eggs) we walked to the Shopping Center. They have a Domino's Pizza and Dairy Queen combination place where we got some ice cream (the first in a long time). It was pretty tasty. I noticed a young family sitting there (they were waiting for their pizza) still dressed in their Sunday best. When the pizza was ready, they all bowed their heads and the father led them in prayer before dishing out the pizza to the kids. It was really nice to see because we've heard about nothing but the soaring crime rates here (don't go out alone, don't go out after dark, etc...) so to see this family was heart warming. After the ice cream we walked to the City Market. They were open which surprised me but shouldn't have since they probably cater to the cruisers from the marinas nearby. I picked up some bread and some fresh vegis. I never realized how good our onion crops were back home. I had to really search to find a few good, hard onions but find a few - I did. We need to find an ATM to get some cash for the smaller islands too (they don't take credit cards and if they do they hit you with a 4% increase, then the credit card company does too - what a racket!) but we'll wait for tomorrow to do that. Wayne's foot is bothering him so we cut our walk short and I put some chicken in a lime/honey marinade for dinner then proceeded to scrub the decks. They reallllly need it. Our little boat is growing salt crystals and rust all over it. Wayne needs to find the stainless cleaner me thinkest. I made it back to the cockpit in my scrubbing but left the rest until tomorrow. I'm pooped and it's time to make a salad to go with the chicken. I can't believe its about dark all ready...

Ouch! Jammed toe? On to Nassau
02/28/2009, Berry Islands to Nassau

Saturday, February 28, 2009

What a positively benign evening... the winds died down and shifted to the east so that we swung towards shore for a change instead of a violent shift North then South with the current changes and winds. It was a good sleeping night except for Wayne being in pain. He took a spill in the cockpit last night and jammed his toe so he had a rough night of it.

It's hard saying goodbye to Aurora this morning but this is better for us. As much as I'd like to hang with them, we'd both like to cross the deep water in lighter seas and according to our weather forecasts - today is it.

Originally we were going to head over to Andros. We were going to skip Morgan's Bluff and head directly to Fresh Creek with Aurora (the 3rd largest reef is located along that stretch) but the more we both thought of it - it made more sense to cross the Tongue of the Ocean or the North West Channel with the smaller waves instead of going over to Andros and then getting bogged down for another week waiting for the right conditions to cross again. The clincher was when we pulled out our snorkel gear and discovered that both breathing tubes had deteriorated beyond repair (I originally thought - hey we can duck tape the broken seams, only there were to many in the grooves). In order to dive around the reefs, we'd need new equipment so all we could do is watch them dive. As much as I wanted to continue our travels with Aurora, it just didn't make sense. I radioed Brigid to let her know. It really made me sad to do that, but after sitting here for a week it was time to head south. We'd really only be going there at this point because they were. I'll have to email the pictures of them to them when we get home and I have reliable (and faster) Internet service. I followed their sail on the horizon as we left for Nassau until they winked out of sight ... I'm truly going to miss those guys...

Leaving the Berry Islands Club I watched the water change from the various shades of green I'd become accustomed to into the darker sapphire blue as we hit the deeper water again on a heading of ~125 degrees magnetic. It looks like the deepest part that we're crossing is a little over 2 miles deep (10,782 ft).

I saw some flying fish again - they're something else to watch! Wayne hung our yoyo over the side once we got into deeper waters. He's hoping to catch a mahi mahi or actually almost anything. This is our first fishing try so we'll see. So far we've managed to catch some Sargosa weeds - but that's about it.

No fish for us today but he did get the feel for how the yoyo works. We approached Nassau Harbor and requested and were permitted entry then went about trying to find a marina for a couple of days. The Nassau Harbor Club Marina was the only one to respond to our hail and told us to call/check back in half an hour - they had 2 boats leaving. It took us about a half hour to get there - they're the last marina in the row along Nassau Harbor and when we called again they told us where to head - east dock, starboard tie-up. Right after that another boat called and were turned away for the night - call back tomorrow - so we were lucky to get in and tucked away a little after 4pm. It seems strange to pay for water. They charge $6/day for water here at the dock - whether you use it or not I guess.

