Photo from Crow's Nest Lookout on Highbourne Cay. The photo shows the beach where Cathy and I took our leisurely two hour stroll.
We left Highbourne Cay for Nassau under beautiful Caribbean skies on a beam reach with gentle trailing seas. We cuddled in the cockpit solving crossword puzzles on this smooth and relaxing sail.
Upon our arrival at Nassau we refueled and washed the boat as water was all you could use for $8.00/day vs. .50/gallon in the Exumas. We went shopping for groceries at the wonderful Fresh Market across from the marina and stopped at a drug store for other needed supplies. We were forced into a local liquor store and had to buy several bottles of Bahamian coconut run for Cathy's drink of survival----Bahama Mamas. We enjoyed dinner at a local Chinese restaurant and were then ready for a morning departure for the good old USA.
Before departing Nassau I was able to fortify my day at Starbucks with my morning drug of choice. For most of the sail home we were under partially cloudy skies with a trailing sea that kept us in a nice surfing rhythm throughout the day until we reached the gulf stream. Our challenge was the downwind run. We were constantly having to trim our sails to avoid an accidental jibe even though we kept a preventer on the main sail. We made great time for most of the trip except when we were entering the banks at an outgoing low tide and while crossing the gulf stream. Throughout this entire leg of our journey we still averaged over 7 kn/hr
We worked on more crossword puzzles and relaxed during the day preparing for our long night and gulf stream crossing. The gulf stream was somewhat choppy and we were both glad to enter the Port Everglades Inlet just after sunrise.
We refueled before docking in a thunderstorm at Bahia Mar Marina. We let God wash off some of the salt spray and took Sassy for a walk on the best grass she had seen since leaving the US. She was quite relieved to say the least.
Cathy and I went out for a good old fat laden American breakfast that did not settle well with her Bahamian fish diet stomach. My stomach did great!
Cathy leaves tomorrow for St. Augustine to pick up our car and have her scheduled medical and dental checkups. After her checkups and any follow up tests she will then leave for Biloxi to help care for her Mom and Dad. I will be staying in Ft. Lauderdale to get some needed repairs and maintenance done on the boat before moving Moonlight Shadow back to St. Augustine in late June. Sassy and I hope to join Cathy in Biloxi before her birthday in July.
Even though we had to leave the Bahamas early we had a wonderful trip exploring old ports of call and adding new venues to our cruising scrap book We do look forward to our next Bahamian Adventure in 2015? 2016? or whenever.
Headquarters and beach at Exuma Land and Sea Park
After anchoring at Black Point we went back to Staniel Cay to get water and fuel, hide from some windy weather and get Tommy to an airport. Tommy had injured his back on one of his diving expeditions during his three week stay aboard Moonlight Shadow. Tommy flew out of Staniel Cay to Nassau and then connected to a Miami based flight that took him home to San Francisco. We really enjoyed having Tommy aboard. He and Brian did a great job keeping our freezer topped off with fresh fish, conch and lobsters.
We enjoyed the week at Staniel, walking Sassy each morning and evening, snorkeling, paddle boarding and swimming at Pirate's Beach where Cathy started a her Exuma shell collection. She intends to make some unique and memorable jewelry from her varied assortment of shells. We were also able to stock up on some fresh produce before beginning our journey back to the US. We also saw green flashes at sunset on two consecutive nights.
Now that Cathy and I are on the boat without added guests, Cathy's wardrobe has really improved-------- much smaller and of course cooler tops and she has even found some of her one piece bikinis.
Cathy had been in communication via email for the last two weeks with her family about her Mom's cancer diagnosis and deteriorating health. We have started to schedule Cathy's travels to Biloxi to help her Mom and Dad and share some quality time with her family (aunts, uncles, brothers and sister and some of their spouses) upon our return to the US. This will be the first time in over 40 years that all five brothers ans sisters are together at the same time.
After the strong winds died down we were off to the Exuma Land and Sea Park. This spectacular and pristine park only allows moorings. There are no public docks, facilities (water, restrooms or showers), stores and no anchoring allowed. All trash needs to be taken with you when you leave. There is also no fishing or removal of any sea life or natural artifacts such as shells and driftwood.
The snorkeling is some of most spectacular in the Bahamas with displays of tropical fish, lobster, rays, sea turtles, sharks and coral that is beyond your imagination. We would swim, paddle board and snorkel each day. We took Sassy several times a day to the beach where she would willingly swim and actually seem to relax and enjoy her time in the water. We had to carefully choose our water activity time to correspond with the significant tidal changes.
We met up with Richard and Carol Walker, friends from our winters docking at Marathon Marina in the Florida Keys. It was great to share some quality time and wonderful meals aboard their M/Y Holiday VII. One of the great benefits of a cruising and boating life is being able to meet and establish friendships in our different ports of call. Friendships that are a wonderful blessing and fill the pages of your life experience album full of treasured memories.
