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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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Very Low bandwidth so no pictures
04/25/2009, Green Turtle Cay Anchorage, Sea of Abaco

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sunrise 6:34 Sunset 7:34 Moon rise 6:34 moonset 8:31pm

We had very strong, near gale force winds throughout the morning settling into fresh to strong winds ENE-E 20-25knots with sunny and mostly clear skies; 80*F. The chop was a bit to much to dinghy into either of the Sounds so after coffee and cinnamon bread, we decided to stay on board and read. Our mighty little 5 horsepower engine doesn't give us the umph needed to get ashore and back in a timely manner and in any sort of dry fashion. Last night we felt like we were on a hobbie horse one minute and in a washing machine the next. The wind generator is in high gear and periodically as the winds gust, the blades start to slow and shut down until the wind speed gets to a speed that they will function at.

We couldn't hear any of the Cruiser's Net this morning, but I do have a very weak Internet signal up top, so I was able to download today's weather. There's a strong high pressure just north of us, with the front drifting and strengthening through Sunday. We heard several fishermen say that the fish were plentiful in the Sea of Abaco and the Cuts into it, but they weren't staying out - the waters were just to rough. With 8-11 foot Atlantic seas rushing through the cuts - I don't wonder. I wouldn't be out fishing either.

We dinghied over to Black Sound around 3:30pm to see if they had diesel - none since January... Next stop - dinghy over to White Sound. The first marina said no - try Green Turtle Club. They had some so we filled our two jerry cans and went to the store and got some icecream cones and sat on a bench eating them and watching the world go by for a while.

It was a wet dinchy ride back and the washing machine/hobby horse ride continues but dang we have a good anchor set...

This last weeks postings don't have pictures because the bandwidth won't allow it so I'll post those later.

Been a while since we ran aground - this time in a channel...
80* Sunny, 15-20 knot winds;
04/24/2009, Great Guana Cay – Baker’s Bay Anchorage N26*41.311 W77*09.579;

Friday, April 24, 2009

Miles traveled: 13.4; Anchored 5.5-6ft

We got a one sided Cruiser's Net today. The only the transmissions we could receive were from Patti at the Blue Dolphin in Marsh Harbor and the businesses from Great Guana. Luckily Patti gives the weather reports. For us to cross through the cut outside to go around Whale Cay, and then back in again, we need to have the winds and tides in the same direction so a rage isn't set up. The predicted weather for Friday through Tuesday goes something like this:

Friday: SE winds 15-25 knots with 5-7 ft seas; 80 degrees sunny/breezy
Saturday: E winds 15-25 knots with 7-9 ft seas; 80 degrees sunny/breezy
Sunday: E winds 15-25 knots with 8-10 ft seas; 80 degrees sunny/breezy
Monday: E winds 15-25 knots with 7-9 ft seas; 80 degrees sunny/breezy
Tuesday: E winds 15-25 knots with 6-8 ft seas; 80 degrees sunny/breezy

The waves in the Atlantic aren't conducive to going out unless the tides are in the same direction as the wind. This morning that happened to be the case so Wayne took a Dramamine, we cranked on the engine, raised the main and raised the anchor since we had the tides going out with us. We figured we'd be approaching the cut to go back in around the whale somewhere about slack tide so while bumpy, it was doable. It was doable! Timing is everything... We motorsailed to make sure we could get back into the next cut in a timely manner before things turned around.

Now if we could have just timed going into the shallow channel that led into White Sound... it would have been perfect. Unfortunately we hit the channel an hour and a half before low tide - low, low tide... and ran aground in the channel between the green and red markers. Not fun. Another sailboat came around us and I asked what depth they were reading. 3.5 ft. What?!? We were at 4.9 the deeper part, and the chart said 2 meters. Guess what - it's a new moon... we have low, low tides, and high, high tides today. Put that together with a shallow entrance to begin with, and it spells S-M-A-C-K - you've hit bottom and aren't moving.

