The Travels of Marco Polo

26 June 2016 | Houston Texas
14 June 2016 | St. Augustine Florida
05 June 2016 | St. Augustine. Florida
25 May 2016 | Man-O-War Cay , Abacos
19 May 2016 | Elbow Cay/Hope Town Abacos
15 May 2016 | Treasure Cay, Abacos
12 May 2016 | Great Guana Cay, Abacos Bahamas
10 May 2016 | Great Turtle Cay
30 April 2016 | Little Bahama Bank
24 April 2016 | Old Bahama Bay Resort and Yacht Club West End Bahamas
13 April 2016 | Marathon Key Florida
12 April 2016 | Marathon Key Florida
05 March 2016 | Stock Island Marina, Key West Florida
05 February 2016 | Marco Island Marina
17 July 2015 | Stock Island Marina
30 June 2015 | Stock Island Marina, Key West
24 June 2015
16 June 2015 | Marco Island Marina
16 February 2015 | Houston,TX

Happy to be in Texas!

26 June 2016 | Houston Texas
Barbara/ hot with scattered thunderstorms
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,

Marco Polo is settled in a safe marina/hurricane hole in Jacksonville, Florida and we are back in Houston.
As Pete and I reflect upon our five months of cruising we are grateful for so many things:
• wonderful cruising experiences
• nature's beauty in the Abacos and Florida
• friends (new and old)
• safe sailing weather
• good health
• Cody -our little Ambassador of Friendship and
• Marco Polo doing what we wanted it to do!

We are also appreciative of our family and friends, for supporting us through your comments, well wishes, and prayers for our safety.

Cruising has enabled us to meet many interesting people who we now call friends. Boats are our common denominator but it is amazing to find out how many other interests we share. Cruisers never say goodbye, just safe boating until we meet again.

Have a safe and wonderful summer,

Pete, Barbara and Cody

P.S. It seems the fresh air, sunshine, beach time as well as the extra attention Cody received from every friend he made, were highly effective "drugs" for him. On Monday, his oncologist told us the two nodules in his lungs had disappeared and the remaining one had decreased in size!

St. Augustine, Florida

14 June 2016 | St. Augustine Florida
Barbara/watching Tropical Storm Colin
June 1st- 8th, 2016

St. Augustine, Florida

Pete, Cody and I sailed into St. Augustine on June 1st. The marina is just across the street from the town. St. Augustine has a fascinating and illustrious history. Sir Francis Drake, pirate Robert Searles and philanthropist, Henry Flagler who started the Standard Oil Company with John D. Rockefeller are all well-known figures in the city’s history.
Founded in 1565, St. Augustine is the nation’s oldest city. Governor Ponce de Leon of Puerto Rico tempted by legends of gold and a spring that brings eternal youth journeyed north and discovered a land he named La Florida. His land fall was where current day St. Augustine is located. While he never discovered gold or the “fountain of youth” he did discover something that would become even more valuable-the Gulf Stream, a strong current that flows from the Gulf of Mexico up the east coast of the United States. This current could shorten the voyage from the New World back to Spain by as much as three weeks. Even today cruisers have a healthy respect for this great current using it to their navigational advantage especially on the passage between the U. S. mainland and the Bahamas.

Since we had limited time and there is so much to see we took the Old Town Trolley Tour to get an overall view of the places we wanted to visit. We hope you enjoy our St. Augustine PHOTO GALLERY. The city has strict rules regarding preservation of historical buildings. Many of the restaurants and shops are located in renovated historical sites. We enjoyed our stay in St. Augustine but were eager to get to Jacksonville – our final cruising destination!

Barbara, Pete and Cody

Passage back to Florida

05 June 2016 | St. Augustine. Florida
Barbara/sunny/windy/waiting for TS Colin?

May 21-29- West End, Grand Bahama Island
May 30- Fort Pierce, Florida
May 31- Cape Canaveral
June 1- St. Augustine

After anchoring out in Great Sale Cay we sailed back to Old Bahama Bay Marina (photo is of the resident marina manatee) where our Bahamian cruising originated in mid April.