During our first dinner aboard Holiday VII several people from a nearby moored boat dinghied by and asked us if we had any ice to spare as they were well into one of their crew's birthday celebration. Richard had plenty of ice in one of his ice makers and gave them a large container of ice. When they returned the container they gave us four lobsters as a token of their appreciation. Well, you can guess what we grilled for dinner the next night.
After four nights of watching gorgeous sunsets and anchoring under the vast expanse of endless star filled skies, it was time to head for home. We stopped at Highbourne Cay for water and fresh produce. While at Highbourne we took a bike ride to a deserted white sand beach lined with coral reefs and enjoyed a most relaxing and peaceful two hour stroll. Cathy added to her new shell collection while we were busy picking up pieces of plastic and trash that were scattered along the beach from passing boats and nearby islands. After depositing our large bag of trash in a nearby trash can, it was back to Moonlight Shadow to get ready for an early departure the next day for Nassau and Florida.
The photo is of Willie's Garden of Eden, a driftwood sculpture gallery.
We left Staniel Cay on Monday (5/12) for Black Point in very strong winds that again were on the bow. Luckily it was less than 10 nautical miles from Staniel to BP. Upon arrival we were challenged with our anchoring skills due to the strong winds, waves, current and a malfunctioning windless. However, the very talented crew of Moonlight Shadow rallied with great teamwork for a successful anchoring.
Cathy and I really enjoyed the people and sites of Black Point as we explored this quaint community. The children were absolutely delightful as they would maneuver for attention. If we asked one of the kids their name and talked to them then all the others would want to tell us their names and get in the conversation. The boys were all quite savvy on american sports players. They would see us from one day to the next and come running to greet us and see Sassy. They would want to help us board our dinghy at the local dock and not only handle the lines but hand us our packages. Sometimes this created more of a problem than it was a help. Sassy amazed both of us getting in and out of the dinghy at the government dock as the swing in tides created quite a challenge for us and Sassy.
We had lunch each day at the DeShamon Restaurant on their covered patio while using their excellent wifi connection. Sassy enjoyed the cool tile floor and meeting all the people as they were coming or leaving. We enjoyed rum drinks at happy hour at Scorpios and using the Rockside Laundromat to get caught up on laundry chores. According to their sign, it is the best laundromat in the Caribbean. Very clean laundromat and Cathy sure enjoyed their hot showers (once she learned how they operated).
One of the interesting side notes about Black Point was the lack of cell phones. On the larger islands most of the residents and teenagers all had and used their smart phones almost to the same frequency you would see them used in the U.S. On Black Point the majority of residents used VHF radios to communicate. Very inexpensive although it does lack in privacy.
We were running low on all of our fresh produce and Lilly from Adderley's Market kept us apprised as to when the weekly delivery boat would arrive from Nassau. We arrived at the market several hours after the boat arrived and we were loading our basket with fresh produce while they were still stocking their bins and shelves.
Tommy was able to hook up with a local diving guide and they did a great job of restocking our freezer with fish, conch and another supply of Bahamian hot dogs. Cathy made a great conch salad when we returned to Staniel Cay.
Cathy and I enjoyed swimming and snorkeling off the boat and took a dinghy ride to a nearby beach. Sunsets on the boat were absolutely gorgeous. We enjoyed fresh and cooling rains each day and had to keep opening and closing hatches on a regular basis both day and night to keep the boat dry.
Grill'en Mon......Bahamian hot dogs.
We left Nassau Harbour Club after a quite challenging refueling event. We encountered fairly stout winds a little off the bow heading for Highbourne Cay on April 29th. Tough motor sailing into the wind and waves. We could barely make 4 knots. Later in the day the winds and seas moderated and became more favorable and we were able to sail into Highbourne at almost 7 knots. They gave us a very small slip that required a 90 degree turn with barely enough bow and stern room to clear the adjoining dock. Had quite an audience watching us dock and everyone gave the crew of Moonlight Shadow a welcome applause for our excellent docking. People from LYC that we met in Nassau and a couple from Kemah, Ed and Cheryl, that had bought one of my former sailboats, Slowdown, were busy catching dock lines and helping us swing the boat.
In Nassau we met a couple on a power boat next to us from Charleston, SC on board their boat, Paula Faye. We assisted them with a little chart help in Nassau and then traveled to Highbourne on the same day. We met up with Sanford and Faye in Highbourne for drinks and snacks aboard their boat before having a delightful dinner at the only restaurant on the island. We met up again at Staniel Cay for another great meal aboard their boat. The Princess and Faye combined for a great grilled fish dinner (grouper & snapper caught by Tommy and Brian). We have thoroughly enjoyed our new friendship with Sanford and Faye. They may be traveling to Black Point with us tomorrow as we have to leave Staniel Cay due to new boat arrivals with reservations.
