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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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A faster way to send mail - at least in Georgetown!
80 degrees, windy (21-25 knots) Mostly sunny
03/24/2009, Monument Anchorage, Elizabeth Harbor Great Exuma

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wow, a repeat of yesterday actually. Once again the seas and winds were such that there was no way we could dinghy 2 miles across and back to Georgetown.

Moonlight Serenade put out a call for anyone needing flat, stamped mail to be mailed in the states. Their sister Shirley is flying home to TX tomorrow and going to take mail with her. This saves us from "having to" go to Georgetown so, after breakfast, we dinghied over to Volleyball Beach where their boat was located near the Chat & Chill. We figured this would be a "drier ride" since we're both on the same leeside of Stocking Island, but nope - we both were soaking wet in our newly freshwater rinsed t-shirts and shorts. She took our mail and I asked that if something happened where it didn't get mailed to hail me on channel 68 so we could get it mailed via Bahamas Mail. She said there shouldn't be a problem, but if so, she'd let me know (I gave her our boat card). After returning to the boat, stripping down and hanging our clothes to dry on the lines, it was time to read a bit. I killed off another Patricia Cornwell book and Wayne killed of another John Grisham book. Then we dinghied over to the closest beach (right under the monument) and took a look at the rocks I'd been wanting to check out. They were kind of interesting. They're calciferous sandstone with shells imbedded in them. From a distance the rocks look igneous with a columnar jointing pattern, but as you actually get over to look at them, they have the classical mud crack patterns on top and are layered by wave action and flooding. You can peal up the top layer of thick mud cracks that have been lithified (turned into rock). There were several specimens I wanted to bring back, but the ones I wanted were to big (of course). Some of the fossilized coral was amazing - looking like pumice, gray and quite sharp.

We found a salt pond further inland that had been drying up and also forming new mudcracks. The sulfur smell indicated decaying life forms and the snail shells all around the pond were small and fairly thick layered. Some of the sandstone/limestone appeared black with white shells imbedded, but if you broke off a corner, you could see the fresh break was actually white sandstone covered by a blackish layer (due to weathering?).

Going back to the dinghy I wanted to check out a starfish that I'd seen in the water when we came ashore. It was a beauty - about 8-10 inches and bright reddish orange. I took its picture and put him back on the bottom. I hope nobody else saw him - I want him to live. Since we're right outside of a park area, he's collectable (in hindsight, maybe we should have dinghied him to the park area).

The winds are really howling, and with the wind generator spinning, it's making a ruckus that jars the teeth. I have a feeling that the blades on it are out of balance again (salt buildup?). It's as noisy as any mechanical generator now, but we are pumping out the electricity. The rains keep coming and going quite fast. Each time I grab the shampoo to go up top and fresh water clean my hair it stops. I did notice a pretty rainbow and some bomb looking clouds and waves though so gave up on the shower and grabbed my camera instead...

I made some Cole slaw, sweet & sour kielbasa and butter-fried potatoes (terrific meal for cholesterol) for dinner and we tried a bottle of a French rouge wine that sells fairly cheap here which was actually quite mellow - similar to a merlot. I think I'll start the next Kay Scarpetta book before calling it a day.

Walking along...
80 degrees, windy (21-25 knots) Mostly sunny
03/23/2009, Monument Anchorage, Elizabeth Harbor Great Exuma

Monday, March 23, 2009

We were going to go into town today but it just seemed like everything we touched went wrong. The solar lantern got knocked into the drink; the teak cup holder snapped off, going to make breakfast 3 of my new eggs smashed on the floor, we saw Moonlight Seranade dinghy by to catch the ferry and couldn't make contact; I radioed the taxi's on 12 and 14 and nobody responded to my hails; the plastic piece used to hold the bathroom hatch up got shattered and it seemed it was one thing on top of another. To top it off, we'd be dinghy surfing into 21-25 knot wind waves and then returning in them soooo we decided that today was not a good day to go into Georgetown. On a brighter note, our gas and water jugs are emptied and ready to go tomorrow (or whenever), and later in the day we dinghied over to Hamburger Beach (next to us at Monument Beach) as it's in the sheltered side of the hill here so very little fetch/waves. We hiked over to the Exuma Sound side and watched the waves pounding the rocks and beach. The wind was much stronger over on the windward side, but with the surf and rocks it was beautiful. Then we hiked the trail for a bit and ended back over to Hamburger Beach. It's a cute little beach, not as popular as Volley Ball Beach, quite quiet. There's a small shack that makes hot dogs and hamburgers, and you can get sodas, beer and drinks there. They have colorful little picnic table areas with thatch topped shade areas at the beach and it's just a cute little place. I got a punch there, then we came back to the boat.

I made some tuna salad for dinner and we're spending a quiet late afternoon reading.

Dragging lady & pig roasts
03/22/2009, GeorgeTown Anchorage

Sunday, March 22, 2009

12:00 - the winds are really howling, and the rain is coming in the ports again. Time to close them. It looks like the boat will finally get desalted topside.

