11/21/2011, Warderick Wells, Exuma Land and Sea Park
We were able to get the Yamaha outboard going again, thanks to Juan. There was water in the fuel, not sure how it got there. But, problem fixed. Stayed one night at the Highbourne Cay Marina then anchored off the Cay the following night. The next two nights were anchored off Norman's Cay. Norman's Cay claim to fame is some drug guy once lived there. There is a great little restaurant/bar called Norman's Cay Beach Club (formerly known as McDuff's). They were just reopening for the season and waiting for their supplies to come in from Nassau. The second day we were able to get a burger and fries for $18. That's $18 each, plus 5 beers and tip for a total of $80.00. Great guy, Steph, who owns/runs the place and his 5 month old lab named Salt. The island is shaped like a very long horsehoe, just around the southwest tip of the island is where a plane crashed (a DC something), lost it's hydraulics at take off, several years ago this happened. Anyway, we took the dinghy and anchored next to it and snorkeled around. Part of it sticks out of the water, deepest about 8 feet. Some coral and fish but very clear aqua water. There was a catamaran with 4 french people next to us, met them at McDuff's the first night. Second night we were there they must have gotten lit at McDuff's, they couldn't seem to find their boat in the dark and I heard lots of merde's (shit) and grunts and groans (not sure what that was about) right next to our boat. I got out our good flashlight and aimed it on their boat. After that I heard several merci's (thank you).
We sailed (yes, sailed) to Warderick Wells which is one of the islands in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park. The Park covers about 22 miles with no fishing allowed. We are on a mooring ball which is $15 per day for our size boat. The Park Headquarters are located on this cay. Lots of hiking trails around, Bill and I did one up to Boo Boo Hill and the Blow Holes. We have lots of great pics but don't think we can upload them from the wifi here. Apparently the wifi has been down until today since the hurricane that went through here a few months ago. Looks like we could be here for several days. We had a couple of good weather days and now it looks like 4-5 days of 15-25 mile winds.
11/14/2011, Highbourne Cay, Exumas, Bahamas
We left Nassau, as planned, on Thursday the 10th. Had a good sail over to Allen's Cay. Anchored between Allen's Cay and Leaf Cay. One other boat there, a catamaran with a Canadian flag flying. Looked like a charter boat instead of a cruising boat. Anyway, anchoring is pretty tight in there so we were fairly close to the other boat off Leaf Cay beach. Within minutes all the clothes come off - I don't mean mine or Bills. Apparently we were anchored next to a Canadian nudist group consisting of 5 males and 1 female. Two of them swim to the beach to visit the Iguana's when two speed boats filled with tourists from Nassau show up. The man got a big cheer from the tourists as he was walking naked from the beach back into the water but the female decided to hide in the rocks and there she stayed until the two tourist boats left. Apparently they were shy in front of the tourists but not us, I saw five one eyed iguana's (ha ha).
Of course, our one day of nice weather was short lived, wind and waves pick up and we spend 3 nights at a very uncomfortable anchorage. The current runs north and south between the two islands with the wind switching north and east, it was a very wavy/rollie anchorage.
We wanted to dinghy to the beach so we put the dinghy into the water and put the 8 hp Yamaha on the dinghy. Just before we left Marathon we had the carb rebuilt, new impellar and new spark plug, one would think we would have no problems starting it. We did have no problems starting it, problem is it won't continue to run for more than about 10 seconds. So, Bill switches the Yamaha for the 5 hp Mercury. It is less than a year old with very little usage. It is having the same problem. No dinghy ride for us. We did swim into the beach during a lull in the wind and fed the Iguana's. I hailed Highbourne Cay Marina on the VHF radio to see if there is anyone there who could take a look at the outboards. There is someone who works on outboards during his time off.
We left Allen's/Leaf Cays yesterday morning and anchored on the west side of Highbourne Cay last night.
Good anchorage for easterly winds. We had a pleasant night sleeping last night. Five other boats, some type of military (maybe research vessel?), 3 other sailboats and a mega yacht were at the anchorage.
We came into Highbourne Cay Marina this morning. WOW!! Beautiful marina, probably the best we have been in. Great staff, very well maintained marina, beautiful beach, well stocked (expensive) store. Highbourne Cay is a private island but if you stay at the marina you can walk around. Not much to see here but they are building a restaurant/bar that will be very nice with spectacular views once completed.
Juan will be coming to the boat at 5:00 to look at the outboards, keeping our fingers crossed. We really don't want to head back to Nassau for repairs if he can't get at least one going. New pics in the gallery.
11/09/2011, Nassau Bahamas
We are ready to move on and will try to head to Allen's Cay tomorrow morning. Wind hasn't improved but is is only about 30 miles and most the way water depth is only about 12 feet. Peter, the Dock Master here, is going to show us on the chart the best way to exit the harbor. We entered from the West entrance to the barhor but will be exiting from the East. He does say that we need to be on the watch for any coral heads that we might encounter.
