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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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Signing Trees and foot bones
TODAY...We have fresh breezes this morning from the ESE 17knots which will settle in to E20-30K/ Atlantic seas 9-11ft/sunny, breezy and clear/High temp 80F
04/26/2009, Green Turtle Cay to Allans Pensacola Cay, Sea of Abaco

Sunday, April 26, 2009

After morning coffee and downloading the weather, we raised the main, lifted anchor and left Settlement Harbor with the wind and seas off our starboard and starboard quarter. It was a beautiful sailing day with the waves running with us all the way to Allans Pensacola Cay. Total Miles sailed today 24.1.

Allans-Pensacola Cay is an interesting place. I've seen where hurricanes will take an island and divide it into two separate ones. But in this case Allans and Pensacola were once two cays that were joined by a hurricane to form one. We arrived at low tide and anchored in 6 ft of sand and grass over marl. The guides say that the holding here is not the best so we backed down on the anchor at 2000 rpms and the anchor took a pretty good set.

We dinghied over to one of the beaches and looked for shells. I found two different species of conch - white and brown. Both were interesting, and I'd have really liked their shells, but they were only fist size so after admiring them for a while, I let them go. After I let them go, I forgot that I never took their pictures (bummer). There were tidal flats that were amazingly large and when flooded at high tide have maybe a foot to 3 feet of water covering them. While walking along another beach we came across a shack of sorts built out of materials that had been washed ashore - replete with an old mattress and homemade table and broken chairs. There were skeletal remains of something lying in the mud flats. At first inspection I though they were near complete human foot bones but on further inspection it didn't seem quite right - no toe bones to speak of. Somehow, I think that with all the people wandering the beach, if they were human, someone would have said something. Wayne said maybe they were pigs feet, from a pig roast, but I've seen pigs feet, these were not pigs feet.

Blue Max (Dennis and Brian) also from Michigan came into the anchorage and Dennis was on a mission to see if his signature was still on the signing tree from three years ago. He was searching for the trail that leads to the Atlantic side while I was picking up shells. We ran into him later on another beach (near the skeletal feet) where he'd found the trail. Someone had marked the path entrance with conch shells. He'd found his sign, it was still there, but the paint was starting to come off and he couldn't read it very well.

We followed the trail across Allans-Pensacola from the Sea of Abaco side over to the Atlantic. There were several "Signing" trees there on the beach where cruisers had left signed mementos of their visit there. Some looked interesting. We found a fishing float with Signatures from Sapphire, Solitaire and Madcap hanging in one of the trees. Some of the driftwood signs were nice, but for the most part, it looked like a bunch of trash that got caught in the tree branches including a weapons cartridge container sitting against a tree and a message in a jar from 3 years ago (we read it and put it back).

We walked out to a point looking for the deserted missile tracking station that's supposed to be here but never found it. It's supposed to be at the isthmus at the head of the harbor, which is the site of the best beach on the island. We did find a concrete obelisk where people had scratched their names and dates into it, back in an area overgrown with trees and scrub. I guess one out of two things found isn't bad.

Back at the boat, I made pizza for dinner. A beautiful sunset brought out conch horns from several boats. With a little prodding, I brought out mine and got the attention of the red boat next to us. Wayne said I sounded better than the others (flattery will get him everywhere in this case) so I blew it again and started coughing my head off. He laughed and said he'd always think of me coughing after a good blow. Funny, funny... We then read some; listened to some music and I think it's time for me to retire now. Tomorrow we head for Great Sale Cay.

04/29/2009 | David V
Luv the lilt in y' voice and lingo... always makes for an interesting travelogue. Here we don't have conch but do get the ocassional visitor (to The Whitsundays) who likes to blow his/her trumpet (.. or bagpipe or didjeridoo) to ward-off evil spirits & loosen the larynx! Cheers DV PS : Have y' tried lubrication of larynx with gooseberry juice!
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!

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