01/31/2013, Rock Sound
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Our twenty mile sail from Big Majors Spot to Warderick Wells yesterday was uneventful. It was a broad reach, then a beam reach with the engine running just above idle to recharge the batteries from the overcast we had in Big Majors that thwarted the efforts of our solar panels. Since it was mid afternoon when we arrived at the Exuma Park anchorage we spent most of the rest of the day on the boat except for a short trip to park headquarters to renew our annual park membership.
Today we went ashore in the morning to hike the trails on the island. Our first attempt was to take the trail up to Boo Boo Hill. About a third of the way there we encountered high water and were unable to cross Banshee Creek. So, we turned back and hiked the Causeway Trail to the top of the ridge and were able to look out on Exuma Sound. It is still a bit rough out there in the deep water that separates Exuma from Eluthera. On our hike we did find a piece of driftwood that we will offer to King Neptune. It will be adorned with "Sanity II" and deposited on Boo Boo Hill tomorrow in accordance with local tradition. This token will join the the previous two offerings we have made on our earlier visits here in 2011 and 2012.
The afternoon was spent snorkeling and then an impromptu cocktail party at the gazebo on the beach with the crews of three other boats.
Thursday, January 31, 2013
We woke up to showers and squalls yesterday morning, which was okay as we did not need to hike up the hill until after lunch to deposit our offering to the gods. The rain rinsed the salt off the boat. We ended the day with another impromptu cocktail party with about 18 people in attendance. It was a very diverse and interesting group.
Today we set sail for Eluthera, crossing the open water Exuma Sound. The crossing was 30 miles of fairly smooth water with winds clocking from the SE to the SW at 12-16 knots. Another day that required the use of a preventer on the mainsail. The final leg of the trip into Rock Sound, past Powell Point was 10 miles with an adverse current, narrow channels and a few coral heads, so we motored in.
Tomorrow we will begin exploring the largest settlement on Eluthera with our primary goal of finding a place to watch the Super Bowl.
Dave & Mary
01/28/2013, Big Majors Spot/Piggy Beach
Tuesday afternoon, January 22, 2013
After lunch we walked into Nassau for ice cream and to obtain a Bahamas Telephone Company (Batelco) SIM card for the iPad. This will enable us to have limited Internet access when we are near a Batelco tower. There is a limited number of bytes of data so we will not be sending pictures except the picture that accompanies the blog update. We actually have some pictures we would like to send and if we get wifi service somewhere we may try to forward them. For dinner that evening, Six of us went to an excellent Italian restaurant that we had tried last year. It was still as good as we remembered. As we arrived at the restaurant, by foot, it started to rain and the wind whipped up. It was still raining after dinner so it was a short cab ride back to the marina.
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Due to high winds out of the northeast we decided to stay in Nassau another day. It was a cool and overcast day. We did boat chores in the morning and then went for a hike to the east end of the island. We found a "fish market" set up in a parking lot. They had every imaginable local seafood (except mahi mahi which must go to the restaurants) for sale. Since our freezer is still full, we passed, although the fish and lobsters looked wonderful. There is a small fort (Fort Montagu) located at the point and we walked around the outside, but did not pay the admission to go inside. This was the smallest fort we have ever seen. It was about 40' by 40' and had four cannons. We walked as far as the Nassau Sailing Club and then turned around. On the return we did stop at the Royal Nassau Yacht Club for a drink. This club was established in 1931 and has 600 members. They honored our Old Point Yacht Club membership and we enjoyed a Bahama Mama at the bar. Quincy, the bartender, is our newest best friend. That evening we had dinner with our old friends Van & Lauren and with our new friends, Madi and John, on their 45' Bristol.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
We awoke to winds that had settled some and shifted a little more to the east. As we looked out in the channel that separates Nassau mainland from Paradise Island, it looked like a mass exodus of sailboats to the east. We checked our weather forecasts and decided to head for Highbourne Cay. Van and Lauren were still working on an alternator problem and John and Madi were awaiting a heat exchanger. We bid farewell to them and headed out at 9 am. As soon as we cleared the harbor we had the sails up and shut off the engine. This was the first time that we had actually sailed without the engine since before we left Norfolk in October. We had a great sail, averaging 6.5 knots on the 35 mile run to Highbourne Cay. The harbor at Highbourne was crowded with more boats than we had ever seen At that anchorage. It was obvious we weren't the only ones ready to get out of Nassau. After the anchor was set we deployed the dinghy which had been lashed to the deck for the crossing and headed for the bar at Xumas Restuarant. When we returned to the boat for dinner we actually hoisted the dinghy on to the new davits that we installed as a Christmas present to ourselves. Now, getting the dinghy in and out of the water is pretty quick and easy.
