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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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Birthday transisitons - Happy Birthday Diana
04/15/2009, Marsh Harbor

Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Marsh Harbor, Great Abaco Island

Wow! What a night. What a wild night. Straight-line winds and storms issued my birthday out, and Diana's birthday in. Happy Birthday Diana! A sunset to share with you :) I surely wish that I could have gotten pictures of the clouds, rain, and lightening that occurred between 11:00 and midnight.

Wayne sat up and watched a squall approach us last night from dark until about 10 - 10:30. The lightening was subtle, at first just lighting up the clouds in the distance. No thunder to be heard. As it got closer, you could see it, dancing in the dark, between and behind clouds, then closing the distance between clouds and land. Mother nature was putting on quite a show last night. I wasn't paying attention, as I should have, until Wayne went to bed and I went up to look about and turn off the wind generator. Lightening was flashing all around lighting up the sky so I could see stars to one side of the boat and a large towering shelf cloud that blocked out the stars and sky to the other side. The winds started howling at a faster speed and thunder could finally be heard as the lightening flashed. It blinded me for a minute then I could feel the ocean of air around me, raging, becoming much cooler as the dark, glowing clouds engulfed the remaining stars in the sky, covering the boat in a downpour of pelting, sheet rain.

As I looked to starboard all I could see was the bow of Arita (a beautiful wood boat from Sydney Australia) moving faster towards our side. Wayne came up at the same time as we were dancing around on the water being buffeted by the winds and waves and pelted by the rain. I tried to start the boat but it wouldn't turn over so Wayne had to race below and switch the battery bank over from #2 to numbers 1 & 2 (1 is our starting battery, 2 our house batteries) and turn on all the instruments while I tried to start the motor. All I could see was the bowsprit of Arita zooming in on me as the motor finally turned over and I threw the boat into forward to avoid a collision. Arita saw us during this commotion and was blowing her horn at us, but until the engine started, there wasn't much we could do. After putting her in forward and gunning it to stop the anchor chain from pulling further, we put the chart plotter on to see where we were. The anchor alarm was singing "anchors away" at us as soon as it came on, and after the boat was stabilized as well as could be during this downpour, it looked like we moved about 90 m from our original anchor spot. We couldn't see far in front of us, with all the sheeting water, but could see that a boat that was next to us, was now close to our bow, and at one side was a large powerboat, and the other side Arita.
We stayed up top until after 12:30am and then went below as things died down. During all the confusion Wayne managed to get the hatch and ports closed in the V-berth and while the berth was a little moist, it could have been much worse. The entire scenario could have been worse.

I went to bed around 1:00 am and I'm not sure what time Wayne finally crawled into bed. He sat up reading for a while. It was a wild night/morning. Wayne just told me he came to bed at quarter after two.

This morning, needless to say I slept until 7:30 (and that wasn't enough for either of us). While drinking coffee and listening to the cruiser's net on channel 68, Arita came by to tell us what a wonderful job we did last night. He said we hadn't drug but our chain was being pulled (his words - stretched). He was quite nice about it and I appreciated his pat on the back. It was stressful for me last night. He said there wouldn't have been anything I could have done but play bumper boats if the engine hadn't started, but I sure didn't want to do that with his bow coming at me. I told him that we were waiting until daylight to re-anchor. He mentioned, and I already knew, that a front was coming in tonight - so more of the same - 25-knot winds with possible gusts into the 30s are forecast for tonight. The day has just begun. We have to re-anchor, do some engine maintenance, then head to shore for groceries, laundry and cheeseburgers in paradise... It does rain and storm in paradise, but not often. We're thinking that the laundry may wait until tomorrow - we'll just stand all our dirty, salty laundry up in a corner tonight LOL.

04/16/2009 | Wendell
Happy Birthday (belated) to you!
We're still keeping track of you and keeping you in our thoughts and prayers. We wanted tosend you a birthday greeting on tuesday but
we lost internet for a couple days. Everything's back now but we had to dump the land-line phone, so we're back to cells only.
Take care and stay dry.
A day of reflection
04/14/2009, Marsh Harbor Great Abaco Island (N26*32.845 W77*03.419)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Got to be on the Internet for the first time in awhile so am able to update my blog. Thank you for the birthday wishes everyone. I missed being home - It was hard for me today - thinking about my mom. Growing up, it was always one of those days that I knew I'd see or hear from her. This year it's just hard for me - even surrounded by the beautiful islands. Christmas and birthdays... I hear it gets better with time.

