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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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I finally got the conch horn down!
Mostly sunny 80*
04/27/2009, Allans Pensacola (N26*59.322 x W77*41.357) to Great Sale Cay, Little Bahamas Bank (N26*58.904 x W78*12.964)

Monday, April 27, 2009

After coffee, I put some apple, nut muffins in the oven for breakfast then we hoisted the main, picked up the anchor and we left around 9:00am for Great Sale Cay on the Little Bahamas Bank. The winds were a little more touchy today - on our backside, so a whisker pole would have come in handy. As it was Otto was handling it pretty well and we were doing from 5-7 knots until close to 11:00am when boingggg! The belt on Otto broke, so no more autohelm today. We have a spare belt in the back of the garage - it's just a matter of getting to it and putting it on. Wayne kept us close to the edge as far as wind and waves and other than a few jibes; it was a pretty uneventful day. Nice sailing though. I made tuna salad for lunch and practiced the conch horn. I got a nice long blow out of it while fooling around with sounds - I'll have to figure that out yet.

At sunset, I was the only one blowing the horn. There are 7 boats in here tonight. Blue Max is here - he left earlier this morning than we did and made pretty good time. Dennis came over to chat for a while before dinner. They're trying to get home by this weekend so are talking about doing a straight run tomorrow to West End, then Wednesday heading across so they can put the boat on the trailer Thursday and drive home Friday. Their plans and ours are all weather permitting of course. We're still talking about putting in at Mangrove Cay tomorrow and going to West End the following day. We may run into them still at West End if the weather predictions are correct.

After gin & tonics I made some more of that ground round/onion/mushroom mixture over mashed potatoes with corn on the side for dinner. I've decided that the stuff is definitely addicting to me... ymmmm.... Time to download my pics - Wayne took some of me playing the conch horn on the bow of the boat. If they came out, I'll post a pic on the blog.

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.

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