Staniel Cay has been a delight. We have had some great meals at the SCYC. Our first big meal was a Cinco de Mayo Caribbean Fiesta celebration. Great Sangrias & Margaritas and mango salsa. Not my kind of Tex-Mex for dinner. Nicki and Richard, former dock mates from Galveston joined us for the celebration. They were returning from Georgetown on their way back to Florida when we met up in Staniel Cay. We have had several lunches of hamburgers and blackened mahi sandwiches along with the best coconut pie that the Princess and I have ever eaten. Brian also treated us all to dinner at the SCYC. We bought some great banana bread at the local farmer's market and then Tommy and Brian restocked our banana bread from Rhonda's home side bakery (Rhonda has not only keep us eating well with our banana bread and key lime pie but her sister washed a couple loads of laundry for Cathy.
Brian joined us for 5 days to dive with Tommy and between the Bahamian hot dogs, conch and fresh fish we have not lacked for a variety of seafood. Cathy made some fabulous conch salads for lunches and dinners. Brian left today to fly back to Boston. He was a delight to have as added crew aboard Moonlight Shadow.
Cathy and I dinghied to Thunderball grotto yesterday and snorkled into the grotto cave, timing our arrival at low tide. Beautiful coral and sea life everywhere. The grotto was featured in the James Bond movie Thunderball. We have also dighied to a small beach called Pirate's Beach with Sassy most afternoons for a refreshing swim. Cathy is developing her Island Princess tan quite rapidly.
Besides all our swimming and snorkeling, Cathy and I have taken Sassy for long walks each morning, done some paddle boarding in a cove next to the marina and made runs to all three stores on the island (two by walking and one by dinghy). Sassy continues to love her dinghy rides.
Tomorrow it is either off to Black Point or Big Major for an anchoring experience. We should have a little challenge for a couple of days due to high winds. At least we will be on the leeward side of the island for some protection. Black Point is one of the most traditional Bahamian communities in the Exuma chain. We are looking forward to Black Point as it is a new destination for Moonlight Shadow and it's crew.
We left St. A on April 5th heading south for Ft. Lauderdale. From there we would begin our 2014 Bahamas Adventure. We are currently in Staniel Cay a little more than a month after we left St. A. I am heading out soon to start taking pictures for our blog postings and emails and then I will begin the adventures of Moonlight Shadow in traveling to and in the Bahamas.
Well, some of our first pictures are taken and I am now able to work with my new photos program and post to our emails and our blog. The picture on this blog is at our dock in Staniel Cay. Tommy, Cathy's brother, Cathy and Sassy and Tommy's dive friend Brian. Brian has been a most enjoyable addition to the crew of Moonlight Shadow.
Our travels south from St. A were somewhat slow as we always seemed to be waiting for weather windows and we needed a couple of boat repairs along the way. Our tachometer went out on an over night sail to Ft. Pierce and we lost an impeller while leaving Ft. Lauderdale on our first attempt to cross the gulf stream. Our impeller loss and engine overheating put us in a very risky situation with a strong ebb tide at the 17th street bridge while trying to exit the Port Everglades Inlet. Due to some quick maneuvers, Cathy's deck hand skills and a very experienced Tow Boat US Captain we were able to return to our marina for repairs. We located a new tachometer in Ft. Pierce and we replaced our impeller and cleaned out the heat exchanger in Ft. Lauderdale.
We enjoyed our stop in West Palm Beach. Nice parks to walk Sassy, enjoyed a wonderful farmer's market in the park across the street from our marina and I was forced to go to Starbuck's each morning for my wake up drug of choice.
Our marina in Ft. L was across the street from the beach. Cathy and I took our daily beach walks and swims while waiting for the right weather window to cross to Bimini. Unfortunately Sassy was not allowed on the beach in Ft. L. We were able to provision the boat having a large Publix and CVS near the marina and a vet not to far way to get Sassy's Bahamas health certificate completed.
We had an uneventful sail crossing the gulf stream south of Miami to enter the Bahamas at Bimini. Sailing along the Miami skyline at sunset and encountering at least 6 cruise ships added to our over night sail. It took about three hours to clear customs and immigration in Bimini all due to the efficiency and speed of the Bahamian officials. Wow.....they could all get a job in the US at any of our state DMV's. Took Sassy for some nice beach walks and swims in Bimini before heading out to Nassau on our last over night sail before our return back to Florida in June. Crossing the Bahama Banks is such a spectacular adventure being able to see all the sea life in the clear blue waters.