Just then a dinghy came by and asked if he could help us (we raised our sail again and were trying to heel over). Why yes! Thank you! He pushed our bow back and sideways while we put the gear into reverse and after a few tries we were able to turn and head back out into 5.5, and 6.0 ft of water. We decided to anchor between White and Black Sounds instead of going in to the harbor. Cruisers plans after all are.... written in Jello.

After anchoring, I made grilled cheeses (excellent on the homemade starter bread) for lunch. Then Wayne's Dramamine kicked in and it was naptime for him, reading time for me. The winds are persistent and it sounds like they will be for the next week. Our batteries like it - as do I since it keeps my computer charged! Our gas tank likes it too - less fuel! It does make a restless night though (depending on the anchorage). This anchorage looks like it will be a bouncy/rolling one. We got a pretty good anchor set (knock on wood) so we'll see. I have the anchor alarm set - hopefully we won't hear "Anchor's Away" tonight LOL.

I'm not sure what to call what I made for dinner but it was tasty. A ground round, mushroom, onion and gravy concoction over mashed potatoes with corn on the side. It surprised me in that it was tasty - more so, that Wayne liked it. It's a keeper.

At sundown he wanted me to blow the conch horn and tonight it actually sounded like a conch horn! Now if I could just sustain that note without coughing my lungs out while trying to sustain it! I can tell I'm making progress though YAY!

Playground for Cruise Ships gone bust
Sunny, 15 knot winds
04/23/2009, Man-O-War Cay to Great Guana Cay – Baker’s Bay Anchorage N26*41.311 W77*09.579; 80*,

Thursday, April 23, 2009
Miles traveled: 11.2; Anchored 6ft.

Got up and put together some bread to rise, then put on the coffee and flipped on the VHF. Not a lot of chatter on the radio this morning.

After coffee, weather on the Cruiser's Net, and looking about, we decided to head for Great Guana Cay. It's a beautiful day so we had a leisurely sail at 3-4 knots with only the Yankee powering us. It was a nice down wind sail in the Sea of Abaco. Looking across the water - we could see a cloud growing on Great Abaco Island. As the day wore on, the cloud broke into several large plumes. It appears that Great Abaco is burning. Patti from the Cruiser's Net had put out a plea this morning to be careful with any fires because there hasn't been any significant rainfall. There appears to be no fire squad on Great Abaco either. Wayne says the area is probably not populated - but we've watched the smoke march steadily southward for most of the day.

All the way here, I practiced blowing the conch horn. Just when I think I got it, I don't. The good news is - I'm blowing it better, just not consistently. Practice, practice, practice... Then it's Wayne's turn huh, huh, haaaaah...

After anchoring we took the dinghy to a very nice deserted dock on a beach facing the Abaco Sea (not the Atlantic side). This place is labeled on the chart as a deserted playground for cruise ships. According to the readings they built this area as a resort for cruise ships to come into the island. Unfortunately the cut, to get in here, has a bad reputation to rage (when the current sets up against the wind creating huge breaking rollers) during the winter & spring months. After dredging the area, putting in a channel and starting to build up the north part of the island for the cruise ships, they discovered that the cruise ships couldn't come in when they wanted to (due to the rages) - so that went bust. It's now being developed into individual lots and it looks like a marina type subdivision. The beaches are beautiful and anchoring is pretty good. It will be interesting to see how this area develops in a few years. It's kind of funny because coming in to anchor, I was watching the island and the horizon it created. All of a sudden, a large palm tree on the horizon of the island went zipping along toward the south of the island. I thought I was seeing things, but nope, that palm was moving faster than any boat I'd seen move all day. It was only after we dinghied over and saw the construction going on in the middle of the island (moving sand and sectioning off lots) that we realized they were moving palms from various locations to make various lots more desirable.

While waist wading in the water I found a good size conch but he had no pronounced lip (lucky for him - he'd have had dinner and a horn written all over him had there been a lip). Only one red star, a couple good size chitins and snails. Not much else in the line of sea life that I could find without my mask and snorkels.

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