12:30 - The winds have really picked up, if that's possible, and the wind generator is growling and vibrating the whole boat. I got up to shut it off before it went flying off or destroyed itself. The panel reads 13.35 and continued dropping to 13.31 when I finally shut it off. It didn't want to shut off and remained spinning like mad and moaning for another 5 minutes.

2:30am we are dragging anchor into the channel. A little after 2:00 am the winds were really howling, and then I heard a metallic clang like something falling on deck. I woke Wayne asking him if he heard it and if so, what that was, did we lose one of his anchoring tools? he went up to check. I stayed on the stairs and he said everything was okay, the anchor chain was tight and the tools were still there. We were about to go back down and I noticed a boat right next to us. I asked him if he remembered a boat coming in and he said no. Both of us were without our glasses but in looking at the anchor alarm it looked like we'd moved about 75 feet. I scrambled below for our glasses and to turn on the windlass and it was more like 145 feet by the time I got back to the chart plotter to look at the anchor alarm. Another boat beside where we used to be looked like it ran into the boat behind it. Those two were pretty well tangled but it was hard to see what was going on in the dark.. We watched them for a while, I didn't know that we could do anything to help, but I noticed we were now past the boat we were next to and now next to the last boat in the row next to the channel where we originally anchored when we came into the harbor. Wayne went back up to the bow to let out more scope and I kicked on the engine. We motored forward to pick up some of the chain to wrap and take the strain off of the windlass and continued to watch the other sailboats try and untangle themselves from each other. They finally got untangled, then tangled again, and then untangled. We're now holding steady, in the channel though. Wayne says that he doubts anybody will be coming into the harbor in these winds, at this time, so we're probably okay until daybreak unless someone drags into us.

3:30 am still holding steady in the channel. The wind is still blowing pretty good but not kicking up a fuss like earlier. I put some coffee on. I doubt we're going to get much sleep now. I guess when I got up to turn off the wind generator I should have stayed up and looked around. We probably should have let more scope out at that time. Lessons unlearned, repeat themselves - I'll pay attention next time. When it starts howling, let out more scope.

Well about 4:30 I started getting chilled and went back below to our bunk and Wayne stood watch until 5:30 then joined me in the bunk. At 6:30 it was getting light enough out and at 7 we went topside and decided to take her back to our spot under the monument. The two boats that had tangled were a classic Ta Shing style boat (couldn't read the name on the back) and Gravy Boat. They were topside too trying to figure out what they were going to do when we motored by them back near the beach. After we anchored we sat up top and watched them. They were tied together so we figured one or the other lost an anchor during the night which turned out to be correct. We watched the classic boat dinghy out with a look bucket (glass bottom bucket), then dive down and attach a rope with a float on it to retrieve the anchor back for Gravy Boat, which is now re-anchored on the other side of the 32 Bayfield (Rainbow Connection).

It's now 9:00am and time to get some shuteye. Unfortunately I'm still wired and paranoid, so I sent Wayne to sleep while I type this and watch the boats. Now I'm winding down so I'll grab a couple hours sleep too. I'd be curious to know what the wind speeds were last night...

Okay, after a nap I put the question out there on the Cruiser's net to see if any one got a reading for last nights winds. Two people responded back with 31 knots off Monument beach - so now I know.

We headed over to the Chat & Chill for the pig roast and a couple of Kalick beers. We heard that if you get there later it's either gone or dried up so we wanted to get there before 3pm (left here at 2pm). The meal was very tasty. The menu consisted of pork, peas & rice, mac & cheese, carrots, and Cole slaw. Something about the slaw reminded me of the conch salad. It was very spicy with a mayonnaise base - Wayne liked it (not my favorite part of the meal though). After eating we wandered the beach looking for a familiar face from Moonlight Serenade. They'd offered to take flat mail to the states. We never found them but ran into Spirit on the beach. Chatted with them for a while, then wandered over by the volley ball nets, and the direction post where I found some young men with interesting tattoos that they let me take pictures of (they were interesting to chat with too).

After our stroll and people watching we got back into the dink and looked for Moonlight Seranade among all the anchored boats. No luck. I think they probably heard about the front moving in and left earlier to make sure that they caught their plane out. This means we need to make sure we hit the post office tomorrow to get our tax extensions in the mail. Hopefully they'll get in before April 15th. We spotted Rosie and stopped over to say hi. George was just finishing up putting his belt on the autopilot. He was lucky to find one here - his broke. I know I've really enjoyed having one this trip; it's like having a 3rd hand onboard. After that we headed back for our boat.

The winds are supposed to still be up to 25 knots for the next couple of days. Hopefully we won't get much stronger winds. New boats came in and we're boxed in between them. We shouldn't drag unless the boat that anchored right in front of us snagged our anchor. Wayne let out more scope, to 105 feet, when we re-anchored but danged if someone didn't snug in up front close to the island where I thought we were safe because we were so close. I guess the extra scope put us further back allowing the appearance of open space. Nice sunset tonight. It's time for a little Patricia Cornwell book before retiring for the evening.

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