We are in the Bahamas. We picked up Cathy's brother in Nassau, restocked provisions at a wonderful new Fresh Market across from the Nassau Harbour Club, picked up a Bahamas phone at Radio Shack and again enjoyed my morning Starbuck's brew before heading to the Exumas.
A rainbow extending above our mast at the St. Augustine Municipal Maria.
Throughout our summer in Marathon, we began looking to relocate our main port of call to St. Augustine. We had spent several weeks in St. Augustine while traveling the east coast and fell in love with this historical and active city. From the historic "old town district" of stores, hotels, museums,shops and restaurants to the beautiful beaches on Anestasia Island, we wanted to spend more time exploring life in this part of North Florida. St. A is the oldest town in the US and will be celebrating it's 450th anniversary in 2015.
I found a good weather window in mid-August and arranged with Capt. Bill Olson to help me move the boat from Marathon to St. A. We left on a Thursday afternoon and motor sailed the Hawk Channel to Ft. Lauderdale arriving just after sunrise on Friday morning. Spent Friday afternoon and night at the Bahia Mar Marina where Capt Bill's girlfriend joined us as crew. We left before dawn on Saturday morning for Ft. Pierce. After exiting the Port Everglades Inlet we picked up the gulf stream current and sailed in excess of 12 kts to the Ft. Pierce Inlet and Harbortown Marina. Spent the night at Harbortown ( hot showers, good dinner and a hot breakfast) and left Sunday late morning for St. A. Arrived St. A. on Monday morning. The overall journey of just under 400nm was one of the most enjoyable sails I have ever experienced
Cathy and Sassy drove to St. A and we began to settle in to our new base of operation. We have discovered most of the good eating places and best of all I discovered the homemade peach ice cream at Kilwin's (with Dominica hot fudge topping). We are attending Grace UMC next to the Flagler College campus. Grace was built by Henry Flagler in 1881 in authentic Spanish Renaissance style architecture. The church is about a 10 minute walk from our marina.
The beaches on Anestasia Island are approximately a 4.5 mile bike ride from the marina. We do take Sassy in the car for late afternoon beach walks. St. Augustine Beach is a very wide white sand beach that is very clean with excellent shower facilities for both us and Sassy Most weekends have plenty of unique kites flying along with well organized beach volleyball tournaments.
The city is host to weekly concerts both at the city's amphitheater and Constitution Park in the town square. Flagler College is located in the heart of downtown and brings a lot of added cultural opportunities to the community.
In Oct we had an insurance policy survey on Moonlight Shadow which highlighted several significant maintenance items and a few upgrades that we needed to complete. We hauled the boat at a local boat yard in early November and Sassy and I drove back to TX. Cathy was having some major digestive problems at the time and she flew back a week earlier to begin some testing. All testing came out positive and she has been correcting her problems by diet.
We had been planning a Thanksgiving holiday trip to TX in late November to visit family and friends, get our annual medical checkups and tests and pickup needed supplies and items for the boat. We were then going to be back in St. A to celebrate the Christmas holiday. St. A does a spectacular job of decorating for the holidays. The "old historic district" displays over 10 million holiday lights that bring a lot of joy and memories to so many people at this festive time of the year.
Well, we not only left early for TX due to the boat challenges and Cathy's health issues but our stay was extended through the Christmas holiday. While Sassy was running and playing at Brian and Elisa's house she tore her ACL that resulted in another knee surgery. She tore the other ACL a year earlier. After surgery and a successful rehab we returned to St. A in early January. We were still able to see all the fabulous Christmas decorations in St. A as the city keeps them in full display until the end of January.
We had a busy and active winter enjoying the sights and sounds of this most enjoyable city. It has been cooler than normal (as was most of the country) and we have worn more jackets, fleeces, caps and gloves than we ever expected being in Florida. We had an occasional warm day or two every now and then to keep our spirits hopeful for a return to spring sailing.
We have been fortunate to meet many new dock mates and friends in the boating community while here. We have been blessed throughout our cruising to be able to share life with some very special people. Our dock mates David and Janine and Ed and Michele have been fun to get to know and share a meal while exchanging life's stories and events.
We have now been in St. A for seven months and Cathy and I have been hearing the call of adventure for South Florida, the Bahamas and the Florida Keys. We are leaving this Saturday for a week to 10 day cruise to South Florida, reprovision in Ft. Lauderdale and then off to the Bahamas where we will be joined by family and friends during our approximate 2 month Bahama adventure. After returning to Ft. Lauderdale (sometime in June), we will head to Marathon in the Keys. We are looking forward to spending some time relaxing with our great friends Bruce and Bobbi. Then sometime in July we will work our way back up the Florida coast for a summer docking back in beautiful St. A before peak hurricane season.
So follow us on our new blog, Bahama Bound with weekly updates (possibly/hopefully).