It's been a long time since we've been here - since the late 70's or early 80s. This time we're here on our little boat as opposed to last time when we were headed to Eleuthera. Our hotel burned down and we were stranded here in Nassau at a hotel that was not so stellar for a week. We both kind of wonder if it's still here - I thought I might have seen one that could have been it as we entered the harbor. It was across from the beach area we passed. We'll have to check it out. There were several cruise ships in port that we passed. What huge monstrosities! Looking up at it from below and beside it - it looks like a huge wall of ports with people hanging over the sides looking back at me... We're totally dwarfed riding next to them.

Distance traveled today 41.6 miles. End point: N25*04.493 W77*18.748 Nassau Harbor Club, New Providence Island. Wayne's in a great deal of pain - his toe is really aggravating him - hope he didn't break it.

Cruiser's plans are written in jello...
02/27/2009, Frazer's Hog Cay

Friday, February 27, 2009

Well everyone but the green boat and us (I think he lives here while working on a house) pulled out at sunrise this morning. Lunatic Fringe had dragged in the twilight hours before dawn and was about on top of the green boat but they had flashed a light into his boat to get his attention so they were able to let loose of the mooring and pick up another one. I know last night I thought the green boat (Sunshine too) drug closer to us or we to them. When I checked our anchor alarm though we hadn't moved so if they were closer to us then their mooring dragged (and they never seem to move).

We decided to avoid the herding instinct (it's strong in humans). We went over our weather reports and charts again and turned on the fm radio to pick up local weather. The local weather for today mirrored the forecast for last night from Miami "NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 20 KNOTS. SEAS 3 TO 5 FEET." Tonight we're thinking it will be East winds 10-15 with seas down 2-4 ft and tomorrow looks more like the day to go (we're thinking East winds 5-10 with seas 2 ft). Looking at the charts and predicted winds we both concurred that with the distance of the fetch, the velocity of the wind, and the growing waves from last night and this morning opposing the out going tide into the tongue of the ocean, we'd be in for a rocking and rolling day. The winds wouldn't be dying down soon enough to suit our stomachs - not our favorite way to sail, so we decided to stay put one more day.

Brigid radioed to see what we were doing. They noticed everyone leaving. I told her we were going over the charts and weather and weren't sure. Originally we'd told them we'd be leaving today too but after last night and this morning - it was doubtful. She was going to try and pick up another weather forecast and call us back. When she called back, they'd decided to try it - we'd decided to stay put and asked if they were going to Morgan's Bluff or Fresh Creek? Morgan's Bluff is closer so I thought of either, that would be the one to try - 20 miles vs 40 +. Hope they make okay. She said she'd call us back and let us know how things were out there.

We listened to several boats call each other wanting to know weather conditions were up ahead, and nobody sounded thrilled but all said it should be dying down in the afternoon. We were glad we stayed, but hoped that Aurora made it across to Andros (hopefully not Fresh Creek - the further one).

Aurora hailed us a couple hours later to tell us they came back. It was not nice out there. I'm glad they're back and safe.

I had a productive morning of tearing apart my cupboards looking for flour and bread pans. Couldn't find the bread pan so used a regular pan to make beer bread. I'm craving sandwiches and need the time has come to break into the supplies I've stocked up and start baking. We now have bread...

We went ashore to pay for a mooring again tonight and then took a walk along the far shore. Steak, salad (the lassst tomato), and bread for dinner tonight. I just discovered that I have Internet access on the boat again YAY so I'm stopping to post the last few days.

Tomorrow it looks like we'll be heading for Andros. I was able to get everyones emails - Thank you Thank you Thank you.... I sure miss being able to call and talk or email you all... Going to post now before I lose my signal - it comes and goes!

I heard it said somewhere - "Cruiser's plans are written in jello" that sure does seem to be the case...

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