Wind direction should be mostly of the Northeast for the next week which should be good for the anchorages we have picked out. We probably won't have access to the internet for the next few weeks. Here is our plan for the first leg of the Exumas: Allen's Cay, West Beach, Highbourne Cay, Saddleback Cay, Norman's Cay, Shroud Cay, Fresh Well Bay North, Hawksbill Cay, Warderick Wells Land and Sea Park. Should have internet access when we get to Warderick Wells. The plan is to say 2-3 days at each location, more or less depending on if we like the anchorage or not.
Allen's Cay is supposed to have hundreds of ignua's that come to greet you looking for food when you dinghy to the beach. Speaking of dinghy, it is still tied on deck. We will keep it there for the crossing to Allen's Cay then pull it behind us until we get to Georgetown. Our current thought is to spend about a month getting to Georgetown and spend at least Christmas and New Years there.
11/07/2011, Nassau, New Providence, Bahamas
Back at Starbucks this morning. Monday morning and all the working folk are here getting their morning caffeine.
Yesterday we took a taxi to Atlantis. I spent a little money on the slots and Bill bought a beer or two and walked around to do the picture taking. As you can see from the Atlantis photo gallery it is very opulent, with the multi-million dollar mega yachts, all registered in the Cayman Islands, at the Atlantis Marina. I believe they charge $5.00 a foot for a slip there.
We didn't stay long, most of the slots were $5-$25 a pull - a little out of my league. They also have all the high-end shops, most being jewelry stores and couture clothing. Did find my 5 carat solitaire ring that Bill still hasn't bought me yet.
Last night Bill joined several of the locals fishing for Jacks on the end of the dock. It is rather disheartening to see such disparity - to see the locals fishing for their dinner within sight of the rich and famous.
On to more pleasant thoughts. We went to the Poop Deck for happy hour. Great free Conch fritters, best we have had any where. Talked to a couple of guys at the bar. One was probably in his 80's, an investment banker originally from Germany living in Nassau for the past 40 years. The other one was part owner of the Poop Deck. Both really nice guys and very interested in how we got here from Minnesota.
Going to do a little shopping this morning. Everything is within walking distance, large grocery store, pharmacy (need to buy more Dramamine), Radio Shack, etc.
Posted pics of Atlantis and of the marina we are at (Nassau Harbour Club).
11/06/2011, Nassau, Bahamas
Sitting at Starbucks in Nassau using their Wifi. We have had an extremely rough time the last couple of days. We left Bimini with the wind at our nose and pretty much stayed there until 9 hours later when we dropped anchor in the Middle of the Bahama Banks. We anchored behind Mackie Shoal just as the wind dropped a bit. Still rocked and rolled all night but could have been worse and the next night it was. We pulled into the anchorage off the beach on Chubb Cay, wind from the SW. It is a private beach so no going ashore. Wind died and we had a pleasant evening, even grilled pork chops for dinner. Then the wind shifted coming from the North. Not a good wind direction in this anchorage. Wind picked up and blew 20+ knots all night. Bill let out all the anchor chain, we held but spent the entire night unable to sleep. Next morning we pulled up anchor and headed out to Nassau. With the wind from the North it was a following seas, that's a good thing meaning we could sail (instead of motor) the entire way. Before we put the sails up the engine starts to overheat. We kill the engine and put out the head sail. Bill figured it was the raw water strainer. Unfortunately, first one must turn off the seacock, on our boat it is located in the bilge and you have to go through the lazarette (our main storage compartment) to get to it. Everything had to come out of the lazarette then Bill climbed in to shut off the seacock. He then went to the engine compartment and pulled out the strainer. It was completely clogged with sea grass. Bill also checked the engine empeller to make sure it was okay. Bill put everything back together and put all our junk back in it's storage. We restart the engine and all is good. Once we knew the engine wouldn't reheat we shut it off and had a great sail, surfing down the waves, going 7+ knots.
A couple of hours out the wind picked up again and now the seas are 6+ feet. The sea begins to build and now we are in the trough with we estimate 8+ foot waves. At that point Bill says "go get the PFD's (life jackets) and tethers to tie us to the boat". First time for us, we never wear our PFD's (I shouldn't admit that). I start to get seasick and of no help to Bill. We had waves coming over the side of the cockpit, from the high side of the boat. We finally arrive outside Nassau Harbor and hail on the radio the Nassau Harbor Authority for permission to enter the harbor (it's required for everyone to do that). We get authorization at the same time the cruise ship Majesty of the Sea also gets authorization to enter. Keeping our distance as we enter the harbor, Bill says they won the chicken race. Not a minute too soon, I was going to loose it any minute.
We dock at Nassau Harbor Club Marine and Peter was there to help us in and tie up for us. 10 minutes later we are off the boat, glad to be tied up and glad to be alive!! Looks like we could be here until Wednesday, again due to high wind and seas. What happened to our dream of aqua colored calm waters?? So far, hasn't happened. Hopefully it gets better from here. Plan today is to go to Atlantis so I can visit a slot machine or two.
11/02/2011, Bimini, Bahamas
We hope to leave Bimini tomorrow morning. High winds and seas the past several days, should start to die down tonight. Next stop will be anchoring out on the Bahama Banks tomorrow night. It's about 100 miles to Chubb Cay in the Berry Islands from Bimini. Hope to get in at least 50 miles tomorrow. From there the plan is to head to Nassau.