Tomorrow, if the weather is agreeable, we plan to go to Warderick Wells or Cambridge Cay in anticipation of meeting up with Tim and Diane on Magic and Jennings and Patty on Veritas. We have agreed to try to get to Cambridge Cay on Saturday for an overdue reunion.
The sailors were all up early listening to Chris Parker and because it was so rolly in the anchorage, I think many were anxious to get underway because it was an early departure for many. The winds again were favorable for sailing, so main and job were deployed and off we went. Our original plan was to go to Warderick Wells but after being out there and knowing the group from the south (Magic, Veritas and Tehani) were planning on going to Big Majors (Staniel Cay) we decided to head there. We re about 15 miles out and called Veritas just to see where they were and Magic answered and said they were all anchored at Big Majors. Tim and Diane were excited because Santa was bringing them Christmas presents in the form of a propeller for his dinghy and other stocking stuffers. We were met with conch shell horn blowing as we entered the anchorage. After finding a protected area because the winds were going to blow again (is there a theme here), anchoring and deploying the dinghy, "Santa" donned his hat and put all his gifts in the Santa bag and headed to Magic for distribution. I am sure the other boats were wondering about us, but what's new. We have enjoyed our stay with our Fleet 30 friends, but it is time for them to explore south and Sanity II to explore east. I think there may be less access to cell towers, so may not have Internet access but we will be back as soon as we get back on the "grid".
01/22/2013, Picture of us entering Nassau Harbor
Monday, January 21, 2013
We were anchor up at 6:30 am and through the Venetian Causeway Bridge 15 minutes later and headed for Government Cut. By 7:30 am Miami was in the rear view mirror and we were in open water, headed for Bimini. Throughout the day we received advisories from the Coast Guard that the 79th St Causeway was closed to marine traffic until further notice. We were very fortunate to get through one of the few openings on Sunday.
The crossing of the Gulf Stream was pretty benign. We were in the company of about 7 or 8 other boats who were all headed for Bimini. We had swells of 2-4 ft and SE winds of 10-12 kts. We hoisted a full mainsail to try to minimize the rolling, but got very little speed out of the sails. About two hours out of Bimini the winds picked up to 17-20 kts and shifted more south. We deployed a reefed genoa and picked up speed, but also picked up more swells.
The used GPS antenna is working well. The back up portable GPS has been tested just in case and a hard copy of the Bahamas waypoints are on board.
At 2 pm we rounded Bimini and entered the Bahamas Banks. The wind settled back to 10-12 knots and seas calmed to one foot waves. With a full main and genoa and the engine running at 60% of cruising RPMs, we were doing 7-7.5 kts on our way to Nassau. It was a beautiful night, although pretty lonely as all of the other boats stopped at Bimini. We did see a few boats anchored on the banks.
At midnight we left the Banks and entered the Tongue of the Ocean for the final 60 miles into Nassau. The winds have remained steady at 10-12 kts and have shifted slightly southwest. It has been a smooth ride since entering the Banks and the crew has been able to get some quality sleep.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
We arrived in Nassau safe and sound. We had to wait at the harbor entrance for the daily arrival of cruise ships. By 8:30 am we were fueled up and in our slip. At 10 am the customs and immigration agents arrived and cleared us for our stay in the country. After a scrubbing of the boat, a warm shower was called for. Then a trip to the Bahamas Telephone company for a SIM card for the iPad.
There are heavy winds predicted out of the north for the next couple of days so we will leave in the morning to head for the south side of Rosé Island. We did catch up with our friends Van & Lauren on Gratitude. They had hoped to go to Rosé Island tomorrow, but are having a problem with their alternator and are awaiting a repair. Hope they can join us tomorrow.
01/20/2013, Miami, FL
The attached picture is one of the best we have seen in a long time. It is a picture of our empty slip in Sunny Isles Beach as we finally left our home port on Sunday afternoon.
When we last blogged in, we were waiting for a cable for our GPS antenna. On Saturday afternoon we had been north of our condo and were coming back through Ft Lauderdale when we decided to stop at Sailorman. This is a marine supply store that specializes in used parts and items on consignment. I thought we might get lucky and find a used Raystar 120 antenna. I asked a store employee and he said he did not think so, but would look anyway. He pulled out a box of electronic gadgets and started to root through it. He pulled out a 120, but did not realize it. I asked to see it and sure enough, it was a 120. I asked if it worked and the employee said he did not know, but I had three days to bring it back if it did not.
