Morgan's Bluff...Our home for the holidays.
December 24, 2008 Morgan's Bluff
The wind continues to blow and the sky is mostly cloudy. The port was busy last night with one freighter arriving, unloading, and then leaving while another arrived and stayed. This morning a third one showed up so Barry and I went ashore to watch the unloading activities. Things were hopping. There were trucks and high-low's unloading the two boats while folks who were expecting freight milled around waiting. The conch fisherman were loading conch into boxes that were about the size of big apple crates, rough 5' by 5" for shipment to Nassau and a lady selling lunch on a couple of card tables.
We found Shalom to see what time our van would arrive. (We had made arrangements for a ride to the Mennonite Farms to see the country side and pick up some vegetables. Unfortunately, the Van that we were promised had magically turned into a small car with enough room for four. The charge was going to be $60. We went back to the boats and by unanimous accent, Barry and I returned to explain that we couldn't settle for a vehicle that carried only four of us.
The driver, who it turns out was an off-duty policeman, was understanding and promised that on Friday he could get a Van in which we could all fit.
While ashore, Barry and I purchased some conch to use as bait. Last night during dinner, he left a line overboard tied to a cleat. When they returned to the boat the bait was gone and the hook was straightened.
It rained in the afternoon. Kathy read and I worked on Honda which seems to have more carburetor problems. I took everything apart got things cleaned but a small spring fell out of the linkage. After an hour of trying to figure it out, I motored over to "Perseverenc II" and ask Tom if I could tear his Honda apart to check the location of the spring. That done, it was relatively easy to get ours back together correctly. Unfortunately, it still didn't run. It starts fine and runs smooth but after a couple minutes, sputters and dies. I'm thinking that it could be the low oil sensor. I changed the oil recently and possibly didn't put enough back in. Together with the rolling that we're doing that is probably it.
The other issue that has had us a little scared it that our GPS has not been displaying our good Bahamas Charts. The GPS came pre-loaded with charts for the entire world and they have been working fine. The more detailed Bahamas charts are loaded on a chip and inserted into the GPS. The GPS is supposed to always show the more detailed, when there is more that one chart available.. But wasn't. We we're sure it the chip was dead or if there was something wrong with the GPS itself. We did check our chip in Tom's GPS and it didn't work so we were not that hopeful
Anyway, after reading the directions for a couple of days, I found a page that described manually forcing the computer to choose the chart set that you wanted .and presto, there they were.
We grilled some rib-eye steaks for dinner, turned on our Christmas lights and listen to Christmas Music until about nine when we called home to wish my mom Merry Christmas She always has folks over on Christmas eve for snacks and it was nice to talk to a few of them.
December 23, 2008 Morgan's Bluff
The wind blew at about 30 knots all night long but tucked in close to shore, much of the wind was deflected by the tree line. There was a little surge but the point protected us from the waves rolling in from the tongue of the ocean.
A supply boat had arrived last night and the Immigration guy was there to process it. He left word with the Shalom, who is the informal dock master here, that he would be back at 10 am to complete our paperwork and stamp our passports.
That message was relayed to Bill "Chapter III" (who decided to go into the inner harbor and tie off at the fuel dock to ride out the storm), who called us on the VHF to relay the message.
So after coffee and some breakfast, I took our passports and headed into the dock. There actually is not a dock here. dinghies land on a cement ramp next to the bar. Unfortunately, it is so slippery that it is almost impossible to land at low tide. Instead, I tied off the stern of one of two large power boats that are on a small dock here.
I was having coffee on "Chapter III" when the Immigration guy showed up..before 10 am, which is totally unheard of here in the Islands. We had filled out the paperwork at the airport so all that had to be done was to stamp our passports which took a just a few minutes.
We purchased 10 conch. cleaned and smashed, for a dollar each from Monroe, who we spotted working on his boat. He has about 1500 of them strung together in a nearby cove that will be shipped to Nassau for the holiday season on the mail boat tonight
Kathy had stayed on the boat but the rest of us walked the beach for a mile or so looking for treasures before returning to our boats. We agreed to meet after lunch for a hike out to the Bluff to watch the waves crash.
We beached our dinghies on a small beach littered with derelict fishing boats, and hiked down the road toward the very northern tip of the island. On the way we found a small roadside park with a neat cave and a couple of picnic tables. It was named "Henry Morgan's" cave in honor of the pirate who actually made this area one of his staging areas. As we continued north down we found ourselves walking through salt spray coming over the top of the bluff to our right. At the end of the road there is a track up the back of the bluff to the top. The waves were impressive but the salt spray was getting us all wetter by the minute so we climbed back down and retraced our steps On our walk back we stopped at the wharf where "Titus" docks. A little explanation may be in order here. Morgan's Bluff is just that.a mile long bluff that runs north to south at the very northern end of Andros Island. The outer harbor is a nothing more than a two mile cove completely open to the north. There is a small inner harbor where there are currently four or five native fishing boats, two sailboats that seem to be more or less permanently moored, three large fishing boats from Florida, and Chapter III. There is a loading dock at the southern end where grapefruit are shipped, a few storage buildings and a bar. On the western side of the Bluff there is a wharf where "Titus" docks and fills up with 3 million gallons of water that are hauled to Nassau every other day. "Titus" is a big boat..we are anchored just south of this wharf tucked in as close as we can get to shore.