Poor Wayne couldn't figure out what was wrong (I always love birthdays) - I was in a funk a good part of the day - to much time to think soooo we explored some of Marsh Harbor, went shopping and went to dinner at Mangos. I had cracked conch and conch chowder (both good) and Wayne had fresh Mahi - delicious! It tasted nothing like the frozen stuff we get back home. Instead of birthday cake - I had Key Lime Pie and then we walked around for a while before heading back to the boat.

This was pretty much a day of reflection for me. Another one of where I've been, where I am, where I'm going.

Where I've been - what can I say? I am who I am because of where I've been, and how I've handled the circumstances that life met me with.

Where I am? I'm at a place in life where I have a partner that is sometimes frustrating, sometimes funny, sometimes condescending, very private, often misunderstood by others, but very loving. I am somewhere I've always wanted to be - a place called loved. You can't ask for more than that. There are ups and downs - always... hopefully they always balance. My partner in life keeps me off balance and at the same time balanced. So where am I in life? I am loved...I appreciate being here.

Where I'm going... that's a tough question. There are a few loose ends to take care of before I can answer that one. But I thought about it a lot today. I appreciate that I've been given this chance at life. I felt like a throwaway child growing up, but it led me to where I am; where I'm going; wherever I'm going; I'm living life - hopefully with my partner of many years, for many more years.

I'm going to try and upload my journal now - the connection keeps breaking and is pretty slow. There must be a lot of people using the bandwidth this evening. Isn't that life...

Clouds are building on the horizon and Wayne watches the lightening as it glows behind those distant clouds. It's pretty. It lights the clouds from behind as the stars twinkle above us. The wind generator hums as the air spins the props.

Moving along
04/13/2009, Cherokee Pt, Great Abaco Island (N26*15.149 W77*03.149)

Monday, April 13, 2009

The winds have shifted ENE at 15-20 knots today and they were supposed to be SSE. The front has come in faster than predicted. I got up at 6:30, put on the coffee, punched down the bread dough and divided it into two loaves. I only have one bread pan so put the other loaf into a pie pan then let them rise and put them in the oven. There's something about the aroma of fresh baking bread on a boat that has a nice homey feel. I turned off the oven and let the bread continue cooking/cooling down in the oven as we lifted anchor and headed out of our little protected cove. We could see breakers out there as Avalon departed first, heading southward to Royal Island. We probably wouldn't have gone today except for the call for south winds into this anchorage and we only had about 5 miles to run in the deeper water until we could duck back into the bank at Little Harbor and run the rest of the way to Marsh Harbor in relatively protected waters.

We ran into some very choppy seas, at times pounding into 4-7 foot waves or sloshing and semi-rolling with them. I could hear things crashing below deck but there was nothing I could do about it since I had the helm. A few hours later, when Wayne had the helm, I went below and found my bread had come crashing out of the oven (still standing open) and was on the floor along with my aloe and assorted books and stuff that had come out of the lower cupboard below the sink. I must have forgotten to latch it but thought that I had.

I rescued my bread and went back up top until things subsided (a relative term here) before going back below and straightening up. We munched on the bread throughout the day (awesomely delicious) then I made grilled cheeses with it for dinner once we got into Marsh Harbor and had our gin and tonics. Marsh Harbor is packed with boats!

We weaved in and around quite a few boats until we found a spot that looked like we could fit semi-comfortably in and dropped our hook. Twice today, I heard mention that another front is coming in this week. It looks like a lot of these boats will hang out here until the weekend when the front moves through.

I took the computer up top to see if I could connect to the Internet and was able to subscribe to a service here but the signal is very weak. It was good to hear from S/V Samaria (a Bayfield 40) back at Toledo Beach Marina. They'll be cruising next season so hopefully we'll see them out there. An extra email bonus - Keri Whiteaker one of my favorite students found me. She made my day!

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