We headed directly for the boat and I did a quick temporary wiring job to see if it worked. To our delight it worked and actually reported that we were in Sunny Isles Beach Marina. Next it was a check of the weather and to our surprise, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday morning was a good window to cross.
Sunday morning I was at the boat early to wire the antenna in permanently while Mary took care of closing up the condo and getting the food and other items rounded up to go back on the boat. I was home by 11:30, had lunch, cleaned up and then we were headed back to the boat, thanks to a ride for our friends Charlotte and Donn. Donn had left us at the marina last Wednesday when we had our false start and offered to stay to make sure we got underway. We assured them that we were going to make it this time.
We had the engine running, instruments on and working properly, power cord stowed and were disconnecting lines. (Does this sound familiar?). Then Mary heard a radio broadcast that the 79th St Causeway Bridge was broken in the closed position until further notice. YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME!!!!! That is one of several bridges we need to cross to get to Miami. I was ready to throw in the towel at this point. Going north to Ft Lauderdale and back to Miami was not an option as it was too late in the day. Going to Ft Lauderdale and staying the night there and then heading across in the morning is not a good option due to the north bound Gulf Stream current. We could not find a phone number for the bridge, but did not hear any further radio traffic. We opted to leave the slip and head south and try to get updated info. A radio conversation with a local marine police officer informed us that they thought the bridge was operational again. We continued south and did get through all three bridges without missing an opening. We did hear a later radio transmission about further problems with the 79th St bridge.
We are anchored near the Venetian Causeway and can see the cruise ships that will be departing within the hour. We plan to get underway early tomorrow and head straight to Nassau, with a planned arrival mid morning on Tuesday. That will be the earliest we will be able to update our blog. After Nassau, updates will be sporadic due to limited Internet access.
01/17/2013, Sunny Isles Beach, FL
You will notice that there is no picture with this update. The reason is I have been unable to capture frustration in an image.
Yesterday, Wednesday the 16th, had all the moon, stars and weather gods in alignment. We arrived at the boat a little after 7 am with intentions of heading directly to Nassau. Everything was loaded, engine was running, instruments and radio warming up, power cord stowed and we were disconnecting dock lines when we received an error signal from our AIS equipped VHF radio reporting a "no position" signal. I checked the GPS and it indicated we were 700 miles north of the equator and somewhere south of the Baha peninsula of Mexico. Obviously our GPS antenna had been partying hard the night before and was disoriented. We tried everything to sober it up, including pouring coffee on it, all to no avail.
After several resets we were getting correct location results, but then we would lose the position fix. At 8:15 we called Raymarine for technical support. They advised that they were 99% sure the antenna had quietly expired. Of course a direct antenna replacement was a viable alternative, but since that model is obsolete that increased the challenge to solve the problem. After several calls to dealers in South Florida looking for an obsolete part in stock, we realized there was no hope for a quick fix. Plan B, call my reliable technician at Seaport Electronics in Chesapeake, VA for advice. He suggested a used antenna and had one in stock. This was good news from two fronts; first it looked like a fairly quick and cost effective solution, and second, it helped Mary to understand why we "squirrel" away old parts. The used antenna was shipped overnight and arrived by 9:30 this morning. Unfortunately, the replacement was slightly different from the original and required a different cable connector. Another call to Chesapeake and a cable with the correct connector has been located and is on its way to Sunny Isles Beach.
In the meantime, the weather window has closed again and it looks like we will be marina bound until early next week. We have unloaded enough food to get us through the weekend at the condo and will resume our land based lifestyle for a few more days. Magic and Peaceful Easy Feeling, we will arrive sometime with your supplies. Do not give up on us.
Dave & Mary
01/15/2013, Sunny Isles Beach, Fl
Sanity II is still pulling at its dock lines anxiously awaiting a good opportunity to depart for the Bahamas. The early morning forecast today (Tuesday) looks good for a Wednesday afternoon move to Miami/Key Biscayne area for an early morning departure on Thursday.
The boat is ready and most of the food is on board. We still have to load the frozen food and last minute food we have kept in the condo so we would not have to go to the boat to eat. A single trip to the marina is all that is needed to get those items on board.
Today will be filled with errands for our friends that will help us to ignore our champing at the bit to get moving. Van and Lauren on Gratitude will be arriving at Dinner Key this morning in need of a macerator pump. On our way down there we will pick up outboard motor parts for Tim and Diane on Magic. They are in the Exumas and contacted us last night for help. Santa's bag of goodies is getting bigger for a late Christmas in the Exumas for Magic and Peaceful Easy Feeling.
After waiting a week for the weather window, we are excited to have a more positive weather forecast.