With an anticipated departure date of May 25th we watched the weather forecast carefully as activity picked up. Unfortunately, Tropical Storm Bonnie delayed our departure until Sunday May 29th. Rain and strong winds held off as we motor sailed for the 14- hour trip. However, the seas were not as kind as swells from Bonnie hit us on the beam resulting in uncomfortable rolling (at least for me.) I was really happy to reach Fort Pierce and to set foot on American soil.

After a good night’s sleep, Monday’s 8-hour trip to Cape Canaveral was uneventful. Tuesday afternoon we left the Cape at 4:00 pm and sailed through the night reaching St. Augustine Marina around noon Wednesday. We are looking forward to exploring St. Augustine-the nation’s oldest city and plan to stay here until June 8th.

Happy to be back in the USA,
Pete, Barbara and Cody

P.S. For those of you wondering about Cody, he is a real trouper on these long trips. We have been unsuccessful in teaching him to use his “artificial grass mat”. This smart little dog limits his water/food intake until he smells land!

Man-O-War Cay

25 May 2016 | Man-O-War Cay , Abacos

Man-O-War Cay and Marina
May 15-18

Shortly after arriving in Man-O-War we took our usual walk to get the ‘lay of the land” and let Cody check out the beach. There were no cars and only a few golf carts on the narrow streets. Much less activity than we have seen on previous cays. One reason might be, until a few months ago, MOW was an alcohol-free community and perhaps not on the itinerary of charter cruisers who are generally attracted to the waterfront bars and restaurants. The residents here are very conservative and devout church goers. At one time even the sale of cigarettes was prohibited. Beer and champagne are now available at the marina Dock and Dine Restaurant.

The settlement was founded by a Loyalist by the name of Albury. Even today nearly everyone in the town carries the Albury surname either by birth or marriage. As someone from another cay mentioned, the” DNA is rather tightly knit in Man-O-War!’ I think studying the genetics of MOW’s population would be fascinating however the task of creating genealogy charts might be challenging! Seventy percent of the townspeople can trace their ancestry to the first Albury settler.

MOW is famous for its 200-year history of boat building and sail making traditions. Even today, Albury runabouts (small motor boats AKA smacks) are seen throughout the Abacos. Folks here are very industrious as evidenced by the many small family businesses you see. Albury’s Sail Shop is the place to go if you are looking for hand made items fashioned from sail cloth such as duffels, totes, hats and other accessories. In the shop were several women and one man sewing the sturdy, beautiful bags from colorful sail cloth.

Across the Sea of Abaco from MOW, 20 minutes by Albury’s Ferry, is Marsh Harbour, the 3rd largest town in the Bahamas. We went over mainly to check out Maxwell’s, an American style supermarket. It lived up to its reputation! We were happy to find fresh turmeric and ginger root for our juicing. Before leaving Marsh Harbour, we had a delicious lunch at Wally’s Place, a charming up-scale restaurant where back in the day you would have expected to run into Ernest Hemingway. After our time in Key West earlier this year, I thought I had my fill of Key Lime pie. But Pete twisted my arm and I ordered Wally’s Key Lime Pie. It was one of the best pies I have tasted!

One of the most interesting people we met was our boat neighbor Nick, a very colorful, American entrepreneur, who keeps his 40-year old 50-foot Mason yacht in the MOW Marina. Forty years ago Nick and his family left MOW on a 2 ½ year circumnavigation. Although sailing trips of this caliber are more prevalent today because of advances in electronics and navigational tools, at that time he relied on a sextant and radio direction finder, the only tools available then for pleasure craft. He had lots of great stories to tell. He no longer sails but frequently comes to his boat from his home in the Midwest for his mental health.

In our MOW photo album are pictures of some of the Bahamian-style sail boats that we saw in the harbour. One of the most illustrious sailing vessels is the 70-foot schooner, William H. Albury. She represented The Bahamas in the Tall Ships Race and Operation in 1976. Unfortunately, she is in a state of disrepair. An effort is being made to raise money to restore her.

MOW was our last major port of call before heading to West End -our jumping off point for passage back to Florida. Pete and I agreed we liked Hope Town the best but Man-O-War was 2nd runner up. Everyone we met was very welcoming and appreciative of our visit. You could tell they were proud of their little piece of paradise! We wished we had planned a longer stay.