We then dinghied over to Willie's for a beer and talked with Shalom. Bill and Jean stopped in after their trip in to Batelco.
Our plan was to get together with Barry, Susan, Tom and Cathy to eat cracked conch for dinner. So after putting together some pickle wraps and an hour of rest, we headed over to Perseverance II. Susan had made a conch salad as well as cracked conch. and we ate every morsel.
December 22, 2008 Morgan's Bluff
In the morning we went to shore to see what was to be done about checking into the Bahamas. As it turned out, Bill and Jean form "Chapter III" (the only other cruising boat in the area) had arranged for Willie (the owner of the bar located at the small port here) to drive them to the Menonite Farm so we, Tom, Barry and I, just rode along to the airport to clear Customs.
The Customs official was there but the Immigration guy was off island. So. we cleared Customs and returned to the boat to wait for the Immigration guy to stop by in the afternoon...
On the way back we stopped at Batelco (phone company) to get a sim chip for our phone as well as some prepaid phone time...
The winds were building so in the afternoon so we stayed on board to watch the anchor. Barry and Susan came over for snacks before dinner.
Miami to Mrgan's Bluff, Andros, Bahamas
Mike via Remote
The rule in Miami is .. If there is more that than one Cruise Ship docked in Government Cut, all boats go the long way out around Dodge Island. During the early morning hours four such ships pulled . and so our trip to the Bahamas was about 30 minutes longer that it December 20 & 21.. Miami,FL to Morgan's Bluff Andos Island should have been.
Mike and Kathy-warm and sunny
12/19/2008, Miami, Florida
We zipped out into the Atlantic on an outgoing tide to find winds of about 10 knots form the east. There wasn't enough to sail but for a while we made great headway motorsailing. All too soon though there was no wind. The Gulf Stream was oily calm, and confused. We ran at about 5 knots or a little over all day hitting the Bahama Banks at North rock at 4:30 and pushed on. There was still no wind. At about 4 am we arrived at the Tongue of the Ocean which is a part of the Atlantic that is mostly surrounded by the Bahama Banks. At times it is brutal, but this morning it was just a little rolly.
We motored south to the northern end of Andros Island stopping at Morgan's Bluff. It is not really a town because all the businesses are separated by at least a mile. In the Harbor, which is completely open to the north, there is a large wall dock where water from Andros is shipped to Nassau.
There is also a small but deep inner harbor . where we will take shelter tomorrow if necessary. There is a cold front going through and the winds will clock and build to about 30 knots from the northeast. We're ok from the NE, but the North will be killer. Chris Parker told us that the wind should clock quickly through the N to the NE and if that happens we're fine.
We won't check in until tomorrow so technically can't go ashore until then. But we can swim. Last year Barry got some lobsters from a rocky section of the harbor directly behind where our boat is anchored. Even though we technically won't have a fishing license until tomorrow, we decided to take a look. and took our spears.
Nine lobsters later, we had dinner for the six of us. About half of them were small. Red Lobster size, but we did get a few that were more along the medium size range.
After nothing last year. spearing four on our fist day here may be a sign of things to come.
We had a nice meal with our fellow travelers and then went back to "Sapphire" for some dinner and some reading before bed.
December 19th ... Miami Beach, Fl
I was asleep at about 8pm last night so I was up and wide awake at 1am. It was warm so I sat in the cockpit for a while watching the city lights and traffic on the causeway. After a while I went back to bed and slept reasonably well for the rest of the night. The alarm woke us up at 6:30 to listen to the weather. There were no significant changes, so our crossing tomorrow is still on....
There is a cold front following us by about 24 hours so we'll see how we're settled and if necessary deploy a secondary anchor. It looks like wherever we end up ...probably Andros, we'll be there a few days before the seas subside.
After some coffee and a container of yogurt, I topped off our fuel tank from our jerry cans ( a total of 12 gallons from Vero Beach). I picked up Barry and we motored to one of the marinas for 10 gallons of fuel each...filling all our tankage.
About noon we picked up Barry and Susan for a trip to the Publix (the local grocery store in the south) where we picked up some eggs, bread and two nice rib-eyes. We made our last stop at an ATM and headed back. On our way we stopped to visit with "Peservance 2" laying out our plan for the crossing.
Back at the boat, I attempted to fix another leak in our hot water tank but won't know for a day or two if I was successful.
We read for a while and then took the dinghy back into Miami Beach to visit with Kevin and Lizz from "Cielo". It was a treat to see them again after more than a year. Our paths may cross again in the spring.
By the time we got back it was about dark. Secured the outboard on the stern rail and hoisted the dinghy for ocean travel....
We warmed up some ham for dinner instead of grilling the steaks that were originally on the menu. The grill is too close to the dinghy when it is up-we hope for no dinghy problems this year.
From now on we will be back in the remote blog updates...via the SSB ... if we can remember how it works, or whatever wifi is available in the Bahamas. We are suspending our phone and internet service for at least 3 months.
We must say we would like to stay here longer. It is a nice, big anchorage with easy access to town. You can dinghy right to the grocery store (Publix) and it feels safe. It is also a pretty anchorage which is not always true when you're in a city. Ah, well...
We're out of here at 7:30 a.m.