It started raining just as we left the marina. We traveled through a very big squall with plenty of rain, lightening and wind gusts to 40 knots. It was not pleasant but fortunately we made it safely to a late afternoon anchorage at Great Sale Cay.

Elbow Cay and Hope Town

19 May 2016 | Elbow Cay/Hope Town Abacos
Elbow Cay
Hope Town Inn and Marina
May 7-14

Hope Town on Elbow Cay is a quaint, New England style settlement rich in history, with Lucayan Indian, Spanish, pirate, British and Loyalists roots. Population of Hope Town is around 2600 people. Many of the original colonial houses still remain today. We had a great introduction to the area’s history during our tour of the Wyannie Malone Historical Museum. In the late 1700’s,Mrs. Malone, a Loyalist and her three sons left South Carolina and founded the settlement of Hope Town.

The Hope Town Inn and Marina was beautiful. Pete and I met lots of interesting people in the marina. We enjoyed spending time with them and learning about their boating experiences. We also had a great view of the famous 120- foot candy striped Elbow Reef Lighthouse. When first built in 1864, it was a fixed light to keep vessels from grounding on the treacherous shoals of Elbow Reef. In 1936, there was a need for a light more easily identified by ships at sea. The fixed light was replaced by a rotating Fresnel lens. It is still run by kerosene and is the last lighthouse of its kind in the world. We were lucky enough to go up with the lighthouse keeper one night to watch the lighting process.

While none of these settlements have very many places of business, Hope Town had three grocery stores. Bahamian grocery stores (at least the ones we have seen) are about the size of the convenience stores associated with a gas station in the States. Most stock lots of canned and dry goods, a couple of large chest-type freezers of frozen meat and limited fresh fruit and vegetables. Produce is shipped once a week. Dairy products e.g. yogurt, cheese and milk are available but probably not your preferred brand. Fortunately, we provisioned well and have only needed to replenish beer, yogurt, fruit, nuts and goat cheese (our favorite). Rule #1 is buy it when you see it! Learned this the hard way when the last roll of goat cheese in town was bought before I could get back to the store where I saw it less than an hour before.

Please check out our two photo albums in the PHOTO GALLERY- ELBOW REEF LIGHTHOUSE and HOPE TOWN SETTLEMENT.

We hated to leave Hope Town but were looking forward to our next destination, Man-O-War Cay.

Thanks for following our travels.

Sending all the best to you from paradise,

Pete, Barbara and Cody

Treasure Cay

15 May 2016 | Treasure Cay, Abacos
Barbara/Mostly sunny with one heavy rain storm at night
Treasure Cay
Treasure Cay Marina
May 2-May 6

Actually, Treasure Cay is not a cay at all, but part of the mainland Great Abaco Island. It is a good place for receiving visitors since it has an international airport about 7 miles from the marina. What can I say about Treasure Cay? I am sure you can guess at least two things: miles of gorgeous beaches on the calm Sea of Abaco and amazing sunsets. The area is considered by National Geographic as one of the best beaches in the world. Cody agrees. However, there is no town or settlement to explore as on the other cays we visited. We rented a golf cart and drove north to the Abaco Ceramics workshop where we helped support the local economy. They make most of the ceramic items sold in the Bahamas. There is also a special selection of pottery made by local children. On the way back we saw what looked like a new residential development being built and drove into the complex towards the ocean. It was Treasure Sands Club- a very sophisticated elegant restaurant/bar in a picturesque setting with delicious organic food. Pete and I agreed having lunch at Treasure Sands was the highlight of our visit to Treasure Cay. The lobster curry was fantastic! This was an unexpected find. It is probably not mentioned in cruiser guide books since it is a distance away from the marinas.

A day later at Coco Beach Bar we ran into our twin friends, Marty and John (S/V Escapade) when they saw Cody and called out to him! By this time Marty’s wife and another couple had joined the brothers. Unfortunately, John was sitting with an ice pack on his shoulder and obviously in pain after sustaining a fall. It sounded like he may have injured his rotator cuff. Ouch! We hope he got back to the States and Marty was able to recruit someone to help him sail Escapade back to Florida!

Good thing we are doing a lot of walking and biking because I HAD to visit Florence’s Bakery for one of her famous cinnamon rolls. Delicious!

Treasure Cay Marina was okay but piers/docks in need of repair. While the marina bar, Tipsy Seagull, was open the restaurant was closed. Showers facilities were adequate and staff did their jobs but was not overly friendly as in other places. In our opinion, two days in Treasure Cay would have been sufficient.

Our next Port of Call –Hope Town.

Pete, Barbara and Cody
Vessel Name: Marco Polo
Vessel Make/Model: Beneteau 46
Hailing Port: Kemah, Texas
Crew: Pieter and Barbara
About: Pieter is a retired engineer and very experienced sailor. Barbara, is an advance practice nurse, and looking forward to the new adventure of cruising. Our "furry crew" Cody - a 3-legged miniature poodle- enjoys sailing and making new friends of all kinds in every port.
Extra: Our boat is not named after the water game or the famous explorer but after an industry-award winning deepwater oil production platform designed by Pieter and his engineering company.
Marco Polo's Photos - Main
"The aspect of St. Augustine is quaint and strange, in harmony with its romantic history...It is as if some little old ...Spanish town, with its fort and gateway and Moorish bell towers, had broken loose, floated over here, and got stranded on a sandbank. --Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1873
22 Photos
Created 8 June 2016
a few photos from this extraordinary peaceful and self-contained little town
19 Photos
Created 25 May 2016
Hope Town and the people we met there captured our hearts.
14 Photos
Created 19 May 2016
The last operating lighthouse of its kind. The lighting source is a 325.000 candlepower "Hood" petroleum vapour burner. A hand pump is used to pressurize the kerosene.Two dedicated keepers share the responsibility of lighting the lantern at dusk and winding the weights (similar to a grandfather clock) every two hours from dusk to day break. They live in two identical houses just a few yards from the lighthouse.
10 Photos
Created 17 May 2016
10 Photos
Created 15 May 2016
A few photos from our visit on Great Guana Cay and the Wild Pigs of No Name Cay
11 Photos
Created 11 May 2016
Our first encounter with the gorgeous beaches, and quaint settlements in the Abacos.
20 Photos
Created 2 May 2016
Photos from our crossing to West End Bahamas.
15 Photos
Created 27 April 2016
Marathon Key attracts many cruisers waiting for a good weather window for passage to the Bahamas. We enjoyed delicious food at several restaurants and Cody especially liked Sombero Beach.
25 Photos
Created 12 April 2016
We had a wonderful month in Key West. While there,we made some new friends and enjoyed a great visit with Linda and Jim. Luck and wind were on our side when a huge boat on our dock caught on fire. Fortunately, no one was injured. We especially enjoyed watching the Navy planes train over our Marina.
31 Photos
Created 4 April 2016
We rode our bikes into Key West and explored a different area of town.
14 Photos
Created 5 March 2016
The sail from Marco Island to Key West was beautiful and uneventful! I like that!
5 Photos
Created 4 March 2016
Pete enjoyed his day!
8 Photos
Created 3 March 2016
Two days in Miami at the Boat Show
4 Photos
Created 3 March 2016
A few photos from our home away from home in Southwest Florida.
11 Photos
Created 5 February 2016
Almost 70 miles west of Key West, nestled among spectacular coral reefs, fascinating shipwrecks and sandy beaches lie seven undeveloped coral and sand islands initially named Los Tortugas by Ponce de Leon. Soon noted as Dry Tortugas on charts to show mariners islands had no fresh water.
16 Photos
Created 30 July 2015
Enjoying the local color,food, people of Key West
17 Photos
Created 30 July 2015
Photos from Stock Island Marina, Lower Keys, Florida
21 Photos
Created 17 July 2015
some photos from the trip from Marco Island to Key West
6 Photos
Created 24 June 2015
photos from Key Largo and Key West
7 Photos
Created 27 December 2014
photos related to 12/9/14 blog post
10 Photos
Created 9 December 2014
clip taken by Connie Lipsey during day sail
No Photos
Created 22 November 2014
various photos taken when exploring the Marco Island area
5 Photos
Created 22 November 2014
3 Photos
Created 26 July 2014
Extra photos
8 Photos
Created 26 July 2014